I had been working weddings and events for years, but nothing could have prepared me for planning the day when I would be the one standing up at the altar saying, “I do.” I always said that in order to be a successful planner, your own life must go unplanned. Then, on Dec. 24, 2008, I became the bride-to-be, and my wedding an affair I wanted remembered.
You are cordially invited to the wedding of Amanda Katlynn Anello and Chad Michael Pierce …
January 8, 2011
I awoke at seven to a bed of fresh snow on the ground. The snow was fitting to Chad’s and my wedding concept: rock with vintage flair. With clients, I draw out their personalities and assist in creating a wedding that represents who they are as a couple. Pierce and I, planning our wedding, did the same. Elvis’ birthday was not purposely picked, but some things are just meant to be, I guess.
The idea of searching for my wedding dress overwhelmed me, as it does many brides. I was worried expectations would never be met. I had an idea of what I wanted, yet it was the one I never would have considered which ended up the one. As soon as I put it on, I knew. Now brides, you will know when you have found the right dress because you will get “the feeling”… the feeling that finally makes you feel it’s real, you’re the one he’s going to be waiting for at the end of that aisle. This feeling and this dress is out there, and when you and the one meet, it will be love at first sight. Don’t be afraid to try on all styles of dresses; you never know which one will fit your body the best so don’t be quick to rule anything out. The one for me was a Lazaro gown. I accessorized with a traditional bird’s nest veil, a bold choice, one I knew would bring me back in time where I always wanted to be. The dress had a lot of glam but was missing some glitz. A visit to my friend Thomas Knoell at Thomas Knoell Designs did the fix. Along with his staff, he created a beautiful, pearl and gem encrusted, custom headpiece with matching jewelry. Future heirlooms which I’m sure will turn to family treasures.
Watching the girls get ready in the bridal suite at the East Wind Inn, conveniently located next to our reception hall, The Estate at East Wind, I felt like I was home. (To make out-of-town guests feel this way from the moment they arrived, I had them greeted with a bag of goodies at check-in.) Adorned in pin-curls, courtesy of Colleen from CSI Salon, I served Mimosas and good music. I had worked so many weddings, I knew what to expect. I wanted my wedding to feel different, I didn’t want to feel like I was working. I promised to let go and let the day happen organically. What was done, was done… the Mimosas helped. All of the girls wore up-do’s and had their make-up done by Christy-Ann Cosmetics. I wanted a Marilyn Monroe deep-red lip, and Victoria’s artistry was perfect; timeless. When the girls put on their plum bridesmaids dresses and custom stoles I had sewn, I was sure people were going to think they were at a runway show, not a wedding. They looked glamorous.
Vincent Commisso, my dear friend and floral designer of PWP, delivered the bouquets. The look was complete. The flowers were mixed colors of deep reds and purples. Amaranths hung from my maid of honor’s bouquet providing an ethereal pop to the romantic look. My bouquet, an over-sized bundle of Sandra Bernhard Peonies—usually out of season at this time—was a prime example of how Vincent makes magic happen. The stems of the flowers were exposed as if he had just gathered them from a garden and wrapped them with vintage black lace. When my photographer arrived, she held a mini photo shoot with my dress, shoes and accessories; a moment they rightfully deserved. Then it was time for me. Lia Diaz of Imagine Studios has a very unique eye and her albums really tell a couple’s story. With minimal posed pictures, Lia captured the day from behind the scenes, allowing Chad and I to enjoy our day and guests.
I can still remember my heart fluttering as my dad and I stepped out of the vintage Rolls Royce. Thanks to my family at PWP, I wasn’t worried about a thing. I was excited for the day to finally begin. I walked into the church and my bridal party had already started down the aisle. After one emotional glance at my maid of honor, my sister and best friend, the song changed. It was my moment. I had fought long and hard for the music director of the architecturally stunning St. Patrick’s of Bay Shore to allow me to walk to the sounds of “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve. It was well worth it. When the song started, the doors opened, taking my breath away. The aisle was lined with Vincent’s unbelievable floral pieces. As I walked past the packed church of closest friends and family, there he stood. Chad has always been handsome, and at this moment, when my eyes locked into his, I couldn’t look away. He wore a traditional black tuxedo with a deep red vest and tie. The groomsmen, standing behind him, looked great matching the girls with plum-colored accents.
Guests held onto the scroll wedding programs I had personally printed and tied with velvet ribbon. The parts of the ceremony I will never forget were those not written in the program. Our priest made the wedding ceremony our own. Father Steve asked us how we met and why we were in love and it was refreshing to talk about our love in a way that we hadn’t thought previously to discuss.
The ceremony ended as we ran through a downpour of rose petals. We then toasted in our limo, alone for the first time as husband and wife. The ride together on the way to The East Wind was exciting and romantic. It was a time of reflection. Brides often focus on the reception, thinking it is the most important part of the day, but the ceremony, the moment you both declare yourself husband and wife, is what the reception celebration is all about.
I experienced the reception as if I were my own guest, enjoying everything that came my way. All went as planned. Dave Clark of Paramount’s Renegades filled the grand entrance of The Estate with the sound of beautiful piano scores. Guests gathered at the black, old Hollywood dressing room vanity mirror where I had left a lipstick-written message “Please take a seat,” sealed with a kiss. Tiny pewter chairs surrounding the mirror held each guest’s table assignment.
A sneak peak at the reception room where I would soon dance my first night as a married woman away, gave me a huge sense of accomplishment and immense feelings of joy. Everything that had previously consumed my life was here in one room before me; years worth of imagination, hopes and dreams. Black silk-covered tables, deep purple pin-tuck overlays and, resting on silver chargers, black pin-tucked napkins holding custom purple and silver double-layered shimmer menus. Across each menu was a ribbon that read, “For as long as they both shall live…” and resting on every ribbon lied antique skeleton keys. It was exactly as planned. The table seating cards brought guests to their tables where they would find one of two different floral centerpieces. They were presented with either a full candelabra with black taper/pillar candles and a deep base of mixed florals, which tied in my colors, or by the second piece: a full topiary of flowers with black candles to match the bottom. I like reception rooms to have multiple styles of centerpieces. I find it gives the room texture and sparks conversation among guests. Deep-purple uplighting provided by Tommy Tunes Entertainment set the mood. My sweetheart table was the icing on the cake. Not only were there a bed of rose petals and florals, but Chad and I sat in black, oversized, wood chairs decorated with medieval carvings. We were the picture of medieval royalty on our thrones.
Chad and I wanted our favors to be different and entertaining. Men seemed to favor the cigar roller that arrived during dessert. LCG Cigars was the perfect addition to our night, even women enjoyed cigars as they laughed about memories created throughout the evening. Guests also enjoyed a photo booth provided by NY Digital Memories, where they left their inhibitions to the wind and got crazy. Looking through my album of copies from everyone’s pictures always brings a smile to my face. By the end of the album I could see that everyone became family and friends.
The end of the night couldn’t have been sweeter, literally. My second family, the PWP Event Planners, created a full table of candy favorites for my guests to take home as old-fashioned goody bags. Surprising a person who plans for everything is hard to do but leave it to the PWP team to give every event, even mine, that special touch. Being a bride was an amazing time in my life. I now relate more to my clients than ever before because I know exactly how they are feeling. A wedding is a personal day that deserves much attention. It should be as one-of-a-kind as the love that it represents. I still receive compliments for the wedding. It is always flattering to hear how beautiful everything was but, as a planner, it is most rewarding when someone says with excitement, “Wow, your wedding was different!” Chad and I, as lovers and as people, are unique; we wouldn’t have wanted our wedding to be anything other than one-of-a-kind, and that’s exactly what it was.