Justin & Melissa | Snow Leopard cubs, Penguins, and baby Kangaroos. Does it get any better? | Columbus, OH

March 21, 2018










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Justin: I woke up the morning of the wedding and went on a 16 mile run with one of my groomsmen and two of our guests.  (Us marathon trainers never take a day off!)  I don’t think I felt very nervous the morning of the wedding, I definitely had some jitters right before the ceremony, though!  The combination of the run, and walking around the zoo all day for pictures in a suit on a hot summer afternoon (July 1st), left me feeling pretty spent!  I was really concerned about standing in front of the ceremony in the heat (luckily our ceremony was pretty fast!).  Thankfully, I’m blessed to have a great support group and they brought me food, water, and gave me a nice pep talk, so I was ready to go!

Missy: I was completely fine until the morning of! That morning I woke up and Justin was already gone for his run. I had about an hour or two before I left for the hotel to get ready with the girls. I can remember sitting in the bathroom (on the floor) texting them telling them I was going to get sick! However, once I got to the hotel I was so calmed and really soaking in all the fun and excitement. My bridal party was amazing and they had mimosas, snacks, and gifts waiting for me. Once we got the day started I was completely fine. 


Our venue was the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Our wedding took place in the Heart of Africa. The ceremony was on the stunning patio that overlooks the whole African plane. There were giraffes, zebras, and other wildlife roaming during it. The reception took place in the attached ballroom. The room was massive and absolutely stunning. The details of the room were so pretty that we hardly needed to decorate.

The flowers! They were my favorite!! When I met with my florist I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. I’m not a huge flower person and don’t typically have a favorite one. I met with my florist and told her our location and that I wanted wild flowers and really a natural outdoors feel. After that, she took over everything! She created such a master piece out of almost nothing. The flowers were a mixture of different wild flowers and greens. The flowers had different shades of oranges, yellows, purples, and basically anything you can imagine. They were gorgeous! My wedding dress was the easiest thing I bought for the whole wedding! Justin and I had only been engaged for about a week when my mom and I went looking. I had zero intention of even trying anything on but I did know exactly what I wanted. My mom and I went to Atlas, a bridal store in Toledo. We looked at a few and my mom found one and said “what about this?” It met every requirement I had. It was an all lace gown with small cap sleeves/thick straps. It was a sweet heart neckline. It had a detailed back of all lace and pearl buttons going down the whole way. It had a medium length train and was exactly what I wanted. It was the first and only dress I tried on.


What was the most memorable moment of the reception?
Missy: Honestly, the whole thing was an absolute dream come true. But, if I had to pick I would say our speeches and just dancing the night away with my friends and family. When I think back to that night I just remember everyone being so happy and truly enjoying themselves. Oh! And like Justin said the snow leopards!! I mean…who gets to hold freaking snow leopards on their wedding day!! 🙂

I think the most memorable moment of the reception for me was probably the speeches by the Best Man and Maid of Honor, I think they both did an excellent job!  Melissa’s dance with her Dad and us breaking it down to Sisqo’s “Thong Song” were also up there.  Everyone joining together at the end of the night to belt out “Don’t Stop Believing!” by Journey was also great.  Oh!  And how could I forget holding the snow leopards!  That actually wins.  Nothing beats holding a baby snow leopard!

If you could choose one photograph to highlight from your whole wedding, what photo would that be?

JUST ONE?! Okay I’m breaking the rules and I’m giving you two. I wouldn’t even say these are my “favorite” although…all of our pictures were amazing so they’re all my favorite. Haha! But I picked these two because when I think back to my wedding I think of everyone who was involved and made our day special. I felt there was so much love in the air and not between Justin and I but from all of our friends and family as well and I think these pictures represent that. I also love that you can see the African surrounds. And, I love the one of Justin and I because I think it shows our true excitement and love. We had been together almost 9.5 years by the time we got married. We’ve been waiting a long time for this.

My tip for planning a wedding in Columbus is book early! Book your photographer, florist, venue, caterer, anything and everything you need! It’s amazing how many brides are in the area and how quickly everything you want books.

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