The Best is yet to come
“…and with you, the best is everyday”
Photography by Nicole Ellen Photography
“Can I kiss you yet?,” he whispers. “No, shhh,” she chides with a small smile as they turn back to face the officiant.
Surrounded by wildflowers of every color and loved ones from all walks of life, Chris Branning and his soon-to-be wife, Nicole Spencer (Nikki as her closest friends and family know her) are a vision rivaling the natural, rustic beauty of Bourne Farm in West Falmouth where they have chosen to celebrate their love.
“I knew since the moment I met you, my life would never be the same,” Chris tells Nikki as he begins his vows. As a military helicopter pilot and professional sailor of Morning Light fame—the 2008 movie about one of the world’s most challenging and prestigious open-ocean races, the TRANSPAC—life for Chris has been nothing short of extraordinary. “I peaked at Optis,” jokes Nikki about the extent of her sailing experience. But as Chris now shares, meeting Nikki (at a wedding of all places) was a life-changing adventure, one that would navigate him toward a relationship full of incredible memories, including weeks spent along the shores of Cape Cod, and one flawless day at Bourne Farm.
“I knew the second I locked eyes with him that there was something special there,” says Nikki about meeting Chris. “We talked all night, and I was flying to Florida to see him the very next weekend.” A few years later, Chris was down on one knee in front of a spectacular sunset and the love of his life. “I had one day off all summer,” recalls Nikki, an athlete in her own right as a professional dancer who has traveled all over the world performing on cruise ships. “Chris took me on a surprise trip to the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island in Florida. There was even a photographer hiding, dressed as a tourist.”
“That night I said to him, ‘Oh by the way, we already have a wedding date,” she says with a laugh, recalling how her mother, Adrienne Stuart, had booked Bourne Farm for the following summer and was already hard at work planning the wedding she knew was soon to come. “She’s been waiting for this party my whole life,” jokes Nikki.
“It was really amazing,” says Adrienne about the big day. “The Bourne Farm lends itself to real romance and magic, especially when the weather was as perfect as it was that day, but it was their true love that stole the show.”
Located along the banks of Crocker Pond, the historic farm is managed and maintained by Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries and includes 49 acres of scenic woodlands, trails and fields that make it the ideal location for special events. “When I was little, we would go pumpkin picking at Bourne Farm every year,” says Nikki about the venue. “It just spoke to me. It’s such a romantic place.”
The day began as the couple got ready in their separate rooms, Chris enjoying some time with his groomsmen and Nikki reading the 15 cards that Chris had hidden around her room—sweet messages like “I can’t wait to share my vows with you and to live them with you everyday for the rest of our lives.” On the bottom of her shoes, he wrote “Every step you take I will be right by your side forever,” on one and “I can’t wait to walk through life together as husband an wife,” on the other—sweet reassurances that carried Nikki all the way to their “first look” where Nikki met Chris on the causeway of Scraggy Neck prior to the ceremony and later, down the aisle.
For her dress, Nikki was breathtaking in a delicate and airy white gown and a vintage veil that belonged to her father’s great grandmother—making her the fourth generation to wear it down the aisle. “When I got the veil it was yellow. So we put it in a tub of OxiClean for four hours and said a little prayer. We watched a lot of YouTube videos and everyone was doing it,” laughs Nikki. “At the reception we displayed the veil on a table inside the barn next to pictures of every woman who’s worn the veil.”
Even though Nikki’s mom was the event planner extraordinaire, her dad still had his own special role to play—walking her down the aisle of course, and also as her dance partner for a uniquely personal father-daughter dance. “My mom married my dad when I was six, and he and I had a dance in their wedding that we had choreographed together. He was my very first dance partner,” says Nikki about how their special moment sent her down a lifelong path as a professional dancer. “For our dance at my wedding, we had the video of us dancing when I was six playing in the background and we recreated the dance.”
For the rest of the evening, Nikki wore a short white dress—easy for dancing. “The dance party was epic,” says Nikki who spent the night twirling and showing off the feathered skirt of her stylish new ensemble. “You know how sailors like to party,” she laughs. “Between all of our friends it was like the athletes and the artists all coming together.”
“I think my favorite part was walking towards Chris. Gorgeous music is playing, I’m trying not to cry, and I see him standing there and he’s just the only thing I can look at,” says Nikki, pointing out that the music was all chosen from her favorite musical theater songs and that the ring bearer carried her childhood stuffed animal to hold the rings—a “ring bear.” At the end of the aisle, Chris stood in front of Nikki’s aunt who officiated and under an arbor he made by hand—one that has now found a permanent home in the backyard of the couple’s family home in Megansett—embellished by wildflowers of orange, yellow, pink, and pops of blue and with branches twisting and intertwining at the top just as Nikki and Chris’s lives have done.
Next for Nikki and Chris: a trip to Iceland—the perfect honeymoon for a couple who spend most of their days on the shores of Florida or Cape Cod (something they celebrated with a sand ceremony at the wedding, combining sand Nikki collected from the Cape and sand Chris collected from Sarasota). And Nikki’s biggest advice to soon-to-be brides: “Before you walk down the aisle, take a deep breath and take in every single step that you take. That is the most special moment that you’ll ever have—that walk down the aisle—so take it all in, squeeze your dad and enjoy it.”
Nicole and Zach Gowan
Hair and Makeup:
I Do Onsite Hair and Face
Cape Cod Celebrations
BrendaMaver-Brenda the Wandering Florist
Farm Tables & Chairs:
Murray Hill Talent – Scott Arrington
Bride’s Wedding Dress:
Willowby By Watters from The White Magnolia Boutique
Twigs and Honey
Carlson Audio Visual, Inc.
Welcome Party Catering:
Getting Ready Robes:
Plum Pretty Sugar
Fenway String Quartet