A Fame Micro-Wedding With Decor Straight Out of a Witch's House – Philadelphia magazine
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Guests were given pressed floral ornaments as welcome gifts.
Kelly Wilson and Greg Nealis’s FAME micro-wedding was re-planned in 72 hours due to COVID. Photography by Brittney Raine
It’s not every day that a bride wants her Big Day decor to feel like a witch’s house (aside from this recent macabre-themed soiree), and it came together just like she dreamed for her FAME micro-wedding, with lush florals, dark, dreamy decor and a blank industrial space that lends itself to creativity. Brittney Raine captured all the enchanting details of the fall celebration. Let them bewitch you below.
Kelly Wilson and Greg Nealis didn’t quite hit it off from the start — far from it. When they met in the summer of 2015 at a mutual friend’s birthday party, Kelly, an art director, thought Greg, a physical therapist, was full of himself. “He thought teasing was a good form of flirting,” shares the bride. “It wasn’t.” They crossed paths a few months later at another friend’s birthday party, but this time things went smoother and they went on their first date the following week, on November 21st.
The couple dated for three and a half years before Greg proposed. He took Kelly out for buck-a-shuck oysters at Fishtown Social while her sister and closest friends decorated their home in East Kensington. When the pair returned, Kelly was surprised to see a bouquet of roses and a card, and then Greg got down on one knee.
The two set the Big Day for the five-year anniversary of their first date — November 21st, 2020 — at FAME Philly, with 170 guests. But as COVID spring turned into summer, Greg and Kelly knew they’d have to change their plans. They didn’t want to move the date, so Greg suggested they cut the guest list to 20 and hold a more intimate celebration with their family and closest friends — something Kelly had secretly wanted all along. “We shook on it and never looked back,” says the couple. But, as many learned last year, planning a wedding amid ever-changing restrictions is a challenge: Shortly before the wedding, the city announced that indoor events would no longer be allowed starting November 20th — the day before their union was supposed to take place.
After having a “brief temper tantrum,” Kelly agreed to shifting everything up two days, to November 19th. The vendors were on board and quickly made arrangements for the change; the couple notified in-person guests and virtual attendees, and got everything together for what Kelly and Greg say feels like their “meant-to-be Thursday-night wedding.”
Because the couple wanted to accommodate their guests watching the stream — handled via Stagger Films — they rearranged the traditional wedding order. They used cocktail hour to stream all the formalities, including the ceremony, first dance and parent dances, and speeches. “This also allowed us to sit down and enjoy the rest of the evening with our in-person guests,” says Kelly. Some online viewers even celebrated with their own fancy drinks and dinners.
As for the in-person festivities? The decor was everything Kelly wanted: moody, romantic but most often described by the bride as the inside of a witch’s house. “I had a unique vision and knew I had to find the right person for the job, so when I came to Tanti [Lina of Papertini Event Design] with my direction and she squealed with excitement, I knew I found the right person,” says Kelly, who designed the stationery and signage herself. “She brought every single detail to life.”
FAME’s custom table by Groundwork was used for the seating chart — its white tree-trunk-like base was a perfect pick for the magical theme. The florals were glam: Papertini used king protea, roses, protea, thistle, amaranthus, tulips, privet berries and ‘blushing brides.’ Black candles burned dramatically, and plenty of lush greenery added a woodsy, wild feel. Custom pressed ornaments (the wedding gifts) were placed at each seat, where guests dined on a menu of short rib, barramundi and mushroom cannelloni.
The groom’s favorite detail? Taking photos before and after the wedding. A bonus: Brittney Raine, their photographer, is a neighbor. “She was able to help us find the perfect spots in our neighborhood that allowed us to show some of the places we see every day to our loved ones, all while capturing how much we love each other,” says Greg. She also captured Greg and his groomsmen posing with a cardboard cutout of one of his brothers who lives in Hong Kong but couldn’t attend in person — it was both humorous and bittersweet.
Particularly sentimental for the couple was their second dance: After sitting down for dinner, “Simply the Best” by Noah Reid begin playing, and the couple decided to hit the floor again. “It was our runner-up first dance song, so we got up from the table and had another moment together, just the two of us.”
And in the sweetest of memories, the couple received a surprise ice-cream cake from Lina, who knew that their original ice-cream cake couldn’t be completed by the new date. She went straight to the source: Baskin-Robbins.
Ask the couple if they’ll do a larger celebration, and they’ll say perhaps a five-year anniversary party to toast not only five years of marriage but also 10 years together — and their long future ahead.
Photographer: Brittney Raine | Venue: FAME Philly | Planning/Design: Lynn Buono of FAME; Tanti Lina of Papertini Event Design; Kelly Wilson | Florals & Welcome Gifts: Papertini Event Design | Catering & Chocolate Chip Cookies: Feast Your Eyes Catering | Bride’s Gown: Fleetwood by Hayley Paige from Jennifer’s Bridal | Bridesmaids’ Attire: Jenny Yoo | Hair: Ariel Katrina Hair (styling); Kerri Fawley of Herringbone Salon (color) | Makeup: Makeup by Chelsea Walls | Groom’s Attire: Custom suit from SuitSupply | Entertainment: No Macarena | Ice-Cream Cake: Baskin-Robbins | Mini Ice-Cream Sandwiches: Weckerly’s | Invitations: Kelly Wilson and Lovelily Studio (design); Atmosphere Printing Company (printing) | Videography: Stagger Films | Officiant: Kevin Doherty (friend)
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