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A Family Affair at an Old Cemetery in Vermont

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Jessica Wright-Moore

Cathleen DaCosta Bombard, the former manager of global communications at Reem Acra, first met Jeffrey Christopher Brusven, the North American director of sales for Quicksilver, in New York City during an event Cathleen was hosting during New York Fashion Week. Sparks flew immediately, but due to their busy schedules the two didn’t reconnect until more than a year later, when on a whim, Cathleen reached out to Jeffrey. During their first date, the two drank Mai Tai’s and jokingly fantasized about their possible wedding in the future. Little did they know that a year later Jeffrey would be proposing at Cathleen’s family home in Burlington, Vermont. (Adorably, during that first date, each of them took the flag on top of their Mai Tai as memorabilia. One is currently framed in their home.)

Once engaged, the couple chose to tie the knot in the bride’s hometown of Burlington at the Louisa Howard Chapel in the Lakeview Cemetery. “We liked the idea of starting out a life together in a cemetery,” Cathleen says. “Circle of life.” The reception would then take place at the West Lawn of the Burlington Waterfront. “It is not a common wedding venue, which seemed very exciting to us,” she says.

Cathleen planned the wedding herself, with the help of family and friends, but hired a day of coordinator, Lauren Nealy, for the wedding.  She also enlisted her friend, Ruth Henning, to handle the florals and chose a white color scheme with metal tones for the wedding’s aesthetic.

The bride was fortunate enough to have been gifted three custom looks from her former boss, designer Reem Acra. For her rehearsal dinner, Cathleen wore Reem Acra cream pants, which she paired with a top reworked from Jeffrey’s mother’s wedding dress. For the church, she wore a strapless gown with a cathedral length cream veil, and a custom hand embroidered shawl with the word “Love” engraved. (That shawl was part of Cathleen’s favorite Reem Acra bridal collection from Spring 2014.) And for the after party, she changed into a white beaded dress.

For his big day, the groom chose a Mark Pomerantz “Quintessential” three piece suit in a British navy tick-weave. Instead of a wedding party, the couple just had three flower girls, who wore lavender dresses from local Vermont brand, April Cornell, paired with baby’s breath floral crowns.

The day of the ceremony was a family affair. The bride and her father walked down the aisle to the Rolling Stones “The Last Time” while holding a bouquet of white calla lilies. The groom’s step father later officiated the ceremony in a small chapel built in 1882, next to the same cemetery where Cathleen’s uncles and grandparents are buried. Jeffrey’s brother rang the chapel bell once the ceremony was completed.

The newlyweds arrived to the reception at the Burlington waterfront on vintage Chris Crafts boats, the same Cathleen used as a child. “The Burlington Ferry honked its horn and people on the waterfront walked down to wave,” she says. Once they arrived, bagpipe players and Irish step dancers surprised the bride’s mother’s side (who are of Irish heritage) with a wonderful dance. Later, guests were offered water with lavender and lemon, and nibbled on appetizers and paella, which was cooked onsite. “It was really fun to watch!” says Cathleen. Once it was time to dance, the bride and her father had a lovely moment to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and guests danced to music from a live six piece band throughout the night.

And yet for Jeffrey, the highlight of the day was much earlier. “His most special memory was the knock on the chapel door and my two cousins opening it for my father and I to walk down the aisle,” Cathleen says. The beginning of a lifetime together.