In the age of digital dating, Justine Nolte and Michael Groff used online matchmaking to their advantage — and then put it behind them for good! "We met on Match.com in September 2013," Justine says. "We were both each other's first and last date from the site. We both cancelled our subscriptions after one week!" A year later, Michael wanted to celebrate their anniversary by recreating a special picnic they shared during the very beginning of their relationship. "He took me to the exact same spot and mimicked almost every detail," the bride says. But he changed one thing. For dessert, Michael filled an empty pint of gelato with a ring box before passing it over to Justine. "He came around to my side of the table and got down on one knee. Safe to say I was very surprised!"
They decided on a spring wedding in Leawood, Kansas, where the bride grew up, choosing the Church of the Nativity for their ceremony and Hallbrook Country Club for their reception. With visions of a French-inspired wedding, with details reminiscent of the baroque period, and a father who is a wedding planner, the couple set off to plan their April 17, 2015 nuptials and invited 147 guests to be part of their big day. Keep reading to see every photo Clayton Jenkins snapped during their romantic celebration.
For Justine, finding her dream dress was a family affair. Since her family owns a local bridal salon, she traveled with her loved ones to New York City for Bridal Market. "It was certainly a different experience looking for my own dress instead of thinking about what our customers would want," she says. In the end, though, she chose a look that came from home — literally! Her father designed a sleeveless embroidered gown that was produced by Stephen Yearick, which featured an elaborately embroidered skirt with over 200,000 Swarovski crystals. She accessorized with a long veil and a cascading bouquet of 100 phalenopis orchids.
The bride admits that the easiest part of planning her wedding to Michael was actually selecting her attendant's outfits! "It was love at first sight," she says of their floor-length white gowns. "They were light and airy, which I thought was perfect for an evening wedding in the spring." They carried bouquets of Catelya and dendrobian orchids.
Michael looked every bit the dashing groom in his classic black tux from Top Top Tux.
Justine and her father walked down the aisle as a live orchestra performed. The couple exchanged traditional vows during their religious ceremony before exiting the church to Mouret's "Rondo."
Once the party moved to Hallbrook Country Club, guests were treated to an all-out elegant affair. The celebration kicked off with a candlelit entrance before guests found their seats at long tables that were decked out with low floral centerpieces, tall candles, and gold-rimmed flatware. The end of each table included a trailing arrangement, complete with greenery, roses, and hydrangeas.
Dinner was a five-course event, where everyone enjoyed seasonal dishes like spring pea and corn bisque, poached pear and goat cheese salad, rosemary shrimp, and beef tenderloin.
In addition to towers of French macarons, the couple served up an exquisite five-tiered wedding cake, which was decorated with pistachio green fondant, edible gold leaves, and hand molded sugar details. And the inside was just as spectacular as the presentation. The couple chose the bride's long-time family favorite: Champagne vanilla cake with raspberry filling. "There were no leftovers!" the bride says.
After dinner, everyone hit the monogrammed dance floor as both a live band and a DJ took turns keeping the party going. Once the celebration ended, Justine and Michael enjoyed a relaxing honeymoon in Cancun, Mexico. "Planning and preparing for 'the big day' can be exciting and fun," the bride says. "But truly staying focused on the excitement of what's to come after that is what got us through the whirlwind of our engagement."
Ceremony Venue: Church of the Nativity || Reception Venue & Catering: Hallbrook Country Club || Wedding Planner: Michael J. Nolte || Officiant: Fr. Al Rockers || Bride's Wedding Dress: designed Michael J. Nolte, created by Stephen Yearick || Veil: Washington Millinery || Jewelry: Kenneth Jay Lane || Hair: Krystal Rae Reno || Makeup: Madeline Diab of Halls || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Basix Black Label || Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: Tip Top Tux || Engagement Ring: Tivol || Wedding Bands: Helzberg Diamonds || Flowers: The Fiddly Fig || Invitations: Dauphine Press || Ceremony Music: Kansas City Chorale || Reception Music: Atlantic Express; Entertainment To Go || Cake: Sweet Bliss Cakery || Rentals: All Seasons Event Rental || Transportation: KC Transportation Group || Accommodations: Aloft || Videographer: Wirken Photography || Photographer: Clayton Jenkins
Want to see more spring weddings? Then check out another couple's seasonal wedding in the video below.