Kristel and Austin’s Cheerful Wedding in Newport
In 2007, while taking summer classes and visiting her twin brother at Tufts University, then-student Kristel Jean, now a high-school science teacher in Chicago, crossed paths with Austin Hsiao, now a process engineer at a biotech company.
Love blossomed, and years later, in December 2013, the duo arrived for holiday merriment with Kristel’s family. As part of Christmas Eve tradition, guests gave a present to the person whose name they drew from a hat. Fittingly, Austin pulled Kristel’s name. To her surprise, out came a ring box—and Austin went down on one knee. She said yes, and the yuletide festivities grew all the more celebratory.
Seven months later, Kristel and Austin threw a cheery summer wedding on July 19, 2014, in Newport, Rhode Island, amid 140 of their closest friends and family.
Regas Studio designed the detailed invitation suite that included illustrations of lovers gazing at a starry sky to echo the phrase “I love you to the moon…and back,” from Kristel’s favorite children’s book, Guess How Much I Love You.
The bride wore a Reem Acra gown with Via Spiga shoes, an heirloom pearl bracelet, a teardrop necklace from Macy’s, and custom-designed earrings by Greenwich Jewelers. A jeweled headband complemented Kristel’s choice of a cathedral-length veil for the ceremony. The groom accessorized his black Vera Wang suit with a vest, bow tie, and pocket square.
Waiting With “Baby’s Breath”
Jen Stone of Stonekelly designed the bouquets, featuring black-eyed Susans, baby’s breath, ranunculus, craspedia, freesia, and lavender. Kristel chose black-eyed Susans because they covered the Tufts University grounds the summer she met her groom. And Austin had sent his bride a bouquet of baby’s breath back in college, so the white flowers were incorporated as well.
On the Move
The ladies made their way to the beach for pictures following the couple’s first look and portraits.
Pearls Just Wanna Have Fun
The bridesmaids played up dark-blue Shoshanna dresses with double-strand pearls and nude heels of their choice.
The groomsmen donned Black by Vera Wang suits, gray bow ties and vests, and white pocket squares.
A Touch of Color
Boutonnieres of craspedia and chamomile provided pops of color for the groom and his groomsmen.
The Ceremony Spot
Kay Chapel—a Moravian church dating back to the mid-1800s—was chosen for the wedding service.
Put a Wreath on It
Wreaths with the same colorful blooms as in the bride’s bouquet hung from chapel doors.
And I Thought I Loved You Then
Kristel’s father walked her down the aisle to “Then” by Brad Paisley.
Daughters of a family friend carried nosegays of chamomile and tossed yellow rose petals down the aisle while wearing Joan Calabrese frocks and carrying their baptismal medals.
“It Is Only Love Which Sets Us Free”
Reverend Lark d’Helen officiated the nuptials and Kristel’s brothers and Austin’s sister recited readings during the ceremony, including Maya Angelou’s poem “Touched by an Angel,” one of the bride’s favorite literary works.
Showered in Love
The bridal party greeted the new husband and wife by tossing rose petals.
By the Seaside
Kristel and Austin’s favorite memory of the day was taking time to sip soda and eat snacks while walking along trails by the sea just before the reception. “It was so special to sit together, watch the waves come in, and enjoy our first moments together as husband and wife,” Kristel says.
Munching in Style
Guests enjoyed cocktail hour on the grounds of the Castle Hill Inn, where the reception took place. “We wanted the design and flow for the wedding weekend to have a relaxed and elegant air to it, as if Castle Hill was their home,” event planner Michelle Rago says. “We also wanted to mirror that period of time when lawn parties were the summer fashion.”
The venue catered with appetizers of tomato bruschetta with roasted garlic and pesto aioli; Jonah crab cakes with chipotle; lobster-avocado rillettes on plantain chips; chilled poached white shrimp with mango-habanero hot sauce; corn madeleines with lime crème fraîche and caviar; foie gras vol au vent with grilled stone-fruit chutney; barbecue mac-and-cheese tarts with lobster, and yacht club sodas.
Eyes on the Prize
Adults and children alike appreciated rounds of corn hole during cocktail hour.
Let’s Play Croquet
Partygoers socialized amid croquet games, while a nearby lemonade stand supplied refreshments.
Fun and Games
The cocktail hour area was enhanced by a pair of regal tents, housing the lawn game equipment and a pair of stately chairs for a good view of the games.
The couple’s signature drink, a “Dark and Stormy,” was on offer with a selection of cigars stored in antique boxes that belonged to Kristel’s grandfather.
Light Conquers All
A symbol of the night, these beacons of light accented cocktail napkins.
To the Moon
Stonekelly designed custom shelving units to hold escort cards and mason jars filled with cheerful blooms like daisies, chamomile, roses, freesia, and rice flower.
A Home for Well Wishes
Attendees placed presents inside a house-shaped card box from Door County Woodworks.
Setting the Mood
“The bride and groom love New England, wildflowers, and lighthouses,” Rago recalls. “A July wedding in Newport was the perfect fit. We chose crisp colors of yellow, white, and navy.” Candlelit lanterns of all shapes and sizes hung from the top of the sailcloth tent (a permanent fixture on the property), which was draped in off-white fabric.
On the Edge
Special linens (with navy inlet box pleats) and bold piping dressed up the tables.
A Sunny Disposition
Stonekelly filled hammered metal vases with the white and yellow flowers used in the bouquets and at the church, as well as blue hydrangea. Floating candles in clear stemmed glassware and tealights in mercury glass votives added a warm glow to the midsummer celebration. Patterned napkins added a graphic element to the tables.
A salad of local baby greens, endive, pickled beets, lavash crisp, whipped Vermont chèvre, and roasted shallot vinaigrette kicked off dinner. Guests then dined on one of three main-course offerings: grilled angus beef tenderloin with Yukon gold potatoes, caramelized onion gratin, baby carrots, tomato confit, and sherry jus; grilled Atlantic salmon with blackened sweet potatoes, grilled greens, and corn-and-andouille-maque choux; or grilled vegetable and local ricotta cannelloni with a tomato-goat-cheese emulsion and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Dancing in the Moonlight
The newlyweds swayed to “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri for their first dance.
How Sweet It Is
The duo cut into their vanilla sponge cake with both lemon chiffon and almond crunch filling, which was covered with a buttercream in a ridged pattern and sugar black-eyed Susans. The slices were plated with fresh raspberries and served to guests, who had been encouraged to save room for the sweet on the letterpressed menus.
“Build Me Up, Buttercup” ended the reception, giving way to the after-party in the Castle Hill mansion.
Photography: Brian Dorsey Studios
Ceremony Location: Kay Chapel
Reception Location, Catering, and Cake: Castle Hill Inn
Event Planning: Michelle Rago Destinations
Flowers and Rentals: Stonekelly Events
Videography: Mason Jar Films
Officiant: Reverend Lark d’Helen
Music: Jimmy Vali
Hair: Nikki Avanzino
Makeup: Souraya Hamdi
Lighting: JDI Productions Inc.
Transportation: All Occasion Transportation Incorporated