An Onstage Academy of Music Wedding Years in the Making

“Our guests loved the details — ­the chandeliers and murals — and being able to see the whole venue without it being crowded by patrons,” says the bride.

onstage academy of music wedding

Abigail Hathaway and Daniel Sheehan’s onstage Academy of Music wedding / Photography by Asya Photography

Last-minute pivots certainly aren’t ideal, but they happen all the time, particularly when it comes to weddings. Sometimes there’s a rain plan. Maybe a backup pair of shoes if those sky-high Louboutins don’t quite fit right. Then there’s a global pandemic — during which many couples changed their plans. This couple postponed their celebration twice — and had another curveball come their way shortly before saying “I do.” The end result? A beautiful onstage Academy of Music wedding in Center City photographed by Asya Photography, seen below.


When Daniel Sheehan and Abigail Hathaway swayed to Etta James singing “At Last” during their first dance, they connected with the song on multiple levels. In a literal sense, the ballad perfectly suited the Academy of Music’s 19th-century ballroom. In a figurative sense, Dan and Abby’s wedding was their at-last moment — the culmination of a four-year engagement due to two pandemic postponements.

The pair dated for six years before Dan proposed. They met in September 2010, when each spent a semester of college studying in Washington, D.C., and interning at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Two years later, Abby, who hails from Ardmore, and Dan, who grew up in New York, went on their first date, in Manhattan. The rest was history. “We shared our 20s together as we built the foundation for our relationship and began our careers,” says Abby, a mergers-and-acquisitions attorney.­ (Dan is a project finance banker.)

The NYC couple returned to Abby’s hometown for their nuptials.

onstage academy of music wedding

Abby and Dan snapped their first-look photos and couple portraits in Old City. “The setting was historic and charming, and the photos were exactly what we hoped for,” says the bride.

memory table

The couple honored beloved family members who had passed away with a collection of favorite photos.


The bride’s bouquet bearing a photo of loved ones; the seating chart

They chose the Academy of Music and describe their Big Day as classic, elegant, romantic and timeless, all characteristics the celebration shared with the iconic opera house.

A highlight came when the couple exchanged vows onstage due to a last-minute pivot. (They had initially planned to get married elsewhere in the venue but moved the ceremony to avoid noise from a city block party set for the same time.)


Onstage ceremonies are rare; this was the first one in five years and only took place due to a last-minute change. Luckily, the classic decor was designed to work throughout the venue, from the theater to the ballroom. The asymmetrical floral arch, for example, was arranged with white and blush roses and greenery and was moved behind the sweetheart table for the reception.


A mix of high and low centerpieces accented the guest tables, which featured blue water glasses for a pretty pop of color amid the ivory and champagne tones.

“Walking down the aisle was something we will never forget,” says Abby. “Our guests loved the details — ­the chandeliers and murals — and being able to see the whole venue without it being crowded by patrons.”

Photographer and Videographer: Asya Photography | Venue: The Academy of Music | Event Design & Coordination: Sara Rea Design | Florals: Petals Lane | Catering: Garces Events | Cake: Nutmeg Cake Design | Bride’s Gown & Veil: Carolina Herrera | Bride’s Gloves: Cornelia James | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bride’s Earrings: Verstolo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale | Groom’s Attire: Hive & Colony | Rings: I.B.N. Diamond | Hair & Makeup: Aleksandra Ambrozy Makeup & Hair | Invitations: Shine Wedding Invitations | Music & Entertainment: Elegance String Quartet and Soul City Shakedown from Sugarbomb Entertainment | Officiant: Andrew Kryzak | Dance Lessons: Society Hill Dance Academy | Rehearsal Dinner: Osteria

Published as “Abigail + Daniel” in the July 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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