Rustic winery wedding in Columbus, Ohio
Jen and Rita had a rustic wedding at Via Vecchia Winery in Columbus, Ohio. Their wedding featured exposed brick walls, a lively first look, colorful donuts at the dessert table and a stunning sparkler finale. Jen is a paralegal for a firm in Chicago, Illinois, and Rita is a scientist for a company in Akron, Ohio. They live in Akron, Ohio, with their dogs, Mylee and Max, and their cat, Piper.
How did you meet?
We met through friends while we were both living in Chicago. We were friends for a couple years before we officially started dating (again, after prodding of friends because Rita is shy and Jen is oblivious).
Who proposed to who (or did you both propose)? Do you have a proposal story?
Jen proposed to Rita in July 2016 before moving from Chicago back to Ohio. Rita had just finished her PhD and we were relocating for her job. Jen had grand plans to attempt to include Rita’s cat, Piper, in the proposal, but ended up being too excited and jumped out of bed on the morning of July 17, 2016, and proposed to Rita on the spot. Jen was so nervous and had so much adrenaline, she ended up ripping the ring box top off of its hinges. The rest of the day went as planned, however, and we had lunch at our favorite little diner, had dinner on the 95th floor of the Hancock building overlooking downtown Chicago, and then ended the evening with a sunset helicopter ride over the city.
Does the baseball ring box have any significance? Tell us more about that.
We both love baseball. Actually, that’s an understatement. We love baseball. We could watch baseball all the time. Rita actually played several years of women’s baseball in Chicago and Jen and Rita have both played softball since childhood. They have played on teams together now for several seasons and one of their favorite hobbies is going to MLB games. Jen’s an Indians fan (she grew up near Cleveland). Rita’s a Reds fan (she grew up near Cincinnati). So we are a house divided during the battle of Ohio every summer. We also both cheered for the Cubs while living in Chicago, but that has been a little harder to do since the 2016 World Series.
Why did you choose a winery as your wedding venue? Do wineries or wine have an important place in your lives?
Wineries and wine don’t have a special significance to us, but this specific venue just spoke to us. Columbus, Ohio, is a central location between our families and is also super LGBTQ+ friendly, so we knew we wanted to be in Columbus. We started checking out venues but just knew Via Vecchia was the one as soon as we walked in. Michael, the owner that gave us the tour, was super friendly and helped us start to visualize our wedding and the venue just spoke for itself.
What makes your relationship special? What are some of your favorite memories together?
We complement each other in all of the right ways. Jen worries too much while Rita is able to remain calm and focused and handle the situation. Rita likes to be a homebody, but Jen gets her out of the house to experience new things and visit new places. We both make each other laugh like no one else can. We can both make each other feel safe and loved with one touch or hug. Some of our favorite moments are just being at home snuggled under blankets with our fur babies binge-watching Netflix or experiencing a new Broadway play with our Broadway in Cleveland season passes. We also both love our families dearly and love spending time with them—especially our nephew and nieces.
Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any traditions in any part of your day?
Neither of us likes to be the center of attention and neither one of us is crafty, flashy, or design-oriented, so asking us to put together a wedding was a new level of stress we haven’t experienced before. After many hours spent on Pinterest and Googling gay weddings, we came up with a color palette of French Countryside—shades of ivory, navy, light yellow and light blue. We incorporated our love of Broadway musicals with a violin version of “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera as our precessional and “Raise You Up/Just Be” from Kinky Boots as our recessional. Our first dance song of “Bonfire Heart” by James Blount was also incorporated into our wedding favor—matchboxes in our wedding accent colors that said, “She lights the spark in my bonfire heart.” We also wanted everyone to know just how much we love each other by writing our own vows and how much we love our families by incorporating a family-only wedding party. With the comments we received after the ceremony, we believe we succeeded with sharing that love.
What were you looking forward to most about your wedding day?
We were both looking forward to having friends and family from every corner of our lives present in one place for an evening. Family, childhood friends, college friends, coworkers, teammates—everyone was there to celebrate with us and it went even better than we had anticipated.
Do you have any advice for other couples about wedding planning, marriage or relationships?
It’s cliche to say and you will hear it from everyone, but it’s true—enjoy every moment. You plan for months, years in some cases, just for a few hours of your lives to fly by. Things will go as planned, so don’t worry. Even if they don’t, none of your guests know, so just go with it!
SEARCH FOR EQUALITY-MINDED WEDDING VENDORS
Photographer: Luckybird Photography
Event Venue: Via Vecchia Winery
Catering: Creative Cuisine
Attire: David’s Bridal (Rita’s dress) & Tom James Company (Jen’s suit)
Linens and Coverings: Got Ya Covered Linens
Jewelry: Edward Ford Jeweler
DJ: Midwest DJ Pro
Alaina Leary Lavoie
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