For Caryn Whitman and Edwin Whitney, a couple drawn together by their love of adventure and flair for the dramatic, it was certainly time for the “happily ever after” in their life story. After the couple became engaged in October 2007 and decided on a destination wedding, Caryn’s mother became ill and passed away in May 2008. A little more than a year later, Edwin’s father suffered the same fate.
It was a difficult time for both. “We finally decided it was time to bring some joy back into our family’s lives and have a proper wedding celebration,” Caryn says. Not wanting to settle for a traditional celebration, the couple decided to throw a lavish Venetian masquerade ball at Shadowbrook in Shrewsbury. “Caryn and Ed had their minds made up about creating a one-of-a-kind wedding that would stand out. The masquerade wedding theme perfectly captured their personalities,” says event planner Agnieshka Burke of Pumpkin Coach Designs.
Representing the couple’s different religious backgrounds and extensive travels, the ceremony blended Jewish and Catholic traditions, and incorporated other cultural customs such as the Buddhist practice of the gentle ringing of bells and an Apache prayer. Caryn walked down the aisle to Igor Presnyakov’s acoustic version of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” carrying a handmade bouquet crafted from more than 100 of her mother’s antique brooches. “I was able to feel a sense that my mom was with me every step,” Caryn says.
Guests were invited to this magical evening with custom-designed, gilded paper scrolls and were asked to play the part by wearing Venetian masquerade masks that were placed at each table setting. Centerpieces were embellished with white ostrich feathers and pearls, which mirrored the feather-and-crystal cake topper and the bride’s one-of-a-kind headpiece. Jugglers, contortionists, a girl in a bubble, stilt walkers and fire eaters entertained guests as they ate, drank and danced. As an added bonus, party goers were serenaded by the bride’s father and sister, and even Caryn ventured into the spotlight to perform a rap song she reworked especially for Edwin. And as for the reviews? Raves all around. “We had so much fun. We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Caryn says. Now that’s a happy ending. After a honeymoon to South Africa and Mauritius, they split their time between Asbury Park and Manhattan.
Event Planner: Agnieshka Burke, Pumpkin Coach Events
Bride’s Gowns: Monique Lhuillier and Pnina Tornai, Kleinfeld
Bride’s Ostrich Shrug: Theweddingdresser.com
Bride’s Headpiece: Cha-Cha’s House of Ill Repute
Bride’s Mask: Gothic Renaissance
Groom’s Mask: The Art of the Mask, Etsy
Hair: Mallory Zenner, Salon Concrete
Makeup: Joey Alvarez
Maid of Honor Gown & Alterations: Antoinette Rose Bridal, Brick
Entertainment: Flambeaux Fire
Huppah Design: Flowerful Events
Band: Mission Dance, Freehold
Ketubah: Anna Abramzon
Limo & Shuttle Bus: Fancy Limos