It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today, we’re excited to share Matt & Melissa’s exciting wedding weekend at Duke Chapel and Duke Gardens in Durham, NC.
A matchmaking pair of friends set Melissa and Matt up on a blind date, thinking they’d make a really great couple, after Matt moved to Miami from New York in 2012…and they were right!
For their two-year anniversary, Matt rented a beach house on Labor Day weekend in one of his favorite places to visit during the summer: the Hamptons. He didn’t tell Melissa where they were going, only what she needed to pack and what time the flight was. Because the whole trip was such a surprise, she wasn’t expecting what else awaited…a beautiful sunset proposal! Two women who were “watching the sunset” turned out to be photographers Matt hired to capture the moment on camera.
They spent the rest of the weekend celebrating with friends and looking forward to the life they were about to start together!
Matt went to Duke University for undergrad, law school and business school, and loves everything about it, including the beautiful Duke Chapel. It was the perfect place to get married in the spring. The wedding ceremony itself was only part of this weekend-long celebration!
Friday night started off with a welcome dinner for all guests that was “tailgate” themed and held at The Rickhouse in Durham. There were three local food trucks (Only Burger, Chirba Chirba, and American Meltdown) for catering and an open bar. There were also games like corn hole, cards against humanity, beer pong and flip cup – and, of course, a TV showing the basketball games during March Madness (the Duke game started at 7:30pm that night).
The next day, the wedding ceremony took place at noon, but instead of having an early reception, they had a March Madness “watch party” with beer, wine and some hors d’oeuvres until the reception started. They also had a campus tour for people who had never visited Duke before.
Blush and champagne were the main wedding colors to go along with the romantic and fun overall theme. “We wanted the venue to make everyone think of love and a good time,” Matt shares. Grace of Grace Leisure Events made sure that all of the details went together and carried that feeling throughout the entire day.
There were lots of personalized elements to the wedding, including Matt’s friend, Todd, composing an original piece for the quartet to perform during the ceremony, and SJ, who is now a recording artist, re-recording an acoustic version of the first dance song “You and Me” by Lifehouse. SJ also did a special live performance of “Like a Rock” for Matt’s dad, which has a very special meaning to him.
During the cocktail reception at the Duke Gardens, signature cocktails were passed around with delicious hors d’oeuvres. Lanterns and benches scattered around gave the space a cozy and romantic feeling, as well as a fire pit by the pond, which was a big hit later in the evening.
The wedding reception, held under a clear tent with chandeliers, went through to midnight. Caffe Bellezza, a local coffee cart, was there to provide espresso drinks to keep people going!
Matt’s family has a tradition of having an ice sculpture of some sort at the wedding, so they had one created with their wedding logo…except Matt had the idea to make it not just an ice sculpture, but an ice luge, which ended up being a huge hit!
On Sunday, complimentary brunch was available at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club where everyone was staying.
“There are not enough words to describe how amazing and invaluable Grace was. She was not only able to deal with me (which anyone would agree can be a full time job), but she took Melissa’s vision and made it a reality. Everyone talks about what their dream wedding might be, but we are lucky enough to say that Grace made our dream wedding a reality!” Matt says exuberantly.
“The Duke Chapel and Gardens are quite possibly one of the most beautiful churches in North America and the breathtaking Gardens set the perfect scene for our tented wedding. Everyone at both locations were really great in helping us with our day. Thank you Duke!” says the bride and groom.
“We also want to give a very very very special thanks to Daniel Kulenic at The Rickhouse in Durham. It was a brand new venue that opened two days before our party was there! Daniel was so unbelievably helpful and generous with his time and efforts. This was a party for all guests and was an absolute blast.” the couple adds.
“Tre Bella is the best! They spent a lot of time talking with Melissa and discussing what her vision was for the bouquets, arrangements and for the centerpieces and made them come to life. Everything they touched came out even more beautifully than we could have imagined, including the large arrangements inside the Chapel,” says Matt.
“It was a massive team effort to bring to bring everything together to make the vision a reality. Our vendors took a blank clear top tent and made it a beautiful wedding venue and party. From the lights by Get Lit, to the linens and rentals by Party Reflections, the additional seating for outside by Themeworks, and the other vendors that helped add accent furniture, it all came together into a singular beautiful scene,” shares the groom.WEDDING CONSULTANT Grace Leisure Events, LLC | CEREMONY Duke Chapel | MINISTER McKennon Shea | RECEPTION Doris Duke Center at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens | WELCOME DINNER The Rickhouse with FOOD TRUCKS Chirba Chirba, Only Burger & American Meltdown | CATERER The Catering Company of Chapel Hill and Coffee Cart, Caffe Bellezza | PHOTOGRAPHER Kevin Milz Photography | VIDEOGRAPHER Ink Spot Crow Films | GOWN The White Dress Bridal Salon, Fort Lauderdale, FL | SHOES Badgely Mischka | HAIR & MAKEUP Heidi Reichardt & Karen Ann Norton of Ambiance Salon, Gainesville, FL | BRIDAL JEWELRY American Gem Associates, Inc., Miami, FL | BRIDESMAID GIFTS Kate Spade Knot bracelets | GROOM Canali Custom Suit from Lanes in Miami, FL | GROOMSMEN Ralph Lauren Suits from Mens Wearhouse, Durham | GROOMSMEN GIFTS Suits, engraved shot glasses and cufflinks | FLORIST Tre Bella Flowers | CAKE Sweet Memories Bakery | STATIONER Indigo Envelope | CALLIGRAPHER Marika Wendelken | REHEARSAL DINNER MUSIC Adam Simpieri | CEREMONY MUSIC Christopher Jacobson (Duke Chapel Organist); Quartet: Andy Bonner, Brian Carter, Suzann Rousso, Rebecca Troxler | COCKTAIL HOUR MUSIC Save the Date Music | RECEPTION BAND Pure Party Band, Atlanta | RECEPTION DJ DJ Forge | PARTY RENTALS Party Reflections | DÉCOR Themeworks | BAR STOOLS American Party Rentals | CHINA China Dolls | LIGHTING Get Lit Special Event Lighting | ICE SCULPTURE Ice Occasions | TRANSPORTATION Duke University Transit | ACCOMMODATIONS Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club | FAVORS Matchboxes, Customized M&Ms, Cigars, Wedding Logo Koozies, Hotel Boxes