Dahlia Filled Audubon Center at Mill Grove Pennsylvania Wedding With Animal Surprises

Owls, Kitties & Dahlias, oh my!  I am one that is all for uniqueness and fun when it comes to weddings and in this case, Tricia Mongan & Tom Handza have stolen my heart!  Leading the way right from the start of their wedding adventure, Tiger, Tricia & Tom’s adorable tabby, was featured in full tux on the couple’s Save The Dates, even making an appearance on the big day in spirit!  Keeping with the animal theme, the couple said ‘I Do’ on the sprawling grounds of  John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, which also doubles as an owl sanctuary.  A sweet perk to couple’s marrying there is the appearance of some of these gorgeous rescued owls, making for some pretty distinguished wedding guests!  The wedding itself took place on a private corner of the estate, simply done, allowing nature to be the true star.  Dahlias in a multitude of hues hallmarked the day, while accented by wild flower like blooms.  Guests gathered under the open area loft barn where blooms filled mason jars added to the natural beauty around, all done in subtle touches of purple & peach.  Perhaps the sweetest element of all to the day is the gown that Tricia wore.  Believe it or not this same wedding dress was worn by her sister!  With a few alterations & additions the gown was transformed, shared between the two on the biggest days of their lives, and now they have a unique piece of their history to tie them together!  I am loving this idea and the sentimental value behind it is simply beyond.  Classic, chic & uniquely playful, Tricia & Tom’s rustic Pennsylvania wedding was divine!


Novella of the Bride…

Wedding Buzzwords~ Festive, Elegant, Picnic
Specialty Cocktail~ Tipsy Arnold Palmer

The couple met while in college, as Tricia lived in the dorm room above a high school friend of Tom. At the time, Tom’s nickname was “Jesus,” because of his flowing locks, Birkenstocks, and peaceful spirit. Although they hung out many times throughout college and over summers at the beach, they were never more than acquaintances. After Tricia graduated from law school and returned to the Philadelphia area in 2008, the couple had a chance meeting at a bar in the city, Drinkers, the day after Thanksgiving. Tricia did a “triple take,” not quite believing that the handsome, short-haired, clean cut guy in a suit was the same “Jesus” she knew in college. After waiting for him to walk past her, Tricia stopped Tom to ask, “Are you Jesus?” His reply: “How do you know that name?” Tom asked to buy Tricia a drink, but was foiled in his attempt when her sister Kate turned around to hand her one. Every year on the anniversary of that chance encounter at Drinkers, the couple returns there so that Tom can buy Tricia that drink.

Early on in the relationship, Tricia often joked that Tom didn’t actually remember her from their college days. He proved her wrong by recalling a story about a young woman at a party at the University of Delaware who could have only been her. At the time, Tom had recently adopted a kitten, and brought it with him to the mutual friend’s apartment on the Delaware campus. When the young woman arrived at the party and learned that a tiny kitten was secured in a bedroom at the back of the apartment, she disappeared from the party for the rest of the night. Tricia’s fondness for cats is well-known, proving Tom’s memory of her correct. In fact, the couple’s Save the Date card for their wedding features their cat, Tiger, handsomely decked out in a tuxedo.

We wanted the wedding décor to be as simple as possible. The venue, the Audubon Center, is absolutely stunning, so we figured the scenery itself made the theme. That said, one special touch was a life-size photo canvas portrait of our cat, Tiger, using the same photo as was on our Save the Date cards. Many people asked in the months leading to the wedding if Tiger would be at the wedding (of course not!) but we (Tricia) thought it would be funny to have him there in spirit. Another unique element at the wedding: during cocktail hour, a one-eyed owl named Samuel Adams made an appearance. The Audubon Center has an owl rescue on the property, so visits from Samuel Adams or his friend, Owlbert, are an optional perk for couples who hold weddings there. A final unique element – Tricia’s mom, Mary Lou came up with the idea to have a guest quilt instead of a guest book. Using fabric markers, guests were asked to write a special message for the couple on a square of fabric. Now that the wedding is over, Mary Lou is working hard to turn these squares into a quilt, which will be a lifetime keepsake!

A Little Help From Their Friends~ Tricia wore her sister Kate’s wedding gown, with a few changes to make it unique to her (the addition of sleeves, and the use of a different sash). Tricia’s mom, Mary Lou, had suggested the idea, and Kate and Tricia managed to keep it a secret (and lie straight to mom’s face, several times) until the alterations were done several months later. When Tricia sent Mary Lou a photo of her wearing the finished product, Mary Lou exclaimed that it was beautiful, but didn’t recognize it! Tricia’s Aunt Judy also embroidered two strips of grosgrain to sew into the inside of the dress – one with Kate’s initials and wedding date, and one with Tricia’s. Another special family element – at the rehearsal dinner, Tricia and Tom presented gifts to the two youngest members of the bridal party – our nieces, Leah and Ellie. Tom’s mom, Cecelia, purchased a doll for each flower girl, and she made dresses for the dolls that were exact replicas of Leah and Ellie’s flower girl dresses. The dresses were so beautiful and intricate! Also at the rehearsal dinner, Tricia and Tom presented gifts to our parents to thank them for all their love, generosity, and support during the wedding planning process. For Tom’s parents – a portrait of them on their own wedding day, painted by Tom’s cousin, Rosemary. And for Tricia’s parents – a portrait of them on their wedding day, painted by the bride herself. It really made the evening special to present these gifts to our parents!

A Special Touch~ The bridesmaids gifted us with a cookbook at the rehearsal dinner, filled with recipes from all our friends and family. They had contacted our guests months beforehand and asked for a favorite recipe to include, along with a photo of them with us. It’s called “LET’S EAT: A Cookbook to Celebrate Trish and Tommy” and is amazing!

The Favorite Moment: “Our favorite moment came at the after party, at the bar at the hotel, when the celebrations were winding down and we had a moment to chat by ourselves about all the festivities. During the planning process, many people had warned us that the wedding day would fly by, with all the little moments nearly forgotten in all the rush and activity. But we disagreed – the day had just been perfect, and we really felt that we had been able to live in the moment and enjoy all the fun. What a day!”

Vendor Love

VenueJohn James Audubon Center at Mill Grove | Wedding Dress: Borrowed From Sister, Added Sleeves | Bridesmaid Dresses: Alfred Sung  | Shoes: Vera Wang Lavender Label | Hair: Currie Hair, Skin & Nails | Makeup: Visare Mavraj | Groom’s Attire: Henry A. Davidsen | Caterer + Baker: Jeffrey Miller Catering | Transportation: THG Transport, Inc | Invitations: Minted | Music: Stone Mt. Road Band, Lovesick Inc| Rentals: The Party Center | Floral: Falls Flowers | Event Planner:  I DO Wedding Consulting | Photographer BG Productions