The line for the ferry began early on the day that Peter Belisle and Jenna Kelly got married at Diamond’s Edge Restaurant and Marina. Men wearing bowties and women in party dresses found seats next to island homeowners and their leashed pooches. Although the sun was shining, ominous clouds were gathering in the distance as the festive crowd disembarked on Great Diamond Island.
Great Diamond is a short boat trip from the coastal Maine town in which my nine younger siblings and I grew up, and just north of South Portland and Biddeford, where my parents were raised. My youngest brother, Peter, was born when I was 16—the fall of my final year at Yarmouth High School. Referencing the Latin she had learned as part of her Catholic school education, my mother called me and Peter “Alpha and Omega.” My little blond brother and I bonded over Disney movies during my college vacations. At the age of six, Peter became an uncle to my son, Campbell, who was born in my second year of medical school.
From the beginning, Peter had a strong internal sense of direction. He was the only Belisle sibling who did not graduate from Yarmouth High School—transferring to Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts during his sophomore year. He went on to attend Stanford University in California, and graduated with a degree in engineering.
Similarly intelligent and motivated, Jenna also happens to be the youngest in her family, with a brother and a sister who are many years her senior. She grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts, and graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., before getting a job with Google in Mountain View, California. She returned East to get her master’s degree in business administration at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia.
Jenna and Peter met on November 16, 2013, at the home of mutual friends, Anne and Ogi Zivojnovic, in San Francisco. Peter, who had been working in the financial field in San Francisco, had been thinking about going back to school for his MBA. They began a long-distance relationship and learned that they shared a love of travel and cooking. Jenna developed a fondness for Peter’s cat, Woogie. In 2014, Peter moved to Philadelphia to join Jenna at the Wharton School.
Peter proposed to Jenna during Labor Day weekend of 2015. They were visiting Chatham, Massachusetts, with Jenna’s family, and started out on their regular morning run. They ended up at the Town Landing Beach—a location that Peter had selected. “Sweaty from the run, frizzy from the sea spray, doing something we do all the time, it was the perfect setting to agree that our futures are together,” says Jenna.
Peter knew that he wanted to get married in his home state of Maine, and Jenna readily agreed. “We wanted it to be relaxing, fun, and a beautiful day on the water with everyone we care about,” says Jenna. They chose Oxbow Brewing in Portland for their rehearsal gathering, and arranged for guests to stay at the Westin Portland Harborview hotel across town. My sisters (Amy, Adelle, Emily, and Sarah) and I gave Jenna a Sea Bag, made from a recycled Maine sail, with their wedding date stitched upon it.
That date—July 8, 2017—soon arrived. Walking up the golf cart path past the brick World War II-era buildings that make up the Diamond Cove restaurant complex, my daughters, Abby and Sophie, and I watched the sky darken and cast shadows upon the nearby pond. The ushers handed out plastic ponchos. Scattered drops of rain fell upon the guests who had settled on the white folding chairs. We waited apprehensively, wondering if the ceremony might be completed before the weather changed.
Nature gave us her answer, sending torrents of rain over the crowd within minutes. Peter and Jenna, who had been hiding in the reception tent, appeared, and told us to run toward them—quickly. Jenna held the hem of her sleeveless gown by Leanne Marshall above the mud. The significant man in my life, Kevin Thomas, helped to tie the tent flaps down as the guests enjoyed an impromptu pre-wedding cocktail hour.
Then, as quickly as it had arisen, the storm was gone. The sun came out, and we wiped the water from the white folding chairs. My brothers—Jeff, Matt, John, and Brian—lined up under the evergreens with the other members of the wedding party as steam rose from the pond. My parents, Mary and Charlie, walked Peter down the grassy aisle. Jenna soon followed, escorted by her father, her smile undimmed by the rain of a few moments before.
The ceremony was eclectic and beautiful. A shore bird flew above the crowd, interrupting the readings with his call. Anne Zivojnovic gave a homily that was at once thoughtful and humorous. I wiped tears away as my baby brother—the kid I had once called “Petey Peaches”—exchanged vows with Jenna, and placed a ring on her finger. I noticed that he was crying, too.
We celebrated their marriage at a reception and after-party that were replete with whimsical touches. We sat at tables labeled with names borrowed from Lord of the Rings—evidence of Peter’s wry brand of humor. We danced to the band Wavelength, and watched Jenna’s six-year-old niece, Emma, perform “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. Jenna’s father gave a toast, regaling us with tales of her childhood. Instead of wedding cake, we ate Maine potato donuts from the Holy Donut, while the children played lawn games under the birches. After the wedding, many of the guests joined Peter and Jenna for a boat ride on the Casco Bay Lines private charter boat, Bay Mist.
Having gracefully weathered the storm of their wedding, Peter and Jenna are now living in Boston, ready to weather the larger storms that are inevitable in life. My family’s gift to them was a small painting by North Haven resident Eric Hopkins. We hope that Peter and Jenna will look at the little bit of blue sky he has created and remember their wedding day, and that life’s clouds, like rain, are only temporary.
Peter wanted nothing more than to be married on the water in Maine. “It was hard to argue with that,” says Jenna. They perused the Maine Magazine wedding guide, Wed Maine, and consulted with editor-in-chief Rebecca Falzano (who had herself been married at Diamond’s Edge), before scouting for locations the following February. “Even on a bitterly cold winter day, we knew that Diamond’s Edge on Great Diamond Island was the perfect spot for an outdoor summer wedding as soon as we laid eyes on the site,” Jenna says.
Peter and Jenna were married by their good friend, Anne Zivojnovic. “She put together a document full of options and variations for us to review, knowing that customizing the ceremony was one of the things we cared most about,” says Jenna. The couple reworked the wording until it was right and felt like it belonged to them. “Anne’s homily and our vows, though, were a secret until the day of.”
The summer before the wedding, Peter and Jenna went on a harbor cruise to get to know the Scarborough-based dance band Wavelength. “The boat was filled with bachelor parties, high school reunions, first dates, anniversary celebrations, and somehow the band managed to get everyone dancing,” says Jenna. “That was exactly what we wanted.”
In the early days of wedding planning, Peter jokingly suggested that instead of numbers, the tables at the reception should be named after locations in Lord of the Rings. He stuck with it, and on wedding guests found themselves sitting at tables named “Bag End,” or “Buckleberry Ferry.” Jenna managed to slip in one location from the Harry Potter series. “To my knowledge, only two people figured out that the interloper was ‘Little Whinging,’” she says.