Sonya Mendoza's wedding inspiration came easily: Her now-husband, John Pantanelli, "calls me 'princess' and treats me like one," she says, "so our day had to have a fairy-tale feel." With just five months to plan, she turned to New York City planner Melisa Imberman of the Event of a Lifetime for guidance.
They started by incorporating Sonya's Filipino heritage into the Catholic ceremony; she and John wore traditional Filipino garb made from pineapple fibers as they exchanged vows in front of their 240 guests, including 42 attendants. The bride also carried a "couture" bouquet fit for a queen: New York City–based floral designer and Modern Bride Advisory Panel member Michael George wired large petals to a center rose, giving it the dramatic appearance of one lush, oversize bloom.
The Cinderella touches came into play after the ceremony, when the newlyweds rode to their reception in a horse-drawn carriage, and trumpeters heralded their arrival at the Whitby Castle in Rye, NY. After snacking on sushi and toasting with green-apple martinis at the cocktail hour, guests were seated at reception tables named after castles and covered with fuchsia linens and hand-embroidered ivory overlays. Dozens of candles sprinkled throughout the room added a mystical glow, and music by Doug Winters and The Best Kept Secret infused the party with a happy energy. But the magic didn't stop there: Sonya surprised John with a quirky groom's cake—a replica of his ski boot—and serenaded him with a Filipino song. Sonya had hoped since she was a child to be able to sing this song to her husband; in real fairy-tale fashion, her dream had finally come true. —Marta Topran
Learn From Sonya and John
Make It Multimedia: The couple wanted their big day to have a truly personal feel, so they arranged for two big-screen plasma TVs to hang on either side of the band. Here, photos of them, and digital shots of their guests, were displayed continuously throughout the party.
Celebrate Your Culture: Sonya shared her heritage with guests by placing on the back of each of their chairs a miniature version of her purse, made from the same traditional Filipino pineapple-fiber fabric as her dress.
Go With The Flow: Partygoers couldn't get enough of the dance floor, so instead of stopping the celebration as scheduled, Sonya and John asked the band to play overtime—not once, but twice!