One Couple's Colorful Wedding at Boston's Museum of Science

Real Weddings

Ashley, 29, puts her relationship with her now-husband Chris, 35, in simple yet meaningful terms. "It's true. You can fall in love with your best friend," she says. "I can't believe how lucky I got!" The couple, who met through work, started their relationship as friends. They exchanged emails full of jokes and funny video clips, growing closer in a casual setting. Then, Ashley got sick with a GI disorder, and Chris quickly became her rock. "He was by my side the whole time," she says.

They started planning their wedding even before they were engaged. "After everything we'd been through, we knew we wanted to be together forever. Engagement was just a formality," she says.

But that doesn't mean that Chris didn't make the proposal count! A few days before Christmas in 2012, the couple opened presents early. "There were one or two penguin stuffed animals near it, basically screaming 'Look at me!' so of course I ignored it and picked a different one," Ashley laughs. Once Chris finally convinced her to unwrap that present, she found the Swarovski crystal champagne flutes she'd dreamed of using at their wedding.

"Surprisingly, I still had no idea what was going on at this point," she says. One flute was full of tinsel, and one was empty. Ashley picked up the empty flute to inspect it while Chris paced around anxiously. She finally picked up the flute full of tinsel and heard a delicate "ting!" as her ring clinked against the flute. "I cried hysterically, and of course I said 'yes!'"

A mere six months later, on June 15th, 2013, Chris and Ashley wed at the Museum of Science in Boston. "Thankfully, working in the wedding industry made the process come easily to me," says Ashley.

Ashley had a once-in-a-lifetime dress shopping experience. "I was cast on season one of TLC's I Found the Gown, which helped me save a ton on my dress without skimping on style," she says. The bride, who was crowned Miss Petite America in 2011, has worn her share of stunning dresses, but she knew this one would be the most important. "With a history of sparkly gowns, I wanted something more simple to wear down the aisle. The consultants on the show helped me feel like a bride instead of just a woman in a pretty dress."

She was torn between two dresses when her consultant said this Rivini mermaid gown reminded her of origami. "Barb had no idea we'd been folding 1,000 paper cranes for the altar," says Ashley. "It immediately brought tears to my eyes."

She paired her gown with show-stopping crystal-studded pink sandals and bold statement jewelry.

The bride's bouquet was wrapped in orange ("Chris's favorite color!" says Ashley). She carried her late-uncle's dog tags in his memory.

The dress may have been sparkle-free, but Ashley's accessories more than made up for it. A set of earrings and an oversized necklace complemented her ombré bouquet, made up of purple, hot pink, light pink, and orange Vanda orchids, peonies, free spirit roses, and ranunculus. A lace floral hairpiece accented her chic updo.

Chris styled his suit with a tie and pocket square in Ashley's favorite shades of pink.

When Ashley was being treated for a GI illness, she and Chris spent a lot of time wandering around downtown Boston. "The city is a huge part of our story and how we came together," says Ashley.

Chris is Japanese, so the couple folded 1,000 paper cranes for their wedding day. "Kate Parker, our florist, came up with the brilliant idea of folding them in ombré hues and stringing them up as the backdrop of our altar," says the bride.

The Boston skyline, including the angular Zakim Bridge and the Museum of Science, was cut into Chris and Ashley's coral-colored guest book.

Ashley and Chris served two signature cocktails. The first was the "{No Longer A} Schoonmaker Sangria," Ashley's beverage of choice and a nod to her maiden name. The second was a huge surprise, invented by chef Keith Mahoney: "Molecular Mojitos." He filled molecular gastronomy bubbles with a sip of a mojito and a baby mint leaf.

Chris and Ashley skipped a seated dinner in favor of more social food stations. Each guest's place setting featured a menu listing all of the delectable options. A highlight? "The braised short ribs were amazing," says Ashley. Instead of numbers, tables were named after different places in Boston. Centerpieces matched Ashley's bouquet, with bright orchids, peonies, and ranunculus.

The toast was made with Japanese Ramune sodas. "We put cards on every table telling guests how to push the marble into the bottle to open it," says Ashley. "The popping and fizzing noise from everyone opening their sodas at once was so fun!"

Instead of a cake, Chris and Ashley treated their guests to a dessert bar filled with their favorite treats, including chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and spoons full of chocolate mousse.

At the end of the night, guests took home take-out containers that held orange ceramic origami cranes as a memory of the couple's handmade altar.

After a quick post-wedding trip to Las Vegas (and with a Disney honeymoon on the calendar), Chris and Ashley quickly settled into married life. "Things are easy when we're together," says Ashley. "We have so much practice tackling things as a team, it's second nature."

As a wedding photographer, Ashley has been to her fair share of weddings—and then some. "I tell all my clients the same thing. Hire people you have a connection with, put your faith in them, and let them handle your day," she says. "Your job is to enjoy it!"

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Museum of Science || Wedding Coordinators: Cheryl Penaskovic and Katie Wheaton of Museum of Science || Design, Flowers, & Lighting: Kate Parker Designs || Bride's Wedding Dress: Rivini, from VOWS || Shoes: Aldo || Hair: Kait Bolduc Davis of Drápóel Salon & Boutique || Makeup: Karla Patricia || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Impression Bridal, from Pure Bliss and Modern Bride Shop || Groom's Suit: Calvin Klein || Wedding Bands: His - David Yurman, Hers - Long's Jewelers || Invitations & Paper Goods: Shawn Grant, Soirée, Andover || Music: DJ Rears || Catering: Wolfgang Puck Catering || Rentals: Be Our Guest || Videography: Austin Mitchell Nader Productions || Photography: Todd Ward Studios

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