Wedding day nears for Fenton, Fung

Johnston Sun Rise ·

For Barbara Ann Fenton and Allan Fung, the “modern day fairy tale” leading up to their wedding day began four years ago in Florida.

Both were delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, the first day of which was canceled because of Hurricane Isaac. In windy conditions, Fenton’s umbrella struck the Cranston mayor. The two began a conversation, and then went out for lunch.

“Girl hits guy with an umbrella during a hurricane … Guy gets all sense knocked out of him … They get engaged 2 1/2 years later … And everyone lives happily ever after,” reads an introductory note on the couple’s wedding website.

Fung, who has been Cranston’s chief executive since 2009, and Fenton, who chairs the Rhody Young Republicans and works as a physical therapist at Rhode Island Hospital, will be married June 18 at St. Mary’s Church in Newport. It is the same church where John and Jacqueline Kennedy were wed in 1953, and is Fenton’s home parish.

The ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m., with a reception at the Tennis Hall of Fame to follow.

Fung and Fenton said in planning for the wedding day, they have sought to keep to the festivities as laid-back and close-knit as possible. Given their profile, that has proven challenging – an initial attempt at a guest list, they said, included more than 800 names.

Fung said the day will include “family members and close friends,” with 200 guests. A later gathering is being planned, he said, to allow a larger number of people to participate in the celebration.

The couple is also seeking to downplay the political nature of the gathering, although some faces familiar to Rhode Islanders – and Cranstonians in particular – will be a part of the proceedings. Former Cranston City Council member James Donahue and former Providence mayor Angel Taveras – the latter of whom has been a friend of Fung’s since childhood – are among the groomsmen.

Fenton said the couple is aiming for a “laid back” atmosphere that reflects their personalities.

“This will be more of a family and very tight friends event versus a political circus,” Fenton said. “However, of course, some of our best friends used to or currently do hold political office, so there might be one or two familiar faces in there.”

While striving to keep politics out of the picture, Fenton and Fung are embracing their unique stories and backgrounds as part of the festivities.

Fenton, of Irish heritage, was born in Newport and raised in Middletown, and has a condo just a stone’s throw from St. Mary’s. Fung grew up in South Providence in a first-generation Chinese immigrant family, and speaks often of working in his parents’ restaurant during his formative years.

“I wanted a very unique wedding in the sense that we really concentrated on honoring both cultures,” Fenton said. “And well, there needed to be lots of thinking outside the box. So there will be a bagpiper in our very Irish Catholic church, and later on the Rhode Island Kung Fu Club will be performing the Lion Dance at our reception. We’re having Chinese food … I know a lot of people thought we were joking, but seriously, Jackie’s Galaxy is catering our wedding. It’s fantastic.”

That approach went as far as the wedding invitations, designed by Vickie Huang with a Chinese double happiness symbol.

“I never thought I’d care about invitations… but I love how unique everything is, and the thought we’ve put in to everything,” Fenton said. It’s made it quite fun.”

Citing their respective parents’ backgrounds as business owners, Fenton and Fung have also created a gift registry made up exclusively of small businesses.

Fenton and Fung got engaged in March of last year while on vacation at a resort outside Cancun, Mexico. The two plan to reside together in Cranston, while keeping Fenton’s condo in Newport. Ahead of the wedding, Fung has converted to Catholicism.

Fenton has been a constant presence at Fung’s side in recent years, including during his 2014 run for governor. The wedding will make that presence a more formal one, adding to her list of titles that of Cranston’s “first lady.”

She spoke of her enjoyment of Cranston, including walks in Pawtuxet Village, workouts at LA Fitness, and dining at Newport Creamery and Twin Oaks.

Fenton also spoke of how she and Fung incorporate politics into their partnership.

“Of course Allan and I have different opinions on some things politically. It would be so boring if we didn’t,” she said. You know, there’s 10 years between us, and we grew up in vastly different neighborhoods … You keep things in perspective, and respect that we all have different life experiences that brought you here … We’re on the same team.”