When Lisa Bechtel and Richard Freeman began planning their April 10, 2010, nuptials, they knew they wanted a whimsical wedding that focused on family. (Lisa has a son, and Richard a son and daughter from previous marriages.) But they also wanted it to reflect their fun-loving personalities. They started by choosing One Atlantic, a new venue on the boardwalk in Atlantic City that extends out over the ocean. With the sea as their backdrop, the couple, both healthcare administrators and native Philadelphians, exchanged vows at dusk with hundreds of white lights and candles glimmering overhead. “I wanted the ceremony to feel romantic and magical,” says Lisa.
After the “I dos,” guests enjoyed signature cocktails and butler-passed hors d’oeuvres including crab “cigars” artfully displayed in cigar boxes. For the first half of the cocktail hour, a string quartet played rock and alternative music before a deejay took over and the 150 guests watched in awe as the black-clad living statues around the room came to life. The surprises didn’t end there. During a dinner that featured braised short ribs, mushroom cappuccino, mahi mahi, and veal chops, a solo on the electric violin led into a Cirque du Soleil–type performance of the “bubble man,” who mesmerized onlookers from inside a confetti-filled balloon. “We wanted something so unusual that our guests would never forget it,” says Lisa. The evening continued with a show-stopping lineup of entertainers including a Neil Diamond impersonator, bongo player, stiltwalker, “butterfly man” maneuvering a giant butterfly overhead, and dancing feather ladies in elaborate costumes.
Indeed everyone, including Lisa who swapped her strapless silk Amy Michelson wedding gown for a short platinum party dress, stopped dancing just long enough to visit “the dessert experience,” a room filled with a jaw-dropping array of treats. “We didn’t want a traditional wedding cake,” says Lisa. “Instead we had many of our favorite sweets including candies from our childhood and today.”
A final twist: While planning her extravaganza, Lisa participated in the TLC television show Four Weddings, in which she and three other brides attend and rate each other’s affairs. Not surprisingly, Lisa and Richard’s extraordinary event took first place and won them a trip to Aruba. Having already honeymooned in France, the couple, who reside in Ventnor and New York City, decided to make the beach vacation a family getaway.
Looking back, Lisa would change just one thing about her big day: “I would have extended the party beyond 1:00 a.m. so that we could have celebrated until sunrise!”
PHOTOGRAPHER: Marie Labbancz Photography, 800-826-0420; artoflove.com
CEREMONY & RECEPTION: One Atlantic, Atlantic City, 609-343-9902; oneatlanticevents.com
BRIDE’S GOWN: Amy Michelson from Kleinfeld, Manhattan, 646-633-4300; kleinfeldbridal.com
BRIDE’S HAIR: Stacy Guirate, 215-260-6763
BRIDE’S MAKEUP: Denise Gevaras, Makeup Artistry by Denise, 732-300-3880; makeupbydenise.com
GROOM’S TUXEDO: Calvin Klein from Eisenberg & Eisenberg, Manhattan, 212-627-1290; eisenbergandeisenberg.com
WEDDING JEWELRY: Tejani, Manhattan, 212-354-3144; tejanibridaljewelry.com
DECOR & FLOWERS: Beautiful Blooms, Philadelphia, 215-925-9300; beautifulblooms.com
CATERER: Peachtree & Ward, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, 215-657-3111; peachtreecatering.com
STRING QUARTET Orchestrations, Manhattan, 212-678-2386; orchestrationsinc.com
ELECTRIC VIOLIN, LIVING STATUES, STILTWALKER, FEATHER
LADIES, BUTTERFLY MAN, BUBBLE MAN: Smash Party Entertainment, New York, 516-791-0006; smashpartyentertainment.com
BONGO PLAYER, DEEJAY, EMCEE: Ultrax Disc Jockeys and Encore Entertainment, Hamilton, 800-858-7291; thepartyexperts.com
NEIL DIAMOND IMPERSONATOR: New York’s Unique Entertainment Corp., Farmingdale, New York, 631-293-7017; ny-unique.com
LIGHTING: Eventions Productions, Aston, Pennsylvania, 610-485-5900; eventionsproductions.com
INVITATIONS: Two Paperdolls, Wayne, Pennsylvania, 610-293-4933; twopaperdolls.com