Before and After, Decor, Family, Home, My house

Hallway Gallery and Runner

hallway 006When you last met my hallway…what? You’ve never met my hallway? Oh the shame. Let’s get better aquainted.

Back in 2010 when we moved in, our hallway had brown wall-to-wall carpet (yikes) and poorly textured creamy walls.

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It only took about a month before we ripped out the carpet and had the wood floors underneath refinished. We went with a dark stain downstairs but we kept the hall pale to go with the floors in the bedrooms. Check out 2 year old Lily showing off the pretty hardwood back before I fixed the stair risers. (Doesn’t she kind of look like a ghost? Boo!)

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A few months after that, Pablo attempted to skim coat the walls (I’ll give him an A for effort) and we painted the walls in Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray with Cloud White trim.

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That was three years ago and everyday since then I’ve had the intention of hanging some extended family pics up there. And now it’s done! Well, not done. More like a decent start. (You’ll also notice I’ve sort of learned how to use my camera too.)

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I shopped for the runner for a loooooong time. That problem with my expensive taste and limited budget got in the way but eventually I fell for a pretty kelly green wool flat weave rug in a Jaipur catalog my mom had borrowed from a local decorator. I was contemplating getting one (and even paying the expensive-for-me $200+ price) when this beauty popped up on One Kings Lane for only $149. I had to go for it. Lucky for you OKL has it right now, too (for a few bucks more).

OKL rug

The next step was the frames and since you know me, you can imagine I tried to go inexpensive with some of the offerings at Target, Kohls and Ikea. But they all just looked too cheap to me so I ended up getting most of them at Pottery Barn. (I can’t say enough nice things about their gallery frames. Just go buy them and thank me later.)

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As for the pictures themselves, the focus is on extended family: the girls’ cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. (I felt I had thoroughly covered the 4 of the us in our dining room photo wall so it was time to spread the love.) You’ll notice most of them are super casual.

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hallway 050One of the favorites is this picture from Thanksgiving a few years ago. It’s the last time we had my family and Pablo’s family together so it’s got a lot of VIPs in it.

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The walls look a little sparse for now but the goal is to fill it up top to bottom. Something more like this.

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It’s coming together but don’t look up! If you do you’ll see cracked and peeling paint and one of the noisiest flourescent lights in history.

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Take a closer look at that texture.

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We’re bringing some pros in soon to fix it up and I’ve got plans to replace the light, too. I’ll keep you posted.

And the view from the bedrooms needs a little love too. See that space above the stairs? hallway 056

 I’d love to put something inspirational there so we see if right before we head out for the day. Ya know, something like this:

seize the day

OR

don't forget to be awesome

Maybe we could even jump and smack it like the Notre Dame football team does with their motivational sign…?

play like a champion today

So it’s still a work in progress but I’m happy with the changes we’ve made. It sure is nice to see Mimi, Papa, Uncle Steve, Auntie, Jonathan, Bobe, Grandpa Steve, Uncle Francis, Aunt Nicole, Baylee, Arianna, Carter, Aunt Paola, Aunt Alex, Eliseo, and Weli everday.

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XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Entertaining, Family, Home

Luau Birthday Party

We recently celebrated Lily’s 5th Birthday with a luau at our house. Let’s take a peek at how we put it all together.

As you saw in last week’s post, I created an umbrella wreath for the front door out of paper parasols.

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 I bought two hibiscus plants that I put in some pots that I had painted last year.

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They added the perfect tropical touch.

luau-126In the foyer, I put tons of leis in a bucket and displayed the invitation that I made on PicMonkey.

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For the favors, I got sunglasses from The Children’s Place, some Swedish Fish (Lily loves “sweetest fish”!) a hibiscus tattoo, and either a Hello Kitty necklace for the girls or a foam plane of the boys (both from the One Spot at Target).

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I just put all the goodies into white paper bags and added a little tag–that said “Thanks for coming to Lily’s Luau”– thanks to Picmonkey again. (I “borrowed” some of Sophia’s fun tape to attach them to the bags.)

Some grass skirts for the girls were laid out the back of the couch so kids could grab them as they came in.

luau-122I usually don’t like a matching set of paper plates but when I saw these at Ikea, I had to have them. I got the straws eons ago at Pottery Barn outlet and they’ve been sitting in a party bin in the attic just waiting for a luau!

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I kept the food pretty simple: pizza for dinner, tortilla chips and homemade guacamole, and lots of fruit. I had to include some pineapple, of course! (more cute napkins from Ikea)

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As for the cupcakes, I made them at home and used blue frosting to represent water, crunched up graham crackers for sand, gummy flip flops and a paper parasol.

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I pulled out all my cake stands and decorated some of them to look like they had grass skirts on.  I just cut up a piece of green craft paper and taped it all the way around. Then I cut apart one of the leis and glued flowers around the paper with fabric glue.

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I also wrapped one of the cake stands with a lei.

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The little tissue paper decorations are from Oriental Trading –where I got just about everything I needed–and they came in really handy to give some height to the cupcake displays. (I just stuck them on top of a plastic cup turned upside down.)

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As for activities, we kinda just winged it. I was nervous because we don’t have a swingset anymore (remember how I told you that Hurricane Sandy took it out?) But we just put out all of our frisbees, wiffle balls and bats, and bubbles and let the kids have fun in the yard.  They loved it and there wasn’t a dull moment.

It was a perfect day with lots of good friends, good food and drinks, and good times!

Happy 5th Birthday Lily!

XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Entertaining, Family, Home

40 Envelopes with 40 Memories for a 40th Birthday

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Yup. It’s that time again…the Pinterest Challenge. For those not in the know, here are the deets. Sherry from Young House Love, Katie from Bower Power, Emily from Sparkle Meets Pop, and Renee from Red Bird Blue are the hosts for this 4-way link party. The challenge is to simply pick something creative that you’ve pinned on Pinterest and finally get around to doing it.

And this time, I created a project for Pablo’s 40th celebration. (Maybe next time, I’ll do something for myself!) When I had seen this birthday envelope surprise on Oh Happy Day I knew it was the perfect way to present Pablo with the sweet notes that I was planning for his birthday.

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The first step was to get the memories. Lucky for me, Pablo is very loved so even though I started this the day before his birthday (!), all I had to do was send one group message on Facebook and one group email for the non-Facebookers and the memories came flooding in. There were a few people I couldn’t find but I managed to get over 35 messages. (I simply asked everyone to send me a memory of a time they spent with Pablo. I filled in the last few from me and the girls.) Once I got them all, I cut and pasted them into a word document, formatted them, and printed them on bright colored paper. Some were long and some were short but that worked perfectly for my purposes.

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Next I found some random envelopes in my stationary stash and laid them out to spell 40. First on the floor (to get a layout I liked) and then up on the wall of the dining room.

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The girls helped me stuff the envelopes…
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…until each envelope – all 40 of them! – had a personal note from a friend or relative.

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When he came home and we surprised him with it, he was a little perplexed at first. (I think he may have been wondering if this was a permanent installation!)

But once he started reading through all the memories with the girls (with a little bit of editing to take out any mature subjects!), he loved it.

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I think it was a perfect gift for him (because he loves reminiscing) and for this year (because with me working part time now, there are no extra funds for a grand gift so I needed to make a grand gesture instead.)

We did get him a few little goodies, though, because everyone needs to open some gifts on their birthday.

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As you can see, he had a great time. Thanks to everyone who contributed memories to this project. I couldn’t have done it without you.

On Wednesday, don’t forget to check back in with Sherry from Young House Love, Katie from Bower Power, Emily from Sparkle Meets Pop, and Renee from Red Bird Blue to see all the amazing projects that everyone made – plus all the linked ones!

XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Family, Home

Making a Wigwam for a School Project

This may not seem like one of my normal DIY projects but it’s still a fun and creative one so I thought you might want to see it.  For any parents out there, flag this post because your day will come too! Lucky you — I’m here to show you how we did it. Come inside and warm yourself by the fire!

S’s 2nd grade class is studying Native Americans this month and her assignment was to build a replica of the shelter that the Shawnee tribe lived in. The only stipulation was that she should use as many natural materials as possible. We used this website as a guide.

We started by tracing a tray to make a big circle onto an old corkboard that I found in our garage. Then we measured around the circle and marked off where our holes should go. Next, we drilled small holes into the board to anchor the sticks but we made sure not to drill all the way through. (Truth be told, we staged this photo. No, I do not let my kid handle power tools by herself. Or maybe I’m just telling you that so my mother doesn’t freak out when she sees this photo. Whatever you want to believe is fine with me!)

We gathered lots of sticks from the yard (there were plenty from Sandy) and we tied pairs together to make the frame.

It took some time to find the right sticks (without them breaking) and get them glued into the holes but we were excited that our frame was coming together just like an authentic wigwam.

In lieu of bark or woven mats, we used brown bags to make a cover for the wigwam. First we cut them into strips.

Then we cut fringe onto each strip…

…and slowly added each row of fringe to the frame. If we had better glue, I would have used that but instead we took the easy road and used tape!

We built the layers up and then took a little time to add a rock-lined walkway and a stone hearth in the center. S was great at coming up with ideas, like using red and orange construction paper to build the fire.

We dressed one of her Polly Pockets in a brown bag dress and propped her up by the door. (I had to promise S that we’d be able to peel the glue off her feet after she gets the project back!)

It was a lot of work but S and I had a great time building it together. She was so proud of the finished product and I’m so proud of how hard she worked on it.

XO

Sue at Home

Family, Food, Shopping

Three Days in Kennebunkport, Maine

I’ve been sharing lots of pictures of the beautiful Tides Beach Club that we stayed at in Maine (here and here) but I’d like to take you off campus to show you some of the other charming things we loved about Kennebunkport, Maine. (If you’ve never been, plan a trip for next summer!)

We checked out this big fella and then ate his brothers for the next 3 days.

Our first stop was The Clam Shack where we had ended up having lunch everyday. The line was long and the food was pricey but it was totally worth it. Do they have the best lobster roll in Maine?  I don’t know but I can tell you that lobster roll was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life. (Yes they do, according to the Travel Channel’s Food Wars!)

At The Clam Shack, the lobster roll isn’t your typical hot dog roll looking thing. It’s on a delicious buttery bakery roll and the lobster is just perfection. We loved the fried clam strips too (and the shrimp which we tried on day two) but nothing could beat that perfect lobster roll.

As for shopping in the harbor, it was mostly disappointing tourist traps with two big exceptions: Daytrip Society and their kid’s store, Daytrip Jr. They both carried such a smart assortment of quirky items that any tourist or local could love. (And lucky you, they have ecommerce, too!) I was particularly smitten with the kids store, pictured below. They had toys and games that I had never seen before and I had to pry myself out of there before I spent a fortune!

When we got back to our hotel, we decided to take a walk on the beautiful beach just across the street. The water was ice cold but Pablo braved it for one Nestea Plunge He’s crazy!

Before dinner, we relaxed on the front porch of Tides and while I sipped a cocktail (or three), Pablo did a Fantasy Football draft. (Yes, I allowed my husband to do a draft while we were on vacation. Yes, I am the best wife on the planet.)

The next day, we took a drive around to look at some insanely beautiful houses (check out this listing if you have 4 million dollars).  We took this picture near Ocean Avenue. I think it’s the only one we got together.

We drove by the Bush compound (ya know – cause you have to if you go to Kennebunkport or something like that) and marveled at it’s pretentiousness. I mean, they live on their own peninsula!

We also sampled the world’s greatest Bloody Mary at Earth at Hidden Pond. We spent a lot of time at the pool there. More on our delicious dinner at Earth tomorrow as well as lots of beautiful rustic decor ideas you can steal from Hidden Pond.

Pablo kept talking about how the fires smelled so great in Maine. Personally, I think it was just the idea of smelling a nice fresh fire in August. In the summer, you just forget how good that smells. But he swore it was the Maine firewood. So, when we saw this roadside firewood “shop” that operated on the honor system, we had to pick up a bundle. Check out the sign: “Camp Wood. $4.00 a bundle. Theives…” (yes it was spelled that way) “…smile for camera. I’m sorry honest people.” So, we put our money in the little cup and took a bunch.

On our way out of Maine, we did some antiquing on Route 1. We visited probably 10-12 shops so we were pretty exhausted by the end. I snapped this happy picture of Pablo as we entered our first store. (There would be no more happy pictures because he ended up listening to sports radio in the car while I endlessly hunted for treasures.) My favorite shops were the one pictured here, Antiques USA in Arundel (it was massive), Wells General Store Antiques in Wells (which had lots of 1950s diner stuff) and Columbary House in Cape Neddick where I ended up getting a cake plate with a glass dome for $35 and a blue and cream striped crock for my mom for $15.

I’m already dreaming of getting back there again. That lobster roll is calling me!

XO

Sue at Home

Family

Our wedding: Happy Anniversary!

We’ve come to the end of Wedding Week and I’m so glad that so many of you clicked on the posts. Thanks for sharing the memories with me! Now, it’s time to turn my direction to someone other than you. I promise I won’t get too sappy here. That’s just not my style!

Dear Pablo,

To the best husband, dad, and partner-in-everything that anyone could ever ask for,  I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. Here’s to many more decades together!

I love you, baby!

(Lily and Sophia better throw us an awesome 50th anniversary party when they’re 47 and 44!)

XO

Sue at Home

For more on the wedding, check out these earlier posts:

The setting

The clothes

The decorative details

The family and friends

All photos by Mark Nelson

Family

Our Wedding: What It’s All About

Wedding week continues and after the location, the clothes and the decorative details, we finally get down to what it’s all about:

The people.

I was sure as the wedding approached that I had it all figured out. I had my lists and everything was designed, booked, and organized. But on the day of the wedding, I realized that all the stressing over cake and flowers and dresses was silly. Because I finally figured out that it’s all about marrying the love of your life surrounded by all the people who love both of you. It was truly surreal to be surrounded by my family and friends and his family and friends and to realize that they were all there for us. I loved seeing “his people” having fun with “my people”. In fact, one of my friends and one of his friends “met again” that night and now they’ve been married for nearly 7 years and just became parents. (Is it wrong that I take a little credit for that?)

So, here is what it’s all about:

     

The best advice I can give a bride-to-be is just enjoy it. Something will probably go wrong (like, why are there flowers on the cake when they’re not supposed to be there? or what do you mean you don’t have the CD that has our wedding song on it?) but only you can ruin your day. Just brush it off and move on because as long as he shows up, you’re going to have the time of your life. (And I owe it all to youuuuuu! Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

Did I mention that we were a featured Wedding of the Week on The Knot in 2003. Check it out here.

Plus, check out my other 1o year anniversary wedding posts:

Our Wedding: Newport, Rhode Island

Our Wedding: What We Wore

Our Wedding: The Details

XO

Sue at Home

All photos by Mark Nelson.

crafts, Family, Food

Our Wedding: The Details

First of all, thanks so much for your interest in our wedding! Monday’s post on the setting for our wedding, and Tuesday’s post on the fashion choices were two of my most read blog posts EVER, so thanks!

Today, I’d like to show you some of the details from the wedding. Let me first explain something to the youngins out there: Before Pinterest, there was a wedding binder. And let me tell you, mine was huge! I pulled it out of the attic (of course I still have it!) to take a peek again. Honestly, the binder seems to be the most outdated part of my wedding! The cover, which features a flower inspiration pic and our teal detailed invitation, shows the color palette we worked with. There were also touches of Tiffany Blue throughout the wedding.

Here’s a picture of a flower inspiration page. Pretty, huh? I would have died to have carried a huge arrangement of peonies but they weren’t in season so when I saw this picture of cabbage roses from Martha Stewart Weddings,I was smitten.

The arrangement came out beautifully. It was heavy as hell – but I loved it. (That’s me and my dad before we left the mansion to walk down the aisle.)

 

Funny story: My dad is no sap but he can be known to get a little sentimental.  So, I warned him. I said, “Dad, don’t you dare turn to me right before we walk down the aisle and say something that makes me cry. I want you to tell me a joke.” And he took this task very seriously. He bought joke books and looked for the perfect one for weeks. Finally, he decided on this short, sweet, and giggle-inducing one: A pig is sitting at a bar drinking beer and after beer. Finally, the bartender asks him if he needs to use the bathroom and he says no thanks. He continues to drink and the bartender is baffled. After a few more beers, the bartender asks again, “Don’t you need to use the bathroom?” and finally the pig says, “No. Don’t you know who I am? I’m the little pig who goes Wee Wee Wee all the way home!”

Thanks Dad for the potty humor when I needed it the most. (You can actually see me gaffaw in the wedding video!)

Ok – back to the decorative details:

The bridesmaids all carried different flowers in various shades of pink. Everything from hydrangeas to daisies to snapdragons. They were small and simple and they looked great. (For more about the bridesmaids dresses and where you should NOT get yours, check yesterday’s post).

For centerpieces we had some low and some tall and they were mixes of pinks and greens.  I spent weeks making beaded table numbers but they were a bit of a bust. In fact, they’re crooked and you can’t even see them in these pics. I feel like I need to explain: I took wires, added large silvery clear beads and bent the wires in the shapes of the table numbers. Then I had the florist insert them into the centerpieces. Unfortunately, they were too small/clear and no one could see them. Oh well.

     

One of my favorite flower arrangements was the huge one in the Music Room. As guests arrived, they entered through the foyer and then were directed into this small blue room that had a large arrangement in it with all the seating cards stuck in the arrangement. (I guess sticking things into flowers was a big thing 10 years ago! Or at least I thought it was!)

Now to the yummiest detail – the cake! Now listen, my mood on my wedding day was one that I have never had before or after. (Yes, even different than the birth of my kids.) I was giddy, elated, and high-on-life. I drank several glasses of champagne throughout the evening and none of it touched me. It was like I was drunk from the day itself and nothing else could compare. So maybe you don’t want to trust me when I tell you that my wedding cake was The. Most. Delicious. Cake. Ever.

But it was.

It was simple – white cake with buttercream and chocolate ganache covered in fondant. And now that I think of it, I need to take a trip to Fall River, Massachusetts and get an anniversary cake sometime this summer from Confections.  We rented the vintage cake stand from the bakery and I think it really added the perfect touch.

Our favors were another favorite detail of mine. I discovered early on when we were dating that our initials were the same as the initials for salt and pepper (S&P) so it was natural that we gave shakers as our favors. I found these great stainless steel ones from Crate and Barrel which featured holes in the shape of the letters S&P. I found acrylic boxes to put them in and I decorated each one with a wide silk blue ribbon and a label that said “S&P  – Love is the Spice of Life – July 27, 2002”

The best is that they’re totally personal. They wouldn’t make sense for anyone but us. Unless you have S&P initials, of course! I’m happy to say that many of our friends use them everyday – and we do too!

Hope you enjoyed all the details of our wedding! Stay tuned for more wedding fun tomorrow.

XO

Sue at Home

Family, Fashion

Our Wedding: What We Wore

On Friday, Pablo and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage so in honor of the big day, I’m having Wedding Week here at Sue At Home. Yesterday, I introduced you to Newport and the Beechwood mansion.

Today, the clothes!

As a fashion editor, I had a special kind of pressure when shopping for my wedding dress. I looked EVERYWHERE and tried on every dress in existence. Finally, I fell in love with a halter gown from Carolina Herrera with a pleated organza underskirt that peaked out underneath and swung in a huge train in the back. I loved it then and I love it now. Considering it was 10 years ago, I think I should be sort of mortified by what I picked but alas, I’m not. Check out this amazing ad with my dress from way back then. (I showed it to S and L today and L said, “Why is she playing chess and not at a wedding or something?” Good question, kid.)

The closest pose I have is the one below where I sat down in someone else’s seat while my dad made a speech. I love this picture. (The dress didn’t bustle so I just dragged it around all night. It was filthy by the end of the night but I didn’t care!)

I was an editor at ELLE at the time of the wedding so I was able to order my dress directly through the Carolina Herrera showroom and have all my fittings done there by the head of her atelier. If I were you, I might want to punch me after reading that but I promise that I know I was incredibly lucky to have that treatment and I pinch myself just thinking about it. Even as my wedding diet kicked in, they did an amazing  job altering everything so that it fit like a glove. It fit so perfectly that I didn’t even have to wear a bra which is a testament to both their talent and my pre-kid boobs. (That’s right. I just linked something to that phrase. You’ll have to click it and see what it goes to!)

I wore a blusher and a full length veil for the ceremony and then removed the long one and left the shortie on for the reception. Yes, I am one of the those people who wore her veil for the whole night. I’m kind of old fashioned like that.

  

As for shoes, I spent a ton on a pair that no one saw. Advice for brides-to-be: Get something under $250, like these, and spend some money on a nice pair of sandals for your honeymoon instead.  FYI: They were Manolo Blahnik and they were similar to these but in champagne satin. I wish I could show you a picture but there isn’t one!

My bridesmaid’s wore cream lace strapless cocktail dresses that were custom made from Blue on St. Marks Place in NYC. I don’t think the place still exists but if it does, DO NOT go there. The woman is crazy and a few of the dresses barely made it to the girls on time. And they were made like crap. You can see on the wedding video how my ladies are repeatedly pulling their dresses up while dancing. My maid-of honor wore a sleeveless v-neck version. That smart girl avoided the potential nip slips the other bridesmaids were dealing with all night. All that dress trouble for this photo opp. Thanks ladies!

For my main man’s attire, I sat Pablo down for the Oscar pre-show and made him watch the red carpet to pick out his look. He loved Benjamin Bratt’s classic black tux with a black vest and a long white tie. And I agreed! By using some store credits and an editor discount, I was able to score him a Burberry tux for a few hundred dollars! (That’s me – always bargain hunting!) The tie was from Saks. I’m pretty sure it was Brioni. Doesn’t he look handsome – and so young! – in these pictures?

There we are giggling and happy. It really was a very magical day! Stay tuned for more wedding pics all week long as we lead up to our 10 year anniversary on Friday.

XO

Sue at Home

All photos by Mark Nelson except for the Carolina Herrera ad which was a picture I took of the ad from an old magazine. (How the hell else am I supposed to credit that?)

Family, Home

Our Wedding: Newport, Rhode Island

It’s Wedding Week at Sue At Home!

This Friday July 27th, Pablo and I will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary. I can’t believe that the time has flown by so quickly. I figured I’d share some wedding pics with you this week to help commemorate one of the most amazing days of my life. Today, I’ll set the scene.

We were married at the Astors’ Beechwood mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. When we were dating, we spent a lot of time in Newport with my parents (who had a boat at the time) and we fell in love with the charm of the seaside city. Plus – we loved the fact that we could have a destination wedding that wouldn’t require air travel for most of our guests. Much to our delight, many of our friends and family made a vacation out of it and spent several days in Newport.

Back in 2002 when we got married, the mansion was open for tours during the day and was rented out for weddings and events in the evenings.  It was originally owned by the Astor family and Mrs. Caroline Astor was quite the grand dame of New York and Newport society. Her son, John Jacob Astor was married in the ballroom where our reception was held. He was famous for being the wealthiest man to die on the Titanic. (Remind me not to take a cruise.) Recently, it was sold to the founder of Oracle who now owns it as a private residence. I read an article saying that he has plans to renovate it and use it as a gallery. I don’t care what he does with it, as long as I can walk through it again someday!

Our ceremony took place on the lawn behind the mansion overlooking the water. Pretty dreamy, huh?

Did you notice those people in the far distance by the fence? They’re on Newport’s Cliffwalk. It’s a walkway that goes between the Bellevue Avenue mansions and the ocean. The views are spectacular – and it’s free! If you’re visiting Newport, it’s not to be missed.

More ceremony pictures:

The cocktail hour was held on the veranda on the back of the mansion. (I wish I could tell you more about this part but I was busy taking pictures so we missed the whole thing. If I could redo one thing from our wedding, it would be to skip the formal family and wedding party pics. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing!)

The reception was held in the ballroom of the mansion. I usually don’t get into such antiquey stuff but I love the gold details and all the amazing lighting. It was so romantic!

I’ll end on that sappy picture. I hope it has you saying “Awwww!”, though I know my kids will say “Ewww!”

Hope you liked the tour of Newport and the Beechwood mansion. I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about wedding attire. (The best part!)

XO

Sue at Home

Aerial shot from here. All other photos by Mark Nelson. If you can’t wait to see more wedding details, check this out now.