Real Weddings

Sandra and Michael’s Wedding at The Castle at Skylands Manor

How They Met: After connecting on in June 2012, Sandra Valerio, 33, of Old Bridge, decided that a quick coffee date would be the perfect way to meet her new match in person for the first time. “I just didn’t want it to be a dragged-out dinner date in case we weren’t into each other,” she explains. But once she sat down across from Michael Natale, 35, of Scotch Plains, she realized she wouldn’t need an escape plan. Their simple coffee date quickly transformed into a four-hour rendezvous. Will You Marry Me?: Michael’s original plan to propose while on a romantic vacation in Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, quickly fell through when he noticed the sizable crowd at dinner. “He is not one that likes being the center of attention,” says Sandra. So without missing a beat, Michael changed his plan and waited one week, until Christmas Day to pop the question. It was during a private moment at 1 a.m. that Michael decided to give Sandra a pair of winter gloves. “As I began putting the gloves on, I felt something slowly roll down my ring finger,” she says. The couple’s engagement date was more than a coincidence; Sandra’s new last name would be Natale, which in Italian means “Christmas.” “I am Mrs. Christmas,” she jokes. Details of the Day: On July 30, 2016, friends and family gathered at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Summitv to watch Sandra and Michael say “I do.” For the reception at The Castle at Skylands Manor, Sandra combined cream, soft pink and earthy greenery to create a vintage color scheme. “We wanted to evoke a vintage, romantic feel,” she says. Throughout the castle, dim lighting and flickering candles created a romantic ambience, while carefully placed family heirlooms such as vintage picture frames and an antique typewriter brought out the touches of rich European culture present in both Sandra and Michael’s heritage. Favorite Detail:  The custom Polaroid board made from lush green moss. The Polaroids are now hanging up on a vintage board that Sandra created for their home. Menu: At cocktail hour, guests were treated to Maryland crab cakes with remoulade sauce, baby lamb chops with mint jelly, and risotto balls. For dinner, it was a choice of filet mignon in port wine sauce, grilled Atlantic salmon with mango citrus chutney or stuffed French chicken breast. Favors: Sandra crafted DIY Polaroid picture holders from wine corks for guests to display their vintage-style Polaroids. Advice for other Brides: Keep your notes and finances organized. “Be a woman with a plan!” advises Sandra. Honeymoon: After two weeks in Florence, Venice, Rome and the Amalfi Coast, the couple is home in Scotch Plains.

wedding details

Ceremony Location

St. Teresa of Avila Church, Summit

Reception Location

The Castle at Skylands Manor



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