When Thrift Meets Chic
This Bohemian bride did not have to compromise on style for her green nuptials.
Written by Monica Orosz Photographed by Liv Hefner Photography
Alex Aspinwall recalls noticing Allie Boso around the campus of West Virginia University when he enrolled there in 2010—her distinctive fashion sense at the time included carrying a Rubik’s Cube- inspired purse she’d found at a thrift store. The native of Chesapeake, Virginia, hadn’t quite worked out a way to strike up a conversation with Allie until he noticed her standing in line one day to donate blood. “I’d never given blood before, but I figured if there’s ever a good time to give blood, it’s now,” says Alex, who’d transferred to WVU as a sophomore. “I saw she was giving blood at 2, so I went for 2 also.”
Alex and Allie, a freshman, chatted during the process, which fortunately went smoothly, and afterward he asked her if she’d like to go to a baseball game in Pittsburgh with him. When Alex learned Allie was a vegetarian, he tried not to advertise the fact that he’s an avid hunter and fisherman—in fact, he’d transferred to WVU after a year of college in Virginia to enter WVU’s fisheries management program. Allie, who’d grown up in Wood County, near Parkersburg, was a fashion design major and says the hunting and fishing stickers on Alex’s car gave him away.
Still, the two hit it off immediately and issues like eating meat and hunting didn’t seem to matter as much as the things they shared in common, like enjoying nature and concern for the environment. By the time Alex graduated, a semester before Allie, they were planning their future together. Alex headed off to graduate school at Auburn University in Alabama and the two were separated for about six months before Allie graduated in the spring of 2014 and decided to move to be near him.
That fall, he proposed. “There was a park across from where I lived and we would walk there a couple of times a week,” Allie says. “One day we met there and he wanted to get some good pictures with the leaves, so he set up a GoPro camera to get pictures, and he proposed.” They decided to marry the following summer, giving them about 10 months to plan the wedding.
An Outdoor Ceremony
Allie knew right away she wanted to get married at her family’s home in Washington, situated on 13 acres that had provided many happy days of playing in the woods as a child. “I’ve always wanted a small wedding and I didn’t want it to be indoors or in a church,” she says. “I had seen a picture of a wedding in the middle of the woods, so that was my original plan. I just wanted to be really close to nature and to have just our families there.” Alex says that was just fine with him. “I kind of liked that it was going to be in the woods and outside,” he says.
Allie’s mom, Anne Boso, admits she and her husband, Ed, were taken aback by the plan at first. “We kind of panicked,” she says. “We tried to get her to consider a church wedding—we were a little afraid we couldn’t make this wedding what she wanted. I had never been to a wedding in the woods. But after about two weeks, we just decided it was so Allie. She is so hippie, and Alex is an avid hunter and fisherman. It was perfect for them, so how could we say no? We accepted the challenge.”
Then Allie started letting her other ideas slip out a bit at a time, Anne recalls: things like how she wanted to make her own wedding dress and purchase used bridesmaids’ dresses from thrift stores, and that she wanted a “green” wedding—no paper products. “Little by little, she told us what the whole idea was. And we accepted each thing as it came along,” Anne says.
Walking The Walk
This was the child, after all, who had been a vegetarian since the 10th grade and who preferred as a teen to purchase clothing at thrift stores and remake them.“It got to the point where she didn’t want to buy new material. She wouldn’t even let me take her shopping for new clothes, except for jeans,” says Anne, a seamstress who taught Allie to sew when she was a girl.
Though she was under no edict to keep costs down, Allie says she was determined to. The biggest savings came from having a wedding at home and the reception in the family barn. There were some compromises, however. At first, Allie suggested guests—about 100 total—
could just sit on the ground during the ceremony. Anne put her etiquette foot down and came up with an alternative that suited Allie to a T. A windstorm had come through the property and knocked down a number of oak and cherry trees that Ed, who is handy with wood, hadn’t gotten around to dealing with. The Bosos suggested he could craft benches for the wedding using the felled wood for the bases and planed wood from a local sawmill for the tops.
The no-paper edict actually made planning dinner settings a fun project. “I have to confess, I love dishes and old glassware, so I had a good start,” Anne says. Her collection was being built even before Allie was born—she’d attended an auction at the closing DeSales Heights Academy in Parkersburg when she was pregnant with Allie. “They had a fabulous set of china from the ’20s and I waited all morning for it to come to bid. And I eventually got it,” she says. “I never realized I was buying china for the baby I was carrying—I never really used that
china until the wedding.”
Still, the wedding dinner was going to require more settings than the Bosos owned. Anne and Ed spent weekends scouring antique shops and flea markets, making a loop around West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. “Everything was going to be mismatched, all different colors,” Anne says. “I kept a running tally of colors and designs I already had and I tried to buy in multiples when I could. I wanted to make it look cool. I probably had three boxes of silver plate by the time I was finished—we mismatched all of that as well.”
Anne did not stop there. “I found some old cotton napkins with crocheted edges, and Allie said they would be great.” Her collection of pewter candlesticks also would be put to good use.
In a favorite antique shop and craft mall in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, they found a chandelier perfect for anchoring the wooded site of the wedding—and they returned there when everyone decided another was needed for the barn reception area.
Planning From Afar
Because Allie and Alex were still in Auburn and Anne was in West Virginia—and because none of them had experience lining up caterers, florists, and the like—they decided some help was in order. Enter Misti Sims of Little Black Dress, an event planner who works in both Ohio and West Virginia. “I couldn’t have done it without my mom and I don’t think my mom could have done it without Misti,” Allie says.
Misti loved Allie’s Bohemian vision for the wedding and stepped in quickly with ideas of her own, along with recommending vendors that fit the bride’s ideas. The three soon were texting, emailing, and sharing photos of ideas. “I bounced ideas off her and asked her opinion and I just can’t say enough about her,” Anne says of Misti.
Allie was adamant about not wasting paper and Anne says if she’d had her way, there wouldn’t have even been paper save-the-date notices or invitations. Misti located a source of botanical paper that could be used for both. “It was embedded with wild flower seeds that could be planted after,” Anne says. “We purchased the same paper to print programs on.”
Misti, who has run her own business for seven years, calls the Boso-Aspinwall wedding one of her all-time favorite events. “I loved Allie’s style. And I never did a wedding before where the bride had such concerns about being green.” The planner also appreciated the enthusiasm Allie’s parents had for sourcing eclectic details for the wedding. The only items rented were farm tables, which were paired with Chiavari fruitwood chairs Misti owns as part of her business.
She recommended Valley Catering in Washington, which developed a menu that included pecan chicken and a pasta bar, and that emphasized local produce that would be in season during the August wedding. Lisa’s Sweet Stop in Beverly created a traditional three-tiered cake along with other confections, such as cookies and candy.
Misti recommended photographer Liv Hefner because her photo style is soft. “I knew she could capture these two beautiful people being married in the forest where Allie used to swing as a little girl; I knew she could capture the story of Allie and her dad walking out the front door of their home, down the steps, in a gown she made herself and into the woods.”
Passiflora in Marietta was the natural choice for flowers. Owner Caroline Waller is a grower and designer with an extensive cutting garden who created arrangements and bouquets that fit Allie’s request that they seem like plucked wild flowers. Selections included zinnias, hydrangeas, roses, and even green succulents tucked in. The groom and groomsmen wore boutonnieres made of succulents.
The Big Day
The day of the wedding, August 22, 2015, dawned beautifully—Misti jokes she has a weather angel on her side. “In 100 weddings I have planned, it’s only rained for one of them.”
Ed’s benches were in place, along with several Persian rugs from the Boso household, which decorated the gift and guest book section as well as where the bride and groom stood when they exchanged vows. Antiques placed around the area created a welcoming outdoor space at the edge of the woods. A mint-colored vintage bicycle, complete with flowers bursting from the basket, added to the ambience. Ed surprised his daughter by making and hanging a wooden swing similar to one Allie had played on many times as a child. He also borrowed a vintage Volkswagen bus as a prop for photos—Allie says she’s always dreamed of owning one.
The bride donned the long ivory chiffon and silk charmeuse dress she designed and made. It was sleeveless, with a deep V front and a low back embellished with a chain detail made of Swarovski crystals and rhinestone strands Allie found at a hobby store. Her mom ordered the belt and Allie, who was barefoot for the wedding, created coordinating anklets. She wore an Italian silver necklace that had been her great-grandmother’s. She estimates her total cost was about $100.
In keeping with the rest of the wedding, Allie selected mismatched blush dresses that she and her mother found used, in stores and on eBay, for the four bridesmaids. “I didn’t want my bridesmaids to have to worry about spending money on a dress when they agreed to be with me on my day,” Allie says. All she asked was that they wear neutral sandals—or go barefoot, as she did.
Alex and his groomsmen wore simple gray tuxes from Hornor & Harrison in Parkersburg. Alex had no special requests or requirements for the day, “as long as Allie was happy.” Nonetheless, he wasn’t forgotten in the planning. The tables were decorated with antlers, a nod to the hunter.
Allie’s father walked her down the aisle to The Temptations’ “My Girl.” As part of the ceremony, Allie and Alex planted a tree on the property, near the road, where they will be able to see it in years to come even if her family no longer owns the home. The oak was placed in soil from both Allie’s and Alex’s homes to symbolize the families joining together.
During the barn reception, Allie and Alex had their first dance to Aqualung’s “Brighter Than Sunshine.” In a fun turn of events, Allie’s maid of honor caught the bouquet and Alex’s best man was able to nab the garter. Now that Alex, 26, has completed his graduate degree, the couple has relocated to Norfolk, Virginia, a natural place to pursue his fisheries management career. And Allie, 24, has recently changed her diet a bit. She now eats fish.