She loves summertime — beaches, boats, sandcastles and sandals. He loves wintertime — skiing, sleighs, Christmas trees and candy canes. So, when Dawn Marie Scarpini and Brendan Sullivan set their wedding date last year, they had to decide — a summer wedding, or a winter wedding?
“From an early age, most brides form picture images of their perfect wedding scenario, but seldom get to experience the dream,” says Dawn. “This situation is compounded further when the groom also has strong wedding-day preferences.
Instead of making a choice, the Durham couple decided to have a Sunset Beach/Winter Wonderland wedding on October 4. With the help of New England Destinations, a Portsmouth-based exhibitions and conference management company (www.nedestinations.com), the wedding ceremony was set up on the beach on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts; the reception at the newly opened Golf Club of New England in Stratham, New Hampshire. “They fused our contrasting scenarios into one magical event we were able to share with our loved ones,” says Dawn.
To add to the excitement, the wedding was selected by ABC’s “Primetime with Diane Sawyer” to be part of the network’s yet-to-be-scheduled “VOWS” program, which will feature weddings from around the world. Kristin Sullivan-Crowell, owner of New England Destinations, says it was a challenge to meet ABC’s expectation of a unique wedding. “The challenge can be equated to taking a beach scene as viewed through a snow-globe and turning it into a life-size wedding landscape,” she says.
The first unique element to be decided on was Dawn’s deep scarlet wedding dress. “Everybody was wicked surprised; not even my parents knew,” she says. “I wanted my dress to be different because the entire wedding was different. Plus, red is one of my favorite colors. It’s also a Christmas color, so I became Brendan’s little Christmas present.” She also wore a five-foot-long flower boa made of hydrangeas, roses and orchids. What she didn’t realize before the wedding — it weighed 50 pounds!
Dawn and Brendan had hoped they could be married barefoot on the beach, with Dawn arriving by boat. Unfortunately, it rained and the ceremony had to be held in a tent on the hill above the beach. A Styrofoam sandcastle, rented from a prop company, was used as an altar. At the reception in Stratham, guests went from “summer” to ”winter” by walking through a lighted ice tunnel. At the end, they were greeted with a silver sleigh full of gifts and cards, and Christmas trees with wedding favors (stockings stuffed with a candy cane and salt water taffy) hung on them. The tables were dressed in white and silver with snowball candles that were elevated with crystal blue and white ice cubes that lit up. A snowflake ice sculpture and sandcastle-shaped wedding cake decorated with snowflakes and starfish completed the two-season picture.
What did her guests (who were asked to wear either summer or Christmas apparel) think of the wedding? Dawn says, “They thought it was awesome.”
This article appears in the December 2003 issue of New Hampshire Magazine