Lots of women dream of planning a big white wedding. Denise Dufala dreamed of planning a small one - an intimate ceremony attended by maybe 50 or so people. That bubble burst, however, when the 41-year-old WOIO-TV 19 co-anchor and fiancÃ© Ed O'Malley, a 33-year-old regional sales manager for the Apartment Guide, sat down to draw up the guest list for their July 16 nuptials at St. Colman Catholic Church in Cleveland. "Our immediate families number more than 50 people,€VbCrLf Denise explains. "I was trying to keep it to 200!€VbCrLf But the size of her wedding didn't keep the bride-to-be from personalizing almost every aspect of her ceremony and reception.
Kiss and Tell
A whirlwind courtship
Ed and Denise were engaged to be married less than five months after they met on a blind date: dinner with mutual friends at Nido Italia in Little Italy. "I just knew Ed was exactly the kind of person who was right for me.€VbCrLf
A younger man?
The eight-year age difference wasn't a problem for Denise. "Ed is very mature for his age, so it never really was an issue.€VbCrLf
We wish it had been caught on tape
Ed had planned to pick up Denise three hours before they boarded a plane for a weekend in New York City so he'd have time to pop the question at her home before they left for the airport. But Denise was running late as usual - she still had "mustache bleach€VbCrLf on her face when she answered the door. "He later told me, €˜I thought about proposing right then.' €VbCrLf Fortunately for Denise, he waited until after she washed the stuff off.
A joke on the groom
Denise's brother Dan planted keys on many of the female guests. Then Ed's brother Scott, who served as best man, asked them to turn in their "keys to Ed's house€VbCrLf after he delivered his speech at the reception. The last guest to turn in a key was a gay male friend of Denise's who skipped to the front of the ballroom, then snippily told Ed, "Fine! Take it back! It's yours!€VbCrLf
Denise continued the time-honored tradition among her girlfriends of "gatoring€VbCrLf at her wedding - lying on the dance floor and shaking her arms and legs.
Perhaps the most moving element was the butterfly theme Denise chose in honor of her father James, who died three years ago. The North Olmsted native explains that the butterfly took on special significance in her life on the day of his death, when she noticed four or five little yellow critters fluttering near her while she was talking to a friend on her cell phone in her parents' back yard. Denise mentioned their presence; her friend replied that the butterfly is a symbol of the Resurrection.
"Ever since then, butterflies are just everywhere in my life,€VbCrLf Denise marvels. "I'll be driving down the highway with butterflies over my car.
It's just weird how many butterflies are around me.€VbCrLf
Northern Ohio Printing created a design of butterflies and flowers for the invitations, missives printed on champagne-colored metallic paper inspired by a photograph in Town & Country magazine. Denise purchased large white-feather butterflies to accent the white-tulle-and-sheer-ribbon pew bows and three silver-and-rhinestone butterfly pins for Kevin Fuge of Off Broadway Floral and Gifts in Lorain to tuck into her bouquet, a cascade of white roses, mini calla lilies, lisianthus, open bud roses, green ivy and crystal stems entwined with the rosary beads placed in her father's hands during viewings at the funeral home. The florist attached small silk butterflies to the curly willow in the centerpieces, primarily white dendrobium orchids in silver trumpet vases, placed on the 20 tables set up for the reception in the Myers University Club ballroom. Small silver picture frames, accented by a tiny crystal butterfly, served as place-card holders/favors.
The butterflies even made an appearance in the food, which featured a plated dinner of petite beef filet and grilled salmon. An ice-sculpture butterfly hovered over a massive cheese-, fruit- and vegetable-spread in the bar, filo-dough butterfly cutouts topped individual salads, and butterfly-shaped pastries were on the dessert trays delivered to each table after dinner. And gum-paste butterflies mounted on thin wires appeared to flutter over the cake, four tiers of alternating yellow and chocolate layers filled and frosted with Italian buttercream. One of the highlights of the evening was a release of four-dozen monarch and painted lady butterflies provided by All Aflutter of Akron. Denise says that unlike many companies that sell butterflies for release, this small business has a more humane way of packaging the insects than folding their wings back and placing each one in a flat packet that is often crushed by unsuspecting hands.
"The butterflies are packaged in these little pyramids so they can stand in there and walk around,€VbCrLf she explains.
Denise also paid special attention to the selection of music, some of which reflected the couple's Irish heritage. James Kilbane, whom Denise describes as "the Clay Aiken of the €˜Eurostar' competition,€VbCrLf sang "The Prayer,€VbCrLf "The Irish Wedding Song€VbCrLf and "To Christ the Seed€VbCrLf at the ceremony and Garth Brooks' "The River€VbCrLf at both the ceremony and reception. After considering several local bands, she chose the nine-piece Abe LaMarca Band, on this occasion joined by Jennifer Lee (best known for her work with Eric Carmen and Michael Stanley), to perform a set list heavy on big-band and Motown favorites. During the couple's first dance to a rendition of the Nat King Cole classic "Unforgettable,€VbCrLf Denise picked up a microphone and sang the second verse to her new husband.
"Since I'm a singer, I was pretty picky - maybe too picky - about the band,€VbCrLf she confesses.
The bride was no less discriminating about her attire. Catan Bridal and Fashion customized her Romona Keveza gown - a diamond-white silk-crepe creation with a slight A-line skirt, off-the-shoulder neckline and long, slightly flared Alencon lace sleeves - by adding Swarovski-crystal-and-rhinestone beading to the sleeves and replacing the simple train with an elongated chapel-length counterpart of Alencon lace embellished with the same crystals and rhinestones. (Her off-white satin pumps were also trimmed with appliquÃ©s of the same beaded lace.) The half-dozen bridesmaids wore a comparatively simple-yet-figure-flattering black satin A-line gown with short sleeves, a scoop neckline, empire waist and taffeta ribbon sash, the two junior bridesmaids black tuxedo-style dresses. The dresses provided a perfect foil for their bouquets, clutches of white roses, green ivy and crystal stems hand-tied in silver ribbon.
"I've always liked black-and-white weddings,€VbCrLf Denise says.
The next day the couple embarked on another classic - a 10-day honeymoon in Italy that included stops in Rome and the resort town of Ravello.