Their story: We met at Crossfit Steam in East Rutherford. It was a gym owned by a family friend, and my mom and I decided to check it out. Everyone there was so nice, but one person stood out more than the rest, can you guess who? He was always joking around and making people laugh. He has this way about him to make even the most nervous person feel welcomed and comfortable. As it turned out, he was a couple years younger than me and was friends with my brother growing up! Right before my brother (and Mark) were going to be freshman at the same high school I was attending, my family moved to Tennessee, and I had never met him. Flash forward 10 years later, and the rest was history. Will you marry me? We got engaged on my mom’s birthday—and before you feel some type of way about it, it was HER idea! I was with Mark for most of that day, and he was as cool as a cucumber. We went to work out, and then to breakfast. He said he had to go to his dad’s house to help him with some things, which was fine because I had to go pick up my mom’s birthday cake. I called him to ask if I should bring the cake to my mom’s house because we were going there after dinner or to Paisano’s, the restaurant we had dinner reservations that evening. He said matter of factly that we will just bring it to the restaurant and if there was time we could eat cake there or if not they can keep it in the refrigerator and we could take it back to her house with us. I obliviously saw nothing wrong with this response so said OK and went home. Little did I know he was at my mom’s house that very moment setting up for the big surprise that was to come later on. After dinner we all went back to my mom’s as planned, but as I pulled up Mark said anxiously, “Drop me off, I have to go to the bathroom.” So again, thinking nothing of it, I dropped him off, parked, grabbed my things, and headed to the backyard like any other day. But today was not any other day. As I got to the back yard I saw Mark, standing in front of all my family, white lights strung around the entire yard, a fire pit blazing, a dozen pink roses, and a few bottles of champagne. I think I was in shock, until he got down on one knee, and asked if we could spend forever together. It was perfect! Details of the day: My day started at my grandmother’s house. I woke up at 5:15 a.m. and could not go back to sleep! My sister/maid of honor and my best friend had a sleepover party the night before so we could spend every second of the day together. My grandmother had a beautiful spread of bagels, fruit, bacon, and as per my request her famous potatoes and eggs! Not to mention coffee, tea, and mimosas. I had a very large wedding party including nine bridesmaids, one junior bridesmaid, and one flower girl, so needless to say we got started pretty early. The girls started showing up between 7:00 and 7:30, and we had a line up of who was getting hair and makeup done. Luckily we had two women doing hair and two doing makeup, so as soon as someone was done, someone else jumped right in. My husband to be had dropped off a dozen beautiful white roses and a handwritten card that tugged at every heart string. I had so much fun getting ready with my girls! The bridesmaids all wore the same color dress, a peachy pink color called “Bellini” but had different styles: My MOH had a completely different dress, the other eight girls had the same dress with different tops (strapless, one-sleeve, halter, and cap sleeve) and my junior bridesmaid had the same strapless dress but short length instead of to the floor. Around 1:00 p.m. is when we did our first look. It was a magical moment that we were able to share just my husband to be and I (and our photographers and videographer, of course). After those pictures we went back to our respective houses to get ready for the ceremony. We got married in the church I grew up: St. Mary’s in Rutherford. It was decorated beautifully with white bows on each aisle, and two gorgeous floor altar pieces. Mark’s mom said one reading and my uncle, and godfather, read the other. The ceremony was heartfelt and very moving! Afterward the wedding party jumped into our party bus and headed to the Graycliff for some pictures and then to party!! The room looked stunning as we got the first peek to see every detail come together to make our romantic elegance theme come true. The centerpieces were done by my florist which used a similar floral arrangement as the bridesmaids bouquets: a mix of ivory hydrangea, dusty miller, and peachy pink roses. There was a mirror base, with long and short floating votive candles, and the flowers in tall and short vases. It looked beautiful. We held nothing back at cocktail hour, there were stations galore include carving station with rack of lamb and London broil, wine and cheese, panaderia bread station, chicken stir fry station, sushi bar, seafood raw bar, caviar, fruit infused vodka station, delicious chaffing dishes of eggplant rolatini, filet mignon tips, clams casino and oreganata, Swedish meatballs, and seafood paella. Not to mention a slew of passed hors d’oeuvres. The chimes rang, signaling it was time for the guests to make their way into the ballroom. Our parents, wedding party, and then us, the newlyweds made our grand entrance through a hidden door and out onto a gazebo! Next was our first dance husband and wife to John Legend’s “Stay with You.” We danced on clouds (dry ice), which came up to about our waists and our flower girl and ring bearer had to be picked up because they couldn’t see! Next were the parent dances: I danced with my stepfather, which was very emotional since my dad passed away when I was young. But leave it to my husband to lighten the mood (he’s great at that!) his dance with his mom was entertaining to all as his mom tried to lead at first, but Mark quickly took over. The entire reception was one big dance party! All of our guests had a blast dancing the night away. At one point we looked around and no one was in their seats! Everyone was either on the dance floor or by the bar, which was exactly where we wanted them to be. Of course we all had to sit down a couple times for the delicious dinner, the cake cutting, and then the outstanding fire show! But then we were up again enjoying the Viennese dessert stations and dancing until it was sadly time to go. Why did you choose the Graycliff? My mom and step-dad went to a dinner at the Graycliff and were blown away by the food and the atmosphere. It was the first venue I looked at, and as soon as I walked into their ballroom I knew I HAD to get married there! I completely fell in love! The ballroom, cocktail hour rooms, bridal suite, the friendliness and attentiveness of the staff, and my maitre d/go-to person throughout the whole process, John, all confirmed in my mind that I had made the right decision. Menu and cake: Our wedding menu started with the Graycliff signature salad, followed by a lemon intermezzo and wine service, then a choice of entrées including chicken stuffed with three cheeses and spinach in a wine sauce, filet of salmon in a dill beurre blanc sauce, aged prime rib in a natural au jus, and mushroom ravioli in a marinara sauce. Dessert included our wedding cake and Viennese dessert stations with a fire show, cherries jubilee, bananas foster, chocolate fountain, chocolate-covered strawberries, cannolis, zeppolis, gelato, cookies, and pastries galore. Our wedding cake was four tiers of deliciousness—two tiers were vanilla cake with French cream and raspberry preserve filling, and the other two were devil foods chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling.
Your gown: My gown was a beautiful ivory fit and flair with allover lace detail and clear sequins throughout, which really shined when the light hit it. The back was illusion with lace detail at the top. I had a beautiful cathedral veil with stone embroidery around the edges. I had a difficult time picking out my wedding dress. I’m already bad at making decisions, and I felt a lot of pressure in picking the right one, especially since every dress I put on was so beautiful! When I thought I had found the one, I had brought my mom and grandma to come see it. While walking into the salon, my grandma noticed a beautiful gown on a mannequin. She asked if I could try this on and I did. It was really pretty (again), but I still wanted to show they the dress I originally brought them here for. So I did, but I was still confused. My grandma said, try the other one back on—as soon as I did tears filled my eyes as I said “This is it!” Your favorite moment: It is so hard to pick my favorite “moment” because the whole day was magical. If I had to choose one, it would be our first look. We knew we wanted to enjoy cocktail hour with our guests, and that left a limited amount of time to take pictures of just he and I. We had two photographers and once we were both ready I hopped in my photographer’s car and Mark went with the other one. It was only a three-minute drive, but the butterflies in my stomach were going a mile a minute! We arrived first and Kelly, my photographer, made sure to park in a way where he wouldn’t see me until it was time. She told me not to look as she got out to prepare this moment. As I sat in the car, I began to get so emotional. I was thinking about how excited I was to see my future husband for the first time on our wedding day, our ACTUAL wedding day! The day we had been planning and talking about for over a year was here! I saw Nick, the other photographer, pull up and couldn’t help but gaze at my man. He looked so handsome—it was so hard not to jump out of the car right then and there! When I finally got the signal to walk over, the butterflies were going even faster than before. He was facing away from me and as I walked up to him I yelled, “Hey, Mr. 305!” It is an inside joke between us and some of our friends, and I knew it would make him laugh and settle some of his butterflies. He turned around and I will never forget the look on his face! He was just as excited to see his beautiful bride, for the first time, on our wedding day. My father had passed away when I was young, and I wanted to have him with me in some way on my wedding day. I found a bouquet charm on Etsy with a heart and two circle charms dangling from it where you could have a picture and a customized quote. The way my florist attached it to my bouquet was beautiful and elegant. It was the perfect touch to have my dad walking down the aisle with me, and a detail I couldn’t live without on my big day. Did anything go wrong? If anything went wrong, I had no idea. My day was so perfect and couldn’t have asked for anything better! The only thing that I would have changed is to have the girls get ready sooner so we had more time to take pictures before the ceremony. Advice for other brides: This is your day. Although everyone around you will have opinions and suggestions, go with your gut. Discuss with your fiancé which aspects are important to you on that day, and make choices that you feel will make your wedding day the most amazing day of your lives. Oh, and trust the professionals: They’ve done this once or twice before.
Where did you go on your honeymoon? Sandals Resort, Nassau Island, Bahamas.