For newly engaged ladies: the best kind of person to get advice from during this life season is from someone that just walked through it so I hope this blog is helpful for you! I connected with a beautiful newlywed named Erica a while ago on Instagram. I followed her wedding story closely and was inspired by her attention to detail throughout the planning process. From a custom Hayley Paige bolero to 26 unique centerpieces, she takes you down her path of becoming a bride…so here you go, 10 Q&A with Erica!
- Hey Erica, once you had the ring on your finger, where did you begin with the wedding planning process? I actually took my time with the planning process. My now husband and I were together for 8 years when he proposed. I never put pressure or expectations for marriage. In so many ways I am so happy we waited to get married. We had everything in a perfect place before taking the next step in our lives together. I enjoyed every second of dating and wanted to savor all the precious moments of being engaged. It wasn’t until at least 6 months later I started to look for venues. I knew I wanted something more formal and elegant and our wedding size was on the larger side. I needed a venue that could hold 300 plus people. For me it was a no-brainer…The Tropicana Atlantic City. Mostly because I work here and have seen lavish parties throughout my tenure. The food is outstanding and fit my vision perfectly.
- Was there anything that surprised you during the planning? A great deal was surprising. However, what I found the most surprising was the responsiveness of the vendors. Some were so attentive and their responses were swift and informative. Others wouldn’t even respond until I would call or email several times. For someone in sales, this was extremely disappointing. You are seeking out these vendors for a service you are paying for and to not even get a response is unacceptable. In the end, it all worked out.
- What was the hardest part of planning your wedding? The hardest part was actually picking a ceremony spot. Tropicana Atlantic City acquired The Chelsea Hotel in 2018 and I knew instantly I wanted to get married there. It embodied a vintage art deco architecture with deeply rooted history to Atlantic City. However, they did not have a wedding in this building for 5 years. In addition, all the weddings were less than 200 people. We had the tough task of working through construction, layout changes and space constraints. With some first-rate problem solving skills, the Chelsea 5 Cabana Pool was the answer. It flowed perfectly into the cocktail hour and I loved the unique outdoor landscape it provided for the ceremony.
- What was the best part of planning? The best part was by far was the day I got my wedding dress. I thought it would be fun to take a trip to Kleinfeld with my mother and two sisters. It was literally like heaven. I remember opening the doors and just being in complete awe, even the waiting room was gorgeous. There were over 20 appointments going on the same time as mine and felt apprehensive that I wouldn’t get the time and attention needed in order to Say Yes To The Dress. As I was waiting for my consultant, Lisa Furhman from SAY YES TO THE DRESS introduces herself and instantly felt like the only bride in the store. She escorted me to the dressing room and asked me questions. I told her I was looking for something clean and timeless, almost vintage old Hollywood. She literally nailed it on the first try.
- You were such a glamorous bride! How did you come up with your wedding style for the big day? I saw the bolero first in my favorite wedding blog Green Wedding Shoes. The moment I saw it, I knew I had to have it. The problem was trying to locate it. I literally called over 200 stores in the Tri State area trying to locate the Hayley Paige Bolero. Each and every bridal salon that carries Hayley Paige within a 6 hour radius I called….nothing! I even called Hayley Paige corporate and they did not have any on hand I could try on. I finally found a place in Hammonton, New Jersey called Meadows Bridal Shop who decided to take on this task in finding the bolero for me. They took my measurements and sent to Hayley Paige. They had to make it custom. This was a huge risk because I wasn’t able to try it on and if I didn’t like it I couldn’t return it. Luckily it was gorgeous and I fell in love all over again when I put it on for the first time. My bridal inspiration came from the vibe of the venue. I wanted a vintage, art deco feel. The elaborate sparkle and design of the bolero paired with the clean satin gown was a combination made in Hollywood heaven.
- I understand that you had a really unique wedding theme! How did you go about selecting it? The theme I chose for the wedding was Whimsical Summer Garden Party/Alice and Wonderland. I wanted bright florals, stripes and white draping in the ballroom. I wanted to create a feeling of being outside even though the reception was in a ballroom. (Some other themes considered were Great Gatsby and Kate Spade.) In the end I loved the theme of the wedding. I did not want to go over the top in your face Alice and Wonderland. All the details were very subtle and understated. It all tied together when you walked into the ballroom/rabbit hole.
- Once you selected your theme, how did you bring it to life? All the little details tied it together. I got inspiration from Alice and Wonderland. The cocktail hour had subtle details that touched on The Alice and Wonderland theme. For instance, our wedding had a Gin Bar featuring my Husband’s Gin Company Mr. Finger’s Alibi Gin. The signage focused on the “Drink Me” message from The Alice and Wonderland book. The drinks also were custom crafted by my Husband and garnished with an edible disk that displayed our initials. Moving into the reception, the seating chart was done with mini gin cocktails in little glass jars containing their table assignment with the message “Drink Me.” The welcome sign for the reception was an old wooden door with a glass door knob with the message “Welcome to Brian and Erica’s Wedding Come Join Us down the Rabbit Hole.” I wanted to give the impression the guests were opening the door to a whimsical fairytale taking them to a place of wonder and love. The wedding cake and dessert station had signage that said “Eat Me” and the guest book had signage that said “Sign Me.”Not one of the 26 centerpieces were the same. Each one unique with vintage clocks, teacups, tea kettles and lush bright florals. It was truly the best feeling in the world to see my vision become a reality.
- What was your best memory from the wedding? The best memory from my wedding was our first dance. We walked into the reception hand in hand with over 300 people watching and came together to dance to our song “Tenessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. Although everyone was looking at us, I felt like we were the only two in the room. As we got into our first dance, the sparklers went off and everyone’s faces lit up. It was truly priceless. I also did a surprise father and daughter dance with my dad and the entire room went nuts—it was hilarious.
- Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently? The only thing I would do differently is I would have gotten pictures during sunset or golden hour. I love my pictures but it would be nice to have some variety of pictures from day to night outside.
- What’s your biggest piece of advice for other brides now that you have gone through this process? My biggest advice to brides is to focus on the love you and your fiancé share. Sometimes you get so focused on the details trying to make everything picture perfect. The truth is, it’s not going to be perfect and things won’t go as planned. At the end of the day it’s not about the pictures or getting your wedding mentioned on social media, it’s about celebrating your love and coming together as Husband and Wife and sharing a beautiful life together.
Venue: Tropicana Atlantic City
Wedding Planner: Kyle Holzemer
Bolero: Hayley Paige
Dress: Pnina Tornai
Photography: Magdalena Studios
Video: Flagship Studios
Hair: Regina Halper
Makeup: Brielle Zangari
Flowers and Decor: Janet Chester’s Flowers and Events in Atlantic City
Sparklers: White Isle Events
Stationary and Signage: Petal and Paper
Cocktails: Mr. Finger’s Alibi Gin
Ceremony Entertainment: Marc Diomede
Cocktail Hour Entertainment: Hildy and The Peptones
Reception Entertainment: The Exceptions
GIF Machine: Flagship Studios
Bridesmaid Dress: Hayley Paige Occasions
Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Tommy Hilfiger
Thanks for a great interview, Erica! Best of luck to you and Brian as you embark on upcoming life adventures as newlyweds.
Girl with a diamond ring