A mountain of mashed potatoes is usually the highlight of my Thanksgiving, but this year Nicole and Johnny’s black Friday wedding definitely took the cake as the best part of Thanksgiving week.
I have been excited for Nicole and Johnny’s wedding since the day I got Nicole’s first email. Nicole and I actually go wayyyy back to weed-wackers field hockey in elementary school, and we graduated high school together, so it was such an incredible honor to have her ask me to be her wedding photographer.
When we met last spring to take their engagement photos at Memorial Lake they told me their whole story and we had an amazing time! It was awesome and hilarious to find out they had actually been set up by another friend Nicole and I had gone to high school with, Alex, who was also one of Johnny’s classmates at West Point! (For context, Alex was my partner on senior dress up day in HS, and we dressed up as Daisy and Donald Duck).
Their first date story is one for the books and since I can’t do it justice in my own words I’ll let Nicole tell it herself:
“Jonathan and I met through one of my best friends in high school, Alex Gestl. Alex and Johnny were in the same company during freshmen year at West Point. During their Sophomore year, Alex introduced us. After many long facetime dates and casual conversations, Johnny and I decided to take the next step… meet each other in person! Johnny’s and my first date consisted of me driving (2.5 hours one way, 5 hours total) to visit him on post at West Point. ( As silly as it may sound – I decided to wear my dorky looking glasses to our first date. I figured if a guy can look past the dorky glasses and like me for who I am, then he is a keeper! lol) When we first arrived, Alex and Dom escorted Johnny to the parking lot where we met for the first time. Alex was so excited that he requested to take photos of us together before sending us off on our first date, He was pretty much an excited Mom. From there we walked “Flirty Walk”, which is a trail that only Cadets can walk with their date, hence the name flirty walk! We then walked our way to a small restaurant called Shades… and let me tell you… Shades was pretty shady… Haha! None the less, we had a great time sharing a pizza, trying goat cheese for the first time, and enjoyed each other’s company. After lunch we visited the West Point Military museum and walk our way back on post to the Hudson River to watch the boats pass by us.”
(I told you it’s a great story! My favorite part has got to be Nicole’s choice of glasses!)
Obviously Alex is a professional matchmaker! Their engagement session made it totally obvious that they are the perfect couple and I left barely able to contain my excitement about their wedding!
The day of their black Friday wedding I rolled up to the amazing old house they were getting ready in and Johnny came out to greet me with a huge smile. Then when we walked through the door Nicole hugged me and I was so confused! Usually couples get ready separately and don’t see each other until their first look or the ceremony, but Nicole and Johnny chose to have everyone together in one house, and it was AMAZING! I seriously loved every second of it. It was awesome to have see everyone hanging out and getting excited for the day! Laughter was echoing from every room of the house and the joy in the air was tangible.
Nicole got all dressed up and ready for their first look and then braved the cold to have an gorgeous first look with Johnny outside. Some couples worry that a first look will make seeing each other down the aisle less special, but after getting to watch Nicole and Johnny’s first look I can confidently say that even seeing each other the morning-of will not make that moment when you see each other all dressed up any less special, and definitely won’t make your aisle moment any less emotional!
The rest of their spectacular bridal party were also troopers while we snapped some bridal party photos before heading to the church for Nicole and Johnny to GET MARRIED!!!!!!!
Nicole’s uncle Jeff officiated their ceremony which made it extra sweet. And he did such a great job he had me in tears! Then, the moment after they sealed their vow with a kiss Johnny made good on his promise to a friend to do something hilarious and ridiculous that had everyone cracking up. Scroll down to see it! ALSO, of course that couldn’t be the end of the shenanigans because halfway through family portraits Dobby the House Elf just appeared out of nowhere. Well, not nowhere, he came from Johnny’s mom’s purse, but it was definitely a first for family portraits! I didn’t totally catch what the joke was, but I will happily include Dobby in any wedding celebration. (he made a later appearance at the reception too)
When Dobby was done with his 15 minutes of fame we all jumped in our cars and headed to Brick Gables in Lititz for the reception that featured a traditional Polish blessing by Nicole and Johnny’s moms, the traditional dollar dance, another Thanksgiving meal (insert all the praise hands), and tons more fun! Also, don’t miss the amazing favors Johnny’s mom MADE! She seriously made each of the 115+ ring dishes that each guest was able to take home.
I was also lucky enough to have Nicole and Johnny humor me and go outside for a couple more portraits, and I’m so glad they did! I LOVE LOVE LOVE their newlywed portraits and I think they do the perfect job of capturing Nicole and Johnny’s sweet and joyful personalities!
I couldn’t dream of a more perfect way to end my 2018 wedding season than celebrating with Nicole and Johnny!
Nicole and Johnny,
You two are SO special and I loved being able to celebrate with you at your wedding. I can’t wait to see what amazing things you two do!
Photography: Sarandon Mara Photography
Planning and Coordination: Alisa Marie
Florals: Custom Florals by Heather Heagy
Hair: Bombshell Brides
Makeup: Annie Vitolo, Independent Mary Kay Consultant
Dress: David’s Bridal
Ceremony Venue: St. John’s Evangelical Congregational Church
Pastor: Jeff Berger
Reception Venue and Catering: Brick Gables
Ring Dish Favors: Johnny’s Mom!!!!!!!
DJ: The Wyse Choice