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Couple wed on Shelter Island contemplate their first Valentine’s Day

For their first Valentine’s Day since their wedding on Shelter Island last fall, Carolyn and Chris Bennett-Newes, like most newlyweds, were blending romance with a good dose of reality.

Carolyn was fighting a case of COVID, and Chris faced the prospect of a 12-hour day on Feb. 14 at his job in film production. So, they were going to make their own Valentine’s celebration, never mind the calendar.

“Most likely we will treat ourselves to a nice dinner that weekend,” Chris said.

Not that Valentine’s Day is not special to them, Carolyn said, recalling that was the day they got engaged in 2022. “We went to the beach with our dog and Chris proposed at sunset.”

The couple met in college and moved to California to work in film visual effects, Chris on set and Carolyn in post-production. The writers’ and actors’ strikes were a challenging time for them, curtailing work and earnings for the young couple.

While coping with the financial realities, they used the time to focus on their hobbies and individual interests. “My biggest hobby is dance,” Carolyn said. “I danced for a long time as a kid, then once we moved I started dancing again. I mostly dance hip hop and open styles. I love it and have met so many great people through it.”

Chris devoted his attention to home brewing: “ He’s done different beers, ciders, and meads,” Carolyn said. Another creative outlet for him was making music with synthesizers.

Although they live on the West Coast, the couple had decided the perfect place for their wedding was the Island, where Chris had happy memories of summer visits with his grandparents, Charles and Pat Tranfield, since his childhood.

The date they chose, Sept. 9, was a happy coincidence for them, Carolyn said they realized: “It was the ninth day of the ninth month of the ninth year we had been together.”

As they planned their wedding and surrounding events, Chris said they learned an important lesson: “The best advice I can give is to hire local. The people on the Island know everything you would need to know and are just amazing.”

They hired a local wedding planner, Tamara Shenkle, and based the September celebration at SALT and the Boathouse at the Island Boatyard.

“Ali and Keith, owners of SALT, and the entire staff were phenomenal,” he said. “And of course Megan and the staff from The Boathouse were absolutely amazing in helping us get the location ready and perfect.”

They learned from their experience that wedding planning is inevitably going to be stressful, so it’s “always best to hire the people who know the area best.”

Plus: “Always have a rain plan. We got very lucky that the rain held until the day after the wedding, but it was touch and go there for a bit. Luckily, we did have a rain plan in case, which eased the stress.”

Successfully navigating the wedding planning process was one step — a very important one — in a journey that began for Chris and Carolyn about nine years ago. Their day-to-day realities since then range from merging finances to taking care of each other “in sickness and in health.”

When their busy schedules permit, they’ll dream of a return visit to the place where they celebrated their vows among family and friends, on a day when the rain held off and the Island worked its magic.