The bride was raised in Chicago and now lives in Alaska, and the groom grew up in Alaska from the time he was a young boy. So, when it came time to choose a wedding venue, they naturally chose to have their wedding in Louisville, Kentucky at Hermitage Farm. Seems logical, right?
Allow the bride to explain: “My father grew up in Louisville, and some family members from his side are still living there or close by. We used to make trips from Chicago to Louisville fairly often when I was growing up to visit my grandma and extended family. As I got older, the trips became fewer and further between. So, when my parents suggested it as a location, there was definitely some nostalgia and many fond memories of the city. It just seemed like the perfect place. Louisville is such a fun city, and the surrounding area is just so beautiful. Two nights before the wedding, we had dinner at a restaurant we used to visit almost yearly but I hadn’t been back since I was a teenager. It was such a special feeling to be back there. Aside from extended family and the select few family friends, most of the guests were from out of town. Ryan, however, had never visited Louisville until we went to look at venues. But he was thrilled with the location choice the second we got there.”
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s get the backstory …
Tess Hayden moved to Anchorage, Alaska, in 2011 after graduating from college at Washington and Lee University. She was there to do graduate studies at Alaska Pacific University when she met Ryan Frenchik. Ryan had lived in Anchorage since he was 4 years old, the son of a military father who was on active duty in the U.S. Air Force. They met only five months after Tess moved there in 2011 and began dating in February 2012.
Their engagement two years later in 2014 was a perfectly set scene. Tess tells us, “Ryan and my roommate had planned this great scavenger hunt all throughout the city. To my knowledge, we were just getting all of our friends together for a fun day. The last challenge was to take a selfie with your partner at one of the mountains that overlooks Anchorage. When my roommate and I got up there, all of our friends were already there so I was really bummed because I thought we had finished last. Then I saw Ryan’s parents pull up, followed by my parents who were visiting from Chicago. I turned around and looked at Ryan and then he dropped to his knee. It was amazing to have so many of our friends there and incredibly touching that my parents were able to share that moment with us, as well.”
When planning their wedding and considering the guest list, they knew they wanted their family and friends to be there but Alaska is expensive and not that simple to access. They thought about Chicago but when her parents suggested they look at Louisville, they gave it some consideration, and a subsequent trip to the city with her parents and Ryan sealed the deal. Tess’s father is involved in the thoroughbred industry and Tess grew up going to the racetrack and having horses all around. The Hermitage was a great way to tie in this part of her life. Plus, Tess says, “The minute we drove up to Hermitage Farm, we knew it was something special. The history and beauty of the farm is truly hard to match.”
The Alaskan couple was married — Kentucky style — at Hermitage Farm on July 11, 2015, in front of 145 guests. They brought Alaskan touches to Kentucky, though, using freshly caught Alaskan salmon they personally brought down and beer from the Alaskan Brewing Company. Other than that, the menu consisted of all local ingredients — with Wiltshire Pantry at the helm.
The Wedding Party
The ladies spent most of the morning and afternoon getting ready for the big day at the Hermitage main house. They lounged and ate food while getting their hair and makeup done at a leisurely pace. The maids of honor spent some time writing their speeches — literally a couple hours before the ceremony. It was a relaxing day for everyone. The groomsmen rented a bed and breakfast nearby and came to the Hermitage in the afternoon to finish getting dressed.
Tess and her bridesmaids had dresses from BHLDN, the bridal arm of Anthropologie. After trying on several dresses, Tess fell in love with her final selection. “I tried on a fair amount of dresses before I finally experienced the feeling of trying on the perfect one. The dress was perfect for me and perfect for our venue,” she said. It had an illusion neckline, a floral lace-covered bodice and a tulle skirt. She bought the jeweled belt and floral comb for her hair at BHLDN, as well. Because the wedding and the reception were going to be on the grassy land of Hermitage Farm, wearing a heel would not be ideal. Tess thought about a wedge shoe but opted for a comfortable flat instead.
Tess did not follow the typical “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” tradition. Instead, she wore a beautiful diamond bracelet that belonged to her grandmother, which was passed down to her mother when her grandmother passed away. Tess decided to wear it for the ceremony and that her mother would wear it for the reception. Tess tells us that they both cried when she put it on her wrist.
Tess picked periwinkle as her main color of the wedding. It has been a favorite since she was a little girl and she liked the way it paired with gray. Blooms did her flowers and she wanted to keep things simple. According to Tess, since “the ceremony and reception all took place in this beautiful outdoor space, we really didn’t feel like we needed many flowers. We tried to stick to more greenery, with pops of color here and there.” They used thistle, white roses, periwinkle hydrangeas and greenery throughout their floral arrangements.
At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, 2015 — in a heat probably not experienced in Alaska — the bride and groom said their “I Do’s” in front of 145 guests, the majority of whom were from out of town. They got treated to the full Kentucky experience being on a beautiful farm in the summer.
It’s hard planning a wedding when you live out of town, especially when you are not familiar with the venue. Sheryl Thompson from Essential Details helped coordinate all the details from here in Louisville. Tess’s mother was a huge part of the planning as well, making all the ceremony programs, menu cards, escort cards, table name cards and many hand-painted signs throughout the ceremony and reception area. All of those items added a special touch to the day.
There was a cocktail reception before dinner while the bride and groom finished taking photographs. During this time, guests were greeted with blackberry mint juleps and enjoyed appetizers of mini Hot Browns with applewood smoked bacon, candied beet chips with goat cheese mousse, buttermilk fried chicken on mini pecan rye waffle with spiced maple syrup and bourbon BBQ shrimp skewers.
The reception was family style, with long tables for guests to gather and break bread. A scrumptious dinner from Wiltshire Pantry set the tone for the evening of great Kentucky fare. Wiltshire knew how important it was to the couple to keep waste minima, so there was no plastic at the wedding and all-local ingredients were used for the meal. The menu featured fresh Alaskan salmon that Tess and Ryan personally caught and transported. A charcuterie plate with fresh lavash and artisanal cheeses followed. A salad from Grateful Greens was next, followed by the entree of Stone Cross Farm ribs, Weisenberger grits and quinoa-stuffed Roma tomatoes. Derby cake from Mert’s Cakes was for dessert, and a late night snack of Hi-Five Doughnuts came later in the evening. The guests were definitely treated to some wonderful Kentucky food!
Venue: Hermitage Farm
Photography: Adam Brennan Photography
Bride’s gown: BHLDN
Bridesmaids dresses: BHLDN
Hair & makeup: Alysha Spalding | New Albany, IN | (502) 718-2462
Groom’s & groomsmen’s formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse
Groomsmen’s bowties: Beau Ties
Invitations: Lydia Evans, Letterpress By Lydia | Libertyville, IL | (847) 312-1105
Calligraphy: Cathy Sale | Anderson, SC
Programs & menu cards: Mother of the Bride, Louise Hayden
Flowers: Kati Esser at Blooms by Essential Details
Day of coordinator/decor & lighting: Sheryl Thompson at Essential Details
Catering: Wiltshire Pantry
Music: Ceremony/cocktails — Fresh Cut Grass Bluegrass Band | Louisville, KY | (502) 210-1647
Dancing: Endless Summer Band
Cake: Mert’s Cakes
Late night snack: Hi-Five Doughnut Truck
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