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Sarah & Robert: A Warm, Elegant Winter Wedding in Philadelphia
Photos By ASYA PHOTOGRAPHY
By L. K. on Oct 9, 2017 at 2:04 am in
Sarah Woodson and Robert Smith, both resident physicians, met during their first months of medical school at UPenn. After attending an ethics lecture one autumn afternoon, Sarah bumped into Robert at the reception table. “I was making an unseemly amount of noise while chomping on a wide variety of snacks,” Robert recalls. “Given our shared love of Philly food and our tendency to be affected by ‘hanger,’ in retrospect this seems like a rather appropriate first meeting.” The two walked home together across the Walnut Street Bridge. Robert remembers a walk “punctuated by huge smiles and frequent laughter,” the start of a “delightful friendship.”
The following fall, Robert found himself trekking through a storm to Sarah’s apartment. He’d made a promise—that he would whip up a batch of pumpkin–chocolate chip pancakes for her during their study date—and he intended to keep it. “The end result was clearly edible enough to leave a lasting impression,” Robert says. While debating the relative merits of fluffy vs. cake-like pancake styles, the two realized something much more substantial—they’d fallen for each other.
On a wintry evening in November, Robert popped the question beneath the twinkling lights of Addison Street after treating Sarah to dinner at an Italian BYO they’d wanted to try for years. Though neither Robert nor Sarah originally hails from Philadelphia, the city where their romance bloomed felt like the most natural locale for their wedding. “We wanted it to be classic and elegant but also warm and inviting,” Robert says. “We wanted to welcome our guests into Philly as if they were stepping into our home.” And so that’s just what they did.
Designed by Julie D’Agostino, Sarah’s mauve-and-purple bouquet included anemones, roses, calla lilies, and succulents.
“We had our first look in the squash courts of the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, and it was a really moving experience,” Robert says. “The two of us then traveled by trolley with our photographer to one of our most beloved brunch places, Wedge + Fig, to enjoy some coffee and scones. When we stepped into the restaurant in our full wedding attire, the whole restaurant started clapping. The two of us then took pictures all throughout Old City. Having that time together before the ceremony and reception really helped us claim the day as our own.”
“We tried to be reasonably frugal at every step, but we did splurge a bit on our photographer, Asya Shirokova,” Robert says. “Given how the pictures came out, we’re very happy that we did so.”
The couple stopped for a portrait outside Parisian flower shop Petit Jardin en Ville. A windowfront floral installation featuring a cascade of pink blooms provided an irresistible photo backdrop.
The couple exchanged vows at St. Charles Borromeo Parish.
Sarah stunned in an Oleg Cassini veiled lace ball gown with vining floral appliqués.
“We had an incredible time taking pictures with our wedding party throughout the city,” Robert says. “At one point, one of my groomsmen actually ordered pizza to our trolley because we were so hungry after the wedding.”
“From a financial standpoint, we spent a lot of time researching every aspect of our wedding in order to minimize costs, and we made a lot of choices that allowed us to have the wedding that we wanted at a manageable price,” Robert reveals. “By having our wedding in the winter as opposed to the summer, for example, we saved twenty percent on the venue and the food. We also picked a venue that was BYO for alcohol; Philadelphia has some incredible ‘buy back’ distributors, so we were able to not only buy the alcohol at wholesale prices but also sell back what we didn’t use. As resident doctors, we were also very crunched for time, so investing in a reliable, friendly, and affordable wedding planner was a huge win for us. People tend to assume that hiring a planner is an expensive luxury, but we honestly believe that our planner, Sarah French, saved us an immense amount of time, money, and stress. Make sure that you hire someone who meshes with your personality; don’t just rely on pictures and websites.”
The reception was held at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, whose historic building boasts seven unique event rooms, a grand staircase, intricate millwork, and original art.
For their guest book, the couple bought a travel guide from The New York Times’ 36 Hours series and asked guests to pen notes on pages featuring their favorite cities.
The tables were named after the couple’s favorite local eateries. Each table card featured a little blurb about why Sarah and Robert love the establishment after which it was named. The pair’s event planner designed a large seating chart with a vintage map of the city showing where each restaurant is located.
Instead of cake, the couple opted to serve made-from-scratch pies and donuts from two of their favorite sweet spots—Magpie Artisan Pies and Federal Donuts. They did have a petite cake for the cutting ceremony. In addition to being a physician, Sarah is a lieutenant in the Navy. Her father, a vascular surgeon in the Army, gifted her and Robert with a naval saber to use for the cutting.
Sharing is Happiness
Photography > Asya Photography
Ceremony Venue > St. Charles Borromeo Parish
Reception Venue > Racquet Club of Philadelphia
Event Design and Planning > Sarah French Events
Flowers > Julie D’Agostino
Catering > Jeffrey A. Miller
Cake Topper > Everlaser
Desserts > Magpie Artisan Pies
DJ > Rhythmix Entertainment
Ceremony Music > Philadelphia String Quartet
Reception Music > Philadelphia String Quartet
Bride’s Dress > Oleg Cassini
Bridal Boutique > David’s Bridal
Bridesmaids’ Dresses > Jenny Yoo
Hair > Bonnie Filkins
Makeup > Bonnie Filkins
Groom’s and Groomsmen’s Attire > Men’s Wearhouse
Groom’s Tie > the tie bar
Transportation > Cescaphe Trolley
Doughnuts > Federal Donuts
Bar > Little Brothers
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