Island Style Weddings is a premier luxury event-planning firm located on the gorgeous and quaint island of St. John, serving the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean. Founded in 2002 by visionary leader Mary Castle Bartolucci, Island Style Weddings has been featured in major publications and blogs such as Carats and CakeGrace Ormonde Wedding Style magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty, Little Black Book, Jet Féte, Destination Weddings, and many more. The experience and knowledge of Mary and her event manager, Brenda Sonson, continually produce stunning, intimate environments that capture the essences of the islands, and tailor the details to perfectly meet the needs and style of the happy couple. ISW goes above and beyond to ensure that the creative process, planning, budgeting, decision making, wedding day, and entire vacation goes as smooth as possible for the lovers and all their friends and family.

about us

MEET THE LADIES BEHIND THE MAGIC

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mary+brenda

---mary

Island Style Weddings came from a vision and a passion

to create a business that would make my heart sing!  

Do what you love and you will never have to work a day 

in your life. I have never looked back.

our beginnings

Founder, Mary Castle Bartolucci, spent many years working for major luxury hotels and resorts in the United States and Virgin Islands. Her career in event planning began while working for Marriott, Westin, and Sheraton where she coordinated events for heads of state, celebrities, and numerous corporations. In 2002, after eight hotels and seventeen years, she found herself feeling unfulfilled and bored. “I took a leap of faith and Island Style Weddings was born,” Mary shares. 

Why wedding planning?

As a planner by nature, wedding planning allows Mary to use her talents in business and design—two areas which give her great joy and allow her to share her extensive knowledge, connections, and love of the Caribbean with her clients to fulfill their wedding day dreams.  

 

“One of the first questions I ask each couple is:  Describe to me your vision of your wedding day? My mission is to interpret that vision and turn it into their dream wedding, and create a week filled with precious moments and adventure, curated exclusively for each client,” shares Mary.

 

Island Style Weddings’ Event Manager, Brenda Sonson, shares, “The art of wedding planning can be very challenging, but the rewards are great.  You get to assist in creating memories that will last a lifetime.  This career path has given me an opportunity to see my beautiful island of St. John through different eyes, as there isn’t another island as beautiful as St. John."

 

“Being part of a wedding is an honor that forever stimulates me—to be entrusted into one’s family with such a milestone event. My couples become friends for life, return for vow renewals, refer me to their friends and families, and send me lots and lots of baby photos!” exclaims  Mary.

MARY CASTLE BARTOLUCCI

Being part of a wedding is an honor

that forever stimulates me.

 Q & A with Mary 

What is your favorite part of a wedding? 

“As a destination wedding planner, I love to observe the guests when they first arrive and how they are feeling at the end of the event. Because a destination wedding is not just a one-day event, guests have the opportunity to experience a new location and have a wonderful vacation with family and friends, while attending their loved one's wedding.  At the end of the wedding, it's lovely to see how much fun they are having, and I am so touched to see them profusely thanking the couple for inviting them.”

What inspires you to create stunning designs for your clients?

“I love to take someone's vision and style and create something that works in the tropics while being reflective of them.  I enjoy creating timeless designs by combining some of the recent trends with some classic look.  I call it tropical chic vs. BOHO wedding.”

Are there are any challenges to having a wedding in St. John? 

“Because we NEVER work inside and also do many wedding ceremonies within the VI National Park, we must adhere to the park rules.  My role is to take my client’s dream and create it here on our small tropical island, island style.”

Three words that describe your work style?

“Attentive, flawless and relaxed.”

Tell us about yourself--

“I have three grown daughters—two are architectural designers and one is an investigator.  I also have a 12lb ‘killer’ named Cookie.  She is my guardian and companion.  I named her after my late sister Colleen (her nickname was Cookie).  When I went to the Animal Care Center of St. John, Cookie was only a few months old.  Her coat reminded me of an Irish setter.  So, of course, the first Irish name that came to me was Colleen, and Cookie became my sweet girl!"

Because your clients travel from countries all over the world to a tiny island, can you describe how you work with them?  

“Usually, it begins with an email to set up a phone chat with them. I ask my clients to send me photos of things they like—it can be anything in order for me to get a feel for what their style and personality is like. Once I receive their photos, I set up a phone call to discuss overall vision and details.  Many couples are coming to the island to do venue search and vendor meetings, however, this is not the norm or required.  We find the most successful planner/couple relationship is when we work methodically and focus on what needs to be done right now.  We schedule weekly phone calls to get to know each other, and turn concepts and colors into an incredible celebration.  

I know St. John is the primary island that you have weddings. Do you manage weddings at other Caribbean islands?   

“YES, we do! We’ve had weddings on St.Thomas, St. Croix, and the British Virgin Islands in lovely venues such as Richard Branson's Mosquito Island, Oil Nut Bay, The Bitter End, and The Buccaneer. After the devastating hurricanes that hit St. John in 2017, it's wonderful to see the islands rebuilding stronger and more beautifully than ever!  We are delighted to be booking weddings as far out as 2020!"

I always want to find a way to share with the world why St. John has the name Love City.

BRENDA SONSON

 Q & A with Brenda 

Where does your inspiration come from? 

“My favorite part of a wedding is seeing the final product come to life once the decor has been set-up. It brings me great satisfaction knowing that I was part of making someone’s vision a reality for one of the most important days of their life. I am always hopeful that they love it as much as I do!”

What is your favorite part of a wedding? 

“My inspiration comes from several factors.  First, their vision: what is it they would like for that day to be like?  Second, it is my eagerness to challenge my creative side by making each design better than the one before, while staying true to the understated elegance and rustic charm of St. John. I have noticed in my years that the tablescapes are simplifying, with the focus being placed on making the overall atmosphere and event more romantic and inviting by incorporating mood-lighting and an inviting, flowing layout.  And last but not least, the beautiful place that I live. I always want to find a way to share with the world why St. John’s nickname is Love City.  

St. John is an island filled with warmth from our sunny skies to our magnificent sunsets."

Tell me about you, do you have a family? 

“I am a proud single mother of one daughter, Shakwana, and three sons: Nekwan, Nekhori, and Nekwante. I am a native of St. John and seven-years ago I bought my own home.  I have also served my community by giving eighteen-years of service as a firefighter. The past five years working as a wedding planner at Island Style Weddings has opened up a creative side of me that I never knew existed.  

On a funny note, I have never owned a pet and was actually very afraid of dogs, until Cookie entered into Mary’s life. Now, I love Cookie as if l she was my own!”

We hope that you will consider planning an

Island Style Wedding and share in the beauty of the Caribbean.

Begin the rest of your life right here!

mary and brenda

340.774.1484   |   5000 ESTATE ENIGHED PMB 291, ST. JOHN, USVI 00831   |   MARYBARTOLUCCI@GMAIL.COM

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