Stephanie Cooper, 29, always knew she wanted a beach wedding. So when Lewis Price, 30, proposed to her in 2012, after four years of dating, she quickly got to work embracing a pastel palette and working starfish into the design. A year and a half later, on September 14th, 2013, their sea-inspired celebration came to life when 140 guests joined them at Bonnet Island Estate.
Stephanie used the fall-inspired palette of beige and light green as she tackled DIY projects that made the day incredibly personal. "Lewis and I have had such an amazing time creating our life together, and I wanted to have that same involvement in our wedding day," she says. Read on to see all of the beautiful details she created, photographed by Rachel Pearlman Photography.
Stephanie's Monique Lhuillier dress was the first one she tried on. "I saw it online and knew that, as long as it looked good on me, it would be the one," she says. "The big rosettes on the skirt reminded me of ocean waves, perfect for our theme." The sea-loving bride pinned back her curls with two seashell pins.
"I was blown away by my hair and makeup team," says Stephanie of Melissa and Andrea of Melissa D'Aloia. "I've never felt more beautiful in my entire life. And they did an amazing job keeping me calm!"
Stephanie's bouquet was incredibly special. She paired her white Calla lilies with stephanotis blossoms. "Every woman in my family has had white stephanotis in their bouquet," she says. Additionally, she wrapped the stems in a piece of lace cut from her mother's wedding dress. "It wasn't preserved well, so my sister and I couldn't wear it, but it was so special having a piece of her gown right in my hands as I went down the aisle."
Lewis and the groomsmen wore beige linen suits, with the groomsmen in green ties and the groom in a beige one. Stephanie's bridesmaids wore one-shouldered chiffon gowns, with the maid of honor in pale yellow and the bridesmaids in kiwi green.
The ring bearer, Henry, and flower girl, Elley, were dressed to the nines, as well. "Her dress was an adorable tulle tutu with a floral bodice, and he wore a tiny J.Crew seersucker suit to match my dad," says Stephanie. The flower girl carried a small bouquet of white Calla lilies to match the bride.
Stephanie and Lewis fell in love with Bonnet Island Estate's boathouse chapel. The mantel was topped with arrangements of hydrangeas, Spanish moss, and candles. The fireplace was flanked by two tall centerpieces that were later used at the reception. "It was a great way to save a little money," says the bride.
The flower girl and ring bearer went down the aisle with the flower girl's mother. "I was so nervous about someone throwing a tantrum," says Stephanie, "but they did a great job. Everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed over them!"
Stephanie's father escorted her down the aisle as a ukulele player played Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's rendition of "Wonderful World."
The couple worked together to create their own ceremony, having Stephanie's cousin ordained to officiate. "We had each of our grandmothers speak," says the bride. "The family involvement made it all the more meaningful."
Guests moved to Bonnet Island Estate's ballroom for the reception. Place cards were tied to finger starfish, nestled in sand from the Jersey Shore. "We used sand from the beaches we grew up going to, Chadwick Beach and Normandy Beach, to acknowledge how much everyone had rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy."
Tables were topped with a mix of tall and low centerpieces, and the room was lit with chandeliers. "I loved the ship-like vaulted ceiling and the towering windows," says Stephanie. The tall arrangements were full of Calla lilies, and the short ones were lush white and green hydrangeas. Champagne and green linens matched the bridesmaids' dresses.
Stephanie created the table name displays, featuring names of beaches on Long Beach Island, out of mason jars full of sand and shells.
Lewis and Stephanie shared their first dance to David Gray's "This Year's Love" before getting down to a surprise performance by the bride's father. "He jumped up and joined the band on guitar, playing one of our favorite songs, 'Hard to Handle' by the Black Crowes," the bride remembers. "Moments later, Lewis went up and joined him to sing 'Hollywood Nights' by Bob Seger. It was amazing!"
Stephanie and Lewis loved having a fall wedding. "By the time we were back from our honeymoon and had recovered, it was holiday time," she says. And Stephanie recommends putting that wedding planning time to good use. "Try and do at least one DIY project. It makes the day so much more meaningful when you see something you personally worked on incorporated."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Bonnet Island Estate || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Shoes: Jessica Simpson || Hair & Makeup: Melissa and Andrea of Melissa D'Aloia || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Groom & Groomsmen's Suits: Calvin Klein || Wedding Bands: Corinne Jewelers || Florist: Lily in the Valley || Invitations: The Green Kangaroo || Music: Ceremony & cocktail hour - Josh Cho, Reception - Love Seed Mama Jump || Catering: Merri-Makers || Cake: The Bake Works || Liquor: Neptune Wines & Liquors || Videography: The Artist Group || Photography: Rachel Pearlman Photography