A Formal Late Fall Wedding at the Berkeley Hotel on the Jersey Shore

Ceremony & Vows

When Joe, 32, proposed to Emily, 31, at their NYC apartment in 2011, he knew they were in for the event of a lifetime. Emily's the wedding and events manager of the New York Public Library, host to some of the city's most glamorous and elegant soirees—not to mention, of course, Carrie Bradshaw's would-be wedding in Sex and the City.

Emily's helped coordinate some of the most memorable weddings New York has ever seen, but she knew she wanted something a little different for her and Joe. The two were longtime friends from summers past at the Jersey Shore, and they chose to honor their time there together with a formal, modern reception at Asbury Park's breathtaking Berkeley Hotel. Family heirlooms, personalized details, and organic decor helped make the late fall (November 17, the same wedding date as Emily's parents!) bash feel warm and intimate.

One sunny day in October 2011, Emily's boss told her to take the afternoon off as a special treat. Psyched for a few blissful hours of shopping and pampering, Emily shrugged off Joe's insistence that he wasn't feeling well and needed her to hightail it home ASAP. She strolled in in the late afternoon, laden with shopping bags, to find Joel kneeling on the floor with a ring. "I had no way of knowing, but Joe had called my boss to tell her he was planning to propose and to have her send me home," she explains. "Knowing that he put all of that together for me—on his own—made it truly one of the best days of my life."

"The formality of the venue dictated a very traditional invitation with some modern changes, like custom envelope liners and a laser-cut shape," Emily says. She worked with Adrienne at the Village Invites to create a custom suite that felt both traditional and of-the-moment.

Emily knew right away that a traditional gown with sleeves would look just right in a formal church ceremony. "Finding something with sleeves in a sea of strapless gowns was easier said than done, but I ultimately fell in love with a long-sleeved, high-necked Alencon lace Augusta Jones gown," she says. With a cathedral-length veil, the look was elegant, timeless and breathtakingly beautiful. "I was so sad to take off the veil," Emily says. "The gown—amazing. But the veil was...magic."

Her mother's gown was also made of Alcenon lace, and Emily's seamstress cut out a small piece and sewed it into the lining of her gown, just above her heart. In her black velvet clutch, Emily carried old love letters her grandparents sent to each other—talk about something old!

Emily wanted an unconventional bouquet with lots of texture that spoke to the season. She chose a wintry, organic mix of white kale, artichokes, succulents, pepperberries, seeded eucalyptus and grey craspedia.

Emily's bridesmaids wore slate gray chiffon gowns from Bill Levkoff. Their gorgeous black fur stoles and smoky quartz jewelry were generous gifts from the bride!

Joe looked extra-dapper in a slim fit custom tuxedo from Calvin Klein.

Emily and Joe were married in St. Elizabeth's Church in Avon by the Sea, New Jersey, where they'd spent many summers together with their families. To add to the warm, inviting feel of the evening ceremony, they lined the stairs outside with candle-lit lanterns. The traditional Catholic ceremony was officiated by the Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, a friend of Joe's parents.

Emily and Joe planned to have the wedding party arrive to the church via antique trolley, but engine trouble led to some unforeseen circumstances. "After the engine began sputtering and smoking, I still can't believe the boys drove the trolley to the church as it billowed exhaust and fumes and onlookers stared in horror!" Emily says. Her bridesmaids gamely piled in an SUV instead, and Emily made a dramatic entrance in a vintage Rolls Royce.

At their large, formal nighttime reception at the beaux arts Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, the couple used organic elements like mercury glass, tall hurricanes, and sprays of white berries to match the height and elegance of the soaring, high-ceilinged ballroom. They incorporated both round and long tables to create a communal feel, even with the 242-person guest list, and added flickering candlelight, lanterns, and dark linens to make the room feel extra-inviting.

They collaborated with Kitschens Catering, a small Asbury Park-based caterer, to create a dream seasonal menu. After hors d'ouvres like mini lobster rolls, shrimp shooters, and cheese-stuffed olives, guests dug into sweet potato bisque, a petite filet, and homemade pasta with veggies.

In fitting with their classic wedding, Emily and Joe chose a traditional vanilla cake with raspberry filling. They had custom cake toppers created to look just like them, and they plan to break them out every year on their anniversary!

Joe plays the drums in a band, and the couple surprised their guests by having him jump on stage to jam out to "Boogie on Reggae Woman" as the evening wore down.

The wedding was held just two weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey Shore, and though they feared for days the future of the town that meant so much to them, the couple's ceremony and reception venues remained unscathed. In lieu of favors, they made a donation to the Asbury Park conservancy in each guest's name, and a year later, they remember the devastation of those weeks and feel grateful for the perspective the storm offered.

"While the color of the flowers and the flavor of the cake may seem all-consuming, remember that in the end, it is just one day to celebrate a lifetime of love and friendship. It is the people around you and the fact that they may be coming from near and far to celebrate with you that really matters," Emily says.

Ceremony Venue: St. Elizabeth's Church, Avon by the Sea, NJ || Reception Venue: The Berkeley Hotel, Asbury Park, NJ || Day-Of Coordinator: Lisa Archambault and Andy Spray of Palm Productions, Stefani Hanson at the Berkeley Hotel || Bride's Wedding Dress: Augusta Jones || Veil: Kleinfeld Bridal || Hair: Jessica Gere of Simply GorJess Hair || Makeup: Josie Vega || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bill Lefkoff || Groom's and Groomsmen's Attire: Calvin Klein, Vera Wang at Men's Wearhouse || Wedding Bands: Custom || Florist: Bonnie Capuzzello of Petal Beach || Invitations & Paper Goods: The Village Invites || Music: The Smokin' Section || Catering: Kitschen's Catering || Cake: Roseanna Cobb || Rentals: Party Rental LTD || Photography: Jeri Houseworth Photography

—Amanda First

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