Elizabeth Looney Photography
Princess Brooke as she teasingly addresses herself always dreamed of an over-the-top wedding, “like me,” she said.
Dramatic is how Brooke Vogel Ortman described The Columns in Downtown Memphis, where she’d always dreamed of having her wedding. It fit her style to a T.
“I had visions of orchids, with gold and ivory, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to pull it all together,” said Brooke.
That’s when she and her mom, Stacy Vogel, met with longtime friend and simcha planner Janis Kiel (J Designs). Brooke had also worked with Janis years ago, as did her sister, Ashley.
“Immediately following my first meeting with Brooke and Stacy I realized that this was going to be my first fairytale wedding,” said Janis. “Brooke is all about glitz, glamour, lots of sparkles, gold and full of LOVE. Quite honestly, I was very hyped that this was not going to be just a nice, typical wedding.”
And fit for a princess it was. “From the soft layers of romantic light-blush ruffles in Brooke’s wedding dress, the five-tiered cake adorned with sparkling glitz, to the glistening gold guest chairs, this wedding was exactly what this princess had her heart set upon,” Janis described.
To top it off was the chuppah designed by Holliday Flowers and Events that included blush garden spray roses, orchids and delphinium. “The golden fabric-cover legs and hanging inverted flowers represented the house Brooke and husband Matt Ortman would share together,” Janis continued.
“Her dress really set the mood for the entire affair,” said Stacy. “It was perfect for Brooke.”
“And something I would never have imagined for myself,” Brooke chimed in.
Everything evolved as Janis guided Brooke and Stacy for the transformation throughout the evening. Having the ceremony in the same space as the reception posed a challenge for the Holliday Event’s team, but something they’re accustomed to. With more than 300 guests, including 100 of Matt’s Ohio family, the tables had to be moved from behind the drapes and the chairs reconfigured before the party could begin.
The chuppah remained the centerpiece throughout the evening creating the dramatic effect envisioned by all and showcasing the cake after the ceremony. It was also the most important thing on Brooke’s mind. “The chuppah was all I wanted to see when I walked into the room,” she said. She was so devasted with the thought that it had to be dismantled at the end of the evening that she stayed to eat a bowl of pasta while sitting under it for the last time.”
The couple’s monogram shined the wall behind the chuppah throughout the ceremony and into the evening.
Brooke and Matt met in Memphis at a mutual acquaintance’s home. He was headed back to Ohio to work for a chiropractic practice that had recruited him right out of school. Luckily for the couple, he was also offered a position at a Memphis practice and the rest was the happily-ever-after they were each looking for.
While Brooke interwove family heirlooms into the ceremony, Matt wore a tallit that his parents, Joan and Marty Ortman, used during a vow renewal they had in Israel several years ago. Matt’s brother, Eric, and his wife, Caitlin, also used the tallit in their wedding ceremony a couple of years ago.
Brooke wore a necklace that friend Philip Gattas (Gattas Jewelers) reimagined from a ring of her Bubbe, Sandy Lewis’ jewelry collection. At the time of her bat mitzvah, Sandy told Brooke to choose a piece that she liked. “My Bubbe was so much a part of my life that I wanted a part of her to be there with me during this special day,” said Brooke. The satin and lace handkerchief she carried was a special gift from her aunt Debby Wilk. It was made from pieces of Brooke’s great-grandmother, Alice Levitch’s gown and veil. Brooke also hand-made her fragrance at the perfume bar at Nordstom’s. “Elizabeth, our photographer, suggested that I have a special scent so I would think of my wedding whenever I wore the scent again.”
To top things off, or to ground them – so to speak, Brooke’s heels dazzled on their own. She later changed into glittery tennis shoes so that she could dance away the evening to the Memphis Soul Revue.
Another surprise was the wedding painting. Brooke really wanted her wedding and reception captured by a painter who specializes in event painting. Everyone kept telling her that the women had another event and wasn’t sure if she could be there. “I cannot wait until I get to see the final painting,” she exclaimed.
Another keepsake is the laser-cut ketubah found online. “On a trip to Israel, Scott, (Brooke’s dad), and I tried to find the gallery of an artist we’d been told had amazing work,” said Stacy. “It was raining and dreary and when we finally found the shop, we saw he had moved to a different city. Needless to say, we never bought the ketubah in Israel. When we found out where Brooke had ordered hers, it turned out to be the same artist.”
“We decided to make a formal wedding a little non conventional by having food stations that were fun and different, what Brooke envisioned instead of stuffy banquet food,” said Stacy. “We started with cotton candy-lined glasses of champagne along with sushi and fruit and cheese appetizers.” The food stations salad station with salmon and all the toppings you could imagine, a mashed and sweet potato bar, a pasta-making station will all the sauces and veggies to stirred in, an Ahi Tuna and Salmon Taco Bar, and Brooke’s absolute favorite – a grilled cheese bar.
“For dessert we added chocolate covered strawberries (homemade by Robin) and different flavor ice cream scoops to compliment the cake,” continued Stacy. “Robin was amazing, creative and the food was awesome!”
“It was the perfect wedding,” said Brooke. “Everything was so beautiful, over-the-top and so above my expectations.”