How to Have Your Dream Wedding

Ever since getting engaged last May, I’ve been waiting to write this mega-article on my wedding – the be all, end all of wedding articles, detailing every aspect of this most anticipated event (at least by me) from start to finish. I’m proud (and exhausted) when I say that it truly was my dream wedding with my dream guy and celebrated with 175 of my closest dream friends and family. But before I delve into describing the wedding itself, allow me to highlight some of my favorite aspects of the events leading up to it.

[b]1) The Engagement:[/b] Josh and I got engaged after he sent me on a scavenger hunt throughout the Upper East Side, which culminated in a proposal at the location of our first date.

[center]an image[/center] [center][i] Kimberly McDonald, fine jewelry curator[/i][/center] [b]2) Save the Date:[/b] Josh and I wanted our wedding to be unique and memorable and, of course, a lot of fun. After looking at numerous venues, we decided to have the wedding at the Franklin Institute, in Josh’s hometown of Philadelphia. With the ceremony under the stars in the planetarium and the cocktail hour amongst exhibits like the walk-through giant heart, we knew it’d be the perfect place!

[center]an image[/center] [center][i]Photobooth pictures taken with our dog Flanders in Atlantic City. Postcards produced at [url=][/url] [/i][/center] [b]3) The Bridal Shower:[/b] My wonderful mother hosted my bridal shower luncheon at Ruby Foos on the Upper West Side in their private dining room [url=][/url]. The invitation (as well as table place cards) was handmade using Asian themed artwork that I had made in High School – marking the first of many ways to make your wedding festivities personalized and unique.

[center]an image[/center] [center][i]Cardstock and vellum from [url=][/url]; ribbon from [url=][/url] in NYC.[/i][/center]

In addition to more food than you can imagine, my maid and matron of honor (herein known as Rachel and Sari) arranged to have an advice book complete with a Polaroid of each guest who got to decorate her page of advice. I will also treasure the scrapbook I was presented with, which was compiled of pages created by my friends and relatives, complete with poems, pictures and letters. Speaking of pictures, my bridesmaids, Michelle and Amy, gathered pictures of me at all ages and made photo confetti, which they sprinkled on each table. It was quite the icebreaker and conversation piece! Visit [url=][/url]. The highlight of the day came when Rachel and Sari handed each person an index card with a trivia question to ask me about Josh, our relationship or myself. With the help of my computer savvy brother, Sari and Rachel were able to show Josh answering the questions on video! Needless to say, we answered 99% of the questions correctly – making everyone just a tad skeptical that the trivia game was the surprise that (I swear) it was.

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[center][i]Favors were chopsticks from [url=][/url] and Williams-Sonoma Asian Cookbooks (Simon & Schuster). Special to Michelle, for lending me her adorable and oh-so appropriate ‘raindrop’ skirt from [url=][/url]. Bridal Shower? Rain? Clever![/i][/center] [b]4) The Bachelorette Party[/b] was held in Longport, New Jersey at Josh’s family beach house. Only 15 minutes from Atlantic City, it provided the perfect (and free) accommodations for a weekend away with the girls. Part slumber party, part traditional bachelorette party, my friends and I got in some quality bonding time walking along the beach (on a surprisingly pleasant January afternoon), munching on snacks and drinking wine over deep talks and watching a montage of old photos of ourselves that I made using iMovie and iDVD on my Mac. Although no strippers were present, I got my share of debauchery in with a cake shaped like a…well, a part of the male anatomy, and a book of A-Z dares to complete throughout the evening, which was spent at the Tropicana Hotel [url=][/url].

[b]5) The Bridesmaids[/b]: I asked each of my nine bridesmaids to join the wedding party by sending a personalized CD of our favorite songs enclosed in an invitation jacket which was designed to look like a kite. Attached by a silver ribbon was a keychain featuring an antique key. The whole ensemble was to symbolize Benjamin Franklin’s kite and key experiment, since the wedding was to be held at the Franklin Institute. I had the girls order their dresses after much deliberation and trepidation over pregnancy schedules (i.e. my sister-in-law was due two weeks after the wedding and another was in her first trimester when she optimistically – and accurately – ordered the dress in a large size). The tea-length chocolate satin Vera Wang dress had ivory tulle at the bottom of the align skirt and an ivory grosgrain ribbon at the waist. [url=][/url], who was a pleasure to work with, offers a discount of 15-20% off to bridal parties.

[center]an image[/center] [b]6) The Rehearsal Dinner and Post Wedding Brunch:[/b]

[center]an imagean image[/center] [center][i]Invitations by William Arthur can be found at [url=][/url].[/i][/center]

At the rehearsal dinner, everyone went above and beyond our highest expectations with their toasts, roasts and presentations. Highlights include my mother delivering a hilarious, yet touching roast/poem, my theater camp friends singing a medley of personalized show tunes rivaling Andrew Lloyd Webber, my bridesmaid, Jaimee, doing a dead-on impression of me, and the groomsmen ‘auditioning’ American Idol-style to be Josh’s groomsmen in an expertly created DVD shown on the LCD screen we rented for the occasion. By using Final Cut and iDVD software on their Mac, the guys even managed to get Randy, Paula and Simon to judge them! And if that wasn’t enough, Josh’s groomsman, Marc, at a benefit for Stand-Up Girl Productions, won a song by [url=][/url] and had it written personally for Josh and me!

When the night ended, Josh and I exchanged letters we had written to each other in anticipation of the wedding and I gave him a pair of mini-dachshund cufflinks from [url=][/url] to wear the next day, so that our puppy, Flanders, would actually be at the wedding after all (well, sort of ;-).

[center]an image[/center] [b]7) The Wedding:[/b] Ah, the wedding. Where do I begin? Well, suffice it to say, that Rachel and Sari’s wedding toast made fun of just how detail oriented I was (keep reading ;-) and my father’s welcome speech opened with “I am very happy to preside over the only 5 minutes that our bride Stephanie, did not plan.”

[center]an imagean image[/center] [center][i]Invitation by Crane and purchased from [url=][/url]. Espresso cardstock with engraved ecru ink in Bickham swash font. Espresso inner envelopes with ecru moiré lining and ecru outer envelopes, with hand calligraphy by [url=][/url]. Espresso place cards found at [url=][/url] and calligraphy in ecru ink by Laura Hooper.[/i][/center] [center]an image[/center] [center][i]Ribbon, bags and tissue paper from [url=][/url]; cherry blossom logo from [url=][/url] images.[/i][/center]

When the guests arrived at their hotel, they received a welcome bag with various Philadelphia treats, as well as a ‘guide-pamphlet’ that yours truly created. Done entirely in sepia to coordinate with the chocolate and pink wedding colors, the pamphlet had images of Philadelphia, a collage of baby photos (including pics of me in front of the Liberty bell as a child), a personalized crossword puzzle ([url=][/url]), a map, a page on ‘Places to Eat’, a page on ‘Places to Visit” and a page of “Useful Information” (which included phone numbers of hair/nails/makeup salons, hospitals, a post office, a Kinkos, among others…. giving Rachel and Sari plenty of funny material to include in their roast!).

[center]an image[/center] [center][i]Hair by Giovanni at Giovanni & Pileggi (215) 568-3040; John & Step Jewelry (212-391-2247) added a silver stick to my pink rhinestone brooch to put in my hair. Makeup by Catherine at [url=][/url]. Dress by [url=][/url] from [url=][/url]. Pink Sapphire earrings (to match the pink grosgrain ribbon on the back of the dress) courtesy of Kimberly McDonald, fine jewelry curator. The ceremony cathedral length drop veil, with Chantilly lace trim custom made and the short 1-layer reception veil by [url=][/url].[/i][/center]

The wedding ceremony, held in the Planetarium, featured a slide show of photos (including our first emails to each other upon meeting on [url=][/url]), instrumental processional music from our favorite Broadway shows, a beautiful ketubah designed by Amy Fagin ([url=][/url]), and a gorgeous chuppah made of cherry blossoms and built by my amazingly talented florist Marie Huss ([url=][/url]). Programs contained an explanation of the Planetarium star show (set to Norah Jones’ “Come Away with Me”), the ways we incorporated personal objects into the religious ceremony, and detailed description of how Josh and I knew each individual member of the bridal party. The ceremony, under a moonlit starry sky was magical. It was as if a spell had been broken when everyone yelled “Mazel Tov!” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Your’s” blared out the speakers (the song was a reference to how we met, but no one got it – Hey, if “You’ve Got Mail” can use it…). As fireworks were displayed on the planetarium dome, everyone got excited for the big celebration in store.

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After the guests finished enjoying themselves during cocktail hour and completed the requisite drunken walk through the giant heart, they filed into Franklin Hall. That’s when our incredible band [url=][/url] broke out into a rendition of “Gonna Fly Now,” from Philadelphia-based movie “Rocky,” as Josh and I made our way to the dance floor. When the band segued into our first dance song (Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be”), I was handed the microphone to serenade my husband. It was a surprise to everyone (except the band who I practiced with once and my mother, of course)! Fortunately, I remembered the words and got through the entire song without crying. The room looked gorgeous with tables set with chocolate brown cloth, candlelight, low centerpieces of clustered pink peonies and accents of green lisianthus and high centerpieces of cherry blossom trees with twinkling lights, anchored with Thai leaves and pink hydrangea. After my parents gave the welcome speech where my father appropriately quoted our illustrious guest of honor, Benjamin Franklin who said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards,” the party continued well into the night.

[center]an image[/center] [center][i]On their way out, guests were handed a famous Philadelphia soft pretzel (Taste of Philadelphia – 215-247-2217); Cake and all catering by [url=][/url] / Noah’s kitchen.
Special thanks: to Mike at the Rockefeller Center New York Sports Club for personally training me, to Soma at [url=][/url] for threading my eyebrows to perfection, to Amy at [url=][/url] for planning our wonderful honeymoon in Hawaii, to [url=][/url] for providing us with our wedding website, and to [url=][/url] and Lauren at [url=][/url] for getting my skin wedding day ready

Related stories:
From Secrecy to National Television: Coming Out of the Internet Dating Closet
[url=][/url] How to Stay Engaged when You’re Waiting to get Engaged [url=][/url])
Shower to Shower – How to Host the Perfect Bridal Shower

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