Planning a wedding that incorporates high heels, art, philanthropy, crystals, ribbons, and Washington D.C. may seem like an insurmountable task, but for Kendall Brown and Phil Katauskas, it was the only way to do it. With incredible flair, design, and creativity, Kendall and Phil created a truly unique experience for their wedding with touches that brought both their personalities to light.
As lawyers who had both been married before, Kendall and Phil first met the summer she spent interning at Phil’s firm. While each realized immediately that the other was someone special, it took until Kendall returned to the firm a year later as an associate for their relationship to begin. Romance soon blossomed, and a proposal was made and accepted.
When Kendall and Phil began to plan their wedding, she realized the task was going to be more difficult than she originally anticipated. The couple wanted an age-appropriate affair that reflected who they were and where they were in their lives. As Kendall explains, “I didn’t know anyone who had chosen to have a real wedding later in life. People tried to give me advice, but it was always about weddings for younger people getting married for the first time. What is so cool about later-in-life weddings is that you’re completely free from the constraints of tradition.”
With their love of art as a guide, they selected the historic Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as the location to exchange vows, and announced their wedding by incorporating art into the invitation. The couple created a reproduction of one of Phil’s favorite paintings and made what many impressed guests regarded as a very unusual invitation. Continuing this theme through the event itself, each table was cleverly identified by replicas of paintings found in the Academy.
Taking great pride in their elegant venue, they chose to use minimal but striking floral arrangements throughout. The ceremony hall was adorned with beautiful white cherry blossoms in glass vases, which mimicked the famous cherry trees of Washington D.C. Hanging on the blossoms were long ice blue ribbons accented by Swarovski crystals to create the look of sparkling branches––a stunning way to honor the end of winter and the first sign of spring.
Seating cards for their 110 guests rested on tiny easels and were displayed on a table draped in ribbons and crystals. Long ice blue ribbons with cascading crystals sewn into their ends decorated each silver chiavari chair, and various shoe forms filled with a flowing combination of flowers, crystals, and ribbons acted as centerpieces on every table. Expanding on her love of shoes, Kendall had the caterer create individual chocolate stiletto shells filled with mousse in lieu of a traditional wedding cake.
The unique surprises planned for the couple and guests alike added even more personality to the celebration. The bride and groom took advantage of their close proximity to the theater culture of New York City by having a Broadway choir perform “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent. A specially selected reading from the Velveteen Rabbit also touched on certain themes close to the couple’s hearts; namely, that despite age, wear, and tear, true love is everlasting. And at the rehearsal dinner the evening before, a moving surprise for Phil was revealed in the form of a videotaped message from his son and daughter-in-law who were unable to attend the wedding due to his son’s military commitment. Fortunately, Kendall’s two daughters and niece were in attendance and delivered a loving and playful toast that fondly reminded the bride of all the years the girls had spent as a tight childhood trio.
Kendall, who now runs her own event design business focusing on later-in-life weddings, has the following words of wisdom for brides planning a second wedding: “My advice to those women is to celebrate your last wedding every bit as much as anyone would celebrate their first. [Those women] who have done so, ALL of their stories are fascinating and touching and most of all unique.”