A Movie-Famous Mansion Was Transformed Into a Tropical Paradise for This New England Wedding
When it came time to choose a destination for their June wedding, Philadelphia couple Dalila Shannon and Elliot Luscombe didn't have to search long—or terribly far. "I'm from Boston originally and always wanted a New England wedding," says Dalila. "Newport is one of the most beautiful towns in the Northeast, and I knew that we would be bringing our friends somewhere special by choosing it as our destination."
Their celebration's vibe took shape the moment they saw their venue. As they planned, the pair kept coming back to how much they loved having house parties with their friends, complete with plenty of dancing. Enter the historic Rosecliff Mansion—featured in the film The Great Gatsby (1974)—which, believe it or not, was once a home. It beautifully fit the bill. "The second that I stepped into that ballroom I knew we would be throwing the most epic party yet if we could pull off a wedding at Rosecliff," says Dalila, who also found herself breathless over the unbelievable grounds overlooking the ocean. An outdoor ceremony, followed by an indoor reception, was decided upon for the big day.
As for the décor? Dalila was inspired by the notion of having all the colors—not just one streamlined palette. To that end, she decided that masses of flowers in every available shade would do nicely for the nontraditional affair. "I was lucky enough to work with the most divine artist and florist; from the moment I told her of my vision for a tropical Newport, she completely got me," says the bride. "She truly transformed Rosecliff into a surreal, tropical palace with her incredible talent!"
The day went off without a hitch (with clear blue skies overhead) and featured plenty of the music and dancing which were always so important to the couple. "I will never forget the feeling of dancing to Drake in the Rosecliff ballroom with our best friends surrounding us!" recalls the bride. "Needless to say, our wedding was hands down the best house party that we will ever throw!"
A Floral Wedding Invitation Suite
Awash in color, the couple's wedding invitation suite featured a tropical floral motif in vibrant shades of green and pink.
A Bespoke Wedding Dress
Hesitant to engage in the typical bridal salon experience, Dalila opted to have her wedding dress made to order. "I knew I wanted something both sculptural and simple," she says. "I kept finding images of gowns with huge stand-alone bows and I knew I wanted to pursue this idea," she says, adding that she loved the concept of something classic that also made a statement, "especially because I knew that I would bring it to life with the contrast of funky modern accessories."
Her tailor, Denise Hajjar, sketched the first iteration of the dress and Dalila went with it. "It took an entire year to finish, and over five fittings," she says. "Denise literally brought a dream of mine to life, and I will never forget that experience." An extra-special touch? A ring that belonged to the bride's late father was sewn into the dress.
Unique Bridal Shoes
Dalila chose a pair of pink fur-covered shoes by Miu Miu to walk down the aisle; she bought them on the spot in 2018, "before I even had a venue booked!" she says. "Really extra, but so worth it."
A Brightly Hued Bridal Party
In keeping with the lush theme of the wedding, Dalila invited each of her bridesmaids to select the floral-patterned dress of her choice. "I was so excited to tell my bridal party to pick any floral dress, as my friends are all completely unique and beautiful in their own way," she says. The couple also encouraged all their guests to wear florals to the wedding so that they, too, could contribute to the event's bright style.
A Tropical Bridal Bouquet
Dalila's bouquet was an explosion of coral-and-white blooms showcased against a backdrop of green leaves and accented with feathers.
An Emotional First Look
Seeing her groom for the first time on their big day brought Dalila to tears.
A Striking Floral Design
Color was king at the couple's ceremony; vivid tropical flowers were arranged on stands, the altar, and the ground surrounding the site. "I knew that I had to find a way to pull off a modern tropical vibe with our wedding flowers," says the bride, who worked with Flowers by Semia to bring her vision to life.
Arresting Aisle Arrangements
Eye-catching flowers in vibrant shades of purple and orange adorned the ceremony chairs.
Bright Ceremony Programs
Booklets emblazoned with a tropical motif similar to the one seen on the couple's wedding invitations helped guests follow along during the ceremony.
Sweet Ceremony Memories
A Boston-based Flamenco guitarist performed covers of the couple's favorite songs as guests arrived to the service. "While the bridal party walked down the aisle, he performed his rendition of 'Cranes in the Sky' by Solange, and then I walked down the aisle to '03 Bonnie and Clyde' by Beyoncé and Jay Z," says Dalila. "These are moments I will never forget!"
As for the rest of the ceremony highlights? The duo's flower girl was hesitant to toss the petals on the ground. "She was so excited to be walking down the aisle that she completely forgot to throw the flower petals out in front of her!" says the bride. "I laugh every time I think about this moment. Luckily, she was excited enough by the end of the ceremony that she threw the flowers at guests during the recessional."
The wedding party recessed back up the aisle to "Move on Up" by Curtis Mayfield.
A Moment to Take it All In
Following their vow exchange, Dalila and Elliot spent time together taking photos on the estate—and reflecting on their new status as husband and wife.
A Floral-Themed Seating Chart
Guests received their table assignments from a chart that featured lovely watercolor illustrations of lush tropical flowers.
Dazzling Reception Tables
Reception tables were modern in style with pops of color. "The charger plate was a beautiful cut-out silver design; we paired that with deep red-and-gold table napkins for a bit of a Moroccan nod," says the bride. "Semia also spread fresh fruits such as papayas along the tables for a really awesome tropical touch."
Tall Floral Centerpieces
Alternating tables featured high centerpieces of large fern leaves and calla lilies.
Fabulous Fuchsia Flowers
Various flowers in shades of bright pink added depth to the tables.
Unique Table Numbers
In lieu of numbers, each table was named after a different tropical bloom. "We designed table signs that featured the latin name of each flower like old botanical archive cards," says Dalila.
A Divine Night of Dancing
The couple kicked off the festivities with their first dance. "Our first dance was to 'Best Part' by H.E.R and Daniel Cesar," says Dalila. "It is such a beautiful duet and I feel like the words are absolutely ones that Elliot and I have said to one another."
Because they wanted they wanted to segue right into party mode, the pair requested that their DJ go straight into "My Boo" by Ghostown DJs, followed by "Party" by Beyoncé. "It worked!" says the bride. "I don't think I've ever been so happy as dancing to so many hits with our amazing community of friends and family getting down along side us!"
A Colorful Wedding Cake
The couple's cake was created by Confectionary Designs and decorated with colorful Mexican florals. "We topped it with a custom papel picado topper that said 'Dalila y Elliot,'" says the bride. "It was so beautiful!"
Photography, Carly Yarbrow
Wedding planner, Linda Plazonja
Videographer, Shutter & Sound
Flowers, Flowers by Semia
Invitations, Ana Gonzalez
Officiant, A-lan Holt
Bridal gown, Denise Hajjar
Jewelry, Sandy Liang
Shoes, Miu Miu
Bride's hair, Illeisha Lussiano
Bride's makeup, Raisa Thomas
Groom's attire, The Black Tux
Wedding bands, Bario Neal
Music, Jamel Mosely
Catering, Blackstone Catering
Cake, Confectionery Designs
Rentals, PEAK Event Services
Lighting, Ormonde Lighting