Real Weddings

Jamie and Anthony at Bear Brook Valley

Posted on January 03, 2020 by Ariana Baio

If you told me ten years ago that I would be marrying Anthony Picarelli… I would have say, “yea, right.” Anthony and I grew up together and have practically known each other our entire lives. We didn’t reconnect until both of us were out of college and in our careers, but we are both grateful that we did.

We love good food, and one of our favorite restaurants (with one of our favorite waiters) is Novelli in Wayne, NJ. We were supposed to meet Anthony’ s best friend and his wife, but they “cancelled” on us last minute. (They were never supposed to be there!) We sate down for dinner, ordered our appetizers, and then our waiter brings out the ring box and champagne on a platter. I was in the middle of eating a piece of bread when Anthony took the ring and got down on his knee.

Our wedding day was my Pinterest board come to life! I really wanted to embrace the rustic-chic aesthetic and finding Bear Brook Valley really helped me accomplish that! I didn’t want any big color-scheme, I kept telling my vendors “rustic-chic.” I stuck to a lot of greenery (eucalyptus in all shapes and sizes!) with touches of white and blush, which was the color of my bridesmaids’ dresses. When it came to my flowers, my bouquet, my bridesmaids’, and my table designs, I wanted the fresh-picked, loosely gathered look. We chose to do long garlands on the long farm tables to fill the tables and allow guests to easily talk with one another. We also decorated the beautiful ,and huge, pergola for the outdoor ceremony to match the fresh-picked look that was in the reception room. We opted to make a donation in lieu of favors and donated an amount to Ruff Rehab, the animal rescue shelter where we rescued our beloved fur baby, Lenni. Our band was The Time Machine and we honestly felt like we have celebrities performing at our wedding! We attended a wedding where they performed and we always knew that they would be one of the first phone calls we would make when planning our wedding!

When we got engaged, I had a meltdown to my mom about not wanting to have a typical “Jersey” wedding. I had recently attended a wedding in Texas and I loved everything about it! I wanted to get as close to a Texan wedding in New Jersey. I believe my mom Googled “upscale rustic weddings in New Jersey” and Bear Brook Valley was the first hit. I immediately knew I needed to make an appointment to see it in person. Once we pulled up to Bear Brook, that was it.; I didn’t need to see any other venue. Bear Brook is perfect. It is absolutely beautiful, the grounds are impeccably stunning, and the Wedding Packages had EVERYTHING! One of my biggest gripes is when you are at a cocktail hour and there is no seating, and you’re struggling between your food and drink. Not at Bear Brook, which was also a big selling point for my father. There is plenty of seating options during cocktail hour, including sofas by a fireplace. The reception room is unlike any venue I’ve ever been to; no carpets, all windows, and an indoor fire pit! But my personal favorite spot…the Silo Suite! This is the bridal suite and pretty much every bride’s (and hair/makeup stylist’s) dream! It is decorated like an upscale hotel with a chandelier to die for. It is such a relaxing space that was perfect to get ready in!

Our menu began with the Bear Brook Salad, then the meal options were Bear Brook Chicken (their special roasted chicken), prime rib, Mahi Mahi, or portobello Wellington. Our cake was a three-tiered naked cake from Palermo’s, it was white cake with cookies-and-cream filling and chocolate mousse filling. Then, we also had plenty of sweet options with a Viennese table and an add-on called “The Boardwalk” which suites its name! Cotton candy, fried Oreos, fried Twinkies, funnel cake- all the yummy  boardwalk goodies.

Well, I had two gowns…I knew I wanted a high-neck gown, and even more-so after Meghan Markle’s wedding. I immediately found my first gown, a satin, high-neck gown by Maggie Sottero from Jaehee Bridal in Englewood, NJ. I loved the simplicity of it’s understated elegance. I’m a no-frills girl and this had all of the no-frills elegance I wanted. But then I was shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses for my best friend’s wedding and I had to use the restroom which strategically was in the bridal salon section of the store. I passed this beautiful, crepe Pronovias gown and couldn’t get it out of my head. It felt like butter. I made a super-secret appointment to try it on all by myself and then worked up the courage to tell my mom. She, too, fell in love with it and we decided it was the perfect reception dress because it was light and flowy and a lot easier to move in. So, I got the best of both worlds!

Our photographer pulled Anthony and I away for about 10 minutes to get some pretty epic night shots. When we walked back up to the reception room, we walked outside, on the balcony right outside the reception room. We could see everyone still getting down on the dance floor. Then, we had a cigar and whiskey station set up for our cigar-smoking guests, and when Ant and I rounded the corner we saw a bunch of our guests enjoying the perfect nighttime weather, enjoying their cigars and the outdoor fireplace. It was so nice to see everyone enjoying themselves.

My Lenni charms! As much as I wanted to have our dog, Lenni, at our ceremony, she would have been a nervous wreck, and, consequently, so would have I. Since she couldn’t physically be there, my Matron of Honor gifted me with one of my favorite gifts, my Lenni charms! I fastened the Lenni charms to my bouquet and she was with me the entire time.

Nope! Nothing! I even begged my bridal party to let me know if there was something they weren’t telling me…but there was nothing!

“Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Elvis Presley

Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many options! There are always too many cooks in the kitchen! If you know what you want don’t overwhelm yourself with too many pins on your Pinterest board. Have two or three options and then go from there. It may be nice to include others in your decision making process, but I found it was extremely overwhelming when I received too many opinions at once. While they may all mean well, trust your gut and go with what YOU want to do.

We are going to Italy at the end of June! We had a mini-moon in Cape May, NJ right after our wedding, but I’m a teacher, so we waited until after the school year to take our longer honeymoon. I love my husband, but my students still come first!

the details



Reception Location

Bear Brook Valley


Anthony Ziccardi Studios


Totowa Mayor John Coiro

Bride’s Gown

Maggie Sottero, Jaehee Bridal & Pronovias, Park Avenu Bridal

+ more