There was one detail of our wedding that I was certain of the day that Tony had asked me to marry him. We would be married at Saint Rocco Church! We both are life-long parishioners of Saint Rocco. Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are and were Saint Rocco parishioners. Saint Rocco is more than a church to us; it represents everything important in our marriage: Faith, love, family, and our Italian heritage. It was at Saint Rocco Church that Tony and I first met and, although we do not remember the exact moment, we know that it was our mutual love for Saint Rocco that brought us together.
Since we are both Italian, serving good food and wine to our guests was of the utmost importance to us when deciding on a reception venue. Also, the location had to be large enough for our friends and family to dance the Tarantella! I spent many hours researching menus and visiting hotels and event spaces in Cleveland. Months went by after our engagement before we finally called the Westin Downtown Cleveland. After our first visit, I knew it was the perfect venue for our reception, but they only had a few dates open in 2016. One of the available dates was December 30. I immediately thought to call Saint Rocco’s to ensure it was available, but miraculously, unbeknownst to me, Tony had called Saint Rocco Church soon after we were engaged and reserved December 30 and 31! We finally had a wedding date.
As the holiday season fell upon us, the excitement of our upcoming wedding made it even more special. We were married in 2016 on December 30. I can still feel the love and joy I felt as I walked down the aisle of Saint Rocco Church with my father and saw Tony for the first time. Saint Rocco’s was more stunning than I had ever remembered it before that day. Our mass was so beautiful and more perfect than we could have imagined or planned. The altar was so beautifully decorated with white and pink poinsettias everywhere and lighted Christmas trees. But, what we remember most fondly, is the personal sermon that our pastor, Father James Mayer, prepared for us. In addition, before Father James announced us as husband and wife for the first time, he presented us with a papal blessing from Pope Francis which he requested during a recent visit to the Vatican in Rome. We both were so thankful and touched to have received such a special gift to bless our marriage.
Tony and I also wanted to incorporate our Italian culture and traditions into our wedding day. The flowers in our bouquets and boutonnieres, the table centerpieces at the reception and our wedding cake were all accented with olive branches. We served Italian meats and cheeses at cocktail hour while an accordion player serenaded our guests. Along with a handpicked selection of wines and liquors, the bars were stocked with our favorite Italian refreshments – Limoncello and Peroni. The dessert table, like most Italian weddings, was a spectacular display of Italian confetti, cakes, cannoli, and cookies, featuring my Grandma Rose’s famous biscotti made by my mother. Our wedding cake was served with a cannoli on each plate, a surprise that all of our guests thoroughly enjoyed! After dinner, we danced the night away, thanks to the very talented band, The Element. We were surrounded by everyone we love most on this earth. We wanted our wedding day to be a celebration of love and family and that is exactly what it was. Thanks to our parents, family and friends, our wedding day was full of very special moments that Tony and I will cherish for the rest of our lives.