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February 22, 2021

Wedding Feature: Ela & Alex

On March 8th, 2020, Ela & Alex said “I do!” We were so honored to play at their gorgeous wedding reception in the upstairs ballroom at Garibaldi in Savannah. Ela & Alex were lucky enough to tie the knot right before lock down, and are expecting a baby next month! Congrats, you two!! We are excited to share their journey as a couple: how they met and how they managed to create an incredible final result filled with joy and love. Some serious wedding inspo and advice for those who are just got engaged!

Tell us the story of how you two met.
We met at Freshman Orientation at Rutgers University. We were both in the same program and were therefore put into the same group for scavenger hunts and other “get to know you” activities. Though we started with a friendship, it was only a few months into that first semester that we started dating. It was great because we had to chance to study together, lean on each other during times of stress, take classes together, join extracurriculars together, all while “growing up.” Ela graduated a year early from college and went straight to law school and it was during that first semester of law school that Alex proposed when we were on a family vacation to Grenada for New Years’ 2017. We got married in March of 2020 (right before the pandemic and just a few months before Ela finished law school and Alex finished his master’s degree) and found out a few months later that we’re expecting a baby in March 2021!

What made you decide that this was the right person to be with for the rest of your life?
Ela: It always felt like Alex was more than special for me. He came into my life very soon after I lost my grandmother (a very special person to my family) and he helped me through that grieving process. He felt even more like a gift from my grandma, even though he never met her, as he was always kind and sweet as she was, and his birthday was only the day after hers was! It was, I guess, an unfortunate time for me, as the first three years of our relationship, I had several family members and friends pass away, and Alex still stood by my side, despite not signing up for the kind of toll that comes with the stresses of grief.
Alex: I knew she was the one the moment I saw her in my first college class. She thought I liked one of her friends, so my attempts at asking her out started off more casual then I felt even then. But once we started dating and become more serious, everything felt right to me. I knew she was the one when we would be on our own and I would feel like I am missing her, thinking of her always, and wanting to be with her. You could say she was my missing puzzle piece. I was originally born in Romania but came to America when I was little; Ela’s parents are both immigrants from Poland and Turkey. Having that diverse background and family all over the world meant we also got to spend a lot of time traveling the world together. I proposed to her when we were young, and even though we waited a few years to get married (for her to finish law school and for me to finish my master’s degree), our timing always felt right.

What do you enjoy most about each other’s company?
Ela: He makes me feel seen, loved, and understood. One minute we can talk about something interesting we have learned about, to talking about our careers, to talking about places we’ve traveled to or want to go to. He’s very adventurous and always up for going out and trying something new. He’s warm and affectionate, always making me feel wanted and needed. I feel comfortable spending a day with no makeup and comfy clothes on as much as I love dressing up together and going out.
Alex: I wouldn’t say we’re opposites attract, but more like we just fit. When one of us gets excited, the other will feel similarly and support it. When one of us is having a bad day, the other just knows how to make it all better. We spend a lot of quiet time together at home but we never get tired of each other. We’re not perfect and everyone has their ups and downs, but she’s my other half through it all.

How was your experience with Emerald Empire Band?
We cannot say enough how amazing having Emerald Empire Band play for our wedding was. As two New Jersey kids getting married in Savannah, we had a small destination wedding and were hesitant at first to even have live music. It was Alex that pushed Ela to get out of her comfort zone and have what she dreamt of, and it was him that reached out to the band. It was hands down the best decision and part of the wedding. The music and band members were fantastic. All of our guests said it was the most magical night they had. Both of us had the most fun we ever had that night.

What was your favorite song you danced to at your wedding?
It’s funny because we talk about how both of our favorite moment was dancing to “Tennessee Whiskey”. It was towards the end of the night, but everyone was still charged with happiness and love. The moment the band started up Tennessee Whiskey, all the couples got on the floor next to us and danced in such a touching way, it was the perfect moment.

Share one special memory from your wedding with us.
Our wedding was at Garibaldi’s, upstairs in their beautiful ballroom. All of our guests were from out of state and had no idea what to expect from our wedding. We had Emerald Empire Band for our ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. The cocktail hour was in a jazz band style and all of our guests said walking upstairs to the reception room and having the band play was pure magic. When we arrived, the last 15 minutes of cocktail hour, we had that same feeling and were welcomed with love and celebration without the big introduction we didn’t want.

What changes did you have to make to your plans due to the pandemic? Do you have any advice or great solutions you found that you would like to share for other couples?
We were very fortunate to have our wedding the weekend before the pandemic led to major closings and quarantine in many states. In fact, some of our guests that originally could not attend were able to come because their study abroad programs had been canceled due to Europe’s COVID peaks.

Do you have any advice for couples as they plan for their wedding?
We loved that the band asked us 3 artists and songs we love and 3 artists and songs we don’t love. Instead of stressing about what music was going to be played, we trusted the band knew what the room would want (and they did such a great job!) while still keeping in mind all that we had told them. It took off the stress of worrying about music selection and left for a great night of us seeing what the band was going to play.

Take that leap and go for the live band. No matter how big or small your wedding is, there’s nothing like live performers bringing up the mood and persuading everyone to get out on the dancefloor and have a good time. Take a few dance lessons for your first dance. We didn’t and although it was absolutely wonderful to dance together, Alex accidentally stepped and ripped part of my dress, and we forgot to bustle up my skirt so that we ended up trying to hold each other up and not trip most of the dance. Romantic but hysterical 🙂

Don’t turn down opinions or advice from family or friends because they also learned from experience BUT trust your gut. We visited Savannah just for a fun spring getaway, almost two years after getting engaged and trying to figure out how we were going to afford the big ball of a wedding that is common where we’re from. The moment we saw the beautiful parks and Garibaldi’s upstairs restaurant we knew we wanted an outdoor wedding ceremony and a small destination wedding with our closest family and friends. A lot of people were frustrated or even hurt that we went down that path, limiting the guests we could have, but it was the best decision for us and it was our dream come true.

If you can, invest in a planner. Believe us when we say a planner and day of coordinator makes all the difference in being able to enjoy your special day. Best things to invest in for the wedding: music, food, cake (and always order extra cake…the baker might suggest the “right” slice count per guest, but I can guarantee that some of your guests are going to be sneaking seconds and thirds if your cake is as good as ours was, and then you’re not really left with any celebratory cake to enjoy later).

Photography by Ashly McCoy