Real Long Island Wedding: Jennifer and Mike
The beach is a place we both love. It’s a place that we both feel is an escape from the world. Since we first started dating 6 years ago, we have escaped to the beach as much as possible. It grants us peace and serenity and we would do anything to live on the beach one day. We find it to be the most relaxing place on earth…when you spend a day at the beach, any troubles you may have seem to melt away. The sound of the waves and children’s laughter, the feel of the sand on your feet and the warmth of the sun on your body, cooling off in the cool ocean – everything about it is absolutely perfect! Mike, my husband, knew it was the place he was going to propose to me because it’s a place we both adore. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect place to be asked to be his wife.
We got engaged at Gurney’s after a romantic dinner on their deck overlooking the ocean. Michael asked me to take a walk on the beach with him when our dinner was done. It was about 9:00 in the evening and the sun had just set. A storm was coming in so the beach was empty and the waves were extra active. It was the perfect moment that we shared a lone without a soul on the beach! It was as if he had prepared the beach to be empty! Gurney’s and Montauk, in particular, had a special meaning to us. We spend at least a weekend in Montauk every year and have many great memories of the town. We feel Montauk is one of NY’s treasures and love every aspect of it. It’s got this laid back, beachy vibe and no one seems to have a care in the world. You go to Montauk and leave completely relaxed and level headed. So when it came time to decide on a location we decided to do a wedding tour with Gurney’s. We immediately fell in love with the site and knew it was where we had to say “I do”. The key selling points were being able to get married on the same exact sand we were engaged and the bonfire. Gurney’s was not overdone and gaudy. It was the simplicity of Gurney’s that we felt made it so charming. The gorgeous ocean is the backdrop to the site…what more do you need?!?! Besides the perfect location, John, Ginny and Phyllis, the wedding coordinators at Gurney’s, were amazing people. They made us feel extremely comfortable and we felt they totally understood what we envisioned. The best party of Gurney’s was that it felt like a destination wedding but our guests didn’t have to get a plane to get there! We knew everyone would be in “vacation” mode, which would help with the lax mood that we wanted to give off for our big day! We just wanted everyone to let loose and have a good time and that’s exactly what all our guests did!
When it came to choosing a wedding party we knew we definitely wanted our 4 sisters (Mike’s 2 sisters and my 2 sisters) to be a part of our day but we didn’t want an overwhelmingly large party. We wanted to keep the wedding more on the casual side and we felt a large party would make it seem more formal. We also felt our sisters are the most important people in our lives so it made sense to have them be our best people! Typically a groom chooses a best man but if his sisters are the most important people in his life than it makes more sense for him to choose her or in our case them! My sisters were my best people and I couldn’t have asked for two better people to be standing by my side on that day! We also had our niece, Keira as our flower girl, and she was absolutely perfect! She always brightens our day and she did just that on our wedding day too!!
We also knew that we wanted to write our own vows because we wanted to personalize the ceremony and make it “us”. The exchange of the vows was the favorite part of my whole wedding. We have never been more proud to express our love for each other in such a personal way in front of all our family and friends! When Mike read his vows I cried from being so happy. It was a perfect moment! Here are our vows:
BRIDE: Michael, with all my love, I stand here in front of our family and friends and take you to be my husband. The last six years have been the greatest of my life and I look forward to a lifetime of happiness with you. I promise to always love you as much, if not more, than I do today. You make my life complete and whole and somehow manage to make me proud every day. You are the most beautiful person I've ever laid eyes on both inside and out and I fall deeper in love with you each passing day. I will stand by your side through good times and bad and nothing will break the bond of love we share. I will make it my priority to give you what you need. I will be your biggest cheerleader, a shoulder for you to cry on, or just a warm embrace. And on your really bad days, I promise to greet you with a smile, hug and a nice big piece of filet mignon and glass of wine! Michael, you are a wonderful man and my very best friend and I am honored to be your wife.
GROOM: Jennifer, mere words alone cannot describe the way I feel when I’m with you. You continue to bring out the best in me and I wake up every morning conscious of how fortunate I am to start another day with you. It was easy to fall in love with you and now standing here it is even easier for me to promise to love you and stay faithful to you for the rest of my life. I promise never to take you for granted and to try my hardest to make you smile and laugh in tough times. You are the most caring, the most sincere, the most beautiful person I have ever met and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect woman to share a lifetime with.
As we moved forward in our celebration of love, we definitely wanted to create a very beachy/vacationy feel for our wedding. We felt it was most important that our cocktail hour reflected that vibe, so that our guests would feel relaxed from the get go. We decided to hire a steel drum band as the perfect way to convey this vibe… and our idea worked perfectly! I remember walking up from the beach to our cocktail hour and being greeted by the sound of our drummer! I immediately felt I was on a tropical island and it was party time!
And, the beach/Island theme didn’t stop here. We wanted a beachy theme for our entire festivities, and carried this throughout the day with French blue and white as our color scheme and starfish as our added embellishment. Our invitations were pocket-fold invitations and had a very casual feel and were decorated with two starfish that looked like they were dancing on the paper. We had these same starfish printed on our fan programs, napkins, menus, & matches. We also had a beautiful card box created for us by For The Modern Bride and it was decorated in French Blue and White and of course featured starfish. We also created a signature cocktail and named it the “Blue Starfish”. Of course we made sure, it too, was blue! Our “best people” dresses were gorgeous French blue knee length dresses from Priscilla of Boston; and our flowers were created by Verbena designs and they too were accented by blue and white flowers with a casual, beachy feel. Jen from Verbena created a beautiful bouquet for me and the best people and even more beautiful centerpieces! We had a low centerpiece filled with hydrangeas and ivory roses. We had shells and starfish scatted on the table and two short hurricane votive holders on each side filled with sand and shells. Everything about the day tied in to the French blue and white starfish theme. Everything was kept casual and fun! All our vendors did a great job with creating our vision perfectly!
As the night and celebration went on, the bonfire addition that Gurney’s offered was ideal for us! We go camping every year and LOVE spending time with family and friends around a bonfire. This is something we were really psyched to share with ALL of our family and friends. The staff at Gurney’s started the fire on the beach a little before our reception ended so it was great to be overlooking the beach from our reception room and see the fire being started! We were sad our reception was ending but the anticipation for the bonfire was amazing! At that point, we had said all our hellos and taken all our pictures and it was our time to completely let loose and just party! We stood on the beach drinking beer and wine and roasting marshmallows with 130 of our friends! It was an absolutely perfect way to end our night! My guests still love that I was roasting marshmallows in a wedding gown. They all enjoyed our bonfire and it was exactly how we pictured it! Our love for bonfires has now been spread to all our family and friends and we are proud of that!
I also wanted to do something special for Mike at the reception but since he doesn’t like sweets, a groom’s cake didn’t make sense. I contemplated a few surprises and then thought a cigar roller would be perfect for him since he is more a “cigar & whiskey” kind of guy! Our cigar rollers created customized blue labels for our cigars and rolled them for us in front of all our amazed guests! Mike was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed a few good cigars on the beach at the bonfire while bonding with all his family and friends!
I am so happy that ALL of this (sheer perfection) was captured for posterity and that I have AMAZING memories to share. Our wedding shoot was perfect because it was very “real”. We chose Blue Daisy and Pennylane because they are so incredibly talented and know how to capture not only a “good shot”, but also the feelings and emotions of the day without faking it, or posing it. We basically just enjoyed each other and every moment and let Marianne from Blue Daisy and Adam from Pennylane capture the exhilarating reality. It was the happiest day of both of our lives and this really shines through (naturally) in our pictures. We are both glowing, laughing and smiling. We had clear blue skies, the ocean in the background, and 135 of our closest friends and family, as we were both marrying our best friend….it was perfect in every way!
Looking back, I would (still) say that our wedding was very “us” because we are very fun, casual people. We love our family and friends and wanted them to enjoy the wedding as much as us. We also wanted to keep the wedding somewhat simple and casual to keep with the beachy/vacationy vibe. And we didn’t want to compromise enjoying the wedding ourselves, something in our opinion many couples do as they get caught up in the fanfare of it all. So many people get so caught up in the planning that they forget this day is about them! We stayed very grounded during our planning and kept everything about our wedding simple. Nothing was over the top and it’s exactly how we wanted it to be. You didn’t walk into our wedding afraid you were going to break something! You walked into our wedding and were ready to let loose and party! We are both easy-going and love to have a good time. We are family oriented and love the company of our friends and family. Our wedding was a time to celebrate the love we share for each other with all our friends and family, so we made sure it was just the right size to be able to enjoy everyone! 135 guests was the perfect number! It wasn’t overwhelming at all. I felt I was able to enjoy everyone’s company and everyone had a great time.
We were very fortunate to have great vendors that totally understood us. We actually loved our vendors so much we could see ourselves being friends with them. Marianne from Blue Daisy even came to our Farewell Brunch the next day to say goodbye to us. It’s so important to like your vendors and to have chemistry with them because they are such a huge part of your wedding day. Our vendors were all on the same page and had similar styles to us so that helped keep our theme/mood carried consistently throughout our day.
Another really important component to our wedding was having our uncle sing for us during our ceremony. He sang Hallelujah for the pre-processional and “What are you doing for the rest of your life” during the sand ceremony. It was really special to have someone who we love so dearly sing for us on that special day. I remember waiting to walk down the aisle and hearing Jimmy’s voice and getting goose bumps. His version of hallelujah was the most perfect version I ever heard. It was gorgeous and helped make our ceremony even more perfect!
We also kept with the all-woman theme (that started with our bridal party) and had the three other most important woman in our lives – our moms and my godmother (Mike’s godmother passed away) do our readings.
In addition, I also kept the whole woman thing in the processional. When it came time to give me away, I felt both of my parents should do that. Both, my mom and dad walked me down the aisle and gave me away. They are equally important to me and I needed them to be on both sides of me on that most important day of my life.
I would say that our wedding day was the greatest day of our lives. We kept to a budget but we have said over and over again, that even if we had all the money in the world, we wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was exactly how we envisioned it and we have never been happier. We both tried our best to stay in the moment and enjoy it but we were just too happy! We felt like we were floating…I relate it to dreaming…I was so unbelievably happy, I felt I was dreaming because I have never felt like that before. We had the most perfect wedding and each got to marry our best friend…..best time and day ever!