Yes, we did. We took the plunge, tied the knot, got hitched. Whatever you call it, after 20 years Franco and I decided to make it official! I always knew we would someday…
Someday was December 17, 2021.
As owners of a bridal and tuxedo store, we have met so many people – and vendors. We celebrated our 9th anniversary of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo this month, the store that we opened out of thin air.
I thought it appropriate to do a blog highlighting who we chose for our wedding and why. This is not to say anyone is “better than” or “less expensive” or anything like that. Our wedding was exactly what WE wanted, and that isn’t what anyone else may want. As you read you will find out exactly the reasons we chose who we chose!
Free advice before we begin: It really is your day. YOURS. Just because someone else throws their opinion in doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Any sentence that begins with “You should” is one to hear and most likely discard because you already know what you should do.
THE VENUE: BLACK BASS HOTEL
If I could convey how much I love this property you probably wouldn’t believe me but I feel like I could live there. It is historic, cozy, warm, on the river, for me absolute perfection. I will tell you a very personal story as to choosing this venue.
As some of you may know, back in 2020 I suffered a severe spinal cord injury. I popped C6 out of alignment and was paralyzed from the chest down. The injury was considered “incomplete” – meaning it was up to me to get back whatever I could. The biggest thing for me of course was to walk again.
Because of Covid, there was no rehab available once I got home 5 weeks later. Franco was at my side every minute helping me… my trainer, my cheerleader, my therapist, my chef, my best friend.
One of the amazing things he did was taking me to the Stockton Bridge where there is a wide and sturdy railing on one side and he was on my other side. He walked with me every day, back and forth, six times.
It took forever to get to one end and then I had to turn around and go back. It was devastating how hard it was – and how slow, unsteady, and afraid I was. There were times I cried the entire time out of pure frustration. And oh my God did I swear. A LOT.
Note: If you are ever in a hurry and you are behind elderly people who are slow or someone who has trouble walking, please don’t angry, take your time and be grateful that you have the ability.
Anyhoo, one day later in the summer he decided to take me to a different bridge for a change of scenery, the Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge a/k/a the Lumberville Foot Bridge.
I remember how hot it was and when I made it to the Jersey side, I turned around and saw people dining outside at the Black Bass. It looked so inviting and sweet! I also remember thinking I wanted to be sitting there with them, drinking myself into oblivion. Instead I simply asked Franco if we could eat there one day.
When we decided to get married, I knew it would be at Black Bass.
We met with Fiona and I encourage you to as well if you are considering this delightful location.
They had such sweet ceremony decor with blankets on the chairs for guests and heat lamps, plus the lights and garland for Christmas.
We got married outside at 4:30pm, and when I tell you it was perfect, it was literally perfect. The weather was outstanding, 50° and clear. The sun was beginning to set. The lights were on and fire pits going!
We had a quick ceremony and then cocktail hour and as the sun went down an almost full moon came up over the river, the Christmas lights went on, and it sounds cliché but it truly was magical. I could not have asked for anything more.
We had indoor-outdoor cocktail hour with delicious stations, and the gorgeous bar has a fireplace and plenty of seating. The dining room overlooks the Delaware. The dinners were outstanding, the service was fantastic.
While we had a very small and intimate affair with 30 people, it was casual yet still formal, and so special. They even offer valet parking! It was truly everything we wanted.
THE DRESS: MADI LANE IZADORE
I knew the minute I saw this pic in May 2019 this was my dress. You know when you know, right? No question this was my dress before I even saw it in person. Before I even tried it on.
Before I even had a wedding date. lol
Like I said, I knew it would happen someday and there was never a dress that hit me like this… and I’ve seen thousands of dresses.
I brought it into the store in my size… and fell in love even more.
THE SEAMSTRESS: DESIGN STUDIO BY IRINA
The above picture was taken pre-accident. As you can see, the dress at that time only needed a few tweaks and a hem. By the time we got married at the end of 2021, I was 15 pounds lighter. This dress needed significant and major alterations.
When I put it on prior to my first fitting, I didn’t think it had a chance of working out. The top was enormous, the sleeves baggy, and there was almost no shape at all. I texted Irina. She said bring it over.
When I say she is a master, that’s exactly what she is. She told me not to worry and that she’d make it perfect. Six inches in the top, take in sleeves, three inches in the waist and hip, remove the train, and hem.
One fitting. Boom. My dress fit like a glove and I didn’t want to take it off.
For Consideration: Remove the train from your dress. I did because it was too stressful for me to worry about walking with a train. So much easier! A cathedral veil will give the same effect and the same drama on entrance, but is taken off at the reception. I was thrilled that I did not have to deal with a bustle all night and my dress looked pretty from the front AND back!
GROOM’S TUXEDO: IKE BEHAR
When we go to a formal event, Franco always asks me what color tux I want him to wear. Because we have so many, there is always something different to pick from! This time I left it his choice. He knows I’m partial to classic black though. Good Lord, a black tuxedo is so sexy.
I knew he would choose an Ike Behar though, even if it wasn’t black. The fit on the Ike is perfect every time.
He chose black. 🙂 After 20 years, I’m still smitten.
MAIDS OF HONOR DRESSES: CLARISSE
Unsure, right up to the last minute. Daria and Deanna were sending pictures of dresses back and forth, just like all bridesmaids do. Again I only gave them a few guidelines and let them pick. I loved the hunter green satin for Christmas, and then they each picked their style. These dresses came from Clarisse, were in stock, and fit so well they only needed a hem!
It was amazing that the day was mild enough not to wear jackets, however we did get them fur wraps to wear for the ceremony. The colors could not have been more perfect, in my opinion!
HAIR & MAKE UP: DANEENE JENSEN & ASSOCIATES
I met Daneene when we first opened our store nine years ago. I didn’t know anyone in the wedding industry and was eager to get to know as many people as I could. I had no idea that Daneene was one of the highest rated hair and make up artists in the entire region. She was so interested in meeting us and our new little store, that when I realized exactly who she was it spoke volumes to her character.
She did not need us, she was already successful. She wanted to know us. There’s a big difference.
Since that first meeting she has done so many of our brides and bridal parties with nothing but five star, glowing reviews. She and her team are kind, reliable, and perfectionists. If you are looking for hair and make up, she is my go-to every time.
THE FLOWERS: NEWTOWN FLOWER COMPANY/REEANNE SIRAVO
Reeanne used to work at our store in bridal, but her talents were far beyond just that. I would watch her design and decorate our display windows, make flower girl baskets and ring boxes, draw flowers and designs on our welcome board, repurpose things that no one else could have possibly re-purposed. She’s genuine, fun, and I’m so proud she’s my friend. So when I needed flowers I thought of her and it just so happens her sister Denise owns the Newtown Flower Company. #score
Because our affair was small and the Black Bass offered candles as centerpieces, I only needed three bouquets and a boutonniere. I sent her two pictures for inspiration, and told her I didn’t want them this big:
That was all I gave her. That was all she needed. She perfectly combined the two to give me this:
I am still so in love with these flowers every time I see pictures!
THE OFFICIANT: ARIEL CLAUS
We met Ariel at Peddler’s Village when she was doing corporate events for them. She took a group of us on a tour and she was as delightful as she looks – fun, smart and bubbly.
Not long after, we met again at another networking event and then it became routine to see her. I always enjoyed talking and giggling with her.
Now when it came time to find an officiant, I realized I was at a loss. I knew no one so I started searching, to no real avail. And then, poof! A Facebook post of Ariel, saying she had officiated a wedding.
Could my wedding get any better? I sent her a Facebook message and that was that. She asked what was important to us, what kind of ceremony we wanted, etc. all the questions to make sure she did what we wanted.
Because Franco and I had been together for so long, we didn’t need all the vows or traditional stuff. We didn’t want too much along the religious lines. We already wore rings for 14 years, we didn’t need a ring exchange.
Instead, we wrote something up – our “story” – and she read that for our guests. It was cute, sweet, heartfelt, silly; it was us and maybe 10 minutes start to finish.
It was perfect. And being married by a friend was so incredibly special. And as fate would have it, as I am writing this, our marriage license just arrived from the courthouse!
THE PHOTOGRAPHER: NICOLE GOSS PHOTOGRAPHY
Like Ariel, Nicole is just my style. We met through networking as well and I gravitate towards the fun ones. She is so easy going! Eager to do the best job and she definitely did.
Because we had such a small and rather non-traditional wedding/reception (it was just a dinner with a great playlist of music), I did not need what others require. I did not need formal “getting ready”, extended family photos, or reception shots. We wanted candid and fun pics from pre-ceremony up to dinner.
She laughed with us as she caught things I didn’t know would happen – like this one – sort of a reverse first-look when I saw Franco coming across the street.
Or this great one of us taking a selfie to send to our friends in Italy who could not attend due to Covid restrictions:
Nicole is wonderful and qualified for so much more than the small affair we had, yet she took it as seriously as a much bigger wedding and even got fantastic shots of our guests throughout cocktail hour. I cannot stop looking through all these pictures!!
And that’s a wrap! Franco and I are so pleased at how everything turned out exactly as we hoped – and actually it was even better. If you need a referral for your wedding, feel free to ask! We know so many amazing and talented vendors and can find one that would be perfect for the wedding YOU want!