Their romance began in an elevator.
“I first met his brother, Kevin, through friends, and he mentioned Jimmy would be moving into the building,” says Kristen Hayes, who grew up in Needham and had been living in the Seaport high-rise for a few months. “They look alike, so after seeing Jimmy around a few times, I asked if he was Kevin’s brother and introduced myself.”
Jimmy immediately interrogated his brother about his neighbor — then Kristen Valente — and a group dinner was arranged at Legal Harborside a few days later. They’d like to say that the rest is history, but things weren’t that simple.
Jimmy, a hockey player from Dorchester who competed for Boston College before going pro, would soon be joining the Florida Panthers for the 2014-15 season. (Jimmy is currently under contract to the Pittsburgh Penguins; Kevin plays for the New York Rangers.) They hit it off, but Kristen was a tad skeptical that anything would come of it. They Skyped and saw each other when they could until Jimmy returned at the end of the season and they were able to spend more time together. That July, he signed with the Bruins, and they moved in together that fall. He popped the question on a cold day in March 2016.
They were walking along the water, on the way to meet his sister for pizza, when, Kristen recalls, “Jimmy started saying how much he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He wasn’t making any sense, and all of the sudden he was down on one knee.”
He led her to their favorite Seaport restaurant, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, where their closest friends and family were waiting to celebrate. “I didn’t expect any of it, since it was the middle of hockey season,” says Kristen. “I only wished I wasn’t wearing jeans and an old flannel shirt!”
They had discussed a summer engagement. However, once Jimmy picked up the cushion-cut diamond ring from a Toronto jeweler during a trip to play the Maple Leafs, he couldn’t wait. As soon as he returned to Boston, he asked Kristen’s dad to meet him that night for dinner. “Apparently Jimmy was so nervous it took him half an hour to bring it up,” Kristen says.
The couple hired Alexis Accomando of The Little Things to help design and plan their July 2018 wedding at Wychmere Beach Club in Harwich Port. At their first meeting at Legal Oysteria, near the couple’s town house in Charlestown, Accomando was struck by their affection. “They lit up when they talked about each other and their wedding,” she says. Then adds, “And Jimmy is hilarious.”
Their number one priority was to throw a great party with fun activities for friends and family. The weekend kicked off with an early rehearsal dinner at the Ocean House Restaurant in Dennis Port, followed by welcome drinks with everyone at The Port Restaurant & Bar in Harwich Port. “The girls stayed out late with the groomsmen that night, but they showed up right on time the next morning,” Kristen says.
Jimmy and his groomsmen — his brother and best man, Kevin, six BC teammates, and Kristen’s two brothers — had an early tee time, then chilled with beers and snacks at a nearby rental. The women sipped champagne in a suite at the Wychmere, dressed in floral Plum Pretty Sugar pajama shorts, a gift from Kristen.
The Rev. Tony Penna, BC director of campus ministry, officiated at Holy Trinity Church in West Harwich. “When he arrived at the rehearsal, there were lots of hugs,” Accomando says. “You don’t usually see that between the clergy and wedding party.”
Kristen wore a lace fit-and-flare gown with illusion straps and a deep V back by Justin Alexander from Alexandra’s Bridal Boutique in Fall River. The designer was visiting the store for a trunk show the day she found it, and he sketched Kristen in the dress. (The drawing is currently in storage, and she plans to frame it.)
The bridesmaids — six girlfriends and Jimmy’s three sisters — wore neutral gowns in soft silhouettes by Joanna August. Justine Johnson of Flowers by Justine, who also designed the arrangements for the reception, created bouquets of generous white blooms with hints of blush, plus silvery greens for texture.
A white trolley transported the bridal party and the couple’s parents to the Wychmere. There, 285 guests enjoyed raw oysters and jumbo shrimp, mini lobster rolls, “haute” dogs on miniature brioche buns, flatbreads, and other hors d’oeuvres, along with Cape Codders — Kristen’s dad’s favorite cocktail — on the brick patio.
A traditional dinner of grilled filet mignon or crab-crusted local cod was served in an airy space with wood beams and driftwood floors overlooking the harbor. The bridal party sat at a long white farm table draped with a eucalyptus garland. Casually elegant arrangements of lush peonies, ranunculus, and garden roses, plus lots of white candles, added to the romance of the room. The catering team created custom individual crème brûlées, Jimmy’s favorite, for dessert.
After the newlyweds’ first dance, to “Then” by Brad Paisley — a song Jimmy once told Kristen reminded him of her — the dance floor was packed until midnight. “We all had so much fun, including our parents’ friends,” says Kristen. “That was our main goal, for everyone to have an amazing time.”