Real Talk: I’m Getting the Wedding of My Dreams By Going Super-Small

Our guest count is 19.

monet malatino wedding

Photograph of Malatino and husband Mario on their wedding day by Danielle Nowak

Welcome to Real Talk Week at Philadelphia Wedding, where the pros behind the city’s most stylish weddings dish on how they handled getting hitched themselves. Up today: Monet Malatino, owner of bridal salon Mari Mi Bridal in Washington Square West, explains how she got the wedding of her dreams by scaling down its size. [Editor’s Note: This article was originally published before Malatino’s wedding. She is now married.] 

I started in the industry … in catering 10 years ago, as a wedding coordinator for Finley before moving to the Bellevue. Since they were both large venues, I always thought when it was my turn to plan a wedding, it would have to be something really spectacular.

Right after I got engaged … we booked a large venue. A couple weeks after that, I started thinking: What was my motivation? I think the idea of wanting to put on this spectacular event for our guests was more why I wanted to have the wedding than why I was actually getting married. It felt like we were doing the big wedding for the wrong reasons.

We changed to a small Christmas wedding because … It’s a special day for me. My grandfather was married on Christmas Eve, and my fiancé and I got engaged on Christmas Eve. It always felt warm and full of love. I wanted to revert back to what that day and a wedding are supposed to be about: family, and being surrounded by the people who have gotten us to where we are.

Our guest count is … 19. We did parents, siblings and grandparents.

The venue we chose … is Davio’s. We’re an Italian-American family, so we knew the food would be something that we’d feel at home with. The upstairs Director’s Room looks like it could be a larger wedding venue, but scaled down. It has this beautiful chandelier in the center of the room, high windows, high ceilings, two mantels. You get the grandeur without having to be lost in the space.

My splurges are … flowers. I always wanted the ambience to feel like it was just as beautiful as a 300-person wedding. Something about having florals just fills the room. So we’re doing a lot of whites, amber up-lighting, greens — for the holiday — and a lot of candles to create a warm, full romantic space. We’re also doing small personalized presents for each of the guests. Favors can get a little dated, but this will be something they can take home to commemorate the day.

We don’t have to worry about … a seating chart. The Christmas Eve date also made people a little more relaxed about not being included.

I’m most looking forward to … walking down the aisle. I feel like we’ve done things the non-traditional way — having our kids, getting engaged, starting a business, and then getting married. This will be the one moment where it can revert back to my fiancé and me. It will be really romantic and special, and won’t be in the eye of 250 people.

The advice I give that I’m actually following … is to be flexible. I’ve always preached it. Nothing’s going to be perfect; things are going to happen. We’re Catholic, and it was always my plan to get married in a church. But we chose Christmas Eve, the busiest holiday in the Catholic Church, so we were unable to get a church. I’ve called probably 20. So I had to change what I thought my wedding ceremony was going to be. Davio’s has a space we’re going to be using that’s separate from the reception area.

As told to Sarah Zlotnick. 

This story was originally published as “I’m Getting Everything I Want By Going Super-Small” in the Winter/Spring 2019 issue of Philadelphia Wedding. To order your copy, click here

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