Sometimes true love just lands in your lap. Sometimes it lands in your lap and you don’t realize it right away.
It started off as the typical Jersey summer story. A cute girl walking with a friend when a car full of boys rolls up and beeps their horn. That’s how Kendall met her dear friend Neil. It wasn’t until almost seven years later that Kendall realized what she had there the whole time.
“It’d be the biggest mistake of my life not to let it be more,” Kendall admits.
It took another three and a half years before they returned to Brigantine, NJ. The place where it all began.
“I always thought I would see it coming, but the man really surprised me,” she said. “It was an easy yes.”
Not only did he surprise her with a perfect proposal, but he had her family and friends waiting in the dunes to come out and celebrate with the couple when she said yes.
Wedding planning wasn’t super easy for Kendall. Her wedding was planned in the beautiful town where she was raised in New Jersey, but she moved hours away a few years ago, meaning she had to plan her wedding at a long distance. Kendall has an admittedly “Type A” personality, which was tough because she couldn’t always make it up for every vendor appointment. But the couple was lucky, having an amazing support system to lean on.
“My favorite part of planning was seeing the way our loved ones rallied to make our wedding day what it was,” she said. “That included my husband, my mom, my dad, grandparents, our wedding party, and my now in-laws. I have so much appreciation for everybody.”
That wasn’t the only challenge for Kendall though, shopping for her dream dress ended up being a little challenge as well!
“I always envisioned simple elegance. I’m not much of a “bling” girl. And I preferred that decorations throughout our venue acted as my accessories with pops of colors or sparkle,” she said.
Kendall found herself in a fairly common scenario for many brides: dress overload.
“I was one of those brides who tried on too many dresses and it ended up making the process stressful,” she said. “I got further and further away from what I wanted, and actually purchased a dress off the rack when I worried I was running out of time.”
Unfortunately, the gown she got off the rack ended up not working out. After saying yes, she realized she hadn’t said yes to the right dress. Thankfully, she had her mom there with her to help her through and encourage her not to give up.
She spent one more day looking and ventured out. She reached out to the Laura & Leigh Bridal team and explained her situation. It wasn’t long before she put on “the one.” Kendall knew it was perfect and was much closer to her original vision of simple elegance.
She said yes to a sophisticated crepe fit and flare by Eddy K with a lace hem and train. Kendall’s long-time friend, Donna, was there in her corner helping her along the way, even giving her the perfect finishing touch for her gown: a soft tulle cathedral veil from Bel Aire. Kendall put the icing on the cake with gorgeous drop earrings and a classic hairpiece for her updo.
“I felt sophisticated and feminine, sexy and womanly. It was perfect,” she said.
It wasn’t long after that the wedding day arrived, the same weekend as Hurricane Dorian’s arrival. Kendall was never the type of girl who planned her wedding for years down to the most minute details, but the one thing she absolutely wanted was for the perfect outdoor ceremony at the Moorestown Community House. She had a backup plan, which she helped her be less anxious about an approaching hurricane.
Thankfully that was one hurdle she didn’t have to worry about! She was lucky with a beautiful day with perfect weather and her dream ceremony could move forward.
“Our ceremony meant the world to me,” Kendall said. “Neil and I decided early that we wanted one of our friends to marry us, and we asked a friend who had been in the car with Neil on the day they honked their car horn at us years ago.”
The couple wrote the ceremony script together in addition to writing their own vows to make it even more personal and then let their friend fill in the rest. They had the perfect ceremony that embodied their love in a way that will always be so special to the couple.
Unsurprisingly, Neil was the bigger crier. Kendall jokes he has a romantic side and knew that exchanging their vows during such a personal ceremony would get him. Neil was actually worried he wouldn’t be able to do it! But, Kendall remembers the vows were perfect and there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.
Everything about her wedding was like a dream, but the thing she admits she was looking forward to the most: having her family and friends together all at the same time under the same roof for the best night of her life.
“I was very aware that it will likely never happen like that again,” she said. “All I wanted to do was smile, laugh, and dance the night away with my husband and our family and friends.”
The evening was complete with a surprise from their DJ, Sean McCaffrey. The couple’s favorite song to belt out is Survivor’s “I Can’t Hold Back.” But their DJ lent his expert opinion and cautioned the couple that it is a tough song to dance to, so they took his advice and cut it from their list.
Little did they know their DJ had something up his sleeve. The DJ had everyone going for the whole night, but when dessert was announced the floor cleared out (obviously, it’s dessert). The DJ seized the opportunity and announced a special surprise for the couple. He popped on their song!
“We belted it out and danced around on the empty dance floor like maniacs while our friends cheered and watched,” Kendall said. “Highlight moment, no doubt!”
It was the perfect addition to a perfect day celebrated with those that the couple loved the most.
Kendall’s Advice for Future Brides
(It’s long – but so worth the read, I didn’t edit it!)
It’s true what they say; you blink and it’s over. Make sure to take moments to check in with your partner throughout the day/night and look around. Be TOGETHER. Even as a guest at other weddings, I’ve appreciated when I see the couple move about the night as a unit. It says something about the relationship, and the life they’re starting together. But on a more practical note…
1. Ask friends who have gotten married before you if they have any decorations they’d be willing to lend. So many signs, table numbers, centerpiece components, candle votives, lanterns, advice cards, etc., were loaned by our friends and that was actually quite special to me.
2. If you have a GoPro, bring it and let it get passed throughout the crowd on the dance floor. Or designate someone to make rounds with it. We have some hysterical footage.
3. If you are stocking your own bar, find a liquor store that will allow you to return any unopened liquor bottles. If you do, number the bottles so the bartenders don’t accidentally crack a new one before the first is empty!! (Speaking from experience)
4. I highly recommend considering a videographer who will capture your whole ceremony, first dances, and speeches. The wedding trailer videos are beautiful, and great for sharing on social media or via email to distant relatives. However, Neil and I felt strongly about making sure our ceremony and speeches were captured in their entirety, and we are so happy we did!
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Some things may not go exactly as you planned, but they will not ruin your day if you don’t let them. Stay focused on the importance and significance of the celebration itself. Happy time!
6. Make a short list of the must-have photos you want your photographer to capture, and make sure she/he is aware of it! Especially if they are not obvious ones. For example, Neil and I gifted our groomsmen funny socks, and I completely forgot to even tell my photographer about them.
7. You don’t have to try all your food. Definitely eat something for the sake of staying conscious and functional throughout the night, but who cares if you miss a couple of the appetizers and desserts? Go say hi to people instead! Or grab an extra dance with your new spouse.
8. Congratulations and enjoy!
The Vendors Who Made The Day:
Venue: Moorestown Community House
Caterer: Bacio (Chef Robert)
Suits: Jos. A. Bank
Photographer: Saltwater Studios (Steph Young)
Videographer: Colorfield Media (Vin Colella)
Florist: Flower Boutique in Cherry Hill, NJ (Sophie Youssef)
Hair/Makeup: StudioTen Salon (Kate for hair and Kat for makeup)
Entertainment: DJ Sean McCaffrey of Center Stage Entertainment
Day-Of Coordinator: Jen Entwistle of Argent Designs