When this darling duo got engaged in 2013, before the real planning even began, they knew exactly what they wanted for their Big Day: a fun, dance-inducing cocktail party, with late night flatbread pizzas and minimal sitting involved. They didn’t even have a seating chart! MNC Photography captured all the fun throughout the day and night, and you won’t be able to get enough in the gallery right here!
From The Bride…When Chris and I became engaged in the summer of 2013, we knew we wanted our wedding to be a big party where all of our family and friends could get together and have fun. No rules; no assigned seats; just endless food, alcohol, dancing, and mingling. We also decided right away that we would forego a wedding party. Just us and our families and our friends, having a blast.
We were limited in geography to our mutual hometown – St. Louis, as both our families currently live there. Luckily, we had almost two years to plan from afar (we were living in Omaha at the time) The first thing we did was to contact our photographer – who also happens to be Chris’ brother. He helped us pick a venue that would accommodate our ideal party ambiance. We visited City Cottage in St. Louis and were immediately taken with its vibe. Beautiful exposed brick walls; open rooms that facilitated movement throughout the night; and a fantastic patio with comfortable seating. The only thing we weren’t in love with were the burlap linens that come standard with the space. With the help of our event coordinator at City Cottage, we were able to give the space a more clean and modern vibe by substituting in ivory linens.
We decided early on to have a cocktail party instead of a sit-down dinner. This would allow us to mingle with our guests as much as possible. We really wanted to connect with everyone after they had traveled so far to be with us. In addition, the cocktail party setting provided food and alcohol for everyone to eat and drink all night long. Our venue also had a pizza oven on the patio, so we served flatbread pizzas to guests as late night munchies.
What was your color palette and your style vision? Romantic, sophisticated, simple, and fun. From the start, Chris wanted to buy a suit that he would be able to wear again. We didn’t give any direction in regards to color to any family members either – we told everyone to wear what they felt most comfortable in. Naturally, this led to a grey/navy/pastel palette.
I fell in love with the gold foil invitations at Minted, and suddenly my vision became “a bit of a Gatsby party”. I thought gold accents that contrasted with the pastel flowers and ivory linens were simple, classic, and beautiful.
What unique elements or DIY details did you include? My engagement ring was an heirloom from Chris’ family that he had re-set. His wedding band is old Soviet “red gold” that came from my maternal grandmother’s wedding ring and some of her other jewelry. She passed away 10 years ago, so this was very special for us and especially for my mother.
What was your favorite moment? Your favorite crafted detail? My favorite aspect of the wedding was probably the ceremony. It was outside, tucked away near the patio at City Cottage. It had a very intimate, secret hideaway feel. Our ceremony took place as the sun was setting, so the light was very soft. We hired a cello/guitar duo for the ceremony, and the music resonated so well within that confined space. I remember walking with my father, and as I turned the corner into the aisle, I heard the cello and saw all of my friends and family, and at that moment, I was incredibly happy. The ceremony itself was very personal. There was a lot of laughter; honoring of family members (passed and alive) and in general, it was very tailored to us as a couple. I think while planning our wedding, the ceremony seemed not as important as the reception, but in reality – we were so happy that we spent the time and effort making it what it was. It set the tone for the rest of the night.
Tell us about your flowers, your gown, your favors, your cake, etc. My first wedding purchase was my gown. We had originally planned to elope in Greece, where Chris’ father is from – so I looked at dresses that would travel by jet without issue. I tried on many dresses, mainly strapless or lace gowns, but didn’t really feel like any were my style until I visited Ready or Knot. I fell in love with my gown almost immediately. It was a thick luxurious taffeta silk, with boning and lace in the bodice. I had never seen anything like it, and I decided that I would buy it despite not having a wedding venue (or location for that matter). It was modern, sophisticated, flattering, and that was it for me.
We searched high and low for fun, lively, jazz music. I had been to many weddings with live bands, but they all played the same “wedding” repertoire. We wanted something classic – old standards; an upright bass; a smokey voiced singer. We were so excited when we stumbled upon Sarah Jane and The Blue Notes. This was a group of classically trained musicians who play jazz at bars and festivals. It was the perfect band for us. For our first dance, they created a sultry rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance me to the end of love.” It was perfect.
I didn’t want to have any specific rules or themes. When I met with our florist, Melinda, of Les Bouquets, I showed her some flowers that I loved, and let her run free with the arrangements. Our venue had many surfaces, from cocktail tables, to the bar, to indoor and outdoor coffee tables. I wanted each surface to have its own arrangement. Nothing too manicured. She did a perfect job. For my bouquet – I wanted something delicate and spring-like; buds and peonies that hadn’t yet bloomed completely. The ceremony space at City Cottage is an enclosed wooden structure open to the elements. We loved it, but we also wanted to make it a bit more personal. We imagined some sort of floral backdrop that would contrast the wood altar, and Melinda helped perfect our vision with hanging vases.
Keeping with the party vibe, we wanted guests to arrive at the venue and immediately feel festive. We had a table set up in the patio that guests would walk by as they arrived, that had cheese, nuts, and fruit. In addition, champagne flutes were passed around to guests at the entrance. This made everyone a little less hungry, and a little more warm and fuzzy right from the start.
For dessert, we went with a traditional Russian wedding dessert table (my family and many guests are Russian, so my parents loved this). We served mini napoleon pastries, chocolates, and fruit instead of a wedding cake. Guests could have multiple servings and mix and match. This was a huge hit.
What is one piece of advice that you could give brides-to-be? Don’t give in to the pressures of wedding “tradition”. Do what you want, and make it about you and your partner. This may be the event you remember most in life, and probably the biggest one you plan. Any decisions we made were based purely on practicality and fun. There were numerous times I was asked, “what are your colors? What are your bridesmaids wearing?” and the truth was, we had no colors, and no bridal party. I was afraid this would be weird, but in reality it was the best decision I could have made. We were able to optimize time spent with our guests the weekend of the wedding; and more importantly, it made the event more about our union.
Specifically, our photographer’s suggestion to get ready together was such a great one. Not getting to see one another until the evening of our wedding seemed like such a waste. We co-habitated for four years and we loved getting ready for events together. It was always special, and it seemed very fitting that we would do that on our wedding day. My mom joined us as well and helped me with my dress and jewelry. It was lovely and intimate.
Photography: MNC Photography | Floral Design: Les Bouquets | Wedding Dress: Legends By Romona Keveza | Invitations: Minted | Catering: Catering St. Louis | Hair: Stacy Hildebrand Of Dominic Michael Salon | Band: Sarah Jane & The Blue Notes | Groom's Shoes: Cole Haan | Groom's Suit: Hugo Boss | Boutique: Ready Or Knot Bridal Boutique | Bridal Bracelet: Macy's | Bridal Sash: Modern Trousseau | Bridal Shoes: Kate Spade | Bride's Makeup: Bride | Dessert: Dierberg's European Bakery | Event Space: City Cottage On Chouteau | Groom's Shirt: Banana Republic | Groom's Tie: Calvin Klein | Groom's Watch: Skagen | Groom's Wedding Ring: Bride's Grandmother's Wedding Ring From USSR | Hair Comb: Mila Kolitsova | Wedding Ring: Perspective Design Studio