I never officially had the pleasure of meeting either Sabrina or Will as the PA lockdown began before they had booked me. We had a brief conversation on the phone just to get to know them a little and go over how they wanted their day to unfold. Love how soft spoken they both were and could tell how over the moon they were for each other, even though I couldn’t see them face to face. That was super sweet.
I arrived at the home of Will’s parents, who so generously hosted their wedding. Their home is so beautiful, with grand staircases, high ceilings and my favorite, lots of natural lighting. I couldnt have asked for a better location for my detail photos, than on the second landing of their steps, under a large, open window on hard wood floors. DROOL WORTHY!
Sabrina was located on the top floor in the back of the house, in a beautiful beach themed white bedroom. It was so pretty and relaxing, perfect for keeping an anxious mind calm. She is a beautiful, thin framed, red headed stunner, with a sweet sense of humor and very organized and detailed personality. I love how she had everything ready for me and was so excited for everything to unfold.
I met Will for a brief moment before heading off to see Sabrina, outside where everything was coming together for the day. He was a very calm, also soft spoken gentleman, who kept his cool with small talk and jokes. When it was time to focus on his details, I was greeted by his side of the wedding party, who were just as funny and down to earth as he is. I also had the opportunity to meet their little guy, who they called Jack- jack, who was just under 2, with bright red hair, fair skin and a smile for days. He is seriously such a ham!
Once we got Sabrina into her dress, it was time to surprise her girls with their first look. I loved how much emotion they shared together, including her sister, mother and friends. I loved all of their reactions and how much they were her hype team. We all need girls like them…
Once we dried all of the eyes from that room, it was time for Sabrina to share a first look with both Will and her father. Of course, Will was up first. She calmed herself before stepping outside and heading to stand behind him. He turned around and into each others arms they became one for just a little while. There was not a dry eye in the vicinity, including her girls who were sobbing from behind the large bay window in the distance; it was beautiful.
Next up was her dad. She did the same thing for him and he was overcome with emotion and joy all at the same time, as he saw his little girl in a wedding gown for the first time. Again, not a dry eye to be seen. After a little while, it was time to line up for the ceremony.
The ceremony was held on the beautiful large back patio, near a water fall under the large, shaded trees. They had set up an aisle through two rows of trees and ended it under a beautiful wooden arch. The ceremony was officiated by a pastor who was an old friend and traveled from Nebraska where Sabrina grew up. How amazing is that?! They had a lot of laughs and some watery eyes as they said their vows and shared their sand ceremony with their son. The ceremony was short and sweet, right to the point but included everything that was needed to be said.
Once the ceremony was over, we gave the newly weds a few moments alone together and let the guests settle into the cocktail hour. The hors d’oeuvres were served and a grand chutcuterie board was displayed amongst a table of cheeses, jams and breads. It was beautiful.
I then headed off to gather the wedding party and family and begun the formal photos of the day. The were such a fun family to work with and the property was just darling for the occasion. I loved how easy and relaxing it was to photograph them all and how pleasant Will and Sabrina were for their photos. They made the photos easy and the time pleasant. You honestly can ask for a more relaxed couple. I am sure if you looked up the quote “cool as a cucumber” their faces would be displayed nearby.
We headed into the dinner portion of the day, right after we finished photos and begun all of the speeches, including the fathers, best man and maid of honor. They all had to say what we all expected, on just how great of people they both were, and even though I hadn’t known them for long, I concurred.
Dinner was served buffet style, with lots of spicy BBQ styled veggies and foods. It was really tasty and it ended with time to cut the cake and go into the first dances. Every one gathered back onto the patio once more as we watched them cut the cake, get super messy and head off into their first dance. The sun began to drop as well as the weather. Sabrina removed the top layer of her dress and got nice and cozy in a super cute sweater that read BRIDE across the front. I loved it. They danced as the sun continued to set behind the hillside and light began to fade. Both them together and then separately with their parents. It was a beautiful way to end my day with them as they lit the fire and began to party.
I wish them nothing but the best, to many years of love and happiness and so much joy as they raise their boy together.
- What was the venue, in what town and what was the couple’s name? Wedding venue is the Bookwalter residence (Will’s parents’ house) in Fox Chapel. Sabrina Stewart & Will Bookwalter (John William Bookwalter IV), with their son Jack Bookwalter (John William Bookwalter V)
- 2. How did the couple meet?
- Oh… this question. This is a long story that puts a huge smile on both of our faces. So we were both zookeepers in Dallas, TX – both having moved away from home (bride: Nebraska, groom: Pennsylvania) for this job at the zoo. Will was a Primate Keeper (worked most with chimpanzees) and at the time, Sabrina was a Wildlife Show Keeper (worked on stage with education animals). For a whole year, Sabrina had seen Will in all-staff meetings and just wondered who the heck he was… biggest crush on him! Her team knew him as “apple boy” because he had spilled a crate of apples for the chimps off of a rooftop once. Well, little did she know, Will had seen Sabrina on stage doing one of the shows once… and knew then that it was love at first sight! Even though the show went incredibly wrong… no animals did what they were supposed to, Sabrina spent the entire time going “Don’t you worry!”. A while later, another all-staff meeting, Sabrina spoke up about her trip to Malaysia to see Orangutans in the wild. Later that week, Will messaged her on Facebook telling her he was also going to Malaysia to see Orangutans soon! He asked her for travel tips. She had no idea he was a seasoned world traveler… and she gave him tons of travel tips that he already knew. 😉 Their relationship grew on Facebook/texting and they talked every single day, but never saw each other at the zoo since they worked different sections. Finally, at an all-staff evening event, they spent the entire time together. Rumors flooded the zoo that they were seeing each other… but they had yet to go on a date! Soon, Sabrina transferred to the Primate Department and they started working together… both too shy to say anything to each other at work, but texted all day/night. One day, they agreed to meet for lunch at Lemur Island. They had a little picnic, and were both soooo nervous to finally be talking in person! This was the first day they hugged– Sabrina initiated it. It was awkward and nerve-racking and exciting and both of them had butterflies! Weeks later, Will finally asked Sabrina on a first date… (see next box. 🙂 )
- 3. How did the groom propose? I should note first that Will and Sabrina have an ongoing competition for who has the best puns… okay. Here it is. Fast forward from their first meeting, their first date, etc… THEY HAD A BABY! It happened so fast, but it was perfect! Little Jack. On New Year’s Eve, Will worked, and Sabrina was home with Jack. Sabrina surprised Will with homemade Oreo cupcakes, a bottle of nonalcoholic champagne, and some balloons. She even dressed cute and did her makeup!! With a new baby, they hardly got to celebrate anything– so it was exciting! But of course, by the time Will comes home, Sabrina is struggling with a crying baby and Jack peed all over her so she got upset, went up to shower and put on pajamas. She came downstairs, all sad and pouty, and… Jack and Will were sitting on the couch with a ring-tailed lemur stuffed animal. Will said: “Here, this is for you.” Sabrina thought it was a joke… “What? Where’d this come from? Is it Jack’s?” Will: “No, it’s yours. What kind of animal is it? Look at it.” Sabrina: “…A lemur?” Will: “Yes, what kind?” Sabrina: “…A ring-tailed lemur? A lemur? I don’t know! Why? Is this a joke?!” Will: “Look at the animal. It’s a ring……. tailed…… lemur.” Sabrina turned the animal around, and a wedding ring was on the tail. Will, holding Jack, said, :”Will you marry me?” Sabrina: “ARE YOU SERIOUS??” Will: “…Yes?!” Sabrina: “OH MY GOSH!!!” (Forgets to say yes) Finally says yes, they hug, cry, laugh. And they spend the rest of the evening drinking nonalcoholic champagne in their pajamas.
- 4. What was their first date?Will is the most thoughtful person I know – he never forgets anything anybody says. I had told him in the past that my favorite movie is a Japanese anime called Spirited Away. It means a lot to me and my sister, and I’ve seen it a dozen times. Well, he finally gets up the nerve to ask me on our first date, it’s a “surprise.” I meet him at this cute little area of shops and restaurants and we walk around, but then we walk up to the little artsy movie theater… in big letters it said: “7:00. Spirited Away” Sabrina knew immediately what they were doing and obviously freaked out ARE YOU SERIOUS?!!? WOW!!! SO SWEET!! and they saw the movie. Spent the entire time sitting next to each other nervously – finally their elbows touched… and then their full arm… and then… they held hands! You’d think they were 14!!!?? They weren’t, they were like, 24 and 30! After the movie they didn’t want the night to end, so they walked over to a comedy club nearby and stayed another hour, holding hands the entire time. When Will walked Sabrina to her car, they hugged and walked away… then turned around and hugged again. Hugged a third time, and Sabrina finally initiated a kiss! It was a short, nervous kiss! And that was it… the rest is history! One baby and a couple years later, here we are!!!!
- RECEPTION VENUE: Backyard patio
- COORDINATOR: Genna Giannetti
- BRIDAL GOWN: Vera Wang
- OFFICIANT: Mike McLaughlin (Sabrina’s youth pastor from Nebraska)
- TUXES: Will’s was custom tailored when he was in Vietnam a long time ago, groomsmen are rented from Men’s Warehouse
- BRIDESMAIDS DRESS: Vera Wang
- HAIR ARTIST: Salina, White House Salon
- MAKE-UP ARTIST: Sophie Stewart, bride’s sister, an esthetician in Nebraska
- BAND/DJ: Mike Taylor (violin)
- CAKE ARTIST: Cupcakes Most Wanted
- FLORIST: Teton Wood Blooms (sola wood flowers)