An Enchanting Seaside Wedding at Blithewold in Bristol, Rhode Island

After looking at nearly 40 wedding venues from Cape Cod to Rhode Island, Jenna Paone (30 and a songwriter and musician) and Frank Nagle (33 and a prof

After looking at nearly 40 wedding venues from Cape Cod to Rhode Island, Jenna Paone (30 and a songwriter and musician) and Frank Nagle (33 and a professor of strategy) found their dream venue: Blithewold, a manor in Bristol, Rhode Island, with picture-perfect views of Narragansett Bay. “The vision we had for our wedding was 'The Great Gatsby' meets 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' by the sea,” Jenna says of their bay-front summer nuptials. “We pictured an elegant, alfresco evening with a combination of coastal and garden elements—lush flowers, twinkling stars, crawling vines, sparkling chandeliers and tons of candlelight, all surrounded by ocean breezes.” Their black-tie affair came to life with a soothing coastal palette of pale blues, greens, violets and blush, which was accented with glamorous decor, like dripping crystal chandeliers. To create a seaside garden paradise, they used design elements such as lanterns, coral, driftwood and cascading floral arrangements. The ceremony took place outside at Blithewood, with cocktail hour on the lawn and dinner and dancing under the tent. “The ceremony was our favorite part of the day,” Jenna says. “We wrote the entire thing ourselves, including our vows, very deliberately, putting a great deal of thought into the words we wanted to say to each other.” Their friend Dan, who officiated the ceremony, even made a heartfelt speech about the couple. “We wanted our wedding to be a true reflection of who we are as individuals and a couple, and that meant focusing on what was most important to us,” Jenna says. “We love a good party and all that it entails—delicious food, great music and tons of time on the dance floor with family and friends.” A few weeks before the wedding, Jenna, a talented musician, wrote a song that she knew was perfect for Frank. “I hatched a sneaky plan with my longtime bandmate, Samm Bahman, to record the song and surprise Frank with it for our first dance, rather than the song we originally picked,” Jenna says. “He was completely shocked—in the best way—and during that dance, it felt like we were the only two people on the planet.” —Marissa Hermanson

“Frank pulled out all the stops for the ring,” Jenna says of the engagement ring, which was custom designed by her cousin Peter Sousa. Her cousin also made their elegant wedding bands.
Jenna and Frank found By Invitation Only on Etsy, and had them create their vintage-inspired invitations, which had a soothing palette of creams and blues, setting the tone for their seaside nuptials.
“Newport, with its gilded-age history and personal significance to us, became the logical choice for our wedding,” Jenna says, “but we visited every venue in town before happening upon Blithewold, a stately mansion in nearby Bristol with sweeping views of Narragansett Bay, surrounded by manicured gardens and an arboretum.”
“My Reem Acra Ilona gown was the dress of my dreams,” Jenna says. “When I began my search, I had a laundry list of ideas that earned me quite a few raised eyebrows in the Boston bridal boutiques: something fashion-forward and nontraditional, with a lot of intricate beading (I always say my favorite color is glitter), a balletic quality, and so on.” Jenna tried on many gowns before finding the IIona gown while shopping with her mom and future sister-in-law.
Jenna’s florist incorporated her favorite florals into her bridal bouquet: hydrangeas, peonies, dahlias, anemones, and roses, along with greenery accents. Jenna pinned two cameos to her bouquet, one for each of her departed grandmothers.
Jenna’s two maids of honor and eight bridesmaids donned soft pastel gowns in blue, green and blush hues in flowing, feminine fabrics.
Groomsmen were outfitted in classic black tuxedos with silk herringbone ties, pocket squares, anchor socks, and skull-and-crossbone “pirate” suspenders.
“Although we were hosting a black-tie wedding, we wanted to keep the atmosphere light. Fun was our number-one priority,” Jenna says. “We set the mood with our short and sweet ceremony, officiated by our friend Dan, who introduced us.” The ceremony was personal and sentimental, since the couple wrote the ceremony and vows together.
Jenna’s mom spent months cleaning, bleaching, and shellacking oyster shells to create their escort cards, which doubled as Christmas tree ornament favors for their wedding guests.
Before the first look, Jenna and Frank exchanged wedding day gifts. Jenna commissioned an oil painting of Castle Hill Lighthouse, the site of the proposal, for Frank. And Frank gave Jenna an amethyst and diamond cocktail ring that was designed by jeweler Peter Sousa, also her cousin .
The king's table, an oversize Tuscan table, was adorned with a sequined blush table runner, wild branch arrangements, clusters of flowers, driftwood, coral pieces and candles.
Jenna and Frank's seaside wedding was brought to life with various coastal elements such as lanterns, coral and drift wood.
Tables were adorned with opulent arrangements of hydrangeas, peonies, dahlias, anemones and greenery.
Elegant cascading flowers hung on the back of the newlyweds' dining chairs.
A few weeks before the wedding, Jenna, a songwriter and musician, wrote a piece that she knew was perfect for Frank. “I hatched a sneaky plan with my longtime bandmate, Samm Bahman, to record the song and surprise Frank with it for our first dance, rather than the song we originally picked,” Jenna says. “He was completely shocked—in the best way—and during that dance, it felt like we were the only two people on the planet.”
For dessert, they served mini passed desserts — strawberry shortcakes in mason jars, whoopie pies, creme brulee and tiny ice cream cones.
Along with a dessert bar, the couple also had a small wedding cake that was decorated simply with florals.