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“Love is not love which alters it when alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: O no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken…” – William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
It’s not every day that we feature a beach wedding that takes place during a hurricane, but Chris and Emily’s Delaware celebration was something very special, the kind of wedding that embodies the phrase ‘it takes a village’. Adam Mason, Photographer
Emily, whose cultural heritage is a mix of French, English, Scottish, and Welsh and Chris of African American heritage dreamed of a colourful, fun beachfront wedding followed by a huge dance party, and after a late switch to the Bethany Beach boardwalk for their ceremony, that’s exactly what they got. They didn’t let a hurricane stop them and guests didn’t leave the dance floor all night. Oh to have been there!
This fabulous wedding was captured by Adam Mason ! Over to Emily to tell you more about the details!
How Did You Meet?
We met my freshman year of college at the University of Maryland, College Park. I became fast friends with Chris’ sister, Kara, who lived in the same dorm. To me, Chris was Kara’s cute older brother and we became friends over time, but nothing more. Fast forward to 2012, when Chris posted an ad on Facebook looking for a roommate interested in moving to Silver Spring, Maryland. I was living in Columbia, Maryland at the time and wanted to be closer to the city, so I went out on a limb and reached out to him after not speaking for years. We moved in together with two other roommates and quickly rekindled our friendship. We were both dating other people at the time, but became a support system for one another. It wasn’t until I moved out that we realised there was something more than friendship brewing and we took a chance on developing a romantic relationship. It was pretty amazing to date someone who was a great friend first!
Chris and I were traveling to Chicago to visit friends for a long weekend and little did I know, he had another plan. Chris is an architect, so we planned an architecture tour through the city, which was such a treat. The boat took us through the rivers that cut across the middle of the city and we took in so many incredible sights. Unbeknownst to me, Chris had the engagement ring loose in his pocket the entire time! When we got off the boat, we took a chilly walk along the river and came upon a cute playground. The child/teacher in me couldn’t resist testing out a few pieces of equipment and I soon found myself laying down inside of a swinging log. Chris bent down on one knee to help me up and before I knew it he was pulling the ring from his pocket and asking me to marry him. It happened so quickly. Tears were running down my face as we embraced and a passerby saw what happened and offered to take a picture to commemorate the occasion. It felt like a dream as we toured more of the city and met up with friends to enjoy celebratory drinks on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building. It honestly felt like we were on Cloud Nine as we overlooked the entire city.
We both really enjoy the beach, and that was our inspiration. It is one of our favorite vacation destinations and our main goal for the wedding was to make it the best dance party ever. Chris has always loved dancing and going to concerts, so keeping the dance floor packed was our main goal. We knew that Mango’s had the perfect colorful, fun, and energised vibe we were looking for and it helped that it was owned by our family! Once my mom heard ‘beach theme’, Pinterest became her best friend and the rest is history!
Adam Mason was our photographer. He was incredible – honestly one of the highlights of the wedding. He brought so much energy and creativity to the night. His photos truly captured our personalities and the fun of the entire night. I have recommended him numerous times and our cousin just used his services last year for her wedding in Lancaster. It truly feels like he is part of the family!
My cousin, Alex Heidenberger, manages Mango’s Bethany Beach and he was our unofficial wedding planner. He is incredible! He is extremely organised and pays attention to every detail. He knows how to take control and take all your worries away during the planning process. It was amazing to have him orchestrate the entire reception. It took a lot of stress and pressure off my plate! I would highly recommend him and his restaurant if you are looking for a fun, laid back vibe for your wedding.
I also want to mention our DJ, DJ Paul Entertainment. Paul is the owner of his own DJ company and his son, Dom, was the DJ for our wedding. He was truly incredible and really paid attention to the vibe on the dance floor. We told him to play upbeat radio hits the majority of the time, unless he felt like there was a lull. Our guests didn’t disappoint and they were on the dance floor the entire night! He never played a slow song. It was perfection.
My mom and I went to a few different shops, but ended up back at the first one, David’s Bridal, picking out an Oleg Cassini dress. The consultant was actually the one to pick out the dress. It was form fitting lace, with great structure – exactly what I pictured myself wearing on my wedding day. The only issue was that it was strapless and we realized late in the game that even with alterations it was not going to stay up for the amount of dancing I wanted to do. My mom and I made a last minute decision to pick up a shorter, lighter white dress at Macy’s for later in the reception. It ended up being the best decision because the dress gave me the freedom to move freely without worry.
Chris wanted something casual and beachy so he headed to Macy’s and found a light grey Calvin Klein suit. He paired it with light brown shoes, a crisp white shirt, a blue pocket square, and a blue tie (which tied in with my blue hydrangeas).
The ceremony was a true representation of the teamwork it takes to pull off a wonderful wedding day. With the hurricane wiping out the entire beachfront we made the last minute decision to move the ceremony to the bandstand on the Bethany Beach boardwalk. My parents were running around on the morning of to get permits and ensure we were allowed to hold the ceremony there. The entire family pitched into the get the chairs, archway, and flowers set up. It honestly looked like it was meant to be there all along.
The ceremony consisted of Chris’ dad as the pastor, Chris’ brother, Jamin, as the best man and my sister, Katie as the matron of honor. Our nieces, Sydney, Ellie, and Abby were the flower girls and our nephew, Nate, was the ringbearer. My father walked me down the aisle as a hundred of our closest friends and family bore witness to such a wonderful moment. We wrote our own vows and read a list of promises to one another. It was very personal and heartfelt. The unexpected part was the 30 to 40 onlookers who stopped along the boardwalk to take in the ceremony and cheer us on. The next day people even stopped us, recognizing us from the ceremony, and congratulating us on the wedding. It was a pretty amazing experience.
The funniest moment had to be our vows and promises during the ceremony. Chris’ sense of humor really came through and had us all cracking up. I threw in a couple funny memories and Adam managed to capture a picture of us both laughing at the same time. He captured the lightheartedness and joy of the whole day in that moment.
Having my father walk me down the aisle was important to me, but nothing else was very traditional. We tried to keep our ceremony short, simple, and meaningful.
Our inspiration was beach, beach, beach!
I kept the hair low and pulled back. I picked our white and blue hydrangeas, and all the wedding details were beach themed. Lanterns with candles and seashells for centrepieces, beach themed cake and cupcakes, beach themed wedding signs. Honestly, the restaurant spoke for itself being newly renovated with bright, beachy murals on the walls. It did not require too much styling to get the vibe we wanted.
For our first dance, we danced to Frank Sinatra’s ‘The Way You Look Tonight’, sung by our family friend, Deirdre Jennings-Jones. It was classic, elegant, and sweet. We loved the simplicity of it and shortened it just a bit to ensure we were not on the dance floor alone for too long! Neither one of us quite like being centre of attention.
When I think of our wedding I just think of the dancing.
I don’t think Chris and I left the dance floor the whole evening. Everyone commented that they had never seen a wedding where so many people were on the dance floor immediately and stayed the entire evening. But if I had to pick a favourite moment, I would have to say the sparklers at the end of the reception, which were pretty magical. All of our guests gathered around on the outside deck and we lit sparklers at the same time. Chris and I were in the middle and felt so much love and joy as we were surrounded by all of our closest family and friends. It was the perfect way to end the night.
Challenges and Triumphs
Decision making was my biggest challenge. I tend to be a very indecisive person and if it wasn’t for Chris, my mom, and Alex, I don’t think this day would have been possible. They took charge and made the entire process easier. I felt like I could take on any challenge with such a strong team on my side. The biggest triumph was cost-cutting, thanks to the extreme generosity of my family. I never thought I could have everything I dreamed of on my wedding day, but they truly made our dreams come true, from an amazing open bar, to a delicious steak and crab cake dinner. We were so grateful for everything and everyone who pitched in to make it possible.
Top Tip for Other Couples
Be in the moment. The day flies by and it is easy to get caught up in the stress and list of things to do, but try to be present and thankful. Trust that you have planned the heck out of this day and let the rest go. Do not expect it to go perfectly and be okay with that. Be humble, take it all in, and thank everyone who made this day possible, because it will be over before you know it. Also, try to steal a quiet moment for just you and your significant other amidst all the craziness – after all, this day is about the love between the two of you.
Photographer: Adam Mason
Venue: Mango’s Bethany Beach
Dress: Oleg Cassini from David’s Bridal
Makeup and Hair: Bad Hair Day Salon
Matron of Honour’s Dress: Macy’s
Flower Girl’s Dress: Amazon
Groomsmen’s Outfits: Macy’s
Cupcakes: Giant Grocery
Flowers and Décor: Bride’s mother
Food: Mango’s Bethany Beach
Stationery: Handmade by friends
Entertainment: DJ Paul Entertainment