Real Weddings

Kara and Mike at Ballyowen Golf Club

Posted on April 24, 2020 by Ariana Baio

We met at Warped Tour in the summer of 2011, and we were actually being set-up with other people. However, our friendship formed after the show and we soon became close. When it was time for us to go back to college, and we were six hours apart, Mike realized he had missed me and reached out to ask if we could date. Though the timing seemed awful, I took a chance. We made it work from a distance for several years, then moved in together in 2017.

On New Years Day, Mike had the idea to write down one good thing that happens each day in the new year and put it in a jar to read next year so we could recount our moments of joy and remember all of the good. I thought this was a great idea, and so we each set out to write something on a post-it note. I wrote mine and shared, but Mike held is. I jokingly said, “no fair, let’s hear it!” Mike then handed me his post it note and it said, “got engaged.” He got down on one knee and the rest is a blur – I was over the moon!

We wanted a wedding that just felt like us: down-to-earth, fun, about family/relationships, yet elegant and detail-oriented. We chose shades of blue, gray, and gold as our colors, and let the scenery speak for itself, as our venue is in a gorgeous setting. There were a ton of personal touches, such as photos of all of our grandparents and parents on a table with a sign saying “grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” For our favor was a donation to my younger sister’s day program, as she has autism, and I wanted to find a way to include her without putting too much attention on her. I did a song dedication to my mother, since the mother-of-the-bride often gets nothing special designated for her, but my mom is a huge part of my life.  Mike gave all of his groomsmen watches in recognition of his grandfather in Ukraine who could not be there, as he always collected them.

Ballyowen spoke to us in its subtle beauty and the natural surroundings. The sweeping vistas and view of the mountains in the distance made us feel relaxed, and the atmosphere really spoke to the down-to-earth, yet elegant, vibe we wanted our day to have. It helped tremendously that the staff at Ballyowen were outstanding and we had nothing to worry about leading up to the day due to their service.

We had a giant cocktail hour with a raw bar and a ton of internationally-inspired offerings like a Wok station, Latin food, and Italian delicacies. At dinner, we had four entree choices including filet minion, a lemon garlic chicken breast, a pesto encrusted salmon, and a vegan stuffed mushroom option – we were very impressed with Ballyowen’s ability to accommodate this as well as we are vegetarians. Our cake was chocolate with raspberry mousse filling and was designed to look like a marshmallow with chocolate dripping down it – like a giant s’more – since we were getting married in the mountains in the summer and we wanted to play off of that! We are big foodies so it was important to us to have a big, eclectic menu that everyone could enjoy!

My gown was an A-line Casablanca gown in ivory with silver detailing on the bodice, called “Della”, which I got from i Do i Do in Morristown. It had a tulle skirt that was incredibly flowy and made me feel so light, airy, and comfortable!

Our ceremony – we had an amazing officiant and wrote our own vows, so it was a deeply personal moment to us. During our ceremony, a bird landed on our arch way, as a very spiritual person, I thought this was a little sign. We later found out that Mike’s grandfather in Ukraine passed away the day of our wedding (nobody had told us the day of so as not to sadden us, especially Mike, as they were very close). We look back on that moment now and feel it was him letting us know he had made it. The love and connection we felt during our ceremony was so powerful, and what a wedding is really all about.

All of the personalized touches we included. People cried a lot during our ceremony, and kept coming up to us throughout the night telling us how deeply personal our wedding felt. Weddings are about relationships and two people uniting, and inviting their families to share in that process. We are so glad people could feel that emotion in our day from our vows to the displays of photos, an anniversary dance for my grandparents, a special song for my mom and sister, and our donation to my sister’s adult day program for individuals with autism.

Did anything go wrong?
I had lost about 35 pounds before my wedding, so the top of my dress had to be entirely remade, and in the process, part of the nude bodice lining was lost the day of my wedding. I briefly panicked, and then decided that I could either let this ruin everything. Nobody noticed except me. But a word of advice for future brides, make sure you check your dress before you leave the day you pick it up from the bridal shop!

“Grow Old” by Florida Georgia LineKara and Mike- Ballyowen Golf Club

Be organized, plan as much as you can over time. Remember it will come and go in the blink of an eye, so just enjoy it! Make sure to remember that you’re doing this because you love your fiancé(e), the party is a bonus. Enjoy it the moment, it goes by so fast.Kara and Mike- Ballyowen Golf Club

Sandals Grenada – it was amazing!

the details


Mahwah, NJ

Reception Location

Ballyowen Golf Club


Michelle Kay Photography


Fr. Vince Corso

Bride’s Gown

i Do i Do - Morristown

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