Cause Related Marketing
 

Every year Weddings by the Sea becomes more involved with both local (Cape May), Regional and National cause related and philanthropic efforts. We feel that it is important to give-back to those who are less fortunate and to specific significant causes that we have selected, whenever we can and where we feel a personal connection.
 

Miracle Hope Network – Katrina Prom Attire Drive ~ April 2006: In April 2006 Weddings by the Sea was asked and agreed to participate in the miracles of Hope Network’s Katrina Prom Apparel Drive with Cedar Crest Senior Community (Pompton Plains, NJ). Cedar Crest Village called it “Help Make New Orleans High School Teen’s Prom Dreams Come True.” It was acknowledged in Time magazine a few weeks later. Weddings by the Sea contributed $3800 worth of dresses, jewelry, gloves, shawls, evening bags, pantyhose, tiaras, hair accessories, strapless bras, bow ties and evening shoes. Cedar Crest collected the merchandise and packed and trucked it to New Orleans and Mississippi to 6 high schools.
 
Goodwill Industries of Philadelphia & South Jersey – Goodwill’s Valentine’s Bridal Sale Extravaganza ~ February 2012: WbtSea responded to the 2012 drive by donating $9142 of retail value in new vintage-style bridal and formal dresses (one dozen), ballet shoes, tiaras, headpieces, veils, evening bags, jewelry, formal beach sandals, stockings and pantyhose, dancing slippers, and assorted wedding accessories. Proceeds from the sale of these high quality items at the annual Valentines Day sale helps to fund Goodwill’s high caliber job training programs that prepare local residents with disabilities and disadvantages for competitive employment in the community.
 
Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (1995-2008) The Nature Center of Cape May
Kiwanis Club of Cape May 1812 Productions – Philadelphia (Jilline Ringold Fund)
Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Cape May County The March of Dimes
The Cape May Stage / Exit Zero Burns Annual Dinner The VFW of Cape May
The Rainbow Network and GABLES The SPCA of Cape May
The East Lynne Theater Company Cape May and West Cape May Volunteer Fire Companies

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Non-Profit Donations ~ Instead of Favors

Looking for an Alternative to Individual Wedding Favors? Donate a Per Person (Guests) Total to Cape May’s Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities. Become a MAC Member too and you can continue to support the beautiful historic city where your weddings dreams became romantic lifetime memories.

MAC’s mission driven programs help support a robust quality of life in the community. MAC also impacts the county and region by providing unique, high-quality cultural experiences, historical activities and educational outreach programs for residents and visitors alike.

Mary Stewart, Chief Outreach Officer (ext 1-131)
PO Box 340 ~ 1048 Washington Street
Cape May, NJ 08204
609-884-5404  ~  800-275-4278  ~  www.capemaymac.org

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Tips for Searching the Perfect Ceremony Site

1. Decide on indoor (home, reception site, hotel, restaurant, etc) church, public facility (government building, museum, etc.) or
    Outdoor (home garden or backyard, public beach, reception site adjacency, park – local, county, state of federal jurisdiction).

2. Check on parameters/requirements, permits, fees, eligibility (for churches), State licensing procedures.

3. Research accessibility, regulations, timeslots, parking for bride, groom, bridal party, and guests, officiate, florists, photographers,
    videographers and musicians.
 
Now you are ready to book the ceremony site.

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Tips for Searching the Perfect Reception Site

1. Know your budget before you contact any facilities. The reception cost will represent approximately 50% of your budget.

2. Know how many guests you intend to invite to your wedding. (Invitation List) the national average / ratio for invitations to
    acceptances/attendees is 75-80% or a 20-25% regrets rate.

3. Decide on one primary date and at least one alternate date for your wedding. Then check out the facility’s website and request the
    basic criteria for that facility including minimum guest counts, site fees and base food and beverage costs, and availability of your date(s).
 
4. Now it is time to make appointments to visit.

5. Be prepared to sign a contract and place a required deposit.   

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Weddings by the Sea ~ Top 20 Beach Wedding Tips
 

Licensing – State law requires that all who marry in NJ must  provide a marriage license issued in a NJ municipality.  Call the City Clerk’s Office at 609-884-9530 for details. 
 
Permits – Scheduling with the City is necessary for use of public facilities. Visit www.capemaycity.com and click on Ceremonial Arrangements to schedule and request a permit for your ceremony date, location and timeslot. A $25 permit fee may apply.
 
What to Wear on the Beach? Brides wear all styles, lengths and colors, with or without trains and veils. Shoes are left on the promenade or beach entrance. Grooms keep their shoes on – it’s a guy thing. Consider bringing a bucket of paint brushes (the dollar store) for between the toes sand removal before strapping on those heels. Prevents walking and dancing blisters.
 
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse. Preferably at the ceremony location. Don’t show up at your own wedding and encounter chaos.
 
Do not under any circumstances watch The Weather Channel the week of the wedding. Let a designated person do it. Enjoy yourselves. The weather will be what it is. Make the best of it. It makes your wedding day story unique.
 
Assign someone you trust – preferably not a bridal party member – and give them total responsibility and authority to make the decision the day of the wedding to change the ceremony location in case of inclement weather. This person will tell you and the groom where you are now going to be married – but only if necessary.
 
Be on time. The day goes by so fast. Everyone is happier, especially you, if you have more time for those beach photos and more time at the reception. Be on time.
 
The No No No don’t go there list – No runners on the sand. They are treacherous and only make good wind sails. No PA systems or microphones. Let the ocean waves break and the breeze blow for the best sound affects. The officiate knows how to project. Ask readers to speak-up.
 
Memoriams – Consider readings, a dove release and that special song, ringing little bells, bubbles or a single flower toss at sea off the rock jetty after the ceremony with the officiate. Honor absent, deceased or seriously ill family and friends.
 
Sand Pouring Ceremonies – What a wonderful way to symbolically unite two families with children from previous relationships into one new entity without intimidating the young ones. It is something they will always remember. And it is fun too! Each one gets to pour their own personal sand color.
 
Save unity candle services for the reception. Do it with the blessing before dinner. Wind and strong breezes can make it difficult on the beach. Do a sand pouring ceremony instead. Make the most of the beach and the sand.
 
Provide every guest a chair for the ceremony. Don’t ask your guests to stand in clumps on the beach. It looks very messy and chaotic. It can also look cheap. Provide an aisle for the bride, bridal party and parents. Your guests came a long way for you. Make them comfortable at your beach wedding.
 
Protocol on the beach – Assign the groomsmen to ask the guests to be seated on the beach before the bride gets to the promenade or beach. Guests mean well, but get excited at the sight of the bride. Let her enter in peace and calm to the processional.
 
Be sure to coordinate your officiate and your musicians before the ceremony so that you are not the one queuing the processional, readings, musical interludes, sand pouring, dove releases and recessionals at your own ceremony. Remember once the officiate takes over the ceremony he/she has control of the guests, bridal party and musicians. Another reason to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
 
Rings – first check before leaving hotel rooms. And keep them in small ring pouches rather than bulky ring boxes. Try not to drop them in the sand. Do not give the real rings to a ring bearer on the beach. Tie fakes to the ring pillow.
 
Let your parents enjoy your wedding day with you. Don’t make them work. The bridal party is supposed to help with everything first, then look beautiful, handsome and have a good time second. That’s why they call them BridesMAIDS and GROOMSmen.
 
Give the Groom and the Best Man a roll of quarters for the parking meters. Encourage car pooling. Parking can be limited.
 
Bring a cooler to the beach filled with ice, bottled water and rolled wash cloths (the dollar store again). Great for hot days, trolley, the ceremony, and beach photos in the sun.
 
If the weather does not cooperate don’t forget to notify the officiate, the carriage, trolley, limo, the ceremony musicians, the videographer and photographer. They are not psychic.
 
Most important of all is to….Have Fun on Your Wedding Day! 

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The Wedding Mural at WbtSea

The wedding mural at the shop celebrates beach weddings and features names and dates of couples who tied the knot with their feet in the sand in Cape May. Don't miss it...
 

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Useful links:

Accessories, Jewelry, Evening Bags and favors: Invitations:
Ivy Lane Design: Wedding Accessories and Favors
Lillian Rose
:
Wedding Accessories and Favors
Mariell
: Jewelry, tiaras and handbags
Colorful Creations
:
Dress Shoes and Evening Bags
Birchcraft
 
Carlson Craft
   
All About Cape May - maps, accommodations, dining, entertainment:  
StayInCapeMay.com
CapeMay.com

CapeMayBeach.com
Cape May Links.com
 Mid-atlantic center for the arts   The Physick Estate
* Weddings & Parties at The Carriage House, Trolley Rentals

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Cape May is third in the country
for destination weddings
.
Over 500 couples exchange vows
in Cape May every year.

About Cape May, NJ

Cape May is the Nation's Oldest Seashore Resort - America's Only National Historic Landmark City.

Hundreds of Couples from all over the United States choose Cape May for their weddings every year.

Any time is a good time to visit Cape May. Though its reputation grew out of its history as a seaside resort popular in the 1870's, Cape May today is not only a time capsule of Victorian architecture, but a nationally renowned bed and breakfast capital.

Cultural activities include music festivals; both classical and jazz, garden tours, professional theater, and architectural tours. The annual calendar is filled with special events celebrating everything from kites to seafood, and clamshell pitching to Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens.

Nature lovers come from far and wide to enjoy the spring and fall bird migrations, as well as nature trails, fishing and whale watching.

Cape May's pedestrian shopping mall; the main street has been closed to vehicular traffic, features a eclectic mix of vendors and great finds from imports to antiques.

The New York Times food critic called Cape May "the restaurant capital of New Jersey." You'll know why when you sample any of our forty restaurants. Christmas is the most Victorian of our holidays and Cape May celebrates the Yuletide in high style.

Numerous tours and special events are offered beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving. And there are the quiet times, when you can just relax in the elegance of our Victorian atmosphere and let the rest of the world go by. Summer, fall, winter and spring are all good seasons to visit and exchange wedding vows in Cape May.

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Oy. I’m spending the weekend following
the Wedding Planner around Cape May.


Note that I said "The Wedding Planner" because Cape May really only has one true wedding planner and that's Catherine Walton. Ms Walton does the traditional Jennifer Lopez movie kind of planning right down to the last detail.

Many of the larger reception venues have a bridal consultant on hand, but that person is more an events coordinator. Follow me and I’ll show you what I mean.

Catherine chose the weekend of May 20th for me to come along because it is the largest spring wedding weekend. Three or four beach weddings are planned for Friday, May 20th and 12 that we know of, are scheduled for Saturday May 21st. “It’s the last weekend before the rates go up at the hotels, B&Bs and restaurants,” said Catherine, “And these are just couples who are actually getting married in Cape May. There could be more who are getting married elsewhere but holding their reception here in Cape May.”

So, let’s fast forward to Friday, May 20th.

I wake up at 5:50 a.m. in a panic. It’s raining for gawd’s sake. No, no, you don’t understand. This is rain as in the gods are fed up with mankind and are unleashing their vengeance kind of rain. (3-5 inches of rain ended up falling that day, plus gale force winds – that constitutes a coastal storm) Now, if I’m worried about this, imagine the panic the wedding planner is in?
There are three or four weddings scheduled for today, two were to be beach weddings. Catherine planned one of the weddings which was being held in St. Agnes Church, Cape May Point with a reception at the Chalfonte Hotel. However, the couple had planned for beach photos of the wedding party.

Catherine, her assistant Vanessa Rodkin, and I would be overseeing the rehearsal of two weddings. The first is to be a beach wedding Saturday morning at The Cove Pavilion with a reception at The Pelican Club. It is a wedding of about 85 people and Catherine will be providing Full Service consultation. In other words, she never leaves the bride's side from early in the morning until the reception is over.

The second wedding will be held at Congress Hall Beach Saturday afternoon with a reception following at Congress Hall Ballroom. It is a wedding of about 250 people. Catherine was brought in at the end of the planning stage. Catherine and Vanessa will only be overseeing the arrangements for the rehearsal today and the actual wedding ceremony tomorrow.

I am to meet Catherine and Vanessa at 4 p.m. As I walk in, Catherine has the television tuned to the weather channel and is on the phone with the mother of some bride assuring her that if she doesn’t feel she needs a wedding planner then by all means cancel the contract. The gist of it, as I can tell, is that the bride’s mother hired Catherine because they needed a venue for the wedding and once that had been secured, she wanted to weasel out of the contract. Catherine is very calm, very matter of fact, and very decisive. I’m nervous, in a panic and can't decide if I should sit or stand.

Vanessa is very quiet and sitting patiently with a pink clipboard in her lap. Vanessa  decided in March on a career as a wedding planner. This is her first bridal season. Problem: Catherine has two nervous Nellie’s on her hands. Vanessa says she’s nervous but looks very calm and poised. I, on the other hand, look like the Wreck of the Hesperus and my curly hair is growing as we speak. I remove the copy of Martha Stewart’s Spring 2005 Wedding magazine from the chair and settle in to start with the nudging.

Dare I ask? Well, why not?

“Are we really going down to the beach for rehearsal?”

“The weather radar shows that the storm is moving out,” said Catherine. “The rain should be over and clear for tomorrow.”

She heard that the two beach weddings scheduled for today had to be moved to the lobbies of the hotels where the reception was held. And this is the risk of planning a beach wedding. Many people come to Cape May not because they have any emotional ties to the city but for the amenities it has to offer. Cape May can deliver one really romantic and memorable beach wedding. But – and this is a big but – there are risks. Actually there’s one risk – the weather - and you have to be prepared for that.

“But are we really going down to the beach for rehearsal?” I ask again.

“I’ll find out now.” She calls the mother of the bride. Thank Gawd. The bridal party is dressed for dinner, which will be held at A Ca Mia, and decided they don’t want to be outside in the wet sand. “We’re moving the rehearsal to Victoria Gardens at the Marquis de Lafayette Hotel,” Catherine says when she hangs up the phone. This is where most of the wedding party is staying and where the reception will be.

The Congress Hall wedding rehearsal party, however, have decided they want to rehearse on the beach and neither wind nor wet sand will stop them. So be it. Their wish is her, well our command.

Catherine and Vanessa go over the details of tomorrow’s weddings. It is Vanessa’s first solo flight. Catherine hands her a pink sheet of paper with the service itinerary to be clipped to the pink clip board. How cute is that? Catherine’s husband John, “the chairman” will set up the chairs on the beach. A beach ceremony is only allowed to take up to 30 minutes so timing is essential. Vanessa is responsible for making sure the guest book and bubbles, which will be provided by the Congress Hall wedding planner, are taken to the beach for the guests to sign. There will be 20 attendants. Vanessa is responsible for herding them in and getting the procession started. In addition to chairs, John will also put up white feather banners at the beginning of the ramp leading down to the beach and two more banners at the site of the wedding ceremony.

This is, of course, after he sets up the chairs for the morning wedding – takes them down – and then sets them back up again for the afternoon wedding. Catherine calls the chairman and reminds him to bring in the box of shell party favors and place card holders. I don’t which wedding they’re for and I’m already getting a headache.

Of the 12 weddings which are taking place in Cape May tomorrow, Catherine Walton planned five, one of which is Full Service, plus the Congress Hall ceremony.

Meanwhile, Catherine’s service itinerary for the nuptials of Susan Harris and Dan Larsen reads like a military campaign. We will meet at 9:30 a.m. Leave Catherine's shop by 9:45 a.m. Use the 15 minutes that we’re here to “put out any fires.” We need to collect 90 boxes of fudge for the party favors. Check the seating chart for the Pelican Club reception. Oops the wedding cake is here.

We run into the back kitchen and greet Karen Dalbora of Sugar Plum Bakery in Mays Landing. She’s wearing her rain slicker and the three cake layers are well protected. Gee – it doesn’t look like a wedding cake. Oh the phone’s ringing – someone needs a pair of white gloves for a tea party later this afternoon. Oh someone’s coming in the front door. The bride (not The bride, another bride) needs the marriage license. Now where were we?. Tomorrow’s schedule.

“The trolley will arrive at the Marquis de Lafayette Hotel at 10:15. The groomsmen will leave for the Cove Pavilion first - followed by the bridesmaids, the mother of the bride and the wedding planners. The wedding is at 11:30 a.m. So, sometime between 10:30 and 11 a.m. the horse-drawn carriage will take the bride and the father of the bride to the Cove.

“There’s a wedding about every hour at the Cove tomorrow,” said Catherine. “I already booked two weddings there for next year (the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend). Has everybody eaten because this will take us until 7 p.m. We need to be at Victoria Garden at 5:30 and at Congress Hall at 6:30. Where’s the rehearsal kit?”

She grabs a box which has a silk-flowered bouquet and a tiara. “It’s the bride’s torture kit,” she smiles.

And off we go. And just as an aside - the wedding planner obviously doesn't eat until after the planning is done.

A Full Service Wedding plan means this: The bride need not worry about a thing. Let the wedding planner worry about it. Here’s an example:

Problem: Catherine receives a call from a bride at 2 a.m. It was an afternoon wedding so the bridal party was out a little late. The bride brings her wedding dress into the hotel room and needs to hang it up. It’s too long to hang anywhere but on the arm of an old light fixture (with a bare bulb). The dress is in a garment bag and is five layers thick with silk, satin, lace and tulle. By the time the bride steps into the shower and walks out of the bathroom, the bulb has burned a hole through the back section of all five layers.

Solution: Catherine got up early the next morning and “just happen” to have the exact lace appliqué needed to repair the damage. Happy Ending.

Catherine has a bag which she calls her “bridal survival kit.” It has tampons, safety pins, needle and thread, lace, Kleenex, etc, etc. “I tell my brides, I don’t care what time it is, I want to know what the problem is so I can deal with it. Tell me,” she says as we walk into the Marquis de Lafayette Hotel and prepare for the rehearsal.

“Unfortunately, we can’t rehearse on the beach. They’ve (the bridal party) never done this before and at the end of the rehearsal, each person will know what they’re going to do.” In order to accomplish this, Catherine has to imagine what the stage setting will look like and recreate it inside the restaurant (which is closed at the moment). 

The rehearsal goes a bit late. Because of the storm, some people are late arriving.  Did you know that the groomsmen, once they escort the guests up the aisle are not, according to tradition, supposed to walk up the center of the aisle again until the groom is married? That’s why you always see the groomsmen lined up behind the groom on the side of the altar or to the left of the officiator.

Anyway, all goes well and we’ll see the Harris-Larsen family tomorrow morning. Off to the rehearsal of Kimberly and Jeremy.

The very large wedding party schlepped en masse down to Congress Hall beach from Congress Hall – they too were very well attired for their rehearsal dinner – one very smart man brought a rubber pool-like thingy which he used for the smaller kids to grab onto so they could cross the road safely.

I gotta a tell ya, I bailed after the first ten minutes – I was tired, cold and hungry. The wedding planners, however, had donned extra clothing and were doing their thing as I left them.

The Wedding Day – I awake at 6 a.m. and can’t believe it. The sun is shining. It is a beautiful day. It’s as though yesterday never happened. It’s even warm. We arrive at the Marquis de Lafayette precisely on time. The groom is pacing nervously in the hotel lobby. His groomsmen (there are 14 attendants) are drifting down slowly and are ready to go. The first job of the wedding planner is to make sure the groom is “conscious.” Honey I didn’t even ask about those stories. But I can imagine. Any way this groom is all too conscious but looking good and ready to go.
We waste no time and immediately go up to the bride’s room. I feel so funny walking into this sanctuary – kind of like walking backstage and pestering the star while she’s in costume and make-up.

The flowers are on the bed – they have just arrived.

Susan, the bride, is in a chair and being attended to by non other than Emmy Award winning Celebrity Make-up Artist Marianne Skiba while her assistant attends to the maid of honor.

“Catherine,” says the bride, “the flowers are on the bed. I don’t know if the groomsmen’s boutonnières are there or not.”

Catherine immediately checks. They are.

“See,” the bride says to her maid of honor, “I don’t even have to worry about it. I just tell her and it’s done.”

Next, we go back down to the lobby to attach the boutonnières and to make sure the groomsmen and the groom and his family are in the trolley and off to the Cove.
The father of the bride is also nervously pacing back and forth. I asked him why Cape May.

“Susan wanted a beach wedding and we started searching for places. A friend told us about Cape May. We live in Maryland. Did you know that Cape May is only third to Hawaii and Las Vegas for destination weddings? We came down a year ago and met with Catherine and here we are. And the sun is shining.”

Time – 10:40 a.m. The groomsmen and the bride groom’s family have left. The bridesmaids are assembled and ready to go. No bride. The father is sitting now talking with his wife.

“I promised Susan I wouldn’t make the wedding toast sound like a summation to the jury.” He looks at me. “I’ve been told that the job of the father of the bride is to show up, pay up and shut up.”

Catherine has checked on the bride about two more times and is confident we’re approaching the zero hour. And there she is.

Radiant, beautiful and ready to say “I do.”

The rest of us get on board the trolley. There was a little confusion regarding where the photographer was. Turns out he was sitting in his car in front of the hotel. Catherine rounded him up and he was snapping away.
 
Down to the Cove we go. The trolley lets us off and circles to park alongside the Promenade. Problem: Someone has called the police about the trolley parking along Beach Ave. Catherine spots the police and immediately goes up to them.

“A new driver,” she said. “I told him to go to Second Ave., park, and wait for my signal.”
 
SShe moves onto the next mini problem. She instructs the groomsmen and bridesmaids about exactly what they are to do and when they are to do it. Every detail has been thought through and every question asked. And there were lots of questions. Most of the bridesmaids have decided to remove their shoes for the promenade down the imaginary aisle. Their very pretty heels are lined up along the of the Promenade. They look like something out of a fairy tail so dainty and abandoned.
 
From the time the bride arrives, until she and her father actually begin the walk, Catherine never leaves her side. She assists her from the carriage. She arranges the train. It is a bit windy and she rearranges the veil. And then rearranges it again. The bride kicks off her shoes – and the wedding procession begins.
 
The ceremony begins. Standing from the Cove Pavilion, the setting is picture perfect. The groomsmen lined up on one side. The bridesmaids on the other. And the sea, as though on cue, sends waves to shore with perfect white caps on their ends. Tourists are stand frozen on the Promenade watching as the groom kisses the bride. Time to take pictures. Time to go to the reception.

There are more questions once the wedding party arrives at The Pelican Club. The DJ is about the announce them and to present for the first time Mr. and Mrs. Dan Larsen. Catherine supervises this stage direction at every interval.
 
And the wedding cake! When did it transform into a beautiful sea shell?
 
The father of the bride is making his toast.
 
Problem: The wedding planner’s phone rings in the middle of it. There is a problem with the Congress Hall wedding ceremony. It seems that too many wedding planners is similar to the problem of too many cooks spoiling the broth. The Congress Hall wedding planner does not handle anything outside of Congress Hall – meaning the wedding on the beach -hence the need to bring Catherine in. However, the Congress Hall consultant still coordinates all the other facets of the wedding. The bride wanted an arbor (the thing under which the couple exchange vows) . The florist was under the impression that Catherine was responsible for the arbor. No, said Catherine, that was to be the florist’s responsibility. An arbor was not in the contract and, in fact, is being used for the 4 p.m. beach wedding.

Solution: “If the florist doesn’t have an arbor, we can use the feathered banners.
It’ll be even more dramatic than an arbor. Is this our problem? No. But we still want to do what’s right to make the wedding happen.”
 
Next Problem: The bride wants to light candles on the beach after the ceremony but it's not clear that the hurricane candleholders are all present and accounted for or that the windscreens Catherine has will fit the lamps. The hurricane lamps as well as the windscreens are both needed to keep the flames from blowing out. It’s windy you see, ‘cause we’re by the sea.
 
Solution: Vanessa must go to the bridegroom - NOT the bride - and tell him the problem and recommend that the candles be lit back at Congress Hall. Then Vanessa must go to the minister who will relay that information to the guests after the ceremony.
 
And there’s confusion about other small details as well. The first wedding went off like clockwork. At the reception the mother of the bride is thanking Catherine. The second wedding was absolutely beautiful, the bride just as radiant. But the second wedding was not smooth. The difference? One person to coordinate the entire event, therefore no misunderstandings. Two planners just might be two too many. The other difference? Experience.
 
Catherine Walton has been planning weddings for ten years. Even when she gave Vanessa her last minute instructions, including getting to the site an hour earlier than she had intended, she stressed attention to detail. “Measure twice, measure again, look at it, measure a third time and then cut.” Nothing can be left to chance.

People do come to Cape May sometimes only to have a beach wedding. They very often do not live near here and like the Harris-Larsen wedding they’ve only been to Cape May once before to look around. The next time they’re here is the day before the wedding. So you really need someone who’s going to look after your best interests and who knows the quirks of a small Victorian town. Also, after the consultation, if you find you really do not need a wedding planner but just want to know how to have a beach wedding – she’s more than happy to give you the rundown.

Me? Honey after the Congress Hall wedding, I’m exhausted. It’s 4:10 p.m. I don’t even wait for the wedding party to come back off the beach. I head straight up to the nearest bar for a cocktail.
 
Meanwhile, Catherine Walton had a another wedding to attend to.

TTips for planning your beach wedding in Cape May

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Preferably at the ceremony location. Don't show up at your own wedding and encounter chaos.

Assign someone you trust - not in the bridal party preferably - and give them total responsibility and authority to make the decision the day of the wedding to change the ceremony location in case of inclement weather. This person will tell you and the groom at the last minute possible where you are now going to be married if necessary.

Do not under any circumstances watch the weather channel the week of the wedding. Let that designated person do it. Enjoy yourselves. The weather will be what it is. Make the best of it. It makes your wedding day story unique.

Be on time. The day goes by so fast. Everyone is happier especially you if you have more time for those beach photos and more time at the reception. Be on time.

Give the groom and the best man a roll of quarters for the parking meter.

Bring a cooler to the beach filled with ice, small bottles of water and rolled/cold wash cloths (from the dollar store). Great for hot days, the
trolley, the ceremony and beach photos in the sun.

Provide every guest a chair for the ceremony. Guests standing in clumps on the beach with no aisle for you to walk down looks very messy.

Save unity candle services for the reception if possible. Do it during/after the blessing before dinner. Wind and strong breezes make it difficult often times on the beach.


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Catherine’s Cape May Wedding ~ June 4, 2000
by Lorna Rothanzl for The Knot-Wedding Pages, Philadelphia, Winter 2000, www.theknot.com  Copyright © 2000

As a new bride, Catherine Walton took her own advice. She smiled, took a deep breath and headed down the aisle to become Mrs. John Randall Macciocchi.

It was with conscious effort that she absorbed every detail of those moments as she and her parents, both 78, walked along the path behind her Cape May, NJ home to a gazebo where her wedding awaited.

For more than 20 years Walton, a professional wedding coordinator, has sent brides down the aisle. On June 4 she took that walk herself.
"The last thing I tell a bride before she walks down the aisle is to smile and have a good time," Catherine said.  "And I usually see them exhale. And that's just what I did before I walked down the aisle - exhaled." 

It wasn't that she was nervous. Catherine was worried she would miss the moments about to unfold if she let herself get too caught up in the excitement.

"We spent almost a year planning this wedding, and six months out I found myself really enjoying the process," Catherine said. "There were so many choices at that time. But then three months out all the decisions were made and the waiting began and that was difficult. As the day neared I knew everything would happen so fast and it's hard to slow everything down."

So she chose to put off the wedding as long as possible. In fact, she and her fiancé planned a wedding weekend to end with the ceremony as an attempt to lengthen the celebration with family and friends.

As owner of Weddings by the Sea in Cape May, Catherine knew local weddings draw many out-of-town guests and hers was no exception. "We had more than 50 guests from Washington State, Texas, Georgia, Florida, New York State, Chicago and Philadelphia," she said. "We wanted to spend as much time as we could with our guests, as many had never been here before."

"We started by renting an ocean-front bed & breakfast for the weekend," Catherine said. "Friday afternoon the guests started to arrive, and some of them stayed at the B&B, while John's family stayed at his home and my family stayed at mine."

The first evening was filled with activities that included a pizza party, bicycle rides and a promenade walk on the beach at sunset.

"Saturday morning began with a breakfast at the B&B, and then we gave our guests gift bags filled with a list of activity options. Some went to the Strawberry Festival in town, while others went whale watching and stopped by the lighthouse."

The guests then gathered for an authentic lobster bake and ended the evening with dancing to a DJ.

"Because I'm older, I've had all of these different lifetimes," Catherine said. "And these people are all parts of these different lifetimes and they all came together for our wedding. It was such a celebration." On Sunday morning the party regrouped for a gourmet breakfast at the B&B.

Then, at 11:00 a.m., Catherine stood on her back porch while John sprinkled rose petals on the carpet, a signal for his bride to begin her walk.
"I had this gazebo in my backyard, and it has always been something very symbolic to me," she said. "I wanted our wedding ceremony to be a bit more private."

The gazebo was adorned with silk garlands featuring Victorian roses. A classical guitar and flute combo set the tone. The ceremony included a candle lighting, the special presentation of a Bible verse and roses to Catherine's mother and a surprise dove release.

Catherine wore a traditional, high-necked Victorian gown with long sleeves and a drop waist that featured a satin sash and short train. She carried a satin loop wrapped with silk ribbon and roses to gather her train. "I liked swishing it around," she said. "It was just enough to hold the train and it did not hit the ground."

To complete her Victorian look, Catherine wore a floral wreath with a heart-edged veil for the ceremony. The headpiece was removed for the reception and handmade ribbon roses with pearls on pin hooks were placed in her hair that was worn up in curls. "All of the flowers were very authentic Victorian," Catherine said. "We held tussy mussy holders with wildflowers and roses."

Each of the female guests received Victorian fans at the wedding. The men were later pinned with tine rosebuds at the reception.
After the ceremony the bridal party was joined by the 55 guests for a group photo at the gazebo. "The guests really got a kick out of that," Catherine said. "Even with lots of photographs at your wedding, you never get a photo of everyone there. I wanted one big photo like a reunion shot."

The newlyweds then went to the historic Victorian Physick Estate for photographs, while the guests moved to the Washington Inn for cocktails and a champagne brunch reception. A dance band performed love songs from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The couple selected "Let It Be Me" for their first dance. A four-tiered chocolate and almond flavored wedding cake was served, and featured white chocolate and meringue shells, roses and doves, and was topped with two sand shells as a vase to hold white chocolate roses.

"It was a focal point," Catherine said. "And because my husband is a mason, instead of a cake knife, we used a masonry trowel wrapped with tulle and peach ribbon to cut the cake."

After the reception, Catherine and John boarded a horse-drawn carriage for a ride through Cape May and to the ocean where photographs were taken.

Their wedding celebration was a fitting end to a courtship that was quite Victorian itself.

Catherine returned to Cape May in 1997, having worked as a Dallas bridal consultant for many years. She opened a shop next door to John's home, and the new neighbors began an over-the-fence chat relationship. A native of Cape May, John lived in the home built by his grandfather.
"I surmised he was single from watching him come and go, and on occasion we would strike up a conversation while he was out in the garden," Catherine said. "It was a very quiet, old-fashioned courtship. He would come into my shop on a Saturday or Sunday just to talk. It took a long time to break the ice."

It wasn't until a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored ferry trip about six months later that they had their first official date. John joined his businesswoman neighbor for the watery ride, and they've been together ever since.

Looking back on her wedding, Catherine would change only one thing if possible.

"I would have made it last longer," she said. "This was all about our guests coming from so far away, and we were so overwhelmed that they all wanted to be here with us. We wanted to spend every minute with them, and when they started to leave Sunday afternoon, it was so very hard to let them go."

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Revised: November 03, 2015
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