Real Weddings

Nicole and Brandon at Manayunk Brewery

Posted on February 14, 2020 by Ariana Baio

Brandon and I met on the dating app, Bumble. It was October 2017 when we matched and had our first date at a restaurant called Chickie and Pete’s. Our date ended up being four hours long; we just talked about life, where we were going, where we came from – it was a such a fun first date and the chemistry between us was undeniable.

We were engaged on Thanksgiving 2018 in our apartment. It was the first Thanksgiving we were hosting in our small space so, naturally, he knew I wanted things to go perfectly. My mom lives in Northern New Jersey so she came over earlier in the day to help me get things set up. I love to take photos so Brandon took that into account and asked after we got ready if I wanted to take pictures together in front of the fireplace – of course I was excited! It was the perfect setup to have my mom over so she was able to take said photos. Little did we both know, during this “photoshoot” he would propose! Both my mom and I had no idea it was coming so as it was happening my mom switched to video! It was such a sweet moment and I loved that he included my mom in the suprise. Everyone else in the family knew already. He made sure to ask my dad for permission since he knew I only had a few rules to proposing: ask my dad, make sure my nails are done, and have someone take pictures of it. I’m really happy he proposed in an intimate setting. He knows I do not like a lot of attention on me.

We chose a January wedding. At first, I was nervous since I am always cold but I was able to run with the dark, wintery theme. My favorite color is black so  I would be chose black as my bridesmaid’s dress color. I had a vision of something unique, modern and “moody” as I liked to call it. The girls wore black velvet and the accents were white, gold, and greenery. The darker colors really played well with the winter month and the textures were subtle, but made an impact. I didn’t want a variety of flowers, so when discussing with the florist we decided on varieties of greenery and pops of white blooms. I only had a bridal party of two, my sister who was my maid of honor and my long-time friend as a bridesmaid – they both held bouquets of all greenery. I wanted the florals to look as though they were picked from the garden, and our florist gave us a design that was beyond my wildest dreams. I included mixed details such as clear and gold mercury candle holders, amber bottles and wood elements.
I made sure to create a signature drink that reflected on our dog, since he couldn’t be at the wedding. He is an American Bully so the drink was called ‘The Bourbon Bully’ and had a realistic drawing of him which sat in a frame on the bar – I was in love! We had a hashtag sign #ShourdsSwipedRight which sat in a gold frame on our welcome table next to our big letter ‘S’ as our guest book. I tried to include ideas that were different and not super traditional which is why our favors were scratch tickets in a wax bag that came with a penny and a sticker on the front that read ‘Lucky in Love’. My dad even passed out cigars that had our names and wedding date on theme at the end of the night. I think the best detail of all though was my dad singing as Elvis. He came in dressed with the Jailhouse Rock outfit  and sang a few songs. It was great and something you’d typically not see at a wedding. Our guests loved it.

We chose Manayunk Brewery after stumbling upon it on the Knot. I don’t drink beer, but I knew this venue was going to be the one just by the photos. When we went to tour the venue, it really blew us away. The space was huge and the charm the old building had was amazing on its own, even without flowers and decorations. It matched the vision I had perfectly, and I knew this type of venue would play on our personalities way more than a traditional ballroom ever could. I think the best part about the venue though was the banquet manager/coordinator, Paris Rose. She was amazing from the first time we met her – it felt like we were friends, just joking around and conversating all in the middle of asking questions related to the venue’s offerings! After we booked, she was there to answer every question I had over the year long planning process and she never once made me feel as though I was a bother. The fact that the venue came with her was enough to seal us on the brewery – we knew we’d be in good hands and they did not disappoint.

Our wedding menu began with a huge charcuterie board and passed hors d’oeuvres for cocktail hour. It included pigs in a blanket, bruscetta, spanikopita, Philly cheesesteak egg-rolls and crab cakes. We even included a sushi bar for cocktail hour which our guests ate up in seconds! For the main meal, we had Caesar salad and a sit-down dinner that included choices of either chicken picatta, prime rib or the vegetarian dish of Mediterranean pasta. The food was all outstanding. I actually made sure I sat down to eat because I was not letting that yummy food go to waste. I order chicken picatta everywhere I go; it was delicious and came with potatoes and string beans and carrots. I particularly loved how the staff at Manayunk even provided us with a platter of all the cocktail hour options on our sweetheart table so we did not miss out! For dessert, we had Insomnia Cookies and Federal Donuts. We decided not to do a cake because we’re not really cake people. We had individually wrapped cookies which are to die for, the white chocolate macadamia nut is amazing. Our donut cake included flavors such as apple crisp and dark chocolate glazed. Their donuts are so delicious and we couldn’t have been happier to have them come in and set up a donut cake for us! It definitely fit with our non-traditional theme.

My gown was a form-fitting crepe dress with a lace bodice from the exclusive designer at Bijou Bridal in Paramus, NJ. I knew I wanted something with lace and that was tight to my body because it’s something I’d typically never wear. My wardrobe consists of loungewear and oversized sweaters so I wanted my husband to be completely wowed when he saw me. My bridal consultant really listened to me when I’d try on other dresses and explain what I liked/disliked. She actually was the one who pulled “the” dress, when I passed it up on the hanger! I didn’t have that moment where I cried but I just knew it was the one. My mom, sister, and bridesmaid were there with me and all said how I lit up differently when I put that dress on. It had a low back, and a V-neck front that was rather low but it was comfortable.

This was a hard question. The vibe was my favorite, but the completely sense of calmness I felt made me feel euphoric the entire night. It was like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders and I was entirely high on life. I never really thought that was a real thing until the night of our wedding. Everyone kept saying to me, wow you’re really calm and they were right. I never felt anxious or nervous like I fully expected to, it all felt right. Our family, our friends, our love for one another – it’s like the universe aligned the morning of our wedding and I was fully aware of how blessed I was. In addition though, my father being ordained and getting to marry us was another high point of the night. He was able to give his father-of-the-bride speech during a modern yet personal ceremony. I couldn’t have been more grateful that he did that for us.

I probably couldn’t have lived without the flowers. Our florist did an outstanding job, all of the flowers really shined through. Without the amazing detail and effort that was put into our back drop, centerpieces and bouquets wouldn’t have been the same. I especially couldn’t have lived without my bouquet; It was dramatic with pampas grass and gave me something to hold so I wasn’t so anxious. Holding my bouquet for important moments or photos meant I didn’t have to figure out what to do with my hands and I think that really made me felt at ease.

If it did I sure didn’t know about it! Our vendors really were incredible and everything I could’ve imagined was executed perfectly. It was the first weekend of January and it was raining the day before but we got lucky and the weather cleared up and we had a beautiful, yet foggy. 56 degree day! I was so nervous our outdoor photos were going to be ruined and I’d have to find a back up location but even that went perfectly, it honestly shocks me how things went so smoothly.

“Bones” by Maren Morris with Hozier.

Stay organized, know what you want, and don’t settle based off of other people’s opinions. I stressed every day over the tiniest details that I knew no one else would pay any mind to but they were important to me. Everything we had at our wedding was a reflection of us, but more importantly, what we wanted as we came together as a married couple. Everyone has opinions and traditions they believe you should do but if you’re not about it, don’t do it. I couldn’t be happier we took out major traditions such as the bouquet and garter toss, even cake feeding! We wanted an endless party and we got that. Staying organized also makes it so much easier as the process moves, especially as the big day nears close. I had an entire album on my phone dedicated to the wedding that had every little detail inspiration photo. Paris  even said how impressed she was with everything, she said if she ever saw a vision come to life before, it was mine. To me that was a really big compliment made all of the stress worth it. Whatever is important to you and your future husband on your wedding day, do it. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

In May we will be going to Sandals Barbados!

the details

Reception Location

Manayunk Brewery


Shilliday Photography - Nicole Shilliday


Bride's Father, Tom D'Errico

Bride’s Gown

Bijou Bridal

+ more