The dress Jen Toohey selected for her Nov. 20 wedding was a simple one. The strapless, white taffeta ball gown with a sweetheart neckline and lace-up back was devoid of the lace overlays, beading and elaborate embroidery found on so many wedding dresses. Instead, the 35-year-old Q104 morning drive-time personality, who moonlights as a segment/guest host on Fox 8's Robin Swoboda Show, added sparkle and shine to the dress, purchased at Catan Fashions in Strongsville, with a fashionably large rhinestone necklace and a rhinestone and crystal headband.
"I love very simple, plain things that can be jazzed up with accessories," Toohey explains.
That fashion sense is representative of the practicality Toohey and her husband, Nate Lyons, a 30-year-old media sales and marketing executive she met two years ago after a Lake Erie Monsters game, exhibited in preparing for their big day. Every major choice served as a solid backdrop for fun personal touches — and a foundation for celebrating with the most important people in their lives. "Family is so important to us," Toohey says. The bride, who was raised Catholic, and Methodist groom even chose University Circle United Methodist Church for their 3 p.m. ceremony because they saw themselves worshipping there with their own children after attending a single service.
"It was important to us to start our life together on the same path," Toohey explains. "We want to start a family and grow that family in that church community."
Toohey's circle of friends and relatives were intimately involved in making her wedding plans a reality. To save money, she and a friend designed the invitations she and Lyons assembled. "There was a bow, a rhinestone and double-sided tape involved," she recalls. "It was a lot of stress, a way bigger project than I could have ever imagined."
She had more fun working with pal Celeste Tober, of Celeste M. Designs in Avon, to design the bold purple glass-bead and crystal necklaces her four bridesmaids and four junior bridesmaids wore with their strapless, platinum satin A-line gowns, also purchased at Catan Fashions. A childhood neighbor in Toohey's native Pennsylvania made their matching platinum satin wristlets, each monogrammed with the recipient's initials in tonal thread.
"What's really fun about these bags is that she made a personalized tag for the inside," Toohey enthuses. "It says, Jen and Nate, 11-20-10.' "
Lyon's mother also threw her son and future daughter-in-law a honeymoon shower with a Mexican fiesta theme, complete with margarita machine. The couple worked with KHM Travel in North Olmsted and the El Dorado Royale, an all-inclusive resort on Mexico's Mayan Riviera, to register online for gifts to enjoy during their seven-day stay: horseback riding, snorkeling, a moonlit dinner on the beach, massages, breakfast in bed, etc.
"We didn't want to do any sightseeing," Toohey says. "We wanted to relax and take in the Caribbean."
Toohey and Lyons chose the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center for their reception because they loved the vibe and contemporary decor. Black tablecloths with silver overlays covered the tables where 200 guests sat down to a family-style dinner of chicken puttanesca, Tuscan swordfish and penne rigate Italiano. Vince DiCillo of Forest Woods Floral and Event Center in Cuyahoga Heights produced centerpieces that Toohey says made the tables "pop" yet left plenty of room for serving dishes. A pilsner-style glass containing purple hydrangea and dendrobium orchids graced some tables. Votive candles and small glass cubes filled with purple moonshade carnations were arranged checkerboard-style on others.
"Any time you go to [our parents' homes], it's always a big buffet of food," Toohey says. "We really wanted to create that atmosphere of family and sharing."
But the most interesting thing on the tables were the place card holders: picture frames designed to hold a strip of shots from the photo booth the couple rented for the occasion. Guests added the duplicate strip printed for each photo session next to their signature in a book, a keepsake that will provide Toohey and Lyons with laughs for years to come.
Kiss and Tell
My big, fake engagement. In late 2009 Toohey's current morning drive-time co-host Allan Fee announced that Toohey and Lyons were engaged on the air. "We're all pranksters in radio," Toohey explains. "He even posted a photo of this gigantic diamond ring online! I was getting e-mails and phone calls from people saying, Oh, my God. You're engaged!' "
The final rose. Lyons actually proposed to Toohey on April 9 in the parking lot of the Bonefish Grill in Independence, the site of their first dinner date. Before he popped the question, he opened the trunk and pulled out an umbrella, a reminder of how he met Toohey at her car door with an umbrella to shield her from the pouring rain on that night. He then presented her with what he hoped would be his own "final rose," a nod to The Bachelor, a reality show they always watch together.
Summer flowers for a fall wedding. Vince DiCillo of Forest Woods Floral and Event Center in Cuyahoga Heights was able to fulfill Toohey's only request by providing an enormous bridal bouquet of white peonies — 40 stems in all — hand-tied in white satin ribbon. "I think they're so beautiful," she gushes. "I really like big, full bouquets."