Melissa & Beau: Black-Tie Festivities on Martha's Vineyard

by Allison Micarelli

A favorite poem scripted on invitations set the stage for Melissa and Beau's wedding festivities that lasted four full days and long nights, culminating in a fanciful feast with seductive lighting and smooth tunes. Family and friends visited nearby beaches, celebrated at the rehearsal dinner with a clambake, and, at the black-tie wedding, danced 'til dawn after witnessing the California couple's union on the shores of Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard.

THE BRIDE Melissa Hedley, 28
THE GROOM Thomas "Beau" Carbeau, 28, director at CIBC World Markets
THE DATE June 23
THE SCENE Ceremony at St. Elizabeth's Church; reception at the bride's parent's summer home

THE BRIDE WORE Melissa chose a Vera Wang A-line candlelight-color satin organza gown with silver beaded embroidery.

THE BRIDESMAIDS WORE Six maids were dressed in tangerine taffeta ball gown skirts and white beaded tops, designed by Steven Stolman. They accented their outfits with their own summer-colored pashmina shawls.

THE GROOM WORE The guys wore Matteo Maas double-breasted peak-lapel tuxedos, Thomas Pink custom-made shirts, and custom-made cummerbunds by Palm Beach designer Stubbs and Wootton.

THE GREETING Out-of-town guests arrived on Martha's Vineyard and were greeted with silver tin "Black Dog" sand buckets filled with local goodies such as chocolates, fruits, and maps of the island.

THE CEREMONY The 5:30 p.m. Catholic ceremony at St. Elizabeth's Church was officiated by the Carbeau's family priest, Father Francis E. O'Brien. "The aisle was lined with white orchids hanging from every other pew," remembers Melissa. "Other than that, the church radiated in pure white walls, slate blue carpeting, mahogany pews, and beautiful two-story stained glass windows." Stationed in the balcony at the back of the church, The Manhattan Swing Orchestra Trio, with musicians on keyboard, flute, and guitar, welcomed all 240 guests with selections from Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart, while diverting attention from Melissa's brothers who kept getting the white aisle runner stuck in their attempts to roll it out for their sister's grand entrance to Clarke's "Trumpet Voluntary."

THE BOUQUETS The bride's bouquet of vendella roses was wrapped in candlelight-color ribbon with stems exposed; the bridesmaids carried bouquets of green lisianthus, white freesia, and orange spray roses wrapped in white ribbon and also with stems exposed.

THE COCKTAIL RECEPTION After the ceremony, the reception immediately followed at the Hedley's summer home Top Step, which sits on the harbor in Edgartown. The Pearl Necklace, a 1957 classic motor yacht from Newport, transported the wedding party from the church to the Hedley's family dock, while guests were transported in trolleys. Friends arrived at the front door of Top Step, walked through the house and onto the back lawn where cocktails were held under a tent near the lighthouse, and watched the dramatic arrival of The Pearl Necklace. "The boat ride and all our guests waving from the bluff as we approached was definitely our favorite thing," says Melissa. "It gave us time to reflect on the ceremony and to watch with open eyes all the splendor that was still to come. You could literally feel the energy of the evening beginning to mount."

THE DECOR Inside the dimly lit dinner tent, little white crystal lights bordered the walls and iron onion lamps hung from the peaks and center poles. In the middle of each dinner table, there were exquisite, handcrafted birdhouses; at the head table, the birdhouse included white flowers and a white picket fence, as well as a bronze plaque bearing the couples' names and wedding date.

MENU HIGHLIGHTS All the while sipping cocktails, guests indulged in a fresh Vineyard raw bar featuring shucked littlenecks and oysters, and Beluga caviar served with creme fraiche and crepes. The main course -- beef tenderloin and a filet of sole stuffed with spinach, leeks, and mushrooms -- was served on classic china resting on custom-made tablecloths. A five-tiered vanilla cake with milk chocolate and raspberry marmalade fillings, and rolled fondant icing with chocolate piping, was served for dessert.

THE CELEBRATION Throughout dinner and long after the meal was done, a 12-piece band brought down the house playing everything from Natalie Cole to Calypso. "The last song came a little sooner than we anticipated, because the police shut us down due to noise complaints," says Melissa. "My father made an announcement that the bar would stay open but that the band needed to stop playing. The entire crowd, all ages from 20 to 92, chanted 'one more song!'" With a nod from Mr. Hedley, the band started in with "Proud Mary." "The tent began shaking from everyone dancing and jumping around with an energy that I thought was either going to bring down the tent or have us wheeled off to jail!" exclaims Melissa.

THE GETAWAY As the crowd quieted down, the newlyweds changed into sleek getaway outfits, and, holding hands, ran down the front stairs, out the front door into a sea of lights and rose petals, and hopped a ride in a yellow 1940 Buick. Minutes later, they arrived at the Hob Knob Inn. "To our surprise, we were not tired and so decided to go out to the porch with some wine and greet our wedding guests as they passed by en route to their hotel rooms," says Melissa. "It was the last thing we expected to be doing on our wedding night, but both of us agree that we wouldn't have gone back and changed a thing."

-- Allison Micarelli
Photography © Dorie Hagler & Guy Ambrosino

For the ingredients that make up this wedding, see right-hand column of this page.

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