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Hurricane Ian Was an Unexpected Guest at This Gilded Age–Inspired Wedding in Newport

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Katie Slater

|Planning by 

Infinite Events

“As every good love story starts, we met at a fraternity party,” Cassidy Nyfield says about her first encounter with Zach Kraft while they were students at Bucknell University. Seven years later, he proposed to her in Central Park.

Cassidy immediately knew where they would say, “I do.” Growing up, she and her family vacationed in Newport. She was “obsessed” with the town’s Gilded Age mansions. “The opulence of the time was fascinating and never ceased to amaze me,” she says. “Ever since my first Newport mansion tour, l dreamed of getting married in one of the grand estates along Bellevue Avenue. Once it was time to pick our wedding venue, I knew Rosecliff was our only choice.”

From there, the wedding aesthetic hinged on the architecture and décor of Rosecliff. She adds, “I wanted our wedding to be timeless, elegant, and reminiscent of a Gilded Age affair.” They turned to Infinite Events to plan the nuptials and Katie Slater to photograph.

Cassidy’s wedding dress search began at the Wedding Salon of Manhasset. Twenty dresses later, she found “the one” with Monique Lhuillier’s “Emilia.” “The lace was absolutely stunning and felt almost vintage,” she gushes. “I also loved the detachable topper which allowed me to have two looks in one.” Even though she never wanted to take it off, she also envisioned herself in a few more looks for the wedding—at least something a little more comfortable for the reception’s dancing. The stylists took this direction to find another Monique Lhuillier dress—this one, body-hugging and beaded. She bought both dresses that day.

Instead of traditional wedding parties, Cassidy and Zach asked their respective siblings to stand by their side. Cassidy asked her sister to be her maid of honor and wear white to “embrace her inner Pippa Middleton.” They ended up buying their dresses for the wedding from the Wedding Salon of Manhasset on the same day I found my wedding dress. Cassidy also mentions, “The seamstresses there were miracle workers, as my sister ended up being six months pregnant at the wedding!”

Cassidy had her Carrie Bradshaw bridal moment with blue Manolo Blahnik heels and dazzled with Verstolo’s rented earrings and tennis bracelet. Her Glam Done Wright makeup stayed natural, and Cassandra Broccoli styled her hair slicked back in a bun. “I toyed around with putting my hair down for the reception,” she shares. “But I didn’t want to miss a minute of the party!”

Zach’s groom look was custom-made by Atelier Munro. “Going the custom route was so fun, as Zach got to select every detail of his outfit,” Cassidy mentions. “Dear friends at Mitchell Stores in Westport, Connecticut helped him pull everything together and accessorize!”

“For my after-party dress, I of course turned to Over The Moon for inspiration,” the bride confides. “The second I saw the Carolina Herrera heart dress, I was completely obsessed with it. I loved the heart applique, the flattering shape, and the rich fabric. It was the perfect choice to dance in!”

For the welcome party on the upper deck of the OceanCliff Hotel, Cassidy sported an off-the-shoulder Safiyaa suit that kept her warm in the unseasonable cold.

On October 1, 2022, Hurricane Ian made its way along the coast—effectively launching Cassidy and Zach’s wedding day “Plan B.” Even though the couple overnighted one hundred umbrellas the day before, they felt like exchanging vows in a sailcloth tent could be even more intimate and cozy than standing in the downpour.

Zach walked down the aisle first as a string quartet strummed “Somewhere Only We Know.” He waited under Stone Blossom’s flower-filled chuppah for his bride who, accompanied by her parents, approached him as the instrumentalists serenaded the crowd with “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Hurricane Ian stepped aside for cocktail hour on the terrace. Guests enjoyed cigars from the cigar roller—which was a definitive “big hit”—and surveyed the sprawling estate lawn. The Champagne tower segued into the dinner with a menu by Russell Morin of Newport salad, filet mignon, sea bass, and a delectable assortment of desserts.

Cassidy and Zach used their training from Maya Moves to win over the crowd with the first dance set to Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.” Shortly after, the dance floor filled, especially for the uproarious horah. Everyone sat down once more for teary-eyed toasts from the newlyweds’ siblings. From there, the bride and groom conducted a private cake cutting.

Satiated with cake, the dance floor was once again packed as The Sultans played all night long—or at least until it was time for the after-party. Everyone hopped onto a Surf Club-bound bus for cheesy fried food and even more dancing.