Formal Downtown Wedding at Bellevue Hotel

ALN Images brings us Bess and Pat’s gorgeous formal downtown Philly wedding. Starting with prep at the Bellevue, Bess and Pat then took portraits outside the First Bank of the United States. On to St. Patrick Church Philadelphia for the ceremony and finally back to the Bellevue for the reception. Enjoy!

How did you and your partner meet?

In the classic way of course, on a dating app. We met in person at a restaurant and I remember he stood up, being 6’5″ and extremely handsome and thinking, wow I hope this works out. I had been at a work event and was exhausted, almost wanted to cancel, but so happy I did not. He walked me home and was a complete gentleman – we didn’t even kiss on the first date!

How did they propose?

The day before Valentine’s Day he made a reservation at our favorite upscale restaurant in downtown Boston. While this might have been a hint, he definitely was not originally planning to propose then. My sister happened to have a reservation there at the same time and was going to see us there (my family loves this place). Turns out, he had been colluding with her on the ring but planning to propose several weeks later. Given the optics, my sister felt compelled to tell me that I should not expect a proposal that night and I came thinking that this was just a nice Valentine’s dinner. However, he gave me a notebook as a gift that was essentially a shared diary. The first entry was his Valentine’s day ‘card’ to me, outlining the joys of our relationship, how lucky we were, and documenting relationship milestones. It ended with him saying, “which brings me to tonight…” and I looked up to see him down on one knee! It was perfect.

What was your experience in planning your wedding?

It was fun from the beginning to the end, frankly. We had some challenges as this was right when the pandemic was lightening up but when vaccines and mask mandates were in place. They were in such flux that we didn’t know if our wedding, several months away, would be in the thick of restrictions or more liberal. When we were booking venues, for example, there was an active 50 person limit (or less!) but we were hoping that it would open up by the time of our wedding 7 months later. It did open up and we had about 100 guests, but had to require vaccinations — a challenge to do with some. Despite all these things, it was so fun creating this vision and focusing on our marriage and wedding together. 

Tell us about your venue, and why you chose it? 

We were married at St Patrick’s Church in Philadelphia and had a reception at The Bellevue in the Rose Garden Ballroom with cocktail hour in the Conservatory. Pat and I live in Boston but wanted to get married in Philly, so my sister who lived in Philly did the venue scoping for us. We watched the tour on facetime! It was a no brainer – classy, timeless, elegant – all of the things we were going for. The event coordinator there (Lisa McGraw) was extremely gracious and attentive and we had full confidence we would have a dream wedding reception there. And we did! 

What was your inspiration for the wedding?

We wanted a timeless, classy, elegant affair. I wanted to look back on this when I’m 80 and have the style of it still carry. We are also very religious and involved in our Catholic faith – we wanted the Sacrament of Marriage to be at the forefront and to be a holy experience for us and our guests. 

What was the best memory/moment from your wedding day?

So many! From the marriage ceremony, I loved the exchange of vows, when we were actually getting married. Being Catholic, devoting your life and your marriage to God, making a commitment in front of God, is extremely powerful. I felt that grace. Added to this was the beauty of the marriage Mass and the beautiful St. Patrick’s Church. We also had a choir, organist, and trumpeter from my aunt and uncle’s orchestra VoxAmaDeus. They custom designed the music for us and it was breathtaking. 

After the Mass, my favorite moment was when Pat, my matron of honor, Alli our photographer, and our videographer went out to Broad Street and took photos on the median. It was a perfect fall night. At Alli’s suggestion, my sister played music and we danced in the street for the pictures. Cars were honking and we felt like movie stars.

What advice can you give to couples planning a wedding?

I would say to focus on the wedding but also your marriage. We did pre-cana for our wedding Mass and it was one of my favorite things about preparing. As part of this, you talk about everything from finances to family planning to your relationship with God. Of course, these things come up along the way in a relationship but to do this in a dedicated fashion, ideally through pre-cana, prior to your wedding really makes the subsequent marriage the thing you’re looking forward to the most. Focus on your spouse, not table decor!

What was your experience like working with your vendors?

I recommend my vendors 100% – I feel incredibly lucky to have found them and they really made the day as special as it was. I really took the time to interview multiple different vendors for each aspect of the wedding – I kept excel sheets and notes with pictures to organize my search. I was able to find people who were in budget but importantly understood the vision, had excellent reviews, and were such a pleasure to work with.


Photographer: ALN images
Videographer: Cinemaroll 
Venue: St. Patrick Church Philadelphia and The Bellevue Hotel
Band: Renaissance Orchestra
Florist: Petal Lane 
Hair/makeup: Aleksandra Ambrozy
Dress: Pronovias
Bridesmaids: Bella Bridesmaids