It all started back in eighth grade, when Emily and Matt found one another in the same English and social studies classes. A few shared assignments (and a tip from Emily's best friend) led Matt to ask her to be his date to the eighth grade semiformal. Though they dated — and drifted apart — as eighth graders do, Matt and Emily reconnected as high school seniors, where dinner at the local pizza parlor kicked off their relationship yet again, and this time it stuck. Six years later, for their anniversary, Matt surprised Emily with a timeline of their relationship in pictures scattered throughout their apartment. The last photo was of Philadelphia's Swann Fountain, and Emily had no idea why it was there. A mere half-hour later, she figured it out when Matt led her to the fountain and asked her to marry him.
The couple found a spectacular and unique venue, the headquarters of URBN (home base to Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, BHLDN, and Free People) in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, hired J. Scott Walsh of J. Scott Catering to plan every detail, asked Oleander Florals & Events to design their tablescapes, and brought in Lauren Fair Photography to capture it all. Keep reading to check it out!
Even with such a unique space, Emily wanted to keep the event's design classic, timeless, and nautically-inspired. She embodied vintage glamour with a lace and satin Priscilla of Boston gown, a cathedral-length veil, and gold glitter J.Crew flats.
"The dress was so glamorous, but had a modern feel," says Emily. "I loved how I looked in it, and I knew Matt would love it!" She carried a bouquet of white blooms, ranging from garden roses to tulips, all tied with a gold ribbon. Emily's bridesmaids carried similar bouquets, studded with anemones and tied with blue and white striped ribbons.
With bridesmaids in gold sequins and groomsmen in tuxedos, the bridal party offered a formal contrast to the Navy Yard background.
Invitations had a nautical feel, mixing a Philadelphia cityscape with classic script. Emily learned how to do calligraphy and hand-addressed all of the envelopes herself!
The Navy Yard's Chapel of Four Chaplains was the perfect location for the couple's waterfront ceremony.
The church was decorated with garlands of greenery and nautical ropes.
Emily and Matt wrote their own vows, and hers had a fun twist: "I started my vows by quoting "Everytime We Touch" by Cascada. Matt used to text me the lyrics as a way of saying he missed me, so we've always had a soft spot for the song. Our guests burst out laughing, knowing exactly where the lyrics came from!"
Escort cards were displayed on farm tables decorated with white roses and tulips. Emily spray-painted ocean animals gold, then tied them to cards where she calligraphed each guest's name and table assignment. Nautical stripes, white flowers, and warm lighting filled the warehouse space.
Gold vessels were filled with white and green flowers, and green water glasses added a pop of color to the tables. Guests wandered between Southern comfort food stations, including buttermilk fried chicken, dry aged filet with roasted sweet potatoes, and crab cake sliders.
Instead of a cake, the couple served funfetti and red velvet cupcakes, then wheeled out a late-night ice cream sundae bar!
Emily and Matt, who honeymooned in St. Lucia the Monday after their wedding, recommend both the bride and groom getting involved in the planning process. "A wedding is a huge undertaking, and working together with Matt got us both more excited and helped relieve some of the pressure," Emily says.
Ceremony Venue: The Chapel of Four Chaplains || Reception Venue: URBN B543 || Wedding Planner: J. Scott Catering || Bride's Wedding Dress: Priscilla of Boston || Shoes: J.Crew || Jewelry: Etsy || Hair: Happily Ever After Hair || Makeup: Dylan Michael Cosmetics || Bridesmaids' Dresses & Groom's Attire: Calvin Klein || Floral Design: Oleander Florals & Events || Invitations: Spark Letterpress || Music: Silver Sound || Cake: The Createrie || Videography: Willow Tree Films || Photography: Lauren Fair Photography
Ready to get more Philadelphia wedding inspiration? Check out this couple's romantic day in the same city!