windrift hotel wedding avalon

A Dreamy Seaside Affair

A Real Wedding at Avalon’s Windrift Seaside Hotel

Tami and Ryan Photography brings this incredible, dreamy seaside real wedding from the Jersey Shore.

How did you and your partner meet?

I (Lauren) grew up in Robbinsville, NJ with my best friends Christine and Courtney Levering. I went to The College of New Jersey with Christine and Courtney went to Villanova. After graduating college, Courtney’s first job involved working with one of her chemical engineering friends from Villanova – Peter! In October 2017 Courtney invited me to a haunted hayride with 3 friends- one of which was Peter. Even though I am afraid of everything spooky, I toughed it out through the haunted attractions. Peter, who is the opposite and loves haunted stuff, admired my (fake) toughness. We both talked casually that fall night, but a small spark between us was felt. A couple months later (after a few missed opportunities to hang out in bigger group settings), Courtney had a small group of friends down in Margate, NJ for NYE. Peter was still thinking about the cute, quirky girl he met around Halloween time and I made an extra effort to drive down to the beach to be with my besties, but also slightly hopeful I would have the chance to get to know Peter a bit more. NYE 2017 into 2018 was a rainy holiday but the group still went out in Atlantic City and had a fun time. There were not any midnight/New Year kisses exchanged between Peter and I but some flirtatious vibes were in the air for sure. When the group got home after the long night, everyone jumped into comfy clothes. Peter and I were about to walk down to the kitchen to inhale some leftover Christmas cookies when Peter with very little tact or coolness blurted, “ Would you like to go out on a date with me?!” I said yes and took Peter’s hand to continue walking downstairs for some sweets. However, Peter’s tube socks slipped on the hardwood floor and he quite literally “fell for me” as he fell down a couple of stairs.  It was a moment I’ll laugh about and cherish forever. 

How did Peter propose?

In the snowy weather of Jan 5th, 2018 we went on our first date at the Logan Inn in New Hope, PA followed by some cocktails at a spot called Havana’s. After 5 years of dating we had discussed taking our relationship to the next level, so I figured Peter would ask for my hand in marriage when my older brother’s were in town during July 2022. However, Peter planned a beautiful, surprise proposal. If you know him, surprises are not exactly his style haha. He loves to blurt out secrets and is a rather predictable guy. But, on Friday 4/15/22 I had called out of work and luckily after a morning of feeling sick and tired I rebounded and was up for dinner plans in the afternoon  (I love food too much and couldn’t refuse a dinner date hehe). We walked around a few stores in New Hope, embraced the beautiful weather, and then took a stroll in a small sitting area overlooking the Delaware River. After checking out some beautiful sunset views, Peter popped the question! His sister was able to capture the moment while hiding nearby. We had an intimate dinner at the Logan Inn (our first date spot)  to celebrate the two of us and then he surprised me again when our closest friends and some family met us at Havana’s and danced the night away celebrating! It was truly one of the best nights of my life and the biggest shock! 

What was your experience in planning your wedding?

I am not going to lie-Peter deserves a lot of the credit for our wedding. I’m very rarely on the computer at my job ( I work as a scrub nurse in joint replacement surgery) so he did all of the communicating with the vendors, venue, booking of things etc during normal business hours. I absolutely loved checking out venues and knew we made a great decision when we set our eyes on the Windrift. I picked out the colors, dresses, suits, flowers, and overall “looks” of the wedding while he did the grunt work reaching out to vendors, collaborating with the venue, and tracking our guest lists. Peter is a planner while I am a procrastinator. I will say that in the case of weddings, planning like him is certainly the better choice 🙂 Although, some of my best work is developed while under pressure or in a time crunch (for instance-my vows that I wrote until midnight the night before the wedding hehe.) We worked together many nights to make decisions about the details of the wedding and pretty much assigned each other tasks to complete since we did not hire a wedding planner. I think we made a pretty great pair getting things done (like I said-he definitely had the harder job and did more than me) but we were also lucky to have such proactive family members (especially our moms and Peter’s sister (my MOH) Corinne) working behind the scenes to make it such an epic event! 

Tell us about your venue, and why you chose it?

We only looked at two venues, but knew the Windrift was going to be our move. We both absolutely love the beach and were hoping for a beach ceremony. Also, the reception space at the Windrift is just breathtaking! I had so many tears of joy streaming down my face when I saw our cocktail hour and reception area decorated with everything our family helped us assemble and pick out. We actually had toured the Windrift in a massive rain storm, and it was still a stunning venue in the torrential downpour! Our tasting was even during a severe thunderstorm with street flooding, but the food was fantastic and the staff was so friendly and welcoming even then. We decided that having a wedding in Avalon would almost be like having a destination wedding, but in NJ. A lot of my family is from out of state so I wanted them to have the option of enjoying a few days at the Jersey Shore. I grew up going to a house in Stone Harbor. We would stay with a family friend that we considered my “adopted grandmother” and I teared up choosing the Windrift because I knew my Grandma Ione was watching over us as we got married on the beach that day. I think of her every time I embrace the beauty of the ocean and I loved that the towns of Avalon and Stone Harbor actually meet at the Windrift. Peter’s family has a house in Avalon and my parents and oldest brother have places in Cape May Courthouse (right down the street from 96th Street in SH) so it was fun picking a spot right in between our families. 

What was your inspiration for the wedding?
I have always been someone that loves beach/boho vibes. I would say my style in general is beach/boho. Peter is also a fan of this style so we wanted to create a fun, beachy atmosphere that also incorporated some tropical flare (but not quite Hawaiian Island vibes since it was June). Light, spring colors amongst the sand seemed like a no brainer to me. Blue and green are my favorite colors so the girls wore a light blue/sage dress and the guys wore navy. It looked awesome on the beach! 

What was the best memory/moment from your wedding day?

I can’t even pinpoint one part that I loved the most. Our ceremony was incredible. My mother in law made a lot of the floral arrangements and decorations for the ceremony and my mom had also contributed many small details and decorations too. They looked amazing and added such a fun flare to the ceremony! My cousin Kevin was our officiant and I couldn’t stop tearing up listening to his heartfelt words. Having one of my closest cousins marry us was truly special. Yet, another special moment for Peter and I was when we got a sneak peak of the reception area before the wedding began. It was breathtaking! Our dream wedding had come to life and we both were on cloud nine! Of course we danced the entire night away so all of our friends and family hit the dance floor hard! 

What advice can you give to couples planning their wedding?

I would say to make sure one of you know how to use excel haha. I certainly do not know, but having Peter by my side made it much easier to organize vendors, keep track financially, create spreadsheets with guest information, and overall was needed to keep our checklists in order. Aside from the serious parts of wedding planning, it’s also important to make sure you don’t get caught up in the stress of planning. We had our moments of feeling overwhelmed, but making sure you communicate with one another and asking your family/friends for help when needed is key. 

What was your experience like working with your vendors?

We loved all of our vendors! We had such a fun time working with everyone and we were thankful how organized everyone was. Each vendor had quality products and made sure they had everything prepared for the big day!
Photographers: Tami and Ryan Photography – They are wonderful! Nothing is better than a couple who can capture your moments like them! They were relaxed, fun, and after our engagement photo shoot they made sure that we loved the quality of our pictures for the big day. We are in LOVE with our wedding photos!
Florist: Blooms (Cape May Courthouse) Karin is awesome! She worked with us trying to figure out what we needed/what vibes we were going for, and was super helpful making sure everything looked great the date of the wedding!  DJ: Chris Marx Every single person was on the dance floor! Only one slow song got played because everyone absolutely loved the music we had playing. We knew we would love working with Chris just from the few phone calls we had with him. He was funny, read the crowd well, and made us feel so prepared!
Hair and Makeup: Monika’s Boutique Salon  I love this salon! I was obsessed with my own hair and makeup but also couldn’t get over how beautiful my mom, mother in law, and bridesmaids looked! Everyone at the salon was great! They let us run around having fun the entire morning and made us all feel like a  million bucks walking out of there! 
Videographer: Alyssa Kaufman Alyssa made the best wedding teaser video ever! Her work really speaks volumes! We have watched our wedding instagram teaser over a hundred times! We can’t wait to see the longer video in the upcoming weeks!
Cake: The Cake Boutique  Our cake was beautiful! This place just asked for some pics for inspiration that I liked and they made my dream wedding cake! It was so unique and beautiful! And the flavors of everything were delicious! 
Photobooth: Chris Evans  Our guests loved the photo booth and so did we! It awesome having a scrap book of everyones pics and we even have a USB with all the photos from the night! I would highly recommend getting this! I was hesitant at first but it was totally worth it!