story by Danielle Naurayan photos by Leslie Koehn Photographic
On May 28, 2011, a creative couple from Santa Monica, California, fused their boundless energies to create a storybook wedding with a magical spirit and bring their special Story of Love to life at the Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews in Historic Downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.
As imagined by Lisa Bay Adams and Sean Santiago, their marvelous Story of Love featured a hero and a goddess marrying in a charming coastal (film production) town set in the Southeast--Wilmington, the perfect destination wedding location for their families, traveling from Virginia and Georgia, and the ideal place to become reacquainted with their Southern roots. Lisa Bay spent many a college (UNC Chapel Hill) weekend in Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, and, once upon a time, Sean had visited the Port City to explore the Dawson's Creek sites and sets. Their wedding day would be the first time the couple would fly from the West Coast to experience Wilmington together.
Lisa Bay, now a television producer for Top Chef, met her husband, Sean, a stereo conversion producer, in 2006, while they were each employed at Walden Media in Los Angeles.
"We were both working on the Narnia movies and on Charlotte's Web," says Lisa Bay. "I was in marketing, and he was in production. What brought us together was that we both were and are committed to being the best versions of ourselves in this lifetime, to the evolution of our consciousness, and to making a positive impact on the planet. It is said that when twin flames merge it is a divine celebration for them and the lives that they touch. We can choose to be loving, we can choose to tell stories of hope and inspiration."
She and Sean chose to remember and share their unique story of love with a fun and fantastic ceremony that found a way to involve all of their guests, who helped bring to life the characters in their story.
The couple, engaged in Paris during Thanksgiving 2010, started crafting their storybook wedding in January 2011, communicating from California with Social Butterfly Events, prominent Wilmington wedding planners who helped them think outside the box. By choosing the Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews as their venue prior to the completion of its magnificent renovation, Lisa Bay and Sean took a leap of faith that resulted in a ceremony and reception that were even more magical than they imagined.
"Were there surprises? Absolutely!" says Lisa Bay. "But to go with the flow and surrender to what is ... I think therein lies the magic." Lisa Bay believes that positive energy can manifest into greatness and feels blessed to have been able to work with BAC executive director Richard Leder, who, she says, "made all the difference."
To capture the bride's free-spirited nature, Moxie Floral Design Studio collaborated with Lisa Bay in the months leading up to the wedding. Moxie partners Cynthia and Djenana enjoyed working with the bride, who they describe as a "very spiritual being."
"She wanted whimsical; she wanted intimacy; she wanted to connect to the nature of love, and she came to us with a spectacular vision for her fairytale wedding, eager to sow seeds of love," says Cynthia.
To begin, children walked down the aisle of the beautiful BAC private courtyard, sprinkling lavender along the path. Crushed, dried lavender petals lined the aisle, leading up to a carpet of white rose petals, upon which the couple exchanged their vows, their rings, and mangalsutra beads, the ancient symbol of a divine marriage (according to Hindu tradition), during the original, personally-scripted, storybook ceremony. In the center of the courtyard stood an incredible iron tree, adorned with moss, on which Sean and Lisa Bay's guests hung crystals during an emotional moment of the ceremony.
During the Cuban-themed cocktail hour, the wedding guests danced in the front foyer of the church to Latin music, a nod to Sean's heritage.
In the fabulously-decorated sanctuary, each reception table featured its own fairytale--all the centerpieces included some of the couple's favorite stories: Beauty and the Beast, The Old Man and The Sea, The Wizard of Oz, Romeo and Juliet, and Alice and Wonderland. A dragonfly, ladybug, bird, or butterfly hung from the willow tree centerpieces, alongside dangling candles and beads. To complete "the classics" theme, seven "books" were layered between the tiers of the incredible cake, dramatically topped with an Eiffel tower decoration, symbolic of their Paris engagement.
Later in the night, after enjoying mojitos and Cuban paella, beautifully and deliciously prepared by Pine Valley Market, many of the guests relaxed on the wide front porch of the historic church manse, enjoying the cigar lounge, various liquors, and the dramatic lighting.
Lisa Bay and Sean strive to leave a memorable expression of love within every person and place they touch. On their honeymoon, after their work commitments are fulfilled, the newlyweds will travel to Costa Rica and stay at an eco lodge, enjoying a vacation of luxury, adventure, and service.
With Sean's work complete on The Green Lantern and with Lisa Bay between seasons on Top Chef, the couple loves their time together and is currently considering ways to inspire hope and love and positive energy in local Costa Rican children and in the Costa Rican rain forest. Meanwhile, their very own symbolic tree of love, a Japanese maple planted by the couple in the manse garden on their wedding day, is thriving at BAC, ready to be visited through the years, as Lisa Bay and Sean grow happily together.