Though everything about their wedding day was picture-perfect, it was dirty laundry that brought South End residents John Lam and John Ruggieri together.
“John was driving his car, and he stopped to let me cross the street,” remembers Lam, a 27-year-old soloist at the Boston Ballet. “He smiled. I smiled. I dropped off my laundry. He dropped off his dry cleaning. I went for coffee at the Buttery Cafe and sat outside nearby. John came around the corner and we started talking.”
Ruggieri, an equity partner and attorney specializing in residential real estate development at the Boston law firm Looney & Grossman, asked Lam out on a date. That was in September 2008. Three years and two days later, the two celebrated their wedding in front of 150 friends and family (and several highly scenic cows). Dancers and choreographers, lawyers and developers, Vietnamese and Italian relatives, a mix of generations: “It was a real melting-pot wedding,” Lam says.
It was also storybook beautiful. Lam, whose elegantly artistic dance style carries over to his taste in fashion and design, was the overall creative director, with Ruggieri dubbing himself “director of fun.” First on their agenda: what to wear.
“I’ve been a 007 fan my entire life,” says the 46-year-old Ruggieri, smiling. “Sean Connery walking into the casino in his cream-colored dinner jacket – the epitome of style.” Friend Darwin Cordoba, who works at Ralph Lauren on Newbury Street, helped Ruggieri pick out a classic featherweight wool jacket from the designer’s Black Label collection in a rich ivory, a more versatile color than crisp white. Ruggieri walked down the aisle to a string quartet playing the James Bond theme song.
Lam had his own fashion fantasy of an edgy custom-made evening jacket by Tom Ford, something he could wear later to Boston Ballet galas. “I see all these brides spend thousands and thousands of dollars, and men always have your typical tuxes,” says Lam, who went to Ford’s New York store and was instantly drawn to a swatch of purple textured silk and wool fabric. “They sent my measurements off to Italy, and it came back absolutely perfect.”
Both Lam and Ruggieri paired their jackets with Ralph Lauren Black Label tuxedo pants and custom shirts from Turnbull & Asser, the British company that, incidentally, also outfitted Sean Connery’s Bond.
For the wedding party, Lam chose purple-toned ties for each of the grooms’ best men and fathers, with Lam’s maid of honor and bridesmaid – both dancers at the Boston Ballet – asked to wear their own choice of black gowns. “Well, someone at the wedding should be wearing a gown,” Lam jokes.
The couple had planned to wed at Ruggieri’s secluded log home in Barnard, Vermont, a favorite location of his and Lam’s. But that was before pals Tory and Tommy Vallely offered their spectacular 200-acre estate in North Pomfret, Vermont, for the celebration. The main house had enough bedrooms to accommodate Lam’s entire family from California, as well as some of Ruggieri’s from Rhode Island – good thing, as the inn where they had planned to stay was flooded by Hurricane Irene and temporarily closed just weeks before the event.
The pair hired Carrie MacMillan-Lane of Storied Events in Stowe to coordinate arrangements. “I didn’t need a wedding planner but an event planner, because I knew exactly what I wanted,” says Lam. “The florist, invitations, and caterer were all friends. The location was our friends’.”
That level of personal connection was both helpful and a challenge, says MacMillan-Lane. “I was very unsure when we first started talking because of all the different players not used to working on such a big event. But we stayed in close contact and it all came together.”
In addition to handling logistics, MacMillan-Lane was responsible for the imaginative use of the breathtaking grounds: selecting the most beautiful tree to frame the ceremony, turning a stone wall into a rustic bar, and positioning the cocktail party and fireworks – yes, fireworks – for optimum picture-taking and scenic views.
The reception was held in a large tent. For interior lighting, the production staff of the Boston Ballet pitched in, assisting Lam in creating a graphic display on the tent interior based on custom designs by Ruggieri’s best man, Richard Cobb. A principal in Winsor Cobb Design, a graphic design company in South Boston, Cobb created all of the printed materials, from the invitations to the imaginative table-identification plaques. Ruggieri thought assigning guests to numbered tables seemed a bit boring, so he decided to name each after his and Lam’s favorite artists (e.g., Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev, Frank Sinatra, Robert De Niro).
The heritage of both of the grooms was also very much a part of the celebration. There was a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony, and each family prepared a signature hors d’oeuvre: egg rolls from the Lams, stuffed cherry peppers from the Ruggieris. They also went to Modern Pastry in the North End, “where every law-abiding Italian gets their chocolate-covered wedding almonds,” says Ruggieri.
And as for the fun? “I come from a time when I never thought I could get married,” says Ruggieri. “It was one of the funnest days of my life.”
Tina Sutton is a regular Globe Magazine contributor. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.