Hilary and JJ

Malvern, Pennsylvania

 

 

Photography | J&J Studios | @jjstudiosphiladelphia

Venue | Radnor Hunt

Floral Designer | Wise Original Florist

Gown Designer | Mori Lee Madeline Gardner@morileeofficial

Bridesmaids Dresses | Bari Jay @barijayfashions

Bridesmaids Dresses | Bill Levkoff | @billlevkoff

Jewelry | Edera | @eredrajewelry

Bakery | The Master’s Baker

Caterer | J Scott Catering | @jscottcatering

DJ | Schaffer Sound

Cinematography | Enchant Cinema | @enchantcinema

Favors & Gifts | Totally Wedding Koozies | @totallywedding

Caricature Artist | Toon Upz | @toonupz

James and I met on February 4, 2016 and it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Our first meeting wasn’t magical. We simply met at a bar. He was a normal guy interested in having a conversation with a girl who was not interested in the slightest. After several attempts at a conversation, I finally gave in and we began to talk to each other. By the end of the night, I was intrigued by his tenacity, but still not interested. We did not exchange numbers and I left thinking we’d never see each other again.

 

The next day I was at work and noticed that my last haircut of the night was a name I didn’t recognize, Darryl Jenkins. I thought it was strange but continued about my day. When the appointment time came, I was waiting for Darryl Jenkins and James walked through the door. He had made an appointment under an alias because he didn’t want me to know he was coming. I cut his hair, and as I checked him out he asked for my phone number. I gave it to him reluctantly but again, I was intrigued – I had to see where this was going to go.

 

Shortly thereafter, we became inseparable. It was evident to us and everyone around us that we were made to be in love with each other. Being in love became not only who we were as a couple, but who we were individually. Everyone around us knew, James was born to love Hilary and Hilary was born to love James. We were that couple who only saw each other in a room full of people, who danced in the rain, who simply just wanted to be together. We were just meant to be. Everything was so perfect and so simple… until the following March when tragedy struck our family.

 

James’ mom, Carol had been battling cancer for 5 years prior to this, but had been in remission from Leukemia. After having a bone marrow transplant in 2015, her organs began attacking her body, one at a time, but she had still been fighting and doing well as we had thought. On March 23, 2017 James called me and told me that his mom was going on hospice, she could no longer fight, and her lungs were giving out. We were told we had 1-3 weeks with her. Devastated doesn’t even begin to describe the state that our families were in, both his and mine. After I hung up the phone with James that day, I went to his parents’ house to be with him and his family. I walked into Carol’s room with James beside me and she looked up at the both of us and said, “I think you two should get married.” She meant eventually, but we took that literally and gave her something special.

 

On March 29, 2017, James and I decided to marry at his mother’s bedside. We made this decision at 1:00 PM and by 5:00 PM we were married. We called our families and closest friends and made everyone aware of the situation. Every single person was not only supportive but elated. Through the heaviness of our devastation, we all needed something to celebrate with Carol one last time. We all needed that small beam of happiness through the dark cloud that had become our new reality. With our families by our side, we surprised Carol with a very special wedding.

 

The gesture of our wedding which seemed so small to us brought so much joy to my mother-in-law. She was so happy that her last baby was married. She could be at peace knowing that each of her children were taken care of and that she could leave this earth knowing that in her heart and soul. She lived another 3 months after that and we were so lucky to have that special time with her. We laughed, we cried, we loved. Two years later, in front of our family and all of our friends, we got married again and in a really big way.

This is the story of my wedding as told by my mother, Valerie…

The story about the celebration of Hilary and James’ love didn’t just happen in a day, it was an entire weekend. For the ladies, the weekend began with a trip to Glam Nail Lounge (Newtown Square, PA). There, they were pampered with manicures and relaxing pedicures. After the pampering was complete, the ladies headed over to The Desmond Hotel in Malvern, PA, where guests of the wedding would be staying. After a quick freshen up, everybody headed over to the wedding venue for the rehearsal. When the rehearsal was over, the bridal party and family members gathered at Trattoria Giuseppe (Newtown Square, PA) for a beautiful, delicious rehearsal dinner, which truly kicked off the celebrations of the weekend. Dinner was served family style with wine in abundance in a private room with beautiful decor. This was an amazing start to what turned out to be a fabulous weekend.

 

Bright and early the next morning, the women of the bridal party were to meet in a special suite set aside by The Desmond. Within minutes, make-up artist, Noel Pirolli (Philadelphia, PA) showed up and began setting up a beautiful display of make-up. A short while later, Brian Keenan and Danny Donnelly from Enchant Cinema (Philadelphia, PA) arrived to begin videoing the day’s events. This was going to be a day of special moments and nobody was going to miss it. Shortly following Noel’s arrival, Melissa from Chameleon Day Spa (Media, PA) showed up with her colleague and began setting up a station to create lovely updos on the bridal party. One special task was left to Hilary’s co-worker, Sidney Clarke of Hair Artistry by Valerie (Aston, PA). Sidney showed up with one main goal in mind; to make Hilary, the bride look like a vintage beauty. Sidney carried out her task impeccably, professionally and perfectly, for Hilary was the most beautiful bride any of us had ever seen. Hilary‘s makeup was perfect, completely flawless, as was her 1920’s vintage hairstyle.

 

While the women of Hilary’s bridal party were enjoying their special space, the groom, along with his groomsmen were having their own special morning at Shaving Grace (Exton, PA). While at Shaving Grace, each man received a straight razor, shave and a fresh haircut. Hilary‘s groom made his appearance looking like a vintage movie star with his immaculate 1920’s style haircut and fresh shave. The bridal party was provided shuttles by the Desmond Hotel to the wedding venue site, The Radnor Hunt (Malvern, PA). Upon arriving at The Radnor Hunt, we were escorted to a private bridal suite on the second floor of the historic building. The photographers, John and Vanessa Ryan with J&J Studios were waiting for us in the bridal suite as well as Brian and Danny from Enchant Cinema. While the bridal party indulged on snacks and champagne, we were doted on by both the photographers and the videographers.

Once we had set our eyes on the flowers, it was clear that Joan Wise of Wise Originals (Aston, PA) was the perfect choice of florist for this wedding, she had truly outdone herself. Giant bouquets of baby’s breath were the centerpiece of every table, some tall and some short. Each table was dressed in a white tablecloth underneath a shiny blush overlay. Each small centerpiece sat on top of vintage brass candlestick holders, while the tall ones sat atop tall glass vases draped with strings of pearls. The real show-stopping floral piece was the bride’s bouquet, pink peonies accented with white anemones tying together the main blush color of the wedding along with the navy accents with the center of the white anemones being navy and not to forget the bouquet was tied together with gold ribbon and topped with a special locket with pictures of James’ late mother, Carol. Each bridesmaid carried a bouquet of baby’s breath tied into a ball, made to replicate each centerpiece. The flowers truly were a focal point of the day.

 

Shortly after their arrival at The Radnor Hunt, Hilary and James had their first look. James waited for Hilary under the 200-year-old oak tree atop the rolling hills of The Radnor Hunt. James and Hilary exchanged their own written vows privately under the tree. After hours of picture taking, it was time for the ceremony to begin. The bridal party strolled one by one down the aisle where they waited for the moment we had all been waiting for. As each girl made her way down the path you could see the guests were enamored with the beauty of their gowns. It first began with the flower girls’ ivory tulle dresses accented with lace appliqués, much like the brides. These dresses were hand-made by KalypsoCo (Etsy). The bridesmaids alternated colors of blush, gold, and navy blue, the blush and blue gowns were designed Bill Levkoff and the gold were designed by Bari Jay. Each navy and blush gown was chiffon and each gold was completely sequined to add a shiny glow of an accent to the bridal party. The bride was escorted down the aisle by both me and her father. The bride wore a Morilee gown by Madeline Gardner which was ordered and altered by Nikki Rentoulis, owner of Irini’s Originals (Wilmington, DE). Her gown color was nude and was covered with ivory lace appliqués, topped with little sequins, she glistened from head to toe. Her dress was held together with tiny little ivory colored buttons that spanned the whole length of her back. When bustled, it appeared to have layer upon layer of lace gathered low enough to still accentuate her figure. Her earrings, which were hand made by Edera Jewelry (Etsy) were the perfect complement to her vintage style gown, long and ivory with a tiny bit of sparkle. This gown was fitted perfectly to her curves and appeared to be made especially for her body. Breathtaking is the only way to describe her.

 

James and his groomsmen wore navy blue tuxes from Cimino’s Tailoring (Aston, PA). The groom wore a white a three-piece navy tuxedo with a blush bowtie. Inside his jacket was pinned a locket from LittleGemGirl (Etsy) with a picture of his mother in it, close to his heart. James also wore brown saddle shoes and a white shirt but the perfect accent to his look was a gold pocket from the Engraver (Etsy) watched chained from his vest to his jacket, truly tying together his look. Each groomsman wore a navy tuxedo with no vest. They all wore long blush neckties accented with gold tie clips from JewelMango (Etsy), each personalized with their initials. These men had looks to kill.

After the vows were said and the bubbles were blown, it was time to celebrate. The festivities began with the most elegant of cocktail hours. The Radnor Hunt is a historic building from the 1930’s with a series of smaller sized rooms. Guest had their choice of mingling on the patio outside, the deck, the parlor in the front of the house with vintage style furniture and oriental carpeting, or the sun room with hardwood floors and windows all the way around. There was a bar set up on the patio as well as another in the sun room. Waiting in line for a drink was not an issue at this wedding. There were signature cocktails already made and ready to serve on each bar as well as servers walking around with trays of wine and beer. There were two signature drinks, “The Blushing Bride” which was made with vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, raspberries and soda water and “Something New” which was made with champagne, peach schnapps and raspberries. Each flavor of this event was carefully chosen by the bride to be light and springy. Guests complimented the quick service and efficiency of the staff at The Radnor Hunt and J. Scott Catering.

 

A Small room with vintage hardwood flooring, lined with floor to ceiling windows connected to the dining room; perfectly suited for cocktail hour. This room housed a hand painted seating chart perfectly designed and executed by Stephanie McDermott, owner of Cheeky Lemons (Boothwyn, PA). Along with the hand-painted seating chart were several other of Stephanie’s creations, the hand painted welcome signs, the hand drawn hashtag signs, the couple’s uniquely vintage vellum invitations fastened to navy pockets along with matching programs. Many guests inquired about the beautiful hand painted signs throughout and were not surprised to find that they were created by the same person. Her artistry and talent were evident in her work.

 

Centered in the cocktail room was a macaroni and cheese bar served with a variety of toppings including roasted broccoli, bacon, and grilled chicken. J. Scott Catering (Malvern, PA) had proven to deliver an unforgettable cocktail hour with mini California cheeseburgers, Thai shrimp spring rolls, fried chicken and waffles with sausage gravy, jalapeno lime corn fritters, open-faced fried green tomato BLTs and lavender ricotta crostini, the guests were raving. This macaroni and cheese bar was one of the highlights this reception. Another guest favorite was the donut wall after dinner. J. Scott delivered to their guests a wooden wall lined with pegs, each peg held a donut, blueberry cake, vanilla iced, devil’s food and cinnamon cake. Guests were provided with togo backs topped with stickers designed and produced by Cheeky Lemons to bring their donuts home in. This was another fantastic extra offered by J. Scott Catering.

Once cocktail hour was over, all the guests gathered in the sun room for the bridal party introductions. The bridal party danced their way onto the floor to “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. The guests cheered as the bridal party, big and small entered onto the floor. Finally, the bride and groom were introduced for the second time as Mr. and Mrs. James Greenhalgh to “Cold Cold Man” by Saint Motel and grooved right into their first dance. The bride and groom surprised their guests with a choreographed, comedic first dance to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes. The guests were screaming, clapping and crying as James swung Hilary all over the dance floor, laughing and smiling the whole time. The guests couldn’t say enough about this dance.

 

After the first dances, it was time for the best part; dinner. The tables were already dressed with a salad made from arugula, peaches and toasted hazelnuts with a champagne vinaigrette. Each guest’s place was also already set with a glass of pink sparkling champagne. The main dish at this wedding was a choice between a center cut filet of beef or a pan-seared crab cake. Guests immediately began raving about how delicious the food was. It was clear that the goal when planning this wedding was to please the guests.

 

As soon as the meal was over everybody immediately began enjoying the sounds from Pat of Schaeffer Sound (Media, PA). Hilary had written a strategically planned playlist for her DJ, which he abided by perfectly. Pat proved to be the perfect DJ for this wedding. Guests were dancing and singing for all of the hours of the wedding reception, the music was fantastic. When people weren’t dancing they could be found in the room across from the parlor getting pictures taken in front of the long vintage mirror photo booth wearing silly props provided by Mirror Booth Divas (Media, PA). These photos also served as a great wedding favor to take home as the Mirror Booth Divas provided three copies of each photo to each guest. Hilary and James offered several favors to their guests, temporary tattoos of a picture of Hilary and James (which ended up mostly on the faces of guests), beer cozies, donuts, and photo booth photos. It was sad to see the night come to an end, but sure to be a night to remember. People waited for shuttles to the after party at The Desmond with donuts in hand and tattoos on their faces.

Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette?

The inspiration for my \”theme\” if you will, was vintage. I have always been drawn to vintage clothing, jewelry, decor, etc. My bridesmaids wore navy, blush, and gold dresses. The girls in gold wore sequined dresses to add a pop of shine to the palette. The girls in gold wore Bari Jay dresses and the girls in pink and navy wore Bill Levkoff dresses. We did not have any cultural or religious traditions, but we did have my husbands uncle officiate because he’s been a huge part of our union. The majority of my color palette was pink, ivory, and gold. That is because I wanted everything to be light and springy because my wedding was right at the beginning of good weather season and I wanted everything to feel happy and light. I accented with navy because I think navy is a timeless, elegant color and it complements the light pink very well.

 

Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception?

The centerpieces varied between short and tall. The short centerpieces were on vintage brass candle stick holders that I purchased from various antique stores. The large centerpieces were made onto tall vases with pearls draping underneath of the flowers. The flowers for the centerpieces were big baby’s breath because I wanted to keep the flower cost down, but maintain a simple, elegant look. We also had a shlepping display of \”the couples we came from \”. It was an antique ladder that I painted and my husband nailed wood onto to make into shelves. I wrapped twinkle lights around the ladder and on each shelf was pictures of our grandparents and parents on their wedding days. We got married infant of a giant 6 foot wreath that my husband built, and I made into a wreath with flowers from Michaels and greens from hobby lobby. My husband built the wreath itself out of 1\” flexible PVC pipe. I had baskets of flip flops on the dance floor for ladies to change into once their feet hurt. The flip flops were from old navy, each size in a different color. The baskets they were in were wooden crates purchased from Michaels that I spray painted gold. The cake topper was a design that I purchased from Etsy. I then printed and laminated it myself and glued it onto a stick to go into the cake. The table numbers were made from a template I bought from PineNineteen on Etsy, then I printed them myself and put them in small gold picture holders.

 

What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?

For the centerpieces and bridesmaid bouquets, I used only baby’s breath. I love the simplicity of it and it’s beautiful by itself. I also had to large aisle pieces sitting on old wine barrels at the start of the aisle. They had pink and white roses in them. My bouquet was made mostly from pink peonies and white anemones. I chose white anemones because I wanted to tie the navy accent into my bouquet and white anemones have a navy center. I made my ceremony backdrop myself, it was a large wreath made with mainly eucalyptus and lambs ear, and the top of it had pink peonies, white anemones and some hanging flowers and moss. I feel that it was a unique piece and it was essential to the backdrop of the ceremony, I also feel that it tied my large elaborate bouquet into the large aisle pieces as well.

 

Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

One thing that was very unique was small buckets of temporary tattoos for our guests. The tattoos had our faces on them. Guests seemed to really love that and get a kick out of it. We also had baskets of flip flops for hurty feet on the dance floor, which they also seemed to appreciate. We offered signature drinks, which were ready right after the ceremony. One of our favors/desserts was a donut wall and guests are RAVING about that. We also had a \”magic mirror\” Photo Booth. I chose a mirror Photo Booth because it stuck with the theme of the venue and the wedding, being that it was gold AND vintage looking. We also had a macaroni and cheese bar which was amazing.

 

Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.

Let’s be honest, I chose both of the looks. I wore a Mori Lee by Madeline Gardner gown. It is model Kassia 8203. I knew I wanted something lace and with a long train, and that it was. My dress was a fit and flare, very form fitting past the hips then it got wider as it reached the ground. I had a long lace train on my gown, and a long lace train from LaceMarry on Etsy to compliment it. My dress was a nude color with ivory lace appliques. The lace was accented with clear glistening sequins which made the dress glisten in the light and when I moved. The dress was originally supposed to have off the shoulder sleeves but I had them altered into a cap sleeve to add even more of a vintage look. My hair was in a finger waved undo into a large bun in the back. I had pieces of a pearl and crystal gold vine place into the back of the bun as a small, subtle accent in my hair. My earrings were handmade from Edera Jewelry. They were ivory with pearls and crystals and they just grazed my collar bone. I chose not to wear a necklace because I didn’t want to take away from the neckline of the dress and I think it was perfect. I was wearing a pearl bracelet from Macy’s as my bridal gift from my husband. My shoes were simple and ivory with a rhinestone ankle strap, and only a 3 inch heel. My makeup was a subtly brown smokey eye with gold glitter on the inside of my eye. Everything I chose, I chose because it either was vintage or looked vintage. Once I chose my dress, everything else was chosen to accent parts of it. JJ wore a Navy Tuxedo with a Navy vest and a blush bowtie. He wore Monaco brown shoes and he had a gold pocket watch clipped from his vest and into the pocket on his jacket. His hair was cut into a low fade with a hard part and a gelled, clean look. I wanted him to look like a 1940’s movie star and it worked because thats what everyone told me he looked like.

 

How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

JJ and I met at a bar on February 4, 2016. JJ and I had a mutual friend (someone I had previously dated) and I was speaking to him and JJ interrupted the conversation to talk to me and I told him to fuck off. Later that night a girl I work with (dawn, one of my bridesmaids) ran into JJ (she had known him from childhood) and she said hello to him and then stopped mid sentence after that and shouted \”Hilary\” and turned to my mom and told her that we would be perfect together. My mom began talking to JJ and started to like him and get excited for him to talk to me. He asked her who her daughter was and she described what I was wearing and JJ was disappointed to find out that it was the same girl who had just told him to fuck off. He told my mom he had already spoken to me and that I was a bitch. She agreed and told him he had to persist, that I was initially like that with men until I got to know them. JJ immediately came back inside the bar and stood with his friends. Dawn and my mom came back in and tried to convince me to talk to him and I wanted no parts of it. After about an hour JJ came over to our table and began talking and I turned my head to ignore him. He stayed at the table anyway and talked to everyone else at it. Eventually I started to enjoy listening to him and began talking to him. I enjoyed him by the end of the night but still left without giving him any of my information. The next day at work (I am a hair dresser) there was a name I didn’t recognize in my book for my last appointment. The name was Darryl Jenkins. All day I was trying to figure out who took that call and if they knew who it was and nobody would say a word. When the appointment time rolled around it was JJ who walked in. I was very mad that he would do that to me, but I did it nonetheless. We talked and laughed during his haircut and before he left, he asked for my number. The next day I was going out with a bunch of girls for a 40th birthday (which he knew) and he texted me and said, \”I know you have plans tonight but I’m just saying if you were to invite me, I wouldn’t be busy.\” so I invited him and he came and we talked until the bar closed that night and we have been inseparable ever since.We got married on March 29, 2017 without any engagement. JJ’s mom was very sick in recovery from cancer and she was put on hospice on March 23, 2017. On Wednesday, March 29 I texted JJ at about noon and asked him if he wanted to get married by his mother’s bedside. JJ was her youngest son and only unmarried child and it was very important to her to know he would be safe and taken care of. JJ said yes let’s call my sister and see what she thinks. So we called Christine and she said absolutely, but don’t tell anyone, let it be a surprise. All of my clients had happened to cancel that night at work, so I was going to leave work early. I texted my 3 best friends, Peen, Tara and Ashleigh and told them JJ and I were going to be getting married and I was going to get a dress if any of them were interested in coming. I texted them and then had one haircut left to do so I didn’t get to see any of their responses, but by the time I was done my haircut, all three of them had showed up at the salon. They all had left work to be there. All 4 of us went and got a dress, jewelry and shoes. JJ and his dad went to get rings, his brother got bridal bouquets from a florist for me, my mom and JJ’s mom. There was already trays of food coming to the house for the family that day. JJ’s aunt went to a bakery and bought two cakes and put them on top of each other to make a wedding cake. I called a pastor who came to the salon and asked him if he could marry us at 7:00 and he said he couldn’t because he had a mass so I said how about 6:00 and he said he had a meeting and I said what about 5:00 and he said he could do it. By the time I arrived at JJ’s parents’ house, his whole family was there and dressed for a wedding. His sister had called all of them. I was upstairs in the spare bedroom getting ready when JJ \”proposed\”. He knocked on the door and I said, \”yes?\” and he said, \”hey, will you marry me?\” and that was our proposal.

 

My mom had to get right in her car and drive here from New Jersey and my Dad lives in Florida so we face timed him. JJ’s mom had no idea any of this was happening until all 30 people walked into the room and JJ walked in dressed with a boutonniere on and his mom asked him what was happening and she told him we were getting married. She started crying and was so happy. And then we got married and then we had a small reception at the house. The whole thing was planned and executed in under 5 hours.On our wedding day JJ told me he still wanted me to have a proposal and a diamond and promised me that it would still happen. On February 24, 2018 we had plans to go out with friends and I was doing my make up at the breakfast bar in my kitchen. JJ walked in the front door from work and came in and got on the ground. I didn’t look because I assumed he was playing with the cats like he usually gets on the ground to do.

 

When I noticed he wasn’t moving, I turned my head to see him on one knee with a ring. He proposed with a ring that he designed to match the wedding band we had gotten the year before and my diamond is the diamond that was in his mother’s engagement ring. We have a very long backward story, but it’s ours and we love it.

 

What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

There were so many. Our first dance was very special. We kept practicing dancing to slow songs and we couldn’t stop laughing because it’s just not us. Finally JJ suggested that we dance to Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. He always sings that song and says it reminds him of us. This was a decision we made 2 weeks before the wedding. We knew if we were going to dance to something like that, it would need to be choreographed so we began practicing. We only practiced one night because we ended up getting busy the rest of the 2 weeks and never got around to making it iron clad. 2 minutes before we walked out to do our dance at our wedding, JJ made me go upstairs and finish practicing and choreographing one last time. The dance was entirely made up by him. People seemed to think it was really funny and really enjoyed that part of it. JJ’s dance with his sister was also something that was very special. I knew it would be special but I was blown away by how emotional it was and how it touched everyone in the room. It was the most emotional part of the entire day. One of my vendors texted me the next day to tell me how special that was for her to see and she told me that her and my sister in law sat outside and cried together after the dance because she had recently lost her own mother and the song they danced to was one of her moms favorite songs. I had also been dying to hear everyones speeches. My maid of honor was crying so hard at her speech that she almost couldn’t finish. I wasn’t expecting that and it was really special.

 

Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?

If I could give advice it would be to spend the most on videography and photography more than anything else. You won’t remember the little details, but you will remember the pictures and videos because it’s all you’ll have when the day is done. Make sure you choose somebody who you feel is talented and passionate. I think it is very important to have a beautiful picturesque venue, otherwise your pictures will suck and it won’t be your photographers fault. Don’t let anyone stress you out or tell you what to do. Make your decisions and stick with them and try not to worry about anyones feelings because everyones feelings are going to contradict one another and you’ll live constantly stuck between them. Do what YOU want and whats best for YOU. Enjoy every single second, make sure you eat your food and drink your drinks so you know how everything is and that way if anyone says anything negative after the fact, you know they’re wrong. Smile as much as possible, you don’t want your photographer to catch you mean muggin.

 

Most of all, make sure you are marrying the RIGHT person. Too many people get caught up in the wedding and fail to realize their significant other sucks.