Real Weddings

Sara and Mark at the Valley Regency

Posted on February 19, 2020 by Ariana Baio

In college, we both attended a weekly trivia night at a local sports bar. One Wednesday night, I was sitting at a table with my friends, while Mark was sitting at a table with his. Mutual friends combined both of our tables and introduced us. After that night we both made sure to attend trivia every week, no matter what we had going on in our lives. As time progressed, we began spending more and more time together and the rest is history!

My family planned a trip to Belgium for June/July 2017 to visit my mother’s side of the family. I was very excited to see a lot of my family members that I hadn’t seen in years, and for Mark to finally meet them all. My family in Belgium asked if there was anything that we wanted to do while we were visiting, and I suggested going to Paris: we weren’t that far from the city, and I had always wanted to see it. I was beyond thrilled when they obliged! After spending five days in Belgium, we decided to go to Paris. We arrived at the hotel in late afternoon, and then began to do some sightseeing. Mark seemed really worried about what the plans were for the rest of our evening, but I didn’t really think anything of it. He just wanted to get the most out of our short time in the city, right? After dinner, we did some shopping and saw the Arc de Triomphe before Mark said he wanted to return to the Eiffel Tower. He had heard that they light up the tower after sunset, every hour on the hour, and that it was a spectacular sight. We pulled up right at 11:55 pm, perfect timing. I ran ahead to take a couple of pictures and then noticed the tower started to sparkle. I called Mark over so I could share the moment with him. As he came closer, so did my entire family, and he instructed them to “get ready to take pictures.” He then pulled me closer to him, said some amazingly beautiful words and I immediately started crying. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said “yes!” It was just like something out of a fairy tale, so perfect in every way.

Over 230 of our closest family and friends joined us at Immaculate Conception Church in Montclair to watch us exchange vows. Our bridesmaids wore amethyst gowns and groomsmen wore charcoal. We’ve always loved purple and grey and thought it made for a great color scheme!

We had visited just about 15 venues before we made it to the Valley Regency. We had high expectations when it came to our reception and knew that we wanted an elegant ballroom, incredible food and beautiful grounds. Each place we saw seemed to fall short in at least one category, until we set up a meeting with Franco. Every aspect of the venue completely blew us away, and Vinny and Franco were so professional. They worked hard to make all of our dreams a reality.

The Valley Regency puts on one of the best cocktail hours in New Jersey. Guests could not stop raving about the food and told us that is was the most amazing cocktail hour they have ever experienced. When it came to dinner, we started with a mixed green salad appetizer followed by a lemon sorbet intermezzo. Guests had the choice of Chatâubriand, spinach and asiago stuffed chicken breast, or lemon sole oreganata for dinner. Dessert was comprised of wedding cake and a Viennese table.

When looking for a wedding gown, I had no idea what I wanted. I just knew that I didn’t want to feel like a princess, I wanted to feel like a bride. I was open to a variety of silhouettes and thought I wanted a sweetheart neckline with lace. After trying on ball gowns and mermaid styles, my consultant put me in a sheath, and when I came out, I knew it was the one. The beading on the front was remarkable but when I saw the intricate detail on the back, it took my breath away. Once they put the cathedral veil on me it was all over.

My fiancé and I decided against a first look. We wanted authentic reactions to seeing each other for the first time while walking down the aisle at the church. Once they opened the doors, Mark immediately burst into tears. Once I got to him, I held his hands, smiled, and did a little dance to lighten the mood. When he let out a chuckle, I could see the pressure lift from off of him. We both laughed, and from that moment to the end of the day I didn’t stop smiling.

The day couldn’t have been what it was without our parents and amazing bridal party. Having the right people in your corner makes all the difference.

There were a bunch of tiny things that went wrong. For example, I forgot my “Mrs. Duca” hanger. Hair and makeup ran late. I messed up pickup locations for lunch. The clasp on my necklace broke. They were all such small details that I didn’t even bother stressing or talking about them. If the problem had a solution I went with it, otherwise I deemed it unimportant.

“Everything” by Michael Buble.

Don’t stress the little things. Things will go wrong, but everyone is right: this will be the best day of your life. Once you see your fiance for the first time that day, nothing else will matter. Months of planning will be worth it, and you’ll experience a level of happiness you never even thought you were capable of.

We spent two weeks in Hawaii. We visited Oahu, the Big Island, and Maui for 14 straight days of unforgettable adventure.

the details



Reception Location

The Valley Regency


Anthony Ziccardi Studios


Father Tom Cembor

Bride’s Gown

Allure Couture- Park Avenue Bridals

+ more