This Bride Wore Hot Pink on Her Wedding Day

“The goal was to create a joy-focused event, filled with fun.”

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Joe Long posed with bride Lauren Swartz, in her hot-pink wedding dress, during their South Philly union. / Photography by Van Anglen Photography

For weddings, we wear pink. Okay, so that’s not quite how the memorable line from the cult-classic film Mean Girls goes, but we like the idea of sporting this bold hue on Big Days — particularly if you’re the one saying “I do.” And this bride did just that for her celebration at the American Swedish Historical Museum in South Philly, photographed by Rachel Van Anglen of Van Anglen Photography. But her hot-pink wedding dress wasn’t the only unique aspect of the festivities; read about all the fun below.

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Lauren Swartz and Joe Long knew that mutual friend Jonathan Grode would officiate their wedding before they even knew each other. Put another way, their future officiant knew they were perfect for one another. That’s why, when they were finally single at the same time in spring 2019, Jonathan introduced the pair — with the contingent that he would be guaranteed to officiate their future nuptials. Lauren, the president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, and Joe, an electrical engineer at PECO, separately played along with Jonathan’s wishes, agreeing that he could officiate their “supposed” wedding.

Jonathan clearly saw the writing on the wall, because Lauren and Joe’s first date at Barcelona Wine Bar on East Passyunk quickly turned into a commitment. Joe moved in with Lauren and her two boys, Cecil and Kaz, within six months of their first date, in fall 2019. Then, COVID hit. “Little did we know that the pandemic was coming, and moving in would mean total immersion in parenting together, virtual school and being isolated from our networks,” says Lauren. “But it all worked out — and we knew we could make a marriage work after living through the pandemic together.”

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They dated for two years before Joe popped the question at their South Philly home on Mother’s Day weekend 2021 — with Cecil, Kaz and Lauren’s dad, Stephen, on hand for the special moment. A little over a year after that, on July 2, 2022, the happy couple said “I do.”

They chose the American Swedish Historical Museum at FDR Park for their cheerful celebration. “The goal was to create a joy-focused event, filled with fun and the opportunity to ask for support for our marriage from the people we love,” says Lauren, whose hot-pink Sachin & Babi gown set the festive mood. “I may be 41, but my favorite color has always been pink, so I went for it,” says Lauren.

The palette was mirrored in the decor, with potted orchids accenting the blue tables and serving as gifts for the 150 guests. Son Kaz got the hue memo, too, donning a vibrant purple tux for the celebration. In another twist, the cocktail hour took place before the ceremony, allowing guests to soak up the sun (customized fans were offered as favors) before stepping inside for what the couple calls a “boisterous” ceremony.


Case in point: The charging of the rings (during which the rings are typically passed around the room for guests to bless) was a raucous event. Jonathan — yep, the officiant — and Cecil had arranged for the pianist to play a lively song while the 11-year-old ran around the upper balcony and down the aisle to each guest. There was plenty of whooping, clapping and encouragement from the crowd.

A sentimental moment took place during dinner, when Cecil gave a touching speech and shared the positive impact Joe has had on his, his younger brother’s and mother’s lives since coming into their world. “There was not a dry eye in the house,” says Lauren. And there was plenty of applause when Lauren and Joe nailed their first dance, including a lift, to Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are the Best Thing.” (It was Joe’s favorite detail.)


The party continued with cocktails under the stars — Lauren actually negotiated to extend the celebration an extra hour during the wedding — and a sparkler sendoff amid a welcome spot of rain. “Everyone just stayed outside, cooling off and capturing the moment,” she says. A bright night, indeed.

Photographer: Rachel Van Anglen of Van Anglen Photography | Venue: American Swedish Historical Museum | Planning/Design, Catering & Cake: Jeffrey A. Miller Catering | Florals: Lauren Swartz and Joe Long (bride and groom) | Bride’s Gown: Sachin & Babi from Saks Fifth Avenue | Hair: Sue Sharnikow | Makeup: Carol Acosta | Groom’s Attire: Suitsupply | Entertainment: Marc Kaplan (ceremony pianist); Bachelor Boys Band (cocktail hour and reception band) | Invitations: GreenVelope | Officiant: Jonathan Grode (friend) | Rings: Shawn Asnen of Asnen Marshall Inc. (engagement ring); Bario Neal (wedding bands) | Ballroom Dance Choreographer: Deborah Hirsch of Ballroom Bliss | Rehearsal-Dinner Caterer: Taqueria Morales

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