Gabrielle and Justin’s love story first began on a popular dating site where their immediate connection had them soon exchanging numbers.
After a month of getting to know each other over the phone, they were more than ready for a first date. “…we decided to meet at a local Atlanta restaurant/bar,” Gabrielle fondly recalls, “We talked for hours that night and when I left to head home, we were on the phone planning our next date.” After a few more dates Gabrielle and Justin both realized that being in the presence of each other “felt like home,” and were soon inseparable. Read all about Gabrielle and Justin’s love story, romantic proposal and experiences in their modern elegance wedding in Chicago.
Bride & Groom: Gabrielle & Justin
Wedding Location: Chicago, IL
Wedding Date: 08/17/2019
How did the two of you meet? We actually met on an online dating site, eharmony. We exchanged a few conversations on the platform then switched over to phone conversations. After a month or so, we decided to meet at a local Atlanta restaurant/bar. We talked for hours that night and when I left to head home, we were on the phone planning our next date. After a few dates, for both of us, it felt like home.
Tell us about your proposal. It had to be right. Only the fairy tale proposal would work. I had a dress custom made for Gabrielle. I told her we were going to do a cross country drive from Rome to France. We stayed at my friend’s family’s villa next to Piazza Michelangelo (which is the backdrop in the photo in our engagement photo). I made up this story about how she should wear that dress to this secret garden breakfast (because that’s what Italians do). But really, we had to be at Piazza Michelangelo at 7 AM to get that photo given the crowds and the perfect lighting. If you know anything about Gabrielle, you know she doesn’t do early mornings. To get her into that dress with almost 5-inch heels that early was a task in itself but let’s keep the story moving. The photographer, Alberto, who hilariously told me he couldn’t wait to dress like an American to disguise himself – couldn’t have captured the moment more perfectly. Her dress, her smile, the moment of surprise and the happy tears when she turned to look at me. So many random things have come together in the perfect moment with Gabrielle. This picture comes very close to capturing how beautiful that moment felt for the both of us.
What inspired the design/color palette of your wedding? Justin and I both have an appreciation for art and design. We fell in love with the elegant aesthetic at the Langham and the location. I really wanted to compliment the space and not overdo it with busy floral or decor. Modern elegance was the goal. Justin added a pink diamond under my engagement ring so I thought we could incorporate that in the black and white color scheme as the pop of color.
How was the wedding planning process? We definitely underestimated the planning in the beginning. We knew weddings involved a lot of detail but we soon realized it was so much we didn’t think of until it came up in conversations with vendors. There are really some things you don’t think of doing until you’re in that process of the planning. I really wanted every piece of the decor to compliment the other so we probably went a little further with details. Like adding black flatware and custom black and white cocktail napkins. Obviously not something that has to be done, but that was just our preference and everything tied together beautifully. Staying on task and meeting deadlines are key to not getting overwhelmed. Michelle Durpetti Events coordinated the day of our wedding. If you’re going to plan your own wedding as we did, we highly recommend at least hiring someone to help you with all the logistics of your big day. So worth it!
What are some of your favorite wedding memories? Justin: “I have four boys from my first marriage and Gabrielle has always been so good with them. They really love her and she has helped me be a better father. During the ceremony, she turned to the boys and said her vows to them. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place.”
Gabrielle: “They’re my bonus babies. I feel very fortunate to have them and it’s important to me that they feel equally included in our new life together. The entire day was surreal. The bountiful food/drinks, 3D photo experience, and music created the best atmosphere. When the DJ announced the dance floor was open, everyone swarmed the floor. Our guests had so much fun, months later we’re still getting compliments about the night. It was such a special night to have our family and friends from both sides come together and create those memories with us.”
Venue: The Langham Chicago
Planning: Michelle Durpetti Events
Photography: Collin Pierson
Floral + Decor: Life In Bloom
Videography: Leap Weddings
DJ: DJ Protege
Photo Booth: Wave 3D
Hair: Cyria Adams
Makeup: Troye Antonio of Mannequin Skin
Bridal Gown Designer: Valentini Spose SS19
Bridal Salon: Dimitra’s Bridal Couture
Bride’s Shoes: Alaia of Studded Stiletto Heel
Groom’s Tux: Giorgio Armani
Groom’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Bride’s Engagement Ring: Daviani Collection from D. Gellar and Sons
Custom Wedding Bands, Hand Chains, and Tennis Bracelet: Landmark Jewelry Chicago