Indianapolis Colts player Ryan Kelly met interior designer Emma Zieverink at a bar in Atlanta in February 2017. The three-piece suit Ryan was wearing from a wedding earlier in the day caught her attention. Three years later, on May 1, 2020, Ryan set up a fake work appointment to get Emma out of the house.
“He and some of his Colts teammates, along with our close friend who is also a photographer, decorated our dock on the lake in our backyard,” Emma says, “He left a note on the front door for when I returned that said, ‘Put on something beautiful and meet me down at the dock.’” Ryan set up a path of candles and rose petals leading to the dock, where he was waiting for Emma with their dog, Jake. Ryan and Jake were both wearing tuxedos, and marquee letters behind them read “Marry Me”. “It was extremely romantic and precious because the dock is our favorite place to hang together whenever we can,” Emma says.
The couple invited 290 guests to their ceremony at St. Francis de Sales church in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the bride’s grandparents were wed followed by a colorful reception with dinner and dancing on May 1, 2021. “We chose Greenacres Art Center for our reception because of how enchanting and elegant the entire space felt,” Emma says.
The couple planned their wedding during the pandemic, so they leaned on their wedding planners, Lisa and Somer, to help them navigate the twists and turns. “It never felt too heavy, and they had a solution for every possible scenario given the sudden and frequent changes and challenges Covid presented,” the bride says.
Check out all the glamorous details of the couple’s cathedral ceremony and flower-filled reception, planned by A Charming Fete and captured by the couple’s photographer, Ninety Three Creative.
Emma and Ryan made it a top priority to provide a fun weekend for their guests, so they planned a welcome party and after-party in addition to the wedding. Their invitation suite gave guests a glimpse of the reception venue with a custom illustration inside the envelopes. The invitation also featured a custom crest featuring the couple’s initials and a floral wreath reminiscent of the wedding day flowers.
When Emma saw an off-the-shoulder Monique Lhuillier trumpet gown with puff sleeves and a detachable cape in a magazine, she knew it was the one. “It was undeniably sophisticated and romantic and the sleeves and cape gave it the slightest bit of drama,” recalls the bride.
She paired her gown with a custom lace cathedral veil with pearl and swarovski crystal embellishments. Emma also wore her grandmother’s diamond cross necklace, Julie Vos bumble bee pearl earrings as a nod to the spring wedding, and Loeffler Randall sandals as her “something blue.” She wanted classic beauty for the ceremony, so she finished her bridal look with light pink nail polish, “Just like my grandmother used to do hers,” she says, and Jo Malone Peony Blush fragrance.
Ryan wore a custom Gentleman’s Playbook black tuxedo and a Rolex watch (that matches one Emma has!).
The magic and meaning of the day hit me instantly in that moment alone with him.
The couple’s dog, Jake, attended the couple’s first look, which turned out to be one of the couple’s favorite memories of the wedding day. “I was overtaken by the most powerful emotions all at once; the magic and meaning of the day hit me instantly in that moment alone with him,” Emma says.
The couple asked their groomsmen to wear something classic, and they asked the bridesmaids to wear something bright and colorful within the pink family. “I’m not afraid of showcasing color in my everyday life, especially pinks, and I didn’t want our wedding to be any different,” Emma says. Each bridesmaid selected their own floor-length dress in varying shades and fabrics.
The couple’s cathedral ceremony started with the wedding party’s procession. The couple had a ring bearer, who wore a black suit and bow tie, and a flower girl, who wore a pink dress with a voluminous skirt.
Emma was accompanied by her father as she walked down the aisle to The Mad Violinist playing “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” The couple took advantage of the beauty of the cathedral and kept the decor to a minimum, but their florist, Andrew Thomas Design, filled a lucite cross with flowers to be placed on the altar. They chose to exchange traditional Catholic vows.
After being pronounced husband and wife, a live musician played “Holy” by Justin Bieber featuring Chance The Rapper as Emma and Ryan exited. Their wedding party celebrated with them outside the cathedral after the ceremony.
When guests arrived at Greenacres Art Center for the reception, they were greeted by a wall of San Pellegrino adorned with tags featuring the couple’s custom crest and the table number assignments. Guests enjoyed two signature cocktails—the “Married AF Margarita” and the “Ball and Chain Bourbon” cocktail—along with flavored waters served in custom plastic cups featuring the couple’s monogram.
The couple hired a cigar roller and a violinist for cocktail hour entertainment.
The couple did not shy away from color at their tented reception. The ceiling of the tent was draped in pale blue fabric with the intention of mimicking the sky. “We let the color shine through the florals, fresh cherry blossom branches, and loads of bright tones,” the bride says. Long tables were topped with white linens paired with alternating chairs in black and white. The couple had a custom black and white dance floor featuring their custom monogram crest. An oversized organic flower arrangement hung above the dance floor, creating a ‘wow’ factor.
The tablescape was made up of vibrant centerpiece arrangements on gold stands along with small bud arrangements and tall pink, white, and pale green taper candles in glass hurricanes. Black and white striped plates were contrasted with pink linen napkins.
“The lounges in front of the bar were colorful with a bit of a Parisian vibe,” Emma says. Pink velvet couches, striped black and white ottomans, and chandeliers suspended above created an ideal space for guests to take a break from dancing.
Taking in all the details of our real-life fairytale for the first time together is something I don’t have words for.
Emma and Ryan had a chance to do a ‘first look’ of the reception space before guests entered the tent, and this became one of their most special memories from the day. “Taking in all the details of our real-life fairytale for the first time together is something I don’t have words for,” she says. “You plan for so long and because of COVID-19, there were times you weren’t sure you’d get to this point. Then you’re there, standing in front of it all, and it’s more beautiful than you ever imagined.” The couple shared a private dance on the dance floor, just the two of them.
The couple took some time away with their photographer, Ninety Three Creative, to take photos around the grounds during golden hour.
Emma and Ryan made a grand entrance to the reception as guests cheered them on. Ryan didn’t miss the opportunity to dip his bride and share a passionate kiss.
Emma and Ryan offered three wedding cakes, along with eclairs for dessert. The cakes were almond cake with provence mousse filling, a chocolate cake with mocha swiss meringue buttercream, and blood orange cake with mixed berry compote.
At the reception, guests visited several dinner stations, including a carving station, mac and cheese and tater tot bar, and a slider station serving fried chicken, short rib, and impossible vegan burger sliders. Some of the couple’s loved ones shared heartfelt speeches, leading to lots of laughter among the guests.
Emma and Ryan hired 12 South Band to keep guests on their feet at the reception. But, the bride’s brother stepped in to sing the couple’s first dance song; “Lady May” by Tyler Childers. Emma shared a father-daughter dance to Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”, and Ryan danced with his mom to “Hey Mama” by Nathanial Ratliff.
Emma changed her look up for the reception and went for a full glam look with a custom jumpsuit with a detachable skirt. She embellished her ponytail with hair accessories that said “Bride.” “I wanted my day-of style to reflect something that was a bit more adventurous, yet I’d still look back on in 50 years and be in love with,” Emma says.
The couple hired a live painter to capture their first dance, which served as another source of entertainment as guests watched on.
To couples currently planning a wedding, Emma and Ryan advise, “Decide your big details up front and stick to them.”
The couple hired Saved by the 90s for the after-party. Guests were given props like sunglasses and noise makers to keep the party going, and enjoyed chili dogs as a late night snack.
The best part of the wedding? The bride shares, “Literally dancing the night away with all of the people we love most in the world, especially each other.”