As many young New Yorkers do, Melissa Bruckman and Reid Covington first met in the Hamptons. “We were in Montauk at the Surf Lodge on the 4th of July, and spent the entire night talking as St. Lucia played,” Melissa recalls. “But we made a crucial error: We forgot to exchange contact information!” Thankfully, the wound up at the same house party the following night, and they’ve been together ever since.
Three years later, Melissa and Reid were on their annual international trip for President’s Day Weekend, spending a few days touring Copenhagen. On their third day, Reid asked Melissa to dress up for their fancy lunch but they ended up at the Botanical Gardens. “It was just the two of us, surrounded by all of this lush greenery,” she says. They sat on a little white bench, and within moments, Reid was down on one knee, reading Melissa a letter recounting their three-year romance. “We spent the whole day celebrating and enjoying our engagement, and waited to tell our families the next day," she says. " I loved that we had a chance to take it all in before the craziness began.”
Reid and his family have been visiting the Mill Reef Club in Antigua since he was a baby, so heading to the island for their April 29, 2017 wedding was an easy decision. They invited just 80 guests to join them as they exchanged vows on a bluff over the ocean and partied in a weekend full of exciting activities. “We had a welcome barbecue, wedding Olympics (with a hermit crab race!), a catamaran cruise, and an all-night after party,” Melissa remembers. “We wanted it to feel like a weekend-long celebration for everyone we love.”
Paul Simon and Ben Rountree, a photographer and videographer from Forged in the North, made the trip with the couple and their loved ones, capturing every fun, exciting, and intimate moment. Keep reading for more!
The evening before the wedding, everyone boarded a catamaran for sunset drinks and a cruise into English Harbor. Melissa looked Caribbean-chic in a white mini dress with lace accents and green tassel earrings.
On the wedding day, the bride and her bridesmaids lounged in gauzy cover-ups before changing out of their bathing suits and into their dresses.
Melissa's Marchesa wedding gown was über-romantic, pairing an off-the-shoulder neckline and embroidered lace with an ivory hue and floating sleeves. “I knew the second I saw pictures that it was the dress I wanted, but I was determined to find something similar at a lower price,” says Melissa. “Boy, was I wrong! After I scouted a few alternatives, it became clear that I would have to go after the real thing. I put the dress on at a Marchesa trunk show and was immediately obsessed.” She paired the dress with soft waves (done by her sister-in-law!) and tassel diamond earrings, borrowed from Suzy B, the jeweler who created Melissa’s engagement ring.
To break up the color-blocked scenery (think blue ocean, white sand, and green land—swoon!), Melissa had her ‘maids wear palm-printed dresses from Show Me Your Mumu. The women chose from a variety of styles and opted for pulled-back hair. She says, “I knew it would be windy at the ceremony!”
Reid wore a custom blue tuxedo and a palm-printed bowtie, while the groomsmen wore blue suits and undone white shirts. “About five weeks before the wedding, one of Reid’s groomsmen (who lives in China) decided to have all of the suits custom-made there,” says Melissa. “The suits arrived five days before everyone left for the wedding—let’s just say I wouldn’t recommend this route, though it did turn out great!”
Reid and Melissa exchanged vows on a windswept bluff, with Reid’s dog, Duncan, serving as “flower dog.” “He didn’t pee on anything—until the recessional, that is,” she says, laughing.
One of Reid’s childhood friends, Nick, served as the officiant. “He’s younger than we are and has never been married, but is the most thoughtful and passionate person we know,” says Melissa. “He had the entire audience in tears!”
When scouting locations earlier in the weekend, the photographer and videographer found a rock that they wanted the couple to stand on for portraits. “They must have seen it during low tide, because when we got there, the rock was five feet away and surrounded by water,” says Melissa. “Without hesitation, Reid took off his shoes, rolled up his pants, and picked me up. These are some of my favorite photos, of him carrying me to safety and keeping me dry.”
Meanwhile, guests sipped cocktails made with vodka and Ting, a grapefruit-flavored soda that is popular in Antigua, as they gathered around the pool.
Melissa and Reid made their grand entrance through the hotel before heading out to the patio for dinner!
Long tables were arranged into a U formation, which encouraged guests to chat and socialize. Neutral linens decorated each table, along with tea lights, greenery, and orchids.
At dinner, guests dined on a salad with local herbed goat cheese, Caribbean pork tenderloin, and red snapper roasted in a banana leaf. Toasts had the couple laughing (and in tears!) throughout the meal.
Mel and Reid served two different desserts. Their wedding cake featured a golden pineapple design and layers of vanilla and island rum cake, and they also offered piña colada cheesecake.
The cake tasting!
“We really wanted to give our guests a taste of the local culture, so we had stilt dancers performing around the dinner tables before dancing got underway,” says the bride.
After Melissa and Reid danced to “We’re All We Need” by Above & Beyond (and the bride changed into a lace halter dress), guests flooded the dance floor and stayed there all night. “Our DJ spun until sunrise, so we had late night sliders, pigs-in-a-blanket, and churros,” she describes.
The planning process was a detailed one, but Melissa wouldn’t have it any other way. “The day was so much more special because Reid and I were involved every step of the way,” she says. “I felt like I was in control, but was still able to really enjoy it.”
Wedding Planner: Tamara Mannix || Venue: Mill Reef Club || Bride's Dress: Marchesa || Bride's Veil: Mark Ingram Atelier || Bride's Shoes: Schutz || Bride's Jewelry: Suzy B Jewels || Bride’s Makeup: Natalie Fuchs Makeup || Bridesmaids’ Hair & Makeup: Staci Russel || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Show Me Your Mumu || Groom's Attire: Blank Label || Groomsmen's Attire: Custom || Engagement Ring: Suzy B Jewels || Wedding Bands: Suzy B Jewels || Floral Design: Florexotic || Paper Products: Minted, Etsy || Catering & Cake: Mill Reef Club || Reception Music: DJ Phuse || Videography: Ben Rountree of Forged in the North || Photography: Paul Simon of Forged in the North