By Samantha Iacia, For The Baltimore Sun
November 23, 2013
Her story: Shannon Hanley, 31, grew up in Sparks. She works in the sales department as an implement coordinator at HFS Benefits in Hunt Valley. Her parents, Patrick and Eileen Hanley, live in Sparks.
His story: Paul Sortino, 29, grew up in Towson. He is a certified financial planner for small businesses at Worthington Financial Partners in Hunt Valley. His parents, Steve and Denise Sortino, live in Towson.
Their story: Shannon and Paul met as elementary school students at Immaculate Conception School in Towson, though their families already knew each other — Shannon's mom went to elementary school with Paul's dad and high school with Paul's aunt.
Shannon and Paul lost touch when they went to different high schools but reconnected in 2006 when Shannon was a manager at Stinger's (now Della Rose's) in White Marsh. Paul became a bartender at the restaurant and in 2008 they began dating. They now live in the house right next door to Paul's parents in Towson.
The proposal: In July 2012, Paul and Shannon vacationed on Block Island, R.I., a destination that Shannon's family has frequented for 12 years. Paul arranged for an airplane to fly overhead with a banner reading, "Shannon, will you marry me?" while he and Shannon were on the beach.
On the morning of the proposal, the airplane pilot called Paul to speed up the plan because storms were rolling in.
During a 20-minute scooter ride to the island's North Lighthouse where everything was to take place, Paul saw the plane flying in the distance and had to distract Shannon before she figured out the surprise. It circled overhead just as they reached the edge of the lighthouse beach. Paul told Shannon to read the plane's banner, and as she was looking up, he got the ring ready and knelt to propose.
The venue: Shannon always knew she wanted a beach destination wedding but wanted the location to be practical for guests. At her dad's suggestion, Shannon and Paul decided to have the wedding on Block Island.
The Catholic Mass took place at Saint Andrew Catholic Church. The Rev. Tim Gills, a Sortino family friend, presided. Shannon and Paul's yellow Labrador retriever, Dozer, was the ring bearer and wore a pink seersucker bowtie collar.
A reception followed at the Cushman Mansion Beach House.
Decor: The couple chose a beach theme with Block Island touches. Compasses served as the escort cards and were arranged on a table with a sign reading, "We found each other, now find your table." For table markers, Paul used distressed pieces of plywood and painted them with names of landmarks around the island.
Flowers: The Rose Farm Inn made the bridal bouquets using roses in pastel shades of pink, cream and peach. Shannon's dad's handkerchief was wrapped around her bouquet stems as her "something borrowed."
Her dress: The bride wore a strapless, A-line satin gown with ruffled skirt by Casablanca Bridal from Gamberdella Bridal Salon in Towson. Attached to the back of her dress was a blue charm from a pre-wedding trip to Chicago with Paul that served as her "something blue." She wore a pearl bracelet that was a gift from Paul as her "something new."
Bridesmaids' dresses: The women wore strapless blue knee-length dresses with ruching from David's Bridal.
Men's attire: The men wore tan, linen Calvin Klein suits and white dress shirts from Men's Wearhouse in Towson. The groomsmen wore blue and white striped Vineyard Vines ties. Paul wore a pink Vineyard Vines tie designed exclusively for Block Island retailers.
Food and dessert: Block Island Gourmet provided sea bass and filet mignon for dinner. Aldo's Bakery of Block Island provided cookies, brownies and a small cake for Shannon and Paul.
Music: DJ Jon O'Neil of Connecticut entertained the guests. Shannon and Paul's first dance was to "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers.
Favors: Guests received salt and pepper shakers to represent the couple's initials, "S" and "P." Shannon hand-painted the Block Island silhouette onto each shaker set.
Special touch: After the reception, the couple hosted a bonfire on the beach. The DJ played his acoustic guitar for the guests.
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