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This Forsythia Wedding Reception Started With a Surprising First Look

A Michael Myers mask may have been involved.


Following their ceremony at the Sculpture Courtyard, Brian Mattera (left) and Brian Oliveira held their Forsythia wedding reception. Photography by Tara Beth Photography

Philly is a food city, filled with plenty of incredible restaurants where you can not only savor the food, drink and atmosphere, but also where you can celebrate life’s biggest moments — like weddings. And within that culinary backdrop are many folks who make the food, set the scene and ensure your drinks are full. So when two chefs get married, it seems fitting that they’d choose a restaurant. Case in point: this Forsythia wedding reception. Tara Beth Photography snapped the cozy (and somewhat surprising) scene below.

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When two people with the same name fall in love, nicknames become a necessity. For Brian Oliveira and Brian Mattera, that should have been easy. After all, Oliveira’s family and friends call him “Chef.” One problem: The other Brian’s a chef, too.

In fact, the Kensington duo — who together run Happy Hour Hospitality and Cozinha Philly — first met at Girard Bruncherie, Oliveira’s former Fishtown restaurant. Mattera frequently ate breakfast at the counter, and Oliveira would bring him his food— though he didn’t ask Mattera out until they met online.

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The couple went on their first date on a snowy Friday in 2017, winding their way through Fishtown: Johnny Brenda’s, Sancho Pistola’s, Garage. “It was like we’d known each other all along,” says Oliveira, who proposed nine months later.

Two and a half years after that, on May 15, 2021, the two said “I do” at the Sculpture Courtyard, an artistic, bohemian enclave that’s a short one-block walk from their house. It was an intimate affair; because of COVID precautions, they had to whittle their 140-person guest list to 18. The downsizing was, surprisingly, Oliveira’s favorite part. “While I would have loved to celebrate with all of our friends and family, reducing the guest count eliminated a lot of stress,” he says. “We were able to take in every moment of the day.” For Mattera, one of his fondest memories is of waiting with Oliveira to walk out together before the ceremony.

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But the most surprising moment came during the first look: Because Mattera is obsessed with horror films, specifically Halloween, Oliveira donned a Michael Myers mask for the big reveal. “Neither of us will ever forget that moment,” says Oliveira.

Afterward, the group headed to Forsythia, an elegant bistro and one of the couple’s favorite culinary spots, for a reception that was at once laid-back and luxe. The quaint patio, outfitted with lush greenery and cozy seating, provided space for guests to relax and snap photos before heading indoors for dinner. 

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Instead of adhering to a wedding design theme, the couple let the restaurant’s refined elegance take center stage, accenting it with fresh florals and eucalyptus from Riverwards Produce. Page Turners Flower Co. created mini paper florals made with sheet music from the pair’s wedding song, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” by Sylvester. 

Cute individual cheese and charcuterie cups were among the cocktail-hour snacks. And guests sat at one long table and shared an epicurean five-course feast of snapper crudo, foie gras mousse and honey-roasted duck breast, among other bites.

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The final flourish: macarons, a sweet ending to what Oliveira describes as the perfect day. 

THE DETAILS
Photographer: Tara Beth Photography | Venues: Sculpture Courtyard (ceremony); Forsythia (reception and catering) | Planning/Design: Brian Mattera and Brian Oliveira | Florals: Riverwards Produce | Hair: Fresh Image & Grooming Barber Shop | Grooms’ Attire: Custom suits by SuitSupply | Invitations: Canva | Officiant: Emily Comerford (friend) | Favors: Page Turners Flower Co.

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