South Bend, Indiana, Wedding Photography | July 2, 2011
Photographer: Katie Whitcomb | Photographers, Ceremony Venue: Saints Peter & Paul Serbian Orthodox Church, Reception Venue: Tippecanoe Place, Catering: Tippecanoe Place, DJ: Vinko Mancich and Serbian Band, Florist/Chandeliers: MichaelAngelos, Cake: Macri’s Italian Bakery & Indulgence Pastry Shop and Cafe, Hair: Sheila Dunlap, Make-up: GabGlam, Videography: Oliver Beers, Tent Rental: AAY’s Rental, Linen/Decor Rental: Indy Event Rental
I guess you could say it started with a school-girl crush. Will and my older brother, Matt, were both on the swim team at Riley High School. I was four years younger and always went to every meet with my parents to watch them swim. Will was an amazing swimmer, so of course his was a name that you couldn’t help but know. I was always the younger sister of one of his teammates, so I doubt Will even knew I existed as he went through high school!
Years later after I graduated from Purdue and came back to teach in South Bend, I started running the swim meets at Riley. At the time, Will was coaching at Irish Aquatics and was at Riley to watch some of his swimmers at the sectional meet. A problem came up and he was nice enough to come over and help me with it. I remember going home that night, calling my mom, and telling her “you’ll never guess who was at the meet tonight! Will Bernhardt!”
Shortly after, we became Facebook friends (I guess he knew who I was after all!) He had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend. In November 2009, my boyfriend at the time broke up with me. I had a status that referenced some retail therapy and Will commented on it. From there, we started talking back and forth (I still have all of the Facebook messages saved to this day). Will had a girlfriend, so our relationship was strictly as friends. Until a month later when he broke up with her and asked me on a date the next day.
Our first date was supposed to be at Trios in downtown, but right as we walked in, Will saw my brother sitting at the bar. I remembered that Matt, my dad, and a lot of other people I knew were going to be there for dinner that night (not exactly the romantic first date I had imagined!). So we snuck out the door and went to one of the only other places open on a Monday night at almost 10 o’clock in downtown South Bend – Fiddler’s Hearth. We went back to Fiddler’s on the one year anniversary of our first date, and plan to again this year. Fiddler’s also made the perfect backdrop for some of our wedding day photos!
Will was heading out to California for US Nationals with one of his Irish Aquatics swimmers. I flew out a few days later to meet him. After the meet, we rented a Jeep and made our way up the Pacific Coast Highway. Our stops included Santa Monica Pier, Malibu (where we saw a Russian billionaire and his yacht), and Oxnard. The next day (which happened to be exactly 9 months after our first date), we had plans to visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Unfortunately, our side trip to USCB took a little longer than planned and we were late for our tour of the castle. Come to find out later, that Will’s original plan was to propose after the tour on the beach in Monterey. Settling for a later tour, we made our way up the mountain and spent a few hours touring the grounds. The amazing part was that we were so high up in the mountains that we could see the clouds below us. Will pretended to take pictures of EVERYTHING…just so we would be up there until sunset. Right before the end of the tour, we sat down and watched as the sun sank into the clouds. As the sun set, Will got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I of course said yes! Right at that moment, the bells in the castle rang. In the words of Will’s friend, Alexa, “it was so dreamy”!
Our original plan was to get married on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean. We wanted a short ceremony with just our closest family and friends. I soon realized that my Grandpa Turner, our only living grandparent between the two of us, wouldn’t be able to make the trip. Being ninety-three, I knew that even getting him from his home in Central Indiana up to South Bend would be a stretch. But I also knew that my wedding day wouldn’t be complete without him. So we ultimately made the decision to get married in South Bend where we both grew up and where we now live.
Will and his family have a strong connection to Sts. Peter and Paul Serbian Orthodox Church and his mom wanted nothing more than for us to get married there. Will really wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of having such a long ceremony (he was telling everyone it was 3 hours – it was only an hour!). After seeing the church (and hearing that we got to wear crowns) I was convinced that the church would be the perfect place for our ceremony – Will eventually got on board too!
For our reception, we knew that we wanted someplace with historical significance that would be around in 20 years if we wanted to bring our future children back to see it. Will had been to a friend’s wedding at Tippecanoe and told me how beautiful it all was. The week after we returned from California, we went to Tippecanoe with three dates in mind. The only date they still had available happened to be my parents’ wedding anniversary and we are so excited that we will always be able to share our special day with them. Having the reception at Tippecanoe also gave us the inspiration for our wedding car – a beautiful 1950 Studebaker Land Cruiser owned my Mahlon Wise.
I have always loved lilies, and throughout our engagement, Will often gave them to me – usually the orange ones! We decided that orange lilies would be the perfect focal point in our centerpieces and in my bouquet. With the help of MichealAngelos we paired the lilies with hot pink hydrangeas for the centerpieces.
Like many brides-to-be, I watched the Royal Wedding. After the wedding, I read a magazine article that said Kate Middleton included “Sweet Williams” in her bouquet to honor her future husband. Since I was also marrying a William, I loved the idea and asked MichaelAngelos to include pink Sweet Williams in my bouquet along with the orange lilies and pink orchids.
For Will’s boutonniere, he chose a bird of paradise with a pink bloom at the bottom. I was a little surprised by his request, but MichealAngelos seemed to think it would work. He loves the flower because he photographed them frequently on his trips to Hawaii – and of course because they are orange too!
I was familiar with Katie’s work when I saw photos from the wedding of one of my sorority sisters. Then the weekend Will and I returned from California, I was in the wedding of one of my best friends, Stephanie, in Indianapolis who also had Katie as her photographer. After seeing Katie’s work and getting the opportunity to work with her during Stephanie’s wedding, I knew that I HAD to have her for our big day. During Stephanie’s reception, I introduced Will to Katie and I think he realized that my mind was already made up! Katie was actually the first person we booked for our wedding – even before we knew where we were going to have it!
Katie has been much more than a wedding photographer for us. When we had questions about schedules, vendors, or just needed to vent – she was usually the first person we called. Her experience and bubbly personality made her such an asset that I couldn’t have imagined our big day without her!
The day after we got engaged, we started talking about what we envisioned for our wedding (I guess it helped that we were on vacation and had plenty of time in the car to talk about it). Will’s favorite color has always been orange and mine pink. We did a little research and found pictures of weddings that used both colors. I remember when we first told our moms about our colors – they both thought that pink and orange would look terrible together. (I think they’ve changed their minds since!)
We also knew we wanted our bright colors against a white backdrop. AAY’s Rental helped us by setting up a beautiful tent at Tippecanoe which included places for the bars and an entrance into the reception area. Clean lines and modern table decorations at the reception were also a must. This is where my cousin and his company, Indy Event Rental, came in to play. He took our ideas and created a vibrant, yet elegant, reception that was beyond our wildest dreams.
Other decorations included our table numbers – album covers from Will’s favorite bands. We had 32 different albums printed and placed on each of our tables. Then each escort card included a picture of the album for that guest’s table. A seating chart helped the guests find out where their tables were located. It was a small personal touch that really helped highlight Will’s love of music.
Perhaps one of the most unique things we did on our wedding day was to include Will’s swimmers from Irish Aquatics and my cheerleaders from Riley High School. All of the kids we coach are such a huge part of our lives and we knew that we had to find a way to involve them in our big day. Taking our inspiration from a military-style sword arch, we came up with the idea to have the swimmers and cheerleaders make an arch for us to walk through as we exited the church. We had the swimmers hold orange kickboards and the cheerleaders had hot pink poms to correspond with our wedding colors. The kids had a great time and it meant so much to us that they will forever be a part of our wedding day memories.
I have never been a big fan of cake, but after tasting the white cake with raspberry filling from Macri’s, I was in love! We chose to have a five layer cake with Italian buttercream icing. The cake was decorated with hot pink ribbon and orange lilies. We ordered our cake topper from Etsy. It was made to look just like us and our silly puppy, Elwood.
Besides our wedding cake, Macri’s also made another cake for us to present to my parents for their anniversary. I took in a picture of my parents’ wedding cake and they were able to replicate one of the tiers (complete with their original cake topper that I snuck out of their house the week before). During the reception, we announced their anniversary and played their wedding song.
The groom’s cake was made by Indulgence. Will is a HUGE fan of the Chicago Cubs and they were able to make an amazing replica of Wrigley Field. He was so surprised!
For the reception, we decided to have Tippecanoe’s specialties. Dinner consisted of a spinach salad with cranberries and honey mustard dressing, herb roasted chicken, prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans.
Sliders and cheese pizza were the last treats of the night. Once the party moved back inside Tippecanoe, we had late night snacks for our guests – and they went fast!
From Will: Being able to take off my tux (after wearing it all day when the heat index was 109 degrees!) and eating the Papa Johns we ordered at 12:30 in the morning when we returned to our honeymoon suite! And waking up in the morning next to my wife!
From Melissa: Right before I walked down the aisle, my dad leaned over and said “Are you ready to marry your prince?” I have always been my daddy’s little princess, and it meant a lot to me that he recognized what an amazing man I was about to marry.
Be organized. Eat. Don’t get married on one of the hottest days of the year.
People made fun of me because of the TEN PAGE itinerary I sent out to the bridal party the week before the wedding. It included important contacts, locations, and other wedding day information. They joked, but I had very few questions (the kind that would drive a bride crazy) and it helped everything run smoothly on our big day!
Make sure you eat something. By the time we got back to our hotel that night, I devoured the pizza and breadsticks we ordered. It was then that I realized I hadn’t really eaten anything ALL day (partly nerves, partly the heat, and partly because there was just too much going on!)
Will’s advice was to get married during the winter. They had to pin bags of ice inside his tux so he wouldn’t pass out during the service!
Oh and one more thing….don’t pass up the opportunity to do a “Day After” Session with your photographer! Katie offered this to us originally because we didn’t think we would have enough time to get all of our locations in. We passed, thinking that we wouldn’t have the same feel if we were taking pictures not on our actual wedding day. However, it decided to rain during the time we were taking our on-location pictures on the day of our wedding. Since there were lots of photos we wanted, we decided to take Katie up on the offer after all. Louie’s Tux Shop was nice enough to let us borrow a slightly different version of Will’s tux on that Thursday. I got my hair done in the exact same style and had my makeup done as well – plus I had a reason to put my dress on again! I think some of our favorite pictures are the ones from the Day After Session!
To view more image from the day, got to: http://pictage.com/921007