A Contemporary Aquarium Wedding at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, South Carolina
Joey Brown (25 and a manager of teacher leadership for Teach for America) and Michael Balistreri (25 and a naval officer) have a tradition of going to their favorite waterfront restaurants every New Year's Eve. Michael wanted to take a short walk after dinner to the historic lighthouse in Lake Park, overlooking Lake Michigan. Once there, Michael took out a handkerchief and Joey asked, “Do you have to blow your nose?!” Michael didn’t answer, but placed the handkerchief on the snow and knelt to ask Joey to marry him. As a Naval Officer, Michael compared the way a lighthouse safely guides a ship home, to how Joey is his fixed partner on land—ready to welcome him safely home. The pair were "engaged" for a year and nine months before their big ceremony in Charleston, SC. However, because Michael was going on deployment in October the year before, they officially got married on October 1st, 2013 in San Francisco, CA. The following August, the newlyweds invited guests to witness them exchange vows followed by a contemporary celebration at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, South Carolina. Each groom was escorted down the aisle by his mom and Michael's dad officiated the waterfront nuptials. "We really loved the wording of our original wedding at San Francisco City Hall," says Joey. "We got a copy of the language and gave it to Michael’s dad to read during our ceremony." Joey and Michael selected a modern yellow and gray color palette to enhance their simple-yet-chic aesthetic and took on all of the planning for their modern reception. "It was a lot of looking through magazines and watching wedding shows on TV," says Joey. "It was neat to pick and choose the parts of weddings we found to be the most successful and combine them to create our perfect day!"