In July of 2010, Christa Pehush, 31, and Dave Scuilli, 31, found themselves next to one another on a bench in a gazebo when their mutual friends got a group together on the beach in Spring Lake, New Jersey. They chatted and exchanged numbers, and Dave called Christa the very next day. "It turned out we had a lot in common," says Christa. "We were even living a block apart in Hoboken!" The rest, as they say, is history. "We've been together ever since!"
When Dave proposed two years later, he brought Christa back to that same gazebo and dropped to one knee. "After Dave gave me the surprise of my life by getting down on one knee in the same gazebo where we met," Christa says, "I think we both knew Spring Lake would be the place where we would get married." So the couple returned with 160 guests on October 5, 2013, choosing the Spring Lake Bath & Tennis Club for their wedding. The club's "stunning shore landscape, vintage country club feel and elegant ballroom became the inspiration for our day," Christa says. And every elegant detail was captured perfectly by photographer Cassi Claire.
The first dress Christa tried on during an impromptu appointment ended up being "the one," she says. The pearl white ball gown, with a cinched bodice and a subtle beaded appliqué, embodied the wedding's classic, elegant feel.
The bride had her initials and the wedding date embroidered into the bodice of the gown in light blue thread.
Christa paired her gorgeous gown with a scalloped-edge cathedral-length veil, and carried a bouquet of soft white and blush roses wrapped in satin ribbon. "I added one personal detail to my bouquet," Christa says, "two small charms, each with a photo of one of my grandmothers. I knew they would be there with my in spirit, but I wanted them close to me when I walked down the aisle."
On her right hand, the bride wore her grandmother's topaz engagement ring. "It was perfect," Christa says. "Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue wrapped up into one beautiful piece!"
Dave paired his traditional tuxedo with a white bow tie, patent leather shoes, and monogrammed cufflinks.
The groomsmen also donned classic black and white tuxedos. Dave stood out from the pack with his white tie and vest.
Christa's bridesmaids wore floor-length royal blue gowns to match the formality of the evening. The bride's sister, her maid of honor, wore a matching gown in a more fitted silhouette.
Bridesmaids' soft white bouquets of roses and hydrangea "were so striking against their crisp blue gowns!" Christa says.
"St. Catharine Chapel is so beautiful that it didn't require a single decoration!" Christa says of the church where she and Dave exchanged vows. "We let the church's ornate marble work, gilding and architectural details speak for themselves."
Christa and Dave asked family friends to serve as their celebrant and co-celebrant. As they exchanged traditional vows. "We were literally surrounded by people we know and love," Christa says. "It was fantastic."
After leaving the church to Mendelssohn's Wedding March, the couple and their wedding party headed back to the beach where they first met for photos.
To play up their beach surroundings, Christa and Dave placed escort cards in boxes of sand. They displayed family wedding photos alongside their card box.
"There are so few times when you get to gather all of your family and friends in one place," Christa says. "Dave and I had a vision of the doors opening to the ballroom the night of our reception, and we couldn't wait to see all our loved ones together." When the doors did swing open, guests were greeted with classic décor in the couple's cream-and-blue color palette.
Round centerpieces of hydrangeas held in mercury glass bowls, white taper candles and tea lights topped round tables draped in ivory linens. The result? "There was warmth throughout the room," Christa says.
Blue-rimmed chargers added a hint of color to the tone-on-tone décor.
White menu cards with navy calligraphy teased the four-course dinner to come: A seasonal salad, pasta, filet mignon or crab-stuffed sole, followed by wedding cake, of course!
The couple's white, buttercream-frosted wedding cake was trimmed with navy-and-white ribbons. "We weren't into cake toppers," Christa says, so they chose to adorn the top of their three-tiered vanilla, strawberry, and lemon confection with an embossed fondant monogram.
The couple took a turn on the dance floor to "The Way You Look Tonight" by Frank Sinatra. "I thought our first dance was going to be incredibly clumsy," Christa says. "After all, it's not every day that you dance in front of 160 people! But it was honestly wonderful, and neither of us cared what we looked like or what was going on around us because we were both so excited to be married." Christa followed the dance with a turn with both her father and grandfather. "Those moments were so special," she says.
Christa and Dave escaped to the Riviera Maya, Mexico, for their honeymoon, and have enjoyed relaxing together in the months since they wed. "Planning a wedding became a little chaotic and especially towards the end, we seemed to always be going in separate directions," Christa says. "Now that things have settled down, it's been fantastic to spend time together (and not talk about seating charts)!"
Ceremony Venue: St. Catharine Chapel || Reception Venue: Spring Lake Bath & Tennis Club || Day-of Coordinator: Juliet Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Bijou Bridal || Shoes: Something Bleu || Jewelry: Robert Chairella and Nadri || Hair & Makeup: Margie Bresciani || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Watters || Groom's Suit: Pat the Tailor || Wedding Bands: Mingione Jewelry, (212) 226-6443 || Florist: Wallflowers || Invitations & Paper Goods: Crane & Co. and Carlson Craft || Music: Mark Mataranglo and Brian Kirk & the Jirks || Transportation: Santos Limousine || Cake: Chocolate Carousel || Accommodation: Johnson House Inn || Favors: Charitable donations to Mission Santa Maria || Photography: Cassi Claire