Pulling inspiration from a variety of sources – including the bride’s grandparents’ living room and The Phantom of the Opera – Teresa and RJ made sure that their Mansions on Fifth wedding was one that would stand the test of time. But while the color palette of black and white may have been quite traditional, the style of this swanky soiree was anything but. Wearing an Allure Bridals ballgown featuring 3-D florals and off-the-shoulder neckline from The Exquisite Bride, a custom veil from Clarissa Boutique, and beautifully done hair and makeup by Glam to Go, Teresa looked ever the classic but stylish bride. After a church ceremony, Mansions on Fifth provided a very formal, almost vintage-y backdrop to the reception but lush flowers and tons of cascading greenery courtesy of Community Flower Shop put a modern spin on this celebration. Monochromatic floral arrangements of white hydrangeas and roses mixed with dripping ivy and ferns, as well as an all-white wedding cake from Bethel Bakery, were stark contrasts against black linens from Lendable Linens. Contemporary acrylic signs from Dzign Studio and metallic gold accents rounded out the trendy touches put on this otherwise timeless affair. With an abundance of candles, the romantic mood was set and a warm ambiance was ready to welcome Teresa and RJ’s guests. Speaking of which, the COVID pandemic forced the couple to downsize but that didn’t stop them from celebrating with those they love the most. Twenty five close family members joined them for the ceremony, dinner, and wedding traditions before departing. Then, 25 of their best friends helped them round out the evening with dancing, drinks, and dessert! Rachel Kunzen Photography was there to capture every last picture perfect detail and trust us…there were a lot of them!
About the Couple
In July of 2016, I was a rising freshman at the University of Dayton. In order to help acclimate incoming freshmen, UD held a retreat. My now husband, RJ, happened to be leading this retreat. He was the very first person to greet me when I arrived on campus! However, we barely spoke for most of the time. Our paths crossed again and our friendship began to grow when we coincidentally joined the same student organization. After the first meeting, RJ (a sophomore) showed me around campus. I then realized that his dorm building was right down the hill from mine! From this point on, we walked and talked back to our dorms after almost every meeting. In April of 2017, RJ and I decided to catch up over some dining hall dinner. After dinner, we decided that we weren’t finished talking and talked for hours more. Upon realizing how much we had in common, our feelings for each other hit us like a pile of bricks. Not to mention, RJ was wearing a UD shirt that said, “Just the Beginning” on the back of it (yes, I am now the proud owner of that shirt!)! One week later, we went on our first date and the rest is history.
We knew very early on that we wanted to get married, and that we did not want to live away from each other after we graduated (RJ is from Detroit and I am from Pittsburgh). On October 25, 2019, RJ began the 24 hours leading up to our engagement by taking me to the restaurant we went to on our first date. The next day, I woke up and got ready for work just like it was any other day. However, on my way out of the door, I was stopped in my tracks by RJ, greeting me with my favorite Starbucks drink and a DVD of Hocus Pocus. As it turns out, he called me off of work for the entire day! After a day of fall fun, RJ told me to get dressed up for our 2.5 year anniversary dinner. I got ready, he picked me up, and then we parked at a random spot on campus. After walking me to the gazebo by the library, he popped the question! After celebrating with a skyline-view dinner in Cincinnati, I thought that the day was over. Yet again, I was shocked to see that all of our friends had gathered together for a Halloween-themed surprise party. And to make it even better, my parents drove all the way from Pittsburgh to Dayton to come to the surprise party. It was truly one of the best days of my life!
About the Wedding
Right off the bat, I knew I wanted an extremely formal, elegant, and timeless wedding. However, when RJ and I first got engaged, I was having such a difficult time deciding what colors to use. In general, I never wear color. In fact, I’m surprised I even wore an ivory wedding dress instead of a black one. Maroon, navy, and pastels just did not seem to suite me. Finally, I came to the seemingly obvious conclusion to just do black and white. However, I did not want it to look too modern or color-blocked. So, I decided to incorporate a lot of greenery into the flowers in order to soften up the palette!
Other than my own closet, I took a lot of inspiration from my grandparents’ house, The Phantom of The Opera (my favorite movie/musical), and from my very own engagement ring. My grandparents’ house is filled with beautiful dark green wallpaper and dark wood furnishings. To me, this always seemed to look so formal and ambient. That being said, I wanted my venue to have a very formal feel with lots of warm ambiance. My primary takeaway from The Phantom of The Opera was the usage of lots of candles, which were scattered all throughout our reception space. Lastly, my engagement ring inspired me to use yellow gold as an accent color.
I feel as if my wedding style was unique because of how much black I used without making it look overpowering – the table linens were black, the seat cushions were black, the bridesmaid dresses were black, the cake table had black a sequined table linen on it, and more!
Another aspect of uniqueness stemmed from the fact that I am a pandemic-era bride. This meant that my 120 reception attendees had to be reduced to 25. However, this did not keep us from celebrating with our very favorite people. After a lot of thought, we decided to have 25 of our closest family members for dinner and traditions (first dance, parent dances, cake-cutting, speeches, etc.) and then have 25 of our college friends for dancing, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and dessert afterwards! This unique timeline allowed us to truly interact with all of our guests and to have tons of fun regardless of the pandemic! Our small reception still felt like a formal, magical, full party!
Truthfully, my favorite moment of the day was taking our portraits after our ceremony. It was just so amazing to spend time together, just the two of us, relishing in the fact that we were married. We laughed and smiled the entire time!