Real Weddings

This Quirky Book-Themed Wedding Celebrates South Philly in a Major Way

Dinner, a proper South Philly Italian meal of spaghetti with Sunday gravy and meatballs, was served family-style in the Bok Building gymnasium.


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Photography by Love Me Do

We’ve been talking about the versatile Bok Building and all of its versatile offerings for some time now, and yet seeing a local bride and groom transform the industrial space for their Big Day never gets old. This  wedding, photographed by Love Me Do, brought the shabby chic setting to life with jewel tone florals, Maggpie Rentals furniture, other rustic details — and, of course, Philly soft pretzels.

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Matt Gastgeb proposed to Lara Coleman twice. The couple, who had been dating for two years since first connecting on OKCupid, was on a trip to New Orleans over Valentine’s Day weekend. On their first night, Matt presented Lara with a bobblehead that looked just like her (a nod to the couple’s shared favorite TV show, The Office) wearing a string with her grandmother’s ring on it. 

“I had no idea it was going to happen,” says Lara. 

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But her hair was still in a towel from showering, she was on the last few pages of a book, and the hotel-room setting was, well, less than picturesque. So the next night, the two took a stroll along the Mississippi River, and Matt popped the question again, “with just as much thoughtfulness and sincerity as the first time,” says Lara. “It certainly makes me look like kind of a jerk — okay, definitely a jerk — but we laugh about it now. And we have a general understanding that life-altering questions should not be asked while I’m reading!” 

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A few years later, the couple exchanged vows on the roof of South Philly’s Bok Building. Lara and Matt are both graphic designers by trade, and the details were important to them. A few standouts: bouquets affixed to favorite books, a ceremony reading from a New York Times “Modern Love” column, and mini succulents guests used to find their seats that doubled as take-home party favors.

The bride collected decorative knickknacks over two years of wedding planning, including the books displayed with flowers on each table. Lara carried flowers affixed to Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, the first chapter book her father ever gave her. She didn’t care much about particular blooms; she just wanted “all the colors” — specifically, jewel tones. Lara’s maids also wore jewel-tone dresses of their choosing. The maid of honor’s burgundy gown is from BHLDN. The lush floral towers that were the focal point of the ceremony were repurposed and used again at the reception.

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Dinner, a proper South Philly Italian meal, complete with Caesar salad, garlic bread, and spaghetti with Sunday gravy and meatballs, was served family-style at long communal tables in the Bok gymnasium. Vintage mismatched furniture from Maggpie Rentals served as a spot for guests to mingle, and the bride and groom served their favorite drinks at the bar. Old-fashioneds were his pick; gin-and-tonics were hers. Soft pretzels were set out for guests to nosh on throughout the reception. The bride’s father built the pegboard they were hung on.

The best moment, though, wasn’t pre-planned: “One of the last songs played was ‘American Pie,’” says Lara. “Maybe because we were literally ‘dancing in the gym,’ or maybe because we’d all had a ton of champagne, the room erupted into the most epic dance party.”

THE DETAILS
Photographer: Love Me Do Photography | Venue: Bok Building | Planning/Design: Laurel & Elm | Florals: RAM Floral | Catering: Feastivities Events | Bride’s Gown: Rosa Clará from La Belle Mariée Bridal | Hair: Claire Tommaro | Makeup: Juju Salon | Groom’s Attire: Indochino | Entertainment: DJ Kevin Kong | Cake: Cramer’s Bakery 

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