A Seaside Garden Party with Celestial Accents in Cape Cod, Massachusetts
When Alex Zappala and Riyad Mammadyarov matched on a dating app in 2015, they already had something in common: "We actually both went to NYU at the same time!" says Alex.
Three years later, after many discussions about their future, the couple decided it was time to tie the knot. "We just sort of looked at each other and said, 'Let's do it!'" says Alex. Riyad made a trip to Boston to discuss the plans with Alex's sister, who gave him the engagement ring that Alex's late father had given to her late mother. "He came back and did the traditional get down on one knee, with the ring and my favorite flowers," says Alex. "We got legally married at City Hall in New York City with a few family members, followed by a party with friends at a bar not long after. Then we took the next year to plan our bigger celebration."
They chose the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, for a 150-guest ceremony and party on August 17, 2019. Working with Firefly Events to create an atmosphere described as a "seaside garden party with industrial and celestial accents," the couple decided on a color palette of blue, sage, and emerald with accents of copper, blush, and cream. Alex and Riyad customized the music with requests for traditional songs from Azerbaijan in a nod to the groom's family background, and incorporated her passion for crystals throughout the day. But for the groom, the best part was watching their guests become one big happy family. "Seeing friends and family from my side and Alex's side intermingle seamlessly as if they had known each other for years when they actually had just met that night was amazing," says Riyad. "Many of them were from different parts of the world, but that didn't stop them from finding a common tongue and sentiments to latch onto."
A suite of papers from Wells Makery previewed the wedding's "celestial-meets-nautical" vibe with blue watercolor accents, deep teal envelopes, and miniature copper stars. Hand-torn paper and vellum overlays added texture and interest, while modern eclipse stamps—which changed to show a different phase of the eclipse depending on the temperature—coordinated with vintage postage.
In their welcome boxes from A Signature Welcome, Alex and Riyad included a few of their favorite things: sweets from Massachusetts icon Cabot's Candy, handmade organic soap, a bundle of palo santo wood and crystals, and mini carpets handmade and personalized with their names and wedding date from Azerbaijan.
Ready for Rehearsal
A custom headpiece matched the oversized pearl accents on Alex's top. "The creator of Afffair, Rufat Ismayil, is a friend of Riyad's mother," she says. "Rufat took measurements from me while in New York City for Fashion Week, sketched a design based on my idea for the outfit, and then truly brought it to life!"
Guests' names were hand-written onto beach rocks, which served as place cards.
Room with a View
In the Inn's Harbor View room, two long tables dressed with vintage-striped blue linens offered seating for the couple's intimate dinner. Views of Cape Cod impressed family and friends who had flown in from Azerbaijan.
Nod to Cape Cod
Alex and Riyad wanted to welcome their guests with an upscale evening on Cape Cod, opting for a lavish menu that included Caesar salad with figs, asiago tortellini, tomatoes with mozzarella and basil, seafood salad, manicotti, and baked ziti Bolognese. "We chose Chatham Bars Inn for the rehearsal dinner because the venue is known for having amazing food, which we felt was a really great way to welcome people to the Cape," says Alex.
At each place settings, brushed silver flatware, Russel Wright plates, and organic cotton napkins added texture.
Low wooden vessels shaped like boats—a fun homage to the locale—held loosely-arranged centerpieces of white, peach, and green.
On the Waterfront
Alex and Riyad chose the Wequassett Resort & Golf Club's Grand Lawn for their ceremony. A wooden aisle, floral circle arch, and overflowing arrangements creating a space that enhanced the water view, without overwhelming it.
Her Gorgeous Gown
The handpainted floral embroidery on Alex's Oscar de la Renta A-line tulle and silk organza wedding dress made her boutique trip faster than she anticipated. "It was the first one I tried on," she says. "I knew right away it was the one because it felt so good to be in. I had anticipated choosing something much more subdued and simple, but once this gown was on, I realized, when else could I wear this much tulle and glittery flowers?!"
Though she appreciated shopping with her best friend, sister, and future mother-in-law, she didn't truly commit to the gown until she asked another important lady in her life for her opinion: "I also consulted my five-year-old niece by sending her photos of a few different ones, without telling her my preference, and she concurred," says Alex. "I trust her."
Gianvito Rossi mules, with a hint of sparkle, completed the bride's ensemble.
Riyad complemented Alex in white, with a Tom Ford outfit that included a white smoking jacket and shirt with a black tie and pants. He and Alex chose not to see each other before the wedding, saving their first look for her ceremony entrance.
A Personalized Program
The watercolor accents and vellum element from the invitation reappeared on the ceremony programs, to which Alex and Riyad added a few thoughtful, celestial-inspired touches. "We did personalize the program, which included a drawing of the moon as it would appear on August 17, 2019, a quote from It's a Wonderful Life—"You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down"—and a section that remembered my parents, Karen and Billy, and Riyad's grandfather, Bunyat, and close friend, Farid," says Alex.
Down the Aisle
Alex asked her brother-in-law, Tom, to escort her down the aisle. "He raised me, along with my sister Brittany, from the time that I was in high school," says Alex. "It was really special to have this experience with him and sort of a no-brainer that I would ask him to do the honors, since my dad couldn't."
So in Love
Alex and Riyad wrote their own vows, and, with help from their officiant, personalized the text to create a unique ceremony. "Our officiant had us complete a lengthy questionnaire to guide the ceremony, so we were able to infuse our sense of humor, our values, wishes for the future, and some fun stories into the day," she says. They requested two readings—Adam Sandler's "I Want to Grow Old With You" from The Wedding Singer and e.e. cummings' "I Carry Your Heart"—for, says Alex, "a mix of humor and depth."
After the ceremony, the newlyweds posed for portraits with their bridal party before continuing on to the cocktail hour. The groomsmen chose their own navy blue suits, and each of Alex's bridesmaids chose her own BHLDN gown from the bride's suggestions, with a variety of styles in the same color and fabric. "All of the dresses were lightweight and not restrictive, which was especially important given August can get very warm in the Cape," says Alex. "The soft, muted green color was inspired by the greenery that we had infused into the ceremony and reception space."
So Happy Together
As Alex and Riyad posed for photos around the property, they were both struck by the number of people who offered their congratulations. "When it was time for the portraits that we took after our ceremony, it was beautiful to see the well wishes and warm smiles from total strangers," says Riyad. "These were locals, fellow resort guests, children, elderly couples. These were people we had never seen before but who felt the need to tell us we looked beautiful and wish us a lifetime of happiness. That really made the entire evening that much more special."
For a waterfront cocktail hour on the property's wide veranda, the couple brought in wooden tables, plush chairs, and mid-century-inspired sofas and bookcases. The menu included passed appetizers—like bacon-wrapped scallops and clam chowder shooters—alongside a cheese table, a sushi bar, and a raw bar.
Behind an eye-catching wooden bar, bartenders served up the couple's two favorite drinks: Oban 14 on the rocks and a whisky sour. Open shelving displayed a variety of flower arrangements and plenty of gleaming glassware, while a different shelf included a photo of Alex's parents.
Their Elegant Escort Cards
Alex and Riyad secured their escort cards—handwritten on hand-torn paper—underneath individual selenite rectangles in a nod to the bride's love of crystals.
The resort's Garden Terrace offered a dramatic space for a seated dinner. Glass doors along one side stayed open all night, allowing guests to back and forth between the indoor and outdoor spaces, while a mix of round and rectangular tables with natural bentwood chairs added to the coastal atmosphere.
Floral garlands from Poppies & Posies served as centerpieces on the gray-washed rectangular tables, while votive and taper candles in glass holders surrounded the central arrangements.
Asymmetrical arrangements of pink-and-white flowers in white ribbed vessels pulled together all of the tones in the couple's color scheme. Small marble squares held the table numbers, calligraphed in copper foil on color washed vellum.
Copper flatware and tumblers accented the rich blue linens, while white plates and pale pink knotted napkins showed off the custom menus—where blue watercolor and a personalized leather band added a natural element.
The light-blue-and-white-frosted cake from Konditor Meister offered guests a choice of three flavors: strawberry Grand Marnier, Oreo, and carrot cake.
In Your Arms
The Half Moons from Dart Collective played a mix of traditional Azerbaijani music and classic rock, while Alex and Riyad shared their first dance to "That's How Strong My Love Is" by Otis Redding. "Riyad and I have always connected on our love of music and we both deeply admire the artistry of Otis Redding," says Alex. "You can really feel the love he talks about in the song."
Pints of ice cream from Four Seas Ice Cream—a Cape Cod staple—ensured that the evening ended on the sweetest possible note.
Photography, Heather Waraksa
Venue and Catering, Wequassett Resort & Golf Club
Rehearsal Dinner Venue and Catering, Chatham Bars Inn
Event Planning, Firefly Events
Flowers, Poppies & Posies
Videography, Lovebrain Films
Officiant, Elly Jackson
Stationery, The Wells Makery
Cake, Konditor Meister
Music, Dart Collective
Bride's Gown, Oscar De La Renta
Bride's Accessories, Oscar de la Renta veil; Gianvito Rossi shoes; Nadri earrings
Hair, Styles on B
Makeup, Michelle Coursey
Bridesmaids' Dresses, BHLDN
Groom's Attire, Tom Ford
Lighting, Ormonde Productions
Transportation, Cape Destinations
Ice Cream, Four Seas
Photo booth, Smilebooth
Welcome boxes, A Signature Welcome