When “Words with Friends” turns into “more than friends”…
Tommy + Anthony Berner-Retro
Wedding Date: May 9th, 2019
Ceremony & Reception: Lowndes Grove
Tommy and Anthony met about 8 years ago when the app “Words With Friends” was all the rage. They had a few mutual friends and unbeknownst to them, were already friends on Facebook. They ended up getting matched and playing each other in a couple of games in which Tommy was relentlessly kicking Anthony’s butt. Eventually, the tables turned and Anthony swept in with his first win to which Tommy messaged him and said: “Well I guess I owe you a drink now.” About a week later they met for a drink (or three) and have been inseparable ever since.
Tommy & Anthony tell us the story of an epic proposal & all the details about their Lowndes Grove wedding accented with “grit” and masculine beauty.
Tommy surprised Anthony on our annual trip which in 2016, was Greece. Anthony started to get ready to hang out by the pool at our hotel in Mykonos when Tommy let him know that he reached out to the front desk and chartered a boat for us to enjoy for the entire day. However, once Anthony got to the dock, he was shocked by a private yacht with crew and all. It wasn’t until we paused for a moment as the sun set over the Aegean Sea that Tommy mustered up the courage to ask Anthony if he would be his guy forever.
Originally, the entire feel of our wedding was so incredibly different. We had given thought to rent a couple of houses on the beach somewhere warm with all of our friends and keep it super casual/bonfire style.
We both knew that we wanted something so incredibly unique and different than any of the weddings we had been to. Both of us have a love for warmer weather so we knew we would most likely be traveling, however, one of the things that we love about living in Philadelphia is its historic architecture, so we wanted to check out Charleston. That led us to fly down South with our planner, Zachary Connor of Zachary Andrew Events.
While there, we visited multiple places that simply weren’t giving us the Charleston feel that we had been looking for. We were hours away from flying home to Philly and walking away not so impressed. Seeing our struggle, our planner said that he had one more place that he would like to show us. This led us to the gates of 266 Margaret Street and when they opened, we got our very first glimpse of Lowndes Grove. The car was dead silent. We all realized that we had found the place and every other venue simply fell extremely short. Lowndes Grove was so effortlessly beautiful without any decorations that we knew this could be something special.
As an interracial gay couple, we had a few things to take into consideration given the original nature of the venue. We ultimately decided that this is what brings change, people like us and our guests enjoying something at a location that originally would have no seat at the table for us. Once we decided this was officially going to be the spot, the casual bonfire we originally thought we were going to have, turned into a formal event. From there we really started thinking about wanting our guests to have a full “Southern Charm” Charleston experience for the week!
We then met Jackie Willis Roberts (Director of Sales) and Carly Terrier (Events Manager) and we knew we were really in the right hands. We still think that our food tasting at PPHG was our favorite part of the entire planning process! The day of the wedding, Carly and her team completely knocked it out of the park. Her level of excitement and hospitality to both us and our guests was simply unmatched so much so, that we feel like Charleston has adopted two boys from Philly. Lowndes Grove is a completely magical place & the level of service provided by the team at Patrick Properties and our girl Carly is next level!
We really wanted to bring the southern flare with us and also wanted to enhance the beauty that was already provided by such a stunning venue. Both of us knew that we wanted it to feel extremely masculine since there would be no bride at this wedding. If we both had to use one word to describe Philadelphia it would be; Grit. We wanted to use a combination of hard and soft, light and dark which really helped to marry our overall aesthetic very nicely. Our planner, Zach, got a lot of our creative juices flowing and really brought our vision to life!
Jonie and her team at Palmetto Bloom really nailed our floral. Anthony would simply mention a style or something funky and different that he would want to infuse and Jonie simply delivered on every single detail. Even the little pineapples Anthony mentioned maybe one time over the phone as a rough idea, made their way into our centerpieces. We had these really amazing pompous grass clouds that we just had to have, we just didn’t know how to make it possible. Jonie was excited about each thing we threw at her, which in turn, just kept getting us so much more excited for the big day.
Since Tommy was the one to pop the question, Anthony had a little surprise up his sleeve for the wedding day. After giving our brothers our rings to hand off to one another during the ceremony, Anthony secretly switched out the rings to surprise Tommy with a brand new one during the exchanging of the rings. Sharing such a surprising moment between just the two of us as we stood in front of 100 guests was insane.
Our officiant was nailed down pretty early on in our planning process. Ian Morrison, better known to the LGBTQ+ community as Brittany Lynn, has been in both of our lives for over 15 years. He is a huge activist and an extremely positive representation of our community, we just knew he’d be perfect for the part.
What was your absolute favorite part of the day?
I think we both enjoyed tackling the entire day together. Most weddings that we have attended kept the couple separate until the ceremony and we decided to do the total opposite. From our early morning workout to the last few moments of eagerly waiting outside Lowndes Grove in our vintage Rolls Royce for the gates to open, the entire day was simply filled with moments we will both remember forever.
Then walking down an aisle to our best friend, Ian Morrison (Brittany Lynn), officiating us and reminding us to breathe was just what we both needed at that moment. After saying our vows, looking at each other for the first time as husbands was absolutely breathtaking. We have both been committed to each other for so long and together got to witness the legalization of Marriage Equality. To think when we started our journey together, our love wasn’t even legal yet.
Another moment that I think was really special to us was that Anthony’s grandmother ended up making it down to Charleston. It was almost one year to the date that his grandfather passed and just two weeks before the wedding, his grandmother tripped at Easter dinner and broke both of her ankles. We only found out two days before the wedding that she would be able to make it. Watching her on the dance floor (in her wheelchair) with our diverse group of friends could have melted anyone’s heart.
Which part of your wedding did you want to WOW your guests?
Getting 100 people from all over the US to Charleston was a daunting task and we knew that we wanted everyone that we invited, to have this be worth their while. We didn’t just want them to attend our wedding, we wanted to give them an experience they would forever remember.
The really amazing part is that our guests all have said just that to us. They had so many takeaways from their time at Lowndes Grove and the week that we all spent together. Something unique that we decided to do was keep our venue location a secret until just hours before the start of our ceremony. We wanted everyone to feel the way we did when you enter the property for the first time. We knew this would make a huge impression on everyone and provided them a glimpse into the night they were about to have.
Our “adopted Philly boys” have a special place in our hearts. Thank you, Anthony + Tommy, for allowing PPHG Charleston to play a role in making your dream come true!
(See Anthony + Tommy’s full wedding gallery HERE)
VENUE, CATERING, BAR & CAKE: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group
PHOTOGRAPHER: Jay Cassario + Eric Talerico of Twisted Oaks Studio
VIDEOGRAPHER: Blu Couture Wedding Films
DESIGN + COORDINATION: Zachary Andrew Events
MENSWEAR: Boyds Philadelphia | Canali Tuxedos
ACCESSORIES: Michael Kors Gun Metal & Rose Gold watches
HAIR: Joey Arzillo
MAKEUP: Jen & Jessica Ford of Faces by Fo
FLOWERS: Palmetto Bloom
RENTALS: Ooh! Events
BAND: OtherBrother Entertainment – DJ Wade