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Wedding Day

NEPA

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Real Weddings Kimberly Pregnar & Brendan Wilson

September 1, 2007 / Scranton, PA Photographed by Dreamcatcher Photography

Alexa Werkheiser & Tarik El Bassiouni September 1, 2007 / Danielsville, PA Photographed by Mirage Entertainment

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Erin O’Malley & P.J. Guse

November 10, 2007 / Elmhurst, PA Photographed by Brian Davies Photography

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Lynn Grode & Paul Keeler June 30, 2007 / Chester, MD Photographed by Susan Drey

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Kimberly Pregnar & Brendan Wils0n September 1, 2007 Scranton, PA


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hen it came time to plan the wedding of their dreams, the former Kimberly Pregnar of Scranton and her husband, Brendan Wilson of Glenville, New York, decided to plan a Labor Day weekend bash that would highlight their relationship as well as spotlight Northeastern Pennsylvania. The choice of date was significant, since it was the one-year anniversary of their engagement, which was, in turn, the one-year anniversary of when Brendan had given Kim a non-engagement ring. The couple had met in Philadelphia during their training as newly-hired vaccine sales representatives for Sanofi Pasteur. Kim holds a bachelor of science degree in international business from the University of Scranton, while Brendan graduated from St. Michael’s University with a bachelor of science degree in psychology. Kim’s father is a hot air balloon pilot, and ballooning had been part of her life since childhood. Brendan’s first plan was to propose during a flight on September 1, 2006.

Unfortunately, this plan was sabotaged by the inclement weather produced by an incoming hurricane. Going to Plan B, Brendan planned a picnic at Lackawanna State Park, where the couple indulged in submarine sandwiches from Gerrity’s Market and a bottle of Francis Ford Coppola Merlot from the Diamond Collection (which Brendan later admitted was a lucky coincidence on his part). Due to nerves, the prospective bridegroom forgot the wine glasses, so the two sipped out of paper Pepsi cups. This turned out to be helpful, since Brendan had not realized that alcoholic drinks are prohibited in the park, and the soft drink cups helped conceal the wine. After eating, Brendan took Kim’s left hand and suggested it was time to replace the ring he had given her a year earlier. She agreed, without realizing that Brendan meant to replace it right then and there. He knelt on one knee and asked her to marry him. Because Brendan is Catholic and Kim is Protestant, the NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 17


couple began looking for a church which would be a good fit for both of them. They chose the Church of the Good Shepherd in the Green Ridge section of Scranton, where they were welcomed with open arms. When the big day arrived, they exchanged traditional vows and added a bagpiper in honor of Brendan’s grandparents, who were unable to travel to Scranton for the wedding. After the ceremony, the wedding party traveled to McDade Park for picture-taking. Friends from Endless Mountain Balloons inflated a balloon for the couple to hop in and get some really great photos. Kim and Brendan had looked at various reception sites 18 • NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08

before deciding on the Scranton Cultural Center for its unique and “absolutely gorgeous” architecture. They had decided on September 1 as their wedding date, not only to coincide with their engagement and to provide ample travel time for guests to travel, but also because La Festa Italiana is held on Labor Day weekend in Scranton. “We thought this was a great opportunity for our out-of-town guests to experience the city at a time when it is most alive!” Kim explains. Kim selected a strapless ivory bridal gown featuring a beaded bodice accented with a wide band of Swarovski crystals at the top and bottom, a drop waistline, a full


skirt, and a lightly beaded chapel train. She carried a tight bouquet of white lilies, purple hydrangea, and light purple roses tied together with brown and purple ribbon accented with rhinestones. Inside her gown, she tied a small bonnet Brendan had worn at his christening which was given to her by his mother. Kim decided on chocolate brown dresses for the bridesmaids, accented with lilac, her favorite color since childhood. The attendants carried a mix of purple hydrangea, gerbera daisies, light purple roses, and dark brown berries. The two tiny flower girls were dressed in ivory and chocolate brown dresses and carried a flower princess wand

which the florist devised from one large purple hydrangea wrapped with long draping purple ribbon and accented with glitter and a little butterfly. The couple decided to go for a unique look for Brendan and the groomsmen, opting for Calvin Klein tuxedos in chocolate brown with an “ever-so-slight ivory pinstripe,” accented with an ivory shirt, lilac vest, and lilac pocket scarf. Brendan wore a small ivory hydrangea with a light purple rose, and his groomsmen wore small purple hydrangea. The couple put little brown and lilac cards on each table at the reception that read: NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 19


“Thank you for being a part of our lives and our wedding day! In honor and appreciation of our guests, we have made a donation to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in lieu of favors. Love, Brendan and Kim” To highlight the view of the decorated ballroom at the Cultural Center, the couple chose to have their cocktail hour in the balcony. Guests could gaze down at the tables, which were a mixed arrangement of rectangular and round. The rectangular tables featured Chivari ballroom chairs tied with a chocolate brown sash, brown satin napkins tied with lilac bows, and tall candelabra filled with a mix of hydrangeas. The round tables were adorned with lilac satin 20 • NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08

napkins tied with chocolate brown bows, low copper flower boxes filled with purple mums, and white satin seat covers tied with a lilac sash. The couple chose to extend the traditional five-hour reception to seven hours, stretching from 5 p.m. to midnight. “I think many of our family and friends were shocked, and they were anticipating a marathon wedding,” Kim laughs. “But we made this decision because we knew the day was going to go by quickly and we wanted it to last as long as possible.” Brendan and Kim paid a premium with their vendors to make this happen, but Kim believes the extra cost was worth it. One feature of the reception was a slideshow arranged by Kim’s aunt, Jane Gaul, which played during dinner. “It was a great opportunity to look back on where we came from


recalls. Dinner consisted of food stations provided by Cooper’s Restaurant in Scranton. The cocktail hour featured passed hors d’oeuvres, an antipasto station, and fruit, vegetable and cheese platters. The caterer served guests a salad during the introductions, and then directed each table of guests to the stations, which included pasta (rigatoni or penne in either vodka or Alfredo sauce); stir fry (shrimp, scallops or lobster stir fry), and a carving station with a selection of prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans almondine. Even with nearly 300 guests, the caterer kept the lines moving, with one or two chefs manning the stations at all times. When it came to the wedding cake, Brendan and Kim had

noticed a problem at other weddings. “Time after time, we observed that many people got up to dance and by the end of the night plates were left with a full piece of cake sitting in a puddle of melted ice cream,” notes Kim. Instead, the couple served a full Viennese table with a choice of chocolate-covered strawberries, apple pie, key lime pie, peanut butter pie, chocolate mousse, and more. “Then we had the sliced wedding cake, which was separate layers of banana and chocolate peanut butter, added to the table, which allowed our guests to eat dessert at their leisure and to choose from other options beside the cake,” Kim points out. “Not one bit of dessert went to waste!” The couple’s concern for out-of-town guests extended to guest boxes they assembled. In keeping with their desire to NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 21


Ideas You Can Use •Kim and Brendan chose September 1, 2007, for their wedding for several reasons--as the one-year anniversary of their engagement, to give out-of-town guests travel time during the Labor Day weekend, and for guests to enjoy La Festa Italiana in downtown Scranton. •Unlike the standard five-hour reception, the couple opted for a seven-hour gala beginning with a cocktail hour from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by dinner. To encourage guests to walk around and mingle, they had pasta, stir fry and carving stations, followed by a dessert buffet. •Bagpiper Bill White played before the church ceremony as guests arrived and afterwards as they were leaving. The couple had his performance captured by their videographer to honor Brendan’s grandparents, who were unable to travel to Scranton for the wedding. •Kim’s father is a hot air balloon pilot, so friends from Endless Mountains Balloons came to McDade Park between the ceremony and reception to provide some priceless photo opportunities. •In lieu of favors, the dog-loving couple made a sizeable contribution to the ASPCA in honor of their guests. To explain the donation, Kim fashioned brown tent cards with lilac paper for each table at the reception. •Kim alternated high candelabra arrangements with hydrangea and low copper flower boxes filled with purple mums throughout the reception hall. She also mixed both rectangular and round tables for contrast. •Brendan and Kim chose their favorite flavors (banana and chocolate peanut butter) for the layers of their wedding cake, which they had sliced and placed on the Viennese dessert table along with such goodies as chocolate-covered strawberries, pies, and chocolate mousse. •Kim’s aunt, Jane Gaul, served as vocalist at the ceremony, and lent her handkerchief as “something borrowed.” Mrs. Gaul also put together a slide show (with music) featuring the newlyweds, which was shown during dinner. •Brendan’s mother gifted Kim with his christening bonnet and a poem she had received at his baptism. Kim tied the bonnet under her gown and used it as her “something old.” •The bride wanted her guests to feel welcome, so she put together boxes from www.papermart.com with labels she ordered from www.myownlabels.com. She and her bridesmaids then stuffed the boxes with local goodies, including Tasty Kakes, Cherokee Red Soda and Gertrude Hawk chocolate. •The biggest surprise at the reception was Kim’s wedding gift to Brendan, who is a “huge” Bruce Springstreen fan. His bride hired the B-Street Band, a tribute band, to play. The logistics of keeping this secret and making all the arrangements was the “most stressful” part of the wedding planning for Kim. •The bride’s nieces, Lilly and Gretchen, were only one and three-years-old, and Kim was unsure if they would carry a basket of flowers. Instead, the florist made a “flower princess wand,” consisting of a hydrangea with a long draping ribbon, some glitter, and a little butterfly. “This kept their interest,” Kim remembers. “Actually, it was tough to get them to let go of their flowers.” 22 • NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08

worth Barbecue Potato Chips, Tasty Kake Tandy Kakes and Butterscotch Krimpets, Cherokee Red Soda (made by Crystal Club Bottling), Gertrude Hawk Peanut Butter/Caramel Chocolate Bars, and homemade roasted walnuts made by Kim’s sister, Kelly. No doubt the highlight of the reception came when Kim unveiled her big surprise. The bride had managed to book the B-Street Band, known as the world’s longest-running tribute band, for her new husband who is a “huge, huge Bruce Springsteen fan.” “Needless to say, this became one of the most difficult secrets I ever kept and the most difficult and stressful element of the wedding planning,” Kim admits. “Every time we met with a vendor, I needed to go back on my own and explain the logistics of the surprise.” As part of their contract with the Scranton Cultural Center, the couple had paid for the rental of the stage, so that the curtains could be open to the elegantly lit theatre behind. However, Kim needed the curtains to be closed so the band could prepare behind them, which caused Brendan some consternation as he kept questioning why the drapes were closed. “Finally, the curtains opened to the blaring sounds of the B-Street Band playing Brendan’s favorite Bruce song, ‘Cadillac Ranch,’” Kim explains. “The shocked expression on Brendan’s face was really worth all that planning!” Another sweet surprise came after the ceremony when


Kim & Brendan’s Details

the couple took off their new wedding bands to read what the other had engraved inside. They had decided to keep these messages a secret until after they had said their vows. To their great surprise, they had both unknowingly engraved the exact same message. Because they had met through work, they tried to communicate with each other in the office with a code phrase: “Louisiana is the Pelican State.” A quote from one of the Brendan’s favorite movies, “Fletch,” the phrase was used to say “I love you” or “I’m thinking about you” at a time when they did not want others to catch on to their personal relationship. But now, much later, both had remembered the phrase and engraved “LIPS” along with their wedding date on their rings. Looking back, Kim explains that communication is key, not only to a healthy marriage, but in planning a wedding. She says, “It is important to understand what elements of the day are most important to each other and where you may be willing to make some sacrifices or where you are willing to spend a little more of your budget.” Kim says this communication should also extend to the vendors. “They need to know your expectations and the ideas floating around in your head. And if you don’t know exactly what you want, ask the experts! They do this every day and you only do it once, so they can give you some words of advice. And above all, remember that it is your day. Do what makes you happy!”

Ceremony: Church of the Good Shepherd, Scranton Reception: Scranton Cultural Center. Catering by Cooper’s Seafood Restaurant, Scranton, PA, featuring pasta, stir fry and carving stations. Music: Bagpiper Bill White played before and after church ceremony. Bridesmaids entered to “Canon in D” by Pachelbel (a song the bride learned to play on her violin at the age of 10). The bridal processional was “Trumpet Voluntary.” Church music was provided by Ken McGraw on piano/organ; Jack Martin, trumpet, and Ed Wargo, flute. Vocalists for “The Prayer” and “Irish Blessing” were Kim’s aunt, Jane Gaul, and Doug Evans. Reception music by Jeff Walker DJ Service, Pittston, including bridal party entrance to “Austin Powers” theme; bridal couple entrance to “Holiday Road” from the movie “Summer Vacation.” Couple’s first dance to “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Kim booked a surprise appearance by B-Street Band of Wall, New Jersey, for her new husband, a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen. Gowns: Design by 2Be in ivory with a strapless bodice and full skirt from Anne Bailey’s, Fountainville, PA. Bridesmaids wore a chocolate brown strapless A-line gown with a lilac sash by Bill Levkoff ordered at www. houseofbrides.com. Flower girl dresses sewn by Debbie Sherman at Sew Smart in ivory with a chocolate brown butterfly collar, sash, and wide trim at bottom. Formalwear: Chocolate brown tuxedos with a slight ivory pinstripe designed by Calvin Klein and accented with an ivory shirt, lilac vest, and lilac pocket scarf from Sarno & Son. Florist: Barbara Cadden of Conwell-Cadden Florist. Hot Air Balloon: Tony Saxton, pilot, from Endless Mountains Hot Air Balloons, Inc., Nicholson, PA Wedding Cake: Bill Lavelle at Cooper’s Seafood House, Scranton, PA. Rings: Northeastern Fine Jewelry, Schenectady, NY Linens and Candelabra: Tron Enterprises, Kingston Photography: Kara Walsh of Dreamcatcher Photography, Millville, PA. Videography: Big City Video, Manheim, PA. Honeymoon: Kim won a 5-day/4-night honeymoon to Almond all-inclusive resort in Barbados as grand prize at a wedding show at Scranton Cultural Center. The couple added on to the stay at their own expense and also added a second leg to the trip by booking 5-days/4 nights at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This was special because Kim says the couple exchanged their first kiss under the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 23


Alexa Werkheiser & Tarik El Bassiouni September 1, 2007 Danielsville, PA


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hen she was a middle school student in Stroudsburg, Alexa Werkheiser found the nerve to ask classmate Tarik El Bassiouni to meet her and a friend at the playground. Afterwards, Alexa and Tarik ended up dating throughout high school, although they went their separate ways in college. Alexa began her collegiate career at the University of Florida, although after a year-and-a-half she transferred to Temple University in Philadelphia, where she received her bachelor of science degree in nursing. Today, she is a registered nurse at Monroe Career and Technical Institute in Bartonsville. Her interests include reading and dancing. Tarik, on the other hand, attended the University of Miami where he received a degree in business administration. He is employed as a financial advisor for Nationwide and loves to golf, a sport his wife has attempted--“Although I wouldn’t say I golf,” she admits. “We had always kept in touch,” Alexa explains. “After college, we both moved back to Stroudsburg and got together again. I think we both kind of always figured we’d end up together.”

When the time came, Tarik had a very romantic proposal planned during a trip to California. “But the ring wasn’t ready in time, so he told me about it during the trip, and when we came back home he got down on one knee and proposed properly,” Alexa recalls. That was in September 2006, and the couple began to plan a wedding for a year later. Tarik--the avid golfer--is a member of Woodstone Golf Club in Danielsville, PA, which provided a perfect site for the couple’s wedding, surrounded by natural beauty and rolling greens. The newly-completed outdoor garden area served for the ceremony itself, which was performed by Sean Thornton, a friend of the couple. Tarik’s aunt read a passage from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran, while Alexa’s great-aunt read a selection from Pablo Neruda’s “100 Love Sonnets.” The matron of honor and best man joined with the couple in a special hand ceremony. The matron of honor instructed Alexa to hold Tarik’s hand, palm up, saying, “You may see the gift that they are to you…” The best man did the same, placing the bride’s hand into that of the groom. (For more details, see NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 27


“Normally, I don’t like to be in front of people,” she confides. “But I couldn’t stop smiling because I was really excited to finally become his wife.”

Ideas You Can Use.) Live music for the ceremony was provided by Satori, including strings and a flute, playing “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach and “Canon in D” by Pachelbel for the processional, and Handel’s “Water Music Suite” for the recessional. Alexa was attired in a Maggie Sottero design featuring a beaded, strapless bodice, and a flowing chiffon skirt. Her veil was held by a crystal tiara, borrowed from a cousin of the bridegroom, fulfilling one of the bridal traditions. Her “old” was a garter from a friend, and two traditions were fulfilled by her new underwear with blue trim. Her bridal 28 • NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08

bouquet featured multi-colored gerbera daisies in orange, hot pink, and yellow. The bridesmaids wore stapless coral chiffon gowns by Jasmine featuring long, flowing skirts, ruching on the bodice, and see-through yellow chiffon accents. They carried smaller versions of the bride’s flowers. For dinner, guests had a choice of sea bass or filet mignon. The vanilla wedding cake with butter cream filling was covered with coral fondant frosting and yellow daisies. Mirage Entertainment provided the photographer, videographer, and deejay, as well as a montage of photos of the couple set to music. The couple’s first dance was to


“Just make sure to take your time and get to know the person well. Make sure this is the one you want to be with forever.” “Ice Cream” by Sarah McLachlan. “It was our song in high school,” the bride laughs. The bride danced with her father to “You’ll Always Be My Little Girl” by Steve Kirwin, while Tarik and his mother danced to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts. The only mishap on their big day was a limo that never showed up. “I called to see where the limo was and was told the van was on its way,” Alexa says. “I had not ordered a van, so I told them to forget it, and my mom and her friend drove us all to the wedding!” That didn’t put a damper on the excitement, and Alexa advises other couples, “Don’t get wrapped up in everything. Enjoy the day and make it fun, even if things go wrong.”

The couple had hoped to include their pet, Teddy, a miniature American Eskimo dog, in the wedding festivities. “But the truth is, Teddy is not quite well behaved enough to participate in a wedding,” Alexa admits. Her favorite memory of the day was standing with Tarik during the ceremony. “Normally, I don’t like to be in front of people,” she confides. “But I couldn’t stop smiling because I was really excited to finally become his wife.” Which leads to her other advice: “Just make sure to take your time and get to know the person well. Make sure this is the one you want to be with forever.” As a happy postscript, this couple is expecting their first child on August 8. NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 29


Ideas You Can Use

rHands Ceremony

•The couple saved money when a “friend of a friend” created the multi-colored bouquets of gerbera daisies. “I loved my flowers!” says the bride. •A plain vanilla cake with butter cream filling was jazzed up with unusual coral fondant frosting accented with yellow daisies. •A symbolic “hand ceremony,” which the couple found via the Internet, provided a different look to the wedding. It also incorporated the matron of honor and best man in the actual wedding ceremony. (See details at right) •It was sentimental—and cost-saving—when Alexa elected to borrow a crystal tiara from Tarik’s cousin. •The couple splurged on the menu, however—guests had a choice between sea bass and filet mignon! •Sometimes it’s what you don’t do that makes a difference. The dog-loving couple decided against including their beloved miniature American Eskimo in the wedding festivities, based on his “less than perfect” behavior. •Use the resources available to you. The banquet/wedding coordinator at Woodstone Golf Club helped Alexa and Tarik.

(Bride) please face (Groom) and hold his hands, palms up, so that you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will comfort you in illness and hold you when fear or grief fills you. These are the hands that will give you support and celebrate with you in your accomplishments. (Groom) please hold (Bride) hands, palms up, so that you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times. They are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick or console you when you are grieving. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to fulfill your dreams. Our prayer for you today is that both of you will use these hands to build a marriage where all your dreams come true.

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Alexa & Tarik’s Details Ceremony & Reception: Woodstone Golf Club, Danielsville, PA, with Sean Thornton officiating. Aunts of the couple gave readings from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran and “100 Love Sonnets” by Pablo Neruda. Music: Strings and a flute played “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach and “Canon in D” by Pachelbel for the processional, and “Water Music Suite” by Handel for the recessional. Mirage Entertainment’s deejay provided music for the reception, including the couple’s first dance, “Ice Cream” by Sarah McLachlan. (It was “their song” in high school.) Photography: Mirage Entertainment provided the photography and videography, as well as a photo montage set to music which was played during the reception. Gowns: The bridal dress designed by Maggie Sottero with a beaded bodice and flowing chiffon skirt came from Bridal’s by Sandra in Nazareth, PA. The bridesmaids wore Jasmine gowns of coral chiffon accented with yellow. Florist: A friend of a friend, Laurel Leuschner of Hegins, PA, who is hoping to start her own floral business, provided the bouquets of multi-colored gerbera daisies in shades of orange, hot pink, and yellow. Cake: Coral fondant frosting with yellow daisies covered the vanilla cake with butter cream filling from Granny Schmidt’s in Allentown, PA Honeymoon: Kauai, Hawaii. NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 31


Erin O’Malley & P.J. Guse November 10, 2007 Elmhurst, PA


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he former Erin O’Malley and her husband P.J. Guse of Moscow are both firefighters who met at the Moscow Fire Department. So, it was only fitting that a big red fire truck would greet the newlywed couple outside of St. Eulalia’s Church in Elmhurst after the wedding ceremony, giving them a unique photo opportunity. Erin, who is deputy chief, joined the company in 2001, when she met P.J. and the two became friends. Both are graduates of North Pocono High School. Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and a certificate in paramedical studies from Lackawanna College. She is employed by Lackawanna Ambulance and works part-time for Dunmore Fire Department. P.J. is employed by FedEx Freight. The pair started dating in 2003, and became engaged on New Year’s Eve, 2005. “We went to Nay Aug Park to take a carriage ride, but it was closed for the holiday. We ended up walking through the park in the snow, looking at the Christmas display,” Erin recalls. “At the end of the path, P.J. asked me if I loved him enough to marry him, and when I said yes, he pulled out the ring.” Erin chose a Henry Roth strapless bridal gown in bright white featuring a pick-up skirt and a crystal brooch at the back waistline from A Touch of Elegance bridal salon, which has since closed. She wore a crystal headband with a plain cathedral veil, so that guests could see the back of her dress. She carried a bouquet of white and ivory roses with stephanotis. Erin was not into tradition, but her mother bought her

a memento from Helen Schwartz Gift Shop containing a penny for her shoe. The bridesmaids wore black satin strapless gowns with a crystal brooch at the bodice and carried multi-colored autumn flowers. For the ceremony, the bridal party entered to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” while Erin walked down the aisle to Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary.” The couple chose “Arioso” by Bach for the lighting of the unity candle, and “Table of Plenty” for the communion song; “Prayer of St. Francis” for the Sign of Peace,” and “Trumpet Tune” by Purcell and “Hornpipe” by Handel for the recessional. Candles were lit in the church in memory of the bride’s grandparents, the late Jerome Donahue and Mary and John O’Malley. The couple had attended a wedding at The Parish Center in Dunmore, and knew that was the perfect site for their own reception. When they checked, however, the hall was heavily booked and the only dates open were for April and November. “We knew that we didn’t have enough time to plan a wedding in three months, so we took the November date,” Erin explains. Erin’s criteria for the wedding was that everybody have a good time. “My main concern was for the DJ, and that the dinner didn’t take too long,” she says. “Stirna’s did the catering, and I requested that the dinner be served quickly so everybody could get right into the dancing.” In addition to top shelf drinks, they served chocolate shot glasses filled with Bailey’s Irish Cream. Guests dined on a choice of chicken marsala, flounder NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 35


“My main concern was for the DJ, and that the dinner didn’t take too long.”

Ideas You Can Use •P.J. and Erin served small chocolate shot glasses filled with Bailey’s Irish Cream for a festive touch. •The couple advises serving top shelf liquor, which adds a special touch to the overall event. “Just don’t drink too much, or you won’t remember your own wedding!” •Because both Erin and P.J. are firefighters, they posed with a fire truck outside the church. They suggest incorporating special interests to make the event personal and individual. •Erin’s priority was for guests to have a good time, so she instructed her caterer to serve the dinner quickly, allowing extra time for music and dancing. •Erin chose the Bahamas for the honeymoon, since she had vacationed there five years earlier. Because it was the best vacation she ever had, she knew P.J. would love it, too. 36 • NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08

stuffed with crabmeat, or top round of beef, and then got right into dancing to the music of Sal Naro of Juke Jockeys. The couple’s first dance was to “Lost in This Moment” by Big and Rich.” Erin danced with her father to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland, and P.J. and his mother danced to “A Song for My Son.” When it was all over, the couple flew to The Bahamas where they stayed at The Atlantis. Erin had been there five years ago and thought it was the best vacation she ever had, and that P.J. would love it, too. A few things went awry on their big day. Erin forgot the garter, and lucked out when one of their friends had one inside his car--left from another wedding--that he lent for


“It was just so much fun, and that was my goal from the beginning.” the toss. She also woke up feeling sick on the morning of the wedding. “I don’t know if it was nerves or the food I ate at the rehearsal party, but I felt a little green until the reception,” she remembers. “But it was nothing big.” Her best memory is of the reception. “It was just so much fun, and that was my goal from the beginning.” She encourages people to have a top-shelf bar, but not to drink too much. “We were at a wedding where the groom got sick even before the reception, and it was pathetic,” she notes. “You can’t do that, or you won’t even remember your own wedding. The idea is to have a lot of fun without going overboard.”

Erin & P.J.’s Details Wedding: November 10, 2007 Ceremony: St. Eulalia’s Church, Elmhurst Officiant: Rev. John Polednick Reception: The Parish Center, Dunmore, with catering by Stirna’s featuring chicken marsala, flounder stuffed with crabmeat, and top round of beef. Music: DJ Sal Naro of Juke Jockey’s, Dunmore. First dance was “Lost in This Moment” by Big and Rich. Father/daughter dance was “I Loved Her First” by Heartland; mother/son dance to “A Song for My Son.” Photographer: Brian Davies Flowers: Rosette Florist, Dunmore. Erin carried white and ivory roses and stephanotis, and her bridesmaids carried multi-colored fall flowers. Cake: Vanilla cake with raspberry mousse filling and buttercream icing, by Minooka Bakery. Gowns: Bride wore a Henry Roth design from A Touch of Elegance (now closed), featuring a pick-up skirt and strapless bodice. Bridesmaids wore black satin gowns. Formalwear: Sarno and Sons. Honeymoon: The Atlantis in The Bahamas. NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 37


Lynn Grode & Paul Keeler June 30, 2007 Chester, MD


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hen Lynn Grode and Paul Keeler began to envision their summer wedding, they decided they wanted to host the wedding in the bride’s native state of Maryland, and to incorporate a nautical theme. “We both love the water,” Lynn explains. “We had spent many happy days boating at Lake Wallenpaupack, Baltimore Harbor, and the Chesapeake Bay. We love vacationing at beaches and lakes. Even the spot where Paul proposed was right on Baltimore Harbor!” The couple took their time and looked at close to 50 reception sites before going back to the very first one they visited. The Chesapeake Bay Beach Club is situated with the majestic Bay Bridge in the background, and its perfectly manicured laws roll down to an upscale marina. Lynn and had seen the site when the “Today Show” planned a hometown wedding for a couple from Maryland, and she had never forgotten how “breathtakingly beautiful” the location is. Lynn and Paul knew that most of their guests would be traveling from different locations anyway, so a vacation

destination would make the wedding weekend even more enjoyable. Kent Island is an hour from Lynn’s hometown in Bel Air, and nearly five hours from where she was living in Scranton and from Paul’s family in Clarks Summit, so the logistics of planning the event were similar to a destination wedding. First, their wedding coordinator gave the couple the names of three Catholic churches nearby, and the couple attended mass at each before deciding on St. Christopher’s in Chester, where they fell in love with its “small, island-feel.” Soon, they had set their date after speaking with the parish priest, the priest who would marry them, and the reception site. Then the couple began what would be many more planning trips to Kent Island, including one to a bridal show at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club where they met with many types of vendors and set up some appointments. Like the “Today Show” staff, they chose SugarBakers in Catonsville, MD, “Because they had the best tasting and most beautiful cakes.” They also chose a florist they met at the NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 41


bridal show, both because she was a Kent Island “local,” and because she had a calm, easy-going manner. At that same bridal show, they picked up information on a limousine company, videographer, and a bus company to transport guests from the hotels to the reception site and back. The hotel the couple chose for a “home base” for the wedding party was surrounded on two sides by water, and each room had a balcony overlooking a boater’s paradise. The Keeler family chose the historic Kent Manor Inn to host their rehearsal party. A historic plantation property, once known as Smithfield, it had been used to host lavish parties for Kent Island society. The rehearsal dinner was held in the garden room, a circular building completely enclosed in glass. 42 • NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08

It had taken Lynn and Paul seven years to walk down the aisle, although Lynn knew after their first meeting that he was the man she was going to marry. Both were students then at the University of Maryland, where each earned a bachelor of science degree in business. Lynn’s roommate and Paul’s roommate were brother and sister, but Lynn and Paul did not meet for another year. Finally, they were set up on blind dates—but with other people! Still, the couple was introduced by mutual friends and shared many laughs on that first meeting. What followed was five years of long distance dating while Paul attended Villanova Law School (he is currently a federal law clerk for US District Judge William Nealon) and Lynn received a master’s degree in elementary educa


tion from Johns Hopkins University (she teaches fifth grade at Riverside Elementary East). Both are volunteers with the Vikings Helping Vikings Scholarship Organization, and with the planning committee for the Institute for Religion and Public Policy’s Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom in Scranton, while Paul is also a member of the Scranton Prep Alumni Board. Finally, one early December, Paul asked Lynn out to dinner on the 15th floor of a restaurant in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore to watch the season’s first snowfall. He had thrown Lynn off by mentioning that he was saving money for a ring, and she should not expect one over the Christmas holiday. What Lynn did not know was that Paul had not only bought the ring, but had asked her father for her

hand in marriage. His cover was so convincing that Lynn was caught by surprise when Paul got down on his knee to propose. Her acceptance set into motion the planning for their dream wedding on the Chesapeake. Lynn visited bridal salons in Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Northeastern Pennsylvania before finding the simple, classic A-line dress she had envisioned at Sullum’s in Olyphant. She found it was much more affordable than the dresses she had seen in fancy salons in Maryland. Lynn then added a two-layered cathedral veil, which was converted into elbow length for dancing. Because the couple wanted to incorporate Irish accents into the wedding, along with the natural colors of the Ches NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 43


apeake Bay, Lynn knew she wanted the dresses to be kiwi green, and she finally found tasteful gowns in the Jenny Yoo Collection. The bridesmaids, who lived in various East Coast cities, were free to choose the style of their silk shantung dresses online or at the nearest bridal boutique. The dresses were accented with pearl earrings and necklaces, which were a gift from the bride and groom. The groomsmen wore classic black tuxes, also bought for them as gifts, and donned pale pink rose boutonnieres. Paul’s friend, Father Philip Florio, a priest he had met while a student at Prep, performed the nuptial ceremony, and the groom’s cousin, Paul Casparo, a seminarian, assisted on the altar. Another high school teacher, Brother James Lemon, could not attend, but gifted the couple with a papal blessing. The couple is family-oriented, so they asked their godparents and godchildren to play special roles in the ceremony, as ringbearer, readers, and bringing up the gifts. Lynn fulfilled a childhood dream by walking down the aisle to the wedding march from “The Sound of Music,” and a vocalist also sang “Panis Angelicus,” a song that Lynn’s grandfather used to sing at wedding masses at Sacred Heart Church in Carbondale. Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour on the grassy lawn next to the ballroom, where there was a covered porch with white rocking chairs. While admiring the yachts docked at the marina next door, guests could walk down a path to the beach and relax in two Adirondack chairs, watching the bay lapping the shore. The best view of all came at sunset, when guests could stand on the lawn, beach, or in the windowed ballroom to watch the sun-looking like a ball of fire--sink down below the landmark Bay Bridge. When it came to music for the reception, the couple booked their favorite musicians, the B-Street Band from New Jersey, which is best known for performing Bruce Springsteen covers. “We knew if we hired this band, the

44 • NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08


dance floor would be packed all night,” says the bride. “They were happy to travel from the New Jersey shore all the way to Kent Island, plus they came with their own DJ who played music while the band took a break.” In a nod to their Irish heritage, the cake table was covered with an antique Irish lace passed down from a great-great aunt on Lynn’s maternal grandmother’s side. The ringbearer’s pillow had a Celtic knot design, as did the programs. An Irish unity candle, a gift from Paul’s aunt, Annette Gaughan, was on the altar, and the knife and server set for the cake cutting, a gift from Lynn’s mother, featured the Irish claddaugh symbol. In another salute to the Emerald Isle, Paul’s uncle Rob O’Malley, and his cousins, Jason and Joseph O’Malley, sang the Irish Wedding Song, accompanying themselves on acoustic guitars. This family tradition began at the wedding of Paul’s cousin, Lynne Gaughan Michael, and has been continued at the weddings of all the cousins. Speaking of tradition, Lynn wore new wedding shoes, borrowed her mother’s “old” pearls, and sparkled in a diamond and sapphire bracelet for her “something blue.” Their wedding day, June 30, also held special meaning, as it marked the 50th wedding anniversary of Lynn’s grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Judge, who were married on that date in 1957 at Sacred Heart Church in Carbondale. To honor her grandparents and others, Lynn and Paul scheduled a special dance for married couples. The last couple standing was Lynn’s great-aunt and great-uncle, Jack and Lorraine Skelly, who were celebrating 60 years of marriage that year. Lynn presented her aunt with a bouquet. Lynn and Paul advise other bridal couples to enjoy their day. “It goes by very fast,” Paul remembers. “Spend time with all of your guests, but make sure that you take time to dance with your bride.” Lynn advises couples, “Take a moment to stand back and look at all of the guests, and appreciate the sacrifices each of them made to be there on your special day.”

NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 45


Details You Can Use •Include godparents and godchildren in special roles in the wedding. The bride’s godson, Luke Stengel, was ringbearer. The couple’s godparents, Tim Grode and Kathleen Kearney O’Brien, gave readings. The groom’s godfather, John Nealon, brought up gifts. •Ask a priest (minister or rabbi) who is close to you to perform the ceremony. Lynn and Paul’s priest was able to incorporate funny and embarrassing stories about them to make the Nuptial Mass very personal and memorable. •Ask the reception site to serve hors d’oeuvres later in the evening for guests to munch on. •Destination weddings can be lots of work, and sometimes you can’t control everything. Use recommendations from local businesses. •Lynn says that friends and family members want to help you with the planning. It’s good to delegate tasks when possible. •Paul and Lynn’s florist allowed the couple to provide their own centerpiece containers, which cut their expenses in half. •The B Street Band traveled from New Jersey to Kent Island 46 • NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08

to perform at the reception, and brought a DJ to play during breaks. “We’d been to weddings where the band took a long break after dinner and people left during that break,” Lynn recalls. “We didn’t want that. The DJ played high energy songs for all ages and really got people dancing.” •The couple spent considerable time putting together a “play list” and “do not play list,” and they say, “We were happy that there was no Chicken Dance at our wedding.” •The couple chose appetizers that incorporated local favorites such as mini crabcakes on tasting spoons. •The tables were named after bodies of water that have given the couple happy memories, including the Potomac and Lackawanna Rivers, Lake Wallenpaupack, and of course, the Chesapeake Bay. •In keeping with the nautical theme, favors were silver seashellshaped wine bottle stoppers. •Guests could view Paul’s wedding gift to Lynn, which was on display at the reception site. It is a painting entitled “Wedding Day” by Norman Rockwell. •The couple saluted their Irish heritage by using claddaugh and Celtic knot designs, and with musical selections.


Lynn & Paul’s Details Ceremony: St. Christopher’s Catholic Church, Chester, MD, with Father Philip Florio as celebrant. The groom’s cousin, Paul Casparo, a seminary student, assisted on the altar. Reception: Sunset Ballroom at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, Stevensville, MD Florist: Debbie Clarke fashioned a bridal bouquet featuring a variety of white June flowers, including roses, freesia, dahlias, sweet peas, and ranaculuses. The bridesmaids carried small bouquets of fresh pink and green flowers. Centerpieces were large bouquets of white roses and white hydrangea arranged in silver bowls, surrounded by three white votive candles. Photography: Susan Drey Videography: AJ’s Videography Bridal Gown: A strapless, white silk A-line dress with covered buttons to the waist and a simple satin ribbon tied at the waist, ordered at Sullum’s in Olyphant. Lynn bought her shoes at Head To Toe Bridal Salon, Dunmore. Bridesmaid Dresses: The attendants chose their own style of dress online (www.jennyyoo.com) from Jenny Yoo in kiwi green silk shantung fabric and wore pearl earrings and necklaces which were a gift from the bride and groom. Cake: SugarBakers, Catonsville, MD Music: The B-Street Band from New Jersey played at the reception. The parents and bridal party were introduced to the Bruce Springsteen hit “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” while the couple was introduced to “Some Kind of Wonderful” before hitting the floor for their first dance to “Love Me Tender.” The bride and her father danced to “What a Wonderful World,” while Paul and his mother danced to “The Rainbow Connection.” The couple cut their cake to “When I’m 64,” and Paul sang with the band to “Rosalita” while Lynn played the tambourine. Transportation: Bayside Limousines and Kent Island Coach Rehearsal Dinner: Kent Manor Inn, a historic plantation. Honeymoon: A stay at the all-inclusive “Casitas Royale” resort in Rivera Maya, Mexico, a wedding gift from Paul’s sister, Ellen, and her husband, Dan. NEPA Wedding Day • Autumn 08 • 47

autumn 2008 wedding day archive  

Archive for Autumn 2008 issue of Wedding Day Magazine

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