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The Dreamiest French-Inspired Wedding Set in Ohio

At first glance, I was pretty certain this wedding took place at a far away French chateau. But after reading the sweet words from the bride (you must read their love story!) I learned that instead of a destination wedding, they brought their dream destination to Ohio. Complete with a soft palette, romantic Plume Calligraphy paper moments, and an elegant garden setting, this day shot by Justine Milton and filmed by Little Tree Studios is an absolute dream come true.



From The Bride… I met Michael in the 7th grade, I must have just turned twelve.

Michael walked in the side doors at our church group and I knew he was new. He had big “mushroom” like hair and a lanyard out of his cargo shorts. I welcomed him to the group and left before he was swarmed by the other middle school girls. That was the start of our friendship.

My Teta, grandmother, told me once that the beautiful relationships start as buds and then bloom. I can tell you she was right about ours, except that maybe the blooming part took a little longer than Michael might have liked.

Michael and I’s relationship consisted of me dodging his throws during dodge ball (unsuccessfully) and visiting Steak and Shake on Wednesday nights until my parents sent me to Worthington Christian for high school. Michael was one of the two people I knew at the school. Michael walked me to class on my first day and nearly every day after that.

During our first class together (Spanish), we talked about guitar, Michael told me how he only played electric and he’d never sing in front of people. I told him that I liked acoustic and he should sing and play, I told him I’d play with him. A week after, Michael was playing acoustic and singing “Better together” with me before school…I should have known.

Slowly, we became best friends. We studied together, challenged each other, distracted each other in class, called one another with broken high school hearts, sang in choirs, planned each other’s dates, debated theology, played in bands, attended each other’s sporting events, grew to love the same friends and ate lunch on the floor of the hallways together.

Michael and I were teased by everyone in the school. The girls on my soccer team would spot us and giggle. At our senior gala everyone clinked their glasses as a friend started a toast by saying, “Dearly beloved we are gathered here today…” (I was so embarrassed that I can’t remember the rest). It didn’t help that I wore a white dress and Michael a black suit… (Note: Michael asked me to spring gala the first day after Christmas break).

Two days before graduation, as we were sitting on the front of my car after his baseball game he looked at me and told me he “loved me and wanted to marry me”. I responded by telling him I didn’t feel the same way and I wanted to forget he’d ever said anything so we could just keep being friends (ouch, I know. Michael doesn’t remember this so either he blocked it from his memory or I thought it instead of saying it out loud. You might say that moment is a bit of a blur for both of us.) Yes, graduation was awkward.

Michael says this phase in life should be titled, “The escape from the friend zone”. I’m stubborn but Michael is persistent. Soon flowers would show up in my dorm room, letters would be sent, and no matter what function I went attended – Michael would be there too.

The phrase “distance makes the heart grow fonder” couldn’t be more true.

Michael moved to Terre Haute, Indiana – 254 miles away – our first year of college while I stayed in Columbus. Before the first month of undergrad was even over, I realized I missed him terribly. Michael became a constant pixelated face on my computer screen. We’d talk till 2 in the morning, meet each other’s new friends, and of course – study. Michael played baseball at his university and I made a visit to him in Indiana. When I got there to see him, he picked me up and spun me around, I knew something had changed.

November 23, we starting dating outside of La Chatelaine, thus began our four year long-distance relationship. (And there was much rejoicing by all of you). During those four years, Michael grew a beard, cut his “mushroom” hair and learned to eat spinach. I finally got my A in calculus and learned an umpire wasn’t called a “ref”.

We studied on Skype for hours on end (sorry for all of you who’s internet connection suffered as a result). We decided that we wanted to love Jesus most and each other second. We drove to each other’s universities for weekend trips. We had picnic dates on the river bank in the summer. We started ONELIFE, now POINT, together. We hiked. We grew with the Lord. We danced on top of the roof. We lost loved ones. We (I) tried to make Michael mad at me, but it never worked. We invested time on our campuses. We jumped the fence and snuck onto the baseball field after dark. We valued our friends. We built things, Michael a robotic foot- me a company. We learned about each other’s cultures. We looked at mountains we wanted to visit. We began to love each other’s families. We traveled. We learned how to cook.

We wrote letters. We prayed together. We fell in love.

Remember those mountains? On the morning of my birthday, Michael gave me a map with the mountains circled in it. We headed out to Colorado a month later. There on the last day of the trip, in a valley quite like the photos we exchanged in college he said, “Remember I told you I loved you and wanted to marry you? I mean it more today” and with that he asked me to marry him. (And obviously I said yes, though I just stood there in shock for a few seconds and forgot there was a ring involved). (And yes, he asked my dad first).

Growing up together is an odd thing. The boy I met in middle school isn’t the man I’m marrying today. And, I’m positive I’m not same girl either. This has been our first year living in the same city as a couple. Michael is back in Columbus at Ohio State for his doctorate in biomedical engineering and I’m trying to change how society connects with charity through a social media app.

We are more than happy to have put Skype to rest and be 10 minutes away from each other again. This year we’ve ran races, hosted dinner parties, made business plans, explored Columbus, planned our wedding and best of all – seen each other every week. 

So when you see us walking down the aisle, I hope you feel the Lord’s blessing as we do.We have been blessed these past ten years with a story that has turned into the most beautiful bloom.

My favorite moments of the day were simple. After we walked down the aisle, Michael and I walked in the gardens by ourselves and hid under a tree. That moment seemed to stand in time and in my memory. I loved standing in the dressing room with my bridesmaids looking at them all dressed up! It felt surreal! When everyone was dancing, the dance floor was so crowded Michael and I danced in the grass together, I was barefoot and my hair was flying everywhere but it was a perfect moment. We loved that Michael’s groomsmen and my cousin provided live music for our first dance. I loved running out to the car together, tossing my bouquet and getting to see everyone who had stayed to send us off. As I write these out I know there are more favorite moments that I’m forgetting!

My grandmother, who we called Teta, would have loved to be with us on our wedding day. Growing up in Egypt and attending a French school, she loved French fashion and it’s no surprise I do too. We chose our venue because of the French Provincial Architecture and honestly, the hand painted wallpaper in the dining room imported from France. It’s sometimes the small things that trigger your memories.

While I was getting ready Michael sent over his wedding gift to me. It was a pendent to fasten to my bouquet that held my grandmother’s wedding picture with a note that said “So that she can be with us on our special day”. We all cried, but it was a beautiful reminder of her. As I write this now I still tear up.

Michael and I must have been thinking along the same lines, because I asked the flower girls to deliver his grandfather’s pocketknife, which he kept in his jacket pocket during the ceremony. Along with the knife was a journal with my thoughts and prayers for him over the last 5 years. I started it addressing the entries to my future husband before Michael and I had started dating.

The musicians were all friends and family. What a blessing they were! My sister’s friends, 14-year-old twins, Isaiah and Daniel Wu, and my friend, Stephan Spottswood from college played during the ceremony. Michael’s friend, Caleb, played “You are My Sunshine” for the parents’ dance. My cousin, Lauren, and Caleb play “Better Together” (the first song Michael and I played together in the 9th grade) as our first dance.

We were married on May 23rd at half past four, on our four and a half year dating anniversary. Clever right? The officiants were three of the pastors that have we have known in different seasons of our lives. My uncle flew from Egypt to be with us on the wedding day and give the sermon. One pastor was from the church where we first met and the other from where we attend now. We chose to have Song of Songs 8:6-8 as our reading:

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
its jealousy as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire,
the brightest kind of flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love
with all his wealth,
his offer would be utterly scorned.

As per Egyptian tradition, we gave sugar-coated almonds to our guests as a small token of thanks! To practice my new initial, I painted gold “B”s on the bags. After 300, I think I’ve got a cursive B down. I tried to bring bits of my family and heritage into the day in my own way.

I was a romantic little girl growing up. I loved dresses, lace, big open blooms, gardens, books like The Secret Garden and movies like Robin Hood. I think that romantic side resurfaced while preparing for our wedding. I chose soft open white blooms for our wedding day. We were blessed to have that as our family and friends arranged the flowers for our day. Even the greens were selected with love, my mother-in-law searched the whole city to find one maiden hair fern for my bouquet. It was such a special gift to have loved ones play a visible roll in our wedding day.

I had always heard the search for bridesmaid dresses was difficult, but I wasn’t prepared for how challenging it would be. For bridesmaids of different heights, body types, and skin tones we gave up trying to find the right dress ready-made. I’m sometimes too ambitious for my own good, and I decided that I would design the dresses myself. I’ve never spent so much time in a fabric store in my life. The dresses came to life with the skills of Cloty Julca and Christine McWherter, who stood with me for hours in the middle of the fabric store and sewed for countless hours more.

I designed the tablescape with inspiration from many fine art workshops I’ve seen. My mom and I made the table runner and the place settings were to have pops of gold in the flatware, plates and thin-stemmed candle holders. Our place settings had thin-rimmed glasses which I collected before the wedding!

It’s been a record summer for rain in Ohio. Our weather is known to be temperamental to start. When we told our parents we wanted to marry outdoors in May, they weren’t enthusiastic. We didn’t even have a back up tent but the weather was the most perfect day it has been all year. So forget the dress, the weather was the most talked about detail of the wedding and still is.

We couldn’t believe how many guests stayed to see us off! Our guests cheered and lined the front of the house as we neared the car I tossed my bouquet. It was simple and exciting, a perfect way to end the night!

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Photography: Justine Milton Photography | Cinematography: Little Tree Studios | Event Coordination: Umbrella Barrel | Bride's Shoes: Schutz | Makeup: Columbus Wedding Makeup | Invitations + Calligraphy: Plume Calligraphy | Band: Stephan Spottswood | Venue: Kingwood Center | Event Planning + Styling: Birds & Honey Events

A 500-Person Wedding Where Festival-Style Meets Garden Party Grace

You would think a 500-person guest list would deter a Bride and Groom from any DIY projects, but that wasn’t the case for Rebecca and Steve, who DIYed multiple elements of their boho garden party meets music festival-inspired wedding. And with Studio Elle Photography on hand to capture it all, The Vault is full of pretty inspiration — from loose, romantic florals to the pharmacist-inspired table names!


From Studio Elle PhotographyRebecca & Steve are two of the most fun-loving, free-spirited couples that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of their celebration! The weather was perfect for their tented outdoor garden party at Patterson’s Fruit Farm. There wasn’t a detail overlooked and so many personal touches were done by hand from the bride & groom.

After an afternoon church ceremony, we stopped at various spots around Cleveland for views of the skyline. Rebecca & Steve had so much fun with their wedding party while we made our way to Patterson’s to finish off the day. While the couple and their 500+ guests danced and enjoyed the evening, the sun set behind the rolling hills and orchard. It was the perfect end to the most beautiful day!

From The Bride…With a guest list towering over five hundred, finding a wedding venue in Northeast Ohio was no easy task. When looking for a venue, we knew we wanted it to be unique. My husband Steven proposed to me at our third Bonnaroo together (a four-day-long, outdoor, hippie rave, music festival for those that aren’t familiar), so having our wedding reception outdoors seemed like a natural extension of that free bird attitude, but finding the place to host us and dealing with what seemed like nearly every other opinion on how we needed a back up plan for weather (an August wedding in Cleveland? It could be snowing! It could be over 100 degrees!) was an additional feat. When I originally spoke with Patterson Fruit Farm, I was blessed to get ahold of a woman named Livia, who told me that they have never really tried anything like I was explaining before, but she was willing to pitch it to her boss and would get back to me. She was phenomenal throughout the planning process, and really alleviated a lot of potential bridezilla moments. Patterson’s is a beautiful fruit market and farm located in Cuyahoga Country surrounded by Metroparks. On our wedding day, it was 72 degrees without a cloud in the sky, so we never needed that back up plan! We stuck with a color of ivory, blush, gold, and forest green. Our overall style vision was garden-themed/ festival/ bohemian.

Our ceremony was held at Saint James Catholic Church in Lakewood, Ohio. Our uncles concelebrated the ceremony, which was very special for both of our families (although two Catholic priests marrying their niece and nephew means a very long mass for a our guests!!). When we left the church, our guests were given pill vials that were filled with capsules to throw at us! These were all hand-filled at what we liked to call “wedding work nights,” where we would work for a few hours a night on wedding crafts. The capsules were filled with sugar that was dyed gold and pale pink. Other items that we worked on during wedding work nights were custom water bottles, where we removed all labels from water bottles and added new labels in our wedding colors, and sparkler packages. The sparklers were pretty tedious. It included adorning a four-foot-long sparkler with a mini lighter and hand-stamped label that was also hand “antiqued” with paint. All lighting was done by family, which included bistro lighting throughout the 100 x 80 foot twin peak tent and chandeliers throughout the farm. A sprig of lavender was hand tied with twine to every seating placement. Guests were seated at tables that were named after drug names, since both my husband and I are pharmacists. Since our reception was at an apple farm, fresh apple cider was served throughout the night, both with and without bourbon! For the kids, flavored soda pop was available as well as glow sticks, which the kids ended up taping to themselves and running around the farm — we got some really good photos from that. My something old was a handkerchief that my grandmother carried on her wedding day, my something blue was a hand-stitched cross from my grandmother, and my something borrowed was Steve’s grandmother’s engagement ring. The bridal party went to the Cleveland Browns stadium to play a little pick up game of football which was a good time, too.

There were so many perfect moments. Steve, my husband, surprised me with our first dance by having our band learn our song (Home- Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros) and he serenaded me during a part of the song which was really special and unexpected. I thought it was very special to have both of our uncles marry us. Our wedding day, August 22, is also his parents anniversary, which I think is very special.

AND I CANT FORGET ABOUT THE VENDORS!! So many of our vendors played a huge role in making our day a success. The bridal bouquet was hand tied with roses, dahlias, white stock, snow on the mountain, white veronica, and lisianthus with herbs, seeded eucalyptus, ruscus, and jasmine vine trailing. The bridesmaid bouquets were mismatched to complement the bridal bouquet. Fresh floral crowns were worn by the bride, bridesmaids, and mother of the groom! Long tables with ivory tablecloths and gold-rimmed china were accented with garland centerpieces. Seasonal locally grown flowers and foliages were also scattered throughout the guest tables, cookie table, and candy bar. Gold candelabras were also adorned with floral arrangements throughout the tables. Our cake, by Hummingbird Bake Shop, was a 4-tier “naked” white cake with buttercream frosting, fresh fruit (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries) between layers, each tier with 3 layers. It was the most delicious cake we have ever had! Our invitations were hand drawn by a friend who perfectly captured our personalities onto paper. I wore two of the most GORGEOUS gowns on the day of my wedding — for the ceremony, Something White provided with me “Rosemary” by Amy Kuschel and for the reception I wore “Kensington” by Carol Hannah. The Grammy-nominated musician Alex Meixner Band was the entertainment for the reception with DJ Earl carrying guests into the early hours of the morning at the after party. This meant that guests of all ages danced the night away — with a variation of polka throughout dinner BUT probably the most unique polka band you would ever hear considering they played “Enter Sandman” on the accordion. Guests were able to take home travel CDs, flower crowns, flip flops, light up drink cubes (activated when placed in a cold drink), candy bag, and cookie bag. The cookie table is a tradition from my Youngstown family. At our wedding, we had over 5,000 cookies. My grandmother’s friends helped her over a two-month period to make sure we had enough cookies — and they all went! Immediately following the traditional reception was a sparkler sendoff directly to the after party which went to 3:30 in the morning. At the after party, we served my husband’s and my favorite foods — pizza, green grapes, blueberries, wheat thins, chocolate almond milk, cheez-its, and kettle cooked potato chips and dip!

Honestly, after having an outdoor reception, there is so much more that I know now that I didn’t know then! What do we do with garbage, are we recycling, what about glassware, how many bottles of water do we need, what about bathrooms, what about security, what about noise, what about ice, what about power, and on and on! I would change nothing, but I really did not realize the work that needed to be put in. We created every single detail of this wedding from the ground up. It was a ton of work, and with the exception of Livia at Patterson’s (who doesn’t consider herself a wedding planner although I would beg to differ!) we did it all ourselves. It was so nice to hear so many of our friends and family tell us that our wedding was the best party they have ever been to when it was by far the best day of my life!

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Photography: Studio Elle Photography | Floral Design: Molly Taylor and Co. | Wedding Dress: Carol Hannah | Wedding Dress: Amy Kuschel | Wedding Dress: Something White | Cake: Hummingbird Bake Shop | Invitations: Paper Trails | Invitations: Light & Lavender | Ceremony Venue: Saint James Catholic Church | Reception Venue: Orchard Hills | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Pat Catan's Bridal | Catering: Catered Elegance | Hair + Makeup: Fringe And Foundation | Rentals: Aable Rents

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This Day is Proof You Don’t Need An Exotic Locale for a Fabulous Destination Wedding

Even though this gorgeous Bride and Groom wed in her hometown in Ohio, for the 90 percent of their guests traveling from out of state, their day was a destination wedding. And with a little help from incredible vendors like Bliss EventsJenny YooOrchard Lane Flowers and Amanda Julca, their day turned out to be an absolute dream. Don’t miss any of it in The Vault!

Al Fresco

From The Bride…Having a day with all the people you love in one space is both incredible and overwhelming. During the planning, my husband and I decided the most important aspect of our day was to have fun and be part of the wedding not to be on the sidelines. We were the couple that never left the dance floor, laughed, drank, and had a beautiful night. We wanted a classic, casual natural feel, which brought us to a soft blush, neutral palette with accents of gold.

Our worlds connected later in our 20s and early 30s, we both grew up and lived in different parts of the country. So deciding on a location proved to be a bit tricky. We decided to tie the knot in my hometown of Ohio. With 90% of our guests traveling from outside of Ohio this ended up being a “destination” wedding for most.

Our wedding day festivities began with a bus ride from downtown Columbus, where most stayed, to the quaint town of Granville, Ohio.

The wedding was hosted on a 52-acre historic estate. It’s rich history and beautiful green landscape hosted 110 of our closest friends and family. Our guests were greeted in the garden of the estate where we said “I Do” with champagne, lemonade, and fans to keep cool on the warm August day.

What made our ceremony so special were our bridesmaids and groomsmen standing by our side, our dog Chloe leading the procession, the adorable flower girls, the ring bearer running around, and a string trio playing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” followed by “Canon in D”. Most importantly, our ceremony was composed of a service both Kris and I wrote together. It was a beautiful yet simple exchange of our vows.

From the ceremony we left the garden and ventured to the front patio of the mansion. While playing classic yard games, including corn hole (which was clearly the crowd favorite), we enjoyed refreshing cocktails, delicious mini grilled cheeses and BBQ chicken. We toured the historic home filled with our family pictures.

Dinner and dancing took place in the back of a mansion underneath a white tent dripped with globe lights and evergreens. The tables were an eclectic mix of restored barn wood tables and pink and cream textured linens. We made our day a family affair by inviting kids and creating a kids table filled with crafts and activities. We gave thanks, dined, and laughed with all of our loved ones.

We definitely didn’t have a shortage of sweets to end the night. From our classic vanilla buttercream wedding cake, to our make-your-own s’mores bar. The highlight of the dessert spread was the 1,000 cookie spread my great aunts, aunts, mother, brother in law and cousins all handmade. From lady locks, to chocolate chips, to pizzelles the guests indulged and left with custom cookie bags filled with delicious homemade goodies.

Everyone told me the day would fly by and they were right. I am so blessed to have beautiful photos, funny stories and the memory of laughter and love to last forever.

A key to making this experience memorable was we truly enjoyed the process and preparation leading up to our wedding. When you spend months planning for one day, you need to have fun along the way. By selecting vendors that clearly align with your personality, values and aesthetic creativity was important to us. These creative partners made the details and our vision come to life. From our print designer, to the florist to the DJ and the photographer. The print designer created everything from the name cards, menus, signage and surprised us with a custom seating chart that she mounted and engraved our initials on a rustic piece of wood. We worked closely with our floral designer who mixed citrus accents with flowers intertwined with herbs and eucalyptus to pull together the entire look seamlessly in the various areas of the celebration, and throughout the bridal party’s arrangements and flower crowns. My husband designed a custom playlist for the cocktail hour & the reception that celebrated specific years and music of importance with our DJ. My hair and makeup was done by my sister, Mindy Thomas, who is a freelance make-up artist and hair stylist. She did a hair change between the cocktail hour and reception, to provide a new look and keep me cool on the warm summer night. The process was just as beautiful as the day.

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Photography: Amanda Julca | Floral Design: Flowers On Orchard Lane | Wedding Dress: Theia | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Catering: Made From Scratch | Ceremony Music: Flute Cocktail | Venue: Bryn Du Mansion | Event Planning + Coordination: Bliss Wedding & Event Design | Invitations + Paper Goods: Darling And Pearl

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