What started as a dinner between old classmates became their first of many. Mark and Keri met their first semester of college at Loyola University in Maryland in 2002. Mark was a biology major and Keri was an art history major, and while they did not date in college or have any classes together, they had mutual friends all four years of college. Keri and Mark both ended up in Philadelphia after graduation. Mark was in medical school and Keri was working in the city. On Keri’s 27th birthday and through the miracle of social media, Mark sent Keri a message on Facebook wishing her a happy birthday. The two began writing back and forth, and a week later they decided to meet up for coffee. They chose to meet up at the corner of 3rd and South – about halfway between their two apartments. They walked around, and coffee ended up as dinner at Hikaru on South 2nd Street. The rest, as they say, is history. Three and a half years later, they got engaged in Cape Cod. As we share these literally picture-perfect images from Asya Photography, hear all the ‘behind the scenes’ goodness from this great wedding in the words of the bride…
A fun part of our wedding was the theme – The Grand Smotoluci Wedding. A friend of ours had blended our last names together before we got married as a joke – Smotoluci – and we thought it would be fun and cheeky to include this as a “brand” for the day. We worked with Smoochie Paper’s Patty Tawadros and she created a beautiful logo of sorts, that was on our invitations, save the dates (which were bookmarks since we were getting married in the library of the College of Physicians), programs, and was even similar to the wedding certificate we had designed.
We had Bernie Robbins rings for the bride and groom – Forevermark engagement ring. My aquamarine ring and something blue – my grandmother’s ring; my earrings were something borrowed from my mother; my gold bracelet was my ‘Something Old’ – it was my great-grandmother’s.
We knew we wanted to have our ceremony and reception at the same place – and close to the hotel where our guests would be staying (Hotel Palomar). While researching venues in Philadelphia, we came across the College of Physicians. As Mark is an infectious disease doctor and I’m becoming a psychologist we felt the Mutter Museum and College were a perfect fit for our interests and personalities. When we first visited the College, we were taken by the large, open spaces upstairs – the Ashhurst Room and Mitchell Hall – for the ceremony and reception. We loved the newly designed garden and veranda, as well as the library upstairs and hall for dinner. The architecture – from the marble rotunda to the vast rooms filled with character and history were perfect for how we imagined our day. We also loved that our guests could tour the Mutter Museum during the cocktail hour and that the Thomson Gallery would be a rotating art exhibit.
In lieu of favors, we made a donation to Saved Me, a rescue organization where we adopted our dog, Frankie, from and provided our guests with information on the agency. We were able to take pictures before the ceremony and our beloved dog sitter brought Frankie to Headhouse Square so she could be included in some of our photos.
Another special part was being able to take pictures on our street. When we got there our neighbors were having a block party and all the little kids were running around riding bikes. They were really sweet and excited to see us all dressed up. We were so glad we were able to capture where we first lived together and reconnect before getting married.
We wanted our wedding to feel like the biggest dinner party we would ever throw. We had no formal seating arrangements and encouraged guests to sit wherever they wanted – to pull up a chair, move around, or station themselves in the same seat all night. We wanted a formal, yet down to earth and intimate event. Our hope was that our guests would feel comfortable floating through the spaces at their leisure – from the cocktail hour in the main foyer, to the dinner stations throughout the Ashhurst Room.
One special touch was that we both had our opposite gender siblings as our best people. When we had our first date we both mentioned that we were the “best person” for our siblings’ weddings, which both happened in 2010 before we met again. I was my brother Adam’s “best man” and Mark was his sister Lauren’s “best person”. We wanted to honor our siblings and did the same at our wedding. We did not have bridesmaids or groomsman, but it was very important to honor our siblings in this special way.
We decided to have a Quaker style wedding ceremony, as we were raised in different religions and appreciated the religious freedom that Pennsylvania allows in terms of weddings. We wanted to “marry each other” in the very sense of the word and have our community help “marry” us. We asked our good friend, James, to marry us – as he was present when we first met in 2002. Rather than having a formal officiant, we wrote up a homily of sorts, said our vows, and then asked our guests to stand up and share any words of wisdom or humorous anecdotes for us during our ceremony. After our ceremony, everyone was invited up to the table where we got married to sign our wedding certificate – something designed by a friend of ours. During the ceremony there were tears – (mainly on my part), but just as much laughter as we made it through our vows and as we listened to various friends and family members stand up and share their thoughts and well wishes. It was such a special time to stand hand in hand together before making our marriage official and before celebrating with everyone. We now have a beautiful marriage certificate signed by all of our guests that we can hang in our house as a testament and reminder of our vows and that special day.
As we got married in September, we wanted rustic, yet formal arrangements. We chose jewel tones for the flowers – rich, deep colors for the boutonnieres and bouquets, and rustic greenery for the tables. In addition, we wanted to incorporate pears and blood oranges to complement the many candles and break up the dark grey tablecloths and dark wood chairs.
Photographer: Asya Photography // Hotel & Getting Ready Location: Hotel Palomar // Ceremony & Reception: The College of Physicians // Bride’s Dress: Nicole Miller (alterations by Nilah & Company) // Men’s Attire: Hugo Boss // Florist: Garnish // Catering & Wedding Cake: Catering by Design // Music: The Vincent James Band // Stationery: Smoochie Paper // Bride’s Makeup: Sara Wren (firstname.lastname@example.org) // Bride’s Hair: Ali at Lakshmi Hair