We are so happy to have Rachael and TJ back on Philly In Love after featuring their one of a kind engagement shoot! This couple remains just as cool and edgy as they were in their e-session, and it’s so refreshing to see their special day come alive. Their gorgeous accoutrements are only the cherry on top of a graceful, passionate, and divine wedding, all of which could be a product of Rachael’s mad skills as a designer for Lily Pulitzer. The feels in these photographs by With Love and Embers are real heart-pinching: the tears from our bride, the emotion present in TJ’s eyes, the hopping dance moves to the jiggy tunes by DJ Jamie and the lively donuts dance! These fun, loving and sweet moments should have been expected from the world traveling lovebirds. We wish them luck and happiness in love and in life; here’s to Rachael and TJ!
How did you and TJ meet?
Unfortunately, this is not the most romantic story to be told. TJ and I had a mutual group of friends during college, but we somehow never managed to meet until our junior year of college. One fall evening, a group of friends ventured into Center City for dinner, drinks and First Friday, a night where all of the art galleries open for free. We stopped at Triumph Brewery for dinner and drinks, and I noticed TJ right away. He was wearing a coral colored polo shirt (even though he may not admit this now), and it caught my eye. I also realized that I had no idea who he was. We clearly had the same group of friends, but I had never seen him before.
Now, for the unromantic portion of the story. The night that we met, I was horribly ill, but I still managed to suck it up and go out with my friends. As much as I wanted to talk to him throughout the night, I could barely squeak out the words to speak, and if I could, it resulted in no words and a whole lot of coughing. When we finally did have the chance to talk to each other, as TJ recalls, I just giggled and walked away every time, partially because I was so sick, and partially because I was too shy and afraid to talk to him.
After all was said and done, I never did end up talking to him the night that we “met”, however, I did manage to get his phone number from a friend. A few days later, he met me in the fashion studios for a late night coffee date at our campus center. I was no longer sick, but still incredibly shy, so a few friends convinced me to go have coffee, and I am glad that they did. Little did I know that we would spend something like three hours having coffee together. Small talk turned into endless conversations, and I suppose, sometime during that late night coffee date, that is where it all began.
What was your experience like planning the wedding?
Our wedding planning experience was quite easy! We had a fairly long engagement, so we had plenty of time to plan. TJ and I have very similar design styles, so it was easy for us to make decisions about what we wanted and what we didn’t want. We were very clear about what we didn’t want from the beginning, which I think was important, because it made it all easier as the planning went on. One thing that we didn’t want was a conventional wedding. We live in the city and we both love modern, urban design, so a wedding in a typical ballroom just wasn’t going to cut it.
Overall, we wanted our day to be a big reflection of us as a couple. Everything from our industrial loft reception venue to the donuts from our neighborhood farmers market, to the seating cards in the shape of our Brussels Griffon-Pug puppy, Alfred, made it all so special. Victory Brewing catered and provided all of the craft beer for our reception, which was a huge hit, and a very exciting part of our day! Not only are we huge craft beer fans, it was exciting to have a local brewery be a part of our Philadelphia wedding.
We were also super lucky to have amazing family and friends in our lives to help us plan, and to help us create all of the personal details that made our wedding day even more personal. Without them, our wedding day certainly wouldn’t have been as amazing as it was.
What were your favorite moments from your wedding day?
Can I just say the whole day?? I will start from the beginning of the day. The morning of our wedding day, getting ready with all of the girls and my Mom was just so much fun. We danced around to music, drank champagne, had our hair and makeup done, and just had the chance to have a super girly morning together, which is exactly what I wanted. Most of my bridesmaids didn’t see my dress in person prior to that morning, so it was exciting to share those moments with all of them.
Another favorite moment was my Mom seeing me in her wedding veil. I fell in love with my Moms veil, which was kept in perfect condition after forty years. I “modernized” it to make it my own and removed all of the layers except the long one that I wore. I think it was definitely an overwhelming moment for both of us once I put it on. Then there was the moment when I saw my Dad for the first time during our “first look”. There were lots and lots of happy tears. It was the first time that he ever saw my dress, so it was a very special moment.
And of course, one moment that I will never forget is seeing TJ during our first look. I think that the photos speak for themselves.
Our ceremony in general was incredibly special because TJ’s Uncle Johnny (and God Father) said the mass and performed the ceremony. He is one of the four bishops of Philadelphia and we were so thankful that we were able to have him play such a huge part in our wedding day. It meant the world to us and it was such a special moment.
Then there was the donut dance at the reception. My whole thing with the donuts was that you can dance with donuts, you cannot dance with a piece of cake. And during Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, which became “I Wanna Dance with Some Donuts”, the donut dance was born.
And lastly, our incredible DJ surprised us with an awesome closure to our reception. He had everyone gather around us in a circle (he called is the circle of love), and with all of our loved ones surrounding us as we danced in the center, we ended our reception in the best way possible.
Overall, my absolute favorite moment, and the most important moment, was finally marrying my best friend and soul mate after almost six years of adventures. We certainly couldn’t have asked for a better weekend surrounded by the most wonderful people in our lives. We would do it all again in a heartbeat.
What tips/suggestions can you give to a bride-to-be when it comes to planning a wedding?
I think my biggest piece of advice for brides-to-be is to remember to make it your day, and not anyone else’s. Take opinions into consideration, but don’t let it turn into someone else’s day. That was the most important thing that we kept reminding ourselves during our planning. We wanted it to be about us and we wanted our day to reflect us as a couple, and I am so incredibly happy that it turned out the way it did.
Another piece of advice is to ask for help. I like to do everything myself, but I learned that when it came to things like invitations, or flower arrangements (which we did ourselves) or the reception set up, you cannot do it alone. Do yourself a favor and just ask for help.
My last piece of advice is something I am guilty of myself. Do not sweat the small stuff. When you are considering doing flower arrangements yourself versus paying thousands of dollars for extravagant flowers, try and remember that realistically, no one is going to remember them. If one tiny thing is out of place, or if the wrong song plays at the wrong time, or perhaps your makeup isn’t exactly right, don’t sweat it. No one is going to realize that anything is wrong except you and regardless of how stressed you may be, remember that you are going to love your day no matter what.
Vendors | Ceremony: St. Patrick’s Church | Reception: Power Plant Productions | Hair: Dana Persia, Beautiful Brides Philly | Makeup: Kelly Joell | Flowers: DIY by Bride | Dress Designer: Enzoani | Bridesmaid Dresses: Morilee | Cake Artist: Stephanie Sasser | Caterer: Victory Brewing | DJ: DJ Jamie | Donuts: Highland Orchards |