Inside Weddings - - Inside - De­cem­ber 3, 2016 Garfield, New Jersey | Pho­tographed by Ryon:Lock­hart Pho­tog­ra­phy

De­cem­ber 3, 2016 Garfield, New Jersey Pho­tographed by Ryon:Lock­hart Pho­tog­ra­phy

High school sweet­hearts Brit­tany Pinto and Joe Panik at­tended col­leges lo­cated within a half an hour from each other, but when the San Fran­cisco Giants drafted Joe in the first round, the cou­ple had to learn to ad­just to be­ing in a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship. After a few years in the mi­nor leagues, Joe re­ceived an ex­cit­ing call and was asked to play sec­ond base for the ma­jor league team. At that point, Brit­tany de­cided to quit her job to be with him in Cal­i­for­nia – just as the race for the play­offs was heat­ing up. The Giants went on to win the World Se­ries in 2014, with Joe mak­ing a cru­cial dou­ble play dur­ing the de­ci­sive game seven.

Thus, 2014 was al­ready look­ing to be one of the big­gest years of Brit­tany Pinto and Joe Panik’s lives. As they set out for a date to cel­e­brate Brit­tany’s De­cem­ber birth­day, she had no idea of what else was to come. “It was al­most like a movie!” she ex­claims. “Joe sur­prised me with a day in New York City for my birth­day,” shares Brit­tany. They grew up an hour and a half north of Man­hat­tan and made a point to see the “Big Ap­ple” about once a year. On the bridge in Cen­tral Park, which has been fea­tured in nu­mer­ous films and tele­vi­sion shows the cou­ple has en­joyed over the years, Joe dropped to one knee and asked Brit­tany to be­come his wife.

Due to base­ball sea­son, the newly af­fi­anced cou­ple had lim­ited op­tions in terms of a wed­ding date. They elected to have a twoyear en­gage­ment in or­der to take their time while plan­ning. “We were 23, we had al­ready been dat­ing a long time… What was the rush?” the bride says of her thoughts at the time. After try­ing to or­ga­nize the big day on her own, Brit­tany de­cided to en­list some help. “I never thought we would need a wed­ding co­or­di­na­tor, but with all the guests we wanted to in­vite, plus plan­ning from across the coun­try in Cal­i­for­nia, we des­per­ately needed one,” she ad­mits.

The nup­tials were for­mal and tra­di­tional, be­fit­ting the style of the East Coast. White, black, and gold filled the cer­e­mony space, with ac­cents of red roses in the form of the bride’s bou­quet and the groom’s bou­ton­niere. The sweet flower girl also dropped scar­let petals, giv­ing the room a pop of color be­fore Brit­tany en­tered in an ex­quis­ite lace gown – “Carezza” by Ate­lier Pronovias – with del­i­cate de­tails on a sheer over­lay. Though the look of the day was clas­sic, the sweet­hearts still wanted to in­cor­po­rate some per­son­al­ity. The bride walked down the aisle as vi­o­lin­ists played the tit­u­lar tune from her fa­vorite child­hood movie, Beauty and the Beast. For the re­ces­sional, the new­ly­weds cel­e­brated with, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” from The Lion King.

High, dra­matic ceil­ings and large chan­de­liers evoked the el­e­gant at­mos­phere the cou­ple was look­ing for, but one unique fea­ture in par­tic­u­lar sold the pair on the venue. “Dur­ing our first dance, we had ar­ti­fi­cial snow com­ing down from the ceil­ing,” Joe re­veals.

That wasn’t the only as­pect of the day that sur­prised guests – in ad­di­tion to a full sit-down din­ner service, at­ten­dees en­joyed a seafood ex­trav­a­ganza, with se­lec­tions made by the groom, and a Vi­en­nese hour, cho­sen by the bride. A flambé show was among the high­lights of the many dessert ta­bles that seem­ingly of­fered every sweet imag­in­able. On the way out, rev­el­ers were treated to hot drinks from a cof­fee cart as well as fresh donuts.

“Ev­ery­one said it would fly by and be a blur, but for us, it didn’t feel like that,” af­firms Joe. “We were able to en­joy our­selves.” He ad­vises fu­ture cou­ples to make sure to eat din­ner and spend plenty of time danc­ing with their new spouse. Brit­tany adds that brides should avoid wor­ry­ing about lit­tle de­tails. “No one will ever know if some­thing went wrong,” she muses. “We had the best time and the best day of our lives.”

“Ev­ery­one said it would fly by and be a blur, but for us, it didn’t feel like that.”

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