Lucky number 13—at least it was for Anita Adams and Carlton Reeves, who found their wedding venue just 13 days after getting engaged on New Year’s Day in 2018. “We immediately fell in love with the Belle Mer venue, because of its modern seaside chic aesthetic and historical New England charm,” Anita says of the oceanfront venue in Newport, Rhode Island. “The cream brick, green ivy, seashell walkways, and ocean view made it exquisitely picture perfect.”
From there, the Washington, D.C.-based couple began planning their seaside celebration that combined a streamlined aesthetic with hints of New England charm. They wanted to honor the area’s natural beauty, so they stuck to a neutral color palette, lots of greenery, and a massive floral arch to frame their "I dos." On July 7, 2019, they donned classic attire (a fit-and-flare gown for Anita and tuxedo for Carlton!), jumped the broom, and danced to a live band at the reception.
It wasn’t all tradition, though. The couple says that they have always “made their own rules,” and that was evident from the moment the day began: Anita walked herself down the aisle to symbolize her strength. They planned a menu that included some of their favorite foods, including lobster rolls, Wisconsin cheese, and a funfetti-flavored wedding cake. As a surprise to both the guests and the newlyweds, Carlton’s parents organized a five-plane fly-over as a nod to his hobby as a pilot.
They did it all with the help of planner Tiffany Rivera of Simply Breathe Events. “She worked with us for over a year to organize and execute our vision, which even included getting a grand white Steinway piano on the grass by the seawall so we could be serenaded while we came down the aisle,” Anita says. “Overall, it was a lot of fun—never a dull moment with decisions.”
Anita wanted her full look for the day—including hair and makeup—to reflect her strong personality. She found a beautiful balance between the traditional and the modern with her dress, veil, and accessories.
To kick off the day, Anita got ready with her four bridesmaids and one bridesman—with sparkling wine in hand, of course.
Anita admits she tried on 50 dresses before finding “the one” at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City. The winning gown? An Enaura Bridal gown featuring white pearls and crystal sequins from the bodice through the skirt, which she had customized from an A-line to a fit-and-flare silhouette. “This show-stopping dress kicked my simple solid satin fit-and-flare vision’s butt,” Anita says.
She paired her gown with a beaded veil from Blossom Veils, strappy gold pumps from Christian Louboutin, and drop earrings from a boutique in New York.
Carlton proposed with the pear-shaped diamond ring just five minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day—their fifth anniversary.
Carlton accented his indigo blue custom Black Lapel tuxedo with sterling silver cufflinks, black bow tie, and black velvet smoking slippers. Like Anita, he got ready with his wedding party, sipping whiskey.
Carlton says that the groomsmen look was “cool urban professional.” They wore custom black peak-lapel tuxedos with smoking slippers—sockless!—and black bow ties. Anita’s wedding party donned nude-hued Jenny Yoo dresses and a light-colored suit.
The couple spent a few minutes together for pictures and a first look before the ceremony began.
“From any location on the property you could see the sailboats lazily floating under the Newport Bridge, the mansions of Jamestown on the cliffs, and the historical Fort Adams,” Anita says.
Anita says that the easiest part of the planning process was the round ceremony arch, something she knew she wanted from the start. She worked with floral designer Sayles Livingston to create the dramatic floral-filled centerpiece that would frame the couple but also celebrate the natural beauty of the Belle Mer venue.
Anita chose to walk down the aisle solo as a nod to "her strength as a woman." As she entered, a pianist played on a white baby grand piano alongside a saxophonist on the lawn.
Carlton let go of some tears as Anita made her grand entrance down the aisle.
The couple included Christian scripture readings during the ceremony and shared personal vows and promises to one another.
In a grand attempt to pay homage to our ancestors we jumped a beautiful custom-made broom by our florist.
“In a grand attempt to pay homage to our ancestors we jumped a beautiful custom-made broom by our florist,” Anita adds.
“Live in the moment during the planning and especially during the wedding,” Anita says. “Try to enjoy the process of working together during the planning, and take note of each other’s strengths and weaknesses as a unit because you’ll be using those skills the rest of your life.”
The live musicians played during cocktail hour, which took place next to the ceremony on the lawn overlooking Narragansett Bay.
The couple grabbed drinks—like Carlton’s signature cocktail, an old-fashioned made with maple bourbon and blackberries, dubbed the "Reeves Sea Fashion"—and took a walk together as newlyweds along the water.
Meanwhile, guests played lawn games as they enjoyed French 75s alongside pancetta-wrapped sea scallops, Vietnamese summer rolls, and Tuscan chicken kabobs. “Let’s not forget the installation of bistro lights on the lawn,” Anita says of the decor. “As soon as the sun set, it was a great way for guests to mingle both inside and outside while enjoying our 10-piece band throughout the night.”
Mini lobster rolls were passed during cocktail hour as a nod to Carlton’s love of seafood. The couple also had a Del’s lemonade stand. “The wedding was in July, so it was warm with a slight sea breeze,” Anita says. “The Del’s was a smash hit!”
A boxwood wall filled with champagne flutes served as both the escort card display and a photo backdrop. “The champagne wall turned into a photo booth and that was amazing,” Anita says of taking photos with friends and family as they entered the reception.
Guests moved inside to Belle Mer’s Water Salon for the reception. Anita loved a wedding that her planner had done before, so she adapted that look for their venue, filling the blank space at Belle Mer with a mix of round and rectangular tables, sheer white drapery, white votive candles, and high and low arrangements of pastel-hued roses and greenery.
The couple made a grand entrance by walking down a staircase accented with abundant floral arrangements and candles.
The newlyweds cut into a four-tier fondant cake filled with Carlton’s favorite cake flavor: Funfetti! Anita and Carlton's live band, The Connection, played a rendition of Anthony David’s “Forever More” for their first dance.
After a dinner of seared halibut and grilled filet mignon, Anita changed into a ruffled party dress for dancing. After the wedding, Anita and Carlton jetted to Italy’s Amalfi Coast to celebrate their honeymoon with a tour of Sicily, Positano, Ravello, and Capri. They ended in Naples—just for pizza!
Ceremony & Reception Venue Belle Mer
Wedding Planner Tiffany Rivera of Simply Breathe Events
Officiant Theresa Morgan
Bride's Veil Blossom Veils
Bride's Shoes Christian Louboutin
Hair Hair by Fran
Bridesmaid Dresses Jenny Yoo
Groom’s Attire Black Lapel
Groomsmen Attire Black Lapel
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands Tiny Jewel Box
Floral Design Sayles Livingston Design
Stationery & Paper Goods Creations by Sasha
Calligraphy Allison Dee Calligraphy
Entertainment Wilson Stevens Productions
Accommodations Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina
Videography Artistic Wedding Films
Photo Booth Move Mountains Co.
Photography Chi-Chi Ari Photography