Ilana and Mike are approaching their 6 month wedding anniversary and I am so excited to share images from their beautiful wedding day. Their Columbia, Maryland summer wedding was a wonderful celebration filled with meaningful details from the dress and ceremony to the music and food. I’ve known Ilana almost my whole life, so this was a special wedding! I was grateful to attend and even helped out their friend who was in charge of coordinating the whole day. The wedding and ceremony took place at historic Oakland Manor on June 20th. Ilana kindly shared the images from the talented L.A. Birdie Photography and some thoughts and recollections from the day. Enjoy!
Mike and I met at James Madison University (JMU) during my senior year. It was the closing night of the dance department’s Fall Student Dance Concert and a bunch of the dancers wanted to go out to celebrate. We went to Dave’s; a bar in downtown Harrisonburg. I was sitting with my girls and Mike was there at the table next to us with his roommates (all guys). When Mike’s table asked our table for quarters to play a drinking game, we told them they could borrow the quarters if they let us play, too. We ended up bar hopping all together downtown and had a really fun night. Mike and I actually didn’t see each other for about a month after that, even though we’d exchanged numbers, but Mike saw me at the library the week of fall semester exams and said, “I thought you were a dance major, what are you doing at the library?” Not the smoothest line, but it worked, and the rest is history!
My dress was old–it was my Mom’s dress and my talented cousin, Melissa, deconstructed it and used the materials to design and build my dress. The lining is new fabric, but everything else is from the original dress. She even sewed a patch into the hem which is embroidered with my parents names and their wedding date and our names and our wedding date.
My jewelry was new–my Mom was not thrilled when I arrived in Maryland three days before the wedding and told her I was planning on wearing the same stud earrings I wear every day for my wedding, so we went looking for jewelry at the Columbia Mall. We found my earrings and bracelet set at Silver Heron (plug for them because they were so awesome!). Both pieces were made out of little seed pearls, but we thought the earrings dangled just a tad too long. They were able to call the local artist who made them and she had a new pair made–several pearls shorter–by the very next morning. They were perfect and it was so nice of them to work with us!
My perfume was borrowed… does this count? I gave each of my bridesmaids a bottle of perfume as part of their bridesmaid’s gifts and I ‘borrowed’ some of theirs for the day instead of wearing the one I would usually wear.
I wore an antique bracelet in my hair as a headband which had light blue stones in it. My cousin Melissa actually helped to make this happen, too; as we were designing my dress I worried that it didn’t have enough pizzazz to it and that with just the plain fabric it wouldn’t be bridal enough so we were looking through her collection of antique jewelry pieces to see if there was anything we could add to the dress when we found the bracelet. We played around with it for a bit and at some point I put it in my hair and we all thought–that’s it! The stones in it were originally pink, but Melissa found some similarly sized light blue ones and replaced them. She also restored the rest of the bracelet and added loops on both ends so that it could easily be secured in my hair.
We did do a first look. I always knew I wanted to do one because I never loved the thought of missing my cocktail hour to take photos instead, but Mike wasn’t sure at first. We looked at a lot of wedding blogs and once we saw how beautiful and private the first look could be, Mike was sold. Our photographer, Lindsay Anne of LA Birdie Photography, was so amazing about capturing this moment for us. She was just there to capture us seeing each other for the first time that day, not to ask us to pose or give us direction. It ended up being a really special moment which wasn’t about photography at all–though we got some of my favorite pictures of the day from it!
I LOVED our florist and I think all her arrangements made for the prettiest details because we didn’t do much else as far as decorations. I wanted colorful wildflowers and a ‘thrown-together’ look in everything from our centerpieces (collections of recycled clear wine bottles with single stems) to our bouquets and even our chuppah. Our florist was Flowers by Judy and I felt like she really ‘got’ my aesthetic and the look I was going for because everything she came up with was perfect. I am so, so happy she was a part of our wedding day. I also loved our DJ, Chuck from Decibull Entertainment. He’s a family friend so he was awesome about sticking to our do and don’t playlists and kept the party rolling for the entire night. Also, he was another familiar, friendly face at our day and it was amazing to have him there.
We had a reform Jewish ceremony, so we had a lot of Jewish traditions during that part of our day. We signed a ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) in front of our immediate family and our bridal party right before our public ceremony and we were married under a chuppah, a canopy which represents the home we’re building together. A cantor from my grandma’s synagogue performed our ceremony and Mike even crushed a glass at the end as everyone yelled, “Mazel Tov”! We did the horah, a traditional dance of celebration, at our reception, too! Neither Mike nor I are very religious but my Jewish culture is very important to me and to my family, so I’m glad Mike wanted these traditions as part of our day.
SK: What inspired your wedding colors and design?
We were inspired by the season, definitely. We knew we wanted things breezy, summery, and informal and light blue for bridesmaid’s dresses was always the plan. Our friends Dennis and Will, who are both amazing dressers, helped us decide to put the guys in gingham because we knew we wanted pattern. We loved how well the light blue chiffon of the girls’ dresses contrasted with the bold navy gingham. Adding the pops of color and texture came after we met with our florist. The seasonal wildflowers she showed me were all so beautiful, I couldn’t pick just one hue. We added the guys’ multi-colored ties to pull in the flowers. Once we decided to go rainbow with the flowers, we decided to keep our background elements (tablecloths, runners, chairs, etc.) neutral so that the flowers really stood out.
SK: What special songs did you use throughout your wedding? Why did you choose them?
We had a trio of live musicians from Richmond called Triad play for our ceremony and cocktail hour. Triad played “Crash” by Dave Matthews Band as I walked down the aisle because it’s one of our favorite Dave songs and we’ve been to over 15 Dave Matthews Band concerts together. Our first dance was to “You and Me” by Dave Matthews Band and the last dance of the evening was “Ants Marching”. I guess it’s pretty obvious that we love DMB, but traveling to concerts has been such a special part of our relationship, too, so it was nice to include so many of those songs.
SK: What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day?
Mike surprised me with JMU streamers when we were declared husband and wife! It’s a tradition in the student section at JMU football games to throw purple and gold streamers when the Dukes get a touch down. Mike had the idea, but his awesome friends Kaitlin and Katie really made it happen, and they prepared the streamers with little notes to give all our guests instructions of when to throw them and they put them out on each ceremony chair. When we were declared husband and wife and we had our first married kiss I was surprised at how quickly Mike pulled away, but when I looked out at our family and friends I realized he had pulled back because he wanted me to look at the sea of purple and gold streamers which were being thrown! It was amazing and SUCH a surprise, I could not stop smiling.
SK: What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding?
It was hard being 2 hours away from our vendors, venue and officiant and as I was going through a lot in my first year of teaching and my thesis year of graduate school, so we really had to rely on day trips, my Mom and my brother’s girlfriend Amanda (our amazing coordinator!) to get things done. It was a lot of running around and cramming multiple meetings into one weekend when we were able to travel home. We’re so lucky my Mom and Amanda were able to help so much.
SK: What advice do you have for those currently planning a wedding?
Let the wedding feel like you. We’re party people–we wanted to be on our dance floor the whole night, so we didn’t do a traditional cake cutting or bouquet toss or anything because we didn’t want to have to stop the music once we all got partying! We didn’t have an actual cake either, because neither of us are really cake people. We brought in a popsicle cart instead with regular and boozy pops. It was more us. Some people questioned our non-traditional choices, but in the end I think it made our day feel like OUR day and it made it that much more memorable for other people.
SK: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding?
It’s funny that no where in any of those answers did I talk about the tropical storm which came through on our wedding day–although I was initially so upset I thought I’d remember that detail forever. It’s what I remember the least at this point!
Our whole ceremony and cocktail hour was supposed to be outside, and all week the tropical storm (Bill) which had been heading to the East Coast looked like it’d veer north without hitting us…but the night before the wedding that forecast changed. I was in the middle of getting my makeup done when we had to decide to move everything under the tent and indoors and the makeup artist doing my eyeliner noticed my eyes tearing up as my Mom and best friends and coordinator Amanda bustled around making calls to our various vendors. She asked if I needed a moment and I shut myself in the bathroom for a few minutes to regain composure because I was so upset that our day wouldn’t look like what I’d imagined. In the end though, I think it was a blessing in disguise. The rain held off until after the ceremony, but when it started it came down hard! We even had a frog wash onto the dance floor during our first dance. It was crazy, but I loved how so many of our friends and family jumped up to close the sides of the tent, move chairs and tables and help get the party running smoothly again. In the end, we got married and we partied with all our favorite people…it didn’t matter if it was raining!
SK: What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together?
We spent 2 weeks in Italy for our honeymoon and came back with so many amazing memories, thousands of photos, Italian leather bags and an extra 2-3 pounds of wine, pasta and gelato weight! It was the most wonderful way to spend our first few weeks as husband and wife. We also recently bought our first house and we’re looking forward to moving in early December, spending our first holidays there and starting to build some of our own family traditions.
CONGRATULATIONS, ILANA & MIKE! CHEERS TO A WONDERFUL ADVENTURE.
Rehearsal Dinner: Mustang Alley’s // Photography: L.A. Birdie Photography // Ceremony & Reception Venue: Historic Oakland Manor // Floral Design: Flowers by Judy // Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Music: Triad // Reception Music: Decibull Entertainment // Catering: Brian’s Catering Services // Popsicles: Picnic Pops // Jewelry: The Silver Heron // First Dance: “You and Me” Dave Matthews Band