Photos by Kevin Barré Photography
To say that Michelle Buchwalter is a perfectionist is putting it mildly.
When she began planning her wedding Michelle knew exactly what she wanted from start to finish. Thankfully husband-to-be Marc Badrian was as creative and passionate about the details as his fiancé. Together, the couple fashioned a wedding weekend that told their story – one they will cherish for a lifetime.
It all began after Michelle met Marc the first time at the now-closed Republic Coffee House. “I knew there was something special between us when our one-coffee date evolved into a five-hour conversation,” said Michelle. “It became our regular spot.”
They realized their paths could have crossed sooner. Michelle, born and raised in Queens, NY, attended Syracuse University where she studied Broadcast Journalism. After graduation she joined her mother, Barbara, in South Florida before accepting her FM100 gig in Memphis. (You may know her as Michelle Lewis, her on-air name). In the meantime, Memphis-born Marc had graduated from the University of Miami where he had studied TV, Radio and Film. He had come back home to attend the University of Memphis.
As the couple grew closer and talks of marriage began, they both agreed that they would wait two years, until Marc finished his graduate degree in computer science.
So, when Marc planned a half-day-long Disney World scavenger hunt to pop the question, Michelle was more than surprised. “Marc planned the entire day down to the tiniest detail,” she explained. “He had even made certificates that explained how we’d been chosen to participate. The clues led us to a rose garden in front of the castle where we were blindfolded and had to draw the best Mickey Mouse to advance. I was cheating trying to sneak a peak since I’m super competitive and wanted a good drawing. When I took off my blindfold, Marc was in front of me down on one knee!
“My sister, Pamela, and cousin Rachel were off to the side waiting for me,” continued Michelle. “I had no clue they planned to be there. The ‘Disney photographers’ were friends of Marc’s parents, who FaceTimed the whole thing once we put on our blindfolds.
“I was so shocked,” she said. “I ran away and hid behind a bush! Marc had to call me over and say ‘can you come back? I’m trying to do something here!’ I was so out of my body, I didn’t think it was real or really happening!”
Once they got back to reality, both agreed upon – or rather required – waiting two years to plan and perfect. “That’s when my OCD really kicked in,” said Michelle. “I interviewed vendors multiple times until I was sure I’d chosen the ideal match. I didn’t want to regret anything.”
She even tried on 70 wedding dresses, ultimately returning to Maggie Louise in Collierville, where the ladies convinced her to step out of her comfort zone and into a dress style that she never would have imagined herself wearing. “It was the ultimate choice,” said Michelle.
Neither waivered from their original ideas. “We both wanted the evening to be elegant and graceful, modern and sleek,” said Michelle. They were going for a New York-meets-Downtown Memphis-kind-of-vibe that told the Michelle and Marc story… down to the last coffee bean that the owners of Republic Coffee House gave them before closing shop.
Two years also gave Michelle the opportunity to plan the ultimate surprise for Marc. “I had to keep it a secret for almost a year and a half,” Michelle said of the videos she collected from seven musical artists who personally recorded wedding messages including Ed Sheeran and Gavin DeGraw (her favorites). Their best man helped edit the footage to present at the reception. “Marc always gets me. ALWAYS,” said Michelle. “I never EVER get him. It was the hardest thing I had to do.”
From the wedding ceremony under the uniquely modern chuppah, which also served as a centerpiece for the cake during the reception, to dance songs and drink selections, planning the rest of the details was a team effort.
Incorporating the coffee theme was a given. “Our signature drinks were coffee-based and named,” said Michelle. “We now have every alcoholic beverage in our home, because Marc became an expert mixologist, taste testing every drink until we came up with the perfect concoctions.” Chocolate-covered espresso beans packaged in pyramids – personally wrapped with love by the couple – adorned a table as party favors.
Michelle walked down the aisle with her mother to Daniel Jang’s violin version of John Legend’s song “All of Me.” Her bouquet was designed around her late father’s NYPD badge “so he could walk me down the aisle,” remarked Michelle. They also used her father’s tallis during the ceremony.
Marc and the groomsmen walked in to a Pentatonix’ version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” and the happy couple walked back down the aisle together to “The Way You Look Tonight.” They entered the reception to “Hooked on a Feeling,” giving homage to the movie Guardians of the Galaxy and their first dance was to Gavin DeGraw’s “Soldier.”
As guests entered the reception they were met with a selection of Michelle and Marc’s favorite vinyls they were asked to sign. Instead of a guestbook that would be opened on occasion, they now display the framed records in their home.
Intent on keeping guests entertained throughout the evening: the photo booth trailer, Amurica, fit snuggly into the Cadre’s ballroom. Late-night surprises included a bar cart stocked with shots of Fireball and tequila that kept everyone dancing, and grilled cheese sandwiches and a color-coordinated Gibson’s Donuts wall kept tummies full.
The evening ended when Michelle and Marc made their way to the awaiting horse-drawn carriage, but not before a friend from Boston asked the DJ to play “Walking in Memphis.” All of the guests surrounded them. “It was really a precious unexpected moment,” she recalled.
“In the end we were really proud of ourselves,” said Michelle. “We learned a lot. We met a lot of people and made new friends along the way. I had the opportunity to introduce my New York friends and family to the South, to the city where I met my soul mate.”