REAL STORIES: A Cocktail Style Wedding-by-the-Sea with Vintage Details and Plenty of Personal Style

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Although open-air, outdoor weddings do take place often on the West Coast of the United States, back here on the East Coast we’re not as lucky with the weather. For a seaside wedding at an historic home in Lewes, Delaware, we needed to hope for fabulous sunshine but plan for wet weather, you know, just in case Mother Nature didn’t follow the carefully-drawn plan.  Which of course means tents would need to be secured from the get-go in the wedding planning process. Again, just in case our open-air luck went sour.  Tents ensure that your outdoor event will be a success, come rain or come shine. But, every so often, Mother Nature does come through, offering up the gift of a perfect summer evening.  On those rare occasions, like this one, when we are lucky enough not to tent, magic can truly happen!

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Guests were welcomed through old picket gates weathered by years of salt and wind. Vintage depression glasses placed on an old farm table allowed guests to sip lemonade and sparkling water as they wandered through the gardens on their way to the ceremony.  An emotional wedding ceremony took place under strong, centuries-old trees nestled right next to the historic shingle-clad home.  Just a few Asian paper lanterns were hung here and there for a pop of whimsical color.  Having their wedding outside, and not in a church or synagogue, allowed the bride and groom to get creative with their wedding ceremony.  Not only did the bride’s aunt serve as the officiant, but the couple’s friends and family members took turns sharing beloved readings, book passages and poems. As it should be, music was an important player in the ceremony as well. From strings to flute to guitar and even a gospel choir, secular and non-secular music was interspersed throughout the ceremony as emotional punctuation.

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Inspired by her grandmother’s journal, wedding planner Melissa Paul created a “wedding journal” to be used by the ceremony participants that would later serve as a lovely keepsake of the day.

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 The bride, a former wedding photographer herself, wanted to infuse the wedding with happy colors that would bring to mind the her family’s nostalgic love for the beach.  Mixing soft shades of yellow, pink, blue and aqua with crisp white and warm ivory proved charming in every subtley-designed wedding element.  From yellow and white check ribbon to pale pink cocktail napkins and sky blue striped neck ties, the seaside color palette worked beautifully. Ocean-related details, such as sea shells and sand, were used sparingly but specifically throughout the wedding design.

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The bride and groom incorporated the light and breezy summer tones and textures into their bridal attire, encouraging their bridal party, family and friends to embrace the entire color palette.  The bride wore a custom-designed yellow and lace gown and sassy gold metallic Gucci platforms. Bridesmaids carried small bouquets of early summer blooms, including peonies, chamomile, garden roses, lady’s mantle, and veronica.

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After the ceremony, guests wandered down to the family dock on the canal for cocktails and conversation. White market umbrellas were placed over cocktail tables dressed in ocean blue linens and square glass vases filled with seasonal blue, white and green-gray flowers.  The brides’s starfish motif was used on everything from the playful beach-themed welcome canvas tote to a “wedding memory” station contained in a personalized galvanized bucket on the dock.

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A Scottish bagpiper proclaimed that cocktails were over, before leading the guests over to the bride’s family orchard for the rest of the wedding celebration.
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In the orchard behind the beach house guests find a cocktail-style wedding reception rather than a traditional sit-down dinner dance. In the center of the entire area is a large wooden plank dance floor and multi-tiered stage for the orchestra. All around the orchard, under the trees, guests are welcome to sit at low cocktail tables and high community tables dressed in various pink and yellow linens. Small floral centerpieces of pink peonies, blush and pale yellow roses, soft green foliage and white wildflowers are displayed in polished and tarnished silver pieces.  Antique dark wood tables, chairs, hutches and stools are add a touch of homestyle elegance.  Multiple food stations offer savory foods and sweet bites, changing often as the party continued through the night.
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Fresh stylish foods and impeccable service was provided by the clever ladies of Wilmington catering company, Sugarfoot Fine Foods. Classic Bellinis made with fresh white peach nectar and sparkling prosecco were butler passed on elegant silver trays, along with tasty hors d’oeuvres like heart-shaped smoked chicken quesadillas and Maryland blue crab and white corn salad.
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Outdoor living rooms with upholstered sofas, leather arm chairs, antique rugs and glass coffee tables were popular spots during the night, most especially for casual wedding party photos.

An existing gazebo paid tribute to family weddings: the bride’s mother’s wedding gown was on display, as were family wedding photos and painted portraits. While visiting the gazebo, guests were invited to leave their wishes and blessings for the bride and groom on deckled cotton paper cards. As the sun went down, the entire orchard was lit up by dozens of suspended muslin lanterns. Brought down from New York for the party, the rockin’ awesome dance orchestra, Soul System, kept the party on the dance floor until the wee hours of the party.

Delicate fabric lanterns were suspended from the trees to add a magical glow to the event as the sun faded from the sky.6842_2_dancing67630035

One of the most important elements to incorporate into the wedding design was the bride’s extensive collection of vintage cake toppers.  Collected over twenty years, the cake toppers were displayed on seven different fondant-covered weddings cakes that were set out on a long antique plank table.  The old-fashioned “cake walk” display of butter yellow, pale pink and warm ivory wedding cakes allowed guests to sample multiple flavored cakes cut-to-order.

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This last photo from amazing photographer Liz Banfield says it all. Perfect. From the many beautiful details to the weather. Just Perfect.

At the end of the night, all the guests surrounded the bride and groom’s vintage 1974 Mercedes convertible for a big end of the night send off with sparklers! Yes, it’s been done, but it’s still one of the most playful ly effective moments you can capture of the day!  Thank you Mother Nature for keeping the rain at bay for this outdoor celebration!
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Liz Banfield

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3 Responses to REAL STORIES: A Cocktail Style Wedding-by-the-Sea with Vintage Details and Plenty of Personal Style

  1. […] elegance that reflected back to the overall wedding theme.  An incredibly sweet wedding all-around, pop over here to see more photos of this charming open-air seaside wedding […]

  2. Nancy Wright says:

    where did you get the amazing crate for the fruit/napkins???

  3. […] Bells  – 4. Pink Peony Photography via HWTM –  5, 6, 7, 8:  Liz Banfield via   – Fonyat Photography via Green wedding shoes – 9: Laura Murray via Inspired by […]

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