Danielle Keller had suggested to her boyfriend, Michael Makar, that he should propose marriage to her at her favorite place – Disneyland. Since the two discussed becoming engaged often, she also thought it would be a wonderful idea if he did so on her favorite day – her birthday. “He kept telling me no, so I finally stopped pestering him and just waited for him to do it on his own,” she explains.
The day of her birthday came and as they sauntered from one attraction to the next at the famous amusement park, he urged her to take a different route to a ride she loves. “I kept thinking, this is sooo not the way to Splash Mountain. I know the way to Splash Mountain,” laughs Danielle as she reflects. The couple ended up at the wishing well in Snow White Grotto, where Michael finally made Danielle’s fairy-tale dreams come true, and dropped to his knee with dazzling diamond ring in hand.
It also warmed the bride-to-be’s heart when she learned that her knight in shining armor had secured her parents’ blessing. “I went to dinner with her parents and talked to them about how much I loved their daughter,” he reveals. “Her dad jokingly gave me a hard time, while her mom was really excited.”
Michael initially wanted to be highly active in determining the details for the celebration. “Then he started attending some of the meetings and decided to let my mom and I plan most of it,” Danielle smiles. “He was involved in what mattered most to him: the food, alcohol, and music.”
The Greek Orthodox sanctuary selected for the nuptials was minimally decorated. “We didn’t want to add much décor to the church because it was so striking on its own,” explains Danielle of their choice to feature only two floral components and a custom aisle runner that ran much of the dramatic 85-foot-long walkway. “We wanted the church to speak for itself.”
Danielle and Michael incorporated traditions from each of their religious affiliations. They first had a traditional Coptic Orthodox ceremony followed by vows in a typical American Christian exchange. The bride’s grandfather, a deacon, held the honor of officiating. Though music is not the norm in customary Coptic services, Danielle surprised guests with a grand entrance that included musicians playing long trumpets. “As soon as the chapel doors opened, the trumpets began,” she recalls of the fanfare.
Since Danielle works in the bridal industry, as the Creative Director for Mon Amie Bridal Salon, her affection for wedding-day jewelry has grown immensely. “I absolutely love flowers, but I wanted to be able to keep my bouquet after the wedding,” she explains of her custom brooch arrangement composed of family heirlooms, vintage brooches, and antique pieces she selected during the engagement. “Now I am able to keep [the bouquet] in my office permanently.”
The bride wore a classic ball gown made of tulle with gold flower details on the bodice. Danielle asked the designer to also infuse a bit of whimsy to the customized piece, so he added horsehair along the edges of the skirt to create a full and frilly look. “My gown was truly a work of art and everything I had envisioned,” she confirms. “It could not have been more perfect.” Bridesmaids wore elegant long dresses in a deep purple shade and carried lovely nosegays of roses in light hues. The groom and his group of gents wore stylish black tuxedos with bow ties.
A cocktail hour provided guests with small bites, as well as plenty of beverage choices offered from an impressive 30-foot bar. The patio was organized into intimate lounge areas for family and friends to relax and mingle, while a large floral monogram made an excellent backdrop for pictures with loved ones. “The entire space was stunning and portrayed classy details contrasted with fresh, chic elements,” notes the bride.
Focusing on a reception filled with fun and glamorous components, Danielle worked with her wedding planner to create the ultimate celebration. “The first thing I said was that I wanted something different and hadn’t seen at everyone else’s receptions,” she confides. A rich color palette of eggplant, deep burgundy, and plum, and gold accents was settled on. Tables were decorated with unique concepts such as modern acrylic candle boxes and chandeliers adorned with flowers for a romantic flair.
Attendees enjoyed fare from several live-service stations with mix-and-match options, including an Italian station with different types of pasta and sauces; a salad station; Mediterranean with an assortment of kabobs, spreads, and pitas; and finally a Mexican station that served homemade tortillas. “It was beyond the average buffet,” attests Danielle. “We wanted our guests to have the freedom to create what they wanted, essentially.”
In lieu of traditional wedding favors, the newlyweds wanted to honor a close family friend. “We set up a table celebrating his life and made a donation to the Make-A-Wish® foundation in his name,” says Danielle. “We wanted to pay it forward.”
The groom shares that the special day was “amazing” throughout, and confides that it was a powerful moment when he saw his bride at their "first look," which the couple agrees was an excellent decision. Speaking like a true prince, Michael admits: “When I saw her in the courtyard, I was stunned by her beauty – she was absolutely gorgeous.”
A beautiful combination of whimsy, personalization, sophistication, and sentimentality culminated in a magical wedding day. Danielle suggests to other brides readying for their celebrations not to overcomplicate things and to trust their hired event professionals. “If they are telling you that you should do something then it is probably for the better… Oh! And breathe!” she advises.