Joanna and Patrick’s elegant wedding took place in the breathtakingly beautiful St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in New York City on the first Saturday afternoon of the summer. I was so excited to see them again especially after getting to know them so much better at their engagement session in Central Park. I had the pleasure of working with Brandi Grooms Johnson who assisted in capturing the lovely and wonderful moments of a day that was filled with so many traditions and emotions. The day started at Joanna’s parent’s home and when we arrived, she had already had her hair done at Top Secret Salon & Spa in Rego Park. Then, it was time for Meredith Hayman, of Meredith Hayman Makeup Artist, to work her magic and apply Joanna’s bridal make-up. I just loved how her eye make-up made her blue eyes pop! Joanna was absolutely beaming and was beyond excited that her wedding day had finally arrived! Her bouquet was splendid and filled with white peonies, white lisianthus, vendela roses, and green berries. Rose Connection did a fabulous job on all the florals! The Designers Fine Press letterpress invitations from Cambridge Street Papers were absolutely gorgeous.
Joanna’s new and borrowed diamond accessories perfectly complimented her stunning silk organza and Alençon lace Marisa Bridal gown from Bridal Reflections. Joanna’s niece and nephew, Adrianna and Anthony, just loved being members of the bridal party. The Blahoslovenya, or the blessing, was given by Joanna’s parents. They conveyed their formal approval and good wishes to Joanna. This ceremony is also where Ukrainian brides are given away by their fathers and this is why they do not walk them down the aisle. The girls were all in different styles of jasper gowns from Jim Hjelm and their bouquets consisted of fuchsia and ivory vendela roses wrapped in satin which really stood out against the luxurious blue green fabric of the dresses.
Patrick and the groomsmen were already waiting outside the church when we arrived, so we grabbed a few photos before he took his place at the front of the church. I must admit that Adrian, first groomsman to the right, has a very special place in my heart because he not only assisted me at the engagement session, but also helped to gather family members for portraits and, as everyone knows, that can be a most difficult task. The church was absolutely magnificent with tons of light and breathtaking Ukrainian Byzantine architectural details including mosaics, icons and most prominently the dome, or cupola, which represents heaven and the universe. Patrick’s cousin, Katie, carried the symbolic wedding bread, korovai, while Margaret and Tony, Joanna’s sister and brother-in-law, served as the starosty which traditionally are two friends or family members who lead the wedding procession and carry the icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary into the church. These ornate icons will eventually hold a prominent place in Joanna and Patrick’s home. The first part of the Ukrainian wedding ceremony was the Betrothal and it took place in the rear vestibule of the church with Father Theodosius Ilnicki and Father Stanley Gomes. During the Betrothal, Joanna and Patrick affirmed that they were both entering the union freely and as equals. Their wedding bands were blessed and then placed them on their ring fingers. Joanna and Patrick then proceeded to the front of the church where the final and most sacred portion of a Ukrainian wedding ceremony, the Crowning, took place. It was during the Crowning that their right hands were placed on the gospel, vows were exchanged and they became married in the eyes of God. Their hands were joined with an embroidered cloth, or rushnyk, to represent their newly forged union. Joanna and Patrick then circled the tetrapod, small altar, in a procession called the Dance of Isaiah three times, and it celebrated their first steps as husband and wife. The intricate and delicate embroidered linens were lovingly made by by Joanna’s aunt. At the end of the ceremony, Father Ilnicki escorted Joanna to the icon of Mary where he offered up prayers on her behalf. Joanna knelt in front of the Virgin Mary and presented a bouquet of flowers. And the ceremony came to an end with their very first kiss as husband and wife… Before we left for the reception at Baltusrol, we had two special stops to make. Our first stop was directly across the street to McSorley’s Old Ale House, one of the oldest and most famous bars in New York City, for some ale! Joanna, Patrick and the bridal party were greeted with lots of cheers by bar patrons. The next stop was around the corner into the heart of Little Ukraine in the East Village to visit the East Village Meat Market, where Joanna’s dad works and his coworkers were just delighted to see him and the happy couple. After battling Saturday afternoon traffic getting out of Manhattan, we finally arrived at Baltusrol Golf Club and immediately went out to the green to take some portraits of the bridal party and Joanna and Patrick! I was so grateful for Teddy’s help getting us around the club!
Joanna and Patrick chose a traditional wedding cake from Veniero’s Pasticceria and Caffé that was decorated with orchids, edlewiess and marzipan turtles-a tribute to Joanna’s love of turtles. After sharing the wedding bread and wine, the reception started off with a very romantic first dance to Hoagy Carmichael’s Heart and Soul. The joy between the two of them radiated throughout the room. Then there were some laughs as Patrick’s brother, George, and Joanna’s maid of honor, Cristina, stepped up to give toasts in their honor. Before dinner, Joanna shared a dance with her father and Patrick danced with his mother.
The band, Na Zdorov’ya, kept the dance floor packed all night long. It was such a lively party! I just adore this couple and I’m so happy for the entire family! Congratulations Joanna and Patrick!