Real Weddings

Elise Velasquez to Sharif Newton

Although they met in a nightclub in June 2006 and then spent the summer hanging out together, Elise Velazquez of Piscataway and Sharif Newton of Roselle weren’t struck by Cupid’s arrow until 18 months later. Elise, an elementary school teacher, took roll call in September 2007 and realized that a little girl in her class had the last name “Newton,” so she asked the obvious question. “Yes, Sharif is my cousin!” the student confirmed. Then Elise took the initiative and picked up the phone. “As soon as we saw each other again, it was completely different for both of us,” she says of reconnecting with Sharif. “You could say it was love at second sight.” And they remained committed to each other for several years. Then, in June 2011, on the last school day of that year, Sharif, a FedEx contractor, surprised Elise as she was cleaning her classroom for the summer. “I turned around as he was writing ‘Will you marry me?’ across the chalkboard,” she says. One year later, they married on July 21, 2012, at the Ashford Estate in Allentown, inside a quaint barn chapel decorated with white roses, white hydrangea, ivy and hanging crystal candles. Wedding planner Rashana Anderson of the Bridal Party commissioned a white wooden canopy in front of the 30-foot fireplace within the chapel. The ceremony was especially magical as the couple’s ring bearer—their 2-year-old son—was escorted down the aisle in an antique wagon. Cocktail hour commenced inside the estate’s glass conservatory as guests explored the surrounding patio gardens as well as an adjacent library decorated with photos of the bride, groom and their families. Under sunny skies, everyone sipped Newt-inis (signature cocktails featuring the bride’s new last name). Finally, guests took their seats for dinner inside the luminous grand ballroom, where candles, tall floral centerpieces and a dazzling wedding cake awaited. Dinner featured spinach salad, chicken with artichokes, filet of beef and vegetable strudel. And, just as the bride and groom had dreamed, a 10-piece live band and deejay led a grand evening of dancing. After a honeymoon cruise to the Caribbean, the couple is at home in North Brunswick.—Susan Brierly SOURCES PHOTOGRAPHER: The Artist Group, 888-564-1081; RECEPTION: The Ashford Estate, Allentown, 609-494-9100; WEDDING PLANNER: Rashana Anderson, the Bridal Party, West Orange, 201-463-3296; CATERER: Main Street Fine Catering, Princeton, 609-786-1006; BRIDE’S GOWN: Dennis Basso, Kleinfeld, New York, 646-633-4300; SHOES: Badgley Mischka, Bloomingdale’s, Bridgewater, 908-762-2585; BRIDESMAID DRESSES: Jim Hjelm, Alura’s Bridal, Bayonne, 201-858-3888; GROOM’S ATTIRE: Men’s Wearhouse, Piscataway, 732-562-9449; KIDS’ ATTIRE: Fine Handmade Clothing,;  and Men’s Wearhouse, Piscataway, 732-562-9449; FLOWERS: Rose Petals and Lace, East Brunswick, 732-623-0053; CEREMONY MUSIC: Kenneth Vargas/DJ Swift, NY, 646-296-4758 RECEPTION MUSIC: Cashmere Band, Plainfield; 908-754-6929 HAIR: Heads Together Salon, Piscataway; 908-226-9545 MAKEUP: Rochanda Cunningham, Jersey City; 201-658-1504 GETAWAY CAR: Ring Bearer Wagon: Hand Crafted Western Wagons, 828-766-5858; FAVORS: LIGHTING: Fennelli Design Group, 609-259-2524,

wedding details


Piscataway and Roselle, NJ

Ceremony Location

The Ashford Estate

Reception Location

The Ashford Estate


The Artist Group

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