In January of 2011, Kate Dougherty made two New Year’s Resolutions: (1) To dress more ladylike (2) To adopt a no fear mentality for the coming year. “It was resolution two that prompted Kate to ask me out on our first date,” explains Benjamin Towill. “She arrived at the agreed Brooklyn restaurant in a Ford pick up truck, with a can of Budweiser in the cup holder, playing Bruce Springsteen—for a boy from England, that was it.”
Continuing with the no fear theme, Ben embarked on a trip to visit Kate in Aspen, where she was working at the time, for their second date. A few days turned into a week after a few convenient snow storms blocked all planes from getting out, and it was during this time that they started to realize this might be the real thing. Four years and a move to Charleston, S.C., later and Ben was planning a proposal.
“We were building our former house in downtown Charleston and had just finished the demo—so the whole inside was gutted down to the studs,” remembers Kate. “The project was big and at times quite stressful. The house didn’t feel like our own, but more of a money sucking job site. I was the contractor on the build, which was convenient but also very challenging. One evening while we were biking to dinner, Ben said he wanted to stop by the house to show me an exciting idea he had for the dining fireplace area. I had not been at the house that day as I’d been in desperate need of some time off from it all, and the last place I wanted to go was to that construction site. But, intrigued, I agreed and we cycled over. I could see a candle was lit through the holes in the wooden clapboard siding and instantly thought there was a homeless person sleeping in there. I barged through in front of Ben, and to my surprise, I found the whole inside filled with candles, our dining table from our apartment had been set with a gorgeous dinner, many bottles of Champagne, and Sam Cooke playing in the background. I turned around, and there was Ben down on one knee. I began jumping up and down, crying and laughing, and we danced the night away in our new home, which I saw in a whole new light from that night on.”
The two now combine her design background and his experience creating renowned eateries like The Fat Radish in New York City and Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk to collaborate on Basic Projects, a lifestyle driven design and development company that focuses on finding unique properties and developing the best programs suited to them. Planning the wedding was another fun joint project for the aesthetically-minded couple. They knew they wanted to marry in Colorado “at the beginning of the summer when the wildflowers are in bloom,” so they set a date of June 26, 2015. “We went there for vacation growing up, and it was always my happy place,” says Kate. The summer before the wedding the couple had gone to the Wilderness Festival in the U.K. and both decided it would serve as the main inspiration for their wedding weekend, which they dubbed “The Festival of Love.”
Kate shared her vision for the wedding with Charleston-based dress designer, Kate McDonald. “She understood exactly what I wanted,” she remembers. For jewelry, she wanted to wear some turquoise since they were out west. “My best friends and maids of honor, Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato, have a gorgeous jewelry company and made my earrings from turquoise they found in Colorado. They were perfect, and that’s all I wore.”
Kate’s little brother, Mike played “Moonshiner” as the bride walked down the aisle. “He’s a very talented musician!” she says. During the ceremony, one of their readings was “When I’m 64” by the Beatles. “We love those lyrics so much and both grew up listening to the Beatles,” says Kate. “We had our friend Jamie, who has a big personality, do this reading. He broke into song, and we had a brass band hiding in the trees behind us. The whole crowd stood up and starting clapping and singing—it was magic!”
During cocktail hour, Moscow mules and Gin & Tonics made by the couple’s friends at Jack Rudy were served. While a tomato salad, pesto pasta, and Colorado lamb with roasted potatoes and charred broccoli by Chef Miles Angelo was served, speeches were given by the bride’s mother and father, the best man, and then the groom. “All of the toasts were beautiful—there was not a dry eye in the house,” says Kate.
The newlyweds kicked off the dancing with “Rebel Rouser” by Duane Eddy. “The same brass band that had performed the Beatles during the ceremony played this for us along with the DJ,” says Kate. “It was quite a moment. The song starts out quite slow with a single guitar and then picks up with loads of trumpets. No one could stay in their seats when the horns started, and it was ON from there!”
With their love of dressing up and the Wilderness Festival as their inspiration, they asked about twenty of their closest friends to bring their best costumes and then bought some others at random. “I’ll never forget the moment when I was on the dance floor and started to see the costumes come out,” says Kate. “First there was an astronaut, and then I saw three tigers with flower crowns. It felt like the best dream of all time!”
Late night, most people were either in costumes or wigs, and guests danced from the reception tent over to a second dance floor in a treehouse, where friend and famous DJ, Paul Harris was ready to get the after-party going. “There were multi-colored lights in the trees,” says Kate, “and a teepee village had a roaring bonfire going. There were also blow up animals in the pond.” Shoes quickly flew off. “My dress was full of grass stains by the end of the night, and a pizza guy delivered 50 pies at 2:00 a.m. It went until the wee hours, and Ben and I were one of the last couples on the dance floor. We never wanted it to end!”