From a selfie with their priest to a donut hole croquembouche wedding “cake”, Gloria and Emmanuel’s San Antonio wedding at The Monterey is full of super fun moments and totally playful details. I dare you to keep from grinning when you see these delightful wedding photos and the bride’s infections smile…
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Make it so that you can enjoy the process, and if you’re not enjoying it, figure out a way to. Whether that means hiring a full service planner, or changing to a destination wedding, you must try to enjoy the planning process. The wedding is just one weekend, which should be spectacular and everything you hope for, but if the months leading up to that are hectic and stressful, you will remember it as such.
“Emmanuel and I spent our first year in San Antonio trying to find the church that we could make ours while we lived there. We found St. Francis, and its welcoming congregation drew us in immediately. We spent Sunday mornings there for a couple of years, so choosing our ceremony spot was the easiest part of planning the whole wedding.”
Your ceremony in three words. Emotional, familiar, joyful
How did you go about planning your ceremony? Not that the ceremony wasn’t important to us, but we trusted our officiant, Father Cristopher, and his suggestions for the ceremony. We followed the church’s template, and it was refreshing to not have to make too many decisions (there were plenty involved with the reception!).
Who officiated your ceremony? We had gotten to know Father Cristopher during our time at St. Francis, and were honored that he agreed to marry us. He is so funny and charismatic. Everyone at our wedding loved him!
What was your ceremony music? I grew up listening to my big brother, Keith, play Canon in D on the piano after my mom would beg him for hours to play it for her. So, it was super special to walk down the aisle to him playing that song on the piano. My one regret is not getting to listen to him play while guests were arriving to the church. After the processional, the church organist played church hymns for ceremony music and the recessional.
What were your vows like? Our vows were traditional Episcopalian marriage vows. I knew I’d be emotional enough during the ceremony without the added pressure of memorizing personal vows, plus I’ve always enjoyed the strength and simplicity of traditional vows.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Walking down the aisle with my dad. Who doesn’t dream about that? Everything else about the day is a blur, but I have a snapshot seared in my memory of the congregation filled with the most important people in our lives. That sanctuary overflowed with joy. I thought my heart might explode.
“I’d describe our reception as fancy garden dinner party under the stars followed by a two hour nonstop dance party, topped off with a burger and po’boy after party. They say the best nights go by fast – this one was lightning speed.
“My brother is co-owner of The Monterey restaurant, his first restaurant venture, so it has always been a special place to our family. Emmanuel and I spent many hours there when we lived in San Antonio, including the night we got engaged. The private space behind the restaurant itself is owned by his business partner and longtime friend and is a magical, expertly manicured backyard: think rooftop succulent gardens, crushed granite, string lights, and the coolest shipping-container-turned-guest-house. The space is the perfect representation of a unique-to-San Antonio vibe that can only be understood by experience.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? I have planned and attended hundreds of weddings as part of my job, so I wasn’t short on inspiration, but my favorite weddings were always the weekends that were carefree, convenient, and easy for everyone involved (at least as close to that as possible.) Once our guests made it to San Antonio, I wanted them to fully enjoy the weekend. That was what I kept in mind every time I made a decision.
Did you have a signature cocktail? In addition to beer, wine, and copious amounts of bubbles, we served Old Fashioned cocktails on tap. They were potent, which made for an extra fun reception. Guests that didn’t even like bourbon were drinking them, which has, in turn, made my mother place a ban on the Old Fashioned at any future family gatherings.
Did you include any unique traditions in your wedding? My mom has made it a family tradition to create a special slideshow of the couple to present at the rehearsal dinner. I’m the youngest and have three older brothers, so my mom has perfected hosting a rehearsal dinner. That was probably the thing I looked forward to the most, as I had helped her with all my brothers’ slideshows and was excited for my husband and I to have our own. It was perfect, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.
What was your first dance song? We danced to “That’s Where It’s At” by Sam Cooke. It’s a lesser known Sam Cooke song that I’ve always known would be our first dance song. We spent the first two years of our relationship living 10 hours apart, and the song talks about wanting “just one minute more” with each other, a situation we were all too familiar with. My dad and I danced to “In My Life” by the Beatles and Emmanuel and his mom danced to “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
Please tell us about any special moments from your reception. My husband is Nigerian, and his family surprised us with a money dance during our dance party after dinner. It’s a Nigerian tradition for guests to bring one-dollar bills and shower the couple with money whenever they’re dancing together. Our photographer captured the coolest image of my husband’s Godfather throwing singles on us as we’re dancing. That was a fun surprise!
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? My husband and I aren’t fans of typical wedding cake, so our favorite bakery in the world, Bakery Lorraine, made us an extra special croquembouche from homemade doughnut holes. It was surrounded by a beautiful doughnut display of blueberry cake doughnuts, strawberry sprinkled, and chocolate glazed. Some of our more traditional guests were skeptical at first, but ended up eating three doughnuts each! We served them with individual cartons of milk and chocolate milk, because who eats a doughnut without milk?
What was your wedding menu? This was extra fun for me, as I love food, and I got to figure the menu out with my brother and his team at The Monterey. If it were up to him, we probably would have served our guests cow tongue and sweetbreads, but we had to keep it a little more “normal” for our guests. We served some of our comfort food favorites: cold crawfish salad for starters, perfectly cooked steaks with creamed spinach, and barbecue shrimp with French bread. That part was messy and most people probably thought a weird choice for wedding food, but it was fun to go around to each table and teach people how to take the heads off the shrimp and dip their bread in the bowl full of sauce. And that wasn’t all! At the end of the night, after our exit, guests made their way to the patio of The Monterey and enjoyed cheeseburgers, shrimp po’boys and french fries at the after party.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? At the end of our wedding night, one of our dear friends looked at my husband and said, “this has been one of the most amazing displays of love I’ve ever witnessed.” How cool is that to hear? I was in tears because I just didn’t want it to be over. The nostalgic part of me kept thinking that never again would all of these people be in the same place together celebrating us. How lucky were we that 130 people set aside an entire weekend to witness our marriage? It’s pretty humbling.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? I smile and laugh every time I think of our exit. My husband spent weeks learning how to drive my dad’s classic ’67 Ford Fairlane convertible so that it could be our getaway car. It’s my dad’s favorite toy, so it was special bonding for him to teach my husband how to drive it, and it was great pre-marital therapy for us to experience a few close calls together while he practiced before the wedding. There’s nothing like stalling out in the middle of a bustling intersection to bring you closer together! Our photographer captured some pretty great moments of us in the car that night, and when it was just the two of us driving through downtown San Antonio to our hotel, that was special.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? Honestly, not much. If I had some magical power that could have made time pass more slowly, I’d use that. The phrase “time flies when you’re having fun” is never truer than at the end of your wedding weekend when you’re wondering what the eff just happened for the last 36 hours.