How and when did you two first meet?
Kate: We met in January 2013 — sort of. When we “met,” I was living in DC getting my Masters and Matt was living in Syracuse getting his. I was living with a girl during grad school that Matt was close friends with in college. She thought the two of us would hit it off, and she was right! We had been talking on the phone, texting and skyping for a full month before we met in person. He came down to visit me for my birthday so that we could see whether or not this thing was going anywhere, and that essentially sealed the deal. We talked everyday since the first time we texted each other “hello,” and that first visit made us even more crazy about each other! We dated long distance for almost two-and-a-half years before Matt finally moved down to DC. That girlfriend is still one of our mutual best friends, and she was a bridesmaid in our wedding!
Matt, when did you know that you wanted to propose?
Matt: I knew that I wanted to be with Kate forever after our first year in DC together. It was a tough year with lots of changes for us both, but we make a great team and compliment each other perfectly so I knew we would work out. Kate has always made me a better person and I look up to her in so many ways, so it was a bit of a no-brainer.
Tell us about the proposal from both of your perspectives.
Kate: For me, it was totally out of the blue. Not the idea of us getting engaged (I’d been giving Matt “hints” for years —not sorry!), but the actual proposal was a total shock. In fact, two or three days before… I embarrassingly had an emotional moment where I asked Matt if he was ever going to be ready to marry me… He played it off cool but knew he was going to propose a few days later. What a stinker! The proposal itself was PERFECT. It was on the beach, which is a huge deal for me since I’m from Rhody, and we had a group of eight really good friends on the weekend trip with us. They were all in on it and somehow managed to pull it off without giving me the slightest clue… Our dogs were with us when it happened (they sat perfectly still while he was on his knee) and our friends captured so many amazing pictures and videos of the entire thing. I’m so impressed he pulled the whole thing off!
Matt: So originally I had planned to put the ring in a shell and “stumble” across the shell with Kate while walking the dogs; however, the morning of the big day, I met with some friends for coffee while another friend distracted Kate and changed the plan a bit. During this breakfast, a friend of ours, and now one of Kate’s bridesmaids, gave me the idea of a message in a bottle. I liked that idea more, and it was much safer than risking something happening to the ring in the shell. So we got to prepping, scoping out different beaches I could do the proposal at, and I bought a bottle and made a note to put in it with some sappy stuff. It worked out great because I got Kate to walk the dogs on the beach with me without the slightest clue of what was about to happen, and after I convinced her to read the message in the bottle I was down on one knee with our dogs, waiting for her to see.
What were you favorite and least favorite parts of planning?
Kate: The best part for us was the constant outpour love and support we got from all of our friends, family and loved ones… and from strangers! When you’re engaged EVERYONE is excited for you. Even the cash register person at the grocery says, “Congrats” because they think it’s cool. It’s such a surreal and wonderful time. So if you can prolong it and soak in all the love and support you’re getting, do it! I used to work weddings at a golf club during the summers, and so I started planning my own wedding years before I knew Matt even existed. So it was really fun filling in my vision after all the years dreaming about it. The hardest part was realizing we had to accommodate other people. You learn pretty quickly in the planning process that the wedding day that’s supposed to be “all about you” isn’t actually all about you. It’s also about your friends and your family and all the people you choose to include or not include in your special day. So knowing when to pick battles on guest list, details, etc. was an interesting learning curve for us.
Matt: The hardest thing for me was not knowing how to help and where to start helping… Kate is the organized one and I’ve never planned an event before so I mostly just did whatever Kate told me in order to help, although admittedly, it wasn’t that much. Instead my biggest role was doing things around the house so that she didn’t have to, like washing the dishes, making dinner and doing the laundry.
Kate: I’m really organized and I’ve planned and worked a ton of events in the past, so I had a pretty good handle on what to do for planning from Day 1. But what was more difficult for me was figuring out how to balance my job, the planning and my life generally. My job at the time was very demanding of my time and energy, and I traveled a lot for work, so it was a real challenge figuring out how to get my job done, plan the wedding and still have a social life.
What drew you to the Dunes Club for your venue?
Kate: We knew we wanted something near the ocean, and the Dunes Club was perfect because we could basically be on the beach without having to deal with the mess of sand during the ceremony. We also wanted an atmosphere for our wedding that was nautical, relaxed, fun and elegant. The Dunes Club is all of those things and more, so it was really easy for us to choose!
We loved the colors you used – any particular reason you went with that combo?
Kate: Yellow is my favorite color, so I always knew I wanted it to be front and center. That said, it can be a hard color to match sometimes, so I wanted to create a color palette that would work for decorations, flowers, etc. The peach, beachy blue, seafoam green and light yellow ended up being the perfect beachy, fun combo! And a bonus was that it ended up matching the Dunes Club overall color scheme too, so everything looked really seamless together on the day of!
What made you decide to do a first look?
Kate: We wanted to have our own special moment on our wedding day. The entire day was a celebration of us with our most loved people, but we wanted to make sure we had just one piece of it all to ourselves. We felt that this would be a good opportunity to share more intimate, personal vows with each other without an audience, too. Another bonus was that it made our photos easier because our wedding party was able to enjoy cocktail hour while we quickly handled family photos after the ceremony.
What was the best part of the ceremony?
Kate: Having Matt’s grandfather officiate was really special. He did a wonderful job and it made the entire ceremony that much more meaningful and unique. We also actually wrote our own ceremony. We wanted to make the ceremony personal and unique since Matt’s grandfather was the officiant and we weren’t getting married in a church. Even the more “traditional” aspects, like the exchanging of the rings, had our own little twist to it. There was enough tradition to keep our parents/grandparents happy, but it was also totally our own. It was a fun extra task for us to plan, but it made it extra fun to be up there knowing we created the whole thing.
What was your first dance song? How did you pick it?
Kate: “Everything” by Michael Buble. We were driving back home from a weekend trip and decided to listen to a bunch of potential songs for our ceremony and reception. Everything was on our list of potential songs and the second it started playing Kate got teary-eyed and we looked at each other at the same moment and just knew that was the perfect one.
Did you run into any issues while planning or on the day of the wedding? If so, how did you overcome them?
Kate: We totally forgot to cut our cake on our wedding day. Like we completely forgot the cake existed, ha! So when we were getting ready to leave for our honeymoon the next day we cut into it and fed each other a piece in my parent’s kitchen. Very unromantic, but totally perfect! As for planning, we ended up with a much longer guest list than we initially anticipated so we had to make a decision on how to handle plus ones. We ultimately came up with three rules to determine who would get a plus one and applied it to every single guest — bridesmaids and groomsmen included. Here were the rules: 1) the guest was engaged/married, 2) the guest was living with their significant other and 3) we were genuinely friends with the couple, not just one person or the other. This gave us a chance to explain why we didn’t give certain people plus ones and also helped us keep our invite list to a reasonable number.
If you had to narrow it down, what would you say were each of your favorite moments from that day?
Matt: Definitely the dancing and celebrating with friends and family.
Kate: Honestly I think just the fact that the day happened. It was a literal dream come true for me, and I still look back at pictures and think “wow I can’t believe that was real.” I guess if I really have to pick just one moment… I’d say it was when I stepped to the side of the room at one point and just looked out at all of our friends and family in one place for the first and only time in our lives. That was pretty special.
Do you have any advice for recently engaged couples?
Kate: Have fun and soak it up! Be as mushy, gushy as you want, because this is the one time that everyone you meet will think it’s cute, ha! But seriously, enjoy all the little moments along the way and take time for the two of you to just enjoy each other’s company. If you’re feeling stressed by any of the planning, decisions, family pressures or whatever, just take a break. It will all be there for you later and it’s not worth getting stressed or upset about, because once the day comes, you’re going to have fun no matter what goes right or wrong!
A random bit of advice: If you have a bigger wedding party (or even if you don’t) we definitely recommend repurposing your bridesmaid bouquets to be part of the table centerpieces. You’ll save money on flowers, and they won’t go to waste!
Photography: Sharum Photography // Ceremony, Reception & Catering: The Dunes Club // Officiant: Groom’s Grandfather // Hair & Makeup: B Lovely Studio // Bride’s Dress: Maggie Sottero, Ana’s Bridal Boutique // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Azazie // Groom’s and Groomsmen’s Suits: Jos. A. Bank // Cake: Antonio’s Bakery // Gluten-Free Desserts: Slice of Heaven // Flowers: Laurie Marshall Flowers // Reception Music: DJ Pat Tecce