An Elegant Spring Wedding at Figure Eight Yacht Club in Wilmington, North Carolina

rn                    Genevieve Villari (28 and VP of communications) and Ward McGroarty (30 and a graduate student) planned a sophisticated seaside a

rn Genevieve Villari (28 and VP of communications) and Ward McGroarty (30 and a graduate student) planned a sophisticated seaside affair at the Figure Eight Island Yacht Club in Wilmington, North Carolina, with a color palette of neutrals and elegant arrangements of soft, textured florals. “I am one who believes that simplicity is beautiful, and beauty is in the subtle details,” says Genevieve. “With our wedding being at the beach in springtime, I wanted it to feel as light and elegant as possible. I am a big fan of neutrals and wanted my wedding to convey my personal style.” 

The pair tied the knot at the Basilica Shrine of St. Mary in downtown Wilmington, followed by a tented reception at the Figure Eight Yacht Club. To achieve the timeless feel they were after, the couple filled the open-air space with textured linens, tall and short arrangements of soft, ivory blooms, glam gilded cutlery and warm candlelight. Within this classic, formal scene, Genevieve and Ward found ways to show a little of their fun-loving personalities. Instead of a traditional sit-down dinner, the couple opted for serving stations and surprised guests with a late-night hot dog cart from Trolley Stop Hot Dogs. Pork tenderloin from Genevieve’s family farm and wines from her cousin’s vineyards were served during dinner. Afterward, the Rhythm Nation Band got the newlyweds and their guests out on the dance floor. 

A tip for the taking from Genevieve: “Listen to your gut when planning. Don’t let people talk you out of what you know you want for your wedding—it’s your day! People were telling me I was too opinionated and that I should just sit back and trust others to do this or that, or help me make decisions. While that is true sometimes, the things I did do that for are the only things that I would have changed about my wedding day.” —Libby MacCarthy

Genevieve’s bouquet was ever evolving throughout the planning process. Fiore Fine Flowers worked with the bride-to-be to create a stunning, romantic arrangement filled with silver dollar eucalyptus, peonies, roses, anemones, baby’s breath and stock flowers in shades of ivory, white and blush.
The day started with a traditional Catholic ceremony at Basilica Shrine of St. Mary in downtown Wilmington. The aisles were dotted with lush bunches of greenery, and large urns of full white blooms sat at the altar. A string trio replaced a traditional organ, and a bagpiper played for the newlyweds and their guests as they exited the church.
Choosing dresses for her bridesmaids proved to be more difficult than Genevieve had imagined. “I wanted everyone to feel comfortable in the dress’s style and color,” says Genevieve. “It’s a lot of pressure to pick someone else’s outfit!” Ward gave his groomsmen Carolina blue bow ties to wear with their ivory suits, thereby narrowing down the colors from which Genevieve could choose. But Jenny Yoo swept in and saved the day with her Aiden gown and soft Wisteria hue. “It was a bit of a strange color, but it ended up looking really good with the baby’s breath bouquets and the guys’ outfits,” she says.
Yellow House took care of Genevieve and Ward’s invitation suite, and Rachel Knowlton took the reins on the couple’s welcome bags, koozies, cocktail napkins and programs. “I basically gave her a rough sketch of what I was looking for, and she made it look beautiful,” says Genevieve. The schedule of events was particularly noteworthy for its playful illustrations that gave guests a rundown on the weekend’s events.
After saying their “I do’s” in a traditional Catholic ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests headed to the Figure Eight Yacht Club for a tented reception overlooking the water. The elegant Sperry tent set a classic yet laid-back tone, which the couple built upon with a palette of soft, neutral hues. Tables were topped with textured ivory linens; lace and gold cutlery added a regal glint to the tablescapes.
Genevieve and Ward wanted to skip the traditional sit-down dinner and have a station-style reception instead. The couple’s parents, who veered more toward tradition, weren’t convinced. “We compromised by doing a couple of things that worked out nicely,” says Genevieve. “We had our stations, but we also had flatware set on the tables with water glasses so that every guest had a place to sit, which isn’t typical for a stationed reception. Seating was not assigned, but every guest could have a seat and eat at the same time if they wanted.”
To add texture and drama to the reception decor, Fiore Fine Flowers created tall and low centerpieces for the tables. The tall arrangements were displayed atop sleek glass pedestals and featured roses, peonies, hydrangeas and eucalyptus, while the low centerpieces had a comparable flower-to-greenery ratio, containing both eucalyptus and wispy greenery.
During cocktail hour and throughout the reception, guests could kick back at the modern lounges dotting the Sperry tent. “They were one of my favorite parts,” says Genevieve. The sleek white furnishings and ghost chairs complemented the day’s color palette while adding contemporary edge to the decor.
Neither Genevieve nor Ward are big dessert fans and planned on sticking with a traditional wedding cake. But her parents, both New England natives, believed that no wedding was complete without a cannoli or two. “I couldn’t understand it because I’m not big on desserts, and cake was more than enough for me. And I’d never even been to a wedding where they served cannolis!” says Genevieve. “But for my parents, who grew up in the Northeast, it was very important that we had cannolis and coffee at the wedding.”
Figure Eight worked with the couple to create a menu with personal flair. Genevieve’s father, the head of Villari Food Group, contributed candied bacon and pecan-crusted pork tenderloin from the family farm to the reception. A selection of wine from Genevieve's cousin’s vineyard, Villari Vineyards, was also served. For a surprise late-night snack, Genevieve and Ward brought in a Trolley Stop hot dog cart. “Trolley Stop hot dogs are famous in North Carolina, and they are amazing,” Genevieve says.