Photography by Robert George and Joel Marion
What does a celebrated wedding planner, who has assisted in over 1,000 weddings, do to mark his own special day? For James Robert (Rob) Schaefer, 46, of St. Louis, who married Lance Edward Howley, 47, an accountant, in March, the answer boiled down to the red, white, and blue—of Britain, that is. A keen Anglophile, Schaefer designed their wedding at the Coronado Ballroom in St. Louis, Missouri, around a formal, British high tea inspired by the hit PBS show Downton Abbey. Naturally, fine hats and fascinators abounded.
It was a gilded celebration for two men who discovered one another on Match.com, and were engaged seven months later. “Lance is a man who always tells the truth,” recalled Schaefer recently. “As a silly gesture I put some toy handcuffs in his Christmas stocking. At a party, when someone asked him what he got in his stocking he said 'handcuffs' very loudly—the entire room burst out laughing, and I turned every shade of red possible.”
It wasn’t all British colors at the wedding. In honor of Howley’s Irish ancestry, panels of emerald green velvet were draped from a garden arbor for the ceremony. Resting on a British coat of arms, and designed by Randy Shamel of Artistry, the arbor was crested with forsythia, tulips and roses, with sun catcher crystals from Rob’s childhood bedroom suspended inside. An antique Dulcimer played 16th-century ceremony music and the couple walked down the aisle precisely at noon... a tradition observed by British nobility.
As for the wedding cake, what else but an English Toffee Sticky Pudding, accompanied by hot caramel sauce, and adorned with tulips, roses, and English marzipan fruits. And in place of champagne flutes for the toast, hell, why not drink out of fine bone china teacups. Doesn’t everything taste better that way?
With all that pageantry, there was only one place to turn to for their rings: the past. For the wedding, the couple restored an Art Nouveau wedding ring that belonged to Shaeffer’s great grandfather; a diamond solitaire that belonged to his grandmother was incorporated into a second ring.