Real Weddings

Kristen and Vito at The Rockleigh

Posted on April 08, 2020 by New Jersey Bride

How did you meet?
Vito and I actually met back in 1995 when I was the flower girl in his sister’s wedding! Fast forward 16 years and we reconnected at my cousin’s engagement party. We went on our first date the very next day and have been inseparable since.

Vito used to work on the weekends with his friend Sal, who is a wedding photographer. Months before our engagement, Vito told me that Sal was looking to re-do his portfolio and asked if we would help him out with some pictures. Anyone who knows me knows that I never turn down a photoshoot, so this was a very easy set up! On a snowy afternoon in December of 2017, we met Sal at Lambert’s Castle, in Patterson NJ for the photo session. Sal had a bag of rose petals with him that he wanted to use for the “last shot”. Little did I know he was about to set me up for the greatest surprise of my life. He had us stand back to back and each grab a handful of rose petals out of the bag. We counted to three, and when I turned around and threw the petals in the air, Vito was on one knee with the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen. The photos captured from this day were absolutely breathtaking with the snow and the rose petals floating all around us.

I would say that our theme was “Winter Glam” and I think we set that tone with our gorgeous invitations. They were silver and sparkly with a laser cut lace jacket and snowflake details! I am very detail oriented, so during planning this was a big focus for me. For my bridesmaids, I chose two colors from Jenny Yoo (Hibiscus and Whipped apricot) and let my girls pick their own styles. My sister, who was my maid of honor, wore a floral print dress, also by Jenny Yoo, that incorporated both colors. For my flowers, I had a mix of burgundy, blush and greenery. Some of my favorite flowers that were used were the burgundy & cafe au lait dahlias. For the men’s boutonnières we stuck to the traditional white rose, but for Vito, his rose was dipped in gold to add an extra pop against his custom tux jacket and bow tie! To stick with the color theme, I had programs and menus printed that featured a burgundy and blush floral design. We also had a gold, sparkly snowflake ornament placed on top of each menu at every place setting.
I wanted to add in some elements of Christmas, because that is our favorite time of year. Instead of a traditional guest book, I had acrylic ornaments made in various Christmas-themed shapes for the guests to write their well wishes on. I also had two table top trees for them to hang the ornaments. They came out great and we had so much fun reading them all while we decorated our first tree in our new home. My favorite detail of course had to do with my pets! I am a veterinarian so I included animals into my wedding. Not only was my dog dressed in a tux while my girls and I were getting ready, but he also made a cameo at the reception. Our signature cocktails were named after our dog, Enzo and our cat, Queen B and I had bar signs made featuring their adorable faces. We also opted to donate to a local animal shelter in lieu of traditional favors, but everyone was sent home with a bag of dog and cat treats with a thank you note from Enzo and Queen B.

Vito and I had toured multiple venues before we went to see the Rockleigh. There were some we really liked, but the moment we stepped foot into the Rockleigh’s lobby, we were blown away. I was ready to book right then and there after seeing that staircase. There are gorgeous chandeliers everywhere you look, and being the sparkle lover that I am, this was right up my alley and the perfect back drop for our winter glam wedding. Not only is the Rockleigh beautiful, but the staff is beyond exceptional and on point with everything, they were so welcoming and accommodating and really made you feel right at home, like you were meant to be a part of the Rockleigh Family.

Being Italian, the menu was probably the most fun to build. The cocktail hour featured passed hors d’oeuvres including ceviche shrimp, tuna tartare, coconut chicken and mini Coney Island hot dogs. We also had a variety of stations around and a hand-carved ice luge with frozen martinis and vodka shots. After cocktail hour, we had a sit-down dinner that started with a roasted beet and cranberry crusted goat cheese salad and three options for the entree which included: a 10oz. prime filet mignon, crispy skin Long Island striped bass and a Tuscan roasted chicken breast with truffle butter and mushroom ragout. Each entree was accompanied with roasted asparagus, the meat selections had a side of potatoes au gratin, and the fish came with a side of basmati rice, shiitake mushrooms and edamame. For dessert, each guest was served with a wedding cake sampler platter that included a slice of our wedding cake, vanilla gelato in a chocolate cup, a chocolate covered strawberry and a mini crème brûlée. Our cake was four tiers and three different flavors: vanilla cake with Bavarian cream filling, vanilla and chocolate cake with cappuccino cream filling and chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling. 

My gown, was #6662 by Stella York. It is an off-the-shoulder gown with long lace sleeves and a fit and flare silhouette. The entire dress is floral matte lace and features a lace cathedral train. There is an illusion element on the back, with fabric covered buttons going all the way down. The dress had every single element I was looking for, minus the bling! I visited multiple shops and tried on tons of dresses, but always had the Stella York 6662 on my mind. After I said “Yes” to the dress, I made it my own by adding a crystal embellished belt as well as hand sewn beading throughout the entire dress to really make it sparkle. The Curvy Bride in Manalapan, NJ along with Magic Touch Alterations in Matawan, NJ made my dream dress a reality and I can’t thank them enough!

There were so many great moments that day that it is really hard to pick just one. One particular moment that sticks out to me is when I read the letter Vito had hand written for me, just before leaving for the church. We did not write our own vows, so this was how we were able to express our thoughts and promises to each other. I am the least emotional person and don’t cry ever, but I bawled like a baby while reading that letter. Vito of course was thrilled that this was all captured by photo and video. My girls also made me a scrapbook and they added handwritten notes from each of them. Being able to look through all the memories during our relationship, from our engagement and fun times with my girls right before I walked down the aisle was so special.

My father had passed away when I was 17, so I definitely knew I wanted to include him in my wedding day. There were many details throughout the day that I cherish and couldn’t have done without. I had a pin made for my bouquet with charms that included a picture of me and my dad as well as an engraving of his handwriting from an old card. For my “something blue” my mother took a piece of one of my dad’s blue ties and had his handwritten message from my Sweet 16 printed on it. This was sewn into my dress to walk with me down the aisle. Before my first dance with my mother, the DJ played a video of me and my dad dancing together when I was a baby which transitioned into my first dance with him at my Sweet 16. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room and it was a very special and emotional moment for me, my mom and my sister.

Nothing went majorly wrong, however a little advice for all you future winter brides: think twice about red lipstick! There were multiple times during the day that Vito was also wearing that red lipstick (also captured by photo and video). Thank god I had a personalized handkerchief made for him, because it definitely came in handy.

“Speechless” by Dan and Shay.

Don’t let the little things that go wrong get to you. I am a perfectionist and had a mini-meltdown about flowers, so easier said than done. However, the day is ultimately about you and your new spouse, so let the small stuff go and focus on the big picture. I know it is so clichĂ©, but the day really does go by so quickly, so enjoy every minute. I loved the planning process and am totally down for a round two, I want to relive that day over and over again.

We went on a mini-moon after the wedding to Cape May, NJ. We will be going to Italy in May for our big honeymoon and are planning to visit Lake Como, Venice, Rome and Positano.

the details


Middletown, NJ

Reception Location

The Rockleigh


Salvatore Galvano - InFocus Pro

Bride’s Gown

Stella York from The Curvy Bride

Bride’s Shoes

Betsey Johnson

+ more