For two people who don’t like sports, it’s probably surprising that Kelly Rhatigan and Liam Griff met at a sports bar in New York’s West Village in December of 2014. (But it probably means there weren’t any distractions from their instant attraction!) “We were drawn to one another right away, but it took three weeks for a ‘casual’ Sunday afternoon to progress into an epic and romantic first date,” says Kelly. After that first date, though, the pair was smitten, and got engaged less a year-and-a-half later. “Liam and I spent our summers at a shared beach house with our closest friends in Montauk, but one weekend he convinced everyone else to stay home so we could have it to ourselves—and so he could propose!” Kelly recalls.
That very weekend, the couple headed to Gurney’s Resort and Seawater Spa for celebratory piña coladas, and ended up reserving the venue for their wedding before they’d finished their drinks. “We knew we wanted to have a fall wedding somewhere that felt like a destination, but that was close enough for our family and friends to get to,” Kelly explains. As a bonus, their November 4, 2017 wedding date fell just a few days after Kelly’s birthday! They embraced the nautical setting, but mixed in an autumnal off-season vibe to embrace the time of year they love most on Long Island. Kait Rovnyak of AaB Creates helped combine a sea of blues with warm fall tones, weaving in a watercolor crest, fall leaves, and oyster shells to really tie it all together. Photographer Heather Waraksa captured the oceanfront celebration, which definitely proves that beach weddings don’t have to happen in the summer!
The couple embraced their stunning nautical location by incorporating a blue palette throughout their wedding day's details.
A watercolor crest inspired the invitation suite, and combined both seashells and floral elements. The white invitation was finished with cobalt-blue watercolor calligraphy. “We used the artwork throughout our suite, as well as on the day-of stationery,” says Kelly.
The wedding party was family-only, and Kelly invited her sister, her brother’s wife, and Liam’s sisters to join her as bridesmaids. She let each woman choose a Joanna August gown that made her feel her best—but did treat all the women to matching Eberjey PJs to wear while they got ready!
Kelly first put down a deposit on a beachy, bohemian gown, but changed her mind once she tried on this Carolina Herrera design. “It was so classic and simple—exactly my style,” she explains of the trumpet silhouette, V-neck, and bow at the back. Of course, every bride needs a little drama, and Kelly found hers in the form of a floral-edged Oscar de la Renta veil. The flowers on the veil were a perfect match for the mother-of-pearl Van Cleef & Arpels studs belonging to Kelly's mother.
The bride’s white bouquet combined peonies, pink-tinged anemones, and eucalyptus.
Liam donned a navy blue tuxedo from Ralph Lauren Purple Label. The groomsmen (Liam’s two brothers, Kelly’s brother, and Kelly’s brother-in-law) wore their own tuxedos, and the bridesmaids wore Joanna August dresses in steel blue, cobalt, and navy.
The bride's father walked her down the aisle before she and Liam exchanged vows on the resort’s East Deck. “My dad is a big, tough guy—he is a former New York City Fire Department captain—but even he couldn’t hold it together for our walk down the aisle,” Kelly remembers.
Liam and Kelly’s ceremony was framed by an arch of autumn leaves accented with blush roses. “We didn’t write our own vows, and that’s one of my only regrets,” Kelly says. “Liam wrote his own vows anyway, and shared them with me in a letter earlier in the day. It was one of my favorite moments!”
Cocktail hour included a full raw bar, showing off Long Island’s bounty, as well as miniature lobster rolls. The pair served a Dark ’n Stormy as their signature drink. “Liam’s family loves ginger beer, and we thought it was a perfect beach drink that felt fall-appropriate,” says the bride.
The reception took place beneath a clear tent hung with dozens of basket lanterns. “That was our planner’s idea, and it gave the tent a beachy but still sophisticated look,” Kelly says. Tables were topped with light linens, while the dark wood head table was left bare and accented with a matching runner.
A deep blue napkin and printed menu was set on each crisp white charger. The meal included a tomato and burrata salad, filet mignon or halibut, and a caramel tart for dessert. “The food at Gurney’s was amazing—it’s one of the reasons we chose the venue,” says Kelly. Instead of paper place cards, each guest’s name was written on an oyster shell. “I ordered the shells on Etsy, and they weren’t so fresh-smelling when they arrived," Kelly says, with a laugh. "I washed 200 of them with a toothbrush in our bathtub!”
The three-tiered naked cake had layers of vanilla and apple spice cake sandwiched with vanilla buttercream. Roses, peonies, and olive branches adorned the tiers.
The basket lanterns glowed as stars shone through the tent. Kelly and Liam kicked off a night of dancing to “For the Longest Time” by Billy Joel before their band took over. “We told them to err on the side of a regular rock band rather than a wedding band, and they were fantastic!” says the bride.
Though Kelly got overwhelmed with all the opinions that come up during the planning process, she kept it in perspective. “Anytime it became overwhelming, I tried to take a step back and look at the bigger picture: I found the love of my life, and that’s what matters!”
Wedding Planner: AaB Creates
Venue: Gurney’s Resort & Seawater Spa
Officiant: Father Robert Allmen
Bride's Dress: Carolina Herrera
Floral Design: Saipua
Bride's Veil: Oscar de la Renta
Bride's Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Bride's Jewelry: Van Cleef & Arpels
Hair: Lisa Lord of Sam Brocato Salon
Makeup: Sally Duvall Makeup
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Joanna August
Groom's Attire: Ralph Lauren Purple Label
Engagement Ring: SH Zell
Wedding Bands: SH Zell
Floral Design: Saipua
Paper Products: Ipanema Press, Melinda Cantor Designs
Catering: Gurney’s Resort & Seawater Spa
Cake: Sugar Sugar Custom Cakes
Music: Artie Stuart Band, Hank Lane Productions
Rentals: La Tavola Fine Linens, Party Rental Ltd.
Transportation: M & V Limousines, Ltd
Photography: Heather Waraksa