HughE Dillon: Maria Papadakis’s Wedding

Philly VIPs fill the Academy of Music to celebrate the marriage of Maria Papadakis and Brendan Kent.

Emmy Award-winning media personality Maria Papadakis, contributor, and Raw Artists TV host, and Brendan Kent, associate business manager at Kent & Kent, were married in a beautiful wedding ceremony on Saturday afternoon at St. George Greek Orthodox Church Cathedral in Philadelphia. The bride is the daughter of renowned Drexel University President and CEO Constantine “Taki” Papadakis, who passed away in 2009, and Eliana Papadakis; the groom is the son of Lawrence J. Kent, partner at Kent & Kent, and Mary Kent. Maria’s dress was a unique Monique Lhuillier, with a white-lace beaded corset and a silk organza skirt co-designed by Mark Ingram. Her cathedral-length veil, specially designed by Peter Langer in Italy, complements the wedding dress’s intricate beading. The bride wore Vera Wang three-inch stilettos that she wore when she danced at her first father-daughter dance a decade ago as a debutante at the International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf Astoria when she was 17.

I was honored to be one of the groomsmen, but conflicted as I wasn’t allowed to carry my camera during the ceremony. Although I didn’t take the church shot (that was taken by my partner Mike Toub), the rest of the photos are mine. Below: My fellow groomsmen as we get ready at the Hyatt at the Bellevue before the ceremony (from left to right): Brendan Kent, Grigorios Papadourakis, Thomas Macie, Bradley Moatz, Peter Kent, Anthony Vaganos (partially blocked), Patrick Fay, Andrew Rosenthal and Spiros Skilros.

The newlyweds met through a chance encounter when Maria’s mother, Eliana Papadakis, was attending a Greek wedding in Ithaca, New York in the summer of 2010. Customary at Greek weddings, the horó (circle dance) brings together both sides of the families in a celebration of the union. Brendan Kent noticed Eliana sitting alone at the dinner table and decided to ask her to dance with him. He made an impression on Eliana, and she decided to play matchmaker by introducing the couple at a mutual friend’s post-wedding reception.

After the wedding ceremony, we headed over to the Academy of Music. The historic venue was transformed, with a giant ballroom floor extending over the theater seats for a total of 4,700 square feet. The famous chandelier in the opulent opera house was lowered so the more than 550 guests could get a closer view.

While the guests enjoyed the fabulous Jose Garces-catered cocktail party on the second floor of the Academy, with (I heard) the most delicious lamb chops, the bridal party posed for Marie Labbancz Photography, who took the official photograph for the Kent wedding. Then it was backstage for us, as the guests found their seats. Below: Spiros Skilros, Andrew Rosenthal, Brendan Kent (partially hidden) Maria Papadakis, Katie Kent, Sarena Snider, Rachel Moore and Harley Benson. Missing bridesmaids included Ashley Vanett, Christine Hanhausen, and Kayla Engle. The flower girl was Konstantina Karloutsos, and the ring bearer was Alexander Karloutsos.

The bride and groom dance to their first song together as man and wife, “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific, as performed by CTO Entertainment’s Eddie Bruce and his band. South Pacific was the first musical Brendan and Maria saw together on the stage at the Academy of Music. Pretty amazing.

Below: Anthony Vaganos, koumbaros, and Chrysa Tsakopoulos, koumbara. The koumbaro(a) assists in the wedding ceremony. They are required to be a member in good standing with a Greek Orthodox Church. Here they both give congratulatory toasts to the newlyweds. Makeup and hair of the bridesmaids was done by two women Maria met doing her monthly Raw Artist gig at G Lounge: Mari Nunex did hair, and Wendie Hetherington did the makeup.

Although many guests were local, some came from as far away as L.A., Ann Arbor, Michigan, Panama, Greece, Japan and Germany. Below: German actor Lars Steinhöfel, with friend Kate Jelen, who went to school with Maria. Maria’s godmother, Pauline Skinner from Ann Arbor, was there. The Papadakis family used to live there in the 1970s.

One of the people Maria and Brendan thanked in their remarks of the evening was Anne Ewers, president and CEO of Kimmel Center, who was immensely helpful in the securing the legendary music hall for their wedding. With Anne is her husband Fred Hagen.

Below: Wedding planner Karen Homer (right), president and CEO at HKH Innovations, with mother-of-the-bride Eliana Papadakis. This was the first wedding ever held in the auditorium of the Academy of Music. Karen knows a thing or two about putting on a production of this magnitude as she’s been involved in the Academy Ball Gala, as well as the opening of the Barnes Foundation earlier this year. Brian Kappra, Evantine Design, created a beautiful atmosphere with gorgeous centerpieces with fragrant, sweet-smelling flowers, including red roses, which are a favorite of Maria’s. The whole evening was right on par with the most beautiful wedding that Maria always dreamed of having.

Below: David Dubbeldam and Ellen Berman Lee. Ellen told me the Academy and the bride were “breathtakingly beautiful,” and she was so glad to be included in celebrating the marriage. Another breathtaking moment was when two singers of the Opera Company of Philadelphia performed excerpts from La Boheme and West Side Story from the balcony for the guests. (See today for the video of the performance.)

Below: Kristyn Aldrich, Focused Studios Video Production, WMMR’s Marisa Magnatta, and Katie English. Katie has her own PR company and tells me to watch the news on Tuesday as her client, The Philly Pops, have a big announcement coming.

Below: Larry and Mary Kent were beaming with pride all evening. The night before, they hosted a wonderful rehearsal dinner at the Rose Garden for the entire wedding party, friends and family that could have been a small wedding itself, complete with lessons on how to dance a few of the Greek steps we would need for the wedding reception. I am still savoring the delicious lemon-roasted lobster and risotto, as well as the miso-marinated grouper by executive chef Richard Hebben.

Below: Georgia Athanasopolus, consul general of Panama (second from right), with her children, Sofia Skliros, Spiro Skliros, and Anastasia Skliros.

Below: Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella, Carolyn Torsella, and Elyse and Charles Pizzi. Others spotted in the crowd were Justin Wineburgh, Carol Tamburino, Carolyn Short, Heather Ann Sherlock, Carl and Stephen Harmelin, Erin Como, Danny Schuyler, Hadas Kuznits, Dan Reinherz, Roberta and Carl Dranoff, and Lisa and John DeBella.

Below: Renee Amoore, Councilwomen Jannie Blackwell, and Sandy Sheller were on hand to celebrate. Last year, Blackwell was instrumental in getting city council behind dedicating Chestnut Street from 31st Street to 33rd Street as Papadakis Place, in honor of Maria’s father and Drexel’s late president, Constantine “Taki” Papadakis. Drexel’s President John Fry and Janet E. Guthart, assistant vice president for protocol and special events, were both at the wedding.

Below: Linda Knox, Hanna Monblatt, Tom Knox and former state senator Bob Rovner stopped by the wedding to wish Maria and Brendan well. They had been at the Union League attending the 150th Anniversary Fall Gala.

Below: The newly engaged Ian Butler and GN Kang, Julie Dorenbos, Susie Celek, and John Middleton.

Below: Manny Stamatakis and Kellie Vargo. Manny is like a father figure to Maria and was best friends with Maria’s father. He told me that this night was exactly what Taki would have dreamed for his little girl, and that Brendan was the right man. Their love is so evident by the smiles on their face and the deep friendship the two share.

Below: Maria shows off her wedding ring to friends Lauren Colabelli and Lisa Gaudio, as John Colabelli looks on.

Below: Demetri Pappas, Vasiliki Tsiouris, Ari Raptis, Marisa Magnatta and George Tsiouris looking fabulous. After the reception was over, we all headed over to G Lounge for the afterparty. In summer of 2013, the celebration continues on the Greek island of Crete, where Maria and Brendan will return to her parents’ roots and celebrate their nuptials again in a beach reception with friends and family unable to attend the Philadelphia celebration. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Brendan Kent.