After much flirting with Eilish Waters, Dr. Joseph Khouri finally asked her out to dinner. “I had just moved home to Cleveland after finishing my fellowship and surgery training, and I would go to my cousin’s restaurant to hang out with him,” explains Joseph. “Eilish has mesmerizing eyes and a warm smile. That’s the first thing I remembered, the kindness behind her beautiful smile.” Meanwhile, Eilish, who worked at the restaurant, was equally smitten. “I was drawn to Joe because he was always such a gentleman to me,” she says. “On our first date, I immediately felt safe and connected to him.” 

After securing the blessing of her parents, Joseph arranged a proposal that involved both the Khouri and Waters families. He seized the opportunity when their relatives came to their new home to decorate the Christmas tree. Joseph thanked everyone for attending and invited Eilish to hang the first ornament. “Eilish opened the box and saw that the ornament said, ‘Eilish, will you marry me?’” Joseph shares. “I dropped to bended knee as she cried tears of happiness and said yes.” 

It took the couple only nine months to arrange for the wedding of their dreams with the expertise of Somer Bedran, event director for A Charming Fête. Even wedding planning was a family affair: “Joe was extremely involved. His sister was our incredible wedding planner, and we would all text every day about decisions during the process,” reveals the bride. 

The trio settled on a color scheme of pink, white, and black for the classic event that incorporated cool, modern twists, as well as a stunning array of florals, including peonies, ranunculuses, roses, scabious, anemones, and green smilax leaves. 

“The venue we used for our wedding reception was a gorgeous old cathedral in the shape of a cross, so when we had our first dance, we were literally surrounded by people we love.”

On the big day, a traditional Syrian Orthodox service was performed at church, including the betrothal ceremony. “This is when the bride and groom exchange rings three times to remind the couple that marriage is about balance,” Eilish explains of the meaningful ritual performed in Joseph’s Syrian background. “The crowning of the bride and groom takes place after this. They also share wine from a common cup to symbolize that everything will be shared from this moment forward, then join hands with the maid of honor and best man and circle the altar three times in honor of the Holy Trinity.” To honor the bride’s heritage, the newlyweds exited the sanctuary to the sounds of bagpipes per Irish custom. 

The bride and groom opted for a wedding venue that was centrally located in Downtown Cleveland, so that it was easily accessible for guests traveling from near and far. “The venue we used for our wedding reception was a gorgeous old cathedral in the shape of a cross,” describes Joseph. “So when we had our first dance, we were literally surrounded by people we love.” The couple performed a beautiful choreography for the special dance. “The moment was so symbolic of our love story,” remembers Eilish. 

Following an inviting outdoor cocktail hour, guests were ushered to the cathedral boasting dramatic nearly 100-foot ceilings. “The walls were splashed with backdrop lighting that lit up the 360-degree video camera, the live painter, and the flower canopy over the head table [covered in an eye-catching floral table cloth],” illustrates the groom. “The lighting design started out pink and as the sun set, it converted to a dark purple. It was really breathtaking!” Loved ones were in awe of the wow-worthy décor and danced all night to the dynamic live band that truly helped to make the evening memorable. 

Though Joseph raves about the beauty of his bride and the amazing energy of the festivities, he and Eilish ultimately still remember family first and foremost. The groom shares one of his particularly favorite moments: “One of my closest uncles tragically suffered a devastating brain hemorrhage before our wedding. It left him in a wheelchair, unable to verbally communicate. On the day of our wedding, as our groomsmen and I were entering into the church, I saw him arriving in a medical transport, and I absolutely broke down in tears knowing he would not miss this wedding for anything, not even a devastating stroke.”

 The newlyweds felt so blessed that they had brought everyone and everything they loved together and it turned out perfectly: “I was absolutely on top of the world and have been ever since,” the groom smiles.

This real wedding was originally published in the Summer 2022 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

To order a copy of the Summer 2022 issue, visit our library of Inside Weddings back issues available for purchase.

Eilish and Joseph's honeymoon is also featured in the Fall 2022 issue of Inside Weddings, so be sure to check it out!