Taina Peña and Justin Biggs met in September 2009, when Taina joined a community service group at the University of Pennsylvania. The two were introduced briefly at an event, and when Taina ran into Justin a few days later, she decided to make the first move. "We had the same block of time off between classes, and I spotted him in the food hall and asked if I could join him for lunch," she recalls. "Soon enough, we were having lunch together every week. By November, we were dating." The couple's engagement also took place in November, seven years later, on November 23, 2016.
"Justin asked me to meet him at a cocktail bar to kick off Thanksgiving weekend," she says. "After he proposed, our friends started calling in rounds of drinks for us. We drank so much champagne that we missed our fancy dinner reservation and ended up at our favorite restaurant in Harlem!"
Taina and Justin knew they were marrying each other—but they couldn't decide where. "We looked into New York City (where we live), Philadelphia (where we had met), Washington, D.C. (where Justin's family lives), and even the Dominican Republic (where I was born)," says Taina. After much consideration—"this was the most stressful part of planning," she says—the Manhattan-based couple decided on the groom's family beach house in Wilmington, North Carolina. "We loved the idea of having a venue that would be uniquely ours and were excited by the idea of customizing every aspect to fit our personalities," explains Taina.
"There were no limitations—preferred vendors, time restraints, etc.—and it allowed us to save on the venue rental, of course!" The bride says doing it at home felt like a weight off their shoulders and let them focus on the "fun stuff." They organized a jet ski entrance for Justin, booked a custom cocktail bar (in a camper trailer!) for cocktail hour, and served snow cones and s'mores for dessert.
Keep reading to see more creative ideas and custom details from Taina and Justin's North Carolina wedding, as photographed by Treebird Photography, below.
The couple created their invitation suite on Minted and included a touch of gold as a preview to the wedding's color palette.
Taina spent the morning with her bridesmaids, relaxing by the water and sporting a monogrammed robe with her new initials on it!
The bride was on the hunt for a very specific, unexpected pair of shoes. "I tried on so many styles before I found these blue fringe heels by Schutz," she says. She also carried a velvet embroidered clutch that looked like a James Bond novel. (Justin is a big fan of the series—so much so, in fact, that he wore a red carnation boutonniere like James Bond does in the movies.)
The bride fell hard for her beaded Theia gown while shopping at Lovely Bride in New York City. "I loved that it had a vintage vibe and looked like it was draped in pearls from head-to-toe," she says. "I knew it was the one when I made another mother of the bride cry in the store. It was such a compliment!"
Taina's bridesmaids wore long black dresses that they selected themselves. "I wanted them to choose a gown that fit their budget and body type," she says.
The couple's flower girl looked adorable in a black-and-white dress and a jewel-toned flower crown. "She loved the flower crown because it made her feel like a princess," says the bride. "It was sweet how seriously she took the role—she was so focused on covering the ground in petals that she forgot to smile!"
Justin's look was inspired by the movie poster for James Bond's Spectre, and he pulled it off with a white dinner jacket by J.Crew, black velvet smoking slippers by Paul Stuart, and red boutonniere, of course! But the groom's look was not the only day's only nod to James Bond. He surprised everyone with an action-packed entrance on a jet ski!
The groomsmen looked dapper in classic tuxes, while the bridesmaids looked equally elegant in their black gowns. And rather than carrying bridesmaids bouquets, each lady carried a book clutch. "I'm an avid reader so I decided to get book clutches made on Etsy," says Taina. "Each was either the woman's favorite novel or a book that I felt captured her essence."
The couple exchanged vows in front of a circle installation covered in jewel-toned flowers. Following their traditional vows—"We felt far less pressure that way," explains Taina—they did a "cord of three strands ceremony." Explains the bride, "Justin held three cords (signifying him, me, and God), and I braided them together as a promise to use our beliefs as an anchor of our marriage."
The first kiss!
Guests threw rose petals up in the air as the newlyweds made their way down the aisle.
"Camp Cocktail was the first vendor we booked," says Taina. "They make custom, creative cocktails with the freshest ingredients, and we knew we had to have them there!"
After enjoying the fun drinks and snow cones on the home's lawn, Taina and Justin led the way to a nearby tent for dinner and dancing.
The escort card display was a labor of love by the bride and her bridesmaids. "We used copper pipes to make a stand and then added black, white, and silver pom poms as a fringe backdrop," she says. "It made a nice photo backdrop!"
The wedding party sat at a beautifully decorated head table, which was surrounded by ghost chairs and topped with gold-rimmed glassware and a long greenery garland with pops of pink flowers.
The bride mixed things up for the guest tables with one style featuring milk bud vases and ghost chairs and the other, rustic white chairs and lantern centerpieces.
The bride and groom's chairs were personalized with their initials.
"My favorite piece of the reception was the chandelier above the dance floor," says the bride. "It was covered in garland and had Edison bulbs draping toward the dance floor."
Taina and Justin selected "Coming Home" by Leon Bridges for their first dance and then invited all married couples on the floor for a "longevity dance." "All of the married couples danced salsa until the longest married couple was left standing," she says. "The winning couple has been married for over 60 years!"
After a night of dancing and late night s'mores, Taina and Justin's perfect night ended with a picture-perfect sparkler getaway.
Month-Of Coordinator & Florist: Fiore Fine Flowers || Bride's Dress: Theia || Jewelry: Kate Spade || Shoes: Schultz || Hair: Candice Cuardos || Makeup: Lauren Leitzke || Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Fame and Partners, Nasty Gal, Asos || Groom's Attire: J. Crew; Charles Tyrwhitt, Paul Stuart || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Invitations: Minted || Paper Products: Daniel Chavez Design || Guest Book: Please + Thanks || Rentals: Party Reflections, Eventful Furniture || Entertainment: DJ Duluxe || Catering: Cape Fear Seafood Company || Favors: Beau Coup, Kilwin's Candy || Cocktails: Camper Cocktails || Photography: Treebird Photography