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Justin and Sophia

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For Justin and Sophia, the big day marked not just a blending of families, but a blending of cultures as well, so they set to infuse their celebration with touches of cultural significance From the Chinese banquet provided by Sunflower Chinese Restaurant at the rehearsal dinner to the arak (the traditional alcoholic beverage of Lebanon) and food from Lavash Cafe at the reception, Justin and Sophia, the children of immigrants, were able to support local, immigrant-owned businesses as a part of their wedding celebration.

Other special touches included table decorations of olive branches and the gardenias in Sophia’s wedding bouquet, both a tribute to the flora of Sophia’s grandparents’ gardens at their home in Lebanon. The
poetry of Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran also became an intimate cultural touch during the ceremony.

  • Food: Lavash Cafe
  • Apparel: bhldn.com /pursuityourself.com
  • Booze: Couple sourced their own bar
  • Officiant: Childhood friend
  • Standout Vendor: Tracie Zodie, blisseventco.com
  • Budget:$50,000

The big day in six words:

Family. Cultural Pride. Love. Precious. Unforgettable.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Who was someone who made your big day run smoothly?

Our wedding planner, Tracie Zodie from Bliss Events and our photographers Hristina and Paul from Aperture Photography, made our day run smoothly. Tracie worked tirelessly to ensure that each phase of the day went according to plan and Hristina and Paul perfectly captured each moment not just as beautiful photographs, but as the cherished memories that they will always be to us.

Any standout stories from that day, or something that you’d do over every time if given the chance?

We often relive those moments when we took our “first look” photos. That feeling of giddy excitement mixed with the love we have had for one another all these years made seeing each other in a private moment before the ceremony an unforgettable experience. We also danced our first dance to the song “Do You Realize” by the Flaming Lips and on the last reprise of the chorus, we asked everyone who knew the words to sing along. We finished our first dance with all our friends singing the words: “Let them know you realize that life goes fast, it’s hard to make the good things last, you realize the sun don’t go down, it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.” We tear up everytime we talk about it! This was the first song Justin ever sang to me in high school when we first became friends, talking into the wee hours of the morning on the telephone. It was a perfect moment to dance to it—two adults in love after over a decade of friendship, surrounded by our lifelong friends and our family singing along.

Did anything go comically wrong, or was there anything you wish you had skipped?

Justin really wanted our wedding day to be 8/18/18 as the number “8” is a lucky number in Chinese culture. Despite me, his mom and his sisters urging him to reconsider for fear of rain and heat, he stood by his choice. And what do you know, it rained the whole week leading up to the ceremony! Luckily, on our wedding day it only sprinkled. But our reception was in an outdoor tent and, needless to say from all the rain, it was incredibly muddy out there. Our friends and family were unphased, and we all ended up tearing up the dance floor getting down and funky in the mud! Our DJ Adam Scoppa was incredible!

Was there anything you did or had that made the big day easier?

We are so grateful for our planner and our family and friends for making sure that every detail was paid its due attention!

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Ryan and Amanda

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Ryan and Amanda took “Don’t see the bride until she walks down the aisle,” seriously. However, Amanda, a hairdresser, wanted to make sure Ryan’s long tresses met her standards.

“Before the ceremony I had Ryan face away from me in a chair and I came in behind him and did his hair for our ceremony.”

Amanda also pulled out her crafting game and made her own hairpiece, candles, table runners, wildflower teacups, hanging eucalyptus chandeliers, and glass mushrooms as part of the wildflower and mushroom theme for the day. The mother of bride also stepped up to the plate and made all of the bouquets and decorated the primary wedding cake.

Ryan proposed to Amanda on a mountaintop in Utah, and as a remembrance, his ring is a wooden band made from a branch of a tree on that mountain. Amanda upcycled her grandfather’s ring and incorporated stones from both of their mothers’ rings.

Natural beauty shone through the day as wildflowers and mushrooms became the couple’s theme for their celebration at The Grange Audubon Center. Rather than a traditional guest book, friends and family signed ribbons on a dreamcatcher, a traditional protective charm.

  • Food: Bosc + Brie
  • Officiant: Michael DeMaria, best friend
  • Standout Vendor: Nothing Bundt Cakes
  • Budget: $20,000

The big day in six words

A party full of loved ones.

Who was someone who made your big day run smoothly?

My bridesmaids and mother were so helpful the day of my wedding. I got out of control crafting every little thing for the wedding and they helped bring my imagination to life. I couldn’t have gotten everything set up the day of without them.

Any standout stories from that day, or something that you’d do over every time if given the chance?

My and my dad’s song is “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty. My Dad and I decided last minute to do our father-daughter dance to “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty instead. A little later on when everyone was dancing the DJ played “Free Fallin’.” I was looking everywhere for my dad and then I heard his voice singing along on the microphone to “Free Fallin’.” When I looked up at the DJ booth, there he was singing it to me. During cocktail hour he had passed out lyrics to everyone at the wedding so he could surprise me with singing it to me later on in the evening. This was a huge deal because my dad is extremely, extremely shy.

Did anything go comically wrong, or was there anything you wish you had skipped?

EVERYTHING went wrong!! The caterers were understaffed so my bridesmaids, myself and my mom had to help set up most of our wedding set-up. The DJ lost our music and cut our first dance song (we had a dance routine) short. My veil ripped out of my hair coming back down the aisle. The bar ran out of ice and our cake was never served. There was more and I was very caught up in everything that went wrong that day for a while, but now looking back we were so lucky to have the people we love with us in one room. I might have noticed every detail that went wrong, but my guests certainly didn’t. Everyone had a great time. Looking back I laugh about those things that I was so caught up on.

Was there anything you did or had that made the big day easier?

Yes! Hire a wedding planner! Just spend the money on it. It’s worth it! We had a wedding coordinator and that was nice, but a wedding planner is there to make sure you think and feel like your day is perfect.

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Abbey and Michael

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When Abbey met Michael as a high-school football player, became friends with him, and fell in love with him, she also fell in love with his dog Elliot, who came along with Michael to Brewdog to help propose with a festive balloon that read “Marry My Daddy.”

“He was a hit and got a lot of love and attention from our guests,” Abbey said. “He was there just long enough to greet our guests before the ceremony and to pass out treats from ‘Elliott’s Biscuit Bar’ and of course snap a couple of pictures with us, which turned out to be our favorite photos.”

Elliot might have been outdone only by Addison, the less-than-celebratory ring bearer, or Michael’s cousin Chloe, who performed the ceremony. From the DC area, Chloe communicated with the couple via FaceTime to write the ceremony herself, filled with stories of the couple’s eight-year relationship and remembrances of family no longer present. “People to this day still tell me how great Chloe was and how they can’t believe we were her first wedding! Chloe gave us memories that we will cherish as we look back on our wedding day and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect officiant,” said Abbey.

  • Food: Strongwater catering and late night Adriatico’s Pizza
  • Apparel: Blovedbridal.com and tuxes from Macy’s
  • Booze: Strongwater
  • Officiant: Michael’s cousin Chloe
  • Standout Vendor: LovelyGrainStudio
  • Budget: $20,000

The big day in six words:

Beautiful easygoing day filled with love.

Who was someone who made your big day run smoothly?

I cannot say enough about the staff at Strongwater. Our day-of coordinator, Ben, made the day run flawlessly. He made sure all of our wishes came true and even let us bring our pup in for pictures! They also let us decorate the day before which helped us out tremendously. Marianne also helped us plan the delicious food and arrange our dessert table.

Any standout stories from that day, or something that you’d do over every time if given the chance?

My dad gave the best, most thoughtful speech ever. I am so glad we got to celebrate our love surrounded by our friends and family.

Did anything go comically wrong, or was there anything you wish you had skipped?

I wish I would have skipped going out the night before! We had too much fun at Hofbrauhaus after our rehearsal dinner. Too many shotskis!

Was there anything you did or had that made the big day easier?

We got ready at the bride bar Gilded Social. The owner of Gilded Social truly helped us out in a pinch and we are forever grateful to her for opening up her stunning space for us. Our getting ready photos turned out beautifully and now you can rent out the space to get ready in! The girls at the bride bar did an amazing job with our large bridal party’s updos and helped us stay on schedule.

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Devin and Kelley

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Imagine being able to forgo the shopping, measuring, and altering and instead creating your dream dress beginning with your imagination. For Kelley, a wedding dress designer, the big day was an opportunity to do just that. Starting with a piece of lace fabric she sourced, Kelley spent an estimated 200 hours constructing her part-floral, part-geometric gown from silk crepe, inspired by elements of various dresses she liked.

“I will say I also played with the total opposite idea of what my gown looked like—something full and poofy. This idea was recycled and ended up being what the flower girl wore,” said Kelley, who (of course) made her flower girl’s adorable dress as well.

Devin and Kelly met in their middle school science class and eventually became high school sweethearts. When Devin decided to propose, he arranged for a whirlwind couple photoshoot starting at the Franklin Park Conservatory, telling Kelley that his friend (later to serve as best man) needed some sample photos to build a website. The session ended at the Main Street Bridge where the ring came out for a true photo finish.

  • Food: Condado Tacos
  • Apparel: Bridesmaids: Show Me Your Mumu
  • Booze: Kroger
  • Officiant: Tyler Plas, brother of the bride
  • Standout Vendors: Flowerman/Pluma Jewelry
  • Budget: $22,000

Who was someone who made your big day run smoothly?

  • Cathy Tuthill of Buckeye Entertainment/Zinnia, Events, Event Coordinator
  • Amber Preston Makeup Artistry, Makeup
  • Michelle Kissel, Hair

Any standout stories from that day, or something that you’d do over every time if given the chance?

Our ceremony was intimate, personalized, and very emotional. We would highly recommend asking a close friend or family member to officiate to make your ceremony that much more special.

Did anything go comically wrong, or was there anything you wish you had skipped?

We had planned for an outdoor ceremony and it rained the three days leading up to the wedding. The field we planned to get married in was wet and muddy so we made the decision the night before to move everything inside. Always have a back up plan!

Was there anything you did or had that made the big day easier?

Having a day-of wedding coordinator and being able to set up the entire ceremony/reception space the night before eased a lot of stress of the day. We were able to enjoy ourselves and not worry about small details.
Also when budgeting, figure out what are the most important parts of the day to you and your fiancé. Plan your day and budget around what is or is not important.

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