Keri + Joe: Married

Keri and Joe have been such a joy to get to know.  After our first meeting, I knew they were something special… as individuals and as a couple.  The story of how they meet is so wonderful, as Joe says, “God… had a hand” in bringing them together. Their wedding day was simple and focused on family and each other.  Joe wrote a little about their wedding day (you can read the whole description at the bottom of the post, but here are a few snippets of his beautiful words to set the mood of their wedding day before you look at their pictures):

“The way we started our new life together was perfect. Simple, unencumbered by extravagance and dedicated to building and sustaining what family does when it’s at its best. Family … in all its imperfect, dysfunctional drive-you-crazy-sometimes glory ... supports you and is there for you. If Keri and I went into our marriage dedicated to supporting each other the way our families, both blood and extended, supported us, we could do this.

When Keri’s brother, Marc, gave his speech on the wedding day, he referenced mine from the night before and echoed the sentiments about family. “Even though there are more people per capita from New Jersey gathered in this yard than anywhere else in Tennessee right now, “ he said. “I can assure you this is not an arranged marriage. At least not by man.” I loved that sentiment. That the universe … that God …had a hand in it. I believe it. All the people in our lives, that love us and we love, are proof of it."

Enjoy the pictures of their beautiful wedding in their friend's backyard :-)

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Here is the rest of Joe's beautiful description of their special day:

“On the night before Keri and I were married, we had our rehearsal dinner at Savarino's Cucina in the Hillsboro Village area of Nashville. The Savarinos are family to me, and now Keri, and the dinner was their wedding gift to us. The room was filled with about 40 family and close friends, many from out of town.

"The wedding has a color theme," I told the guests when it was time for toasts. And it did. Light green and lavender. "But the real theme is family," I added. That was simple and truthful enough, because all weddings are about family, right? The starting of new ones, and the merging of original ones. In our case, it felt even more so. Family felt like a mandate.

On our first date less than a year and a half earlier -- we had met her only two months before that -- it felt like I had known her all my life. There were certainly enough uncanny coincidences. We both grew up in New Jersey, about a half hour from each other, in Italian-American, or in her case Italian and Irish American, households. We both grew up working in delis slicing cold cuts and making sandwiches. Not to mention that both our last names are seven letters, begin with P and end with A. All that considered, it was discussions about family that really bonded us. We believed in it, felt strong about keeping it together and always keeping reconciliation open when it fell apart. Even though we had seen both of our families torn apart by divorce as adults and have siblings whose marriages did not work.

Family for us was not limited to blood. We both have nieces and nephews who call us aunts and uncles, even though we don't fall on their family trees. We have brothers and sisters who are technically neither. Which made the rehearsal dinner at Savarino’s that much more symbolic. But it was only the beginning. Keri chose her brothers. Joe and Marc, as her “best people,” and I did the same, choosing my sister, Mary, and my nephews, Johnny and Joey, to stand up for me. We had our wedding at the home of my dear friend and father figure Tom Annastas, whose family has been my second family since I moved to Nashville more than 16 years ago. I know him and his sons -- my brothers -- longer than that. His late wife Alice was a surrogate mother. They mean family to me. Tom’s son Thomas and his wife Rebecca handled logistics at the house and helped us rent tables and set up. Thomas ran the iPod that was our music. His daughter Sophia, along with Marc’s daughter Daisy, were our flower girls. Keri’s sister-in-law, Jennie, did a ridiculous amount of things for us, from invitations to bouquets to handmade wood signs to put out on the road. There’s no way proper way to thank her. Troy Smith at Baja Burrito, where Keri works -- her work family -- practically donated the wedding dinner for 80 people. If that wasn’t enough, Keri’s acting family -- those she knows closely in the Nashville theatre world, volunteered to staff the wedding.

It’s overwhelming and deeply heartening now that I think about how many people came together to help us get married, because they all believed in us and were so happy we had found each other.Corrado Savarino, as if the rehearsal dinner wasn’t enough, also made part of our favors and with his son Carmelo, our wedding cake. When I told him I couldn’t allow him to give me all that; that I had to pay him, he brushed it off and said “That’s what family does.”

The way we started our new life together was perfect. Simple, unencumbered by extravagance and dedicated to building and sustaining what family does when it’s at its best. Family … in all its imperfect, dysfunctional drive-you-crazy-sometimes glory ... supports you and is there for you. If Keri and I went into our marriage dedicated to supporting each other the way our families, both blood and extended, supported us, we could do this.

When Keri’s brother, Marc, gave his speech on the wedding day, he referenced mine from the night before and echoed the sentiments about family. “Even though there are more people per capita from New Jersey gathered in this yard than anywhere else in Tennessee right now, “ he said. “I can assure you this is not an arranged marriage. At least not by man.” I loved that sentiment. That the universe … that God …had a hand in it. I believe it. All the people in our lives, that love us and we love, are proof of it."