They Met at Work and the Rest is Seriously Stunning History
September 6, 2016
Classic WeddingsCity HallReligious Institution
Meeting the love of your life at work? SUCH a fairytale beginning. And when the stars align in that Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan sort of fashion, it's a story that deserves a jaw-droppingly beautiful wedding. And these two? They delivered.  Think classic meets romantic with sweet cultural details woven into every moment. See it all captured by the insanely talented Lauren Gabrielle in THE VAULT, then hit play on the awesome film from The Image in Motion below.
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From the Bride... Petar and I met at work -- I was a medical student in my last year of school, and he was a surgical intern. Through a mutual friend, he heard there was a Serbian (like himself) medical student at the same hospital, so he tracked me down and crushed from afar until he got his chance to introduce himself. One thing led to another, and not long after he popped the question!

When it came time to plan the wedding, I envisioned a glam spin on a vintage romantic wedding. But because we are both Serbian, it was really important to both us and the family to incorporate cultural traditions into our day. Our wedding parties tend to be much larger-- in addition to a typical bridal party, we have additional roles such as first witnesses and formal hosts of the wedding who wear sashes that display their role in the wedding. Incorporating traditions also made choosing the reception venue tricky. I wanted the wedding style I envisioned while still paying homage to our Eastern European roots -- hence, the Slavic chic motif. The Old Courthouse in Cleveland served as the perfect venue to balance other bold cultural elements, with gorgeous golden light fixtures and marbled pillars lending a glam and almost regal feel to the event. One of the other important aspects to the planning process was choosing the right photographer.

Because Orthodox Christian churches and other cultural items are often adorned with gold and red accents, we wanted a photographer whose work had pretty, ethereal overtones so the cultural aspects of our day didn't come across as kitschy. Our photographer Lauren Gabrielle was a perfect fit and such a dream to work with, and her photographs speak for themselves. And funny enough after deciding to go with her, we found out she ended up having some Serbian roots herself! We were lucky enough to also find a videographer who fit our aesthetic as well with The Image in Motion and are thrilled with the highlight video we just got back. There was so much love and energy around us that day; we are really lucky to have found such great vendors to put everything together and document it all.

To keep within our budget, we did as much DIY as we could. We scoured thrift stores and auction sites and took advantage of Black Friday sales to scoop up all the vintage vases, mercury glass compotes and votives we could find. I also recommend exercising patience when stalking online sales -- it's how I found my Jimmy Choos for half off retail! I also wanted personalized cake toppers, so I made ours out of baking clay. The signs and paper goods I made a little at a time in the months leading up to the big day. Petar made the photo wall from artificial boxwood panels and a frame out of white PVC piping from Home Depot. Just a heads up -- make sure to give yourself plenty of time in advance for these bigger projects so you can work on it a bit at a time so you don't go into panic mode when things get down to the wire.

My wedding gown was a Carolina Herrera sample that I picked up at the Glamour Closet in Chicago -- a gem in the city with a ton of designer sample gowns. If you end up going the sample dress route, I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a skilled alterations shop. I went to Davis Imperials and they were beyond amazing-- shoutout to my seamstress Yana who saved the day when I somehow shrunk a few inches just days after the final fitting! Also, don't be afraid to take on bigger DIY projects that you can do in advance (so you have time to make other plans if it doesn't work out.) I fell in love with a sash, but couldn't stomach the $1200 price tag. So, I made an inspired version with some grosgrain ribbon, Swarovski rhinestones, other various beads and more patience than I thought I was capable of.

While florals was not an area where we splurged, our florist was a magician and made some seriously stunning centerpieces. Erin with The Budding Tree totally nailed the whimsical, loose romantic arrangements I had wanted! Also, we had initially decided against getting a planner, along the way we ran into a Serbian events planner, Maria, who already understood our traditions and how the verrry long Orthodox wedding day plays out. With her on board, it allowed my husband and I to feel like guests at our own wedding instead of having to stress about fixing last minute glitches. We were able to spend more time with our loved ones, which made it all so worth it!!!

The one thing I always hear other brides say is that "the day goes by so fast!" And it is sooo true. At some point during the reception, Petar grabbed two coffees and we snuck away together for 15 minutes to just sit and talk. This was one of the best pieces of advice we got, and really did help us stay in the moment -- so try and sneak away for a few minutes to yourselves! And don't sweat the little things -- it is such an honor to have so many loved ones come together to celebrate your wedding that it's not worth it to stress about things out of your control. The day flies by, so spend that time and energy with your guests instead!