2017 has been a full year for me. From five cover stories in The Aquarian Weekly, to finally interviewing Barry Manilow after three years of trying to do so, to me co-founding a group that meets up on a monthly basis to play Nintendo consoles and games. Between all of these things and my full-time job, it’s been a year filled with great accomplishments and experiences. But the one that tops them all took place on September 9, 2017. That’s the day I got married.
Wedding Rehearsal Dinner
Two days before the wedding was our rehearsal, which went well. At the rehearsal dinner, I knew I wanted to do something special to express my gratitude and love for our parents and let them know how everything they’d done for us throughout our lives had led up to this moment. So, rather than simply give a toast, I decided to sing a song: “I Am Your Child” by Barry Manilow, a gorgeous and poignant song that was a surefire way to get our parents to cry. But I wanted to make sure they were crying for the right reasons, so I contacted my voice teacher and did five weeks of singing lessons with him to prepare for this special moment.
With my voice teacher, Rick Gabe.
My voice teacher, Rick Gabe, prepared a performance track for me to sing to. I practiced to this track multiple times a week and during our lessons we’d work on the hard parts of the song, which included significant pauses between lyrics and subtle differences between ascending and descending notes in the song. By the time of the rehearsal dinner, I was good to go. I had my phone with the track on it, a bluetooth speaker to hook up to and I even had a soundcheck at the restaurant before going to the wedding venue. When the big moment came at dinner, I got up, said a few words and then sang. I started off pretty good but once I noticed my Dads getting choked up, I started to get choked up. I kept my emotions in check until the end, when I completely lost it. Thankfully, my getting emotional made everyone else feel the same way and, ultimately, led to a better result than I could have expected. Shortly after the performance, I gave my parents framed sheet music of “I Am Your Child,” which made them cry again. And my wife gave her parents framed sheet music of “Someone To Watch Over Me,” since she was going to dance with her father to that song at the wedding.
With my parents and the framed “I Am Your Child” sheet music I gave them at the wedding rehearsal dinner.
Below is a video my cousin and best man filmed of me singing “I Am Your Child” during the wedding rehearsal dinner. I shared this video with Barry Manilow’s family and they were moved to tears as well. To me, that’s the highest compliment, considering they’ve seen this song performed thousands of times.
The WeddingThe day of our wedding was as perfect as could be. It took place in a private garden in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood that we didn’t realize existed until we started researching wedding venues in the city. The venue where the wedding and reception took place is the Pennsylvania location for The National Society of Colonial Dames. Essentially, it’s a meeting house for, well, colonial dames. And when colonial dames aren’t meeting, the space is rented out for functions such as weddings.Prior to the ceremony, the photographers captured images of us getting ready with our groomsmen and bridesmaids, as well as photos of the bridal party at the venue and in Rittenhouse Square.We also wanted to get a shot with City Hall in the background, in the middle of Broad Street. As you can see from the photo below, we were able to get exactly what we wanted.We also asked the photographer to capture all of the details of the wedding itself, including the invitations, our rings, table settings, flowers, and pretty much anything else that looked worthy of photographing.Our rings, which you can see in the photo above, are from McGarry’s Jeweler’s in Collingswood, NJ. Rather than get a traditional ring of gold or silver, I opted for a faceted black ceramic ring. It’s lightweight, doesn’t scratch, crack or tarnish, and it looks beautiful when the light hits it. Stephanie’s custom-made rings are white gold and they feature beautiful diamonds that were hand-picked by McGarry’s for their quality and clarity. We’re both thrilled with our rings and highly recommend McGarry’s to anyone in the area, as they’ve got a great selection of jewelry and terrific customer service.Bird of Paradise Flowers in Bristol, PA did our centerpiece arrangements, the flowers on the wedding cake and other decorative flowers throughout the venue that everyone loved. They exceeded our expectations in every way possible, and we’d absolutely use them again for another occasion.Miles Table and Catering provided all of the food for the wedding, which everyone raved about. There’s nothing worse than going to a wedding and the food being mediocre or awful. Miles is a great option if you’re looking for high-quality food and service.The photographer we used for the wedding, as well as our engagement shoot, is Martin Reardon. As you can see from all of the photos included in this post, he has a way of capturing emotion in vivid detail. We’re very happy with our photos, and people continue to tell us how much they love them.Below is our wedding trailer, which is a highlight reel of the ceremony and the reception. It was filmed and edited by Ashe Productions, and we look forward to seeing the full-length video in the coming months.
HoneymoonFor our honeymoon we decided to spend six days in Maui and six days in Kauai, with a day in Seattle on the way to Hawaii to break up the time in the sky. The stop in Seattle was way more interesting than I expected. Rather than it being the wet and dreary city that is portrayed in myriad TV shows and movies, it was a hilly historic place that reminded me of Philadelphia, Savannah and Boston, all rolled into one. We did an underground tour in Seattle, where we learned a great deal about the history of the city. If you’re ever there, I highly recommend you do the same, as Seattle has one of the most strange and interesting origin stories I’ve ever heard.Upon our arrival in Maui, we checked in at our hotel and set an early alarm for 1:30 a.m. so we could get on the road the next morning to see the sunrise from Haleakala National Park, 10,000 feet above sea level. Since we got there so early, we had the opportunity to stargaze prior to the sun rising. The sky was so clear that we could see Mercury and Venus, in addition to the hundreds of stars above us. As you can see from the photo above, the sunrise was beautiful and definitely worth it.The rest of our days in Maui included time relaxing by the lagoon-style pool, walking along Ka’anapali Beach, snorkeling in Molokini, where we saw sea turtles, and attending our first Hawaiian luau.One of the most interesting features at our hotel was the wildlife, specifically the penguins. These adorable tuxedoed waddlers constantly had a crowd, whether it be late at night when they were nodding off or in the morning when it was their feeding time. We always made time to stop by and see these cuties on a daily basis.Being the cat lovers that we are, the Lanai Cat Sanctuary was a destination we really looked forward to seeing. To get there and back, we had to take a ferry, which was awful. Both of us got nauseas, especially on the way back. But considering we got to spend so much time with hundreds of kitties, it was worth the struggle.The pool at the hotel in Kauai, which you can see in the photo above, is the largest in Hawaii, clocking in at 26,000 square feet. It was a great spot to rest up, grab some food, and catch some sun.The biggest highlight of our time in Kauai was a helicopter tour we went on. I should mention that I’m scared of heights. But I was nestled between Stephanie and a husky guy to my left, and the pilot used to be in the U.S. Air Force, so I felt as safe a person with my fear could possibly feel. Being that high in the sky, flying over canyons and seeing famous sights, such as the waterfall from Jurassic Park, all while movie theme music was piped into our headsets, was the definition of epic. It was a surreal experience that wasn’t topped during the honeymoon, and I highly recommend a helicopter tour to anyone visiting Kauai.When we rented our car from Enterprise in Kauai, the salesman told us we should check out Queen’s Bath, which is a beautiful, secluded tide pool. What he didn’t tell us is that it’s quite the hike to get to Queen’s Bath. There’s no direct path to it. So, we had to walk down a dirt trail and over fallen trees and volcanic rock to get to it – and we did this in flip-flops. The mouth of Queen’s Bath faces the ocean, which is dangerous if the water is choppy as it can smash an unsuspecting person up against the rocks and out to sea. Knowing this, we kept a safe distance.