Although they are inseparable now, it wasn’t love at first sight for Shanely and Brian, who started out as friends when they met in Albany, New York. Brian was a bartender at one of Shanely’s favorite dive bars and they slowly transitioned from acquaintances to friends as they got to know each other better. After some time, the stars aligned and Shanely and Brian knew there was a connection beyond “just friends.” The two officially started dating in January 2014 and spent the next few years navigating long distance up and down the east coast before finally deciding to move in together in 2016.
Shortly before they moved in, Shanely’s friends invited the couple out to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Shanely and Brian got dressed up and went out to support their friends, but little did Shanely know that everyone was going to be celebrating their next big relationship step by the end of the night! The couple needed a few nice pictures for their new house, so they stopped by a beach to watch the sun set and get some photos taken by Liz Unruh, Shanely’s friend and future wedding photographer. When Liz had them pose back to back, Shanely turned around and saw Brian down on one knee! Shanely said yes and the celebrations continued at a local bar, where Brian had invited some of their friends and family to celebrate their new life together.
Shanely and Brian wanted a long engagement because they didn’t want to rush the planning process to make sure they had time to plan the wedding of their dreams. Shanely always wanted to get married in her hometown of Cape May, so the couple decided they were going to plan a wedding by the beach. Her mom suggested Elaine’s Cape May for their wedding reception and the couple knew it was the perfect fit. The couple loved that the venue had the option for an outdoor cocktail hour and a ton of space inside for all their guests to celebrate and dance the night away.
Although she had a long engagement ahead of her, Shanely made an appointment at Free Love Bridal right after she got engaged to see the dresses available. Although she didn’t find anything on the first try, she went back a few months later with her mom, sister, and maid of honor because of her incredible first experience at the store. The last dress Shanely tried on was the dress she chose, but not before requesting a few changes to the style! The store owner, Betsy, was able to help her make changes to the dress so Shanely could envision the finished gown with the alterations. Thanks to Betsy’s help, the finished dress was everything Shanely ever wanted.
The day of the wedding, Shanely and her bridesmaids got ready in Erma, then took a Cape May MAC Trolley to Elaine’s to change into their dresses and add the finishing touches to their looks. The couple didn’t have a first look, so Brian first saw Shanely as she walked down the aisle and it was their favorite part of the entire day. After the ceremony, the trolley quickly took the newlyweds and their wedding party down to the beach for some pictures so they could join in on the fun at Elaine’s during the cocktail hour. After the cocktail hour, everyone danced the night away and had a great time celebrating Shanely and Brian’s love for the rest of the night!
“We just had a lot of fun, a lot of love, and we were just so lucky that we had the perfect day,” Shanely says.