One of my dearest childhood friends, and essentially my other older brother, John Cerqueira married the love of his life, Melissa Ervin on April 18, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Not only did they have a beautiful ceremony and rockin' reception, but the entire wedding weekend was one for the books. So I have decided to profile the weekend they exchanged "I do's" and became Mr. and Mrs.
The weekend began with the Bridesmaids Luncheon on Friday afternoon at GAKS Coffee House & Tea Room in Raleigh. You can find it in the Sunset Hills neighborhood on Medlin Road. Sally Finch and her daughter Karrica served up a lovely traditional afternoon tea with a GAKS twist here and there. They served an assortment of berry scones with cream. Traditional English Breakfast loose leaf tea and some other fun flavored teas like Pina Colada! Mmmm. For lunch they served chicken and tuna sandwiches with salad and homemade vinaigrette.
The room they served us in was a private tea room that was decorated with any type of tea pot you could imagine. I felt like I was at Alice's very merry unbirthday party! :) (I apologize for the shameless Disney reference). The room was beautiful and it was a perfect time for Melissa to spend some quality time with her bridesmaids, mother, grandmother and future mother-in-law.
The next time I saw the blushing bride was for the rehearsal of the ceremony later that day. John & Melissa decided on a beautiful church, Sacred Heart Cathedral on Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh. Embedded in the core of downtown, this church has a magical charm to it. Like most Catholic churches, the inside (from floor to ceiling) was incredibly ornate and beautiful: the perfect setting for John & Melissa to exchange vows. And they had the most fun reverend running the show! Once everyone sorted where they were standing and who was saying what, everyone made their way to the rehearsal dinner.
All I can say is John & Melissa have GREAT taste in food. They chose to have their rehearsal dinner at Sitti, an authentic lebanese restaurant on S. Wilmington Street, a few blocks from the church. They provided their private cellar for the occasion. "Sitti" is the lebanese word for grandmother, the most important person in a middle-eastern family. According to the owners, the restaurant is meant to evoke the feel of family and togetherness. The large U-shape set up for the table did just that. Tapas-style portions of authentic lebanese dishes were served, including the best hummus I've ever tasted in my life. The rehearsal dinner was certainly a perfect way for the people in John & Melissa's lives to meet and become one large family. Bravo on this pick guys! (Above: Melissa and two of her bridesmaids in the cellar at Sitti)
Post-rehearsal dinner, some brave souls continued the party at the Busy Bee (which has a phenomenal deck connected to the upstairs hot-spot "The Hive") into the wee hours of the morning. Others, probably the more sensible guests, headed home to catch some Zs for the big day!
John & Melissa's wedding day could not have been more beautiful. 72 degrees and Carolina-blue skies painted the perfect setting. Their ceremony was simple and very elegant. They chose a classic color scheme of black, white and shades of fuchsia. The bridesmaids wore black simple, strapless, tea-length dresses. Melissa, as usual, was absolutely stunning in her strapless, beaded gown. The sweet-heart neckline and hour-glass shaping was perfect. She said it weighed about 30 pounds, but Melissa - it was well worth it! Melissa found the dress at the Bridal Boutique on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. "I love the girls I worked with at that particular shop," she said. "When I went for my fittings, the owner wasn't quite as personable or as fun to work with. But all in all, I was happy with my dress, so that was all that was important to me." (Above: Melissa and two of her bridesmaids, day-of the wedding)
Melissa and her bridesmaids carried hydrangeas, peonies, calas, roses and snap dragons - stunning colors against the black and white attire. Melissa chose Dogwood Tree Floral Designs as her florist, working closely with Mel Day. "His pricing was well within budget, he offered free delivery to our downtown locations and was available whenever I needed to meet with him." Sounds like every brides dream vendor. (Above: Melissa's floral bouquet)
After the ceremony, a major photo session began with Curtis Brown Photography. "They are very creative, which was what we were really looking for in a photographer. They were not scared to go off the beaten path with new ideas for photos...they had a lot of energy and excitement in shooting..." Melissa said. (Top of page: Engagement pictures were done by Curtis Brown as well)
With a few hours to spare, John & Melissa were whisked away on a rickshaw around downtown Raleigh for a bit and then off to a cocktail hour (or two) at The Busy Bee. "That was so fun, riding around in our wedding attire, just being outside and taking everything in," Melissa said. "It was a nice touch." (Above: J&M riding off to the Busy Bee)
After a few drinks at The Hive, everyone headed to the reception. They chose to have their reception at the Marbles Kids Museum. "John actually found Marbles, but after doing one walk through with him, I agreed. It was so open, spacious and a perfect location. We wanted everything to be downtown." In just the forum area of the museum, there was enough space for the dance floor, two bars, about 18 round tables, the cake table and the buffet. "Also, we really liked working with the coordinator, Kelli Harrison. She was so nice and easy to work with."
John & Melissa both have wonderful senses of humor and a young, vibrant outlook on life. Marbles was a perfect reflection of their adventurous nature and ability to have fun anywhere! The bridal party took photos in the upstairs "peas and carrots" ball pit for an awesomely unique photo session!
The bride and groom also chose to serve cupcakes & candy versus a traditional wedding cake. The cupcakes were provided by The Cupcake Shoppe on Glenwood Avenue. They worked closely with owner Sara Coleman. "Sara gets 100 stars! She is amazing to work with, responsive to all questions, prompt with delivery and the cupcakes were honestly the best I have ever had." Melissa said Sara went out of her way to make a particular flavor, usually only available in the winter, specifically for their wedding cupcake menu. Don't you love it when vendors go out of their way to make you feel special?
Melissa added an extra touch with a candy bar! Mismatch jars decorated with ribbon and filled with rock candy, chocolates and generally anything sweet made the perfect favor for the guests as they left the reception. And it all fell into the color scheme they chose with shades of pink and black.
Keeping with the tasty treats, the buffet was made up of a delicious collection from Caffe Luna, another fabulous downtown Raleigh eatery. "We have a friend that has used them to cater their wedding and we were impressed by the job they did. Also, we have been eating at Caffe Luna since college and have always enjoyed their food," Melissa said. "My favorites were the pastas, the sliced sausages and of course the cheese selection. I heard a lot of compliments on the mushroom dishes too!"
I've included some of the reception pictures so you can get a feel for the venue and how much fun this party truly was!
Overall, this weekend was amazing! Melissa & John gave such attention to detail with each aspect of the weekend. And I believe they managed to have the time of their lives while doing so - which is really tough to do! They truly opened my eyes to downtown Raleigh and all it has to offer. They also worked with some very cool vendors! Kudos to John & Melissa for a great wedding weekend! I'm so happy they found one another and wish them a lifetime of happiness!