A Classic Waterfront Wedding in Vermont

Though Cathleen DaCosta and Jeffrey Brusven had known of one another for years (he attended the University of Vermont, and Cathleen grew up in Burlington, Vermont, where the school is located), they didn’t meet until the fall of 2014. Jeffrey was in New York on a four-month work assignment for The North Face, while Cathleen was working as a fashion publicist for the likes of Reem Acra and Elie Saab. “I invited Jeffrey to an event I was hosting for Fashion Week,” Cathleen remembers. The connection was clear, but neither was available, so Jeffrey and Cathleen parted ways. But a year later, on a dare from a friend, Cathleen reached out to see how Jeffrey was doing—and found out he was back in New York on assignment. Two nights later, they had their first date, and when Jeffrey flew back to California, they began a six-month spree of letter-writing that finally led to bi-weekly flights cross country and family introductions. Those weekly letters never stopped, even when, in December of 2016, Jeffrey proposed to Cathleen in front of the fireplace at her childhood home.

Instead of a traditional wedding venue, Cathleen and Jeffrey instead got creative and decided to take over Burlington for their wedding. “We got married in an old lakefront chapel, then invited our guests to celebrate on the waterfront,” says Cathleen. The bride did most of the planning herself and stuck to a palette of crisp white, which let the nautical New England setting really shine. “Planning a Vermont wedding from Laguna Beach was a challenge, but we made it work!” says the bride.

Finally, on August 19, 2017, 150 guests gathered in Vermont for Jeffrey and Cathleen’s airy waterfront celebration, photographed by Jessica Wright-Moore of Wright-Moore Photography. Keep reading to see more!

When Jeffrey proposed to Cathleen, he had more than a ring for her: “He surprised me with a dress fitting with Reem Acra herself a few days later!” says the bride.

Cathleen knew she would be in good hands with her former boss, and she was! She ended up floating down the aisle in a stunning Mikado twill ball gown with a sculpted peplum. She adds, “Reem surprised me with a piece I adored from the Spring 2014 collection, a sheer shawl hand-embroidered with the word ‘Love.’” With such a gorgeous accent, the bride didn’t wear any jewelry except her engagement ring.

The Louisa Howard Chapel, built in 1882, is a small space, so only 50 of the couple’s family members and closest friends could squeeze in. “Some of my relatives are buried in the surrounding cemetery,” says Cathleen. “Jeffrey and I liked the circle of life feeling of starting our life together in a cemetery.”

The groom’s favorite moment of the day came at the very beginning of the proceedings. “My father and I approached the closed door of the chapel and knocked on the front door,” remembers the bride. “Then my two cousins opened the doors and he saw me walking down the aisle!”

After the ceremony, guests tossed lavender and dried violets, a nod to Jeffrey’s paternal grandmother, Violet. The groom wore a navy three-piece suit, and both the bride and groom’s flowers featured crisp white calla lilies.

After the vows, Cathleen and Jeffrey boarded a vintage Chris Craft boat to take them from the church to the waterfront reception. “The Burlington ferry honked its horn, and people walked down to the water to wave. It was such a special entrance,” says Cathleen. The couple toasted with champagne, and the bride showed off her violet Manolo Blahnik pumps.

As the couple’s boat came in, guests gathered in front of the white sailcloth tent. “We kept all the decor quite simple. The setting was so stunning, and we didn’t want to gild the lily!” says the bride.

Guests were treated to an indulgent display of meats and local cheeses, followed by freshly made seafood paella. “It was so fun to watch them cook the paella on site,” says Cathleen.

The bride and groom love the atmosphere created by live music, so a six-piece band played all night. And as a surprise for Cathleen’s Irish relatives, Irish step dancers performed during the reception. “I wish someone had told me that planning could be emotional and stressful—and that was okay,” Cathleen says. “It’s one of the biggest moments of your life, so why shouldn’t it be emotional?!”

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