How did you meet?
Grace and Jim met at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ where they were both pursuing their master’s degrees during the Fall of 2014 – Grace in Voice Performance and Pedagogy and Jim in Organ Performance. The week before school started, a group of graduate students gathered to meet one another and explore the beautiful town of Princeton.
While Grace and her roommate Olivia were attending one such get together, they were introduced to another graduate student named Jim, a tall and quiet guy with glasses, who immediately thought the two girls were a bit loud and silly for him (they tend to be this way when they are together). This was the only meet-up that Jim attended that week. The two went their separate ways and did not speak again until a month into school, when Grace started sitting next to Jim in their Intro to Musicology class. She thought he was kind and very funny and loved when he joked with her in class – perhaps not paying as much attention as she should have been. He certainly wasn’t.
Grace quickly developed a major crush on Jim after their witty rapport continued in Musicology and Westminster Williamson Voices, the choir in which they both sang. His comical charm, excellent organ and musicianship skills, affinity for choral music, and incredible kindness won Grace over completely. They continued to be great friends until April when they finally expressed their feelings towards each another one night at a party.
The next morning, Jim asked Grace if she wanted to meet him and get a Starbucks. Grace is always one for a Starbucks coffee, so she eagerly said yes. He bought her a grande Pike Place and led her to one of his favorite spots at Princeton University – a small courtyard in the heart of campus, where they could talk. It was there, under a tree on a bench, that he said that he wasn’t quite sure what to do. Grace casually told him that he should probably just ask her to dinner – and so he did just that. When he asked, Grace responded, “Yes, I would love to, Jim.” and to that, Jim replied, “Well, that was easy.”
Grace and Jim fell quickly in love. Sharing a love for music and traveling, they are never bored together and have been on many incredible adventures while dating. They have been to Oxford, England; Florida; road-tripped to South Carolina and Connecticut; and vacationed in Texas, California, and Oregon. The couple loves to perform together and Grace cannot believe that she has found her forever accompanist! They also love going to movies, cooking, watching shows on Netflix, and reading together.
How he asked!
In September of 2016, Jim made a very brave decision to take a full-time position as Organist of Grace Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas. While Grace could not have been more proud of him for this huge step in his career, it did mean a big move and a lot of miles between them. However, thanks to FaceTime, airplanes, and handwritten letters, Jim and Grace have kept their wonderful relationship very strong and have managed to see each other every month since.
When trying to plan their next visit, Grace was absolutely elated when Jim told her that he was coming up to New Jersey for New Years. So on Thursday, December 29 she rushed to Jim’s home in Moorestown, NJ from her office and into his arms. That night, Grace and Jim had a conversation in which Grace *casually* began talking about getting married (something that they discussed in private quite often). Jim said, “Honey, I would propose to you tomorrow if I could afford a ring right now.” Well, Grace was not surprised by this as it was something Jim had said to her in the past. However, she was not discouraged as she knew this was something they both wanted and knew it would happen eventually. They continued with their evening, happy and together.
The next day, December 30, 2016, Jim wanted to drive up to Princeton for the day to see all of his favorite spots. They began by walking around the Westminster Choir College campus where they shared such wonderful memories. Following that they went uptown to the Princeton Record Exchange and had lunch at one of their favorite spots, Teresa’s. After eating, Jim suggested Starbucks (see above re: Grace always wants Starbucks) as it was a chilly afternoon and a warm drink sounded good.
After grabbing their usual drinks, they headed over to the Princeton University Chapel, one of Jim’s favorite places in Princeton, where they graduated just months ago and sang in Westminster’s annual Readings and Carols concert together. It was turning out to be a lovely afternoon. After leaving the chapel, Grace suggested that they go to their courtyard to which Jim casually replied, “Sure, that sounds great!” Little did she know that this is where Jim had already planned on ending their walk…
Walking up the old stone steps they saw that their same bench was still there and in the same spot it had been on their first visit (which was a small miracle since it moved frequently), and as they sat and talked, Grace remarked what a wonderful year and eight months it had been. She had never been happier than she was with him. It was at this point, Jim looked at her and said, “Well, I think I know a way to make it even better.” And with that, as calm as can be, Jim knelt down in front of Grace, pulled out a beautiful ring, and said, “Grace, will you marry me?” Grace could hardly contain herself. After immediately saying, “YES!” she burst into tears. Jim, knowing Grace all too well, knew this was coming and had prepared, pulling out a handkerchief and handing it to her. The sweetness in this gesture only made Grace cry harder, but with so much joy in her heart.
Jim proceeded to tell Grace about how his family, her parents and a few select friends were all in on the proposal and had helped coordinate it with him. They discreetly threw her off the trail along the way and performed some covert operations to make sure things went as smoothly as possible. Grace was amazed at how sneaky they had all been! She then realized that the Princeton Record Exchange and Teresa’s were places they had visited the very first time they spent time alone together as friends. Jim had seemed to walk her through their history that day – from Westminster, to Teresa’s, to Starbucks, to their courtyard at Princeton University. The rest of the day was filled with love, laughter, and excitement.
Details of your day:
We knew we wanted to get married in Princeton, since it is where we first met and fell in love. We were married at Trinity Church, where I had started attending after Jim moved down to Houston. The music during the ceremony was very important to us – we got to pick a lot of music since we had a traditional Episcopal service. It was very moving because 8 of our closest friends sang in a choir during the ceremony and we had a good friend of ours, James Whitbourn, write a a piece for choir and organ specifically for our wedding, set to one of our favorite Biblical texts (Song of Solomon 8:6), and entitled “Set me as a seal upon thine heart.” We tried to really be in the moment during our ceremony. It was the most special and intimate part of the whole weekend for us. We both almost lost it when Reverend Paul, who married us, gave his sermon and said, “The time for singing is now.”
We didn’t have a specific theme, but the wedding was very traditional, romantic, and semi-formal. We wanted to get married in the Fall since the colors in NJ were so beautiful. The day was perfect! It was crisp, in the low 60s, the sky was so blue with some wispy clouds, and the trees were bursting with color! Our colors were maroon with light pink, white, and dark green.
I drove to the church in a white Rolls-Royce and Jim and I had our first look and portraits taken on the campus of Princeton University. The reception was held at Nassau Inn, a historical hotel right in the heart of Princeton. It is also where we stayed that weekend and got ready the morning of. It’s just a short walk to the church, so it was all so close and convenient. Jim and I had our first dance to Tony Bennett’s “The Way You Look Tonight.”
Our wedding cake was a Fraisier cake – layers of vanilla cake, pastry cream buttercream, and fresh strawberries. We also had a groom’s cake – Jim’s favorite chocolate cake, a Dark Side of the Moon Chocolate Cake sold at his favorite hometown restaurants, Passariello’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen. The guests received Godiva chocolates for their favors and sent us off with sparklers!
Really all of the special details and planning of the reception was all thanks to my mother, Laura Svatek. She helped plan and make all of the guest goodie bags, including a hand-drawn “map” of Princeton, which included all of Jim and my special places in town (the drawing is beautiful and I plan on having it framed!). She brought extra gold votives so that the tables at the reception would really sparkle. She got a large wooden monogram that she set up at the reception and spray painted it gold.
Our guest book consisted of post cards that guests could write special messages on which my mom then mailed to us in the month following our wedding. All of the post cards were different and related somehow to trips we had taken or experiences we had had. My dad built and spray painted the decorative mailbox that these went in at the the reception. We had special maroon cocktail napkins with our monogram in gold. These were passed out at cocktail hour and my mom also designed these napkins and our monogram which was used on our menus and on items in our guest hotel goodie bags.
First course: Butternut squash in sage brown butter
Second course: Arugula salad with wine poached pear, walnuts, bleu cheese, and champagne vinaigrette
Main: Choice between Grilled Salmon with roasted tomato beurre blanc, jasmine rice, and asparagus; Herb crusted French cut Chicken Breast, natural jus, garlic mashed potatoes, and asparagus; and Filet Mignon, wild mushrooms, merlot demi-glaze, herb roasted potatoes, and asparagus; and Vegetable Strudel, tomato coulis, and asparagus
Dessert: Wedding cake and mini chocolate cupcakes
So many to choose from! Probably the entire ceremony – it really was so special. Hearing the piece that we commissioned for the wedding was incredibly moving and being able to share communion for the first time as husband and wife and have all of our friends and family there to witness and share in it with us was amazing.
Couldn’t live without
Music! It was so important for us to have the right music at our ceremony. Jim and I planned the entire ceremony together with Reverend Paul – one of the only things we did completely by ourselves with no help from other friends or family. This made it extra special.
Something that went wrong
I was sitting down at the reception right before the father-daughter dance. Right when the DJ announced my dad and I and started our song (“My Girl” by The Temptations) I went to get up and the bustle for my dress came undone! We had a little choreography in our dance so I didn’t want to be tripping over my dress. I yelled out the DJ to wait a minute while one of my bridesmaids helped put the bustle back in place. After about one or two minutes, all was well and dad and I had our dance. Whew!
A couple things — My grandmother had a beautiful pin that had a blue sapphire in it and I pinned it to my bouquet – my something blue. She had passed away in July before the wedding so this was extra special. It was like Gram was there with me. The necklace I wore is a family heirloom and was originally my great grandmother’s. My mom also gave me a beautiful pearl bracelet that I wore the day of. As she was giving it to me, she told me that it was made of the pearls that she wore at her own wedding. So special.
We haven’t taken one yet! Our wedding was already a “destination” wedding of sorts, since we were living in Houston and we couldn’t take that much time off of work. So we took a “mini-moon” and drove back down to Texas from New Jersey. We’re planning on taking our real honeymoon this summer — still trying to decide on the perfect destination!