Real Wedding – Emily & Evan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
Combine a stunningly sweet couple, a vision of vintage with timeless elegance, effortless style, and an abundance of personality and emotion, and you have Evan and Emily’s wedding celebration. Then to top it all off, fly freaking fabulous photographer Jackson Grant to the USA to capture it all, and you have an aesthetic artefact to do true testament to this dreamy day.
After a gorgeously intimate first look and perfectly personal ceremony, the newlyweds took to the Philadelphia streets for a portrait session full of laid-back love and candidly captivating moments, framed like an old-world movie. And Emily and Evan look every bit the part; she in a vintage silken gown with embossed bodice detailing, later adding the perfect contemporary touch for the dance floor in a wrap-style gown by Rotate Birger Christensen. He embraces his Don Draper style era in a houndstooth suit and printed tie, looking a true 60s dapper gent.
We love Emily and Evan’s choice to weave their unique personality throughout the day with truly authentic touches and darling details. Thrifted tableware makes for fabulous visual accents while giving artful, one-of-a-kind vibes, while signage inspired by retro typography and hues adds classy cohesion.
This is one uniquely exquisite day, so dive in for a visual treat.
Emily: Evan and I met on the internet in January 2020, roughly two weeks after I swore off dating. Thankfully, he was funny, owned a clothing brand at the time, and said he had no affiliation with any football team. Which meant if we got married, he would be a Steelers fan. Immediate swoon. About a month and a half after knowing each other, the world shut down due to COVID-19. We both lost our jobs but never lost the enjoyment of spending time together and growing alongside one another.
Evan: We met on the internet. Oddly enough, her account was recommended to me on Instagram because we had quite a few mutual friends. Her profile picture was cute, and it caught my eye. I was really shy (and still am to this day), so I didn’t do anything at first. It actually took me quite some time and a few pep talks with myself (and friends) before I worked up the courage to reach out to her. Luckily for me, she made it pretty easy because she had responded to one of my Instagram stories; now, all I had to do was not say anything that would make her think I was strange…I think I did the opposite, though. I ended up committing my allegiance to the Pittsburgh Steelers since I had no affiliation with a team. I think that won her over.
Evan says he fell in love with me after I cooked him my great-grandmother’s fagiole recipe. Which, to be fair, is top-notch.
I say I fell in love with him after I had a rough day, and he surprised me with flowers and Indian takeout.
Evan: I had just gotten a new job and received the blessing from her father a few days prior. I was still riding the high of these two big moments, so to be 100% honest, there are some details I may have blacked out on. BUT I remember the important stuff.
For context, I had coordinated prior with my friends who run a production company to be hiding in the bushes at a local park. One of my favourite parks; Jefferson Square in South Philadelphia. It’s not the prettiest park, but it has lots of character. I had also gone out that day to get a bouquet of flowers in between work meetings and the occasional anxiety attack. I was very nervous and very sweaty.
I think it was fair to say Emily already knew it was coming, but it didn’t ruin the beauty of it at all. When she came home from work, I met her outside with flowers and took her on a walk to that park. I had prepared a bit of a monologue, but I was so overwhelmed with nervousness and happiness that I actually forgot how to speak. Emily calmed me down; she said, “Honey, it’s fine; you don’t have to talk if you can’t.” In the moment, it was rather embarrassing, but looking back on it, it was very on-brand.
We continued walking through the park until we reached the “x marks the spot” cue in front of a tree. Every time we walk past it now, I say, “There’s our tree.” And Emily laughs. I got on one knee, and my friends jumped out of the bushes and captured the moment brilliantly. Also, the folks in the park cheered us on! It was the second-best day of my life, right behind the day we got married,
After getting engaged three years into our relationship, my Type A brain was already three mood boards deep with zero decision fatigue in sight. For starters, we booked our venue prior to getting engaged, decided to fly our photographer out from Australia, and I personally took it upon myself to thrift each table setting. A passion project that has now left me with about 90 extra plates in my kitchen. I had a clear vision of what I wanted our day to look like and how I wanted our guests to feel. I decided against hiring a formal wedding planner, knowing that I could execute my vision best. However, I was delighted to have found an execution co-captain in Jackie Small, who helped turn my vision into a reality. She took over the majority of the day-of execution tasks and aided in my vision for the overall experience.
What we knew to be true: we wanted our wedding to feel authentically us. We coined it a “mid-century spring garden party”. Not too casual, not too fussy, not too traditional. The goal was to blend the softness of spring, 1960s touches through signage/decor, and a celebratory atmosphere. I’ve always been inspired by 1960s-1970s fashion, prints, and home decor. Our day represented each of our personal styles and our identity as a couple.
I also made it a point to incorporate as many personalised touches throughout our wedding as possible. My husband and I are both creative, as well as having artists on my side of the family, so our table numbers were modelled after Pantone colour cards. We both also love animals, so we used repurposed children’s animal figurines as our escort card holders. Our reception playlist had a range from 70s disco to 90s punk rock to early 00s club music. We live right around the corner from our favourite doughnut shop, so we elected to go with doughnuts from Federal Donuts instead of a cake. All of our favourites were represented!
For visual inspiration, I used blogs and wedding publications that focused on unconventional and eclectic real weddings (The Anti-Bride, Sincerely Ambrosia, Vogue Weddings). Anything that struck a feeling, I pulled into a master mood board. Over time, I was able to narrow down my numerous ideas into a cohesive vision.
We knew we wanted our ceremony to be short but impactful. We asked my godfather, who is my father’s best friend of nearly 45 years, to officiate our ceremony. Not only is he a wonderful public speaker, but we were confident he would toe the line between lighthearted, funny, and serious. We worked together on the different themes we wanted him to touch on: commitment, acceptance, and growth. We also requested to have an unplugged ceremony so our guests could be fully present and in the moment with us.
Emily: Like our photographer, my dress also came from Australia, just via Rhode Island via Poshmark. I scored a vintage late 1930s/early 1940s dress nearly in mint condition that fit like a glove. The details were divine – the sleeves, the button closures, the lace and appliqué up the centre, and the stunning off-white vintage colour. With some minor fixes to the hemline, shoulder pads, and buttons, it was perfection. Nearly 80% of my wardrobe is vintage/sustainable, and it was important to me that I stuck to that value.
Evan: I have always wanted to be cast in a cool TV show that takes place in the 60’s or 70’s, like Mad Men, for example. To be honest, I don’t have a grand story about how my suit came to be other than when I was browsing for a suit, I wanted to feel like Don Draper. When I saw that houndstooth print, something screamed Don Draper to me, even though he almost always wears a solid-coloured suit in the show.
Emily: Our first look! Seeing Evan’s face for the first time on our big day was wonderful and worth the wait.
Evan: When I said “I do” at the wrong time by accident and every guest erupted in laughter.
Meaning of marriage.
Emily: Commitment and acceptance. David said it best in our ceremony, “Entering into the commitment of marriage is an act of deep trust and faith in the strength of your love. It would be a fool’s error to base your marriage on the hope that your partner will change to become something they are not or do something in the future that they do not already do today. Your marriage must be based on the heartfelt and sincere acceptance of one another, as you are, in each moment.”
Evan: To me, marriage is about resilient love. Never giving up on it and always fighting for it — no matter the obstacle.
Aisle (Evan): Married Life (Piano Arrangement) by Michael Giacchino, Amy Mary Collins
Aisle (Emily): It’s Been a Long, Long Time (Piano Arrangement) by DPSM
Recessional: Best of My Love by The Emotions
First dance: Stand by Me by Ben E. King
Evan & Evan’s Mom’s dance: Mother by Sugarland
Emily & Emily’s Dad’s dance: Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder
Funny stories or near disasters.
Emily: I think every dad who has three daughters pictures walking them down the aisle at some point. I guarantee my dad, having three girls and a sensitive side, was definitely looking forward to it. However, in the hustle and bustle of the day, we never thought to measure the aisle to make sure it was wide enough for us to walk down side by side. Our seating arrangements were tight, with each seat being occupied. Turns out, when we made it to the top of the aisle, we realised that we weren’t going to fit. Quickly and without hesitation, I went first and grabbed his hand behind me and led my dad down the aisle (laughing the entire time). It wasn’t the picture-perfect moment, but the lightheartedness was very in line with the overall feel of our day.
Honestly, no! I treated this as my personal Olympics and flung myself full-fledged into the planning process.
Words of wisdom.
Trust your gut! The planning process will be flooded with various opinions, ideas, and thoughts. There is nothing better than authenticity driven by a couple’s ideas and feelings.
One dress or two? Or, as Emily did, two dresses plus a lounge suit! The choices in wedding day fit combinations are endless, but making the right choice for your style, your day and your budget can be tricky. Here’s our advice on working out the vibe that best suits you.
EVAN & EMILY’S VENDORS
My venue was luckily partnered with Jackie Small, who was instrumental in collaborating on the big day. She designed our invitations, crafted our floral arrangements, and acted as our “day-of” coordinator. Our other vendors were either recommendations or sourced through the Internet.
We utilised The Anti-Bride, Sincerely Ambrosia, Vogue Weddings, Ivory Tribe (how I found Jackson Grant Weddings!)
Ceremony & reception venue: The MAAS Building in Philadelphia, PA USA. The MAAS Building allowed us to use both the outside, greenery-filled space and the inside, “industrial meets cozy” space. Even though it’s in the city, it’s closed off enough to feel like a garden oasis for our guests. The building itself used to be an old trolley car repair centre. After it fell into disrepair, a couple bought it and renovated it into a wedding venue, craft fair, and performance space hybrid that we know it today.
Celebrant/Officiant: David Bova
Photography: Jackson Grant Weddings. It takes a certain level of trust to let someone photograph an intimate, once-in-a-lifetime event. Jackson threw himself into our wild and fun family dynamics and ultimately made our day that much more enjoyable. Nearly every guest told me what an absolute joy and wonderful addition he was to our day. The photos speak for themselves!
Styling: Emily – in collaboration with Jackie Small
Florist: Jackie Small & Philly Floral Guild. Jackie’s attention to detail and eye are unmatched. She immediately understood the vision and absolutely ran with it. Everything from dual-printed, double-sided envelopes for our invitations to repurposed animal figurines as our escort card holders, her execution was flawless.
Hair: Kay Walborn at Barnet Fair
Make-up: Mariel LaBouliere
Veil / headwear: Veiled Beauty
Shoes: Polina Heels – Jeffrey Campbell for BHLDN
Rings: Emily Chelsea Jewelry
Groom Suit: Indochino
Bow ties / ties: Brooks Brothers
Bar: Alcohol generously provided by Evan’s parents and served through the MAAS Building.
Favours: Cookies from our cookie table! It’s a Western Pennsylvania tradition that family members bake cookies for the newlyweds. They are served with dessert, and guests are able to take them home as favors.
Cake (we did doughnuts instead!): Federal Donuts
Stationery / Signage: Jackie Small
Entertainment: We used the sound system set up through the venue and playlists curated by my sister on Spotify.
Décor: Myself! I thrifted the plates for each table setting and various other vases and decor elements. Bud vases were provided through our venue.
Honeymoon: Florence and Nerano, Italy for two weeks!