A Classic American Seaside
Summer Wedding

Real Weddings
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Photo: Ingalls Photo

For Dane, it was love at first sight. He spotted Alison one day in his Brooklyn neighborhood, and noticed that her car had license plates from his home state of Massachusetts. "I couldn't stop thinking about her," says Dane, 34, the owner of an online antiques shop and a musician. "I kept my eyes peeled, hoping we'd cross paths again." A week later, it happened: "I saw her and followed her into a coffee shop, then tried to think of something to say that wouldn't make me sound like what I was, a stalker," says Dane.

"All of a sudden, this guy started chatting me up, asking if I was from Massachusetts," says Alison, 30, a fashion designer and former Project Runway contestant. "He was so sweet and smiley; when he asked for my number, I gave it to him. We went on a date that night, and the rest is history." Four years later, Dane proposed during a trip to Argentina ("I knew he was going to do it—I could see the ring box in his pocket!" she says), and the pair began planning a wedding at Dane's family home, an oceanfront Victorian on the island of Nahant, off Massachusetts, where they had spent many idyllic summer weekends. "We couldn't imagine doing it anywhere else," says Dane.

On their wedding day, Allison wore a dress of her own creation: a silk-charmeuse gown with vintage beading and a ruffled chiffon skirt. "I came up with the design while sketching on the beach," she says. "I made custom bridesmaids' dresses to complement each person's style and body type," says Alison of the blush pink designs she also created for her wedding party. "It was important to me that they'd want to wear them again."

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Photo: Ingalls Photo

Unfortunately, Mother Nature threatened to spoil the couple's outdoor plans. Beginning in late August of 2011, Hurricanes Irene and Katia pummeled the area for 12 straight days. But just two days before the wedding, the sun broke through the clouds, clearing the way for a summer lawn party that Alison envisioned as "a little Bohemian-Gatsby and a little rock and roll, with champagne, oysters, acoustic guitars, and children running around."

On September 10, 200 guests gathered in the Victorian's backyard garden to watch Dane and Alison become husband and wife. As friends performed the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" on guitars ("My dad's four brothers played it at my parents' wedding," says Alison), the bride and her father processed down the aisle where the Allison and Dance exchanged vows they'd written themselves.

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Photo: Ingalls Photo

Afterward, the crowd moved to the front yard to hear another group of friends play bluegrass while knocking back oysters, devils on horseback (bacon-wrapped dates), and the signature drinks—pink-grapefruit margaritas and hard lemonade. Dane's family Victorian home sits on several acres by the sea. "We set up lawn chairs with striped covers, inspired by an old photograph from the late 1800s of the only hotel ever built on Nahant," she says.

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Photo: Ingalls Photo

As the sun sank into the sea, the party shifted to a tent festooned with pink, red, and fuchsia tissue-paper pomanders and banners. "I love soft lighting—we had pillar candles in hurricane shades on all the tables," says Alison. The couple wrote guests' names on paper napkin rings that had been screen-printed with hearts; they also made kraft-paper place mats with instructions for eating lobster. Adding to the homespun feel: a classic New England buffet of steamed lobster, red potatoes, and corn on the cob. Pink ticking-stripe runners and pewter julep cups filled with fresh dahlias, roses, and lilies topped every table. "I wanted the inside of the tent to feel festive and charming, with a childlike lightness—like the carousel in Montmartre," says Alison.

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Photo: Ingalls Photo

After dinner, Dane and some friends serenaded Alison with "Romance in Durango," her favorite Bob Dylan song, instead of performing the traditional first dance. "I danced with my father and sang along, shaking a maraca," she says. The couple also chose to forgo tradition with a buffet of desserts in place of a cake. "The owner of New York's Bubby's, a restaurant in Tribeca, made the desserts as a gift to us: coconut cake, cherry pie, Key lime pie, and cupcakes," says Alison.

The DJ kept the crowd rocking with '50s and '60s tunes until 1 a.m., when the newlyweds and their fellow late-night revelers headed to the property's barn for the after-party. "We climbed up to the second floor and passed around wine and champagne," says Alison. "Everyone shared their favorite memories from the day—it was the perfect way to end the night."

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Photos: Cappy Hotchkiss Photography

Love this bride's beaded wedding gown? Browse 400+ more in our Wedding Dresses Gallery.

Venue: The Risch family home || Bride's dress: Dahl (the bride's company) || Bride's shoes: Vera Wang || Bridesmaids' dresses Dahl || Groom's suit: J.Crew || Caterer (cocktail hour): Turbine Wine Bar || Caterer (reception): Ipswich Clambake || Flowers: Flowers by Darlene || Reception music: Baby Dayliner || Dessert bar: Bubby's Tribeca || Hair: Bliss Salon || Tent: Access Tent || Transportation: North Shore Shuttle || Photographer: Ingalls Photo

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