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An Intimate, No Frills Wedding in an Industrial Loft in Philadelphia

By Alexandra Macon

Filmmaker Ben Altarescu and educator Eden Wall first crossed paths like many young people in Manhattan tend to do—at a bar. “We were both there because of a mutual friend,” Eden explains. After a few years dating, “exactly 5 years, 9 months, and 7 days,” as Ben recalls, the couple planned a romantic getaway at an Airbnb in the Adirondacks. “We went out to a delicious dinner and then went back to the house and opened a bottle of wine to watch a movie outside,” Eden says. “Ben went to go “get a wine opener,” got down on one knee, took out the ring and asked me to marry him!”

When it came time to figure out a venue for their big day, Ben and Eden knew they wanted their wedding to feel more like a big party than a traditional wedding. “Even though we invited close to 200 people, we wanted it to feel intimate and relaxed,” Eden explains. “Family-style food, long banquet tables, DIY flower arrangement, having Ben’s brother as emcee.” The American Street Showroom, an exhibition space and artist studio in an industrial building in Fishtown, felt just right. “It was perfect for all of that.” And with the wedding set for October 7, the couple started planning the entire event themselves, although they did hire a day of coordinator, Beth Koenig of Brass Tack Events, to help with the last-minute details.

“I initially didn’t even know if I wanted a traditional wedding dress,” says Eden about searching for her bridal look. “It was hard for me to imagine myself in one.” She found what she didn’t know she was looking for at Shareen, a wedding dress designer who also runs a vintage line. “She put me in a simple but elegant dress that I would have never picked out for myself, but if felt right, comfortable, and perfect as soon as I put it on.” The dress was incredibly minimalistic—no lace or embroidery—and the bride kept her makeup, jewelry, and hair equally simple. “I wore my grandmother’s diamond earrings, a bracelet from my mother-in-law, and that’s it.”

The day of their wedding, Ben and Eden’s ceremony was short but meaningful. “We didn’t like the idea of standing on a stage with rows and rows of seats facing us,” she says. “To help with this, we had about 40 chairs in a semi-circle around the chuppah and asked the rest of our guests to stand close.” The couple’s siblings were the first to walk down the aisle, then Ben followed with his parents, and finally Eden, accompanied by her mom and dad. A close friend served as the day’s officiant and spoke a little bit about how the two met. “When he was done, my uncle, who is a musician, sang a song he had written for us,” Eden adds. “After that, we each read our vows, exchanged rings, broke the glass, and kissed!”

After the ceremony was over, guests were treated to cocktail hour and a large antipasto spread, while Ben and Eden made a speech thanking everyone for coming and their families for hosting the event.  After that, the couple were in for a surprise when Ben’s brother summoned everyone to the dance floor and played a special video specially made for the two of them. “He had recorded a live performance of one of our favorite bands, Dawes, and combined it with a montage of photos of me and Ben,” Eden remembers. “It was amazing and we were so shocked!”

Then it was time for their first dance to Otis Redding’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” and later guests were treated to dinner and a few rounds of toasts by the bride and groom’s parents and siblings throughout the meal. To kick off another round on the dance floor, the newlyweds performed a “family dance,” which kept guests on their feet for a while, and later wrapped up with an after party at a local dive bar. But the celebrating was still far from over. “The next day we had a brunch at Ben’s cousin’s house in the country with food trucks and make-your-own micheladas and mimosas.” Of course, all that partying left the couple exhausted, so they escaped off to a mini-moon in Miami, where they stayed at the Standard Hotel. “We laid by the pool, relaxed, reminisced, and slept in,” she adds. Sounds just like heaven.