Text by Andrea Milam
Photography by Two & Quarter Photography, LTD.
Lauren Leddy and Ryan Nelson always knew they would get married one day. Both natives of the Jersey Shore, he’d been a constant in her life since they fell in love during high school.
More than a decade into their relationship, as the couple enjoyed a morning jog during a family trip to Florence, Italy, they paused at the picturesque Piazzale Michelangelo where Ryan dropped to one knee and asked for Lauren’s hand in marriage, confirming the couple’s destiny.
“I don’t even think I said yes,” Lauren recalls. “I just started hysterically crying, but the answer was an obvious yes.”
When it came time to plan the wedding, Lauren, a first grade teacher, and Ryan, a sales trader, decided they wanted to get married at the shore—but not at the Jersey Shore. Bermuda was special to both Lauren and Ryan’s families; Lauren’s grandparents and parents vacationed there, while Ryan’s parents honeymooned at the Fairmont Southampton. Lauren and Ryan themselves vacation in Bermuda every summer.
“We didn’t really want a typical Jersey Shore wedding,” says Lauren. “We wanted something different.”
With more than 100 expected guests, the couple decided to get married at St. Anne’s Church, a short trip away from the Fairmont Southampton, where their reception was to be held. Planning began in earnest with the help of Fairmont Southampton wedding planner Claire-Anne Raynor, who helped the couple secure Two & Quarter Photography, videographer Keith Steede, florist Demco, The Bermuda Train Company for transportation, and Tom Ray Band. Catering for the event was provided by the Fairmont Southampton.
“Everyone Claire-Anne set us up with was so amazing,” says Lauren.
As the August 1, 2015 wedding date drew near, rain showers lingered over Bermuda, leading Lauren and Ryan to wonder whether their outdoor reception would be thwarted by the weather.
“If we had to move it inside, that obviously defeats the purpose of getting married in Bermuda,” Lauren says. “By the time we got there on the Thursday before the wedding, it had rained for seven days straight, and we were really nervous. The next day, it completely cleared up and we had sunny and beautiful weather the rest of the weekend.”
After enjoying a barefoot barbecue on Thursday night and a cocktail reception on Friday at the Fairmont Southampton’s Great Sound Lawn followed by a rehearsal dinner at the resort’s Waterlot Inn restaurant, the wedding day dawned sunny and bright. Lauren started her wedding day with an early morning workout with her sisters and bridesmaids, then spent some time relaxing on the beach with her friends and family while Ryan played golf with his groomsmen.
“Everyone was asking, ‘What are you doing here at the beach?’” says Lauren. “I said, ‘Why wouldn’t I be here? This is the point of getting married in Bermuda.’ Claire-Anne was taking care of everything so I relaxed on the beach until noon.”
Finally, it was time to get ready, so Lauren returned to her suite, where stylist Geraldine Browner from Salon J’Za in Manasquan, New Jersey and makeup artist Luis Ramos prepared her for her big walk down the aisle. The Bermuda Train Company transported her to St. Anne’s in a sweet miniature train car. The small, gleaming white church was packed with 130 of the couple’s closest friends and family. Lauren’s two-year-old nephew made an adorable trip down the aisle as ring bearer, completing the last half of the trip in his mother’s arms after he was overwhelmed by his ceremonial duties.
Lauren’s bridesmaids wore blush pink dresses, while Ryan and his groomsmen followed island tradition with blush pink Bermuda shorts and knee-high navy socks. Ryan’s ensemble was completed with a pink tie. Lauren tearfully said “I do” to her high school sweetheart with the help of Reverend David Matthews.
With the business of getting married behind them, Lauren and Ryan and their wedding guests returned to the Fairmont Southampton, where they danced the night away at the beachfront setting. White gardenias and blush pink garden roses decorated the tables, but the decor was largely kept simple so as not to detract from the beautiful natural setting.
“Obviously walking down the aisle and seeing Ryan was a highlight of the day, but at one point toward the end of the night, we were both on the dance floor with our immediate families with our arms all around each other, singing at the top of our lungs,” says Lauren. “I remember trying to take it all in. That was a special moment being with everybody.”
Mere months into married life, the wedding day still feels like yesterday to the couple. Though Lauren now enjoys being introduced as Ryan’s wife, life has remained largely unchanged for the couple who’s been happily entwined since their high school days. A weeklong honeymoon in Bermuda and a trip to Hawaii three months later topped off their unforgettable wedding celebration.
CEREMONY: St. Anne’s Church
RECEPTION: Fairmont Southampton
WEDDING PLANNER: Claire-Anne Raynor
PHOTOGRAPHY: Two & Quarter Photography, Ltd.
TRANSPORTATION: The Bermuda Train
VIDEO: Keith Steede