A Natural Wedding on a Small New York Island
Kate and Nicholas
Merriam-Webster's lists two definitions for the word galvanize: "to coat iron or steel with zinc," and "to stimulate and excite." This particular love story relates to just one of them (hint: It's not the former). In early 2014, Katherine Shillo, a venture capitalist from New York City, walked into a Denver co-working space owned by her company, Galvanize, where Nick Beardsley was renting a desk. "I saw a tall, gorgeous woman enter the room, and I promptly got up to introduce myself," says Nick, who builds global e-commerce partnerships for PayPal. It's safe to say Nick was excited by the encounter.
Kate noticed Nick as well. "It was hard not to," she says. "He was handsome...and he walked by my desk several times." But she had a boyfriend back home. The two saw each other when she was in town, but it wasn't until one night in February 2015—nearly a year later—that Nick and a now-single Kate went on their first date. "From then on, we were inseparable," she says. "We talked daily and saw each other every two weeks somewhere in the country." On Labor Day weekend, at Kate's Upper East Side apartment, Nick asked his long-distance love to marry him.
After a resounding "Yes!" and a move to Denver, Kate dove into wedding planning. It was soon settled that the two would wed on Fishers Island, a tiny spot off the Connecticut coast where she'd spent much of her childhood. The rest of the details would prove more difficult. "We have a saying on Fishers: 'If you didn't bring it with you, you won't find it here,'" says Kate. As such, the couple and their planner put their hearts and souls into pulling off a seamless event, from shuttling supplies via ferry to lining up accommodations. "There are no hotels, but many of our friends opened their houses and extra bedrooms to our guests," says Kate. "The community really came together to make our day memorable."
On Friday, July 29, 2016, Kate and Nick exchanged self-penned vows before 150 guests on the lawn of a friend's home, then celebrated into the wee hours. "I was worried that the party wouldn't get off the ground due to kids, 'curfews' [the last ferry leaves the island at 11 p.m.], and the remote locale," says Nick. "I was completely wrong. The dance floor was epic." Kate agrees. "It was the best day of my life," she says. "I can still see it when I close my eyes."
The couple's elegant white invitations, created by Bella Figura, featured charcoal-gray letterpress with their names calligraphed on the front, and a map of the island on the back. To streamline the process, "we sent out invitations five months before the wedding and skipped a save-the-date," says Kate.
The couple asked their guests to RSVP on their website, rather than mailing reply cards. "They wrote in the most creative and fun responses—even poems and videos," says Kate. "To help build our playlist, we also asked everyone to share a song they wanted to dance to. 'In the Mood,' by Glenn Miller, was by far the most requested." As for the dress code noted as "Beach Formal," Kate translated this as "summer jackets and chic sundresses, and dress to dance and be photographed!"
Guests were welcomed with sturdy Apolis market bags filled with local treats, handmade gifts, and a schedule of events.
The Bridal Party
The bride and groom posed with their attendants pre-ceremony. They limited the party to the essentials: Kate's best friend and sister were matron and maid of honor, respectively; they wore dresses by Jenny Yoo from Vow to Be Chic. The two best men, Nick's brothers, wore jackets by Nordstrom and Bonobos pants. As for the bride and groom? She chose a David Fielden Sposa gown from Kleinfeld Bridal, and he went green—with a linen blazer from Suitsupply in a muted verdant shade.
One Beautiful Bouquet
The bride carried a dramatic hand-tied bouquet of dahlias, garden roses, ranunculus, sweet peas, lisianthus, hypericum berries, jasmine vine, and trailing greenery made by Hana Floral Design.
The bride's mother hired an artist, Katharine Gates, to create a still-life painting of Kate's bouquet. "She painted on the terrace during cocktail hour, so everyone could see her work," Kate says. Later, the artist created four additional watercolors from photos of the wedding: Kate and her dad walking down the aisle, the newlyweds, the head table, and the bride leaving the wedding.
The bride's "something borrowed" included her mom's pearl necklace, worn as a bracelet, and art-deco diamond-and-pearl earrings that were a loan from jeweler Bill Selig, a friend and wedding guest.
Ceremony programs were printed inside Fishers Island quilling cards, sold at the bride's mother's gourmet food shop on the island.
Kate and her parents rolled up to the wedding in a vintage Mercedes convertible. "My sister came up with the idea because there are so many unique cars on Fishers, and our friends generously loaned them to us for the wedding," says Kate.
Three vintage cars in total were used at the ceremony: a maroon Mercedes convertible for the bride and her parents, a black Defender for the groom and flower girl, and a green 1980 CJ5 for the bridesmaids.
A Sweet Pair
With This Ring
One of the flower girls—doubling as ring bearer—carried the couples' bands down the aisle in a gold-leafed clamshell that held a pillow embroidered with a "B" for Beardsley.
Kate and Nick exchanged vows under an oak tree. The aisle was modestly lined with ferns, white larkspur, and astilbes. "The grounds and views were so stunning, and we didn't want to detract from them," says Kate.
"If you're having a destination wedding and a friend or family member plans to officiate, be sure to check with the local authorities about their requirements on marriage licenses," says Kate. "We thought we had everything in order, but we found out a few weeks prior that our officiant would have to get approval from the town board. Their next meeting was just two days before our wedding, so we managed it just in time."
Kate's sister, Bronya Shillo, the founder of Fishers Island Lemonade—a signature concoction of lemonade with vodka and whiskey—surprised the couple with customized cans in honor of their wedding. "We didn't freeze any cake to celebrate a year of marriage, but we did stash a can of FIL in our fridge," says the bride.
Kate and Bronya slung back oysters at cocktail hour.
Clam and oyster shells hand-painted with gold leaf made escort cards that were pretty enough to keep—they doubled as favors. In total, 200 shells were painted by the bride's mom for wedding-day décor.
Signed with Love
Kate's grandmother, Suedell Schmitt, signed the guest book, which was flanked by family wedding portraits. Grandma Schmitt also took to the dance floor—and stayed there until 2 a.m.!
Guests relaxed over rounds of cornhole, complete with boards in wedding colors made by the bride and her sister.
The Head Table
Inside the reception tent, garden-inspired centerpieces lined rustic farmhouse tables; the head table also featured a delicate lace runner—a surprise gift from Kate's childhood nannies, who traveled to the wedding from Paris.
Friends pitched in to help make crackers that opened to reveal small treats like mints, paper crowns, cellophane "fortune-teller fish," and handwritten thank-you notes from the couple.
"We let our loved ones contribute to the weekend, rather than being so involved with every detail, so we could be surprised and enjoy our time with everyone," says Kate, of not trying to do it all.
Dancing with Dad
Kate and her father danced to Dean Martin's version of "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You."
A Cake to Cut
Kate praised Sift Bake Shop, in Mystic, Connecticut, the bakers of the elegant flourless chocolate wedding cake: "They somehow transported our cake in the rain, on a boat, and the buttercream held up!" It was served on the bride's grandmother's antique pressed-glass cake plate, and cut with her parents' pearl-handled knife.
Taking the Cake
The flourless chocolate wedding cake, also made by Sift Bake Shop, featured ganache, crispy pistachio praline, and chocolate and pistachio bavarians with white buttercream frosting. One word: YUM.
Event planning, Nick Vitale
Catering, A Thyme to Cook
Flowers, Hana Floral Design
Photography (for the couple), Leah Curran of Unveiling Photography
Cake and desserts, Sift Bake Shop
Music, Rockin Rollin
Rentals, tent, and lighting, Connecticut Rental Center
Engagement ring and wedding bands, William Crow Jewelers
Bridesmaids' freshwater-pearl necklaces, Bubu Ruby
Flower-girl dresses, Zara
Flower-girl shoes, David's Bridal
Groom's jacket, Suitsupply
Groomsmen's jackets, John W. Nordstrom
Transportation, Popeye Charters
Oysters, Fishers Island Oyster Farm
Guest Book, Artifact Uprising
After Party, the Pequot Inn
Welcome bag, Apolis
Paper flowers (for flower girls), Camilla and Pip
Father-of-the-groom's custom jacket, Connecticut Custom Clothing Company
Custom flags, Flagman of America
Lemonade, Fishers Island Lemonade
Restrooms, White Glove Restrooms
Ring pillow, The Needlepoint Nook of Mystic, 860-536-7380
Bridal-party robes, Plum Pretty Sugar
Live painting, Katharine's Vault