The bride and her mother danced to “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion.
Weddings are the celebration of two families coming together — a joining of traditions, personalities, and histories. And many couples choose to honor that through their sentimental Big Day details, such as by wrapping a bouquet in a treasured fabric, paying homage to heritage and ancestors through the theme, or incorporating cultural customs. This classic, black-tie Ballroom at the Ben wedding had numerous nods to family, from the couple’s signature cocktails to the bride’s dance with her mom. Philip Gabriel Photography captured the poignant moments below.
For Giovanna Roselli and Christopher DiArenzo, family was a key factor in their love story — from their first meet-cute to the wedding itself. The couple connected quite by chance in Sea Isle at the Dead Dog Saloon during Polar Bear Plunge weekend — but their mothers, Gabrielle and Kathi, respectively, were plotting to match them up before the duo first crossed paths. “It felt like fate brought us together, and we were meant to meet on our own rather than through our moms’ match-making,” says Giovanna, a marketing and event manager who previously worked at Philly Mag.
Nearly three years later, Christopher, a consultant, proposed while on a trip to Positano, Italy — and, yes, the families were in on it. Giovanna’s mother, stepfather and brother, and Christopher’s parents had already been there for two days before the big moment, which took place during a magical dinner at Il San Pietro hotel. Their families hid in the restaurant kitchen while Christopher popped the question, and came out afterward to further surprise Giovanna.
Giovanna and Christopher were engaged for a year and a half before saying “I do” on October 12, 2019, during a classic and timeless black-tie affair at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul and the Ballroom at the Ben. Unique decor details included a “GC” monogram designed by House of Catherine, which was incorporated throughout all the festivities leading up to and on the Big Day. It appeared on the invitation box, welcome signage, on the church program, and on the escort display. Varied centerpieces were decked with crystals, birdcages and mirrored accents, as well as touches of gold that popped against the black-and-white color scheme.
Among the most precious wedding elements were the sentimental family-focused touches. Pieces of Giovanna’s late father’s blue shirts were sewn into her gown as her something blue. The bride gifted a piece of jewelry to Christopher made from the gold of her father’s wedding band. Giovanna wore her mother’s diamond necklace — the pendant is the diamond her father used to propose — and carried a bouquet wrapped in ivory beaded satin from her mom’s wedding gown. And a memory table was set up with pictures of deceased family members, including Giovanna’s father. “It made him feel present on such a meaningful day,” she says.
The dances were special, too. In lieu of a father-daughter dance, Giovanna and her mother danced to “Because You Loved Me,” by Celine Dion. (Giovanna and Chris, by the way, danced to “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli.) And, in a nod to their union, the couple’s signature cocktails honored their families. The Roselli was a peach Bellini, the DiArenzo was a dirty martini, and the Franchetti (Giovanna’s stepfather Tom’s last name and mother’s new married name) was limoncello with prosecco.
When asked to describe their wedding, the couple says it was exceptional, grand, fun and exquisite. “It really was one big party — that’s the best way to describe it. There was so much joy and happiness in the room.”
Photographer: Philip Gabriel Photography | Venues: Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul (ceremony); Ballroom at the Ben (reception) | Event Branding, Design, Invitations & Welcome Gifts: Meghan Papiano of House of Catherine | Day-Of Coordinator: Renee Patrone | Florals: Vito Russo | Catering: Finley Catering | Bride’s Gown: Dennis Basso from Kleinfeld | Alterations: Nilah & Co. | Bridesmaids’ Attire: Kleinfeld | Hair: Daniella DiTomo Rohlfing | Makeup: Kathryn Sparacio | Groom’s Attire: Enzo Custom | Entertainment: Jelly Roll from BVTLive! | Cake: Gallo’s Bakery | Transportation: Philadelphia Trolley Works & Zark Limo | Videography: CinemaCake Filmmakers | First Dance Lessons: Society Hill Dance Academy | Photo Booth: Beat by Beat Entertainment | After-Party DJ: DJ Storgy
Getting married? Start and end your wedding planning journey with Philadelphia Weddings’ guide to the best wedding vendors in the city.