High school sweethearts Brittany Pinto and Joe Panik attended colleges located within a half an hour from each other, but when the San Francisco Giants drafted Joe in the first round, they had to learn to adjust to being in a long-distance relationship. After a few years in the minor leagues, Joe received an exciting call and was asked to play second base for the major league team. At that point, Brittany decided to quit her job to be with him in California – just as the race for the playoffs was heating up. The Giants went on to win the World Series; with Joe making a crucial double play during the decisive game seven.
Thus, 2014 was already looking to be one of the biggest years of the young couple’s lives. As they set out for a date to celebrate Brittany’s December birthday, she had no idea of what else was to come. “It was almost like a movie!” she exclaims. “Joe surprised me with a day in New York City for my birthday.” They grew up an hour and a half north of Manhattan and made a point to see the “Big Apple” about once a year. On the bridge in Central Park, which has been featured in numerous films and television shows the couple has enjoyed over the years, Joe dropped to one knee and asked Brittany to become his wife.
Due to baseball season, the newly affianced couple had limited options in terms of a wedding date. They elected to have a two-year engagement in order to take their time while planning. “We were 23, we had already been dating a long time… What was the rush?” the bride says of her thoughts at the time. After trying to organize the big day on her own, Brittany decided to enlist some help. “I never thought we would need a wedding coordinator, but with all the guests we wanted to invite, plus planning from across the country in California, we desperately needed one,” she admits.
The nuptials were formal and traditional, befitting the style of the East Coast. White, black, and gold filled the indoor ceremony space, with accents of red roses in the form of the bride’s bouquet and the groom’s boutonniere. The adorable flower girl also dropped scarlet petals, giving the room a pop of color before Brittany entered in her exquisite gown – Carezza by Atelier Pronovias – with delicate lace appliqués on a sheer overlay. Though the look of the day was classic, the sweethearts still incorporated some personality into the service. The bride walked down the aisle as violinists played the titular tune from her favorite childhood movie, Beauty and the Beast. For the recessional, the newlyweds celebrated with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” from The Lion King.
High, dramatic ceilings and large chandeliers evoked the elegant atmosphere the couple was looking for, but one unique feature in particular sold the pair on the venue. “During our first dance, we had artificial snow coming down from the ceiling,” Joe reveals. That wasn’t the only aspect of the day that surprised guests – in addition to a full sit-down dinner, attendees enjoyed a seafood extravaganza, with selections made by the groom, and a Viennese hour, chosen by the bride. A flambé show was among the highlights of the many dessert tables that seemingly offered every sweet imaginable. On the way out, revelers were treated to hot drinks from a coffee cart and fresh donuts.
“Everyone said it would fly by and be a blur, but for us, it didn’t feel like that,” affirms Joe. “We were able to enjoy ourselves.” He advises future couples to make sure to eat dinner and spend plenty of time dancing with their new spouse. Brittany adds that brides should avoid worrying about little details. “No one will ever know if something went wrong,” she muses. “We had the best time and the best day of our lives.”