How did you meet? We grew up literally down the block from each other in downtown Bayonne but never actually met or crossed paths. My matron of honor, Melissa introduced us and the rest of history!
How did you get engaged? I didn’t realize how well organized and even sneaky Justin was until we got engaged. He planned a surprise weekend in my favorite New England town, Newport, Rhode Island, complete with a private sailboat tour, a stay at the famous Castle Hill Inn and a ring hiding in his luggage the entire weekend. We went to brunch and he wanted to go for a little stroll afterwards. We walked through this pretty tree-laden path to a small little lighthouse on a cliff and we were chatting away and I kept talking and talking not realizing he was a few steps behind me. When I turned around he was on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was magical. He also had a photographer hiding in the trees (Kudos Justin)
Details of the day! We wanted a lush, summery, garden-themed wedding. The Shadowbrook has stunning, meticulously landscaped gardens and that in itself was enough for decor! We kept it pretty simple and classic with florals–lots of greenery like Eucalyptus paired with white peonies, hydrangeas and blush garden roses. My girls wore blush pink. In lieu of favors, we made a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of Justin’s father.
Why did you choose your venue?
We didn’t want a typical “Jersey” wedding, so when we saw The Shadowbrook we instantly fell in love. It was so unique and classy and filled with history. Justin’s grandfather used to frequent The Shadowbrook for dinner when it was a restaurant decades ago. We also had to make sure the food and drinks were top notch, (coming from a family of restauranteurs) and we knew the Shadowbrook Team would deliver. Our cocktail hour was insane–they had everything from mini lobster rolls to a literal mountain of king crab legs to sushi to Italian traditional fare.
What was on your menu? Our sit down meal began with a fabulous poached pear salad, followed by a choice of seared Halibut, Chateaubriand, and Stuffed Free Range Chicken. We didn’t have a Viennese hour since we didn’t want the party to stop, so we opted for a trio of Italian desserts brought to each guest in addition to our Lemon-Vanilla Bean Wedding Cake. Let us tell you the Shadowbrook Team delivered. Guests continue to rave about the food!
All about your gown! When they say “go with your gut” you really should. A year before our wedding, I tried on a Mira Zwillinger dress and absolutely fell in love. It was so different and so unique, it had a grey underlay with white appliqués throughout the gown, complete with a perfect grey bow in the front. I was in love, I almost pulled the trigger, but I walked away since it was the first dress I tried on and it was out of my budget. I ended up buying another dress that was beautiful but it wasn’t “the one.” I had my heart set on the Mira, thought about it day and night. Three months from our wedding, I broke down to my mom and said I needed that first dress. We rushed to Elizabeth Johns in Morristown and a consultant Carmella (it was a sign), saved the day. She rush-ordered the gown which had to be made in Tel Aviv. About two weeks before the big day, my dress arrived and it was absolutely everything and I felt the most beautiful I had ever felt that day.
What was your favorite moment? Reciting our vows. It was more emotional than I was expecting it to be, especially that we couldn’t write our own since we got married in a Catholic Church. Those words were moving.
One detail you couldn’t live without? I had my grandmother’s rosary beads wrapped around my bouquet. It was a last minute detail that I though of as I was getting ready. She passed away when I was a teen, but had influenced me tremendously. My parents worked such long hours growing up with the restaurant, so we spent a lot of time together. She was with me as I walked down the aisle, and I felt like she was with me that entire day.
Did anything go wrong? Aside from the dress fiasco, I didn’t have shoes for my new dress (finding shoes for a grey dress was difficult). I struck gold on an app called Poshmark and found a pair of brand new crystal encrusted Jimmy Choos, two weeks before the wedding (for a steal too!).
Justin’s fingers swelled from the heat (and probably nerves) and I couldn’t get his wedding band on! He ended up putting it on himself.
Traffic was horrendous that day, people were stuck in the town where the ceremony was and couldn’t get out! Luckily we had a pretty big gap in between our Mass and our cocktail hour so people weren’t too late to the cocktail hour.
The night before, I wanted to have everything laid out and ready to go. I went for the jewelry my mom got me from Macy’s and it was gone! We absolutely could not find it anywhere! The morning of the wedding my parents went shopping to a local jeweler and picked up some items for me but I ended up opting for my mom’s pieces, which meant a lot more to me than anything. First dance song?
Jersey Girl-Bruce Springsteen. Justin is a huge Bruce fan (even sent him an invite) and the song had so much meaning to both of us. It was special.
Any advice for future brides? Go with your gut when making decisions or else you’ll end up with many sleepless nights regretting decisions you may have made and have FUN! It truly is the best day ever.
Honeymoon Location Saint Lucia– It was so much fun, we stayed at Sandals and had an awesome time. Everyone there was basically on their honeymoon and we all partied pretty hard (we all deserved it after all the stress and planning!) Went on a booze cruise, went hiking in the Pitons, sang some really bad karaoke, snorkeled, tanned, and took a helicopter ride over the island. The locals were so friendly and culture was so fascinating. Justin surprised me with a couples massage overlooking the ocean, that was so needed after dancing all night at our wedding!