The fashion designer and art specialist were set up by mutual friends, and then it was off to the races...
Most couples planning a wedding together tend not to see eye-to-eye on every single detail—not so for fashion designer Katie Ermilio and her now-husband Tylee Abbott, who got married on June 10, 2017.
The New York-based newlyweds were on the same page from the start, beginning with hosting the event in rural Pennsylvania, where they both happened to have grown up, less than 10 miles apart from each other. That they would host the party on Tylee’s grandmother’s thoroughbred horse farm was practically a given; “We’re lucky because we have similar tastes, and our vision was always aligned,” Katie says. That vision included an event that felt both formal and relaxed, with an aesthetic inspired by an English countryside garden.
“We started with the flowers, and just built around that,” says Tylee, the vice president of American art at Christie’s. “We wanted something classic, clean, and fresh—perfect for spring.” Despite having 280 guests, the couple wanted the event to feel intimate, which they achieved with a mix of round and banquet tables. “We loved that it felt like a bunch of friends and family getting together for a big, fun dinner,” Tylee says.
HOW THEY MET
Katie and Tylee actually met for the first time as preschoolers, growing up in rural Pennsylvania. But it wasn’t until January 2013 that they reconnected through a good, old-fashioned set up—only Katie had no idea a fix-up was taking place. The two met for dinner at Lovely Day in New York’s Nolita neighborhood, with a mutual friend and Tylee’s brother’s girlfriend in attendance. “I’d met Tylee’s brother and they look alike, so I thought she was Tylee’s girlfriend,” Katie says. “I was a little perplexed as to why he was spending so much time talking to me.”
Tylee, on the other hand, was smitten from the start. “I was pretty enamored,” he recalls. “She was a bundle of energy.” Tylee got Katie’s number, and proceeded to pursue her without much success. Katie cancelled a few times because she was busy running her namesake fashion line, but they finally went on that date. Within a year, they were living together.
Tylee had planned to propose to Katie during the summer of 2016 on his parent’s ranch in Montana—but another brother (he has three!) had the same idea for his girlfriend, and beat him to it.
Instead, Tylee planned a getaway to the ranch over Labor Day weekend instead. Upon arriving, he rushed Katie down to the pond to have a picnic and go fly-fishing. “As she was trying to fish, I got the ring out and proposed at the edge of the water,” says Tylee, who captured the whole thing on a video camera he had set up. Except for his brother and his fiancé —who showed up from their home in nearby Bozeman just after the proposal—nobody knew about the engagement until after they returned to New York. “Once you start telling everyone, it becomes all these calls and texts and we just wanted to bask in the afterglow for a minute,” Katie recalls. “To this day, my little sister has not forgiven me.”
Though they’d never explicitly discussed engagement rings, Tylee knew what Katie wanted from a trip to London years ago. “I took her window shopping to see what she would point out, and a three-stone ring was it,” he says. No surprise, since Katie and Tylee’s moms both have three-stone engagement rings (sapphires on either side of a diamond). “I thought it’d be nice to share in that tradition,” she says. Katie is good friends with jewelry designer Candace Pool Neistat of Finn, and Tylee turned to her for help. “She worked her magic and made it special and unique,” he says of the yellow gold ring with three diamonds. Candace also made the couple's wedding bands, as well as the diamond studs that Tylee gave to Katie the morning of their wedding.
THE REHEARSAL DINNER
Since the couple was engaged in Montana, they wanted to incorporate some Western elements into their rehearsal dinner, which was held inside the barn at Katie’s parent’s farm. The dress code called for blue jeans, button-downs, and cowboy boots, and Katie wore one of her own designs—an off-the-shoulder dress with puffed sleeves paired with Tabitha Simmons white eyelet shoes.
About 90 people attended the dinner—where grilled quail, pepper butter-poached halibut, spring pea risotto, and ice pops for dessert were served. After dinner, the event was opened up to all other guests for some live country and rock music. “Like the rest of the weekend, the rehearsal dinner was mellow and relaxed,” Katie says.
Between running a business and planning a wedding, Katie still found time to design her own gown, though she didn’t actually make it until a month out). “It was challenging, because as a designer, you can really do anything,” she says. “I had always envisioned being married in long sleeves, so that was all I knew. I sketched the first thing that came to mind, and just ran with it.”
The result was a corseted, scoop-neck gown made of intertwined tiered layers of floral embroidered cotton lace and French Chantilly lace. Underneath, she wore a bodysuit made of silk corded Chantilly. “Making my own gown and my veil made me feel so connected to my wedding, I can’t even explain it,” recalls the bride. Even more impressive? Katie also made the dresses for her bridesmaids in a Morbido tulle flown in from Spain, as well as looks for her mother and mother-in-law. “It was so nice for everyone to be a part of our day, and in this way I could also be a part of theirs,” she says.
Getting married in Pennsylvania, near their childhood homes, was practically a given—especially because Tylee’s grandmother owns a beautiful thoroughbred racehorse farm where aunts, cousins, and other family members have also tied the knot. “It was a bit of a no-brainer,” Tylee says. As for the ceremony, they chose St. David’s Church in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Not only did they both go there growing up, but Tylee’s parents got married there. “When we walked in, we knew it was for us,” Katie says. Adds Tylee, “It has a big chapel space that fits hundreds of people, but we chose to have the ceremony in the tiny, original church from the 1700’s and just crammed everyone in.”
In keeping with the English garden theme, Valley Forge Flowers transformed the church aisle into a path of delphinium, ferns, and garden-inspired blooms. Katie and Tylee didn’t see each other before the ceremony, which was officiated by the church’s reverend. And while the couple didn’t write their own vows, they did memorize them. “Tylee’s parents also memorized them, so we wanted to honor them by doing it, too,” Katie says.
After the ceremony, every guest signed a witness sheet, which is a Quaker tradition. “We’ll be able to remember everyone who was there on our day,” says Tylee, who wore a cutaway morninguit by Ermilio Clothiers, the bespoke suiting brand founded by Katie's grandfather.
After taking a few posed photographs in the church, the newlyweds escaped in a getaway car: a dark green 1970s Mercedes 280SL Convertible, which was filled with delphinium for their drive to the reception. “My mom surprised us by putting tin cans on the car, which was cute and very old school,” Tylee says. “Katie and I took the long way to the reception. We drove through the town and everyone we passed on the street started cheering.” Following the ceremony, the couple took family portraits, with their photographer, Meredith Heuer, who also shot the couple's wedding video.
The wedding took place the same weekend as the Belmont Stakes horse race—and given the location of the reception, it’s no surprise that guests wanted to watch. The couple obliged by setting up a big-screen TV inside the barn, where the tack room had been converted into a bourbon bar with 10 different bottles on offer. After the race, which signaled the end of cocktail hour, the fun really began inside the large sailcloth tent. “We opened the dance floor early because we wanted people to basically never sit down,” Katie says.
Despite protests from their parents and the caterer Max Hansen, Katie and Tylee were adamant about doing a family-style dinner. “It just makes it more social and fun, and we liked the idea of everyone interacting,” Tylee says. The couple picked a number of dishes they liked at the tasting “whether or not they made sense,” says Katie. But the end result was a delicious mix of flavors—filet mignon, pan-roasted trout, pesto gnocchi, buttermilk smashed potatoes, and broccoli rabe, to name a few.
For dessert, the duo took advantage of strawberry season, and opted for a cake with lemon curd, fresh strawberries, and vanilla buttercream icing. “I still have dreams about how incredible the cake was,” Tylee says. “Our baker from The Createrie (a local bakery that has since closed) made enough for all 280 people—there was no sheet cake in the back.” Katie surprised Tylee with a groom’s cake made of chocolate and Nutella, and there was also an antique ice cream truck handing out all the classics. “It was cake and ice cream, like a five-year-old’s birthday party,” Katie jokes.
The 11-piece band from Starlight Music kept everyone on their feet; “The band was incredible, and guests were getting up and singing songs with them,” Tylee says. It started to wind down at around 11 p.m., but they convinced the band to stay for an extra half hour. “Late in the evening, Tylee, his groomsmen, and both of our fathers dug up a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon—a family favorite—they had buried a month in advance of the wedding, which is a tradition to secure good weather,” says Katie, who changed into a lace slip dress with ribbon ties at the shoulder. Finally, at midnight, the newlyweds headed to The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia to rest up for a flight to Africa the following morning.
Katie and Tylee spent a little more than three weeks in Africa, with stops in South Africa, Botswana, and Mozambique. In Botswana, they stayed at Duba Plains Camp, which has just five luxury tents (and wasn’t yet open at the time they booked the trip). “We fell in love with it there, and were lucky to see so much,” Katie says. One highlight? Watching a pride of lions successfully hunt some warthogs.
“We were fortunate to have our own guide and Jeep, so we could pick how long we followed certain animals—and we stuck with the lions for hours,” Tylee says. The getaway ended on a relaxing note at andBeyond Benguerra Island, off the coast of Mozambique.