‘Pure Imagination’ Leads To Surprise Wedding Celebration
Nicole St Marie and David Renza were married on December 21 at Edmond Town Hall.
Carrie Lucas officiated the ceremony, which took place in the gymnasium of the historic building at 45 Main Street.
John St Marie, father of the bride, walked his daughter down the aisle, a task he did not know he would be doing less than an hour earlier. Most of the 180-plus people in attendance were just as surprised as the bride’s father, in fact.
Until just a few minutes earlier, guests that Saturday thought they were attending the couple’s engagement party.
Dozens of people, some from as far away as New Hampshire, Florida, and Virginia, began gathering at the former municipal building around 4 pm that afternoon. About an hour into the party, Nicole and David snuck away.
As guests watched a video celebrating the couple’s engagement, the two were in the rooms off the gymnasium, changing into wedding attire.
A short time later, there were gasps as people began to catch on to what was happening. Guests began to stand up at their tables, clapping as first David, and then Nicole and her father, walked down the stairs from the southern side of the gymnasium, and across the floor to where Ms Lucas waited for them.
An instrumental version of “Pure Imagination” accompanied the bride and groom as they made their entrance.
For her wedding, Nicole wore a dress designed by Mori Lee. She found it, she said, at Brides To Be, a consignment shop in Glastonbury. The mermaid silhouette was something Nicole would never have picked for herself, she said, but she listened to the consultant’s suggestion to at least try it.
Nicole reached out to one friend who was in on the secret, FaceTiming her for a second opinion.
“I liked it, but I told her, ‘You have to tell me the truth.’ She started crying, and I started crying, and that was it,” she said.
From there, the dress was altered “dramatically” by a seamstress in Granby, Mass., she said. The final gown featured an illusion sweetheart neckline, cap sleeves, traditional and French inverted bustles, and a train. Nicole accessorized with a birdcage veil.
“The dress was amazing,” David said. “She looked beautiful in it.”
The dress was important, Nicole said last weekend, choking up slightly.
“I really wanted it to be a wedding dress because everything else was so casual.”
In her vows, Nicole promised to always put her cold fingers under David’s shirt to warm them up. She admitted she will probably leave the seat warmer on in their vehicle, even in the middle of summer. She also promised to hold her husband’s hand, “in good times and bad.”
She vowed to protect and cherish their relationship.
“You make me feel like anything is possible when you’re by my side,” Nicole said as part of her vows. She also added, “You’re my favorite karaoke partner.”
Most importantly, she said, “You are my best friend. Even when we can’t seem to agree on the Weezer cover of Toto songs, you make me laugh.”
Mr Renza’s laugh boomed at that.
“I could spend forever with you,” Nicole said to David. “Nothing brings me greater joy than experiencing new things with you. So here is to our next new thing: husband and wife. May we have the most fun, always.”
When it was his turn to speak, David promised to “ride shotgun for not just your lofty ambitions and dreams, but the simple ones, too.”
He promised his wife-to-be that he would accept her need to stop and pet someone’s dog. In the middle of the street. In inclement weather. Every time. In traffic.
He promised to make her laugh, “whether you need me to or not, a superpower which I reserve the right to use as a Get Out Of Jail Free card in the future, when I’m in trouble with you, which we know is going to happen.”
He promised to always admire and be inspired by “the incredible things” she accomplished, and to encourage her to do more.
He promised to always respect her opinions — “even the ridiculous ones,” he said, “like how can’t you stand ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers?!” — before also vowing to be the best husband he can be.
The vows concluded with the two of them speaking together. Nicole and David swore to each other that they would fill their days with laughter, beauty, and strength, and that they would love each other for the rest of their lives.
Planning A Surprise
Nicole and David began dating on Memorial Day 2017. They spent four or five hours, they said last weekend, talking with each other the night they met.
“It just felt very comfortable right away,” she said.
David proposed on June 15, 2019, during a karaoke gathering.
“I love karaoke,” Nicole said. “So he planned what I thought was a casual karaoke night, and then a lot of our friends started showing up. I thought ‘Oh that’s weird, I didn’t know they were invited, but OK, whatever.’”
It was while singing “Beautiful Ones” that the proposal happened. During the song’s fourth verse, while he was singing the lines “If we got married / Would that be cool?” David knelt in front of his then-girlfriend.
“At first I was like ‘Wait, what?’ I didn’t believe it,” she said, laughing.
Once they began planning a wedding, Nicole and David noticed their initial guest list was, she said, humongous.
“For us it was more important to have everyone we really love and care about with us, as opposed to having this really ostentatious type wedding,” she said. It was a suggestion from David’s mother that began the move from formal event to one that would be a surprise, but still important.
After Carol Renza mentioned having an engagement party, the couple began collating a list for that. Then they realized that even that guest list would be huge due in large part to the size of Nicole’s extended family.
Meanwhile, David had jokingly suggested having a Seinfeld-themed wedding, and Nicole had always hosted a Festivus winter party with her friends.
“I kind of just looked at him one day and said ‘What if we just threw a Festivus-Seinfeld-themed engagement party and got married,'” she said.
Both loved the idea immediately, they said. But they also agreed to sleep on it, to make sure it was not going to be an impulse they later regretted.
“It was a great idea,” he said. “That also put a tight timeline on it, of course, because it meant putting everything together around December 23,” the date of the secular holiday. The wedding was then planned for the Saturday before Festivus, giving the couple less than six months to pull everything together.
Nevertheless, “there was so much less stress,” said David. For one thing, he said, they didn’t need to worry about additional celebrations such as showers, or having people invest in clothing in order to be part of the wedding party.
When it was time to look for the venue, the Enfield residents wanted a building that would offer a lot of space.
“We were thinking of places in the area that might do an event like this,” said David, who knew of Edmond Town Hall from past years when his mother would take family dogs there for training as a show dog.
“I knew Nicole liked old buildings,” he said. “I just thought she would like it. It’s such a neat building.”
“We’re both kind of architecture nerds,” she added.
Nicole fell immediately in love with the circa 1930 building, and its managers, she said.
“They’ve done so much to breathe new life into it, and they also do so much with the community,” she noted. “They were also so flexible with things. They were phenomenal. That building was just perfect.”
Flexibility Is Key
When the Renzas sat down last Sunday afternoon to talk about their wedding, they giggled a lot and still had that “Just Married” look to them.
They held hands occasionally, and often broke out in laughter, recalling different moments of their wedding just a few weeks earlier. They have not honeymooned yet. Nicole said they will plan a big trip sometime next year.
When asked what advice they would offer to couples considering a surprise wedding, both answered similarly: be flexible.
“If you’re doing something like this, you really have to be okay with letting things be,” Nicole said. “Not all people will come, and you have to be okay with people in jeans at your wedding and in your wedding photos.”
For the Renzas, it meant having a lot of their guests wearing their Christmas worst. Ugly sweaters and over the top outfits are prevalent in their wedding photos.
“We told people they could wear their holiday worst, or their holiday best,” said Nicole. “I wouldn’t change it for anything,” she added.
While the planning was fast-tracked, details made the event as special as any wedding could be. Black and white cookies, a big salad, the playing of “Morning Train,” and a photo booth with a backdrop of Tom’s Diner and plenty of related props all celebrated the couple’s love of Seinfeld.
A Festivus pole built by the father of the bride had a place of honor on the gym floor, right next to a fully decorated Christmas tree. Marquee letters of N and D, separated by a marquee ampersand, had been placed on the railing above the gym floor. She carried a beautiful bouquet and he wore a matching corsage.
One of David’s favorite elements about his wedding was how much time was saved for everyone by not needing to move between locations.
“We cut down on so much time,” he said. “It was all on site, which allowed us to spend time with so many people.”
Formal photos were done primarily inside the building, with the newlyweds granted access to the theater between that evening’s movie screenings, and The Mary Hawley Room, among other locations. Photographer Rachell Elliott even took the newlyweds outdoors for a few minutes, using the grand building as backdrop. Having the Renzas stand in front of the main entrance, she created beautiful images with the couple on the front steps, holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes while standing between a pair of columns.
Ms Elliott’s photography captures the love and joy between the brand-new husband and wife, and many of the architectural elements the couple also fell in love with while seeking their wedding venue.
David said prioritizing what is and is not important is key.
“Be flexible, and understand the constraints that a surprise wedding will bring,” he said. “Be broad with your expectations. Be flexible, and you’re going to have a great event.”
One challenge met the Renzas that meets most newlyweds, regardless of the best laid plans.
“We were yakking so much,” he added, laughing, “we didn’t get to eat much.”
The best part of the day, his wife said, was that “so many people were genuinely happy.
“When he came out,” she said of her husband’s entrance, “people started cheering. They started to realize what was happening, and we felt so overwhelmed by love.”
A few people were clued in to what would be happening before that evening.
“We each had a small list of people who were absolute musts,” Nicole said. “If they initially said No, we agreed that we had to tell them what was going on.”
The groom’s parents are Carol and Richard Renza, Sr, of Southbury. The bride’s parents are John and Diana St Marie of Ludlow, Mass.
All four were at the wedding; Carol Renza were among the few people who knew in advance what was coming.
“My mom found out,” David said. “Her family," he added, nodding toward his wife, "was completely surprised.”
Even Kimberly Molitierno, a friend of the couple and graphic designer who did their cake, was unaware her creation was for more than an engagement party. The all white design, with fondant snowflakes and edible glitter as accents, and a topper that said Snow in Love, all worked perfectly.
“We surprised her, too,” Nicole said.
“I think some people were disappointed that they missed something,” she continued.
“It’s a double edged sword, keeping something like this a secret,” she admitted. “But everyone who was there really wanted to be there.”
One final piece of advice: Be prepared to deflect.
“I’m a terrible liar,” Nicole said last Sunday afternoon. “It was very difficult to not tell people what we were really up to.”
Her husband agreed, saying, “That’s one thing you’ll need to do a lot of.”
Their wedding now behind them, Nicole and David Renza have a lifetime of love and laughter ahead of them. May future surprises always be good ones.
Videographer Justin Sevilla (Lit Entertainment NYC) created a wedding video for Nicole and David Renza, who have granted us permission to share it with our readers. Click here to view that video.