Seaside Weddings: Picture Perfect Memories

BY Jessica Isaacs Susan Miller Katie Dickens and Pat Bradford

Flower-perfumed breezes. Soft sand kissed by the Carolina sunshine and framed by the glistening aqua Atlantic or the sparkling sound and marsh. The undulating surface of the Cape Fear River backdropped by the majestic USS North Carolina. Is there a more romantic setting for a wedding and reception than the North Carolina waterfront?

Anyone who has visited knows the magic these idyllic towns and communities hold. Inhaling the salty sea breeze is a soothing balm a remedy for stress and a tonic for the busyness of everyday life. Add in the Wilmington small-town charm with a modern edge and it creates an unparalleled setting for the Mr. and Mrs. to be along with their families and loved ones to celebrate the best day of their lives and beyond.

Seven couples share the stories of their own seaside weddings.

Lara Yunaska and Eric Trump

Palm Beach Florida

November 8 2014

On a July Fourth walk with her boyfriend Eric and dog Charlie just outside New York City Wrightsville Beach native Lara Yunaska came upon an open field where a champagne bucket was set up with flowers.

“I thought ‘Oh my gosh what is this?'” she says.

As she got closer she saw a small white box. In a few more steps the reality of what she was seeing became clear. The box contained an emerald-cut engagement ring.

“It was a thoughtful proposal ” she says.

Lara and Eric the son of Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump were married on November 8 2014 at the Trump family’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach Florida.

Lara an avid equestrian and former personal trainer who runs half and full marathons and triathlons moved to New York after graduating from North Carolina State. She received a degree in pastry arts from the French Culinary Institute. Four and a half years ago she accepted the position of associate producer on the syndicated news magazine Inside Edition.

This Wrightsville Beach Elementary Noble Middle School and Laney High School alum met her future husband in New York in 2008. Both were out with friends. She says it took them about three months to go out on a date because they were both so busy.

“Obviously it was a great first date and the rest is history ” she says.

Eric is the founder of the Eric Trump Foundation which raises funds for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as well as the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization.

The couple dated for five years before the proposal. Then more than one year later Lara and Eric were married at the opulent 114-room estate built by Marjorie Merriweather Post in the 1920s. Lara was flanked by her maid of honor and best friend from high school Laura Knox and seven bridesmaids in navy. Eric was accompanied by 11 tuxedoed groomsmen.

With more than 400 guests in attendance the couple exchanged vows while framed by strands of real crystals.

“Creston Bailey did all of our flowers and he drew up a design with all these crystals ” Lara says. “I was blown away. He did such a great job it was really really beautiful.”

Less than three weeks before the wedding Lara broke not one but both wrists in a riding accident. She was only allowed to remove her casts for the ceremony.

“My doctor made me shorten my dress in the front by two inches ” she explains. “He said ‘If you shorten your dress I will let you walk down the aisle with no casts on but they have to go back on for the reception.'”

To hide the casts Lara donned fingerless gloves for the reception. The gown that she wore for the ceremony through the first-dance was designed by Vera Wang.

“I felt like ‘When else I am going to wear sort of a princessy ball-gown type thing?’ So I chose that one ” she says.

The plan was always to have a second gown for the reception and Lara selected and purchased her second style. Then about one month before the wedding Lara was looking at dresses online and laid eyes on an Inbal Dror design.

“I loved loved loved that dress ” she says.

The weather threatened to shake things up at the beginning of the ceremony with a thunderstorm on the horizon.

“I was so concerned that it was going to start pouring rain at any second ” Lara says. “I was thinking ‘We need to hurry up.'”

Wedding consultant Jennifer Zabinski was prepared with a rain plan to move the ceremony inside.

“The backdrop they wanted was to be outside ” she says. “With Lara I had said ‘The first drop of rain you feel you go to the kiss. One drop you go to the kiss.'”

Even though it was raining across the water in West Palm Beach the wedding party and guests stayed dry preserving Lara and Eric’s fairytale wedding.

Vendor Details

Lara and Eric Trump

Date: November 8 2014

Ceremony site: The Mar-a-Lago Club Palm Beach Florida

Reception site: Ballroom at Mar-a-Lago Club

Rehearsal dinner site: The Beach Club at ?Mar-a Lago Club

Wedding photographer: Donna Newman

Wedding planner: Jennifer Zabinski

Officiant: Jared Kushner

Ceremony gown and veil: Vera Wang

Reception gown: Inbal Dror

Bridesmaids’ dresses: BCBG Max Azria

Hair: Matt Fugate Serge Normant at John Frieda NYC

Make up: Amy Kennison Wilmington

Invitations: East Six Invitations

Flowers: Preston Bailey

Catering: The Mar-a-Lago Club

Cake: The Mar-a-Lago Club

Music: Rhythm Collective

Transportation: Palm Beach Tours & Transportation

Honeymoon: Cayo Espanto Belize

Bridget Murphy and Nikhil Jayaram

Bald Head Island

October 18 2014

Bridget Murphy and Nikhil Jayaram’s wedding began with a surprise proposal that Bridget originally thought was a Fourth of July trip with friends and siblings at her family’s Bald Head Island vacation house.

After receiving a manicure Bridget returned to the house and saw her name in a heart-shaped Tiffany blue sign. The house’s beach access was lined in rose petals and candles that led to where Nikhil was standing next to Tiffany blue champagne glasses accompanied by Dom Perignon.

“Once I got my bearings and realized we were engaged we turned around and our entire families were there ” Bridget says.

The two hit it off at a Chicago Blackhawk’s game while they were both living in Nikhil’s hometown of Chicago in 2011. Nikhil quickly realized Bridget was the women he wanted to marry.

“He told me he was going to marry me after two weeks of dating ” Bridget says.

The couple said their vows in the chapel on Bald Head Island in a traditional Catholic mass officiated by an Indian priest.

“My husband is Indian so I was trying to tie our two backgrounds together ” Bridget says.

The bride’s “something borrowed” was a keepsake from her late grandmother: her rosary wrapped around the bouquet.

Bridget’s Vera Wang gown cinched at the waist and featured an illusion lace neckline.

Guests enjoyed multiple events leading up to the wedding including a beach welcome party with a seafood boil and a golf scramble.

After the wedding ceremony the 150 guests moved to a tented reception behind the Bald Head Island Country Club.

Each of the three layers of the wedding cake was a different flavor.

“We fell in love with so many flavors at our cake tasting ” Bridget says.

A wide variety of cuisine was offered at the reception including lobster corn dogs beef Wellington and bacon-wrapped quail during the cocktail hour and parmesan-bowl Caesar salads manicotti polenta steaks filet mignon and sea bass for dinner.

The couple honeymooned in Bora Bora where they had libations with Lindsay Lohan and played volleyball with comedian Aziz Ansari.

“I have to say it was like a dream ” Bridget says.

Vendor Details

Bridget and Nikhil Jayaram

Date: October 18 2014

Ceremony site: The Village Chapel Bald Head Island

Reception site: Bald Head Island Club/Sperry Tents

Rehearsal dinner site: Bald Head Island Club/Ocean Room

Wedding photographer: Anne Liles

Wedding planners: Shauna Gartz and Carol Tandyk

Officiant: Father Percival D’Silva

Gown and Veil: Vera Wang

Brides Shoes: Christian Louboutin

Bridesmaids’ dresses: Badgeley Mischka

Formal wear: Hugo Boss

Hair: Wisp Salon and Spa

Flowers: Salt Harbor Designs

Catering: Bald Head Island Club

Cake: One Belle Bakery

Music: Party On the Moon

Honeymoon: Four Seasons Bora Bora

Carrie Roberson and Josh Fasola

Carolina Yacht Club

April 18 2015

Carrie and Josh Fasola’s outdoor wedding was one for the Wrightsville Beach books. Carrie’s mother is a local wedding coordinator with 20 years’ experience so the event at the Carolina Yacht Club was bound to be one to remember.

The couple had nine months to plan after Josh proposed in July in the couple’s new home.

“There were boxes everywhere; it was total chaos ” Carrie says. “I was so happy and singing ‘Our House’ by Crosby Stills and Nash all day. At night the song came back on. He had found it and played it on the speakers. We were being super cheesy and dancing on the back porch when he proposed. It was so sweet.”

Wedding day began with a morning of laughter and mimosas. Then Carrie’s mother and sister helped her put on her comfortable soft gown that was composed of two pieces: a long silk dress worn underneath a separate lace overlay. The bridesmaids carried on a tradition of pinning a monogram charm of Carrie’s maiden name to her bouquet of succulents garden roses and lamb’s ear.

The groomsmen wore gray vests and the bridesmaids wore light pink the colors of the oyster shell which was a motif present throughout the day. Gold leaf-painted oysters collected by the bride and groom from 42nd Oyster Bar in Raleigh were featured in the centerpieces during the reception. The shell also adorned the flag hanging outside the yacht club that read “The world is your oyster ” opposite a flag with the couple’s names.

It rained until the moment Carrie was supposed to walk down the aisle but then the sun came out accompanied by a rainbow for the couple’s first look on the boardwalk.

“Our pastor saw it as God’s blessing because whenever there is a rainbow it is a symbol of His presence ” Carrie says.

Although the couple did not choose a church as their wedding venue they shared communion before the wedding ceremony as a symbol of their faith.

The joy continued at the reception where Carrie arranged as a surprise for the wedding cake to have a clay topper featuring their two dogs Ariel and Harper.

The reception’s cuisine was Josh’s main concern. Trolly Stop served hot dogs and Milner’s catered in a “Southern Girl meets Italian Man” theme. Guests enjoyed comfort food and Italian dishes from bread and olive oil on one end of the catering spectrum to biscuits and honey on the other.

Carrie’s favorite memory from the day was the exit. Family and friends tossed lavender buds in the air and followed the couple as they ran across the pier and onto a friend’s boat.

“The boat was a huge surprise; I thought we were just going to run down the beach ” Carrie says reflecting on seeing everyone waving goodbye on the pier. “I remember thinking how amazing it was that we had everyone we loved in our lives together and celebrating us all in one place.”

Vendor Details

Carrie and Josh Fasola

Date: April 18 2015

Ceremony and reception site: Carolina Yacht Club Wrightsville Beach

Venue Manager: Gray Currin

Rehearsal dinner site: Osteria Cicchetti at The Forum

Wedding photographer: Amanda and Brett Holloman Millie Holloman Photography

Videography:Life Stage Becca Burleson

Wedding Planner:Jane Roberson mother of the bride

Event Director: Laura Horton Salt Harbor Designs

Officiant: Bob Bauman Wrightsville United Methodist Church

Gown: The Bridal Boutique of North Carolina Cary

Veil: Christi Roberson Coiner sister of the bride

Bridesmaids’ dresses: The Bridal Boutique of North Carolina Cary

Formal wear: Savvi Formalwear and Bridal Raleigh

Hair and Make-up: Holly Dozier Nsalo Salon

Invitations: Mindy and Angie’s Fine Paper Dragonflies Boutique

Event Design: Jennifer Rose Salt Harbor Designs

Rentals: Party Suppliers and Rentals

Lighting: Steve Peterson High Performance Lighting

Catering: Mark Milner Milner’s Catering

Cake: Nancy Hearne

Ceremony Musicians: String Trio – Kathy Katherine and Christine Meyer

Reception Music:Global DJ Entertainment Jason Jackson

Transportation: Departure Boat Owner Stephen Underwood; Captain Bill Dozier

Honeymoon: Disney World Orlando Florida

Jen Boswell and Brad Cockrell

Summer Rest Road

April 2 2016

Jen Cockrell had no idea what was in store when she spent an entire March day reenacting her first date with her future husband Brad.

The two began the day with breakfast at Sweet n Savory Cafe then hung out at Wrightsville Beach and ended the day with dinner and dessert at Tokyo 101 and Boombalatti’s. When they returned to their new house Brad proposed.

Jen fulfilled her dream of having a beach wedding a little more than a year later. Despite the possibility of rain that morning the clouds cleared and the two were married in a ceremony at a private residence on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Jen’s bouquet was adorned with succulents ranunculus peonies and garden roses. The bridesmaids’ one-shouldered dresses were a light blush tone while the men wore navy suits and the decorations reflected marine tones of navy and seafoam.

Jen’s gown featured a fitted bodice with a sweetheart neckline and gradually flared in tulle with lace applique.

Jen Cockrell had no idea what was in store when she spent an entire March day reenacting her first date with her future husband Brad.

The two began the day with breakfast at Sweet n Savory Cafe then hung out at Wrightsville Beach and ended the day with dinner and dessert at Tokyo 101 and Boombalatti’s. When they returned to their new house Brad proposed.

Jen fulfilled her dream of having a beach wedding a little more than a year later. Despite the possibility of rain that morning the clouds cleared and the two were married in a ceremony at a private residence on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Jen’s bouquet was adorned with succulents ranunculus peonies and garden roses. The bridesmaids’ one-shouldered dresses were a light blush tone while the men wore navy suits and the decorations reflected marine tones of navy and seafoam.

Jen’s gown featured a fitted bodice with a sweetheart neckline and gradually flared in tulle with lace applique.

“I tried on so many different dresses they were all blurring together ” Jen says remembering the moment she knew she had found the right one. “Once I tried it back on I knew it was the dress. We all started crying.”

The 135 wedding guests came from across the country — from the bride’s hometown of Buffalo New York to California and Florida — to join in the festivities. The couple’s first dance was to “All of Me” by John Legend. Jen had painted the song’s chorus on a piece of wood from their house as a wedding gift for Brad to open that morning.

Jen’s niece was the flower girl adding to the special day. She was disappointed that the evening had to come to an end. In order to cling to the memories she smuggled one of the centerpieces back home to Florida.

Vendor Details

Jen and Brad Cockrell

Date: April 2 2016

Ceremony site: Private property Summer Rest Road Wrightsville Beach Intracoastal

Reception site: Private Property Summer Rest Road Wrightsville Beach Intracoastal

Rehearsal dinner site: Dockside

Wedding photographer: Kate Supa Kate Supa Photography

Wedding planner: Brittany Kootnz

Officiant: William Roth Jr. bride’s uncle

Gown: Casablanca Bridal

Veil: Camille’s of Wilmington

Bridesmaids’ dresses: Angelina Faccenda at Camille’s of Wilmington

Formal wear: Bar III Suits at Macy’s

Hair: Studio Blue

Makeup: Holly Harrison with Carter Katye

Invitations: Invitations by Dawn

Flowers: Fiore Fine Flowers

Catering: A Thyme Savor

Cake: Imaginary Cakes

Ceremony Music: Maura Kropke

Reception DJ: Jason Lee Absolute Best DJ Service

Transportation: Cape Fear Limos

Honeymoon: Akumal and Tulum Mexico

Lindsey Eickel and Blake Pauley

USS North Carolina

April 9 2016

Blake Pauley and Lindsey Eickel’s guests gathered on the deck of the USS North Carolina Battleship on a bright day in April to celebrate the love that began when the two were college sweethearts.

The couple met at Ohio State University while Blake was leading a Bible study in Lindsey’s dorm building and quickly became friends. They dated for about two years before Blake proposed.

Blake is a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy currently stationed in Mayport Florida so the idea of getting married on the battleship was a no-brainer for him.

“He’s a huge Navy nerd ” Lindsey says. “I was joking with him that we should have our wedding on a ship and then the idea caught on. I started looking and found the USS North Carolina because it allowed weddings; it was also perfectly located between Florida and Ohio where our families are from.”

The bride complemented her strapless ball gown with a beaded bodice with a bouquet of blue and white roses that matched the colors of the wedding party.

In search of the perfect gown Lindsey had already tried on close to 30 dresses within a couple of months.

“When I finally tried it on my mom and I both started crying so we knew it was the one ” she says.

Vendor Details

Lindsey and Blake Pauley

Date: April 9 2016

Ceremony site: USS North Carolina

Reception site: Beau Rivage Golf Resort

Rehearsal dinner site: Pilot House Restaurant

Wedding photographer: Bryce Lafoon

Officiant: Garth Pauley

Gown: Eddy K. Henri’s Bridal

Veil: Henri’s Bridal

Bridesmaid’s dresses: Mori Lee and Bill Levkoff Henri’s Bridal

Formal wear: Joseph A. Bank

Hair: Megan Lee at The Wave

Invitations: Invitations by Dawn

Flowers: Maria at Flora Verde

Catering: Middle of the Island

Cake: One Belle Bakery

Music: Clock-Tower Productions

Transportation: Cape Fear Limo

Honeymoon: The Smoky Mountains Gatlinburg Tennessee

Christine Cardot and Matt Pye

Basilica Shrine of St. Mary

August 15 2015

For Christine and Matt Pye timing was everything.

The two were married on August 15 2015 the three-year anniversary of the day they met. Matt proposed at Fort Fisher on their second anniversary.

The wedding was an all-day affair with hair and makeup artists arriving at 5 a.m. to the Victorian house in downtown Wilmington that was rented for the bridal party.

The ceremony took place at St. Mary’s at 11 a.m. then the bridal party went to Airlie Gardens for photos. The approximately 80 guests enjoyed the reception at Bluewater Grill where the couple had their first date. After three months of taking dance lessons and learning choreography the Pyes showcased their first dance to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”

Christine’s strapless gown featured a lace sweetheart neckline and a trumpet-style fit. The gown was the last dress she tried on after a full day of wedding-dress shopping at home in Connecticut with her mother godmother and bridesmaids.

The entire wedding was white from the couple’s monogram over the fireplace at the Bluewater Grill to the mantle draped in white roses and hydrangeas. The bridesmaids’ pale grey-blue dresses were the only trace of color.

Christine created a table of mini-pies of all different flavors at the reception labeled “Fresh-Baked Pyes Made With Love.”

The newlyweds exited through a cloud of bubbles to the awaiting Rolls Royce before heading out on the town for the night with friends. They later ventured on to Charleston South Carolina for their honeymoon.

Vendor Details

Christine and Matt Pye

Date: August 15 2015

Ceremony site: Basilica Shrine of St. Mary

Reception site: Bluewater Grill

Rehearsal dinner site: Osteria Cicchetti

Photography: Melissa Delorme Photography

Videography: Philip James Films

Officiant: The Very Reverend Robert J. Kus

Gown: Jasmine Couture

Veil: The Wedding Dress bridal boutique Connecticut

Bridesmaids’ dresses: BHLDN

Formal wear: Men’s Wearhouse

Hair: Jamie Warzel

Makeup: Amy Kennison

Invitations: Mint

Flowers: Fiore Fine Flowers

Catering: Bluewater Grill

Cake: One Belle Bakery

Music: DJ Professionals

Transportation: Azalea Limo

Honeymoon: Charleston South Carolina

Ashley Wybersky and Etienne Boulanger

Wrightsville Beach Strand

January 26 2016

Ashley and Etienne Boulanger’s love story began at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where they were both collegiate athletes — he was a soccer player she ran cross-country and track and field.

When Etienne and Ashley shared a class freshman year he asked to borrow her notes from a day he missed for soccer travel. She did not ask for them back.

“I was too nervous ” she says.

The two began dating a year later and stayed in Wilmington as Ashley pursued a master’s degree in accounting at UNCW.

The pair got engaged after four years of dating and decided to skip the stress of a big wedding by planning a small ceremony on the beach for the end of January after Ashley received a job offer in Raleigh.

Etienne’s parents came by car from Montreal Canada to stay at the Magnolia House in Wilmington. Ashley’s family joined from Virginia and South Carolina.

The morning of the wedding Etienne and his father took a shovel to the beach and dug out a heart in the sand and filled it with rose petals.

“Having such a small intimate wedding was the best thing that we couldhave done ” Ashley says. “It allowed us to make our own plans and not have to worry about anyone waiting on us. The preacher began talking about how meaningful this marriage is that both our parents were able to drive down from Canada and Virginia during a snowstorm and share this special day. That’s right when we both began to tear up and couldn’t hold back any longer. By the end of the entire ceremony there wasn’t a single dry eye!”

Vendor Details

Ashley and Etienne Boulanger

Date: January 26 2016

Getting-Ready Site: The Magnolia House Wilmington

Ceremony site: The south end beach strand Wrightsville Beach

Reception site: Brasserie du Soleil

Photography: Belinda Keller Photography

Officiant: Han Hills

Gown: David’s Bridal