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A Modern and Ethereal Wedding in Newport, Rhode Island

by Staff

Carolyn Berndt and Vic Jones met at Orangetheory in January 2018; Carolyn was attending the class, and Vic was a trainer. “It’s still up for debate on who approached the other person first,” Carolyn laughs. Three years later, Vic proposed at home in the couple’s living room. “We are homebodies and I never wanted anything public for our engagement,” Carolyn remembers. “It was perfect for us.”

So, it makes sense that home became the inspiration for their wedding aesthetic—sort of. “To be honest, we weren’t totally certain of our vision,” Carolyn admits. “I distinctly remember one of our planners saying in our initial meeting that our wedding should feel like it would fit in with the style of our home. We looked around our home and saw clean lines, cozy elements, and a consistent color: black. Vic and I share a contemporary style and I knew I wanted stand-out florals. I showed our planners one single picture of a floral install I loved, and that’s how the initial plans took off.”

The couple fell in love with Newport Harbor Island Resort because it offered blank-canvas spaces they could truly put their mark on. “The lawn for the ceremony had a breathtaking view and the ballroom for the reception was light and airy, but both locations could easily be molded into how we truly envisioned our day.” Once their vision was solidified, they found that decision making came easily. “When we knew something was right, we just knew it and went with it. We tried to not excessively research anything, but to really just trust our gut,” remark the couple.

Read on to see all the contemporary yet organic details of their June 18, 2022, wedding, planned by Sarah Lema and Jeankarla Duran of Mavinhouse Events and photographed by Henry + Mac.

“Our overarching theme was combining our love of clean, contemporary, and neutral design with lots of florals and organic movement,” Carolyn says. “We landed on an ethereal-meets-modern vibe and the magic happened when those two collided. We used black, white, glass, and mirror in our rentals, and brought in touches of mauve and eggplant woven into the floral design.”

Unlike most brides, Carolyn wasn’t exactly excited about wedding dress shopping. “I hate being the center of attention, so standing on a literal pedestal with all eyes on me was something I wasn’t looking forward to,” she says. And yet, when she slipped into Élysée’s Seraphine gown, “I wanted everyone to see me in it. I think is how I knew I had found the one.” The gown fit the couple’s vibe seamlessly: modern and clean in sleek Mikado, with a sculpted neckline and low V-back.

“I wear my hair in a slicked-back bun 99 percent of the time, so I wanted an elevated version of that. I never even contemplated anything else,” Carolyn says of her beauty look. “It felt like me, and it would hold up against the wind down by the water at the ceremony.” She went bolder with her nails. “My style in general is clean and neutral, but my nails are the one thing you’ll consistently see a bit more creativity with. I knew I wanted something unique. [My nail artist and I] bounced a few ideas around, and landed on ‘milk bath nails’: a milky white base with tiny flowers delicately and intentionally placed throughout. We kept the flower colors in line with the color themes seen in our wedding decor: greens, whites, and hints of purple.”

“Vic’s overall look was perfectly her: clean and classic with a touch of fun,” Carolyn says. She wore a custom tuxedo with a navy velvet jacket and Christian Louboutin oxfords. Once dressed, she opened a handwritten letter from Carolyn. “We knew we wouldn’t be able to make it through reading vows out loud, so we wrote each other letters that we read while getting ready.”

‘What do you think about doing your portraits in the parking garage?’ That’s how we ended up with some of my favorite pictures of the day.

Vic was initially set on having their first look be when Carolyn walked down the aisle. “What changed her mind was a story from her own parent’s wedding day: Vic’s dad actually fainted when he saw Vic’s mom walking down the aisle!” Carolyn says. “Vic is self-admittedly a crier and did not want too many tears—or fainting—to take away from the moment of me walking toward her!”

They trusted their vendors’ judgement on details—however unconventional those seemed. “Cue our photographer, Dana from Henry + Mac, approaching me in a quiet moment to ask, ‘What do you think about doing your first look and portraits in the parking garage?’” Carolyn remembers. “And that is how we ended up with some of my favorite pictures of the entire day.”

“Stoneblossom created a stunning asymmetrical arch using baby’s breath and spirea for a light and airy altar,” Carolyn describes. “We already had such a stunning view of the Newport bridge and the bay behind us, but we wanted to bring in a unifying floral moment as well. It added such beautiful contrast to the black chairs we used to continue the modern feel.”

Each of the bride’s fathers walked her down the aisle. Carolyn shared a funny moment with her dad before their walk. “I had a cathedral-length waterfall veil. I was standing with my dad, about to walk out onto the lawn for the ceremony and I ripped it right out of my hair,” she recalls. “It was so windy out and I just didn’t want my focus to be on my veil blowing around up there I didn’t want my attention to be anywhere except Vic. I handed it to my planner, my dad laughed, and we started walking. We didn’t get a single picture in that veil!”

The couple had technically shared their personal vows earlier when they exchanged letters. But traditional vows proved too much for them at the altar. “We actually didn’t even think we would make it through repeating vows from the officiant, so we kept it short and sweet, just stating ‘I do!’” Carolyn says. They shared a romantic first kiss as newlyweds, then recessed down the aisle together to “Holy” by Justin Bieber.

The couple wrote each of their 150 guests a personalized note, and stuffed them into envelopes adhered to a wall to serve as their seating chart. “We worked on them a few at a time to make sure we were thoughtful and intentional,” Carolyn says. “We truly believe we wouldn’t be where we are in our relationship without the people surrounding us, and we wanted to highlight that. We were so genuinely grateful for everyone’s love and support, and you don’t often get to tell that to all of the people you love.”

It was so overwhelming to see all of those little details come together.

“The reception space was where modern and ethereal really collided,” shares their wedding planner, Jeankarla. “We designed the floor plan using a combination of rectangular and square tables to keep sharp lines. A few of the rectangular tables had mirrored tops that were strategically placed under our custom chandelier installations to bounce light. One of the very first things that Carolyn and Vic told me when we had our first site visit was that they did not care for the chandeliers in the ballroom. We worked with Exquisite Events and Stoneblossom to create a fully custom hanging structure that concealed the existing fixtures and created three oversized focal points dripping in ethereal greenery and blooms.”

It was all to great effect. “Jeankarla grabbed us at cocktail hour to do a quick room reveal with just the three of us,” Carolyn remembers. “I opened my eyes and immediately started crying. It was so overwhelming to see all of those little details come together: the tables, the menus and place cards, the linens, the candles, and the florals. All of the meetings, mock ups and design decisions that had felt so big were right in front of me.”

As guests found their seats and opened their personalized letters to read, the newlyweds hit the dance floor for the series of special dances. “Imagine” by Ben Platt served as Carolyn and Vic’s first dance, followed by Better When I’m Dancin’” by Meghan Trainor and “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder for each of the bride’s dances with her father.

It was time for an outfit change. Carolyn swapped her long gown for V. Chapman’s party-ready Nasturtium Dress to dance the night away.

“Our band asked a few times before the big day if we had any ‘must play’ or ‘do not plays’ songs,” Carolyn recalls. “We just told them to do what they do best and to get everyone dancing—and they delivered!” Even Carolyn and Vic’s dad’s were launched into the air above the dance floor. 

“Despite the season, we ended up choosing spice cake for our wedding cake,” Carolyn says. “It went against all of our expectations from the tasting, but it was a clear favorite.” Stoneblossom adorned the minimalistic design with touches of purple florals to mesh with their decor.

Looking back, their big day was exactly what Carolyn and Vic had hoped and envisioned—thanks to their stellar vendor team. “It was always difficult to put into words what exactly we were looking for in our vendors, so we really went off how each vendor made us feel,” Carolyn says. “A common theme across all of our vendors is that we always left the conversations feeling calm and heard. Surround yourself with vendors you feel comfortable with and want to be friends with, and you’ll be in good hands.”

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