When Leigh Ann Ambrosi and Richard Berkowitz began to plan their weekend destination wedding, the Princeton, New Jersey, couple agreed on one thing: "We wanted our guests to experience three days of heaven," says Leigh Ann, and she had the perfect location in mind—Anguilla. The bride, director of marketing and publicity at Sterling Publishing, had visited the sunny island while on a press trip and fell in love with the locale. "Anguilla introduced me to the most gorgeous, pristine beaches I've ever seen," she recalls. She was so enthusiastic in her raves, in fact, that Richard instantly agreed with her choice, even though he'd never been to the island.
The couple's goal to have their 64 guests "kick back, relax and sink their toes in the sand" set the tone for their wedding weekend. When guests arrived at the CuisinArt Resort and Spa, each found a welcome bag stocked with vacation essentials in their hotel room. Leigh Ann and Richard hosted a rum-punch happy hour that night to give everyone a chance to meet and mingle; the next day, the bridal party toured the island by boat. When the boat docked in the evening, the party was joined by the rest of the guests for a seaside rehearsal dinner with the music of a steel-drum band.
The next day, Leigh Ann and Richard were married on the beach in a traditional Jewish ceremony. Afterward, the newlyweds and their guests celebrated at the cocktail hour, dining on crab cakes, mango-and-Brie quesadillas and Jamaican jerk-chicken skewers, as well as an assortment of fresh pasta and Mediterranean salads from made-to-order stations. The party stayed outdoors for the reception but moved upstairs after cocktail hour, to a posh penthouse terrace overlooking the ocean.
As the sun set, guests were escorted to their tables, each named after a seashell and marked with a glass jar filled with the table’s namesake. Everyone enjoyed a dinner of mini risotto cakes and a choice of grilled lobster with coconut rice or beef with garlic-mashed potatoes. Then the couple and their guests got down to reggae and steel-drum tunes played by the local Mussington Brothers band. "We saw our guests dancing, smiling and laughing," says Leigh Ann. "At that moment, we realized how lucky we were to have such amazing people in our lives." —Cristi L. Hansen
Learn from Leigh Ann and Richard
Keep Guests Informed: The couple added to each guest's welcome bag a "Passport to Fun in the Sun" booklet containing a list of scheduled events and travel details for the entire weekend.
Chill Out: Leigh Ann and Richard distributed straw fans to make sure guests stayed cool throughout the outdoor ceremony and reception.
Offer Alternatives for Your Guests: The couple gave everyone the option of choosing a light dessert of champagne sorbet with fresh berries or a rich chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.
Bid a Memorable Farewell: For their favors, Leigh Ann and Richard gave each guest a silver luggage tag to remind them of their trip to Anguilla.