Who would have thought a pair of socks could be what broke the ice and lead to true love? After moving from Miami to Seattle for work, Stephanie Krstevich’s friends secretly set up a dating profile behind her back, insisting that this was the best way for a single woman to explore a new city and meet people. Apparently her friends did a good job, as the profile caught Matthew Horine’s attention while he was stationed in Afghanistan during his Army deployment. He sent Stephanie an email and they quickly hit it off, bonding over a love of popcorn, brunch, and the city of Chicago – where they would ultimately wed. After weeks of correspondence, Matt mentioned he was coming home to Seattle and scheduled a bowling date. “Of course, I had nothing to wear and rushed prior to our date to find socks that were fun, colorful, and not a typical athletic pair,” laughs Stephanie. “Once we put on our bowling shoes, I noticed he was wearing crazy socks, too! We started to laugh and at that moment we knew this wouldn’t be our last date.”

Matt’s military schedule meant he was away for weeks at a time because of training exercises. “When I went home for Christmas, I knew that I didn’t want to spend any more time away from Stephanie,” he explains. While she celebrated the holidays with her family in Michigan and he was with his in Texas, he realized he was ready to propose. Due to geographic constraints, Matt regrets that he was not able to ask for his future father-in-law’s blessing in person, but settled for a heartfelt phone call. “We talked for a long time and he said many kind things that I’ll never forget.” Soon after, the couple went on vacation in Hawaii. On their penultimate day, they went out for an early dinner, but started with a walk on the beach. “Then, Matt said he spoke to my dad; at that point I knew this was the moment he was going to propose!” Stephanie gushes. He asked if she was ready before he dropped to one knee. She was, and they flew home as an engaged pair.

Since they both love Chicago and their families live states away from each other, the “Windy City” was an easy choice for their nuptials. Eschewing stereotypes, “Matt was involved in planning from day one,” shares the bride. The groom encourages other men to take part in the wedding preparations. “Your fiancée wants you to be involved and have an opinion – even if she disagrees with it,” he confirms. The couple chose a Gothic Revival church built in 1912, and played off the vintage vibe with classic décor – arrangements of cream roses and white hydrangeas at the altar, accented with gilded branches. “For softness, we added a few sprigs of baby’s breath with white double satin bows scattered down the pews,” reveals Stephanie.

The resplendent bride glided through the processional in a stunning gown with several adjustments to personalize the dress for her style and body. “When I had my dress fitting with head designer, Sharon Sever, he recommended a long blusher veil in front [and] extending the back veil along with the train. Sharon designed a dramatic, detachable, sparkly layer of tulle to add fullness and to showcase the back of the dress when walking down the aisle,” Stephanie divulges. Additionally, the gown was also altered with removable sleeves so the bride could let loose during the reception. Her bouquet of ivory blossoms was supplemented by a white feather, pearls, and two brooches, and was wrapped in the lace from both the bride and her mother’s wedding dresses. The bridesmaids carried cream glamelia bouquets – rose petals constructed to appear as one oversized bloom – to contrast with their ebony gowns.

After the ceremony, many guests chose to enjoy a short walk to the reception site, as it was a beautiful evening in Chicago. The grand ballroom overlooking the city was a highlight to the newlyweds, as was the fact that the décor fell in line with their color palette of white, cream, gold, and black. “Our inspiration was classic elegance and gilded glamour, with a touch of vintage,” tells the bride. Stephanie and Matt decided on three main designs for their centerpieces: a gilt candelabrum with cascading crystals encircled by ivory florals and tapered candles; a flowering branch arrangement growing from a golden urn, coupled with two tall candlesticks, crystal bowls, and votives; and voluminous white feathers in a clear vase atop a black base with low details similar to the previous designs. However, the guests spent most of the night glued to the dance floor, with the live band encouraging revelers to get up and groove between courses. “A friend joked she went to a concert and a wedding broke out,” Matt shares.

The groom credits the smooth celebration to Stephanie’s wise, advanced coordinating, which ensured that nothing was left to the last minute. “Things don’t just fall into place; great planning makes the day almost stress-free since everything is lined up,” Matt says. Though she certainly spent a lot of time focusing on their nuptials, the bride advises other couples to not let planning consume their lives. “Keep date nights free of wedding discussions and set separate time aside to discuss the [big day],” she suggests.