Thursday, May 30 2024 10:25

Love Stories Behind the Weddings

Written by Carol Metzker

Part of what makes the day so special

Photo: Still Wild Visuals

The most exquisite dress. Decorated tables with delectable food. The occasion of a lifetime. Behind fairy tales and picture-perfect scenes at weddings, there are love stories that make hearts melt and eyes mist.

Beyond the spoken vows, the stories of the day’s funny imperfections or the glitches that life throws at us are what bond couples for life and create families forever. Those memories are always about special people and acts of love that touch us beyond measure.

Down the Aisle

Krista and Matt with their dogs, Mickey and Waffles

Shortly after Krista and Matt became engaged in September 2022, they booked Ellis Preserve as their venue and allowed plenty of time to prepare for their wedding free of stress.

Krista would wear the long white gown with sparkling bodice she chose at Ever After Bridal in West Chester not long after Matt proposed. Her father would walk her down the aisle at the outdoor wedding on the steps. All her dreams were part of the venue’s package — scrumptious chocolate chip cake with buttercream frosting, cocktail station, hors d’oeuvres and dinner choices of filet mignon, salmon and eggplant. There was “no decoding a riddle of what was actually part of a package. No napkins, silverware or chairs to rent or bartender to hire,” she said. “It was covered.”

Then life threw a curveball. A few months before the wedding, Krista’s father had a stroke, impairing his ability to walk.

A new journey began. “Going through all of this shifted our priorities and perspective. What’s important at the end of the day is family,” Krista said. With noteworthy help from Ellis Preserve, they moved the ceremony indoors, where there was better accessibility for everyone. She knew walking her down the aisle was her dad’s goal, too, but Krista told him, “Whatever happens, I’m happy you’re there.”

Wedding at Ellis Preserve

In April Krista held her father’s hand as her brother pushed him down the aisle in a chair. When they reached Matt at the end of the aisle, her dad stood. Tears of joy flowed throughout the gathering.

It wasn’t the only unforgettable moment at the ceremony. The bridesmaids’ children walked Mickey and Waffles — Krista’s bow tie-wearing pugs and loving sidekicks during wedding planning and her dad’s recovery — down the aisle. Signature cocktails named after the dogs and a figurine of the furry duo topping the cake delighted the guests.

To capture memories as they were made, Matt and Krista included a photo booth and created an Instagram account so people could share pictures immediately.


Rebecca and Ari on their wedding day. Photo: Wil Moore

When Wil Moore Photography books a wedding, Moore books an engagement photo shoot to get the know the couple’s love story before the big day.

Moore asks questions. Talking about how the couple met or prompting the groom to whisper something in the bride’s ear that only she would laugh about elicits genuine smiles, laughter and special glances.

“That’s when I click,” he said. “It jazzes me up and helps me shoot with a style that shows their love and sense of fun. When we get together on their wedding day, they’re used to me being there with a camera.” Moore also asks if there’s anything sensitive for him to know when taking photos.

One wedding with a sweet love story was Rebecca and Ari’s. “Ari was a hockey player with a great smile,” said Moore. When Moore mentioned that smile, Ari pulled out a plate with false teeth, the result of a flying hockey puck. Rebecca’s comment? That was just one of the things she adored about him.

Ari’s brother was his best man. The love Ari and the family held for that autistic young man and Rebecca’s sensitivity and love for him were “amazing.” Moore was unintrusive behind the lens, capturing hugs and sentiments.

You’ve Got a Friend

Abigail and her best friend were walking through the mall when she spied shoes that were as close to fairy tale glass slippers as could be: Mach and Mach’s iridescent heels with sparkling crystal double bows. The next thing she knew, the shoes were in the box as a gift from her friend and ready to shine at the wedding rehearsal.

“This wedding isn’t just about me,” Abigail said. Love for a multitude of friends and family is part of the event and activities leading up to the big day.

“Eleven bridesmaids standing in front of the vows could be a bit much,” she continued, so she invited her sister and future sister-in-law to be part of the ceremony instead, then fashioned a way to include friends in a memorable way. With the help of a friend’s mom who’s a travel agent, Abigail planned a pre-wedding vacation for the nine friends to Tulum, Mexico. Touring, massages and being doted on are part of an all-inclusive resort celebration.

Abigail shares the load of wedding preparation with her beloved, Harrison, and others. “I don’t want to become bridezilla,” she said simply. So together they chose the time — a winter event that lasts until dusk glows tranquilly at the end of the day — and Harrison chose the cupcakes, invitations and venue — Terrain, where vows or photos can happen at an indoor wall of green plants or outdoor lovely arch.

Behind the Bouquet

Wedding arch by We Are Wildflowers

Brides with an affinity for the Earth are making sustainable wedding flowers part of the day.

We Are Wildflowers honors the couple to be wed and the health of the planet as they create flower installations, bouquets and boutonnieres using organic, local flowers from their own field or nearby farms. Owner Jess and her talented floral designers begin the day in the hillside field picking wispy, floaty cosmos, nigella, astrantia, hellebores or scalloped heart-shaped heuchera. Sometimes they forage for wild olive and other delights.

Then designers, blooms and greens head to the studio where they listen to music, talk and create. The creations end up at “the best day of someone’s life,” said Jess: colorful table gardens at Winterthur, dramatic or ephemeral installations at Glen Foerd estate’s tent for 300 along the Delaware River, or fairy tale window adornments at the socially conscious Fitler Club in Philadelphia.

Wedding at Fitler Club

After the weddings, We Are Wildflowers takes the extra blooms to women’s shelters and elder communities instead of landfills.

For brides with their own flair and desire for DIY, Pasture Song Farm offers buckets with bursts of color — seasonal ranunculus, anemones and Icelandic poppies, tulips and lupines. Look for winter wreaths of pink and blue dried larkspur, strawflowers, grasses and evergreen.

A Toast to the Newlyweds

Wedding toast with mead

Is it the truth or simply a thousand-year legend? Mead isn’t just the oldest alcoholic beverage, supposedly it’s the oldest aphrodisiac, served at weddings from medieval times into the 1500s. Mead’s purported properties for virility and fertility were so compelling that newlyweds would be gifted a month’s worth of the golden honey wine to start out married life … contributing to the word “honeymoon.”

Philadelphia Mead Company’s mead — in pretty labeled bottles or available in kegs for larger receptions — comes in traditional honey and other special versions fit for marriage celebrations later this year: rose cardamom, blueberry hibiscus, raspberry and Asian pear.

The Party After the Party

Love stories don’t stop after the wedding. And neither do the celebrations.

The day after Krista and Matt’s wedding, guests hung out for a little more love, good food and fun. Splitting Edge Axe Throwing in Malvern was the perfect setting for bacon, eggs and potatoes catered by Colonial Village … and a few rounds of axe throwing.

Years after their wedding, the party and the love continue for Doug and Anne each time they visit Va La Vineyards. To make up for a less-than-perfect first date, Doug asked Anne to go for a second try at the tasting room with spectacular wine. It worked, and the dates continued until — with the help of the vineyard owner — Doug hid a diamond ring among the vines and popped the question. The engaged couple walked back into the winery, where friends and family eagerly awaited to celebrate.

As they noticed other couples getting engaged there, Doug started a Facebook group for those who had proposed at Va La. Ten years later, many of those friends who met through the group still share their “happily ever after” photos of children, milestones and other celebrations.

Epic as the wedding, new chapters of great love stories continue to unfold.