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

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!"

Joey and Michael were "engaged" for a year and nine months before our 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 during a small ceremony with only a few family and friends.
Each groom selected three important ladies to be in their bridal party and had them fitted in different gray dresses that complemented their individual body types. "We used a single flower for wedding party women—it was a cute little pop on their gray dresses and we got the look we were going for!" says Joey.rnrn
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."
Michael wore his Full Dress Whites uniform and Joey wore a sleek J.Crew suit with Cole Haan shoes. "Because of the venue and waterfront background, we didn’t need a lot of decor for the ceremony," says Joey. "We went with elegant yellow floral arrangements for our aisle markers and let the Charleston Harbor and Ravenel Bridge take care of the rest!"
Modern Yellow Chevron Escort Cards
Joey and Michael searched for a venue that could provide two separate spaces for their ceremony and reception, each with it's own unique feel. "It ultimately came down to a venue that could provide us with unique spaces and the South Carolina Aquarium offered that unique feel," says Joey. "Because the aquarium was so neat on its own, we knew we could cut costs on decorations and still get the simple and chic look we wanted!"
The couple relied on close family friends to coordinate the actual wedding day but did all of the planning on their own. "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!"
When it came to their decor, Joey and Michael didn't want to complete with the fish at  to compete with the fish at the South Carolina Aquarium, so they opted for simple and chic look. "Our florist helped us design the perfect calla lily and daisy centerpieces that enhanced the venue," says Joey.
Contemporary Aquarium  Yellow and Gray Chebron Reception Decor
The couple left their white and gray cake design completely up to their baker, Ashley Bakery.
Modern Same-Sex Grooms Cake Topper
"After our wedding, we looked at each other with the same reaction: 'Really? We spent a year and nine months planning something that was over in a matter of hours?!'” says Joey.