Our Rustic Beach Wedding

A girl with a love of coastal design obviously had to get married at the beach, right? Well, that's exactly what we did three years ago on May 30, 2014. Here's our story:

Brian and I met in Surf City on Long Beach Island, New Jersey more than 10 years ago. Our parents own beach houses across the street from one another, so I guess you can say I was the girl next door. Just after Hurricane Sandy had ravaged our beloved island in 2012, he proposed to me on our beach while on a visit from our home in Virginia to help our families assess the damage and clear out my house to be gutted. As we walked back to share our happy news, we already knew there was nowhere else we could marry except on Long Beach Island — where our love story began.

The timing of our wedding was very important to us. He was graduating from medical school in Virginia and we wanted our wedding soon after so we could take our honeymoon to the Maldives and Dubai before starting his residency. With a very busy wedding season already heating up a year and half out, we were very fortunate to secure the Brant Beach Yacht Club to hold both our ceremony and reception overlooking beautiful Barnegat Bay.

We wanted to give our friends — many who had never been to Long Beach Island and were traveling from far away — a little taste of what the Jersey Shore is really like and not what they’ve seen on TV. My mother and I set off to DIY nearly every aspect of our wedding to make it a true reflection of our love of Long Beach Island.

The first order of business was to create all of our invitations, signs, menus, programs, table name banners and escort cards, which I created using InDesign, Illustrator, and ordered through Cards & Pockets and Vistaprint.

I started with a seaplane and banner, which is a common sight when you’re laying on the beach in New Jersey, and used it throughout the invitation suite. For the reception, I constructed actual toy planes and banners with the name of each town on the island. These were strung up above each table to look as though they were actually flying. Our sweetheart table was named after Ocean Beach in San Francisco where we moved to afterward for Brian to complete his residency.

Guests found their tables using personalized beach badges — another detail unique to the Jersey Shore — with the name of the town/table on them.

We started with a muted color palette with gray and beige tones that you find in nature like in the driftwood and shells we used and then added some pops of color with coral and turquoise throughout. The centerpieces we put together using galvanized and rope lanterns surrounded by handmade nautical rope wrapped mason jars filled with hydrangeas and baby’s breath. Votive candles and shells were also added.

The entire yacht club — both inside and out— was transformed through the use of tulle, burlap, driftwood, oyster shells, baby’s breath, starfish and shells.

Other DIY elements included: the shell and driftwood bouquets for the bridesmaids and me; the boutonnieres for Brian, the groomsmen, our fathers and ring bearer; the ring bearer’s sign; the flower girl’s bucket; the “B & B” shell letters; driftwood frames; oyster shell garland; and more.

We did a “first look” on the beach before the ceremony. I am so happy we did this since we were able to knock out all of the wedding party and family photos and truly enjoy the extended cocktail hour with our guests. My dress was by Katie May and my veil my "something borrowed" from my best friend. Brian's tux (and the groomsmen and our fathers' tuxes) were from Men's Wearhouse. The bridesmaids' dresses (pictured in the slideshow at the bottom) were by Aria Dress.

The party got started early with a bellini bar set up prior to the ceremony for guests to have drinks and be able to toast us once we were married. Surely this helped turn our wedding into one of the most epic dance parties I’ve ever been to — and that was before anyone sat down to eat their salads!

The food was by Touch of Elegance Catering and I am not lying when I say people still rave about it to this day. I cannot recommend highly enough doing an extended cocktail hour. Ours was an hour and a half with a raw bar and 20 passed hors d'oeuvres that continued into the reception. Local musician Ted Hammock set the perfect mood with his beachy, acoustic style, and EBE Events and Entertainment kept the party rocking throughout the evening with their fabulous MC Ben Ostroff, plus a DJ and a drummer. The highlight of the buffet dinner was the mashed potato and sweet potato bar. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, we went with individual pies and an ice cream sundae bar.

May 30 will be a day we will never forget. Having all of our different groups of friends and family all together in one place for an entire weekend was the most cherished part. We could never thank everyone enough for all of their love and support throughout the wedding process and our lives, but we’d expressly like to thank both our families — especially my mom and my sister — for all of their help, our caterer Joe Dringus of Touch of Elegance Catering for making food that people are still talking about and our photographer Ann Coen for giving us beautiful images we will cherish for a lifetime.

To view more photos of our big day, please scroll through below:

And here are some favorites from the ceremony and reception:

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Between Palms + Pines