From the Bride... Since we both grew up near the beach, having our wedding near the ocean was important to us. All along, I knew I wanted a Cape May, New Jersey, wedding. The day after our engagement, we took an impromptu trip to the Oceanside Victorian town — this resulted in a love affair with the Congress Hall Hotel. We set the date for August 27, 2011. Two days prior to our wedding, there was a state-mandated evacuation of Cape May. Hurricane Irene was on her way and was to arrive on our wedding day. We were heartbroken and had to leave. Since I live for crafts and creativity, I took my wedding as an opportunity for some DIY. My collection of vintage silver, linens and all my hand-made hard work was sitting in the trunk of car — and there it had to stay. It was on its way to Toms River, New Jersey. This is where Wayne and I became husband at wife, on the 26th, instead! I entered the Ocean County Courthouse and couldn’t help but laugh as I walked through metal detectors in my short white number, holding my bouquet. We said I do with our friends and family present. The celebration continued in my mother-in-law’s backyard. We smashed cake in each other’s faces and got thrown into the pool. Along with ideal weather, the mood was carefree and everyone had the best time.
The Congress Hall wedding was postponed to March 24, 2012. The hotel is an experience in itself. Its charm reflects its history, which dates back almost 200 years. It’s grand and cozy at the same time, and the décor is impeccable. The bright painted ladies, the age-old trees, and the Atlantic Ocean set the scene for our day. The morning of our wedding I woke up and stuck my head out the window. The sky was gray, but I was so excited, especially considering the circumstances. Everyone was being super-optimistic about the weather to provide me with hope and comfort. It was sweet. The girls gathered at Founder’s Hall to get ready with me. There, we ate breakfast, sipped mimosas, prepared some flower arrangements, and beautified for the day. I did my own makeup, and a bridal party member did my hair. I pinned my dad’s boutonniere on him and did my mother’s makeup. I told my bridesmaids to pick a lavender or purple dress and I loved the result. I finally got to wear my lace gown! That made it all so real. The groomsmen congregated in our hotel suite. Since we were legally married, Wayne’s uncle performed the ceremony and we exchanged our own vows under the veranda, right alongside the grand lawn and next to the beach. When I set my eyes on Wayne, I thought he looked like a Kennedy in his J.Crew Ludlow suit.
We kept the décor simple and let the ballroom speak for itself. The Tiffany blue walls and black and white harlequin floors worked well with my vintage-inspired theme. The florist did a beautiful job on the bouquets and the simple centerpieces of white hydrangea, lavender daisies, and lavender spider mums. I did the planning myself with help from my three wonderful maids of honor, and my day-of coordinator executed everything perfectly. The food was beef and seafood, of course, and just delicious. I made the cake topper, table numbers and place card holder myself to add a hand-made touch. For the cake topper, I used a piece of my own dress and silk petals from my great-grandmother’s hat. My dad and I decked out a “just married” wagon, which made the perfect photo prop. The night ended with Wayne and I being hoisted into the air, among all our guests on the dance floor.
Wedding Photography: Pat Furey Photography / Wedding Venue: Congress Hall in Cape May, New Jersey / Floral Design: Kate’s Flower Shop / Wedding Planning: Renee Tornabene (The Bride) / Wedding Coordination: Daniella Cordisco + Krista Ostrander of Congress Hall / Wedding Officiant: The Groom's Uncle / Wedding Cinematography: Joseph Guagliardo Photography / Wedding Invitations: Minted / Music: Versatile Professional Entertainment + Ryan Subers / Cake Topper, Banner, Place Card Holder, Wagon, Arbor, Table Numbers, Ceremony Flowers + Family Photo Table: Renee Tornabene (The Bride) / Wedding Dress: Enzoani “Diana” via Memories Bridal by Reem / Shoes: Kate Spade via Piperlime / Hair: Devan Thatcher (A Bridesmaid) / Makeup: DIY by the Bride / Bridesmaid Dresses: Various / Groom's Suit: J.Crew "Ludlow"