couple kissing at altar

Rhode Island Summer Wedding


November 2, 2022
Words by Jessie Allen
Photos courtesy of Vanessa Joy

For their nuptials, New Yorkers, Ashley and John, traded the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple for the peaceful coast of Rhode Island. Shrouded in hues of pink and orange, this summer wedding had all the trappings of joyous romance. Gather all the insights, inspiration and tips directly from the couple by reading their interview below!

couple by light house

Q: How did you meet?
A: John and I actually met in kindergarten. We were in the same kindergarten, first, third, fourth and fifth-grade classes. Throughout the years, we always gravitated toward each other. In kindergarten, after one of our play dates, John gave me a locket and told me to open it. Inside he put a picture of himself, so he was pulling moves and sending messages early on! Fast forward to many years of dating later, John proposed on our kindergarten school playground in a heart of flowers, and believe it or not, I was totally surprised!

Q: Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?
A: John and I love the beach and being by the water. We grew up going on beach vacations with my family which are some our of best memories. Still to this day, we spend our summer and fall weekends at the beach with my parents, soaking in the laid-back beach town atmosphere and the calmness of being by the water. It only felt right that we getting married near a coastal beach town — it’s our happy place with some of our best memories.

Q: How/why did you choose the location/destination?
A: After a long weekend trip with our friends from Boston, we fell in love with Newport. We actually extended our trip a few days to explore the downtown of Bowen’s Wharf. Newport offered everything we were looking for in a wedding location. We knew we wanted to get married near the water and we also wanted a town that our friends and family could explore and enjoy. Newport checked all of the boxes for us and has this quaint, local feel that we were looking for. Transportation and travel played a big role in our destination decision because we wanted to ensure it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience, and preferably within driving distance, for our guests.

Q: Was planning a destination wedding easy?
A: While planning a destination wedding has its own set of challenges, we tried to treat our four Newport “wedding planning trips” like mini vacations. We would turn our trips into long weekends to have an extra day to explore and enjoy. While you are able to nail down certain details from afar (run of show, signage, music, etc), there are key elements that have to be done in person. We made sure to leave all of these details and appointments for our trips (linens, flowers, tasting, etc) and tried to book them on the same day to save time.

Q: Describe the ceremony:
A: To set the stage, we included flowers at the start of the aisle and covered the archway at the end of the aisle. We paired this with a string quartet for the beginning of the ceremony while the guests were being seated. The string quartet really set the mood and welcomed our guests while adding a romantic layer to our entrances.

While it was raining earlier in the day, right before the ceremony it stopped. Ironically, I picked “Here Comes the Sun” to walk down the aisle to, not knowing this song would come to life figuratively and literally.

The sun came out right before our ceremony and those are the little moments you have to cherish and be grateful for. There will inevitably be moments on your wedding day that don’t go your way, but trust the process and soak in the silver linings — focus on what goes right! The sun coming out after a day of rain, while I walked down the aisle with my dad to “Here Comes the Sun”, was a moment I will forever cherish and the circumstances made it that much more special.

Q: Describe the reception:
A: The main goal was for the room to feel warm and inviting. Inspired by our Italian heritage, the color palette and theme were inspired by the whimsical and dreamy coast of Italy, with personal touches throughout.

We are a very close-knit family and have a great group of friends so I wanted to create an environment that would encourage everyone to mingle. To be part of the excitement, we set our head table to face the room with our bridal party sitting at long tables attached at both ends. We draped flowers on the chandeliers to warm up the ballroom and used high and low centerpieces so our guests could easily converse at their tables.

With the amount of history we share, we wanted elements of our wedding to bring to life our story. From our customized signs placed throughout the venue to using my DIY collage treasure chest (that I made John in 9th grade) as our creative guest book alternative–we made it all about our love.

Q: Did you do any pre/post activities?
A: We had a welcome party for all guests that came in Friday night before the wedding. We hosted our friends and family at the Stoneacre Garden for drinks and bites to welcome them to Newport. Stoneacre Garden was the perfect venue to introduce our friends and family to Newport, steps away from the Bowen’s Wharf it had a local feel with delicious craft cocktails and gourmet bites.

Q: What did you use when planning your wedding – internet searches, wedding magazines, personal referrals, wedding planner?
A: Pinterest was a huge source of inspiration for me. I envisioned a whimsical, romantic theme with touches of summer colors that replicated that of the Italian coast. For my hair and makeup, I went with a personal referral as I wanted to go with someone I knew and trusted. However, for our décor and theme, I saved Pinterest images and would bring them to my vendors to ensure they were super clear on how to bring it all to together.

Q: What was your favorite moment on the wedding day?
A: It’s so hard to choose one favorite memory. Reading the vows that we wrote to each other before the ceremony was a really special, intimate moment. I was happy we decided to read them before the ceremony because the happy tears were flowing so I was able to touch up my makeup before the ceremony!

Something I will never forget was how John walked down the aisle — greeting everyone, shaking hands and waving to the crowd. Meanwhile, before the ceremony, he and I were talking about how nervous we were to walk down the aisle having all eyes on us. His warm, inviting entrance was incredible though because it set the stage. Our bridal party all followed suit with the same playful energy interacting with the crowd. The staff at OceanCliff turned to me laughing, moments before walking down the aisle and said they had never seen such an interactive crowd with the bridal party. The officiant then repeated the same sentiment when I arrived to meet John at the altar. It warmed my heart because the majority of people in that audience have grown up with us since we were little, including our bridal party, who has known us for 20+ years. We are very close with our friends and this organic moment felt so authentic to who they are and our relationship with them. At that moment, the closeness and love we felt with each other, along with the support from our friends and family, was a feeling we will always remember and cherish.

Q: Do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?
A: Wedding planning can be stressful so, when you can, try to make some of the planning fun together. We had so much fun doing dance classes the weeks leading up to the wedding, it was something we looked forward to. John really didn’t want to do it at first, but once I convinced him, he was more excited than me to go to our classes. For our tasting, we made a long weekend out of it and tried a bunch of new restaurants in Newport with our family. It also helped in the long run because we were able to give great recommendations to our guests. My best advice on your wedding day is to not leave each other’s side for too long. It’s so easy to get caught up talking to friends and family and lose track of time. You want to look back at the day of your wedding and have the same memories of the night TOGETHER.

Vendors: Photographer: Vanessa Joy; Ceremony/Reception Site: OceanCliff Hotel; Florist: Botanica Wedding Flowers Studio; Stationery: Shine Wedding Invitations; Dress Designer: Kitty Chen Couture; Dress Shop: Vera’s Bridal; Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal; Beverage Service: The Traveling Oak Bar; Cake: Kennedy Confections; Men’s Attire: Sal Lauretta; Calligrapher/Signage: Fonts and Flourishes Co.; Videography: Pretty Films; Beauty: Beautini; Musicians: Hudson Horns & Entertainment Specialists; Band: Sounds Buono

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