A Wedding Expert's Classic Celebration Teeming With Personal Details at The Down Town Club in Philadelphia
“We first met at a party at Fairfield Beach in 2011, introduced to one another as ‘the only other person from Pennsylvania.’” Over the years, the connection between MaryKate Callahan, the Director of Content Strategy at The Knot Worldwide, and Brad Chleboski, who works in pharmaceuticals, grew and reached a significant milestone on December 12th, 2020, when Brad orchestrated a heartfelt surprise proposal. MaryKate reminisces, “Flash forward six years, a few moves and a global pandemic later: Brad asked me to marry him in Washington Square Park in Philadelphia.”
The proposal was nothing short of magical, as it occurred during one of their cherished traditions—a “Holidate.” MaryKate explains, “Since the very beginning of our relationship, we’ve had the tradition of going on a ‘Holidate,’ AKA a more-special-than-usual date around the holiday season to connect with one another before heading home to our families.” However, this particular Holidate held an extraordinary surprise. “While we were walking through Washington Square Park around sunset... I inadvertently led us to the exact location where Brad was planning to propose. He tapped me on the shoulder, got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.” Their engagement became even more memorable thanks to a kind-hearted stranger who witnessed the proposal and promptly captured the special moment. “She came over and shared all of the photos she’d captured on her phone!”
The newly engaged couple envisioned a day filled with “elegance, romance and timelessness,” encapsulating their deep connection. Drawing inspiration from their cherished wedding song, “Sunday Kind of Love” by Etta James, the couple aimed to celebrate not just a Saturday night extravaganza but also the enduring commitment of their relationship. Their wedding planning was intentional, focused on creating an atmosphere that was as enchanting as it was memorable. With Philadelphia as their backdrop, a city that held a special place in their hearts, they invited their guests to explore the charming spots they adored, sharing secrets like their favorite cheesesteak joints and cozy brunch spots.
The fall morning dawned and saw the bride donning a sleek, bateau-neck gown with a dramatic train and a handmade flower applique veil, exuding elegance. Brad’s custom-but-classic tuxedo featured subtle details that symbolized their love story. Guests witnessed the pair’s traditional vow exchange at St. Augustine’s Church amidst stained-glass ornamentation and stunning frescos.
The reception venue, perched atop the Public Ledger building in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood, served as the perfect canvas for their big day. Its classic elegance, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, brass fixtures and a spacious black dance floor perfectly matched their desire for graceful sophistication.
Flowers played a significant role in their decor. MaryKate’s mother, an avid floral enthusiast, played a pivotal role in choosing the florals. The bride’s vision for her bouquet, which she designed to be “messy, textured and a little bit moody,” came to life beautifully. Each table boasted centerpieces of varying heights, accented by tea-light candles, creating a warm and intimate ambiance.
In a heartwarming gesture, the couple, with the help of Forget Me Knot Flowers, ensured that their wedding flowers brought joy beyond their special day by donating them to various causes across Philadelphia.
Their wedding was sprinkled with personalized touches that held deep meaning for the couple. Stag references paid homage to their college days at Fairfield University, where they first met. Extra elements of creativity shone through in creating a secret drink menu, with Brad’s favorite old-fashioned and MaryKate’s beloved dirty vodka martini with blue cheese olives. To keep things exciting, they also featured signature cocktails titled “B’s Old-Fashioned” and “M’s Cosmopolitan” on the front of their drink menu, with the secret martini option labeled as “Just One” on the back. In a subtle nod to Philly culture, they added a small Wawa goose logo, a reference known to local enthusiasts.
The couple’s love for collecting matchboxes inspired custom matchbooks, providing a unique keepsake for guests to pocket and use later. In a whimsical twist, they surprised everyone with a late-night McDonald’s snack, a decision made almost as early as selecting their wedding song. Curbside Confections helped bring their McDonald’s after-party dreams to life, offering burgers, nuggets, fries, and bags of nostalgic candy. This playful indulgence, enjoyed while feeding each other McDonald’s, was a cherished highlight that perfectly encapsulated their fun-loving spirit.
Their wedding day was a culmination of love and intention. The couple, two self-professed “awkward slow dancers,” executed their first dance flawlessly to Etta James’ famous tune, a moment that radiated love and happiness. As the night continued, guests flooded the dance floor, energized by the captivating performance of their wedding band, Jellyroll.
As the moon shone over Independence Hall, guests reveled in the celebration, marveling at the magic of MaryKate and Brad’s love story. It was a day that encapsulated everything they had envisioned—elegance, romance, timelessness and above all, a celebration of their “Sunday Kind of Love” that would last far beyond the glitz and glamor of that single Saturday night.