Real Wedding: Nili & Anthony

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Woodstock, Vermont

How was Anthony Panebianco supposed to resist? When he stepped onto the elevator at the law firm in Boston where he worked as a real estate attorney and spotted a girl carrying a lifesize wooden deer head, he had to start a conversation with her. Nili Yavin, he discovered, worked as a litigation paralegal in another department.

After their first conversation, Nili invited Anthony to a party she was hosting for Canada Day in honor of her home country. (He didn’t come.) Anthony gave Nili a list of must-dos for her vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. (Nili ignored them all.) On their first date, they sat across from each other at the table sketching caricatures of one another on their paper napkins. (They both kept their drawings.) Clearly, they were meant to be together.

Nili came home from a trip to Maine around the anniversary of their first date to find the second bedroom doors closed and Anthony insistent that she keep them that way. He’d done some paintings, he said, and wanted to wait until after dinner to show her. Nili shrugged and sat down to a dinner of Maine lobster and a soundtrack of their favorite songs that Anthony had compiled. After dinner, as Anthony cleared the table, Nili decided to sneak a peek
at the paintings in the bedroom, only to see that the three paintings on the back wall were in fact a message from Anthony asking her to marry him. Anthony sprinted from the kitchen and dropped to one knee when he heard the door open, but before he could get out a single word, Nili tackled him. Five minutes later, when they’d caught their breath, she said “Yes.”

Though Nili and Anthony were sure they wanted to get married in New England — “There wasn’t a better place for us to share our love than where we fell in love,” says Nili — it took a little while to settle on Vermont. They looked at other places, but something kept pulling them back to Vermont. For one thing, Nili, who grew up in Calgary in western Canada, loved winter, and Vermont seemed to epitomize everything that was glorious about winter in New
England. Then, too, the location was perfect, not only for Nili’s family in Canada and Anthony’s in upstate New York but also for both planned and impromptu wedding-scouting expeditions. On one trip, Anthony and Nili visited the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, and though they eventually saw dozens of charming locations, Woodstock was the one that kept drawing them back.

Anthony and Nili wanted their wedding to be a rustic, yet elegant affair. They started with a wedding logo, a fir tree with their names, which they used on every part of the wedding they could, from the cake and invitations to the menu cards and CD wedding favors to the stir sticks and tote bags each guest received. Instead of paper, they used sheets of walnut wood for their printed materials to emphasize the event’s rustic nature. The tree theme carried over to the reception and wedding décor as well: The reception tables were named for different trees, a birch tree stump held the wedding cake, and a moss aisle runner framed by tree branches and logs all echoed the wedding logo. Anthony and Nili even gave tree saplings to their guests as wedding favors. Many of the wedding favors were hand-made or put together by Anthony and Nili themselves.

The wedding day itself flew by, with a few special moments standing out. Nili loved the horse-drawn carriage ride she took with Anthony just after the ceremony, which gave them a few minutes together to reflect on the amazing thing they’d just experienced. And they both loved dancing through the night. “We had to set an example for our guests,” says Nili with a smile.

Photography: Leigh Miller