From the moment she first walked into his classroom, Chris Hooven knew that Lauren Bromley would always be an important part of his life. But they were only in high school at the time, and Lauren was also Chris’ sister’s best friend, so it seemed only right to get to know one another as friends. Slowly, the two fell in love over many summers spent together on Long Beach Island, a popular spot on the New Jersey shoreline, until they reached college, when the timing felt perfect for something more. A few years later, with a romance in full bloom, Chris surprised Lauren with a proposal in her Philadelphia apartment. While in the midst of cooking her dinner, Chris asked Lauren to grab a bottle of wine from the refrigerator, and inside Lauren found the box holding her engagement ring.
Naturally, Lauren and Chris wanted to celebrate their wedding at the beach and loved the idea of giving their guests a reason to turn the wedding weekend into a mini-vacation. The bride and groom decided to hold the festivities at the Port Royal Club in Naples, Florida, where Lauren’s parents are members and where their guests could really indulge in a warm weather getaway. With most of their guests traveling from the Philadelphia area, the couple pulled out all the stops and treated them to a weekend of pure fun in the sun. From the moment guests arrived to find their hotel rooms stocked with goodies in woven welcome bags to the final Bloody Mary they enjoyed at the post-wedding brunch, each of Lauren and Chris’ lucky loved ones felt like they, too, were the center of attention.
The décor for the wedding was created around a central color palette – raspberry, key lime, and white – as well as a unifying palm tree and monogram motif, which adorned everything from the savethe- dates to the custom labels found on souvenir bottles of water and sunscreen. The vibrant tones and palm tree symbol reflected the tropical setting and the carefree mood the couple succeeded in creating for their celebration. With the help of their families, especially Lauren’s “incredibly organized” mother (“I think she even read more bridal magazines than me!”), and coordinator Milda Vaivada, Lauren and Chris painstakingly designed each detail to express their personalities as well as the strong desire they had to give everyone an unforgettable experience.
Flanked by seven bridesmaids in custom-made dresses and an equal number of groomsmen wearing coordinating ties, Lauren and Chris stood beneath a double archway of bowing palm branches to exchange vows. They also participated in a personalized “sand ceremony” designed to unite the two stages of their relationship. In one glass urn, sand from Long Beach Island symbolized their meaningful courtship, while sand in another urn from the beach in Naples symbolized their marriage. Together, Lauren and Chris poured both contents into a third vessel, inextricably mingling the grains.
As guests arrived at the outdoor cocktail hour they were greeted with the choice of two signature cocktails: a passion fruit-pink Laurentini or a citrus green Christini. Both drinks were perfect pairings with the impressive variety of seafood – shellfish spilling from a wooden boat, sushi rolls made-to-order, and ceviche served in iced cocktail glasses – that was as pleasing to the eye as it was to the palate. Lauren and Chris spent a lot of time designing their menu (they also threw a Cuban-inspired rehearsal dinner and an all- American Sunday brunch) as a wonderful mix of exotic tastes and familiar favorites. Even the parents of the bride got in on the culinary act and surprised the newlyweds with an after party complete with milkshake shooters and miniature Philly cheesesteak sandwiches––tasty tributes to their hometown.
Inside the reception, guests found their seats with the help of place cards attached to tiny shells and table numbers tied to starfish and set in sand. The tables, both round and rectangular, were draped in raspberry linens and topped with alternating centerpieces of pink and green flowers – hydrangea, cymbidium orchids, roses, and spider mums – in contemporary arrangements. Some of the arrangements were displayed in candelabra made from twisted branches while others supported clear boxes filled with votive candles. All in all, the décor created an inviting glow throughout the room for the dancing and toasting that filled the evening.
No detail was overlooked, not even the dessert service, which, in addition to a buffet of sweets complete with a fondue fountain, included delicately plated slices of the couple’s beach-themed cake. But even when the last piece was enjoyed and the final guest bid the weekend farewell, Lauren and Chris’ tropical paradise was not over: they spent their honeymoon in Anguilla, with glasses of their favorite rum punch in their hands and sand between their toes.