Denise Dufala and Art McKay are like family to Alicia Scicolone. But nothing the 19 Action News anchor and Saks Fifth Avenue makeup artist said or did could convince the NewsChannel 5 general-assignment reporter to go out with their friend Anthony Sara. A division head for Cleveland Construction, he had seen Scicolone on Good Morning Cleveland one day in mid-2008 and thought she was pretty — and that, in Scicolone’s opinion, was a big problem. Bad experiences with overzealous male fans had made her wary of them.
“The thought of getting stuck somewhere with some lunatic made me nervous,” Scicolone, now 39, explains.
A year later, Sara finally convinced Scicolone via email to meet him for sushi at Crocker Park in Westlake. As the two talked, they discovered Sara had grown up in Scicolone’s father Carmen’s old neighborhood, near East 110th Street and Woodland Avenue. During the drive home, Alicia’s parents called to ask how the date went. “As soon as I said Anthony’s name, it was like I’d given my father a million dollars,” she says. He begged Scicolone to call Sara and confirm what he already suspected: Sara was the son of his long-lost childhood friend, Tony Sara. Their mothers, Angela Scicolone and Katherine Sara, had been the closest of confidantes.
“I asked my father, ‘You’re begging me to call this guy when you’ve taught me my whole life to never call a man?’ ” she recalls. “He said, ‘I’m making an exception.’ ”That amazing coincidence inspired the couple to turn their Aug. 27 wedding at St. Anselm Catholic Church in Chesterland and reception at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood into a tribute to the ties and traditions that have bound their Italian-American families together for almost six decades. Scicolone sits at the dining table in her suburban East Side home and points to a photograph of herself wearing a strapless, off-white satin mermaid gown by Simone Carvalli. Worked into the Swarovski crystal beading on the sweetheart bodice — a feature dreamed up by her mother, Lydia, and added by the dress designer’s shop — is the necklace Katherine Sara wore on her wedding day.
“Simone Carvalli called and wanted to hire my mother!” Scicolone says. “Her drawings were bead by bead by bead. He thought she was some young woman out of fashion school.”
Similarly, the rest of the familial tribute was executed with a diamond-wedding theme featuring lots of crystal and silver. The crystal studded birch branches in centerpieces and fabric wrapping bouquets of white calla lilies, a traditional Italian wedding flower. The silver was used as a color for everything from the matte wedding-program covers to the three bridesmaids’ strapless satin A-line dresses and ruffled bolero jackets. The couple even chose “When Your Hair Has Turned to Silver” by Perry Como for their first dance.
The most obvious nod to the pair’s Italian heritage, however, was the reception dinner. The menu consisted primarily of things they remember eating as kids: dandelion fritters; bowtie pasta with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes in garlic and olive oil; fusilli pasta with homemade tomato sauce; braciole stuffed with spinach, onion, egg and Parmesan cheese; and chicken breast Milanese topped with a lemon butter sauce. Most of the dishes were made from Scicolone and Sara family recipes.
“It was like sitting down to a Sunday meal with 200 people,” Sara, 45, says. “And everything was eaten.”
For dessert, guests bellied up to a buffet featuring a classic Italian date-nut wedding cake made by Baker’s Bakery in Cleveland, the same bakery the Scicolone and Sara families once patronized. The confection was displayed on a towering stand designed by Scicolone’s mother that suspended the four tiers in a waterfall of clear acrylic beads cascading into an acrylic puddle on the table. Wedding portraits of the couple’s parents and grandparents and arrangements of Italian cookies made by Sara’s brother Frank, head baker at Presti’s Bakery & Cafe in Little Italy, flanked the cake.
But the biggest culinary hit was arguably the table filled with brown paper bags, each containing a single pepperoni and capicola sandwich from Alesci’s Gourmet Italian Foods in South Euclid, that guests took home at the end of the night. Scicolone and Sara explain when their parents married, brown-bag sandwiches were a staple at wedding receptions — in many cases, they were the main course. “They went over better than the meal we had,” Sara jokes.
Scicolone says every facet of the wedding and reception is still a hot topic with both families as well as friends in the Woodland area. “Nobody can get over that the Scicolone and Sara children married each other,” Scicolone says. “God created a circle.”
Kiss and TellDesigning man. Sara designed Scicolone’s engagement ring, a 3-carat round diamond in a bold white-gold band made by Saxon Jewelers in Highland Heights. After she accepted his proposal, she looked at the ring and exclaimed, “Is that real?”
Calling Dr. Love. The couple moved their wedding from June 11 to Aug. 27 after Scicolone was diagnosed with mononucleosis. She actually suffered a recurrence three weeks before the rescheduled date. “We almost had to cancel the wedding,” she says. “I remember walking down the aisle thinking, God, just get me through this, please.”A real matron of honor. Denise Dufala, a 19 Action News anchor, did everything Scicolone could not during her illness. “If it weren’t for Denise, that wedding would not have happened,” she declares.
On the guest list: NewsChannel 5
on-air personalities Leon Bibb and Danita Harris