Love is the greatest adventure, and for these two travel lovers the journey of their life together will forever remain sweet and rewarding.
After six years of growing together, Stefan was finally ready to make it forever with a photo scavenger hunt engagement surprise “using the clues he provided to guess the places around Atlanta that were most meaningful to their relationship.”
Their chic and classy travel-themed wedding with travel-themed wedding invitations, programs, menus, and décor took place at the luxurious Castle Green in Pasadena, California.
Read all about Cora and Stefan’s love story, romantic proposal, and wedding experience!
Bride & Groom: Cora Lynette McNeil & Stefan Lawrence Miller
Occupations: Cora – Social Responsibility Senior Program Manager, Stefan – Senior Associate Marketing Manager
Wedding date: November 6, 2015
Wedding location: Castle Green in Pasadena, CA
Tell us how you met and all about the proposal.
How We Met: They met at the classiest of places…a karaoke bar! Their mutual friend’s departure from Atlanta happened to coincide with Cora’s arrival to the city for graduate school during the summer of 2008. For their friend’s farewell festivities, he invited both Cora and Stef along with a few other individuals to attend a karaoke bar. The bar was packed and Stef noticed Cora standing alone in the corner of the room. Of course being the southern gentlemen that he is, Stef offered the smooth words to this random woman standing up, “If you want to sit down, you can take a seat in my lap.” Cora gave him her best side eye, but laughed on the inside because her feet were hurting and she would’ve liked to sit down. Eventually after additional conversation, jokes and laughter, Cora decided to take that seat and little did she know, it would change her life forever. Several weeks later, after Stefan forgot her name and lost her number, they were able to reconnect and Stef asked her on a date. Their first date turned into multiple dates and then they fell in love. After six years of dating, including three years of long distance, Stef proposed on September 28, 2014.
The Proposal: Following a fun-filled weekend in Atlanta in which Cora and Stef were in town for a friend’s wedding, Stef told Cora that he planned a surprise Sunday “Funday” date for just the two of them. Prior to this date, Cora had recently complained that Stef wasn’t being as romantic as he used to be and she wished he would step it up a bit. Fast forward to the morning of September 28, 2014, when Stef told Cora to check her email as it would outline their plans for the day. Reading the email, Cora was beyond impressed as she learned that Stef set up a photo scavenger hunt that entailed her using the clues he provided to guess the places around Atlanta that were most meaningful to their relationship. After each guess, they would go to the location and take a photo snapshot to recreate the memories they created there. Although it was super romantic and Cora was very impressed with his creativity, by the time she got to the last stop, her feet were hurting (he insisted she not wear tennis shoes on their date), it was raining, and more importantly, she was starving! After complaining about all three of these things, Stef finally said they could head to a new brunch spot he wanted to check out. After arriving to the restaurant, Cora suddenly found herself surrounded by almost 30 of their closest friends. She was definitely surprised, to say the least, and unsure why everyone was there staring at her (especially because most of them she’d said goodbye to the night before, so was shocked to see them sitting there).
As she tried to work through everything in her mind, she continually questioned out loud why everyone was there. “It’s not my Birthday,” “It’s not Stef and I’s anniversary,” etc. As she continued to attempt to understand what was going on, Stef tapped her on the shoulder, complained of a pain and said the now famous words “Hold on, my knee hurts.” He tried to describe that from all the walking around today from the photo challenge that his old age was starting to show. Since his knee “hurt so much,” Stef decided it’d be appropriate to take a knee to the floor. After a 10-15 second delay, thankfully the light bulb went off in Cora’s head. Insert two minutes of him pouring his heart out, two minutes of her ending Atlanta’s drought season with her tears, and one minute of her making his knee actually hurt from waiting for a response, Cora finally said “YES!”
What was wedding shopping like for you? I honestly had no clue the type of wedding dress I wanted or knew the style that would fit me best. I just wanted to keep an open mind and try on several different looks until I found the perfect one! I visited only one bridal store, Bellasposa Bridal in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, with my mom, aunt, two family friends and two of my bridesmaids. I tried on about five dresses before my mom pointed out a beautiful, satin beaded Mori Lee gown. Curious, I tried it on and immediately fell in love with the gorgeous beaded embroidered back, capped sleeves and train. Because I didn’t want to make too rash of a decision, I tried on about four more dresses. But soon realized none of those were quite right and I needed to try on my mother’s selection again. I didn’t want to take it off! And once I put on the veil, everyone knew that this was THE dress and that it matched perfectly with our classic venue.
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? We incorporated our love of travel into every aspect of our wedding ceremony and reception. Stef and I are avid travelers and love exploring new countries, landmarks and cultures any chance we get. All of our stationary was travel-themed, including the wedding invitations, programs and menus, and our décor included travel related items ranging from world maps, to suitcases, to photos of us in different cities and countries across the globe.
Additionally, Stef’s mother unfortunately passed away in May 2015 from breast cancer so we wanted to honor her memory throughout the day. Stef walked down the aisle holding a picture of his mother and we had a display full of her pictures and artifacts from her years of service as a flight attendant. Finally, in lieu of traditional wedding favors, we made a donation to the American Cancer Society as we believe the best gift we could give is one that helps find a cure for cancer.
Bridesmaids/Groomsmen gifts: Bridesmaids gifts – personalized bridesmaids robes, personalized bridal hangers, jewelry (earrings and bracelet), and hand written cards. Groomsmen gifts – personalized whiskey barrels, socks, bow ties, pocket squares and hand written cards.
Favorite item on the menu: Everything was delicious! But our absolute favorite item was the Parmesan crusted chicken with pesto cream sauce. The cake pops were also amazing!
First dance song: “Thinking out Loud,” by Ed Sheeran
What is your best memory from your wedding? One of our favorite memories was watching all of our guests fill the dance floor before the salads were even served! Our DJ played all of our favorite 90s jams and our guests enjoyed the song selections so much, that they flooded the dance floor and forgot they were supposed to eat. Another highlight was the surprise on our guests faces when we provided light up foam sticks with our hashtag (#MillersWeMadeIt) and wedding date printed on them. The crowd went nuts and danced with those foam sticks the remainder of the night. We eventually used them during our exit from the ceremony, which made for a uniquely fun departure. Finally, I’ll never forget Stef surprising me with our getaway vehicle – a vintage Bentley! I didn’t know he was doing that, so when I walked outside to see it there, I was in total shock. It was great to roll around the city that night, sip champagne and reflect on the best day of our lives in style.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? Enjoy the planning process and do it your way! Don’t fret about what everyone else thinks because only you two know what will work best for you AND fits within your budget. The day should always be about you two, so plan the wedding from how you’d want to enjoy your day. Also, invest in a good DJ! DJ’s can make or break your party, so please make sure you properly vet the right person that will make your guests dance the night away and make your ceremony one they’ll never forget!
Wedding planner – Savvy Events
Photography – Nicole Lennox
Videography – Cinevent Productions
Wedding dress designer – Mori Lee
Wedding dress salon – Bellaposa Bridal
Bridesmaids dresses – Bill Levkoff
Hair/Makeup – Khamilia Levonne
Shoes – Christian Louboutin
Ceremony location/reception location – Castle Green
Florist – Papillon Flowers by O & J
Catering – Simply Elegant Catering
Desserts – A Sweet Design
DJ – DJ R-Tistic
Calligrapher – Calligraphy Nerd
Lighting Design – Unplugged Event Lighting