A Pro-Surfer’s Dream-Themed Wedding in Philadelphia

Baby’s breath clouds, billowing smoke, and all-white decor set an airy vibe.

Ben Gravy and Jordan Verni wedding portrait

Photo by Magi Fisher

Jordan Verni and Ben Graeff (the latter a professional surfer and YouTube vlogger known as Ben Gravy) first met on Instagram. Jordan had been following Ben for some time—“he was kind of a local celebrity,” she says—and when she finally made herself known by commenting on a post, he DMed her back within minutes. It launched a whirlwind romance. They spent the next week messaging day and night, met up in person the following weekend, and met each other’s families at Memorial Day Weekend barbecues the same week. “I guess you can say it just felt right," she shares.

In September 2020, Ben asked Jordan to marry him in a perfectly “them” proposal. “He’d been planning the engagement for months, which was all documented on his YouTube channel,” Jordan shares. “Ben has a special wave in our town that he named El Slammo; it’s a very special beach for both of us, as we have shared many dates there in the past years.” On her birthday weekend, he lined the beach with pineapples—special to the couple as a pineapple is the logo for their business, Wave Bandit gear—and framed the sunset with a rose-adorned archway. Then, he popped the question. “He had multiple photographers and friends on the beach to capture every single moment of the night,” Jordan says. (He also made a video you can watch on his channel.)

While by some standards their Philadelphia wedding a year later was traditional, for them it was anything but. “A lot of people assumed we would get married on the beach because of our work and Ben's surfing, but we both loved the idea of switching it up,” Jordan says. “We wanted our guests to see a different side of both of us, getting us out of our board shorts and bikini and into a ballgown and black tie.”

The theme, though, was where worlds collided. “Our theme was a saying that Ben has built his YouTube career on: ‘For the Dream,’” Jordan shares. She turned to event planner Brian Kappra of Evantine Design to translate that into a wedding. “I told him I wanted all white and baby’s breath—no other flower. I think he might have had a moment of, ‘What did I get myself into?’ But as soon as I mentioned Ben’s line, it clicked in Brian’s head and he said, ‘That’s it—the dream.’ From there we built on the idea that we wanted to transform everyone into a dream. I wanted everyone to feel like they were floating on a cloud.”

Keep scrolling to see exactly how their dream became reality, as planned by Evantine Design and photographed by Magi Fisher.

a blue-and-white invitation suite

Photo by Magi Fisher

"We wanted to have our guests' first impression encompass the theme,” Jordan says. “We used light blues and silver to bring it all together, and we had a band around the invitations that said ‘For the Dream.’”

bride in getting ready robe

Photo by Magi Fisher

Your wedding day is about being your true self and doing what makes you happy.

bride with relaxed updo

Photo by Magi Fisher

"I wanted my hairstyle to reflect the romantic style of my dress, and decided on a loose braid with pieces falling. It was an effortless style that only got better all day,” Jordan says. For makeup, though, “I went full glam: big lashes and a dark pink lip.” (The lip kit? Pillow Talk by Charlotte Tillbury.) “On your wedding day it's about being your true self and doing what makes you happy,” Jordan says. “If that's wearing a red lip because that's what you like, then do it! It's all about making the right choices to be as confident as possible.”

bride in Galia Lahav gown

Photo by Magi Fisher

bride with bouquet

Photo by Magi Fisher

She met her husband on Instagram, so it’s only fitting that’s where Jordan found her gown, as well. “I saw my dress for the first time on Galia Lahav’s Instagram. I remember sending it to my mom and saying, ‘This will be my gown one day’—a few months before we got engaged.” She tried on multiple dresses by the Israeli designer, but when she slipped into the two-piece tulle style she’d seen on social media, it just felt right. Plus, she got a sign. “The song ‘Kiss Me’ came on while I was in the gown and I immediately started to cry,” Jordan remembers. "Ben and I love to listen to ’90s alternative together, and it just made me cry happy tears. Once I heard it play, it felt like a sign, and I said yes to the dress!”

groom putting on shoes

Photo by Magi Fisher

groom Ben Graeff in burgundy tuxedo jacket

Photo by Magi Fisher

“Ben is a surfer and he dresses very casual,” Jordan says. “Board shorts and beanies are his normal attire, so for the wedding, I thought it would be exciting to do something out-of-the-box for him.” Luckily, he’s not afraid of color. They worked with a personal shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue to curate his look, which included a burgundy Hugo Boss tuxedo jacket, Theory tuxedo pants, a custom shirt with black buttons, and suspenders. “One of the most special accessories Ben wore was his recently passed grandfather’s shoes,” Jordan says. “His prep was going surfing the morning of the wedding and letting the ocean water do whatever it wanted with his long blonde hair. I think we both really wanted to be ourselves. If that meant crazy blonde hair, that's what he did.”

bride waiting for first look

Photo by Magi Fisher

bride and groom at first loo

Photo by Magi Fisher

bride and groom at first look

Photo by Magi Fisher

“When I first saw the marble staircase at The Ritz, I immediately knew we needed to do our first look there,” Jordan recalls. “The moment was so special. Ben was on the top of the staircase; when he looked down, he started to cry immediately and walked so slowly down, taking in every moment.” Adds Ben, “It truly set in when I turned around that this was the person I was spending the rest of my life with.”

bride and groom portrait

Photo by Magi Fisher

 bride and groom portrait

Photo by Magi Fisher

bride with her bridesmaids

Photo by Magi Fisher

Jordan had always envisioned having her bridesmaids in all white. The process to find the right dress, though, was a unique one. “It was the height of COVID, so it was difficult to get all the girls somewhere to try dresses on,” she shares. “My matron of honor and I ordered a bunch of dresses from every site imaginable, took photos, and sent them to the other girls. I knew we found one when she tried it on—a long white gown with a high neck encrusted in pearls and rhinestones. We had never seen a bridesmaid’s dress like that.” Baby’s breath bouquets extended the all-white look. She also had three flower girls who looked chic in pink.

ceremony space

Photo by Magi Fisher

chandelier focal point at ceremony

Photo by Magi Fisher

Planner Brian Kappra suggested the the couple stand on an altar in the middle with their 190 guests surrounding them, rather than the traditional two separate sections with an aisle in the middle. the couple was all in. “We had our loved ones on every side of us and it was just so magical,” she says. A massive chandelier served as the main focal point and was hung with large balls of baby’s breath for a dream-world vibe.

bride entering ceremony with dad

Photo by Magi Fisher

bride and her dad entering ceremony

Photo by Magi Fisher

Not only did Jordan’s dad walk her down the aisle, but he also put the finishing touch on her look. “My father picked out my Galia Lahav veil, so it meant that much more to me,” she shares. “It was a pink tulle veil with embroidered flowers with hints of blue.” The processional music was special, too: Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti tracks were a nod to her parents’ love of the artists. 

wedding ceremony

Photo by Magi Fisher

bride and groom kiss

Photo by Magi Fisher

newlyweds recess down aisle

Photo by Magi Fisher

“I wrote and organized our whole ceremony with the help of Ben; doing that really brought an element of us to the night,” Jordan says. It was officiated by fellow pro surfer Kalani Robb, and Ben’s childhood friend sang “Sea of Love” by Cat Power. “We shocked each other with how special and funny our vows were,” Jordan recalls. “We both spent a lot of time preparing, and touched on inside jokes. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room.” Two dream-themed songs ended the ceremony: “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates, and “Walking on a Dream” by Empire of the Sun.

dreamy reception decor

Photo by Magi Fisher

sweetheart table

Photo by Magi Fisher

“The reception decor was our favorite part,” Jordan says. “The lighting alone—with perfectly placed disco balls that glistened in the light—really brought the whole room and mood together. Blue tones kept that dream-world theme. We had a mix of mirrored tables and rounds with linens, and four different centerpieces for every type of table.” Gold accents and ample candlelight completed the look.

place settings with menu cards

Photo by Magi Fisher

The couple tied in pineapples—their business logo—throughout the design in subtle ways, including on the menu cards at each place setting. 

bride and groom enter reception

Photo by Magi Fisher

Both bride and groom are sober, so they collaborated with Red Bull—a brand they’ve worked closely with in the past—on a fun mocktail to fuel the party. It featured Red Bull Blue Edition, blueberries, soda water, and crushed ice. For their guests, the El Slammo cocktail featured tequila, lime and orange juices, and Red Bull Yellow Edition.

bride and groom's first dance

Photo by Magi Fisher

Smoke billowed in for our first dance, which made us look like we were dancing on a cloud,” Jordan says. “We also had fireworks shoot off during our first dance and throughout the night.” (The song? “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer, which Jordan heard playing while she tried on her wedding dress for the first time.)

bride dances with Philadelphia Mummers

Photo by Magi Fisher

A surprise, even to the bride and groom, was a Philadelphia tradition coordinated by Jordan’s aunt. “The Mummers came and surprised us. Every New Year's Day [growing up], my family would go to the Mummers parade,” Jordan says. “Most of our guests were so baffled by what was happening, because they came in wild costumes and umbrellas. But once we got on the dance floor, the rest of our guests followed. Everyone was dancing and it made for epic photos.”

wedding cake

Photo by Magi Fisher

The cake was [a nod] to my mom’s parents, who were bakers in Philadelphia.

Ben Graeff and bride cut the wedding cake

Photo by Magi Fisher

“The idea behind the cake was to honor my mom’s parents, who were bakers in Philadelphia,” Jordan says. “I always loved the classic piping on cakes, just like they did years before, so I asked Whipped Bakeshop if they could do something that was traditional, but with a modern twist.” The bakery delivered—and even added a pineapple motif on one tier.

After “I do,” the couple spent a week in Lisbon then traveled the coast of Portugal to surf. “I had never been to Europe, and we wanted a honeymoon where we spent some time sightseeing and the rest surfing for Ben, so Portugal was the best of both worlds,” Jordan says. “On our last day there, Ben was able to surf the largest wave in the world, Nazare. It was a dream come true for both of us.” The perfect finale for their dream-themed wedding. 

Wedding Team

Venue The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia 

Wedding Planner and Floral Designer Evantine Design

Bridal Designer Galia Lahav 

Bridal Salon Bridal Reflections

Bride’s Shoes Seychelles 

Bride’s Hair Leena 

Bride’s Makeup Charlotte Erace, C.E. Facial Artistry

Bridesmaids’ dresses ELLIATT via Revolve 

Mother of the bride’s dress  Mac Duggal via Neiman Marcus

Groom’s attire Hugo Boss via Saks Fifth Avenue

Groomsmen’s attire Men’s Wearhouse 

Flower girl’s dress David’s Bridal 

Rings Roberts Fine Jewelers 

Invitations and Paper The Papery of Philadelphia 

Music DJ: Angelo the Kid via iReserve Entertainment; Philadelphia Mummers: Fralinger String Band 

Cake Whipped Bakeshop 

Favors Blazing Visuals 

Accommodations The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia; The Notary Hotel

Videographer JT Serrao Studio

Photographer Magi Fisher

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