Scroll down to experience Arielle and Evan’s stunning wedding at the Madison Hotel. Highlights of their day included the bride’s epic dress change and the cake: hazelnut genoise laced with amaretto and layered with chocolate-chip cannoli filling.
By Laura Wallis
Vacation romance isn’t always made to last. But for Arielle Hixson and Evan Duarte, it was meant to be. The pair, now 33 and 31, first met at a lounge on Martha’s Vineyard, an island both had grown up visiting with their families, in the summer of 2014. With R&B music playing in the background, “we locked eyes,” Arielle remembers. “And I have to say it was truly love at first sight.” They exchanged numbers and saw each other a few times that week—and then continued after returning to their everyday lives: Evan to Boston, where he was in software sales, and Arielle to NYC where she was working as a producer on her path to becoming a news anchor and political correspondent. After a two-year long-distance relationship, Evan made the move to Brooklyn.
On Christmas morning 2019, Evan surprised Arielle with a card tucked into the branches of their Christmas tree. Inside was a heartfelt message of love—and a request to meet him outside on the porch. There she found a beautifully wrapped ring box, and her soon-to-be-fiancé on bended knee. After she happily said yes, they went to share the news with her parents in her hometown of Chatham. “We spent Christmas day with flowing mimosas and visits from dear family and friends who congratulated us at an impromptu yet perfect engagement party,” Arielle says.
With COVID restrictions in place, the couple held a simple, intimate ceremony at the Madison Hotel in December 2020. To share the joy with their loved ones, they returned to the same spot for a blessing and reception the following September. The couple’s first dance song was “Lovin’ You,” by Minnie Riperton. Passed hors d’oeuvres included fresh tomato bruschetta, roast sirloin crostini, skewered grilled shrimp, and puff pastry flowers with portabella mushroom filling. Dinner was a baby-greens-and-poached-pear salad, followed by entrees of chateaubriand, stuffed chicken breast and salmon. The big finish was e Did anything go wrong? “We didn’t realize until late that night that we forgot to use the corsages and boutonnières!” Arielle laughs about it now. But they didn’t waste the blooms: They wore them the next day for brunch.
The bride wore an off-white, A-line, Calla Blanche gown from L’Fay Bridal in Chatham. Spanish lace details, a fitted bodice, voluminous skirt, and a long train made it “dreamy.”
Arielle’s epic dress change—and showstopping reappearance—is high on the list of favorite moments: “I shimmied down the stairs in a silky, form-fitting gown and threw the bouquet to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies.”
Arielle urges couples to trust their instincts about the wedding they want; not to lose sight of their love through all the hectic planning; and—most practically—have a wedding coordinator the day-of. “Due to availability, we were on our own for the reception,” she says. “The day was magical, but could have been easier if we had a coordinator on our side…we might not have forgotten those flowers!”
The couple spent four luxurious days at the Riu Palace Aruba—an all-inclusive they had visited early in their relationship—and are now at home in Washington, D.C.