A Dinner Party-Inspired Wedding at Cunningham Farm in Maine

“We wanted our wedding to feel like a giant family dinner party,” says Paulie Dibner. “We love entertaining and having people over for big meals.” That desire became a reality for Paulie, director of editorial operations at Conde Nast Traveler, when she wed Owen Parsons, a writer for “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” at a Cunningham Farm in New Gloucester, Maine, last September. The New York City-based pair headed north to New England—Paulie hails from Maine and Owen attended Dartmouth University in New Hampshire—for a celebration full of cozy moments. Homemade challah bread kicked off dinner, all 125 guests sat at one large table during the reception, and Motown tunes kept the dance floor packed.

Despite the barn venue, the couple skipped stereotypical details like mason jars and twine. Instead, they sought modern elements that juxtaposed the pastoral setting. For the ceremony, Paulie and Owen exchanged personalized vows under a modern, laser-cut chuppah that didn’t include a single flower. Instead of a theme, the couple stuck to warm jewel-toned colors like navy, crimson, and bronze. The dinner table was accented with low arrangements and taper candles to promote conversation among guests. One aspect that did feel completely “farm friendly?” The family-style dinner of roasted chicken, mushroom pappardelle, and roasted root vegetables. In place of cake, Paulie and Owen served pies and s’mores. “The general vibe of the day was really a reflection of us,” Paulie says.

Keep reading for all the details on their farm wedding, coordinated by Lindsey McKitterick of Lindsey M Events and photographed by Jess Jolin.

A friend suggested Cunningham Farm to Paulie and Owen during their search for a venue in Maine. “We just fell in love with it,” Paulie says. “There are three separate barns at your disposal, and it’s set on this giant landscape that swoops down to a sweet pond. We put down a deposit almost immediately.”

Since Paulie works in magazines, a design director friend custom crafted the navy and bronze invitations. They included a personalized crossword, inspired by the couple’s tradition of collaborating on the Sunday puzzle each week.

Paulie loved that her silk Carolina Herrera gown was both comfortable and elegant. “It felt like me—almost too me,” she says. She paired the look with floral-print Manolo Blahnik shoes.

Owen proposed with Paulie’s grandmother’s engagement stone, which had been worn in a necklace, over Sunday morning coffee in their kitchen. The couple then designed a setting together with Greenwich Street Jewelers in New York City.

Owen also custom designed his charcoal suit (down to the buttonholes!) with the team at Billy Reid. He kept the look classic with a navy bow tie.

The couple skipped the idea of a wedding party and opted instead to have close friends and family as part of their “A-team.” “We didn’t want people to feel like they had to do a bunch for us,” Paulie says.

Paulie asked her A-team to don botanical prints, and her sister and sister-in-law coordinated in chic floral-print suits. Paulie’s twin niece and nephew served as attendants, wearing matching rompers down the aisle.

The ceremony took place under a massive apple tree on the property. After initially planning for a flower-covered chuppah, Paulie made a rash decision three weeks before the wedding day: she changed the chuppah design to a simple, laser-cut structure from Chuppah Studio, a company based on the West Coast. “Stripping out all the florals and just having this one very modern centerpiece felt like it could be really cool,” Paulie says of the last-minute swap.

Paulie chose to make an entrance sans escort, noting that she practically skipped down the aisle to Bill Wither’s “Lovely Day.” Her bouquet included jewel-toned flowers like ranunculus and cappuccino roses.

Paulie and Owen wed in a Jewish ceremony that included an exchange of handwritten vows.

Jewish traditions included breaking the glass after the ceremony.

“Make sure to grab your partner’s hand at least once after everything gets rolling—you’ll be pulled in different directions,” Paulie offers as advice to to-be-weds. “At least once during the fray, take 60 seconds to look around. Take in that very specific feeling.”

Just after the ceremony, the newlyweds hopped in a golf cart to speed away to the property’s tree farm for photos. “Zipping along away from our ceremony, and seeing all our friends in the distance, was dreamy,” she adds.

The couple worked with artist Stephanie Caplan, who painted a custom ketubah for their wedding.

Though Paulie admittedly loves crafts, she held back and only partook in one DIY project: the escort cards. Each card came with a Maine state quarter that would be needed for a surprise game as guests took their seats.

The reception took place in a barn on the property, where guests sat at one large U-shaped table to reinforce the dinner party vibe. The wood was left exposed, topped with just a navy runner, candles, and florals. Twinkle lights hung above the dance floor and over the barn door and greenery wrapped the barn’s rafters.

To promote interaction among guests, the tabletop kept a low profile. Small arrangements, gray taper candles, and bud vases accented the space without overwhelming it.

Remember the Maine state quarters? Under each place setting was a custom-designed scratcher game. “We had a few $20 winners,” Paulie reveals.

Paulie and Owen took their first spin on the dance floor to Etta James’ “Sunday Kind of Love,” another nod to their weekend mornings together.

“It’s the craziest night ever having everyone you love under one roof,” Paulie says. “We paused a few times to watch the absolute magic madness.”

Wedding Team

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