What a chuppah! We’re obsessed with the cool modern acrylic chuppah – complete with luxe hanging white blossoms – Samantha, a kindergarten teacher, and Justin, co-head of corporate outreach for global real estate company Tishman Speyer, chose to marry under. That elegant all-white look, complemented by the bright pops of color from the bride and bridesmaids’ bright pink bouquets – wow! We’re still picking our jaws up off the floor after scrolling through all of Emily Harris Photography’s vibrant, joyous photos.
For that matter, ALL the flowers in this gorgeous wedding were totally wow – don’t miss the incredible ombre flower wall, or the upside down hanging tulips and calla lilies that hovered over the reception ballroom! And in keeping with the bright colorful look, Samantha and Justin chose a wonderful, colorful ketubah from Smashing The Glass Recommended Vendor Anna Abramzon, which they now display proudly in their home as a reminder of their big day and their commitment to one another.
But this wedding was about so much more than aesthetics. We love how these two incorporated their beloved late grandparents into their ceremony, with Samantha’s grandfather’s tallit used in the chuppah canopy, a kiddush cup belonging one of her grandmothers used during the ceremony, and the bride’s bouquet wrapped in lace from her other grandmother’s veil.
Now over to the bride, who looks so elegant in her Carolina Herrera gown…
How we met
Samantha, the bride: My dad and Justin’s grandpa set us up. We were both students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Justin was a senior and I was a freshman. We went out one night and had mutual friends and started talking. We dated for the second semester of his senior year and my freshman year. He was moving to New York after college, and I got back together with my ex-boyfriend. We didn’t communicate for three years.
Towards the end of my senior year at Madison, I started to think of Justin again. He posted a picture on Instagram one night and I messaged him on Facebook because I lost his number. We started talking a little and the next month after I graduated college I was in New York for a weekend visiting my sister. Justin took me out on a date that Friday night May 23rd, 2014 and we’ve been together ever since. For us, timing was truly everything.
I was in the middle of my masters program when we got married and I was working at a school. To say I was busy going to school, working and planning a wedding was an understatement.
We got married on February 23, 2019. We got married at Beth Torah, the temple my dad and his family have belonged to his whole life. We picked the venue because they have a completely white ballroom that we were able to use as a blank slate to help create our perfect evening.
We took pictures before the wedding and our guests stayed at the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort and Spa. This location was significant to us because my dad and my husband’s grandfather met at Bourbon Steak (the restaurant in the hotel) one night and this is where they set us up. Fun fact: my husband’s grandfather set his parents up also!
One special thing we got to do on our wedding day was take a picture at Bourbon Steak where my dad and Justin’s grandpa met and set us up. They have a gorgeous wine cellar and we took an unbelievable picture of me on the ladder and Justin standing underneath me. It looks like a magazine cover. We are both extremely close with our family and friends so they were with us the whole day while getting ready.
The theme for our wedding was modern elegance. Our wedding colors were ombre pink. For the ceremony we kept everything white, modern and elegant for the chuppah and the flowers. My bridesmaids carried pink calla lilies and my bouquet was hot pink vanda orchids. I loved the contrast of the all white ceremony with the pop of colors brought in by the flowers.
The ballroom was a different story: since the whole room was stark white we incorporated ombre of pinks with hanging upside down tulips and calla lilies. While planning our wedding I was very drawn to out of the box centerpieces and loved incorporating flowers with height. Our florists, Petal Productions, executed my vision perfectly. We used Joni from Your Special Day by Joni and she was fantastic.
My parents are divorced and my step-mom and step-dad have both been in my life since I was 9 years old. It was very special that my mom and step-mom planned the wedding together.
What ‘Smashing The Glass’ Did For Us
Once I got engaged I followed Smashing The Glass on Instagram. I would always save stories or content that I thought would be a great idea to incorporate into our own wedding.
Our invitation design also stayed on trend with our theme of modern elegance. It was a classic white invitation with black writing and silver bevel. We used a more modern font than a traditional font to stay on theme of modern elegance.
Hair + Makeup
I wanted to make sure that on my wedding day I looked as much myself as possible. For that reason I wore my hair mostly down with one side pinned back behind my ears with big loose curls. I had extensions in my hair because lets be honest who doesn’t wear extensions on their wedding day!
For my makeup I had the unbelievable Rachelle from Beauty Boutique 54 help to create my special look for the day. I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup so we tried to keep it as natural as possible with a pop of glam for my special day.
A Carolina Herrera Dress
My dress was Carolina Herrera from the Spring 2019 collection and is called Hannah. I got it at Ever After in Miami, Florida. I live in Chicago and flew home one weekend in July (we got engaged in June and wedding was in February).
I only had one day to find my perfect dress. I went to a couple of different stores and probably tried on 25+ dresses. This was the second dress I tried on and the style was what I always imagined I would wear but wanted to keep an open mind. After about 7 hours of trying on dresses and getting extremely overwhelmed (I also had 6 people come with me to try on dresses—my parents are divorced so it was my mom, my sister, step-mom, dad, step-dad and future mother in law!) my mom looked at me and said let’s go back to Ever After and I tried on the dress again and knew it was the one!
The jewelry I wore for my wedding was from Zadok Jewelers in Houston. Zadok Jewelers is special to me because it is my brother-in-law’s family jewelry store. They are seventh generation jewelers from Israel. My earrings and one of my bracelets were from there. The other bracelet I wore I borrowed from my mom so that was extremely special as well. My veil was from Ever After as well. I thought the veil was the perfect addition to my dress and completed the special look for the day. When Camille from Ever After put this veil on me while trying on the dress I knew that it was the one.
I wore a pair of Jimmy Choo pumps with an open toe. The were a rose gold glitter color. I am about 5’9 and my husband is 6’1. I actually got my shoes taken down so I wouldn’t be as tall as him. My mom, my sister and I are all tall so we always get a lift taken out of our heels to make them not as high! They honestly were one of the most comfortable pair of shoes I have worn. The only reason I took them off and switched into sneakers during the reception was because the glitter kept getting caught on the lining of my dress. My sister got me custom designed Converse that said Mrs. Lewis in sparkles with our wedding date on them.
The handsome groom
My handsome groom wore a custom tux from Knot Standard. He worked with them for months curating his special look for our big day. When he started working with them they had a white dinner jacket on the mannequin that he thought would be the perfect look for our Miami wedding. At first I was hesitant because I thought it would clash with my gown but after getting a sample of the dress, he got the green light to go ahead and wear white! I think this helped to achieve our modern glam look with both of us in white and all of our bridal party in all black.
His bowtie was Brioni, he wore Magnanni smoking slippers and his cuff links were from Zadok Jewlers. They were rose gold and the inside of a watch movement—he actually gave these all to his groomsmen to wear on our special day as well. We did our first look on this gorgeous staircase. Though I could only see the back of him walking down the staircase my heart was skipping beats and I felt so giddy and like the luckiest girl in the world that this was my groom.
Bridesmaids in Black
I had 11 bridesmaids including my sister who was the maid of honor. The 10 bridesmaids wore black bridesmaids dresses from Bella Bridesmaids and the brand was Amsale gowns. I picked out about 12 different styles that they got to choose which style they wanted. At first I was going to let them wear whatever black dresses they wanted but my mom was worried that all the blacks would clash in the pictures. My sister wore a Chiara Boni La Petite Robe dress.
My bridesmaids and I all got our hair and makeup down together and spent the whole day hanging out. Justin spent the day with his groomsmen, dad, my dad and step-dad. We just wanted to be surrounded by our friends, family and love that day and I believe this was felt by all the guests throughout the whole evening. Justin and I both spoke at the wedding briefly thanking our parents and guests.
I always wanted an acrylic chuppah with flowers hanging in the pillars to go along with my modern elegant theme. We decided to keep the ceremony classic and all white because we were bringing in so much color in the reception and with the bridesmaids flowers.
Unfortunately, some of our grandparents were unable to be there for our special day. The chuppah had my grandfather’s tallit hanging in it. We used my grandmother’s kiddush cup during the ceremony. My other grandma, “Grammy” was one of my best friends. She passed away about 4 years ago. My bouquet was wrapped in lace from her veil, part of her blue garter was sewn into my dress and I got married in her gold wedding band. It was important to me to have all of our grandparents who were no longer with us represented under the chuppah.
My husband will joke that during the ceremony he truly brought me to my knees. I actually passed out during our wedding under the chuppah. I have a fainting disorder and throughout the day I ate and drank a lot to make sure I wouldn’t faint. However, it was very hot under the chuppah and I was overcome with so many emotions I passed out. Luckily, I was only out for a couple of seconds and that it did not ruin the rest of the night thankfully. Everyone said I looked like sleeping beauty and that it was the most graceful fall they’ve ever seen. It also helped that my dad is a doctor and he caught me. My family stayed extremely calm and I think that helped all of guests remain calm as well.
I found Anna Abramzon on Etsy and instantly feel in love with her work. I wanted something unique and colorful. I wanted our ketubah to serve as a piece of art, something we could look at everyday and remind us of our special day and the commitment we made to each other.
Our music choice
During the wedding ceremony we had a harpist, cello and violin. Our processional was to ‘Here Comes the Sun’. I walked down the aisle to ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’. I have always loved this song and thought it was perfect for our special day. The recessional was to Bruno Mars ‘Marry You’.
Our first dance was to Zac Brown Band ‘Mango Tree’. This has been a special song for my husband and I for the last few years. Even before we were engaged we always knew this would be our first dance song. We would always play it at home while getting ready to go out and dance around the house. It is such a special song for us and we liked how it is a non-traditional first dance song.
Our florist was the incredible Raffi Grosz from Petal Productions. My bouquet was hot pink vanda orchirds and my bridesmaids bouquets were pink calla lilies. All I wanted was a flower wall and we had an ombre flower wall that was used as a backdrop for the place cards and then was moved into the ballroom as the backdrop for the bar. We had 4 different centerpieces: upside down ombre tulips, with roses underneath it, white orchids with baby breaths hanging above with ombre pink roses underneath it, upside down white calla lilies with ombre pink roses underneath, the last one was wrapped white calla lilies in different shaped vessels. We had wisteria and glass globes and candles hanging above the dance floor. We also had a hot pink rose on the menu at everyone’s seat.
Photography and videography
We used the amazing Emily Harris from Emily Harris Photography. One of our family friends used her and she came highly recommended. After talking with her on the phone and seeing her pictures we knew she was who we wanted to photograph our wedding. From the moment we met Emily for our engagement photos we knew we had found the perfect photographer. My husband always dreaded taking engagement photos and with Emily she made them playful and fun!
Emily and her husband Aaron are truly a dynamic duo. They helped to make our wedding day perfect from beginning to end and made sure we got all the pictures we wanted before they left at the end of the night. We have never seen someone work for such a long period of time so tirelessly and always with a smile on her face. Everyone always says the night will fly by and feel like a dream and it truly did.
For videography we used Vincent from Affordable Pro Video (APV).
Our catering was done by Executive Caterers who are the caterers at Beth Torah. I used to work in catering and events so the food was extremely important to me. We had a very fun cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvre and a sushi bar. We decided to skip the traditional sit down dinner and do fun stations instead!
We did a sit down first course when my parents gave speeches. Our main goal was to have the band playing for as long as possible and everyone up and dancing instead of sitting down and eating. We had a poke bowl station, a retro station included mini burgers and chicken sliders and a French fry bar (my absolute favorite food), a pasta station, carving station and a Latin American station (we are in Miami how can we not!).
For dessert we had a gorgeous wedding cake from the incredible Ana Paz that was confetti and rum vanilla flavored with buttercream. We then had a bunch of passed desserts on the dance floor that way no one had to leave the dance floor to get dessert. We had gummi bear popsicles, donuts with chocolate syringes, macarons and milkshakes just to name a few of the fun passed desserts!
We had the most incredible band Higher Ground from Tropics Entertainment. To this day, our guests still talk about how they have never heard such an amazing band before. My husband is all about music and this was the one thing he was in charge of. He put together a list of all our favorite artists and songs and songs that we absolutely did not want them to play. When the night ended at 1 am there were probably still about 150 guests left because no one wanted to leave the dance floor. They were truly unbelievable.
As guests left we had gave out soft pretzels in a bag for the ride home with a note that said “thank you for helping us tie the knot”. For all the guests staying at the hotels (majority of the wedding) we had hospitality bags for them.
My sister went to Israel a couple of months before the wedding and she brought us back our glass to smash and a mezuzah for us to put the glass in so we can have it hanging in our homes forever.
We just got back from our honeymoon this week! We went to Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone) Vietnam (Hoi An) and Hong Kong. We were kind of all over the world when deciding where we wanted to go for our honeymoon. We fell into this itinerary when we got amazing business class flights on miles, the timing (I am a teacher so summer made the most sense) and we both have never been to Asia and have been wanting to go.
In Tokyo we stayed at the Ritz, that was truly incredible. It is on the 45-53rd floors of a building so you get unbelievable views of the whole city. In Hoi An we stayed at the Four Seasons Hoi An The Nam Hai. This was honestly the most gorgeous hotel and resort we have ever been to. The service was top notch and the property is stunning. We would highly recommend this resort to anyone looking for a special honeymoon spot in Vietnam. We used Cory Orchin from Frosch Travel Agents. She was great and really helped us fill in details in our itinerary we weren’t sure about.
Advice to couples currently planning their wedding
I think it is important to remember to just have fun. Everything will fall into place and work itself out. Make sure to surround yourself with people you love and want to spend the day with. I am the type of person who always worries about everyone else and how they are feeling and doing. It is important to remember that your wedding day most importantly is about you and your soon to be husband so make sure you do the things that will make you happy and feel great going into the day.
Samantha & Justin’s little white book
Photography – Emily Harris Photography
Videography – Affordable Pro Video
Ketubah – Anna Abramzon purchased on Etsy
Wedding planner – Your Special Day by Joni
Venue – Beth Torah
Bride’s dress – Carolina Herrera found and fitted at Ever After
Bride’s shoes – Jimmy Choo and Converse
Bride’s accessories – Zadok Jewelers
Groom’s attire – Knot Standard, Brioni and Magnanni
Bridesmaids – Bella Bridesmaids and Chiara Boni
Makeup – Beauty Boutique 54
Flowers – Petal Productions
Band – Higher Ground
Catering – Executive Caterers
Cake – Ana Paz Cakes
Getting ready – JW Marriott Turnberry Resort and Spa
Honeymoon – Ritz and Four Seasons via Frosch Travel Agents