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Elizabeth Bruckmann and Jake Dwyer’s Wedding at Lyford Cay

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Chris Torres

Interior designer Elizabeth “EJ” Bruckmann met HyperScience COO Jake Dwyer at a party on New York City’s Lower East Side. After dating for two years, Jake surprised EJ with a proposal. “My sister and brother-in-law were in town, and we were supposed to be meeting up with them for dinner,” remembers EJ. “Jake had just bought an apartment and movers had delivered everything earlier that day, so I went over before dinner to help out a little bit. I had had a dream the night before that he was going to propose to me that evening, so I psyched myself out a bit as I headed over. However when I arrived—expecting candles and flowers—I found the place a total mess, and Jake was downstairs yelling up at me for a belt. I quickly realized that I was crazy and in fact not psychic. Jake then had me stringing up lights in the garden outside, which bizarrely did not seem like a strange thing to prioritize at the time, but it was in fact because he had invited all our friends over to celebrate later. When I came inside he handed me a flat rectangular Tiffany box—that was definitely not ring sized. It had a keychain in it, and he said some sweet things about starting a new time in our lives together. I thought to myself: That’s adorable, but I’m not moving in so also sort of weird. Then he told me to look closer at the keychain. I realized there was a ring dangling off of it. He then got onto his knee and said, ‘Do you wanna get married?’ ” Not long after, EJ’s parents walked in along with her sister, brother-in-law, best friend, and Jake’s sister. “It was perfect,” she remembers.

After the engagement had sunken in, the couple had a hard time deciding on a venue. “I was torn between England, where I grew up, and Lyford Cay, where my parents live now,” explains EJ. “There were a few things I knew that I really wanted: a black tie dress code, the ability to go until at least 4:00 a.m., a place where everyone could hang out as a group all weekend, and the capacity to hold at least 300 people, which is surprisingly difficult to find.”

They struggled to book the right date at the Lyford Cay Club and couldn’t find a place in London that was large enough and would allow the party to go past midnight. They threw Vail—where the bride’s parent’s have a place—into the mix for a minute, but realized weather could likely present a problem there. “We were going to do it in a tent on the top of the mountain, but realized that if there was a thunderstorm—which is very likely in July—the gondola wouldn’t run, and we wouldn’t be able to get our guests up to the reception.” They finally decided to go with their initial instincts and opted for July in the Bahamas—not the perfect date, but definitely the perfect location. “I wanted to make everyone sweat it out,” jokes the bride. “Given our numbers, we had to have a tent, which then had to be air-conditioned because I’m stubborn and had to have black tie.”

And after all of the fretting about the weather, it ended up being absolutely beautiful and very temperate the entire wedding weekend. “You just never know what’s going to happen, and there is no perfect time of year,” says EJ. “Had I waited to do it in October or November, it would have been raining the entire time—it was a strangely wet fall in the Bahamas in 2015.”

The bride and mother of the bride were very particular about the aesthetics. “I had wanted it to be all white, and for the flowers to feel like those of a London wedding,” explains EJ. “My clever mother thankfully persuaded me to introduce some local flavor, and it was very wise of her. We ultimately decided to do a sort of Colonial Island Jungle meets English Garden look. Everything was white and green, with a few pops of pale pink to give the arrangements depth.” Florist Sara Fay Egan of Jackson Durham Events in Dallas worked closely with the mother of the bride to create a truly beautiful environment.

After much searching, EJ ultimately found her dress at Vera Wang’s trunk show. “It wasn’t supposed to be available to brides getting married before September, but they were amazing, and they made it work. I had my first fitting on June 25th and left for the Bahamas with my dress on July 1st. It was really quite incredible that they were able to get the patterns made so quickly, and then to get the dress fitted so quickly.”

The couple was married in a Cathedral, so while it was an island wedding, the ceremony still called for a formal dress. “As much as I loved my dress, changing into a short party look for the late night portion of the evening was one of the best decisions I made,” says EJ. “The only problem was that I changed a bit too soon and sadly ended up cutting the cake in my second dress, which I regret.”

She wore Jimmy Choo heels. “I prioritized comfort and stuck to a 3″ heel,” explains EJ. “Comfortable, pretty, and not absurdly expensive wedding shoes are stupidly hard to find,” she recalls. “Someone should do that. If anyone wants a pair of white satin, size 38, Jimmy Choo sandals, let me know. I’m pretty sure I won’t be wearing them again!” She then changed into a taller, silver, pair for the short dress. “I thought I would put on flats, which I had, but the adrenaline kept me in the heels.”

Like most brides, EJ wanted to look and feel like the best version of herself on her wedding day. “I decided to do a makeup lesson and do my own makeup, and I’m so happy I did. I did a lesson with Rose-Marie Swift, whose makeup line RMS beauty I cannot recommend enough.”

For her hair, her dear friend and hair stylist, Keith Carpenter flew down and did it on both Friday and Saturday. “I wanted a very simple, clean bun, which is of course much harder to do well than a complicated up-do, so it was important for me to have someone I knew I could trust with this,” says EJ. “He then switched my bun to a pony for the party dress which was probably unnecessary, but Jake liked it!” EJ admits she waited a bit too long to find earrings and struggled as a result. “Luckily, my mother’s friend lives in Hong Kong and got me a good deal on a pair of drop pearls that ended up being perfect.”

EJ and Jake spent a lot of time planning the ceremony together. “I had no idea it would be so time consuming, but it paid off,” says EJ. “We wanted a service that was traditional, but also reflected us as a couple. I am Anglican an Jake is Catholic, and we were married in an Anglican Cathedral. We had a string quartet play while our guests were seated and for the procession. We are nerds and love classical music, so picking out the songs for them was really fun. We also had a choir sing ‘Amazing Grace’ during the signing of the register, and surprised guests with ‘Oh Happy Day’ during the recessional. The choir also helped us during the hymns, which we needed as we were competing with the organ. I had to put up a bit of a fight to get ‘Amazing Grace.’ Everyone thought it was the wrong message for a wedding, but it reminded me of my late grandmother, so I kept it. I’m so happy I did because the choir sang it beautifully, and it was one of the most memorable moments of the whole weekend.”

There were two readings—one was biblical and one was literary—and it was nice to mix it up a bit. “I think it’s important to keep the ceremony formal but to also make it personal,” says EJ. “People can tell when it’s really been thought about.”

Guests were greeted by the Lyford Cay staff upon arrival at the reception and either served Rum Dums and Champagne as soon as they stepped off the buses. Drinks were in the library and on the terrace of the main club. There was a steel drum band playing as hors d’oeuvres were passed. The bride and the groom did formal photos quickly during this time and then joined the party. Two Bahamian police trumpeters announced dinner. Once everyone else had entered the tent and taken their seats, the trumpeters announced the bride and groom.

The seated dinner started with cold Vichyssoise, served in stemless martini glasses that were sitting in bowls of shaved ice. That was followed by tenderloin, and dessert was Lyford’s famous iced key lime pie. A family friend who is a priest said grace before dinner, and once the soup was cleared the father of the bride and the groom both gave moving toasts.

When dinner was finished a Junkanoo, which is like a Bahamian Mardi-Gras style parade, came into the tent and led guests out through the garden and into the main club which is where the band and main bar were setup. They dropped the bride and groom off on the dance floor and then they had their first dance to Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is.” The epic wedding band Party on the Moon then played until around 2:00 a.m. when a DJ took over.

Meanwhile, a cigar station, a coffee station, and a cheese station were set up in the library. Late night food and some party favors were passed out at around 1:30 a.m. Fries, sliders, grilled cheeses, and mini Chrissy’s were the specialties. “Chrissy’s are an alcoholic milkshake that family friend’s serve at their restaurants in Mobile, Alabama, where my parents are from and I was born,” explains EJ. “They are delicious and dangerous.”

The DJ played until the sun came up, and the bride and groom stayed until about 5:15 a.m. “We decided not to do a send-off as we didn’t want to miss any of the party! We got to say goodbye to everyone at our farewell brunch on Sunday,” says EJ. They spent the next three nights recovering on the beach at Harbor Island before jetting off to the coast of Italy for their honeymoon.