The Ballroom at Ellis Preserve was a befitting historical venue for this classic vintage wedding. Alli and Chris’ love for one another and their family played a unique role in their wedding inspiration. The family heirlooms and re-purposed elements added to the vintage feel that this couple wanted. They also incorporated their love for their alma mater and Philadelphia like the groomsmen socks and soft pretzel sendoff snack! As the owner of AlliCat Calligraphy, it only made sense that this bride created all of the signage for the wedding including the amazing wood laser cut design that hung from the ceremony arch! Although it took two years to plan, and the couple doesn’t live in the area it all came together so beautifully. Samantha Jay Photography perfectly captured the beautiful imagery that depicts A + C’s love story, more loveliness below.
How They Met
“Our story began at the best school in the world (it’s a fact!), James Madison University, in August of 2008. I was Chris’ orientation guide and we quickly bonded over our love for the Eagles football team and that we both grew up in the Philly area. Once orientation ended, I would visit Chris and his friends to watch the Eagles game almost every Sunday for the next 3 years.
It wasn’t until after we both graduated from JMU that the friendship became more. We reconnected in the summer of 2012 and later at JMU’s Homecoming that October (I was so nervous and excited). Chris was living in DC at the time and I was in Philly working for the best team in baseball. I asked Chris if he could come up and visit sometime soon, thinking it was an unlikely request. Sure enough, he was in Mount Laurel the next weekend and we went on our first date walking around Haddonfield, watching JMU football on TV, and going to Dave and Buster’s in Philly.”
“Almost 8 years after we first met, Chris brought me back to campus. On that dreary November day, back where it all started, he got down on one knee and we began the next chapter of our unlikely but always exciting story!”
“We had almost two years to plan, which was extremely helpful since we don’t live in the area. We packed our trips home full of appointments and tried to be as efficient as possible with FaceTime and email when we couldn’t travel. I’m VERY organized and really enjoyed the planning process. I relied on many tools, timelines, and checklists to stay on top of what needed to be done.”
About the Wedding Venue | The Ballroom at Ellis Preserve
“When we first went to visit The Ballroom at Ellis Preserve, it was a construction site. Like… cement, dust, and a giant hole in the floor kind of construction site. But we fell in love with the old building and loved the renderings of the remodel. The building used to be an old women’s college, which was special to me because my husband and I met in college and I currently work in higher education. We’ve also been to other Finley venues in the city and knew that they were top notch, so we trusted the brand. We loved the idea of being at a new venue that had so much history.”
“We wanted our wedding to feel uniquely us. It was important to add elements from our alma mater, honor our parents and family members, and pay homage to the city that helped us bond in the beginning. We included lots of family heirlooms – a mirror from my grandmother used as our welcome sign, a brooch from my great-grandmother on my bouquet, a birthstone ring given to me as a child by my aunt, my grandmother’s bracelet. This started when my mom gave my now husband the diamond from my grandmother’s engagement ring to be put in a new setting for his proposal. It set the tone for the vintage feel we ultimately wanted. I am also a calligrapher and did all of the lettering work for the wedding, from the envelope addresses to the signage to a custom wood laser cut sign of one of our favorite songs for our ceremony. It was another really special personal touch.”
Best Wedding Memory
“What sticks out to me is just the feeling of love. Starting with getting ready with our bridal party in the morning, to the first look and quiet moments with my future husband, to our personal toasts. Having everyone altogether to celebrate us was such a special feeling. The amazing staff at Ellis Preserve made our whole day go so smoothly, and I just remember feeling like it was all so magical.”
Wedding Planning Advice
“Some of the best advice I received was about choosing vendors, especially photographers, videographers, and event coordinators. Of course, you’ll fall in love with the images on your screen, but it’s so important to make sure you LIKE the people behind the work and make sure their personality is a fit. They are around you all day and really shape the flow and energy of the day. We were fortunate to have an amazing team around us on our wedding day.”
“I couldn’t have been happier with our vendors. They were all true professionals and really made our vision come to life. I am a big planner, so I had a detailed timeline for the day and communicated with all of our vendors in advance to make sure everything was in place. But on the wedding day, everything happened so seamlessly and I didn’t need to do a thing. I would recommend any of them in a heartbeat!”