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A Vermont Wedding at Hildene Estate, The Former Summer Home of Abraham Lincoln’s Son

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Charlotte Jenks Lewis

Barbara “Bea” Whitton and Peter Tufo were both living and working in New York City, when one day they were set up by her sister and brother-in-law, who were close friends with Peter since boarding school. Sister clearly knew best as the two hit it off, started dating, and eventually moved together to Jackson, Wyoming, where she works in business development and strategy for a healthcare startup and he runs a local towing and repair company.

The couple had been living together in Jackson for about a year, when on a freezing January day, Peter asked Bea to go on a walk outside with their puppy. “He wanted to go on one of our favorite trails, which runs parallel to the Snake River and has amazing views of the Teton mountain range,” she says. “During the walk, I was not very enthusiastic about the frigid weather and kept asking to turn around and go back to the car. Then he got down on one knee and I burst into tears! I was totally shocked and excited—and a bit embarrassed that I had kept asking to cut the walk short.”

Both Peter and Bea have always said they are happiest in settings close to the mountains, nature, and outdoors (hence the move to Jackson), and so they knew they wanted to tie the knot in a similar environment. The couple found just what they were looking for at Hildene, a 412-acre private estate in Manchester, Vermont, where the bride’s family also happens to have a home. “It has amazingly beautiful gardens, meadows, a goat farm, and incredible rolling mountain views,” Bea explains. “It is also the former summer home of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln.”

With the wedding date set for early August, the mother of the bride started planning the big event, while Bea began to look for her dress. She had a very clear idea of what she wanted when she started her search: nothing structured, no train or anything with volume, and something with a lace component. “When I tried on the Lihi Hod dress, I knew immediately it was the perfect fit,” she says. “I felt dedicate, feminine, unique, and perfectly myself in it. It was originally strapless, but I added small lace sleeves.” She finished off her look with tan Stuart Weitzman heels, and borrowed two pieces of jewelry: An diamond bracelet that belonged to Peter’s mother, and a pair of Van Cleef pearl drop earrings from her older sister. “For my something blue, I wore a ring that Peter gave me the day of our wedding as a wedding present,” she adds. “It’s a very thin, delicate, alternating diamond and sapphire ring.”

As for the groom, Peter used Knot Standard, a custom suit company where he found both his rehearsal dinner and wedding outfits. He went with a custom blue suit, navy blue tie, Church’s loafers for his wedding day, and wore custom-made silver cufflinks that were a gift from his future wife.

Bea felt strongly about letting her bridesmaids pick their own dresses, and so she only asked them to choose something long in a blue/gray color palette. “I loved how they all chose really different dresses with different shades, styles, and structures, yet the muted solid coloring brought it all together nicely,” she explains. All of them had baby’s breath incorporated into their hairstyles, as did Bea’s nieces and nephews, who served as flower girls and ring bearers at the ceremony.

Their wedding weekend festivities kicked off with a barbecue dinner at Bea’s parents’s home in Manchester, where they served local Vermont cheese, meats, and beer. For the occasion, the bride wore an ethereal white lace Zimmerman dress with white, floral Jennifer Behr earrings. “I was barefoot most of the night!” she says. The following night was the rehearsal dinner, and while Bea’s style typically leans towards the bohemian, for that night she wanted something a little more glamorous, and ended up wearing a structured Marchesa cocktail gown with silver Rebecca de Ravenel flower earrings.

On their wedding day, guests gathered at one of Hildene’s beautiful garden overlooking huge rolling mountains. “Because the view was so spectacular, I felt very strongly that we not try to overwhelm the backdrop with excessive flowers or canopies,” Bea says. “We lined the aisle guest seats with small bundles of thistle, baby’s breath, and greenery, and it made for a natural and beautiful ceremony with a simple stonewall in the background.” Their wedding was officiated by Bea’s brother-in-law, who was partially responsible for introducing the couple, and one of her best friends. While the weather that day had been perfect so far, half-way through the ceremony, the sky went from clear blue to dark and stormy. “It was not on the forecast and came out of nowhere. It actually made for amazing photos and a dramatic/special recessional,” she says.”The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because just as all the guests made it to the tent for cocktail hour, it began to pour rain outside!”

Thankfully, the couple had set up a tent on the property where guests enjoyed cocktails and later a dinner full of fresh and local Vermont ingredients. For dessert, they had a local bakery (which the bride grew up going to) create a vanilla lemon cake covered with baby’s breath and icing Swiss dots. They also set up a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck inside the tent to promote a fun Vermont vibe during dancing.

The bride’s mother and father kicked off the toasts during dinner, followed by her maid of honor, Peter’s co-best men, and lastly Peter. After the speeches were over, the couple took to the dance floor for their first dance to Roy Orbison’s “You Got It.” “Our band was Sultans of Swing and they did an amazing job,” she says. “I really love a good Conga line so there were a lot of those!” In the middle of the reception, the bride changed into a white lace Zimmerman romper and Chloé wedges, while guests were handed out flashing light flower crowns, which added an extra jolt of excitement on the dance floor.

After it was time to wrap up, everyone was bused back to Manchester town, where an after party inside the bar basement of Peter and Bea’s hotel awaited. Strung bulb lights and tons of white balloons decorated the rustic setting, and the couple offered lots of late-night food and costume cowboy hats and bandanas as a nod to their Wyoming ties. “We rented huge speakers for the space and put together a playlist ahead of time with all of our favorite dance songs. To be honest, I was expecting most of the guests to be tired by the after party, but that was not the case,” Bea recalls. “It was two hours of sweaty, blissfully drunk people grinding on the dance floor in cowboy hats to Biggie. It felt like a wonderfully weird college fraternity party.”