R5 Real Weddings: Ashley Elia and Benjamin Kelly

January 7, 2012

Ashley Elia does not like to be the center of attention, but avoiding the spotlight at your wedding is a challenge. When the day of her nuptials to Benjamin Kelly arrived, she focused on the ceremony’s meaning and the personalized details she incorporated into her vintage-style winter wedding at Round Hill in Washingtonville.

“All I could think about was that I was marrying my best friend,” she says. “I was in shock, because your life changes in that one moment.”

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Ashley loves how the wedding was shaped by the couple’s Christian faith, which they shared with their 100 guests in a video that told the story of how they met, how they knew they were meant for each other, and how faith guides their lives. The video played before the couple made their entrance into the reception. “It was a great way to introduce us as Mr. and Mrs. Kelly,” she says.

The couple married after a five-year courtship that began during the bride’s junior year of high school, when she relocated from Oklahoma to the Chapel Field Christian School in Pine Bush. The pair attended Liberty University in Virginia, where Benjamin pursued a military intelligence career and graduated one semester after Ashley.

Not unexpected, Benjamin popped the question in New York City with a limousine ride, a Bloomingdale’s shopping spree, and a private moment that had the future bridegroom on one knee at Belvedere Castle in Central Park. That was in June 2011, giving Ashley only seven months to plan the wedding on her own. “It was crazy,” she says.

Dressed in a gown with a beaded top and a romantic gathered bottom from Bijou Bridal in Paramus, New Jersey, Ashley walked down the aisle to “Marry Me” by Train sung by her best friend, Kelly King, and King’s boyfriend, Sean Michael Murray, who appeared in Rent Off-Broadway. “It isn’t traditional, but it was so beautiful and intimate,” she says.  

Antique-style details were peppered throughout the wedding. Old-looking chests were used to collect cards and gifts, and the many fireplaces at Round Hill—a feature that originally drew the bride to the venue—were decorated with photos of the couple in antiqued frames. The ceremony took place in a gazebo lit with votive candles that sparkled against hanging crystals. Glass milk jugs with roses by Hewlett Florist Shop served as centerpieces, along with assemblages Ashley and her close friends made with old books, vintage tea sets, bird cages with votive candles, and tiny pictures.

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Before the ceremony, Benjamin presented Ashley with three gifts and accompanying letters. One was an Anthropologie teacup, a nod to their nightly ritual of drinking tea together and talking about the day’s events, and another was a ceramic cross from Etsy, representing their faith. He also gave her a homemade scrapbook with pictures of places they had talked about visiting; the first page pictured a German castle with a one-word caption: Adventure.
Benjamin and Ashley only recently learned that Benjamin, who has since been commissioned a second lieutenant, will be stationed in Germany this October. The gift of “adventure” Benjamin gave Ashley at their wedding proved to be more than wishful thinking.      

Resources Guide:
Photography: Jackie Pfeffer and Beth Lindner of Click Pictures; click-pictures.com. Ceremony and Reception Venue: Round Hill, 110 Round Hill Rd, Washingtonville (845) 497-7476; feast caterers.com. Florist: Dale Sealy from the Hewlett Florist Shop, (Now Closed) Bridal Dress: Bijou Bridal, 358 New Jersey 17, Paramus, NJ (201) 262-8889; bijoubridal.com. Bridal Shoes: Kate Spade; katespade.com. Bridal Hair: Daisy Maselli (845) 721-7729 Bridesmaids Dresses: Forever Yours; foreverbridals.com. Music & Entertainment: DJ Stylez (845) 522-3041; stylezentertainment.com. Invitations: The Letter Box, Inc.; letterboxinc.com.

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