While attending a mutual friend’s wedding in Norway, Sarah Saeli of Smoke & Slate met Dixon Mallory. She suggested doing a hiking trip with her friends, and Dixon asked to tag along with one of his friends. He and Sarah have been together ever since.
Three years after their friend’s wedding, Dixon and Sarah traveled to her older brother’s home in Marion, Massachusetts for a family getaway. While playing bocce, Sarah threw the ball and turned around to find Dixon kneeling upon his knee with a ring. Sarah beams as she remembers her proposal, “I was completely surprised, and it was so much fun celebrating with my family right after!”
Choosing Vermont for the wedding venue was an obvious decision. “Dixon grew up going to Vermont, and we have spent many fall and winter weekends there together,” Sarah explains. “We wanted all of our guests to enjoy the hiking, stunning fall foliage, and fresh air of our favorite place!” Once they visited Edson Hill in Stowe, the two fell in love with the space and canceled the rest of their venue appointments. They immediately reserved the beautifully decorated inn for a September date.
The rehearsal dinner kicked off the celebrations. Everyone sipped cocktails and dined from the raw bar. Dixon’s mother planned the event and tied in special touches. The place cards featured beehives, and the escort cards were tied to honey lollipops—a nod to the couple’s beekeeping pastime.
For Sarah’s bridal look, she knew she wanted to strike the delicate balance between a high neck and a low back. “Sleek but not too much fabric,” she further clarifies. “I wanted to make sure that it was easy to move in and lightweight, so that I could dance the night away in it!”
Sarah only tried on three dresses before slipping on Elizabeth Fillmore’s Stella gown. When her mother started crying, they knew this silky, buttery number was the one. Holly Coons of H Studio perfected Sarah’s glowing beauty look.
The groom wore a sleek, custom Thom Sweeney suit. His brother and best man gave him this suit as an extremely thoughtful wedding gift. Dixon’s groomsmen wore dark blue suits with matching gifted Ferragamo ties featuring bee insignia. “We are beekeepers, so it was a really fun touch,” Sarah notes. Her bridesmaids sported floral outfits in a fall color palette, and her mother wore an elegant Alice Walk dress. Sarah’s oldest brother’s two daughters took their role as flower girls very seriously. The eldest flower girl was so determined to perfect her duties that she picked flowers at the rehearsal dinner for the guests.
As a beekeeper, Sarah cannot help but gloat over the beautiful floral arrangements Blossoming Bough created. “Our florist did an amazing job decorating an arbor for the ceremony with pops of fall color,” she describes. “She also created stunning arrangements to hang on chairs along the aisle.”
On September 18, 2021, the rain that was supposed to pour decided to hold off and instead linger over the ceremony with protruding, dramatic clouds. Underneath this cinematic vista, Dixon and Sarah stood before their guests at their outdoor altar. Their mutual friend Lily officiated the ceremony. She and Sarah met in college, and it was through Lily that Sarah met Dixon. “Lily grew up with Dixon, and they went to high school together!” Sarah says. It only made sense to have someone so integral to their meeting be a key part of their nuptials.
Officially Mr. and Mrs. Mallory, the newlyweds drove off in Dixon’s father’s red car. They savored these few moments alone and took quick post-nuptials photos before meeting their guests for the tented reception.
The party began with a bang. Their band, Love Revival, burst into song in the middle of the cocktail tent and ushered everyone into the reception tent. Sarah’s mother cleverly incorporated little details that paid homage to Sarah’s upbringing in Michigan. Whenever guests visit her family’s cottage in Northern Michigan, Sarah’s mother uses rocks as the place card. “These rocks are saved in a bowl, and it’s so fun to look through and see who’s visited our house and re-use them when people come back again,” Sarah shares. Her mother included this tradition and enlisted a wonderful Michigan-based calligrapher to address the wedding envelopes and write guests’ names on the place card rock at the reception. For the brisk Vermont evening air, Sarah’s mother also found gingham blankets and tied them to a card that read, “To have and to hold, in case you get cold.”
Edson Hill catered the delectable dinner. Guests dined on burrata salad, beef tenderloin and halibut or lemon risotto, and hazelnut cake. There were also plenty of Tom’s Mom’s Cookies, which are treats from Harbor Springs, Michigan with a large cult following.
After dinner, everybody danced the night away. Dixon worked closely with the band to curate the setlist. Notable song selections include Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” Sarah laughs, “It was definitely random, but such a crowd pleaser and funny surprise!” When guests weren’t grooving, they could go to the photo booth inside of a retro cherry red Volkswagen bus by Photo Booth Planet.
The bride and groom shared their first dance to one of their favorite tunes to blare in the car, “My Maria” by Brooks and Dunn. In that moment, they were grateful for the dance lessons they enrolled in before the wedding. Knowing how to move took off all of the stress of performing in front of their guests.
By the end of the night, the newlyweds were sent off with a sparkler exit. Dixon and Sarah ran right through and up the hill to the tavern for a laidback after-party by the fire pit.
When looking back on her wedding, Sarah struggles to pinpoint just one favorite moment. Instead, she will sum up the experience by remembering what it was like to finally see so many loved ones in one place after two years of COVID-19. “We postponed our wedding by a full year because of COVID and at many points, we weren’t sure that we would be able to have a wedding like this,” she tells. “To see it all come together as we had hoped felt surreal! We feel so lucky that we were able to have a wedding like this!”