First meeting early on in college, Stephanie “Stevie” Lustofin and Christian Sbarro built a solid friendship before they started dating their senior year. “I think we both really knew our first ‘real’ date outside of our small college world,” explains Stephanie of a weekend spent in New York City. “As a 21-year-old, you’re not necessarily thinking about marriage, but I certainly felt that’s where Stevie and I were headed,” shares Christian. Before long, they moved to Seattle and Christian proposed on Whidbey Island. 

Since their relationship kicked off in New York City, the bride and groom selected the location for their destination wedding. “Having our special day in the city where we had so many memories early on in our relationship felt fitting,” smiles the bride. In fact, one of the restaurants they visited on that weekend became part of their wedding itinerary. “One of our best memories is a breakfast date we had at Sarabeth’s, which we ended up choosing as the venue for our rehearsal dinner,” she adds of the sentimental site. 

As both Stevie and Christian were raised in the Catholic faith, they chose a stunning church for the traditional church ceremony. “We immediately fell in love with the beautiful high blue ceilings,” affirms the bride. Though the sanctuary was gorgeous enough on its own, some pastel-toned florals were incorporated to foreshadow the décor scheme to come. 

The bride entered in a glamorous gown featuring a boned bodice and full skirt, clutching a bouquet of pastel pink, lavender, and blue florals adorned with two photo charms of her late father to remind Stevie that he was still with her as she walked down the aisle on the arm of her babcia (grandmother in Polish). “She was the closest to my dad and I am her only granddaughter, so it was very emotional,” confirms Stevie. Her groom remembers of the service, “Saying our vows in front of all our family and friends was momentous.” 

“I wanted beautiful spring colors that would pop since the ballroom had just been redone in mostly white.”

Once Stevie and Christian were pronounced husband and wife, they joined attendees at a luxurious hotel near Central Park for a formal fête that incorporated family traditions and personal touches. Guests were seated at either round or rectangular tables surrounded by oval-backed chairs and decorated with breathtaking blooms illuminated with colorful taper candles and votives. “I wanted beautiful spring colors that would pop since the ballroom had just been redone in mostly white,” describes the bride of the desired palette.

To incorporate Stevie’s Polish heritage, the mother of the groom surprised the newlyweds with a traditional bread-and-salt blessing she performed with the bride’s babcia. “It was a very sweet and special moment, and we were surprised even more when my Polish family lined up and sang us ‘Sto Lat’ afterwards, which is a toast to the newly married couple meaning ‘100 years,’” notes Stevie of the custom.

Following their first dance to “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, which was captured on canvas by a live event painter, Stevie shared a polka dance with her grandfather and toasted “na zdrowie” with everyone as homemade shots of Polish moonshine were passed to guests. “[That] really loosened the crowd up,” laughs Christian. 

The rest of the night was spent celebrating on the dance floor, which was illuminated with the couple’s wedding monogram. “During the reception, there were moments where we would stop and just soak in the convergence of our families and friends from all different pockets of our lives that would have never connected – and may never again if not for that night,” the groom reminisces. “That was so incredible to witness.” 

Not wanting the day to end, an after-party kept the revelry alive. The extra time also allowed for Stevie to have not one, but two dress changes and for the pair’s favorite late-night treats from Shake ShackJoe’s Pizza, and Ample Hills Creamery to be shared with loved ones on the most perfect day of their lives. “So many people told us it was the best wedding they had ever been to, and we were so glad everyone had fun!” exclaims the bride.

This real wedding was originally published in the Fall 2023 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

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