August 11, 2013 | Quidnessett Country Club
Complete with a mandolin player, a gondola ride and video footage of her son giving his blessing — Bruce Edward Engstrom carefully constructed the perfect moment to ask Heather Ann Palmieri for her hand.
Heather, a second-grade teacher in Cranston, and Bruce, a Johnston fire fighter, met on Match.com in 2012. “I was searching . . . and I stopped at Bruce’s picture,” the bride recalls. They spoke by telephone while he was on a road trip to Ohio with his three daughters, and planned to meet when he returned. They hit it off over that dinner, and two months later, introduced their four children to each other. A month later, he popped the question. “Bruce proposed on bended knee in the gondola,” Heather says. “Not only did he have precious words, and a gorgeous ring, he had a video recording of his conversation with my son. He showed my son the ring and asked his permission to marry me. That was when I cried like a baby.”
In just a year, the pair had a new home, a blended family and a wedding to plan. “We like to keep busy,” the bride says. The couple celebrated their wedding at Quidnessett Country Club. “We fell in love with the garden ceremony site,” Heather says. “It was in full bloom and gorgeous, and we liked the idea of guests being in one location for both the ceremony and reception.”
Heather said, “yes to the dress” in Manhattan at Kleinfeld’s, where one of the women from the popular TLC reality show helped her find her dream dress — a Jim Hjelm lace-fitted bodice gown she describes as “elegant and sexy.” “I wasn’t planning on purchasing a dress there; I wanted to go for the experience.” But after four trips to New York City — and two fender-benders — the gown was hers.
They were married under the fiery August sun, indicative of the wedding’s “fire fighter” theme, which included a vibrant red, orange and yellow color scheme, a fire fighter-themed wedding cake, flaming baked Alaska, and a fire-fighter’s boot filled with a floral arrangement.
Their attendants were their children — Heather’s son, and the groom’s three daughters. The girls walked down the aisle in peplum-style lace dresses, carrying “flaming” bouquets of red roses arranged with small white feathers as well as red, orange and yellow orchids.
Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Engstrom Jr. treated the ceremony as a “blending of families” rather than solely a commemoration of their love. During the ceremony, each family member poured different color sand into a container now displayed on the family’s mantel. For the new family this is symbolic of their lives blending together.
After the ceremony, the couple, their children and guests took pictures in front of an antique fire truck. The reception included a cocktail hour and a land and sea dinner. The wedding cake was on display, with three tiers featuring flame designs, but it was only for display — the flaming baked Alaska was served for dessert.
The reception made room for family as well. “I danced with my son, Bruce danced with each of his daughters all to individual songs that hold dear meaning,” Heather says. During an evening of dancing, the disc jockey provided red uplighting to give the reception room a red glow.
The newlyweds honeymooned in the Dominican Republic and returned to their Cranston home. Words of advice from the bride — “Take a deep breath, don’t sweat the small details, they are only noticeable to you and not the guests!”