Ali + Jeff's Elegant Cincinnati Themed Wedding!
It's not every day we encounter a wedding that seriously has it all: a cute love story (even if it's made up), the most beautiful serendipitous moment involving a furry friend, a romantic proposal on a mountain top, and a stunning wedding featuring elegant moody details and great music!
Ali and Jeff tied the knot last November at the elegant Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel in one of the most original weddings we've ever seen! The Cincinnati-themed wedding included details like Save the Dates which featured the Cincinnati skyline. Invitations included a glossy postcard RSVP card of Cincinnati's famous fountain square as well as an Ohio shape map directing them to the Renaissance. Our escort cards were cutouts of one of four different Cincinnati landmarks - which landmark the guests received indicated their meal selection. Our guestbook was a photobook of Cincinnati past and present and we asked guests to sign in the margins of their favorite location.
Ali wore the Stella gown which she paired with a beautiful beaded satin belt. She wore a classic updo with a lovely headpiece that made her entire wedding look polished and über elegant! Scroll down to read all about the couple's amazing story and to view their wedding album, photographed by the talented people at Samantha Studio Photography!
Finding the dress..
My dress search didn't start off the way I'd hoped.. I left the first store a little disappointed thinking that dress shopping just wasn't going to be as fun as I thought it would. I would have just gone home, but I had already made an appointment for another boutique, Carrie Karibo, that same day. I was SO GLAD I did. The experience at there was the complete opposite of the other store. It was bright and Sherry, my salesperson, was incredibly friendly and helpful.. The Evelyn dress I chose was actually the fifth, and last one I tried on at CK. It beat out the first one I had tried on and quickly became the new favorite. I loved the neckline and the open back, and I was obsessed with the beading and details. I also loved the color! With a November wedding, I didn't want stark white and the Ivory/Gold color combination as stunning. Sherry paired it with a Satin belt with some beadwork detail on it, and I was surprised how much I loved it. I never would have dreamt of adding a belt to a dress that already had such beautiful detail but it was perfect. I also loved that adding the belt made the dress slightly more "custom" for me. Once I said yes to the dress, we toasted with champagne. The whole experience was top-notch.
After buying the dress, I went home and looked it up online. When I saw the style name, my eyes welled up. I had unknowingly purchased a dress named "Stella." Just about a year before that, my seven year old dog had suddenly gotten sick after a day at the park. I took her to the vet the next morning and they wanted to keep her overnight - she didn't make it through the night. It was one of the hardest things I've ever been through and to this day we still don't know exactly what happened to her. Her name was also Stella. I had her since she was just four months old and she was my world. I couldn't believe the universe aligning for me to buy that dress and it made me feel so good knowing she would still be a part of our wedding. It still makes me cry to think about it.
How they met..
We met online dating. But, as we were going through the wedding planning process and everyone we met asked us how we met we decided that was really boring so we made up a better story. Jeff tells people this fictional tale of how we "actually" met: He was walking by a burning building and I was trapped inside. He rescued me and we've been together ever since. No one believes us, but it's been more fun to tell.
We love the outdoors, and every fall we take a trip to Tennessee to hike in the Smoky Mountains. He proposed at the top of a mountain in Smoky Mountain National Park. Our hike was surprisingly snowy and it was beautiful. When we got to the top we found a sunny spot where the snow had melted to have lunch. As we were packing up to hike back down, he pulled the ring out of his backpack, got down on one knee, and proposed. It was a really special moment because my parents were also with us. It meant a lot to be able to share that with them.
The number one best thing about planning the wedding was bringing people together. Wedding planning comes with a lot of stress, and a lot of events. I got to reconnect with some of my best friends who I haven't seen in years because we live in different states. I also got to better know and connect with my husband's family. This was an unexpected part of planning that was by far my favorite part.
The next part was getting to create an experience for my guests. We did so much of the planning and creating ourselves and although it was time consuming, it was so rewarding to watch it all come together. This will dip into the theme question a little, but after we picked our venue the ideas for what the day would be started flowing. I designed our Save the Dates and Invitations. I have done some small design work in the past, but it was incredible to see them come to life. I wanted everything we did to be a reflection of what our guests could expect. I wanted our table numbers to pop off the table, so I came up with the idea of installing fairy lights in the back of the frame so the black and white photos of Cincinnati would look like they were lit up at night. I used a Cricut to make all of our placecards after creating the designs of the building silhouettes. I had seen boxwood champagne walls showing up in wedding blogs, but I couldn't find one to rent locally. My husband made two champagne walls to display at the wedding and they turned out amazing. We both wanted our guests to feel special and I believe that is all done in detail work. The details of our day were very carefully planned and bringing them all to life was amazing.
Last, I actually loved working with my vendors. I had AMAZING vendors. From the coordinators at the Renaissance, our florist, our photographer, our videographer, my hair and makeup artist, our lighting specialist, our bakery, to the band, everyone was so nice and so easy to work with. Even better, everyone did an incredible job! I couldn't be happier with the end result from any of them. I am so lucky and so thankful to have worked with so many people who made the process so easy.
Honestly, our ceremony. We chose not to get married in a church. As soon as we made that decision, we knew that we could make our ceremony very personal and intimate and that's exactly what we did. We asked a friend of ours to perform the ceremony, and he went above and beyond with us before the wedding asking for details about our relationship we'd be willing to share, coming up with words of us own to share,and just helping us plan everything. Instead of a traditional reading, I asked an aunt who I am very close with to share some words about marriage. She and my uncle have one of the strongest marriages we know, and I knew all of our guests would appreciate hearing her insights. She delivered in a big way. The entire room was moved, and I still have people coming up to me saying how special that moment was. It meant the world to us.
I wanted our guests who had already been part of our story, to be part of our wedding as well. We worked in small ways for them to be involved including having them introduce themselves to their neighbors and exchange peace during the welcome and having them perform a vow of support for us after we recited our vows. Ceremony music was also very important to us.
We used songs that were unique and had we both liked as they shared our story through song. Our families came in to "Sea of Lo