Intimate Wedding With Family
Vungelia and John had such a wonderful wedding day. It was not the one planned with hundreds of people at Tudor Arms due to Covid-19.
Please enjoy, Scott Shaw Photo | Cleveland Wedding Photographer
Instead it became a family affair with their parents and siblings only. We started with each family at houses across from
each other. Then they still held it at their Greek church and we still stopped at Tudor Arms for some photos. Plus a park
that Vungelia loves and then the much smaller reception at Nuevo Modern Mexican. The size was perfect as they had the
entire second floor.
Vungelia wrote so much about the entire experience that I will get out of the way and share her words.
Enjoy the photos and all of her thoughts!
“Even before Covid-19 we had to replan the entire wedding because our original venue went bankrupt. The wedding was supposed to be
May 23, 2020. We sent out Save-the-Dates and had the greater majority of the wedding day planned knowing that I was soon
moving to NYC and so planning a Cleveland wedding from a far would be pretty tricky. Once the venue notified us of their
bankruptcy and inability to uphold our contract, fight to get our deposits back and venue shop all over again from afar
we also had to switch vendors to a new date.”
Then Covid-19 hit and they had to cancel the bachelorette party, bridal shower, honeymoon and let all the guests know about the
wedding day not happening.
“Keeping our friends and family safe and healthy though was our biggest concern. No matter what Ohio legislation wrote of
occupancy we didn’t want to put anyone in the difficult position to attend our wedding with healthy/safety concerns in mind.
Our 250 person big, fat, Greek wedding quickly became a ceremony and reception of nine of us eating tacos all dressed up.
“We were heartbroken our grandparents couldn’t see us get married. Disappointed our friends couldn’t witness their first
Orthodox ceremony and deeply saddened to not have our friends/family that were planning to travel from across the world to
be with us not able to actually attend. But again, our biggest priority was to keep everyone safe. We kept reminding ourselves
that everyones safety made the disappointment far worth it.”
The couple was able to share the ceremony live on Facebook.
“My Yiayia (grandmother) Giannoula was able to park outside the church to give us a wave from her car right after the ceremony! It was
a nice treat for the limo to drive by my Yiayia Kety’s house so we could give her a wave from afar too. She was walking
to her mailbox to get her mail right as the limo pulled up. Imagine her surprise when I popped out as a married woman in a
big, white dress!
“Our families did an AMAZING job of making our day very intimate and fun for us despite all the last minute changes to plan.
In fact, because it was just a party of nine our two families especially bonded with each other and we all clearly grew even
closer in this time – a bittersweet victory.
The ceremony at her home church of Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral was the first Covid-19 wedding they
conducted. Vungelia was baptized there and her parents were married there. Both events were led by Father Stephen Callos.
He was supposed to officiate the wedding but his age was higher than permitted by the church. Father Tom Drenen replaced him.
“The week before the wedding my mom stumbled upon an angel: Jennifer Hirt, the event coordinator from Nuevo Modern Mexican.
We planned our very small reception with Jennifer in the few days leading up to the wedding. It’s because of my mom and
Jennifer that we even got to experience a reception at all! I’m so thankful for this collaboration.
At the ceremony I saw Vungelia’s father, George, carrying a computer briefcase and thought it was odd but didn’t ask him
about it. Then I saw it again at the reception. Finally I knew why when he took out a homemade money vest made with $100
bills! I would keep that close to me all day too.
“My dad is unique and simply iconic. A man of few words, but bold moves. It was a super cool moment!”
I love how Vungelia summed up everything about this wedding!
“The day was nothing like how I planned or imagined. It was bizarre and even scary to say the least. But I’m SO happy we
did not postpone. The day was so intimate and full of love and happiness. Friends always warned us of regrets from their
wedding days that they couldn’t spend enough time with their closest loved ones because they were so busy on the day! We
spent every minute of the day with our parents and siblings and just made the most of the situation. I have absolutely no
regrets. I know we did the right thing by closing the ceremony and reception off from guests to keep everyone safe. All in
all, I’m incredibly blessed because I got to marry my best friend. What more could I ask for our wedding day?”
John got help from his brothers Nicholas and Stephen while his parents Fran and Aristotle did the same.
Vungelia talked to her sister Katerina and mother Maria before putting on her dress.
John’s reaction when he first saw his bride was wonderful!
Her father George walked her down the aisle.
Father Tom led the ceremony to a much smaller group than usual.
The Dance of Isaiah is the couple’s first dance as husband and wife. Led by the priest holding the gospel the couple is
reminded that God and the church are the foundation of their marriage.
Friends and family waited outside to greet the couple.
Stephen saved the veil as it was getting stuck on a fire hydrant.
Loved being able to capture these photos at Tudor Arms.
The couple took a walk on the stage in the empty ballroom and then reflected on what could have been.
They put their masks on before heading back outside.
Vungelia and John showed their sense of humor with some bottles of Corona.
Yiayia (grandmother) Kety was surprised when the couple stopped by as she was checking the mail and blew them a kiss.
Vungelia’s father George surprised her with an airplane circling the reception.
Photos of the couple were played during the reception.
The money vest! First I have ever seen.
Officiant: Father Tom Drenen
Ceremony: Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Reception: Nuevo Modern Mexican
Original Reception Venue: Tudor Arms
Cake: Jennifer Hirt
Florist: Vase 2 Vase
Hair:Natalie Corrigan-Mook-Salon One Twenty Two
Makeup: Stephanie Zwolenik-Salon One Twenty Two
Dress: Kleinfeld, NYC
Suit: Men’s Wearhouse
Bride’s shoes: Badgley Mischka
Limo: A-1 Mr. Limo
Livestream: Clay White
Assistant: Parker Shaw
Thank you for viewing this Covid-19 did not stop this wedding day.
– Scott Shaw Photo | Cleveland Wedding Photographer