Salve Regina University gave Laura and Jay Dunlea much more than their academic degrees; it gave them each other. Laura was an undergrad and Jason was a police officer pursuing his master’s degree when they met through mutual friends.
The couple dated for almost six years, working hard on their careers — Laura is a savvy restaurant owner — and sharing great times along Rhode Island’s coast. On Laura’s birthday in March 2013, Jay told her he was taking her to The Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport for a massage. “I wasn’t even sure they had massages there,” says Laura.
It didn’t matter; Jay had something far more special, and permanent, in mind. On The Chanler’s lawn overlooking the water, he asked Laura to marry him. They then met up with friends and family to celebrate her birthday and their engagement.
Because they had met in Newport and the city evoked so many happy memories, there was no question where the couple would hold their wedding. Exchanging vows in the chapel on the Salve Regina campus was also a given. And it didn’t take long to choose the Water Salon at Belle Mer as their reception venue. “When I walked in, I knew,” admits Laura. “It’s so beautiful, both inside and outside, with a fantastic view of the [Newport] Bridge.”
In keeping with the elegant setting, Laura and Jay wanted the event to strike the perfect balance between “pretty formal” and fun. “We’re kind of casual people,” says Laura. “We had a fun DJ and wanted it to be a party, but in a beautiful setting.”
One of the bride’s favorite moments was the first look. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it initially, but I’m so glad we did,” she says. “The whole day leading up to the wedding was stressful. When we had the first look, I became so relaxed and able to breathe. I just didn’t care about anything else after that. It was a really special moment.”
Copy by Lenore Cullen Barnes
Photography by Jennifer Neves Photography
Same-Day Edit Video by Mike Picard Motion Pictures
Additional Vendors: Reception Location + Catering + Linens + Cake: Belle Mer // Florist: Toni Chandler // Bridal Gown + Veil: Paloma Blanca from Alexandra’s Boutique // Bridesmaid Dresses: Bill Levkoff from Alexandra’s Boutique // Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Vera Wang from Men’s Warehouse // Hair Stylist: Mallory Ruotolo // Makeup Stylist: Nicole Cote // Entertainment: DJ Corey Young // Photobooth: Smashing Photobooth