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A New Year’s Eve Wedding in Utah That Ended With a Midnight Bash

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Christopher Whitaker

It was only a matter of time before Jill Lukeman and Douglas Brody would eventually cross paths. While the two attended the University of Virginia four years apart, they happened to share several mutual friends and often found themselves at the same social gatherings. “We met right after I graduated on Doug’s family farm in Charlottesville for their annual Labor Day crab boil,” Jill, who works for Airbnb Experiences, explains. “We were dating other people at the time so nothing came of it, but we would run into each other in the city a few times a year at various parties. Four years later, we reconnected over 4th of July weekend out in Montauk and have been inseparable ever since.”

A couple years later, Jill and Doug were in Nantucket for Labor Day weekend with her parents when the two went out for a sunset bike ride to her favorite beach, Madaket. “We have a tradition of writing one another letters for everything from meaningless occasions to milestones,” she says. “We were walking on the beach and he handed me a letter asking if I would spend the rest of my life with him. When I finished reading he was down on one knee.” The newly engaged couple then celebrated with family and friends with an epic night at the Chicken Box bar.

“I had never been to a winter wedding, but I always thought they seemed really romantic,” Jill says. Growing up, her family always spent Christmas break at Alta, Utah, and when she and Doug started dating, they often went there for ski trips together. “Some of our favorite memories as a couple were spent skiing at Alta, so when we got engaged we decided to plan a ski winter wedding to share our favorite place with the people we love most.”

They set their wedding date for New Year’s Eve and started working with Harvest Moon Events on a fun-filled weekend itinerary for their guests, who were taking time out of their holiday break to celebrate with them. For their venue, Jill booked the French restaurant La Caille without ever seeing it—her sister, who lives in Salt Lake City, found it for them—but it was an impulse decision that paid off. “It is wonderfully weird and whimsical, with a nearly mile long winding driveway which was covered in thousands of colorful Christmas lights, peacocks roaming the property, a three-acre vineyard, and a glass winterized greenhouse,” Jill explains.

When thinking of her wedding decor, Jill took inspiration from her favorite children’s book, Where The Wild Things Are, and decided to recreate the look of an indoor overgrown forest. Since the restaurants ceiling was already covered with greenery, they skipped floral table arrangements and instead used vases filled with monstera palms, bells of Ireland, fig leaves, hypericum, pine, cedar, and fern as decoration. “We wanted it to feel like our guests were outside under a starry sky so our amazing wedding planner Kasey came up with the idea to install nearly 1,000 hanging votive candles throughout the ceiling,” the bride adds. “When I walked into the reception space and saw it all lit up for the first time, it took my breath away.”

When looking for her dress, Jill knew she wanted something long sleeved with lace. After trying on what seemed like 100 dresses, she finally settled on Monique Lhuillier’s Sistine gown, and paired it with Giuseppe Zanotti white fur snow boots. “They were insanely comfortable and kept my feet super warm in the cold weather,” she says. She also rented a white fox fur shawl (her something borrowed) and wore pearl and diamond earrings, a gift from Doug, as her something new.

Meanwhile, Doug wore his grandfather’s Persian lamb coat during the ceremony, and combined Ralph Lauren Purple Label tuxedo pants with an Ermenegildo Zegna dinner jacket. Both of Jill’s sisters served as maids of honor and wore floor length white dresses, while bridesmaids chose their own floor length dresses in blush and gold tones and were gifted white fur jackets and gloves by the bride so they would stay warm during the outside ceremony. “We all wore snow boots so our feet didn’t freeze,” Jill says. “We passed out snow boot bags as our welcome bags so that people could bring a change of shoes for after the ceremony.” The bride’s nieces served as flower girls and wore blush jacquard dress with white fur collars. “My niece is obsessed with Frozen, particularly Elsa, so we had an Elsa like fur cape made for her which she still talks about,” Jill adds.

The New Year’s wedding weekend kicked off with a ski day at Alta, and later an après ski welcome party with an 80s band and a “vintage ski apparel” dress code. “We were pumped that our friends and family got so into it, sporting everything from mullet wigs to neon leopard onesies,” she says. “We also received our favorite wedding gift that night from my best friend Ally: a wooden shot ski with ‘Cheers to the Brodys’ written on it, which immediately became a dangerous hit at the party.” The next night, the groom’s parents hosted a rehearsal dinner at a 100 year old log cabin, where a roaring fireplace kept guests warm as they listened to speeches from friends and family and ended the night with a live karaoke band.

The day of their wedding, guests gathered at La Caille’s courtyard for Jill and Doug’s wedding ceremony. As the temperature was below freezing, bonfires, fire pits, blankets, and heaters were provided to help keep guests cozy, while hot toddies and hot chocolate were also offered throughout the ceremony.  Under a super full moon, the couple were married by Doug’s rabbi. As part of their “modern Jewish ceremony” (the bride was raised Catholic), they rewrote the traditional Jewish Seven Blessings to make them more personal and asked seven special people in their lives to read them out loud to them. They also read a quote from When Harry Met Sally (one of Jill’s favorite movies)—“And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible”—and had an opera singer perform “All I Ask of You” from the Phantom of the Opera. “We surprised our guests with fireworks as we recessed down the aisle, which was a fun way to kick off the party.”

The ensuing reception at La Caille included a dirty martini bar, a seated dinner, and instead of wedding cake, an ice cream sundae bar subbed in for dessert. Toasts were given by the groom, his brother, and the bride’s father. A surprise highlight of the evening came when Jill’s family serenaded her with a rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl,” a childhood song that Jill always enjoyed. “I was most touched that my brother-in-laws and dad, who had never played the ukulele before, took countless lessons to learn how to play this song,” the bride says. “After the wedding, it was so sweet to see video footage of their various rehearsals. It was truly the greatest gift.”

Music was performed by a Motown band from Denver called Tunisia. For their first dance, the newlyweds chose Otis Redding’s “The Arms of Mine.” In order to prepare for New Year’s Eve, Jill changed into a multicolored sequin dress by Alexis and Stuart Weitzman gold scrappy sandals. “I thought I should change into something non-bridal and more fun for the after party,” she says. When the clock struck midnight, there was a balloon drop and colorful pom poms, New Years Eve hats, and noisemakers were passed around. “Kissing my wife when it hit midnight on New Year’s Eve and knowing that every anniversary for the rest of the lives would be a party was my favorite part of the reception,” Doug adds. “I’m also excited that it will basically be impossible for me to forget our anniversary date!”