I have a huge confession. I don’t love to write. Yikes! I have a fancy title ~ the associate editor of Style Me Pretty ~ and I’m telling you this? My point is that I DO love to re-tell wedding stories. And I positively beam when our brides share all the details of their dream day! So when we get amazing photographs AND a complete wedding story from the bride, my job is pretty great!
And so, today … yay!! Between Craig Paulson’s beautiful images and Rebecca’s compelling story … well, my day is complete wedding bliss!
Rebecca and Andrew ~ September 12, 2009 ~ Quogue, NY
Our wedding was 100% focused on family. We had the entire event, from ceremony to after-party, at my family’s home on the bay. This allowed us to infuse so many aspects of the day with our personal, sometimes silly, touches. And this allowed me to include my mother’s memory in the very fabric of the event.
Andrew and I met when we were 15 years old, during a summer production at a junior community theater in Quogue, NY. Quogue is a very small town on the beach in Long Island, and each July many of the kids in town work during the day and convene at the theater in the evenings for rehearsals. In 1995 we put on Fiddler on the Roof, and I was played a “yente” in the chorus and Andrew played a “bottle dancer.” Along with three other guys (well, one of them was actually a girl with a fake beard!), Andrew balanced a tall bottle on his hat while performing lunches and kicks along to the music. It was sort of dorky, for sure, but he was so good at it! He didn’t drop the bottle once during the three-night run of the show.
We became friends and I think that the choreographer of the program knew there was some interest, because the next summer she cast us as swing dance partners in a musical called “Over Here!” We spent many hours together rehearsing, and we even went out on a date! It was a really nice date tut at the end of it Andrew didn’t try to kiss me, and I was too shy to lean in to him. We awkwardly said goodbye and that was it until the following summer. In 1997 we did one more show, “Guys and Dolls.” Sadly, by then my mother was terminally ill with cancer. I couldn’t imagine dating anyone. So I retreated for a while, and we went our separate ways for college. A few months after our respective college graduations, we met up with mutual friends at a sports bar. It was the first time Andrew and I had seen each other in years. I was so surprised he was there, and I was really happy to see him! When Andrew asked if anyone wanted to play darts, I jumped at the opportunity and I even hustled him! That night we made plans for our “second first date,” when we finally had our first kiss. We started dating, and seven (short?) years later, we decided to marry.
We knew immediately that we wanted to get married in Quogue, the town where it all went down! And because my mother and I had shared so many happy moments there, we decided to hold the entire wedding at my family’s home on the bay. But honestly, I didn’t want a completely “beach-themed” wedding. I love the beach, but I was born and raised in Manhattan and I gravitate towards the sleek and modern. I was at a loss as to how to combine all these elements, until I met Jill Gordon our wonderful planner. She and Claire Bean, our florist, knew exactly how to turn my vision into reality.
We went with a gray, silver and red color scheme which turned out to be really cool and sexy, but also muted and beachy. I loved how we used lighter grays on the save-the-date and moved on to more intense colors for the actual invitation. We mirrored this progression of color on the day of the wedding. We used whites and light grays with pops of red for the ceremony, and moved on to deeper reds for the cocktail hour. For the reception we used deep grays, bright silvers and dark reds and burgundies. It felt so warm and inviting but also so very cool!
Unfortunately, like so many summer 2009 brides, my wedding day was partially rained out. We had planned to hold the ceremony on the lawn but after two days of steady rain we moved the ceremony indoors. We moved out every single piece of furniture to accommodate the 125 guests and a small ceremony area. We brought in chairs and long benches covered in crisp, white fabric and placed large glass cylinders filled with water and floating candles throughout the room. Claire Bean draped white fabric next to the front doors and brought in an arch that she crafted using white fabric and sprays of white flowers. The rest of the decor came from pops of red. We placed a single red flower on each chair and the bridesmaids and I carried bouquets with varying tones of red. My bouquet was truly exquisite: a huge ball of red, burgundy and maroon roses, orchids and calla lilies. My bridesmaids looked stunning in dark grey sheath dresses — I just loved the way the red, gray and white colors created a cool yet energetic vibe.
I finished off my white dress with a light grey sash. (Oh my gosh I must have visited every single fabric store on the island of Manhattan to find an appropriate silk ribbon for less than $30 a yard! I finally settled on a ribbon from Mood Fabrics — Project Runway has it right!)
Our programs matched the invitations, table numbers and menus. On the back of the program I printed a short note to my mother, telling her how close I felt to her just then, as I married the man of my dreams in our family’s home. I am still surprised today that I made it through the ceremony without crying (too much). I think it was because we were surrounded by our family and friends. In addition to the minister’s warm words about my mother, we read I Carry Your Heart With Me, by E.E.Cummings. Then my husband and I read our own vows. It felt incredible to be surrounded by our family and so many friends who had watched us grow up side-by-side.
After the ceremony the weather cleared up enough to hold half of cocktail hour outdoors. In keeping with our colors and letting the backdrop of the water and sunset do most of the talking, we used silvery gray tablecloths set with low red flower arrangements. We then moved into a tent set up in the backyard for dinner and dancing. True to their words, Jill and Claire transformed the space into another world! The tables featured silver cloth, silver chiavari chairs, votive candles and deep red menu cards. The centerpieces focused on Manzanita branches, which Claire brilliantly painted a deep red lacquer and then strategically covered in orchid flowers. They were spectacular. For budgetary reasons we used a combination of high and low centerpieces, but the effect came out looking interesting and varied. We had a photo booth in the back of the tent with wooden mustaches to play with, and we set up a do-it-yourself album for guests to place their photo strips and write messages.
And I have to mention my absolute favorite item: the candy bar! We offered gummy lobsters, over-sized lollipops, yogurt-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered coconut chews, chocolate kisses, red licorice and red rock candy on sticks. (Oh my gosh we had to order in bulk and we were eating that candy for months afterwards! We even saved some to decorate that Christmas’ gingerbread houses.)
Finally, acknowledging that we met during a silly dance number, Andrew and I surprised our guests with a home-choreographed routine to Sean Kingston’s “Fire Burning.” We busted it out during our traditional first dance, and Andrew even did the worm! It was ridiculous and so much fun to practice and perform. (and yes there is a you-tube video!) Our siblings joined us on the floor halfway through the routine, before the whole room got up and danced!
It finally stopped raining around midnight, when we moved back into the house for a bit of an “after-party.” We hooked up an ipod to some speakers, lowered the lights and offered mini PB&J, BLT and ice cream sandwiches. It was the first time I had a chance to eat all night! We offered red-themed cocktails and danced the night away until about 3 a.m. when we absolutely collapsed.
In addition to Jill Gordon and Claire Bean, Craig Paulson and his team were an integral part of our wedding day. They were truly spectacular. I was very nervous about how my father and I would handle the wedding day without my mother with us. Craig, Jean and Michael were gracious and kind, patient and encouraging. And when it was time to party, they really captured the happiest and most spontaneous moments of the night. I think the photos speak for themselves. It was a spectacular day, and it’s been a treat recounting all the details here!
The bride’s gown was “Jessica” by Monique Lhuillier and the bridesmaid dresses were from Maids on Madison. The sash was from the garment district, from “Mood Fabrics.” Wedding planning by Jill Gordon of jill gordon celebrate. Photography by LBB member, Craig Paulson Photography, Other wedding vendors included Thyme and Again (catering), New York Tent, Classic Party Rentals, Todd Barrie Music & Entertainment, Claire Bean Floral and Design, Luminous Lighting, Have Your Cake LTD, Steve Shaughnessy (ceremony music), Rings and Cakes (videography), Hiroko Takada (Makeup)
Thank you ~ Rebecca & Andrew ~ and Craig Paulson Photography ~ for sharing these special moments with the Style Me Pretty readers!! For more images from the day, see Craig’s blog feature and the SMP Photo Galleries.