A Lush, Candlelit Wedding in Philadelphia

There may be no better bride than one who has attended 21 weddings by the age of 30. That bride was Maya Khalil, who during those 21 weddings realized that "weddings are like shoes: You have to find the right style and fit for each individual." So when it came time to plan her own romantic, modern nuptials to David Berg, Maya did her research, gathered lots of inspiration (especially from the Miami Beach Edition’s lobby design), and didn’t skimp on time and energy invested.

The bride's top priority was creating the ideal ambience (she loves wood, marble, and natural lighting), while her fiancé wanted an all-night dance party with no curfew. (Additionally, David has a family of 150 for whom attendance was non-negotiable.) With these factors in mind, the couple set out on an expansive venue search in New York City (where they live) and Philadelphia (the groom's hometown), where they ultimately found Skybox Event Center and the Joia Room, a circa 1870 factory that was recently renovated. From there, Maya—who does events for a living!—designed her dream romantic-meets-modern celebration. “I just needed to have enough imagination and find the right production team to help me turn this warehouse into an evening fairy tale," she says. Keep reading to see Lauren Fair Photography's images of what she created—with the help of a week-of planner and a creative floral designer. (Seriously, just wait until you see the leafy suspended chuppah!)

The bride wanted to feel like a sexier, more elegant version of herself—a feeling she found in the very first dress she tried on. “Vera Wang’s 'Petra' gown was structured, matte white, modern, and kind of serious," she says. Her favorite part was the back, which featured flaps that almost mimicked a tuxedo shirt. "I love men’s fashion, so that really appealed to me," she says.

The bride calls her bouquet epic, and she’s not being biased. “Botanical, exotic, dimensional with texture, lush green leaves, and pops of white with darker burgundy leaves, orchids, and blushing bride flowers—it made a statement in the best possible way,” she says. And since she's not a fan of boutonnieres, Maya had a custom pocket square made for David to wear.

The bridal party was formidable (nine bridesmaids and 13 groomsmen!) but coordinated well, with the women in dark metallic tones and the men wearing matching pocket squares.

“I wanted to have candlelight twinkling amongst foliage, kind of like a modern, industrial, overgrown-jungle fairy tale,” explains the bride. She stuck with a palette of mostly gray and gold, accented with pops of green. “The high wood ceilings and floors worked so naturally with the green foliage," she says.

Once they were under the floating chuppah, the couple gave each other a high-five before exchanging vows they'd written themselves—David weeks before, and Maya on the day of. "My vows were an honest list of things I will and won’t do in our marriage together, which really made people laugh," she explains. "I promised to always let him watch every single Philadelphia Flyers game—all 82—but I vowed to never attend one due to his lack of composure at games.”

The ceremony was led by one of David’s oldest friends, Jonathan Goldmann, with words and prayers by Rabbi Marsha Jane: "It was a blend of both our backgrounds and allowed for personal anecdotes by a close friend of ours," Maya says.

The bride had hoped for a destination wedding outdoors, and her floral designer was able to bring that vision to life thanks to beautiful trees and a massive foliage screen over the dance floor. “It was genius! We were surrounded by trees and danced under greenery with twinkling lanterns like stars in the sky,” she says.

For the family-style, farm-to-table dinner, guests sat in ghost chairs at candlelit tables covered in gray linens, matte-gold flatware, and an assortment of flowers (white orchids, palm leaves, aloe plants, calla lilies, ferns, and ivy). The couple chose to sit with 10 of their closest friends at a white marble-top table with driftwood legs. “It was insanely beautiful,” Maya says.

The cake was based on the bride’s matte-white dress and featured foliage around each layer and gold-painted fresh figs as a seasonal touch.

For their first dance, the newlyweds selected “Lucky" by Jason Mraz before doing the Hora. Says Maya, “It was insanity in the best way possible!”

But the bride's favorite part of the night came later in the night, during the after-party: "I remember seeing every single person on the dance floor jumping, swinging—there wasn’t one person sitting," she says. "I looked up and thought, 'This must be a dream.'” And with an all-night dance party in a space this gorgeous, we're going to assume it was exactly that.

Wedding Team

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