After 18 Years of Planning Weddings, I Designed Mine to Feel Like a Party at Home.

"We didn’t want anyone in the room that neither of us knew when we looked around during our first dance."

Eric, right, with husband Michael | Philip Gabriel Photography

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: Eric Allen, former assistant director of creative events at the Logan Hotel, current strategic sales principal at the Franklin Institute, explains how he designed his Big Day to feel like a party at home. 

When & Where October 13, 2017 Chubb Hotel & Conference Center in Lafayette Hill. 

The majority of my work … was at the Four Seasons/Logan hotel. We would sell the event, then service it. We were there start to finish. To attend someone else’s wedding every weekend was the highlight of the job.

When I got engaged … I was 45. My now- husband, Michael, was 48. I was 18 years in the industry.

We knew we wanted … a traditional wedding in many respects. Michael had that same thought, and we never let that go. Before gay marriage was legal, I would often stand off to the side of weddings I worked on with our banquet manager, who was also gay, and he and I would have discussions about how we wished we could do this. Especially the mother-and-son dance.

I knew we wanted … a more masculine feel, but we wanted to soften that masculine feel with color. We were getting married in the fall, so we immediately chose autumnal colors, because we knew we’d be married outside, overlooking a golf course with a lot of foliage.

Philip Gabriel Photography

We based our look … on our invitations. They were our splurge, and they were worth it. Leigh from Fleurish, ink. was the best to work with. After our initial call and some social media snooping, she sent us a first draft we loved. It seemed too easy; she just “got us.” We did a lot based on the copper, stone and hexagons she used.

One hundred twenty people … felt like an intimate number to us. We didn’t want anyone in the room that neither of us knew when we looked around during our first dance. Remembering the purpose of the wedding kept us grounded — it wasn’t so much a wedding for us as it was a celebration for everybody that was there. That was one of the reasons why we didn’t do a full seated, formal dinner. We wanted people to move around and talk. We didn’t want to break that up by having guests sit at tables for a long period of time.

The design style … was very close to how we live. We wanted something that looked like we were throwing a party at our own home. We displayed photos of our parents’ weddings for a personal touch. We rented beautiful cream tweed sofas, sofas we would have in our house, for lounge spaces. We had three long wood farm tables decorated with succulents and a bit of flora. It had that feminine touch but more of a masculine feel. I wanted our living room to look like that.

I’d always had the luxury … of seeing people spend an incredible amount of money on things. I was going to have to be more realistic, but a long time ago, I’d seen a ceiling completely filled with paper lanterns. I’d always thought: That. I can do that. Along the way, some people said, Really? Lanterns? They’re a thing of the past. I didn’t care. With all the beams and trusses going to the ceiling, we couldn’t do the full ceiling, but we were able to do some at varied heights. It brought your eye up to what was a really cool part of the room.

We did quite a bit … of signage. When you entered the ceremony, there was a quote — “A perfect marriage is just two people who refuse to give up on one another” — that we had blown up. We used other quotes throughout, in signs that played off the copper color we loved, and they felt like part of the space. None of our friends had done that, so for me, it was the unique part of our wedding.

As told to Sarah Zlotnick. 

This story was originally published as “I Designed My Day To Feel Like a Party At Home” in the Winter/Spring 2019 issue of Philadelphia Wedding. To order your copy, click here

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