Real Bride Spotlight: Rachel
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
Dancers Rachel and Luke had a romantic, sentimental, and elegant wedding at The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center. Read more about their beautiful day and inspiring love story below!
Luke and I met as teenagers, at a ballet summer training program in Massachusetts; a state in which neither of us lived. In our first partnering class, everyone was assigned a dance partner as per height, and I fudged my way into the "taller" group so I would get paired with Luke because I thought he was cute, and instinctively knew he would never drop me! After that summer, we kept in touch between Georgia and New Mexico for two years before we saw each other again. On the first day of spring, Luke came to Atlanta to see a dance company perform- this is where you could say "the rest was history." We dated long distance for the next five years as we went to study dance at different colleges, and pursued our careers, before moving together as a couple between Boston, Santa Fe, and New York. Life happened, and we suffered losses of loved ones and battled personal struggles, growing and supporting each other throughout.
A couple of months after our ninth dating anniversary, Luke proposed at a gorgeous park by the Chattahoochee River, with a beautiful custom ring, featuring a family heirloom stone.
We wanted a beautiful wedding day that reflected what we love. We had some elements of tradition, but primarily created our own wonderful day, and wrote our own short, sentimental ceremony. We found an amazing venue at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, a LEED Gold Certified facility with one of the largest Green Roofs in the country, and walls of windows overlooking beautiful nature trails.
Our favorite meal is brunch, so our reception was filled with coffee, French toast, and bacon, with our favorite songs playing in the background. I made our invitations, my veil, centerpieces (paper flowers out of used copies of Pride and Prejudice), and all of the other decor. For our first dance, we learned the dance Elizabeth and Darcy do together at Mr. Bingley's ball in the 2005 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. We made tribute to Luke's home state, New Mexico, by giving each guest a serving of New Mexico Pinon coffee as favors!
One of my favorite memories was exchanging our personal vows, which we wrote together at 11:00pm the night before our wedding! We took our giant scrapbook of love letters from when we were a long distance couple, and put together lines from our favorite letters to form our vows. Another one of my favorite moments was my maid of honor’s speech- I actually met her at the same summer program where I met Luke, and she is the only person to have known both of us before we were a couple! She said the most wonderful things and I could feel the love from her, and everyone else there, as she had us crying and laughing on cue. I felt like I was smiling from the inside out, the entire day.
My favorite part of my dress was the way the layers of the skirt created a gorgeous, floating effect! The top layer had intricate embroidery, under which a layer of Chantilly lace peeked through, and a layer of sparkle tulle! My mom described my overall wedding aesthetic as “ethereal”, and my dress certainly was. My bridesmaids were in mix-matched dresses in shades of purple and lilac (my favorite colors) which I used throughout the decor.
My dress was also how I chose to remember my dad in my wedding. He passed away due to a rare neurological disease called Creutzfeldt Jakob’s Disease several years ago. As his condition declined and his activity limited, we often watched Say Yes to the Dress, and he always loved when Randy was on the show. When Randy Fenoli announced in 2017 he would be designing a new line of dresses, I immediately began my search for where his line would be available- Wedding Angels was one of the select boutiques. I booked my appointment for the trunk show nearly 5 months in advance! When I put on the first Randy dress, that was when I had my first moment of “I can’t believe *this dress* is on my body!” Then I put on the “Alicia” dress, and I just thought: “oh THERE you are, my friend!” and didn’t want to take it off. I really felt like I had seen it in a dream, and had found it in real life. I think my dad would have approved, and been very pleased that I wore a Randy Fenoli dress.
My experience with Wedding Angels was my favorite part of wedding planning. Leslie was amazing to work with (she also helped my groom pick out his suit!) and Alicia never misses a detail at the desk. I came with each of my bridesmaids individually to pick out their dresses, and each of my unique girls had a positive experience.
Photographer - Eastcreek Photography
Venue - Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center Dress and Suits - Wedding Angels Bridal Hair and Makeup - Pure Makeup & Hair Florist - Atlanta Wedding Florals