Julie and I met in high school as we both needed dates to each other’s senior proms. Moving ahead 10 years later, I guess you could say I took my time tying the knot, so to fix that…
Julie and I are members at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, and I somehow convinced her to spend the afternoon at the zoo in late January. It was freezing! My two brothers came along for the day to help take pictures of the special moment, and the proposal took place in front of the penguin exhibit. Thankfully there weren’t many onlookers due to the cold weather, and obviously, that didn’t stop the penguins from coming out for the perfect proposal backdrop for two animal lovers!
Our wedding day was the last time our entire family has been together in over a year. So the day really was special and not just the highlight of our year, but of our entire family’s.
We were engaged in Jan (pre-COVID), so when COVID hit in March, we had a couple of extra things to consider. We went through some difficult decisions like deciding whether to postpone the wedding and just doing a small celebration this year, reducing our guest count to accommodate Maryland crowd restrictions, changing locations/ballrooms to increase social distancing, etc. We decided we didn’t want to wait knowing there was the possibility we might not be able to host our wedding the following year as well, so Turf Valley worked with us to plan for a COVID friendly wedding and we hoped for the best in terms of Maryland restrictions not canceling us.
While planning around COVID made many things more challenging, it also provided us with some unique opportunities as Turf Valley worked with us by offering outdoor options to accommodate guests that might not have felt comfortable indoors. We hosted our rehearsal dinner poolside which is not a setting they’d typically offer for events, and for the wedding, our cocktail hour was also held outdoors on a lawn facing the golf course. Being outside in these settings turned out amazing and really helped make our wedding at Turf Valley unique.
It was stressful knowing that our day could’ve been canceled at any time, but we lucked out. Our wedding week arrived, and there were no new state restrictions preventing us from moving forward with our 170+ guest wedding (150+ of which were indoor guests). Even when the weather forecast predicted rain the entire afternoon of our wedding, we ended up having perfect weather and were able to use the outdoor area for our ceremony and cocktail hour. We really lucked out, and everything came together perfectly for a day/weekend everyone needed.
Our dogs, Oliver and Stevie, were also able to make an appearance while we celebrated the first half of the night outside. Shortly before joining us, we were told they were wandering the hotel hallways after they escaped from our hotel room sometime during the ceremony! Luckily, they were found by a hotel employee and brought over to us.
Our wedding day was the last time our entire family has been together in over a year. We are a very close, and very large family, as you can see in the family picture of which only my dad’s side of the family is pictured. So the day really was special and not just the highlight of our year, but of our entire family’s. My grandmother being able to attend for the outdoor ceremony and family pictures was a special part of the day.
As you can imagine, there was a huge relief after 14 days had passed and not a single guest had caught COVID.
Written By: Joe Mangione
My Nonna in the center dressed in pink, mother of 10 children and 37 grandchildren!
Accommodations & Reception: Turf Valley Resort
Beauty: Baltimore Bridal Hair (Hair), Gypsy Sol (Makeup)
Bridesmaids Dresses: Birdy Grey
Cake: Yia Yia’s Bakery
Entertainment: Tommy O’Keefe Music (Ceremony), Bachelor Boys Band (Reception)
Flowers: Scentsational Florals
Formal Wear: Nikolas Italy
Photography: Maddie Kaye Photography
Rings: Smyth Jewelers
Shoes: Blue by Betsy Johnson
Wedding Gown: The Bridal Boutique