Newport is one of the most popular wedding destinations in the country, especially in the summer through fall months. Much of the planning for this season begins the prior winter as Antonia Fraker well appreciated (hence the Bridal Fair at Rosecliff in February.)
Antonia, featured in my new book Living Newport: Houses, People, Style was like many young women who have long held the dream of being a Rosecliff bride. Falling in love with Newport started this beautiful journey. Her early years growing up in England gave her an appreciation for Newport’s history, architecture, gardens, beauty– the timeless quality of a European town, all of which our “City by the Sea” has represented over its 375 years.
When Antonia and I first met on a chilly day in February, Rosecliff had been confirmed as her venue and many of her wedding details were in place, inspired by both English and American long-standing traditions. Even the hors d’oeuvres gave a nod to the two countries she has called home…marrying the United States (mini lobster rolls and mint juleps) with England (small paper cones of fish n’ chips and Pimm’s cup.) But serendipity was about to inspire a new wedding tradition, a “preamble” as it came to be called affectionately.
Antonia and Mike were choosing to hold dear an old-fashioned custom…they would not see each other on their wedding day until Antonia walked down the aisle on her father’s arm, each treasuring that special moment; no luncheon, no early photo sessions of bride and groom. Living very close to Rosecliff presented a wonderful opportunity for me to honor the bride and prompted my invitation to “come to our home for a pre-wedding interlude before the 6:00pm ceremony.”
It was a magical hour, the bride, her parents and bridesmaids sipping pink champagne, nibbling on tea sandwiches, taking pictures together. Antonia and her bridesmaids welcomed this as “a peaceful time for stilling nerves and a place to enjoy and celebrate each other.” The buzz as they were departing for Rosecliff was that each bridesmaid would adopt this new preamble tradition for their own wedding.
Rosecliff, the Bellevue Avenue “cottage” built in 1902 for silver heiress Tessie Oehrlich, extravagantly interprets the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s pleasure pavilion at Versailles. Boasting the largest ballroom (80′ x 40′) in a town of many ballrooms, Rosecliff is a fairy-tale confection from Newport’s fabled Gilded Age. Entertaining here adds the proverbial frosting on the cake to any wedding that few venues in our country can equal.
The details of Antonia Fraker’s nuptials, as well as other weddings at Rosecliff and around the Newport community, present a panoply of chic choices. With great talents weighing in, from wedding planners to caterers to floral designers to lighting experts, a wedding truly becomes one of life’s most memorable moments.
10 Chic Newport Wedding Details
1. A Cascade Bouquet
2. A “Fashionista” Cake
Understated elegance. A delicate, cascading bouquet of gardenias on a long, satin ribbon is a well-chosen detail for a Southern bride. Scrollwork, beading and embroidery on the bride’s dress are repeated in a 5-tier cake gracing a Rosecliff wedding.
3. All-Flower Table Cloth
An extravagant over cloth, made entirely of flowers, tops the table where seating cards are displayed.
4. Champagne “Ice” Buckets
What’s a wedding without champagne? The well-equipped bar displays its offerings in real champagne buckets, carved entirely of ice.
5. Individual Dessert Servings
Rosecliff’s dining room table is the perfect large surface for presenting an elaborate dessert buffet. Individually-prepared sweets (i.e. tiramisu and crème brulee) provide welcome flexibility; dance the night away and still not miss dessert.
6. Mini-Wedding Cakes
7. Personalized Straws
Every wedding is a study in personal touches. Mini-wedding cakes (by “Sin”) recall their larger counterpart; colorful straws, with an amusing note, are a clever pairing with the wedding’s signature drink.
8. Floral Orbs
Yet another way to include luscious flowers at your event…floral orbs hung over the corner of a gold ballroom chair (Winstons Flowers.)
9. Customized Postage Stamps
10. A Vintage Hairstyle
From my wedding book…the inspiration for my hairstyle many years ago.