Take a Peek at this Grand Villanova Wedding
The couple, who wedded at the Overbrook Country Club, will celebrate their one-year anniversary this November.
All photos by Alison Conklin Photography.
It was a surreal moment. On Nov. 8, 2014, Christine and Rick Neeson watched as their daughter, Kieran, and their new son-in-law, Tom Hyland, danced their first dance as husband and wife at the iconic Overbrook Golf Club in Villanova. It’s exactly where the older couple had taken to the dance floor for their first dance at their own wedding 37 years ago. “My family has celebrated every major occasion in our lives at Overbrook,” says Kieran. “So it was a definite that was where I was going to be married.”
Flash back four years. Kieran, who grew up in Devon, was enjoying the single life at the Jersey Shore the summer after graduating from Notre Dame University. A mutual friend introduced her to Tom, originally from Westchester County, N.Y., who had just graduated from Georgetown University. The recent graduates had another thing in common: In the fall, they were both moving to New York City for new jobs (Kieran works in the finance department at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Tom is a private banker at Citibank).
The summer introduction turned into big-city dating by fall. In August 2013, the Shore played another major role in their relationship. Tom proposed to Kieran on the beach on a gorgeous Saturday morning. “My family has a house in Avalon, and we grew up going here,” says Kieran. “It’s my absolute favorite place, so it meant a lot that Tom proposed to me there.” A morning proposal ensured that the couple had the remainder of the day to celebrate. Tom had also arranged for their friends to gather that night for a party to mark the occasion.
Even though the Jersey Shore was important to the couple’s relationship, Overbrook Golf Club was the first and only choice for Kieran to celebrate her wedding day. Besides her parents’ reception there, Kieran celebrated other milestones at the venue, including her 16th birthday and high school graduation.
Before finalizing a date with Overbrook, Kieran had to make sure another “must-have” vendor on her list was available. She had her eye on Philadelphia-based photographer Alison Conklin. “I knew about Alison through a family friend who used her, and I started following her blog when I was still in college,” she says.
Kieran liked that Alison’s images were mostly candid shots and not formal. “Her candids capture the emotion of the day and look really genuine,” she says.
With the venue and photographer booked, the third priority was hiring entertainment. Jellyroll, a local wedding and party band known for getting crowds to dance, was their choice. “My parents didn’t want to consider any other band after hearing them a few times at other weddings,” Kieran says.
While planning her wedding, one word kept coming up to depict her vision: classic. “My rule of thumb was that I wanted to look back at the photos from my wedding and be able to say this wedding could have happened in 1950, 1960 or 2014,” says Kieran. “I wanted my wedding to be timeless.”
Her next task was finding a wedding dress to fit her theme. “I knew I wanted to wear a big ball gown because it’s the only time in your life that you can wear something like that,” she says. “I also knew that I didn’t want the dress to have any beading or rhinestones.” It took a three-day, New York City shopping expedition with her mother for Kieran to finally find a dress at Kleinfeld Bridal.
The experts at the famous salon suggested she try on a Romona Keveza, silk taffeta, strapless gown. But there was an issue. The dress was slate blue, though it could be ordered in white. “As soon as I tried it on, I knew it was the one,” says Kieran. “I didn’t even see it in white until it came in six weeks before the wedding.”
The dress selection for her bridesmaids also had some hitches. Kieran originally wanted her party to wear white, but she was cautioned they all would blend together. Instead, she chose black, and the search was on. “My maid of honor owns an online clothing company called Tuckernuck, and she had been at a tradeshow where they were showing Shoshanna’s fall line,” says Kieran. “She saw a dress that she knew I would love.” Her friend arranged a special showing of the gown, which had a black top with bold, white chevron stripes on the skirt. “They were not your typical bridesmaid dress, and I loved that,” says Kieran.
Tom left most of the wedding details to Kieran’s discretion. His only request was that a close friend, the Rev. Joe Parkes, officiate at the Catholic ceremony at St. John Neumann Parish in Bryn Mawr. Tom met the priest while participating in a volunteer teaching program in Harlem. “It really meant so much to me that he married us,” says Tom. “He knows Kieran and I very well, and he really made the ceremony special for us.”
To keep the celebratory mood going on her wedding day, Kieran planned for an after-party at Overbrook after the reception. In a tented area, a DJ kept the tunes coming while guests danced until 1:30 a.m. “I simply didn’t want the party to end,” she says.
After the wedding, Kieran’s mother, Christine, reflected on the experience and offered advice to prospective mothers of brides. “I would say calm down and enjoy every moment because it’s not worth it to get yourself all worked up,” she says. “It is one of the most wonderful times in a person’s life—to see your daughter so happy with a person she loves. I wish someone had told me that. It was such a happy, happy day.”
A new job for the groom meant that the couple had to postpone their honeymoon until this fall. They’ll celebrate their first anniversary in style with a trip to Hawaii.