A Fun, Personalized Wedding at the New Jersey Shore
Kate Dibble and Matthew Starke met through mutual friends when she moved to Houston for Teach for America, and he moved back to his hometown to start medical school. After dating for several years, Matthew matched for his residency in Newark, New Jersey. And that's when the couple decided to not only move east, but also in with each other.
One winter day, with several feet of snow on the ground, they took their dog for a walk and then settled in for a relaxing Friday evening at home. Kate was wearing a dog hair-covered sweatshirt, Matthew was still in his hospital scrubs. But it was just right for a proposal. They'd been together seven years when she said "yes," and it was 21 months more until they said "I do" on the Jersey Shore, on September 16, 2017. By this time, Kate was a high school assistant principal and Matthew was an orthopedic surgical resident, but the setting was inspired by the bride's childhood. Kate's family has owned a summer home there since the 1970s, and each year, her extended family would gather down the shore. As she grew older, she would bring friends, and eventually Matthew, for weekends.
The vibe was laid back and personal, and a coastal theme guided the aesthetic. Many of the 150 guests had not been to the area before, and the couple excitedly showed it off and celebrated how special it was to them—starting with a ceremony in a quaint church, and following with festivities at Mantoloking Yacht Club, just a short walk away.
Mary Kate Moon created the custom save the dates and all the paper pieces that followed. The beach-inspired suite began with a save the date combining watercolored calligraphy, typography, and a painted scene of the dunes and sea grass of the beach. The same scene appeared on the response postcard, but in a monochromatic palette of blue and gray. The invitation was simple and letterpressed, and the pieces were tied together with a sky-blue velvet ribbon.
Kate and her ladies got ready in India Amory robes. Kate still wears hers every day. In addition to loungewear, Kate gifted her gals French beach baskets and embroidered handkerchiefs that said "no ugly crying" and the wedding date.
Matthew donned a classic black tuxedo with notched lapels, a custom bow tie with a seersucker American flag print, and cufflinks that Kate had designed as a wedding gift to him that featured surgically-fixed femur fractures (a fitting gift for an orthopedic surgeon).
Kate found her Lela Rose dress at Mark Ingram Bridal after narrowing it down to two options by the designer. "I love every wedding dress she has come up with," says Kate. "They are stylish, unique, but still incredibly elegant. Going into the process, I was fairly sure I wanted to wear something by her." When she tried this simple crepe gown (with an intricate lace back) on in front of her mom, mother-in-law, and sisters, everyone began to cry.
Both the bride and groom had a "something blue." Kate's mom took one of her late father's blue shirts and sewed a piece of it into Kate's gown, and then had another piece made into a pocket square for Matt to tuck into his jacket.
Bridesmaids wore a mix of tea-length and long dresses in shades of ice blue, and carried simple bouquets of fragrant white stock by Wallflowers Florist. Kate's bouquet was also all white, with garden roses, lisianthus, ranunculus, stock, and spray roses, tied together with pale blue silk Froufrou Chic ribbon.
The Pup of Honor
The couple's beloved English bulldog, Rosalita, joined the bridal party as they were getting ready and stayed for a few photos before the service began. She did make an appearance at the ceremony and reception in another form though—the bride and groom included an illustration of her on the program and cocktail napkins.
A Southern Tradition
In keeping with the Southern tradition, the bride and groom buried a bottle of bourbon upside down on the site of the ceremony one month before the big day. Said to bring good weather, the ritual continues with the couple digging it up and drinking it on the wedding day. So Kate and Matthew did just that—and passed it around to their family members. Postnuptials, they saved the rest for special occasions.
It seems it did the trick, as the forecast called for rain all weekend, but in the end, the weather was 70 degrees and sunny.
The couple chose the Episcopal Church of St. Simon's-by-the-Sea because of its beauty and convenient location. But because Kate was raised Catholic, they had both an Episcopal reverend and a Catholic priest officiate. The bride entered on the arm of her grandfather (who lives just down the street) to the sounds of traditional music. Scriptures and a love letter from the civil war ("My Very Dear Wife") were read, before the couple recessed to "Do You Hear the People Sing" from the musical Les Miserables—a favorite of theirs, despite it not being romantic at all.
The ceremony was the bride's favorite part of the wedding. As her friend recited the letter, she and the bride caught a glimpse of one another and began to cry. "As a former history teacher, that's why I chose it," Kate explains of the reading. "It's about the love of country and of family. What I didn't realize until the ceremony was that it also felt like a tribute to my father."
Get with the Program
Though the church had a strict policy against tosses, the happy couple was still able to have a festive exit thanks to ribbon wands that their loved ones waved around them.
A Little Parade
Kate's dad loved bluegrass music and so a band escorted everyone from the church to the yacht club—just a five-minute walk away. "It was a fun way to merge his interest and nod to our guests from Texas," says the bride. It was Matthew's favorite part of the day—enjoying the music, leading the way, and having his friends and family trailing close behind.
When they got to Mantoloking Yacht Club, cocktail hour kicked off with food to reflect both the shore (a raw bar and lobster rolls) and Texan faves (short rib tacos) courtesy of et al Fine Food. Everyone enjoyed views of the water from the tented area as the band continued to play.
Time to Dance
Before heading to dinner, the couple had their first dance and toasts were given, so that they "could dance the rest of the night away without interruption except to eat of course," according to the bride.
The duo chose "Atlantic City" (the Band's version) for their first dance song. "It was perfect and a total compromise," Matthew says. "We combined Kate's deep love for Bruce Springsteen with my Southern roots and picked a song that was near and dear to both our hearts."
Kate's grandparents and their neighbors used to open and close each summer down the shore with a party. The signature drink was always rum punch. So Kate and Matthew did the same, serving Connie and Tom's famous cocktail, and closing out summer.
Find Your Seat
A freestanding wooden display held the ice blue escort cards which were calligraphed with white ink. The sign in the corner read "You can find your seat here but your place is on the dance floor" because, if you ask anyone, Kate and Matthew are known for their dance moves.
Dinner was held inside. To maximize the space, a mix of round tables with white linens and farm tables dressed in Texas smilax garlands were used. The venue's maritime flags hung overhead and added to the coastal theme.
A menu of summer favorites (think salmon, grilled steak, tuna burgers, roasted potatoes, etc.) were served on two buffets.
On the Table
Oyster shell candles were a special touch on the head table, and there were plenty of tapers and votives adding a warm glow to the room. Guests found their seats thanks to numbers designed to mimic sea glass (but made with a vellum overlay on a watercolor wash) with white calligraphy on wood stands. Centerpieces complemented the coastal town's copious hydrangea bushes, using galvanized tins to hold the local hydrangeas, white roses, lisianthus, and stock arranged by Wallflowers Florist.
Getting the Scoop
Kate was still somewhat attached to the second Lela Rose dress she'd considered but didn't chose. One day, she was scouring the internet for an after-party dress and found the same one but in a short version. And on sale. It instantly became what she'd change into at the reception. "I was so lucky to have my cake and eat it too in the dress department," she says.
But there wasn't actually any cake at the wedding. Instead, the couple had Hoffman's ice cream parked outside. Kate explains that growing up, every summer down the shore was marked by regular trips to Hoffman's. And when she learned they could bring the ice cream to her, it was a no brainer.
Kraft boxes adorned with stickers boasting the couple's crest made it easy to grab a slice of Kate's favorite food and take it to go. After a long night of dancing, guests ate the pizza up.
Photography, Love & Light Photographs
Event planning, Gilded Lily Events
Catering, et al Fine Food
Flowers, Wallflowers Florist
Stationery and calligraphy, Mary Kate Moon
Ice Cream Truck, Hoffman's Ice Cream
Bride's shoes, Loeffler Randall
Hair and makeup, Beauty on Location
Robes, India Amory
Pizza, Denino's Pizzeria