The Wedding of…
Veronica Kelly & Edward Duarte
Ceremony & Reception: Hilton Pearl River
Gown Salon: Bijou Bridal, Paramus NJ
Photographer: Michelle Behre Photography
Band: Craig Scott Entertainment
Makeup: Jill Lyons, Jill Lyons Makeup
Hair: Sandra Cipriano, Hair Done by Sandra
Florist: Beers Flowers
Cake: A Little Cake
"An Amazing Experience"
Veronica and I have been friends for most of our lives. We grew up in the same small town and had the same friends. Though we don’t remember how we met, we both remember when our relationship escaped the friend zone. I always thought she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen and one day I built up enough confidence to ask her on a date. I didn’t expect her to say yes, so when she did, I scrambled to pick a movie.
Some time later we were both sitting in our local theater watching the film “Max Payne,” but for the life of me I can’t tell you what it was about. I was so nervous. After about an hour and a half of Mark Wahlberg fighting crime (was that what he was doing?) I built up enough courage to wrap my fingers in-between hers.
The proposal happened just before we moved to Connecticut so I could attend law school. I had better options out of state and Veronica really disliked her job at the time. We didn’t want a long distance relationship, so I scraped together what little money I had, bought the only ring I could afford, and had that talk with her mother.
I knew Veronica wouldn’t want to a big public scene, so I planned the proposal for when my parents were away for a weekend. I made a dish that I learned from the head chef at one of the restaurants where I had worked at as a busboy. While Veronica’s mother took her to the movies, I set the table and had soft music playing in the background as I brought out the food. I ended up popping the question between the main course and dessert.
Law school was a very stressful time, but I could not have made it without Veronica by my side. She inspired me to be a better person and push myself. By my final year, we started planning our wedding.
We chose Hilton Pearl River because of the long history Veronica and her family has had with the venue. Veronica’s mother works for the hotel as director of food and beverages and Veronica herself worked checking coats for some events before our early dating days. We decided on April 18, 2020 as our date. We drove up to Pearl River to get our marriage license when the Covid epidemic hit. We were so close to our wedding date that we had to cancel dinner reservations for our honeymoon!
We got married on our original date. Veronica’s mother got ordained online, we had our immediate family drive up to Pearl River, and we got married in the parking lot right in front of their beautiful fountain. Eighteen months later, we took our first wedding day look photos in front of that same fountain! Our second ceremony was perfect too. We had the most beautiful flowers and one of our oldest friends, Levi, who was also a groomsman, officiated this wedding for us. It was filled with laughs and applause from all our friends and family.
Cocktail hour was awesome. We have a seven-year old puggle named Marge-A-Rita, so the Hilton staff set up a Marge-Arita bar for the cocktail hour and served some of our favorite margaritas, including an amazing jalapeño marg, Veronica’s favorite. We had several food stations, including a smoked Norwegian salmon station, a Middle Eastern display, a Tuscan table, a sushi station, an Asian station, an Italian station, and more! All our friends told us that the food was the best they’d had at a wedding. Linda, our bridal attendant, made sure we got all the tasty foods.
Dinner started with a delicious lobster ravioli and then guests had a choice of chateaubriand, Chilean sea bass, or pan-roasted Long Island duck breast. The food was amazing and Hilton even made us desserts: frozen chocolate bananas, cake pops, and mini milkshakes, all passed on the dance floor.
Craig Scott Entertainment set up the room with awesome lights for the dance floor to really set the party mood. The band performed every song we put on our request sheet, including “Dancing in the Moonlight,” our first dance, to “The Final Countdown,” our last song of the night. Our guests danced all night and we had so many requests for the band’s information. Our after-party had a French fry bar with truffle fries, sweet potato fries, and seasoned curly fries.
We had to reschedule our wedding date several times and each person went above and beyond. Our photographer was always accommodating. Jill and Sandra did an amazing job with our bridesmaids’ hair and makeup. We cannot praise the Hilton staff enough. Gerry Burns, director of events, Abbey Rochford, senior events manager, Derek Rubino, banquet manager, and William Maloney, general manager, all made us feel totally at ease. We also had the most amazing bridal attendant, Linda Parrot. She made sure we got to sample all the food and was a calming force throughout the day.
We had the most amazing experience with the Hilton Pearl River and all our vendors. After all the delays and setbacks with Covid, we were still able to have our dream wedding with our dream team. Thanks again to everyone for an experience we will never forget!
Hilton Pearl River, Pearl River, NY