For their January 2008 wedding, Kelli Edwards and Scott Craig Halyard IV incorporated family traditions and close friends to create a memorable event that was all about the two of them. When Craig popped the question in June of 2007, the couple knew that Craig’s grandfather, a minister, would preside over the service, just as he had done for his 10 children and two of his grandchildren. The wedding party consisted of the pair’s siblings and childhood best friends; another friend performed a song that Kelli’s grandmother, an organist, used to play at weddings more than 50 years ago. In this way, Kelli and Craig’s union was firmly rooted in family history.
“I was looking for a place that exuded unbridled romance,” says Kelli, describing her ideal wedding venue. She found exactly that when she and Craig pulled up to Oheka Castle in Huntington, NY. Built in 1917 to resemble a French chateau, the restored hotel served as a home base for Kelli and Craig during their wedding weekend. They rented out the estate’s 32 rooms for their out-of-town guests and placed family photos throughout the library at Oheka. The hotel felt so private, Kelli even joked that she “walked around in a robe and slippers” prior to getting dressed with the help of the castle’s own lady-in-waiting. The couple planned an evening ceremony followed by dinner and dancing, and topped it off with a brunch and a walk through the grounds for their guests the next morning.
In the room where the ceremony took place, two fireplaces created a cozy atmosphere as Kelli’s father walked her down the aisle to a joyous rendition of the “Wedding March” and she saw Craig for the first time that day. To infuse their wedding with more personal details, the couple recited their own vows, arranged to have their mothers light a unity candle, and asked their guests to recite a reading in unison, involving everyone in their union.
Craig and Kelli dazzled on the dance floor, performing a well-rehearsed choreographed first dance to Stevie Wonder’s “As.” The bride described the part-waltz, part-hustle number as “our own Dancing with the Stars moment!” With the help of their band, NYC Soul, Craig surprised his bride with a serenade of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” and inspired the guests to join in an impromptu conga line at the end of the night. Surrounded by friends and family, Craig and Kelli ushered in the start of a beautiful life together.