Rhode Island Wedding from The Grace Issue

 
Photographs by Lisa O'Dwyer

Photographs by Lisa O'Dwyer

When Patrick first met Briana, he was immediately charmed. “I thought she was gorgeous,” he said. “But she gave me zero attention.” Unphased, Patrick continued to “hound her,” as he puts it, for several weeks. Finally, the two ended up on a group outing with mutual friends, during which Briana agreed to join Patrick for a real, just-the-two-of-them date. On that first solo date, Patrick took Briana to nearby Boston for dinner. And over the course of the evening, Patrick won Briana’s heart. “We are totally different,” said Patrick. “I never shut up; she is reserved. I never thought I’d find a partner like this, but everything just fell into place.”

“Patrick is determined,” said Briana. “He doesn’t take no for an answer, and he is kind and generous. From the beginning, his persistence won me over. We are opposites, but we balance each other perfectly.”

The couple, who reside in Providence, Rhode Island, quickly learned that they did, in fact, have a few things in common. Their families, also living in the small state of Rhode Island, already knew each other and were friendly. In fact, Briana’s childhood home in Bristol, Rhode Island, was located just one street away from Patrick’s grandparents’ home. They also discovered a shared passion for food and travel, as well as a shared value for family connections. These passions and values have played a defining role in their relationship, informing their everyday lives and their intent for living their days with generosity. “We try to give more than we take,” said Patrick, who grew up in a family who shared this philosophy. “We’ve been blessed by that.”  

Within a year of that first date in Boston, Patrick knew he wanted to stay with Briana, always, but their engagement wouldn’t take place for yet another year. Under the guise of celebrating his thirtieth birthday in Europe, Patrick began planning a month-long trip for the two of them, beginning at his family’s farm in Ireland. Patrick was eager to share his family’s Irish heritage with Briana and introduce her to the farm, which has been in his family for over 200 years. It is also the birthplace of his paternal grandfather, a man Patrick admires and looks up to, and whom he credits as the leader of his family’s philanthropic tradition. Patrick planned to propose nearby, on the Irish coast and began to sort out the details of that day.  

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While Briana had no idea about the actual intent of the trip, her family did. Patrick wanted them to be there to celebrate the engagement, so he let them in on the secret and planned to fly them out, as well. Remarkably, no one slipped up and accidentally spilled the exciting news to Briana for the entire year of Patrick’s planning.  

The morning after their arrival in Ireland, Patrick could wait no longer to reveal the true intention of their trip. He drove Briana the nearby Cliffs of Moher, a breathtaking stretch of dramatic coastline in western Ireland. As the two stood atop the massive cliffs, wind whipping Briana’s hair about and waves crashing below them, Patrick knelt down and proposed to his love.  

As the giddy couple made their way back from the cliffs, Patrick suggested stopping at a pub for celebratory drinks. And to her surprise, Briana was soon greeted with hugs and words of love from her mother, sister, and niece. The two spent the next days wrapped in the warmth of their friends’ and families’ love, then departed for their own solo adventure to London, Paris, Monaco and the South of France. There, they soaked in the beauty of the present and the thrill that their future life as husband and wife held.


 

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In the months that followed, as the couple planned their wedding day, they kept their focus on the family and friends who would be joining them in the coastal town of Newport, Rhode Island, for the October celebration. “We both wanted it to be about them. We wanted them to come to Rhode Island and not worry about anything,” said Patrick. They also knew that planning their wedding in their home state would allow them to support local businesses they love. So with these thoughts in mind, the two set out to create an affair that felt intimate, yet luxurious, with a nod to family tradition and heritage.

“Everything we could do local, we did,” said Patrick. This included offering local meats, cheeses, and jams for guests to nibble during cocktail hour, and enlisting Jephry’s Floral Studio, owned by their neighbor in Providence, to create the florals for the day.  

“We wanted it to look like Ireland; beautiful and neutral,” Briana said. White and green seasonal blooms were chosen to keep with their vision of simple, organic florals.

Patrick, himself, drew the silhouettes of the couple for their invitations, as well as the map of Newport included in their save the dates. “He’s an amazing artist!” said Briana. “Not many people know that about him.”

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Music for the ceremony was chosen to honor Patrick’s Irish heritage, including bagpipe and fiddles, and sweet almond cakes were ordered from Denmark to honor Briana’s Danish heritage.

The pair reserved the entirety of Castle Hill Inn in Newport to house the wedding party and their families and planned to use the location to host a farewell brunch the morning after the wedding. The beautiful, ocean-front property consists of a historic mansion as well as several charming beach cottages, fitting just right with the couple’s vision for their wedding weekend.

After months of dreaming and planning, when their wedding day finally arrived, Patrick woke up before dawn. “I was just excited, “ he explained. “It was four o’clock in the morning and I was just waiting for it all to start.”

Briana woke up feeling the same energy. “We had all of our friends and family gathered, and I can’t think of a word to really explain how I felt. Happy just doesn’t do it,”  she said. They both described the autumn morning as unseasonably warm and sunny for October in Rhode Island. “It was like a summer day; we weren’t expecting that. It was as if we had an angel who made the day for us,” recalled Briana.

Guests, including Patrick’s beloved grandmother Grace, 96, gathered at ten o’clock that morning to witness Briana and Patrick say their vows at St. Mary’s Church in Newport. Steeped in history, St. Mary’s was the first Catholic Parish in Rhode Island and the same church in which Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and John F. Kennedy married in 1953.   

With Patrick waiting for her at the alter, Briana proudly walked down the aisle of the grand church with her her mother. “My father passed when I was seven,” Briana said. She carried a small charm in her bouquet of white roses and hydrangea as a quiet reminder of him. Surrounded by the love of their friends and family, Briana and Patrick were united as husband and wife.  

Immediately following the ceremony, Briana and Patrick were led out of the church by bagpipe and whisked away in a friend’s Rolls-Royce. After months of focusing on the details of this day, they were delighted to find themselves together, just the two of them, for a few quiet minutes. They both agreed it was one of their favorite moments of the day.  

When they arrived at their reception, they were greeted by the jubilant sounds of a ten-piece pipe and drum band, announcing the couple’s entrance with Irish grandeur. Patrick described it as an amazing moment, feeling the beauty of connection to his wife as they entered the room. The rest of the evening was spent dining, dancing and celebrating with their guests, and reveling in this next chapter of their lives together.

Almost one year later, Briana and Patrick find their lives full and their days busy. Briana has spent this last year in pharmacy school, maintaining a demanding academic and work schedule. Patrick, a portfolio analyst, works mainly from home. Though their days can be hectic, they always try to have dinner and a glass of wine together. “Pat’s an amazing cook,” raved Briana, as Patrick lauded her baking skills. The two dream of having a family one day, and to continue to travel and explore the world.

It is clear that Patrick is just as enamored of his wife today, as the day he first saw her. When asked about moments of grace in their new marriage, Patrick replied, “When I think of grace, I think of God’s gifts to the world; a beautiful gifting of something. If you saw Briana walk into a room, she is grace.” One can’t help but imagine how peaceful our world might be if we all looked at each other as Patrick looks upon Briana; if we saw everyone we met as a beautiful gift to the world.  Perhaps, if we all moved through our days with such open hearts, we might always be willing to give just a bit more than we take.

Full Image Gallery

Full Story Credits

Photography by Lisa O’Dwyer Wedding Planning by Exquisite Events Ceremony Venue, St. Mary’s Church in Newport Reception Venue, Belle Mer on Goat Island Flowers by Jephry’s Flowers Paper by Paper Moss of Boston Cake by Confectionery Designs Bridal Gown by Berta Groom’s Tux by Tom Ford Mead Toast from Bunratty Castle Weekend Lodging at Castle Hill Inn Chloe the PhotoBus by Photobooth Planet Filmographer, Best Day Productions Main band, 45 Riots Food Truck, Julian’s Custom macarons and favors by Ellie’s Bakery