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Here is another edition of our popular spotlight series, "Real Detroit Weddings," which will be an occasional, ongoing new sub-topic of the Detroit Wedding Examiner, our area's leading wedding column/blog. The purpose is to spotlight real couples who were married in the Metro-Detroit area, to get a glimpse at their real wedding choices and to inspire newly engaged brides (and grooms!) with ideas and advice for their own weddings. All of the following information was provided by our featured couple.
Tom and Amy, married on October 23, 2015. Total Wedding Budget:
$20,000 - $30,000
How did you first meet and fall in love?
Tom and I ran in circles of mutual acquaintances for years! It has been kind of strange just how many people we had in common without having ever met each other. In August of 2012 we both attended a mutual acquaintance's child's 1st birthday party. Tom instantly caught my eye and I tried my hand at making a move by awkwardly blurting out "Bye, Tom!!" as he was leaving the party- I think it took us both by surprise! We became friends on social media, which led to us talking and eventually hanging out. Our first "date" was Tom convincing me to accompany him to a house party, where we met up with 4 of his closest guy friends! No pressure, right?! I was at a point in my life where I was comfortable on my own and had told myself that the next guy I dated would have to like me for me- it would have to be perfect... and in came Tom! I went into that date with zero expectations and it was such a blast! It was like we had known each other for years; his friends felt like my friends. Two days later we spent more time together alone, laughing and talking until the early hours of the morning. I remember thinking, "I could do this forever." From that day on we have spent every day together unless we were travelling for work. Falling in love was so easy and organic. It's crazy that we still look forward to each and every day together. I miss him every single morning when he walks out the door. Being together has always been easy, comfortable, and so much fun. We truly are best friends.
How did the proposal go?
Tom proposed on March 24, 2015 in Cooksburg, PA. We were on a little getaway at Gateway Lodge in the Cook Forest. This is where we took our very first vacation together in February 2013 and had decided it was time for a second visit for a little R&R! We went on the same hike we took during our first visit and about 3 miles into the hike, Tom popped the question on a cliff overlooking the tops of the trees. So beautiful! He intended on asking me at the top of the old fire tower along this route, but, once we got to the top, it was really windy and I was wheezing like crazy! Definitely not quite the romantic moment he had planned! As we approached the cliff, Tom fell a bit behind and I assumed he stopped to take a photo. After more time passed, I turned around to see what was taking him so long and happened to catch him fumbling to get the ring box out of his coat pocket! It sounded something like this: "You weren't supposed to turn around!" as he finally gets the ring out. "OH MY GOD! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?" as Tom kneels down, "Dead serious." "But my nose is running!!!!" We still get a kick out of that story to this day. After he knelt down and proposed, we sat there alone on the cliff for about an hour and just talked about everything. We were the only two around and it was just so perfect.
Packard Proving Grounds, Shelby Township.
Package Proving Grounds, Shelby Township.
What made you choose that location for your Ceremony and Reception?
When thinking about our ceremony, we knew that a church, hall, or traditional "ceremony venue" was out of the question for us. We wanted a relatively short, non-religious, but very meaningful ceremony. We liked the idea of having the ceremony and reception in the same location for time, travel, and convenience sake. Once we decided on Packard Proving Grounds as our venue, it made selecting the smaller sized garage on the property for our ceremony quite easy! We wanted a private, more intimate ceremony leading into a larger, party-like reception. The smaller garage catered perfectly to the size and vibe of our ceremony. Very simple decision!
Tell me everything you can about your Wedding Dress!
Oh dear... my wedding dress fiasco! Here it goes...
Purchasing my wedding dress was one of the FIRST things I did. I had randomly stumbled across this stunning lace bridal gown 6-12 months before I was even engaged! It was perfectly bohemian & romantic just like I had always envisioned. Not too frilly or fancy. I loved the lace detail, stunning train, long bell-sleeves, and high-low hem to showcase some killer boots! When I had to actually think about myself in a bridal gown, my mind just kept going back to that dress. The catch was that this company was an Australian company who only sells their gowns at their retail stores IN Australia. After weeks of weighing the pros and cons, staring at the pictures online, trying to find ANYTHING comparable in America, and reading reviews about this company, I decided to go for it!! The company claimed the dresses were custom made to the bride's measurements and made with tons of "give" in the fabric to accommodate for any weight fluctuations between the time of purchase and the wedding date. I got myself sized by 4 reputable tailors in the area just to be certain of sending my EXACT measurements. With a click of the mouse the dress was ordered and I continued to plan so many other details with the image of myself in this stunning gown in mind. When my custom dress finally arrive in early September, all my worst wedding nightmares came true- it was HUGE. I was standing on a 2 foot high step stool while this dress gaped from my body and pooled into a wad of gorgeous lace fabric on the floor. I was so devastated and sad that I would have to walk down the aisle in a gown that made me feel like a frumpy pile of garbage. Trying to find any solution, I took it to a renowned wedding dress alterations specialist who basically told me that it is simply way too big and anything she could do to the gown would transform it to the point of it looking completely different. My mom and I were on a mission that weekend to find ANYTHING off the rack as a "backup" option while we decided what were going to do with this so-called "custom gown" from Australia. Time was running out with only 50 days left until the wedding! I was SO desperate and open to ANYTHING that could have passed as "bridal." My heart was still set on lace, sleeves, and that high-low hem to show off the vintage boots I had purchased and been planning to wear. In a last ditch effort at mall closing time, we wandered into BCBG. I almost walked right out of the store with tears in my eyes, until I saw a long white dress hanging up in the back of the store. It lacked any lace, but it had sleeves and a slit in the front- and, hey, it was white! I unenthusiastically decided to entertain this dress and give it a try. The second I zipped it up, it felt so right. It fit my body like it was tailor-made for me! I looked in the mirror and was shocked at how much I liked this "backup" option. That was it- I found my dream dress... or really, it found me. It was less than $500 and needed only a VERY small hem in the front. I also had the seamstress widen the front slit to showcase my boots even more to make it absolutely perfect. If I could pick from any dress on his earth or the one I wore, I would pick that dress over and over again. Unique, gorgeous, comfortable, and perfectly me! I loved the way it moved and it made me feel feminine and beautiful. Best dancing dress ever!!
What were your colors or what sort of look/feel were you going for with your overall wedding theme?
We chose mustard yellow and burgundy as our colors. People scoffed at that decision until they saw it in person/pictures and now we get rave reviews on our color palette!! The guys wore brown tweed, and we incorporated lots of wood and burlap. We liked the "rustic" feel with a bit of a vintage twist. The garage gave us kind of an "industrial" vibe too. We just wanted everything to have character and have a cool, relaxed vibe. To be honest, we just picked stuff that we liked and it all just worked! The decor really fit our personal style. We chose October for a reason and we wanted the colors to be very "Autumn."
Describe how you went about coming up with the Bridesmaids dresses and what you were looking for?
I wanted mustard yellow and, much to my surprise, my girls LOVED that idea! There are VERY limited bold yellow dresses on the market, let alone for bridesmaids! My maid of honor (sister) lives out of town and I knew it would make the dress shopping process pretty difficult to schedule. I told the two girls to just look around online and get some ideas... Ironically we all pinned the exact same picture of yellow bridesmaid dresses on Pinterest! There were 4 options in the same color and my sister liked one style while my friend liked the other! I didn't have any preference as to whether or not they matched, I just wanted them to be happy and feel confident. These dresses were all short, which was great as I was leaning toward short dresses as far as length goes. I navigated my way through Pinterest onto the dress designer's website and found that this exclusive brand, Jenny Yoo, was based out of New York and we would have to order them online. I contacted the company to make sure this fabric was still available and the girls sent their measurements. The color was from the previous year's collection so the dresses were discounted! Even better!! When they arrived, they were
stunning, needed little or no alterations, and we all loved them!
What would you say were the 5 MOST important priorities during your planning process?
Reception Entertainment (DJ or Band) My "Look" (Hair, Make-Up, Accessories)
What made you decide to have a Videographer for your wedding?
This was a decision we went back and forth on. We definitely wanted one, but we didn't know if we were just being frivolous. We both surveyed friends, coworkers, and family about whether or not they had one and if they were happy with their decision. The consensus was that those who did not get one wished that they had, and those that did get one were extremely happy with their decision and said it was worth the money. I have to say that we are so beyond satisfied with our decision and the splurge was worth every penny. It was important to us to have the video as a keepsake to share with our future children and to look back on as a time capsule of family and friends smiling and enjoying themselves. Tom and I have both experienced great losses of loved ones in our lives and we realized that life is short and this is a moment to document and remember those that we love forever.
Describe something that you feel didn't go exactly as planned dealing with your Wedding (Ceremony and/or Reception):
This sounds so ridiculous, but we are racking our brains and can't think of anything!! Anything that "didn't go as planned" was either irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, or so minuscule that we didn't even notice or remember!
Describe what you felt your BEST decision was regarding the Wedding:
We have a couple of answers for this one. We are so happy that we stuck to our own vision and picked a venue that allowed us the freedom to create EXACTLY what our vision was. We are so happy that we did not end up with a cookie-cutter wedding in a traditional venue, but can look back and see our big day as a reflection of US as a couple. We made the decision early on to stay true to ourselves and we did just that. It definitely took a lot of planning and organization to pull it off, but it really paid off. We also hired a "day- of coordinator" (Jennie Wiegand, owner of A Beautiful Day LLC) to take the stress off of our parents and ourselves on the day of the wedding. I truly don't think we could have enjoyed ourselves as much as we all did if we did not have her on board. She was like this sneaky little wedding ninja who kept everything in order and running smoothly- SO necessary for the venue we had and the kind of wedding we wanted.
Describe what you felt your WORST decision was (or biggest regret) regarding the Wedding:
It took a while to think of something because it really went so smoothly and was such a perfect day to us, but if I had to say something, I regret not reminding people to be courteous with their cell phones at the ceremony. The fact of the matter is that we live in a society that is addicted to cell phones. Everyone wants that perfect picture to post before any else does! "Pictures or it didn't happen," right? We had people interfere in our professional videographer's/professional photographer's shots, specifically at the ceremony. Some people have an "unplugged ceremony" (no cell phones allowed)... I don't know if I would've gone that far, but I think a friendly reminder for people to be courteous with their cell phone etiquette would have been appropriate (ie: not stepping out into the aisle, etc.) I didn't think it would be necessary or that it would happen to us, but it did (albeit on a small scale.)
What advice could you give to a newly engaged Bride planning their wedding?
It can be SO overwhelming trying to get started. There are so many options and ideas nowadays by way of social media and Pinterest. I would say to sit down as a couple and decide what vibe you want, and what parts of the day are the most important to you. That will keep you on track and help you narrow down the options. It's SO easy to get sidetracked and caught up in the wedding industry. All of a sudden you'll be entertaining spending absurd amounts of money on things you didn't even want or know existed. Just remember- this is about your relationship and starting a marriage, not just blowing money on a killer wedding. Stay true to your vision and what you want your day to be. Take time to step away from planning too- it can drive you crazy. It's okay to turn your brain off for a little while or you can really get stressed out. Another thing that helped me tremendously was picking vendors I felt a real connection to. There were certain people we met and just "clicked" with. They really understood us as people and what we wanted for our big day. Follow your gut- hire those people!! It takes SO much stress off during the week and day of your wedding. Hire the people/companies you feel you can trust to get the job done correctly. It's worth the money.
Here is your chance: Please feel free to tell us anything else you would like to say about your wedding! What made your day unique? What other advice do you have?
Compromises are sure to arise, but remember to stay true to yourselves and do what you feel is right for you and your future spouse. Sometimes you will bend and change things to appease people who may not always recognize or appreciate it. You will never regret following your gut. Do it for yourselves, not for other people. Seeing the "ugly" sides of people can be disheartening and hurtful, but just remember to take it all in stride, breathe, and support each other. Focus on the good in people, and all the fun along this journey, Enjoy each other every step of the way!
The uniqueness of our wedding came from making choices based on the uniqueness of our relationship. We wanted our guests to feel the love in the room and leave with an understand of the love Tom and I share. One of my favorite things about the wedding as I look back through pictures and watch our video, is how much laughter was captured. We truly enjoyed every single second of our special day. It suited us perfectly and our guests were able to feel and experience what is in our hearts. It felt magical.
I was so nervous to have a "first look" in fear that it would take away from that moment of seeing Tom as I walked down the aisle. For times sake, on our Friday evening wedding, we knew it was the best and only option. I have to say that up until the moment of our first look, ALL I could think about was seeing Tom. It felt like I couldn't fully relax or enjoy the day until I was experiencing it by his side. We both agree that the "first look" was our favorite moment of the day. I was so happy to have that special moment together, just us. After seeing him, it took ALL the pressure of the day off... seriously. I felt like the entire day could've gone down the tubes and it wouldn't have even mattered. Seeing him beforehand centered me and helped me relax and enjoy the moment. We were apart for roughly 30 minutes before the ceremony began and when I walked down the aisle and saw Tom again, we both were emotional. The moment you walk down the aisle is so special regardless of whether or not you have seen each other beforehand. It does not lose an ounce of impact, I promise. I highly suggest having a "first look" to all couples I speak with. The day is so busy and filled with people, but that moment is just for you.
Tom Santilli has been in the Detroit wedding industry since 2002, and in that time has established himself as one of the top in his field. His company, Complete Video Solutions , was named as the #1 Best Wedding Videographer in Detroit by local brides and Channel 4 FIVE consecutive years and is currently inducted into TheKnot.com's "Vendor Hall of Fame." He also has won several awards for his wedding production, and is a member of WEVA (Wedding & Event Videographers Association.) As the Detroit Wedding Examiner, he has helped hundreds of brides with their weddings, with a local knowledge not found anywhere else. Being in the industry for so long, he is an expert in all areas of wedding planning, not just videography. He welcomes your questions, article suggestions, or feedback, and he can be reached