Erica Keany and Jonathan Blob had a near miss with destiny. Throughout the entire four years of their college experience at Duke University (where they shared mutual friends and graduated in the same class), the pair never crossed paths. But as fate would have it, the five-year reunion of their graduating class brought them another chance. The two met, a friendship was sparked, a relationship later blossomed, and after a few years of dating, Jonathan surprised Erica with a sweet proposal that she happily accepted.

The East Coast couple knew that they wanted a special, yet neutral location for their celebration since they each had such a deep love for their respective hometowns. Erica is a Boston native and Jon a Baltimore man, so it was determined that they would unite in Newport, Rhode Island, where much of their courtship had occurred and where Erica’s mother owned a home.

Newport is a city awash in history and steeped in heritage, so it was a fitting location for a couple with strong ties to family to begin their marriage. “I have a very large family with eight siblings,” explains Erica. “We even included a page in our welcome gift bags that explained to our guests who the cast of characters were.” Jonathan adds, “The welcome bag also included a crossword puzzle of clues about our families, as well as about Erica and me, as a nod to our love of The New York Times crossword puzzles.”

The nuptials magically unfolded at Castle Hill Inn, a magnificent locale along the Atlantic peninsula. The bride-to-be’s exceptional attention to detail ensured that mirth was not lost amid the timeless elegance of the wedding décor. "When I put inspirational photos together for our wedding planners," says Erica, “I included photos of Grace Kelly as well as Will Ferrell. We wanted the [celebration] to be sophisticated, but not at the sacrifice of throwing a really great, fun party!”

Upon a sprawling chalet lawn that overlooked the New England seashore, floral and décor touches in crème brûlée, soft blushes, pastel pinks, and muted green enhanced the naturally beautiful scene. Rows of eggshell-colored seating were lined up atop the grass that faced the sailboat-dotted bay. The exquisite bride walked down an aisle dusted with rose petals to the delicate strains of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” Holding a spray of peonies and English garden roses, Erica met her betrothed at the altar beneath a trellis, which was draped in ivory fabric and accented with a small crystal chandelier. 

The ceremony was followed by an extended cocktail hour that allowed loved ones to enjoy lawn games they traditionally played together during the holidays. It was an unusually warm, clear evening, and the same gentle shades of blush and celery that enhanced the outdoor ceremony were in evidence within the stunning ivory reception tent. Vanilla draping enveloped the space, while crystal chandeliers affixed with floral arrangements sparkled in the romantic light of plenteous candles. Tall floral centerpieces composed of English garden roses, hydrangeas, and peonies were accented with flower-bedecked candelabrums. Varying hues of rose added dimension to the tables without losing harmony with the rest of the décor.

In lieu of place cards at the head table, linens embroidered with loved ones’ respective names were offered. “I grew up in a preppy New England family, which means we are used to monogramming everything,” quips the bride. At dinner tables, linen napkins tailored with the letter “B” proved to be popular take-home gifts with guests who shared the initial.

Following tradition, the father of the bride gave his speech during the reception, but the mother of the bride waited until night had fallen. When the time was right, she rose and said a few words before announcing that the rest of her speech would take place outside, where she surprised the newlyweds with a prearranged show of fireworks. The display was synchronized to meaningful songs from the lives of Erica and Jonathan, and the new bride and groom stood beneath the dazzling sky and marveled at the perfection of the entire day.

More than anything, Erica and Jonathan wanted to make sure that their family and friends experienced the abundant joy they shared. For the newly united couple, their day was made momentous by being with the people who mattered most. The groom affirms, “Seeing all of our friends and family gathered in such an amazing setting to support us as we officially began our journey together was truly special.”