Beautiful Relationships Start as Buds and then Bloom: Madison and Michael's Elegant Estate Wedding as Featured in The Pioneer Issue

Beautiful Relationships Start as Buds and then Bloom by Sarah Lapine

A simple sentiment of wisdom and beauty, spoken to a granddaughter by her grandmother. For Madison and Michael, those words carry rich meaning in their lives.

It was Madison’s grandmother, or Teta, as she called her, who spoke these words. Madison described her as having been a spirited, independent, fashionable woman; the mother of five boys. “Growing up in Egypt and attending a French school, she loved French fashion. She had no daughters, but several granddaughters. I grew up in the same town as her, and we had a very close relationship. She was hilarious,” said Madison. And her words, wise, as they encapsulate the story of how Madison and Michael came to marry.

Their story began in middle school at their church youth group. “Michael was new, he had a mushroom haircut, and I just went up to him and started talking,” remembered Madison. She quickly departed as more girls began to swarm around the new guy, but she has always remembered that first meeting. “It wasn’t romantic. I’ve just never forgotten that moment.”

Recalled Michael, “She was this crazy, friendly, tomboyish girl with long, curly hair. She was one of the first people to talk to me.” Perhaps it was her spirit; perhaps it was her dark, gorgeous hair. But one way or another, she had left an impression.

Throughout high school, Madison and Michael remained close friends, spending much of their time with each other. They studied together, ate lunch together and practiced their guitars together.  Ironically, the first song they played together was "Better Together." But despite the teasing and taunting of their friends, romance never blossomed, perhaps to Michael’s dismay. It wasn’t until Michael went away to college in Indiana that Madison realized she missed his companionship. And so began their long-distance courtship.

As they both pursued their studies in the sciences, Michael in biomedical engineering, and Madison in biology, they spent hours talking and studying over Skype. They often sent each other photographs of things they liked, and for a while, Madison sent nothing but images of majestic mountains. It was fitting, then, when Michael surprised Madison with a birthday trip to Colorado to see those mountains in person.  

The two journeyed west just one month after their college graduations. They spent time visiting friends and marveling at the beauty of the landscapes. On the final day of their adventure in the mountains, Michael suggested that he and Madison picnic in the valley of Estes Park. And it was there, surrounded by wildflowers, under a perfectly bluebird sky, looking out at the towering peaks of the Mummy Range, that Michael proposed to Madison.

“I think I was mid-bite when he got down on one knee,” laughed Madison. And though Michael said that she looked somewhat bewildered, she hugged him and said yes. When the moment had sunk in a bit, Michael realized he was still holding her engagement ring.  “Do you want this?” he asked.  And so, among the wildflowers, the ring was placed upon her finger.

We wanted to be genuine. We wanted to be real about each other and genuine about our faith.  We wanted to be genuine about our family.

These were the intentions that guided Michael and Madison as they began to plan their springtime wedding. “I love beautiful things,” said Madison, “but I never wanted to be flashy or showy. We wanted to be purposeful in our choices.”

The venue, a historic estate and gardens, was chosen for its French Provincial architecture and the hand-painted wallpaper in the dining room, imported from France. Elegant in its details, the manor felt like a subtle nod to Teta. “It’s sometimes the small things that trigger your memories,” said Madison.

Madison designed the bridesmaids’ dresses herself, taking on an admittedly ambitious task. Her designs were brought to life by two talented family friends. Several of the flower girl dresses were also handmade, lovingly sewn by Madison's mother and two of her friends. The three women stayed up late into the night to complete the little, white tulle dresses in time for the wedding.

Several details were chosen to reflect the bride’s Egyptian heritage, such as the gold Egyptian perfume bottles given by Madison to her bridesmaids. Sugared almonds were selected as favors for their guests, and Madison and her sisters taught all of the bridesmaids how to make Egyptian-style baklava, which was served with tea at the end of the wedding evening. Encouraged by her grandfather, Madison also wore bridal henna on her wedding day. “I loved how he was invested in our wedding and made sure I kept with some traditions,” Madison said.

And that bridal gown. Madison adored the beautiful, long sleeved wedding dress her mother had worn on her own wedding day. Inspired, Madison chose a sleeveless gown, purchased delicate lace, drew up a sketch, and asked seamstress Carolyn Fang to help create the dress she saw so clearly in her mind. The result was a gorgeous, long sleeved, French lace gown that fulfilled Madison’s romantic vision.

Despite months of careful attention to each detail, when their wedding day finally arrived, things didn’t go quite as smoothly as Madison had hoped. “The morning of our wedding was madness,” said Madison. “Things went awry.” She spoke of a moment of recognition in the midst of the whirlwind, however, when she was reminded of why marriage is important. To have an unconditional partner in life to stand by your side when your world is spinning in the wrong direction is a gift.

And when she finally put on her wedding gown, Madison felt things lighten and shift. “The whole day changed,” she said. As she stood there, surrounded by her beautiful sisters, family members and friends, she felt as if she were in a surreal moment.  Waiting for the ceremony to begin, she opened Michael’s gift to her. It was a pendant, holding Teta’s wedding picture, to fasten to her bouquet. Included was a note from Michael that read, “So she can be with us on our special day.” “We all cried,” Madison said, “but it was a beautiful reminder of her.”

Madison’s gift to Michael was also a reminder of the palpable support and strength bestowed upon them by their families. It was his grandfather’s pocket knife, which he kept in his jacket pocket throughout the ceremony.

At half past four in the afternoon, Madison joyfully walked down the aisle towards Michael, as arrangements from Pride and Prejudice were played. Three different pastors officiated, including Madison’s uncle who flew from Egypt to give the sermon and support them on their wedding day.

Following the ceremony, Madison and Michael snuck away to the estate's gardens. Hiding under a tree, the now husband and wife quietly reveled in their unity. “It was a moment of peace,” said Madison. A moment that seemed to stand in time.

For the rest of the evening, Michael and Madison joined their guests in celebrating the love around them and the beauty of the day. Even a fox joined in the fun, dashing across the manor lawn during the maid of honor’s toast; a magical moment that will not be forgotten.

At the end of the night, the guests lined up in front of the estate, cheering, as the bride and groom dashed towards their car. Madison chose this moment to toss her bouquet. “It was simple and exciting," she said. “It was a perfect way to end the night.”

Our hearts are into bettering people's lives.

As Madison and Michael continue to journey on their life path together, they are guided by their faith and a mutual passion for creating a more positive world together. Michael is currently working on doctoral studies in biomedical engineering at Ohio State, with the intent to help improve healthcare. Madison is the founder of POINT, a company working to design an app that connects people with service opportunities and makes giving to charitable organizations easier. “We are both entrepreneurially minded,” said Michael. “We like to create things and we are invested in our communities.” Together, they are cultivating compassion and positive change.

“We like to push each other,” said Michael. “I married Madison because she is passionate.  She is always pushing me to be better. She is invested in who I am. And, she's gorgeous!” Just as their relationship bloomed after so many years of knowing each other, so too are their intentions for living a passionate, service-filled life. With the other by their side, Madison and Michael know they are better together.

Find more inspiring stories and real wedding in The Pioneer Issue, now on news stands!

Artistic Credits: Photography by Justine Milton Film Scans by PhotoVIsion Prints Venue, Kingwood Center Event Planning and Design by the Bride Day of Event Coordinator and Styling by Birds and Honey Event Coordinator by Umbrella Barrel Catering by Blue Ribbon Catering and Mazah Mediterannean Eatery Floral Design by the Bride's Family and Friends Cinematography by Little Tree Studios Cake by Blanca Guerra Ceremony Music by Isaiah Wu, Daniel Wu and Stephan Spottswood Cocktail Hour Music by Stephan Spottswood Reception Music by Caleb Apker and Lauren Mikail Wedding Bands by Store5a Bride's Makeup by Columbus Wedding Makeup Bridesmaid Makeup and Hair by Makeup and Hair by Laura Bridesmaid Dresses by Bride, Cloty Julca and McWherter Henna Art by Bindu Verma and Creative Calla Corner Calligraphy by Plume Calligraphy