• Amy Hammond

Joanna & Anthony's Stunning Winter Wedding at the Crystal Tea Room

Joanna & Anthony’s wedding was fortunate enough to happen 2 months before the pandemic changed everything. I am thrilled to take a little step back in time and to finally share their beautiful day!

Wedding invitation in a sheer deco patterned wrap with a gold glitter band
photo by Stone Hill Paperie

Even though the couple had a large guest list, they dreamt of an intimate, winter wedding. They planned a wedding that still invoked the feeling of a warm & cozy, yet luxurious event. A wedding invitation wrapped in a gold glitter band (a nod to the bridesmaids’ dresses) and a sheer deco-patterned wrap were the icing on the cake for Joanna & Anthony’s wedding day details. The couple were married in the beautiful and historic St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Philadephia, Pennsylvania.

Joanna & Anthony shared their wedding day with us, including how they met, their Christmas Day proposal and their sweet pup, Apollo. The beautiful wedding day photos are by Nicole Cordisco Photography unless otherwise noted.

How did you meet?

We met at work, I was new to the company so people kept introducing us. He was the only person I had been introduced to multiple times so it must have been a sign! Tell me a little about the proposal… Anthony proposed on Christmas day, while I was cleaning up wrapping paper in my pajamas! I turned around to find him down on one knee asking me to marry him. I must have told him that this wasn't a funny joke about 100 times before he finally said 'is it a yes or no?!' Later on he told me that his initial plan was to propose on Christmas Eve in front of both our families at a Christmas party, due to some family drama when we first got there he decided to hold off. Anthony said that he knew he wanted to propose around Christmas and he just couldn't wait to propose so he surprised me the way he did on Christmas morning.

What surprised you most about planning your wedding? I honestly enjoyed wedding planning. The thing that caught me most off guard in planning was how much people push their opinions on you and the pressure that you feel from that. Overall though, we had a really great experience.

What (or who) did you find was your best resource for planning your wedding? Pinterest was my best friend! I found a lot of inspiration from there. I also used The Knot a lot, most of our vendors were found through there. I would also suggest listening to your vendors, they deal with weddings day in and day out so they have a lot of knowledge to make your vision come to life. Of course, I also utilized my family and close friends who were already married and picked their brains for wedding help.

What was your inspiration for your wedding day details? From the moment we got engaged we knew that we would have a winter wedding. I really wanted it to have an intimate romantic feel. We ended up using navy, gold, and blush as our colors. The gold really gave us that intimate feel we were looking for.

Take us back through your wedding day; share your wedding story. Anthony: I woke up the day of our wedding more focused than ever. My 10 year old son, who was one of my best men, was with me. We waited for my brother, and other best man, to come over to the house so we could all drive to the hotel together to get ready with all of my groomsmen. Upon arrival to the hotel I remember feeling so confident in getting married that I wasn't nervous at all. I remember absorbing every good feeling you could possibly have with my groomsmen and son by my side. We hung out at the hotel for a while and then started to get ready. During the process of getting ready my wife wrote me a card that made me feel so blessed and loved. We then walked down to the first floor of the hotel and took some photos, then headed over to the church. Then there I was, right at the altar waiting for my wife to show up. She started walking down the aisle in silence, they forgot to play music for her. For me, the silence made the moment even more powerful. It felt like it was just her and I. After we got married, we headed over to the reception and enjoyed dancing, laughing, and loving with our closest family and friends. We had a beautiful first dance song, and then we did a second song with our kids. At the end of the evening, we shared one final dance together, while all our loved ones surrounded us. It felt so peaceful and blissful.

Joanna: I woke up around 6am on our wedding day to start setting up for hair and make up, as well as the bridesmaids arrival around 7-7:30am. I spent the night at my parents house so that we could do the traditional not seeing each other before the wedding day. I remember I couldn't fall asleep, just thinking about everything that still needed to get done for the wedding. My mom and I stayed up late the night before cutting the programs since Staples didn't do it for us. Things didn't feel real until everyone slowly started showing up to start getting ready, then it kind of all hit me, I was actually getting married today! We all sat in my parents living room talking and having some mimosa's, just relaxing really. I remember the entire morning not feeling nervous about anything, not the timing of being out the door or even getting married. I even remember Anthony's brother-in-law telling me he'd never seen 2 people so relaxed on their wedding day. I started getting my make-up done and then my dad made me a sandwich to eat while I got ready, just in the midst of getting everything set up I forgot to eat.

Bride and Her Pup

Once I was ready, our photographer showed up so we started getting the photos of me getting dressed with my mom and sister. I then had a mini photoshoot with my dog, Apollo, who of course stole the show! We wrapped up photos and then made our way to the limo bus to head over to the church. We had such a fun ride over to the church, my niece was our DJ and was playing a bunch of music and we had some champagne too. I was terrified to have a drink spill on me so I wrapped myself up in a coat as added insurance. On the way to the church there was construction on the highway so the limo driver slammed the breaks and we all went flying, but we all recovered, without a hair out of place, so we didn't let it bother us. Once we got to the church I sent everyone in and was so paranoid that Anthony would see me walking into the church so I stayed back until I knew for sure he wasn't going to see me. We lined up and then one by one everyone started making their way down the aisle. I couldn't believe that this day was finally here. I noticed that there wasn't any music playing and started having a moment but at that point there was nothing I could do. They opened the doors and then I saw Anthony at the end of the aisle, this was the moment I had been waiting for so nothing else mattered to me anymore. My dad and I made our way down the aisle, and then the ceremony continued on. Once the ceremony was over our photographer, Nicole, sent Anthony and I up to the balcony in my church where we had our first moments alone together as a married couple, and it was such an amazing feeling. Once we walked out of the church and got nailed with rice, which was not pre approved by me! We headed back for photos with our families and bridal party, then we headed over to the reception where Anthony and I went off and took our portraits together. After photos, we got to snack a little in the bridal suite and then it was already time for our entrance into the reception. The rest of the night was just such a surreal experience, it was full of so much love and fun, and I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Custom Invitation for a Crystal Tea Room Wedding
photo by Stone Hill Paperie

How did your wedding invitations set the tone for your reception or wedding day? The invitations set the tone so beautifully for our wedding day, they were classic with this little modern twist. Amy worked with me to make sure my vision came across. The invitation itself had navy writing with this beautiful shimmer backdrop which was so elegant looking. We wrapped the invitation in a sheer folder with a beautiful gold design on it and then closed that with a gold glitter band and a little monogram. It just had this feel of romance and it was just timeless. I still get compliments on the invitations! What was your first dance song? Don't Let Me Down- Connor Maynard, which is actually a cover and slowed down version of the song.

What detail of the wedding was most important for you? Anthony: The flow of the day was really important for me. I really wanted the process of getting married and the reception to flow with continuous good energy. The key was the attention to detail when it came to the music on the dance floor. Our DJ, DJ Taso, really paid close attention to the energy on the dance floor and adjusted accordingly to allow everyone to have a really good time throughout the entire evening. Joanna: My whole goal was really to get this intimate feeling across, even though we had a bigger wedding, it was very important to me that it felt intimate. I also didn't want just another traditional cookie cutter wedding, so I wanted to get our individual style in there as well. Everything had a purpose, I didn't want to add anything extra that would take anything away from the romantic intimate feeling that we were trying to create.

What was your favorite thing about your wedding?

Anthony: My favorite moment was making eye contact with my wife at the door when it opened for her to walk down the aisle. I felt like we both just knew our journey to get there was a very tough road and for us to be getting married, the moment we made eye contact when the door opened up meant so much to me. Joanna: I absolutely loved how the reception turned out, all the details I worked so hard to put together came to life and were perfect. My favorite moment though, was when we had our last dance of the night, which was reserved just for Anthony and I. We danced to Remember Us this Way by Lady Gaga, and it was just such a beautiful moment for us, I could feel all the love we were surrounded by.

Bride and Groom exiting St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Philadelphia

How did you end the night? We ended the night at the Loews Hotel around the corner from our venue. We had a room block there for our guests also so a bunch of us hung out in the lounge area and continued the party a little longer.

What was the best part of the wedding planning?

Best part of wedding planning was being able to finally plan my own wedding! It was such a fun process and you get to explore so many different options while trying to create this magical day for you and your partner.

What advice will you give your friends getting married?

Anthony: Trust your relationship's vision of the big day, not everyone else's. Make sure to stand your ground. Even when you cannot see, just trust it will all work out because no matter how hard you try to prepare for the perfect day, the element of surprise will strike so it's beneficial for anyone getting married to be more prepared for the unknown versus being more prepared for it to be perfect.

Joanna: Everything will work out as it should! Don't stress too much on the small stuff, although attention to detail adds to the atmosphere that day there is only so much you can control. Don't get lost in the process of planning that you forget to enjoy it and remember why you're doing all this. Joanna and Anthony's team of wedding professionals…

Ceremony Location:  St. George Cathedral Philadelphia

Reception Location:  The Crystal Tea Room

Photographer:  Nicole Cordisco Photography

Videographer:  Martin's Accent Wedding Videos

Florist:  Willow & Thistle

Music & Photo Booth:  DJ Taso

Hair: Lisa Costanzo

Make Up: Ceyl Lertzman

Dress:  Demetrios

Transportation:  Kevin Smith Transportation Group

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