When NFL running back Brian Leonard proposed to his girlfriend, Stefanie Lombardo, he made sure she was on cloud nine – or as close as you could get at an elevation of 11,000 feet. Since she lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, and he resided in Cincinnati, Ohio, they often looked forward to taking trips together. So when Brian planned a ski-trip getaway to Vail, Colorado, Stefanie didn’t think anything was amiss.
On their last run, he pointed out a spot at Eagle’s Nest Ridge to take a picture. Before she knew it, Brian was proposing with a dazzling engagement ring featuring a rectangle radiant-cut diamond with two trapezoid side stones. Their friends, quarterback Jordan Palmer and his wife Dottie, had spent the day with them and captured the moment on their video camera. Brian had another surprise for Stefanie when they reached the bottom of the mountain. “He flew my entire family and his family to Vail, so they could share in our special day,” she recalls. “It was the best weekend of my life!”
Seven months before the wedding, Stefanie had still not purchased her gown. “I kept wanting ‘something different,’ yet everything I saw I felt like I had seen a hundred times before,” she notes. On a flight back from Tampa, Florida, where Brian was playing at that time, serendipity struck. While conversing with the woman sitting next to her on the plane, Stefanie discovered that they knew mutual people and that she was the COO of bridal designer Isabelle Armstrong. After sharing her sartorial predicament, they made arrangements for sample dresses to be sent to a local bridal salon for Stefanie to try on. In that collection she found her “one-of-a-kind exquisite dress”: a strapless lace design with an asymmetrical ruffled skirt. “The craftsmanship was beyond amazing,” the bride declares.
Since Stefanie and Brian's wedding would take place in the bride's hometown – where the couple does not reside, their wedding planners were essential in coordinating their big day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The ceremony was held in a historic church, which showcased a rich wood ceiling, cream and blue walls, a mosaic of the presentation of Christ at the temple above the altar, and suspended lanterns. Brian and his groomsmen were dressed alike in black tuxedos and peach rose boutonnieres. Bridesmaids wore mismatched crinkle chiffon frocks in pastel grey, green, pink, and blue. Considering they were present to witness the proposal, Dottie and Jordan Palmer were fittingly part of the bridal party.
For the reception, loved ones reconvened at an opulent golden ballroom with crystal chandeliers of a classic hotel. Tables were swathed in satin bullion linens and sheer overlays with ornate floral embroidery in light gilt thread. Floral arrangements featuring white hydrangeas, pink roses, amaranthus, and greenery were displayed in either tall gilded stands or low urns.
Dessert for the evening came in many forms. A four-layer wedding cake in antique rose and white hues boasted different textures: ruffles, ribbons, and a quilted pattern with pearl dots. In addition to various cookies baked by friends and family for the cookie table – a wedding tradition of western Pennsylvania – the smorgasbord of treats included cake pops, cupcakes, doughnuts, chocolate mousse, and brownie pops.
Having commenced their happily ever after, “I really credit our relationship to the long distance because we built such a strong foundation over the phone and on Skype. At the end of the day, we were choosing to be together no matter how hard, inconvenient, or lonely it was,” Stefanie reflects. “We did it!”