A Formal Destination Wedding on the Beach in Turks and Caicos
Vanessa and Gavin
Vanessa and Gavin met while working abroad in the Netherlands, for The Hague's International Criminal Court. Just more than three years later, on April 17, 2010, the Washington, D.C.-based duo (she's a business development associate, and he's a legal advisor for the British Embassy) married. Their destination wedding was a no-brainer: Vanessa's parents' house on the island of Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos, had served as the couple's vacation spot before and would provide a beautiful setting for their intimate and sophisticated seaside weekend.
The invitation suite created by Ceci New York included a letterpressed invitation with beveled, tinted edges and a hand-drawn floral pattern; a response card; a four-page booklet with hand-stitched binding (containing information about the weekend's events); and envelopes calligraphed by Nan DeLuca. Custom-designed postage stamps finished off the look.
The stationery fused tropical elements with the sophisticated sensibility of the wedding. Ceci Johnson, the designer, said she created the balance of fun and refinement by strategically using subtle color, orchid details, and a mix of fonts.
Though Vanessa first imagined herself in a bohemian-style sheath, she fell in love with the first dress she tried on: an Oscar de la Renta. She loved its drama and femininity, and the full skirt's wavelike ruffles. She paired the glamorous gown with Gucci white patent-leather wedges. Stephanotis flowers adorned her hair, while Tiffany & Co. diamond and amethyst earrings, and her grandmother's two gold bracelets, completed her look.
Floral and event designer Eric Buterbaugh created a cascading bouquet of white orchids and stephanotis for Vanessa to carry down the aisle.
The First Look
At the suggestion of their planner, Marianne Weiman-Nelson of Special Occasions Event Planning, Vanessa and Gavin met in private before becoming Mr. and Mrs. Hood. "We both laughed and cried," Vanessa said. "It was the culmination of three blissful days and the beginning of our new life together. The moment we saw each other, the nerves dissipated; we were ready to enjoy the ceremony."
The couple also posed for portraits with photographer Ira Lippke prior to the ceremony to maximize their time with guests during reception.
The Bridesmaids' Bouquets
The bridesmaids carried bouquets of white Darwin tulips tied with white silk grosgrain ribbons.
Bosley, the couple's terrier mix, wore a festive bow tie and snuck underneath the window curtain to watch the ceremony from the house.
A huppa of monstera leaves and white phalaenopsis orchids was built on the edge of the beach. The simple structure framed the couple and the sea.
Guests ditched their footwear at the shoe check and received flip-flops to wear on the beach -- gold for the women, black for the men.
The ketubah, signed just prior to the ceremony by the couple and a pair of witnesses, was set on a small table under the huppa alongside the kiddush cup and prayer shawl.
A Grand Entrance
Vanessa's parents waited for her at the top of the aisle, and in keeping with the Jewish tradition, escorted her to her groom. A good friend, Clemency Burton-Hill, played the violin during the procession. Following the bridesmaids' entrance to "Salut d'Amour," Vanessa and her parents entered to "Meditation" from "Thais."
Eighty-five guests witnessed the sunset ceremony. The sky cleared of clouds just before the start, and bathed the couple in romantic, dusky light.
During the ceremony, the couple exchanged rings -- his from Tiffany & Co., hers borrowed from her grandmother Millie.
According to Jewish tradition, the rings used during a wedding ceremony can not have stones in them. Vanessa now wears a Tiffany & Co. band alongside her cushion-cut engagement ring designed by Lawrence Bock of Bachendorf's.
A Special Welcome
Hundreds of bud vases holding a single open white rose were placed on the steps leading into the house, where cocktails were served.
Later on, during the reception, the roses were swapped out for votive candles, lighting the way back out of the house.
Calligraphed escort cards were set up on a table inside the house, where caviar and Champagne was served.
The ceremony site was transformed for guests to enjoy a dinner and reception under the night sky.
Round tables were dressed in special linens from Resource One and set with silver chargers. Peonies (the bride's favorite flower) filled simple silver bowls for an understated and elegant look.
Guests dined on a four-course meal prepared by Parrot Cay Chefs -- arugula salad with heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, dried fruit, and almonds with sherry vinaigrette; homemade crab ravioli in a cucumber-dill sauce; beef filet with mustard herbs, Jerusalem artichokes, spring onion, french fries, and creamed spinach; and cake. Sagittarius Band, a local group, played music during the seated dinner.
The chefs at Parrot Cay created a mango-and-coconut rum cake. Inside, layers of roasted-coconut sponge cake were soaked in Malibu-rum-punch syrup and slathered with jasmine-scented mango jam. The tiered confection was frosted with a vanilla bean and passion fruit buttercream (made in a marshmallow style to stand up to the Caribbean climate), and covered with mango slices and a mango-passion fruit glaze.
Around the pool, 36-inch glass globes filled with water, silver thread, and phalaenopsis orchid heads were placed on LED-light coasters to illuminate the area.
The couple danced to Keith Richards's version of "The Nearness of You" from the Rolling Stones' "Live Licks" album. The soulful classic had a local twist: Richards has a home on the island, and Gavin had the chance to sing a bar or two of the song with him at the beach party before the wedding. After the newlyweds shared their first dance, DJ Dave Meek of No Static spun records into the evening as guests danced in the sand.
Waffle cones filled with tropical ice cream flavors (banana, passion fruit, coffee, cocoa, and coconut) were passed out to guests near the end of the evening. Glass vessels filled with rainbow sprinkles held the cones upright.
A Walk on the Beach
Vanessa changed into a short Grecian-style silk dress by Martin Grant for dancing. She also joined her husband for a walk on the beach under the starlit sky.