When college sweethearts Meredith Johnson and Karl Krapek Jr. got engaged some ten years after their initial meeting, they immediately began searching for a location that would accommodate their 120 guests. “We were looking for a venue where our wedding party and closest family members could all stay together for the entire weekend,” Meredith shares. “Also, something that was small enough to buy out so we could have the property to ourselves.” 

Once they selected a venue in Rhode Island, the two went about putting together their dream motif – quite literally! “The original concept for our wedding theme was based on William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream coupled with whimsical, enchanted forest-inspired décor,” tells the bride. Eventually, Meredith and Karl found that a “garden” theme coordinated more seamlessly with their reception space, and after a year of planning, they went into their big day with high expectations.

Friends and family found their seats at blanche lawn chairs facing an altar featuring branches winding up both sides of a wooden arch and lush foliage paired with a few choice blooms near the top. Flowing sheer linens bedecked the frame of the altar, and white lanterns rested at the foot of each post. Guests were provided with sweeping views of the bay, which added a simple touch of East Coast charm into the area. After their “first look,” the pair joined revelers for their marital vows. “We wanted our wedding to reflect our relationship and the values that are important to both of us,” explains Meredith. “For example, rather than having anyone give me away, we chose to meet each other halfway down the aisle and approach the arbor together as a symbol of the choice we were making together to spend the rest of our lives with one another.”

Continuing the merriment, guests moved to cocktail hour on a open-air lawn on the property that featured relaxing lounge spaces filled with comfortable settees and chaises atop vintage area rugs. The space was framed by antique luggage, nightstands, and alabaster lamps in all shapes and sizes. “To reflect the laid-back elegance of the Newport setting, as well as our desire to maintain a relaxed, casual atmosphere, we incorporated vintage, rustic, and shabby chic elements into the enchanted garden style with a nod to a few of the themes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the bride says.

The Shakespearean theme really popped in the indoor reception space, as friends and family looked through escort cards tied to antique wine stoppers in the shape of rustic keys and found their places at tables named after characters in the famous play. “We incorporated mercury and milk glass vases [into our centerpieces] mixed with gatherings of flowers, candles, and [various] vintage-inspired objects,” Meredith reports. “The lower arrangements were heavier on flowers and paired with books, candles, and wood bases to tie in the manzanitas, which had florals around the bottom and votive candles within the branches.” These clusters displayed roses, dahlias, hydrangeas, dusty miller, lavender, larkspur, and astilbe with grape vines and English ivy.

When it came to music, however, the couple insisted on a multitude of alternative elements. “Throughout the entirety of our wedding, we strove to tweak modern traditions to match our unique style as a couple. For example, our ceremony music included the Smashing Pumpkins cover of 'Landslide' and the U2 cover of 'Everlasting Love' to tie our affinity for mid-90s alternative music in with a nod to conventional wedding songs,” reveals the bride. She also notes the addition of Metallica lyrics into one of the readings done during the service.

In retrospect, Meredith believes the day truly represented both her and Karl perfectly. They wanted to veer away from what is considered the “norm” in current nuptial design and focus on what made them, them – a feat she knows they accomplished. “Once the ceremony was over, all of our nerves melted away and we were finally able to relax and enjoy the fruits of our year long labor,” she smiles. “We took a deep breath, grabbed our respective signature cocktails, and joined our friends and family that traveled from near and far to be with us in the beautiful setting before us.”