Erik Szyndlar caught his first glimpse of Krista Linstroth during the “Orientation Olympics” for new students of Duke University’s MBA program – and while the circumstances were unusual, they only added to his future bride’s appeal. “This well-dressed blond calmly kicked off her high heels and maneuvered under the limbo pole,” he recalls. “On one hand, Krista was elegant and studious and driven; but in front of me was someone who was fun, carefree, and unique.” Inseparable throughout school, the couple celebrated their graduation with a trip to Asia before settling together in New York City. But although they’d eventually create memories in locales around the globe, Erik chose to propose where the couple met and fell in love: on the Duke University campus.

There was really never any question as to where Krista and Erik would wed, although a vow exchange at their alma mater would mean a destination wedding for them and their guests. A magnificent example of neo-Gothic architecture in the English style, Duke University Chapel stands 210 feet tall and boasts more than 75 exquisite stained glass windows. The distinctive historical landmark made a splendid setting for the couple’s nuptial mass, and served as a theme that was threaded throughout the wedding. Krista worked with a designer to create custom boxed invitations that included seven different documents featuring sketches of historic North Carolina and the university. Bouquets and boutonnieres included pendants with the Chapel logo on them, as well as family wedding photos that were adorned with crystals and pearls by Krista’s own hand. The bride also personally designed the wedding programs, which featured the Chapel logo on elegant canvas covers.

Upon entering the Chapel doors ornamented with floral reproductions of the couple’s initials, guests were given custom candles that they would light from the flame of Krista and Erik’s unity candle. The glow filled the sanctuary while a soloist performed “Ave Maria,” then guests gave silent blessings to the couple before blowing out their candles. Arrangements of lilies, hydrangeas, roses, and orchids accented the pews of the church, and filled the air with the sweet scent of flowers.

A Southern luncheon was served on the terrace of a stately inn immediately following the service; a black-tie affair was held later that evening at The Umstead Hotel and Spa. Duke University’s top female a capella group serenaded guests upon arrival at the reception, while a white-gloved wait staff passed champagne. At the conclusion of an al fresco cocktail hour overlooking the hotel grounds, a seated dinner was served in the resort’s grand ballroom. In honor of Krista’s favorite holiday, loved ones were invited to sign vintage-inspired Christmas ornaments in lieu of a traditional guest book, and calligraphed silver ornaments served as unique seating cards. A decorated “Kristmas” tree rounded out the stylish holiday decor.

In keeping with the initial wedding theme, the couple’s artistic wedding party had personalized the reception tables with individual drawings of the university chapel; however, it was the masses of white flowers dripping with crystals and arranged in a variety of styles that made the tabletops truly striking. The Chapel logo embellished everything from cocktail napkins and dinner menus to charms that encircled the stems of champagne flutes. Even the couple’s extravagant wedding cake shared a similar design with the Chapel, and was paired with a groom’s cake that replicated Erik’s notorious former car. “Erik had an infamous Jeep while we were living in North Carolina,” explains the bride. “It became our symbol of adventure, freedom, and thrills.”

The evening’s entertainment was just as creative and meaningful as the rest of the event’s details, and reflected Krista and Erik’s reputation as a fun-loving couple. A table full of Southern accessories – including hats, gloves, fans, and pipes – was offered, and guests were encouraged to dress up and pose for instant photographs. Members of the Linstroth family slipped on cowboy hats as a nod to the western influence of Krista’s paternal relatives, and a sentimental two-step was performed for the father-daughter dance. When the dance floor opened to the entire crowd, metallic masquerade masks were passed on silver trays to add to the festive atmosphere, and miniature pulled-pork sandwiches were served to fortify guests for additional celebrating.

In lieu of traditional favors, custom water bottles were distributed that outlined Krista and Erik’s charitable donation toward the drilling of water wells in Africa. The couple also gifted loved ones with snacks from each of the states in which one or both of them had resided. From the custom invitations to the Chapel-logo pins worn by the a capella singers, not a single detail was overlooked – a feat made even more extraordinary by the fact that the bride and her mother envisioned and planned the entire event with only the assistance of a day-of coordinator. “Underneath my corporate suit is a girl who secretly wishes to be a wedding planner,” Krista admits. “By fulfilling that wish, I could use my creativity and personalize every aspect, making our wedding a portrait of how I see us as a couple: classy, innovative, and engaging… one of a kind.”