Planning a destination wedding in the Caribbean is always a sure fire way to throw an amazing soiree… especially when those plans include a private island off the coast of Aruba, gorgeous stylings and paper goods from the uber-talented bride, one very stunning gown and some beyond breathtaking images from Alexandra Meseke Photography. And when you add a guaranteed to melt your heart love story to the mix (High school sweethearts, anyone?), it’s almost too good to be true. Yes, these intimate nuptials are as perfect as perfect can be and there’s even more in the full gallery!
From the Bride… Brian and I had our first date my freshman (his sophomore) year of high school and spent the next decade not really knowing what we wanted. When we managed to get our lives in order, we realized we could have everything together. It’s because of this that we’ve essentially always treated each other like best friends. When faced with planning the wedding, an overtly over-the-top romantic event, I felt really overwhelmed with the expectations. We decided as a result of this and a myriad of other reasons, to have an intimate destination wedding. Once we discovered that via the Renaissance Aruba Resort a private island could be rented for events, we were all set. From there, we just tried to fill our wedding with things we both love.
My sister and I have a small paper goods business, Ralph’s Grocery, so we took on the task of designing + creating all of the paper paraphernalia for the wedding, as well doing the overall event design. The earliest step of the process, our save the dates, basically set the tone for the weekend in Aruba. We decided it would be simple, with an M+B logo, letterpressed, and subtly nautical. We carried this theme through to all of the weekend information, welcome bags (which we screen-printed on my dining table) and to the Friday night welcome party itself. For the wedding invites, I chose a classic ivory + gold color palette, which was then infused into the wedding. For the reception, we really wanted the natural beauty to be played up, so we went with an intense amount of candles in gold mercury glass + lots of tiki torches. The saintly wedding planner on site, Juney Jones, advised that the trees are permanently wrapped in twinkle lights in order to provide lighting to the dinner + dance floor, which worked perfectly with our planned decor. In retrospect, I know the details pulled the event together: the individually wrapped metallic favor boxes at every place setting, the 120 glass votives, the glitter monogram chair hangers, the handmade program booklets. It was definitely added stress however, knowing we somehow needed to transport these items. We made it work in the end by distributing items amongst friends and carrying seven suitcases ourselves.
In addition to the visual details, Brian and I had a long list of things that were important to us. For our welcome party, held Friday night after our civil ceremony + rehearsal, we tried to incorporate things that couldn’t be included the next day. I wore green (an Italian tradition), Brian crafted an expert playlist of our favorite old songs and we had amazing speeches by my father, B’s best man Matt, his Uncle Mark + even his childhood pal, Teddy. On Saturday while we were getting ready, I had some surprises planned for Brian. I had procured a hanger from the incredible PR team at the Ace Hotel New York where Brian proposed. His suit was set on this, so he was faced with the words, “You look good in that” the morning of the wedding. I also handmade his card to fold out into a giant poster of my affection, a surprise that Alexandra assured me caused some happy tears.
For the ceremony we wanted it as personal as possible, while staying relatively lighthearted to feel like “us.” Brian’s ultra talented twin brothers recorded our music at home on the piano + viola. While guests arrived, they were able to listen to the boys’ rendition of other family members’ past wedding songs. They also performed the song that my parents walked me down to: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. We also had Uncle Mark read the lyrics to Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and my cousin Jaclyn perform the Cole Porter song “True Love”. With my bouquet I carried items from both my grandmothers, a white handkerchief + blue rosary beads, as well as Brian’s great grandmother’s wedding ring. After we were announced man + wife, Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” played.
As music was clearly a priority, we had a steel drum player at cocktail hour + opened our reception to “It Takes Two” by Rob Base. One of the highlights of the night had to be lining up to walk in behind Brian’s groomsman Phil and my bridesmaid Nicole, as the two of them accompanied us on that first date twelve years ago. The food at the Renaissance was fantastic, and we heard rave reviews from everyone, but honestly when I think of the night, all I can think of is the fifty or so closest people in our lives, out on the dance floor for hours. I know that was the part Brian enjoyed as well, looking around seeing the smiles on our guests’ faces, smoking Aruban cigars and dancing in the middle of a sandy beach. We had such a magical time, I was even able to make light of some of the (predicted) mishaps, most notably our melting rock candy cake! All in all, the craziness of making + packing everything, the complications of planning a wedding from another country, it all felt minor in exchange for what we got: married!
Wedding Photography: Alexandra Meseke Photography / Wedding Venue: Renaissance Aruba Resort / Event Coordinator: Juney Jones / Event Design + Stationery: Ralph’s Grocery by The Ripo Sisters / Civil Ceremony Dress + Accessories: Cynthia Vincent + Coach (clutch) + Seychelles (shoes) / Welcome Party Dress + Accessories: J.Crew + Charriol + Hermés (bracelets) + Roberta Chiarella (earrings) / Wedding Dress: Pronovias / Wedding Shoes: Gucci / Earrings: Swarovski / Bracelets: Charriol / Ring: Tiffany & Co. / Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss / Bridesmaid Dresses: BCBG / Officiant: Reverend Geoffrey Banfield / DJ: Tino Daal of Cyclone Promotion / Cigar Rollers: Aruhiba Cigars / Rum: Rum Palmera / Cake Toppers: Jonathan Adler / Cake Forks: BHLDN