Real Pittsburgh Weddings: John Bondi & Emily Stoken Are Where They Belong
The couple had their first dance to “Make You Feel My Love” — with some personalization.
When John met Emily
Emily Stoken and John Bondi met when they were in seventh grade. They began dating the summer before their freshman year and stayed together through high school. When they went to college, the couple faced the challenges of long-distance dating, resulting in short breaks in their relationship. But they found that they continually came back to one another. “You’re going through a lot and to come out on the other side of that … It’s not easy, but it’s possible,” Emily says.
She Said Yes
During a trip to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort with John’s family, John asked Emily to join him for a hike. About 2 minutes into their walk, John stopped at a garden patio and told Emily to have a seat on a nearby bench. After she sat down, she turned around to find John with a ring. Through many excited tears, Emily said yes. That evening, John surprised Emily again, inviting her parents to dinner with them and reaching her brother, who is a sergeant in the Air Force, through FaceTime to join the celebration.
The Big Day
John and Emily had a vision of a timeless and elegant day where they honored both of their families. Emily describes the first look with her father as one of her favorite moments and was overjoyed that her brother was able to attend. John’s wedding band is an heirloom from his late grandfather, and his cufflinks were passed down from his late uncle.
Emily had planned to sing Adele’s version of “Make You Feel My Love” at the reception, calling back to the early days of their high school relationship when she had performed the song for John as an inexpensive anniversary gift. But when John suggested it for their first dance, Emily saw an opportunity to record her own version to surprise him. As her voice rang through the room, they were both overcome with emotion.
“In our marriage, I just want us to remain those young kids, just like, stupid in love with no money — in our hearts, anyway,” Emily says. “That’s what that song always reminds me of, that time where we didn’t really know what love was, but we just knew that we meant a lot to one another.”
Happily Ever After
John and Emily honeymooned in Sandals Royal Curaçao. John, 27, is the director of player development for the All American Baseball Center in Monroeville, and Emily, 26, works in the entertainment industry and teaches at the Pittsburgh CLO Academy of Musical Theater. They live in Monroeville with their two cats, Luca and Pauly, and their Australian shepherd puppy, Enzo, continuing John’s family tradition of giving pets Italian names.
Ceremony & Reception site: Longue Vue Club, Penn Hills.
Caterer: Longue Vue Club.
Cake: Baked With Love.
Dessert: Made by family.
Dress: Peter Trends Bridal; One White Lane Bridal Gallery.
Hair: Hair Expressions.
Makeup: Make Me Blush Makeup & Beauty Lounge.
Suit: Heinz Healey’s.
Rings: Golden Creations.
Flowers: And Flowers.
Music & Entertainment: Protege.
Stationery/Invitations: Bondi Printing.
Favors: Lindt Lindor Chocolate Candy Truffle Bar.
Videographer: Just Hitched Films.
Officiant: Rev. Curtis Lane Paul II.