Real Weddings

A Newbury Street First Date, a Zakim Bridge Proposal, and a Five-Star Back Bay Venue

Merilin Castillo and Marquise Stephens had a first-class Boston relationship. So they had to have first-class Boston nuptials too.

Photo by Yuri Vaysgant

The Story

The city has always played an important role in the relationship of native Bostonians Merilin Castillo and Marquise Stephens. After a chance meeting at a Memorial Day barbecue, followed by a first date at Pinkberry on Newbury Street, the couple spent the summer getting to know each other in the Back Bay. In October 2020, on the fifth anniversary of their official first date, they got engaged under the Zakim Bridge. The location had resonance, notes the bride, because “we’re huge Celtics fans—Marquise specifically. I think that went into the planning of the proposal, although he says it didn’t.”

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Either way, it comes as no surprise that their wedding had to take place somewhere equally special within Boston. Of course, with the pandemic in full swing during their engagement, you would think there would have been numerous challenges in pulling everything together, but the process was actually pretty seamless. In fact, just a week after Merilin said “yes,” the couple had their first meeting with their wedding planner—Hermela Belachew of Behind the Design—via Zoom and were ready to take the next step. They started looking at wedding spaces within two weeks, booked their venue by the end of November, and set the date for July 2, 2022. “We were pretty decisive because we knew we wanted to be in the heart of the city,” Merilin says. “We grew up here and we want to be here forever, so we wanted a venue that was quintessential Boston but something a little different. When we walked into Four Seasons One Dalton, we knew we had found it.”

Photo by Yuri Vaysgant

Photo by Yuri Vaysgant

The Details

The Dress

“I wanted something that if I looked at my pictures 30 years from now, I would still feel like it was a beautiful dress,” Merilin says, and with the help of L’élite Bridal Boutique on Newbury Street—by way of designer Ines Di Santo—she accomplished that. “I wanted the dress to be timeless but chic and not too hot for summer, because it was 90 degrees on the day of our wedding. I [also] wanted it to be beautiful, but not loud.”

The Shoes

In order to put her best foot forward for the wedding, the bride wanted an extra-special pair of shoes. “So I had a made-to-order Jimmy Choo sandal—just in a basic ivory—and then had our wedding date nameplated on the bottom of it on a gold plaque,” Merilin says. “That was special to me because I could always think of those as my wedding shoes, and it’s something only I could ever have.”

The Music

The bride and groom wanted to make sure that both of their cultures were represented in the music during the big day. “We’re both from Boston. My family is originally from the Dominican Republic, and Marquise’s family is African American by way of Georgia,” the bride says. “So at any given time, we could have the music go from English to Spanish. It also spanned several decades, but was pretty much Top 40 hip-hop and Latin as the genres.”

Photo by Yuri Vaysgant

The Flowers

“We wanted something that felt timeless,” Merilin says, “so we went with an array of ivory—just beautiful roses mixed in with some other flowers. We wanted it to feel light, sophisticated, and summery.”

The Engagement

Because the theme of Boston was important to the couple, it was even a part of their engagement photos. “We did two outfits: one was wearing a Red Sox jersey and the other was formal wear in the Seaport,” the groom says. “We love to dress up and go to events—corporate ones for our jobs, weddings, and more—but we also love a good Boston sports game, whether it be the Red Sox, the Pats, or the Celtics, so this was something that we put a lot of thought into.”

Photo by Yuri Vaysgant

The File

Bride’s and Groom’s Shoes
Jimmy Choo

Bride’s Dress
Ines Di Santo, L’élite Bridal Boutique

Bride’s Earrings

Bride’s Hair
Lawni Hamilton

Bride’s Makeup
Alexis Seng

Bride’s Nails
The Nail Studio

Sydney Smith Design

Groom’s Attire
Well Groomed Man

Groom’s Hair
Alexis Hernandez

Wedding Planner
Behind the Design

Photo by Yuri Vaysgant

First published in the print “Real Weddings” package of the August 2023 issue, with the headline “Lovestruck in the City.”

Eva Alexandra Photography

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