Inside Survivor Star Ethan Zohn's Rustic Vermont Wedding
The cancer survivor married New York City interior designer Lisa Heywood on July 16
Surrounded by 160 guests, Zohn and New York City interior designer Lisa Heywood were wed on Saturday in North Bennington, Vermont. “There was an overwhelming sense of love,” the couple tell PEOPLE exclusively. “Our families and friends came together in the most perfect way and the love and happiness could be felt and seen on the smiles on everyone’s face in the room.”
The wedding celebration began the night before at the couple’s family-only rehearsal dinner at the Taraden Bed and Breakfast. Guests dined on pizza, salad and homemade pies from Classic Crust as well as wine from Mercer Estates.
The following afternoon, Zohn and Heywood, who converted to Judaism, were married in a Jewish ceremony in the formal gardens of the Park-McCullough House, a 35-room Victorian mansion built in 1864. Officiated by Rabbi Robin Nafshi and Cantor Shira Nafshi from Temple Beth Jacob in Concord, N.H., the wedding took place under an arched chuppah covered in flowers and a cloth handmade by Heywood.
During the ceremony, Zohn, who wore an ivory linen and silk custom made suit by Aspetto, and Heywood were wrapped in the tallit (prayer shawl) of Zohn’s late father, Aaron, for the Birkat Hakohanim – a blessing of peace. “My mom, Rochelle walked to the chuppa and wrapped us in my dad’s tallit,” Zohn says. “For both Lisa and I to feel and touch and smell the prayer shawl that my dad used his entire life to begin our new life together was truly a blessing.”
Heywood, who wore a champagne beaded lace mermaid gown by Israeli designer Inbal Dror from Mark Ingram Atelier, also hand-crafted her headpiece using beads given to her by Zohn’s mom.
• For more exclusive photos from Zohn and Heywood’s wedding, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday
After the wedding, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour on the mansion’s wrap-around porch with passed hors d’oeuvres featuring corn and lobster fritters, smoked trout and buttermilk fried chicken.
Boston Rustic Wedding Rentals built a “sign-in bench” for guests that the couple will keep in their new home in New Hampshire. Heywood created much of the décor for the reception, which was held in the carriage barn, including making more than 2,000 yarn tassels from Zohn’s mom’s knitting collection that were draped over the windows.
String lights and paper lanterns adorned the ceiling while marquee letters spelled out the couple’s favorite saying, “We should never be apart,” on the hallway in the barn as well.
With catering by Heirloom Fire, chef Jim Gop created a farm-to-table buffet that included spit-roasted aged leg of beef, handspun heritage chicken and husk-grilled striped sea bass. Food was served in 14 individual wrought iron and wood horse stalls.
The band, The Hair Farmers, performed for guests and the couple’s first dance was to Eva Cassidy’s version of “Fields of Gold” sung by Cantor Nafshi.
The celebration concluded with a fireside after party at the Taraden Bed and Breakfast offering guests beef empanadas, popped corn with pecorino cheese and a s’mores station.
“Everything exceeded our expectations,” says the couple, who left the wedding in Zohn’s father’s restored 1963 Vespa. “We feel like it was the best celebration of our marriage we could have ever expected.”
Zohn, who was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009 but is now cancer-free after receiving a stem-cell transplant from his brother in 2013, most loves his new bride’s “quiet confidence, creativity and gentle loving soul that shines through her eyes,” he says. “There are not enough hours in the day to spend with her.”