The church: the historic St. Joseph on the Brandywine. The reception site: the Hotel du Pont’s Gold Ballroom. The guest list: only a who’s who of Delaware.
Dan Larnick had been anticipating his wedding day ever since he was an altar boy at St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington. After watching countless couples tie the knot, he had a pretty good idea of what he wanted when it was his turn to walk down the aisle.
Larnick envisioned an elegant yet intimate affair that would be as much fun for family and friends as it would be for him and his bride.
By all accounts, Larnick’s dreams for that spectacular celebration came true last fall when he married Ann Principe. Months later, guests are still buzzing about the posh affair the couple hosted at the elegant Gold Ballroom at the Hotel du Pont.
Ann and Dan’s story began one late spring evening at The Starboard in Dewey Beach. Ann had come up from her hometown of Washington, D.C., to attend a friend’s wedding in St. Michaels, Md. Dan was welcoming the start of the summer season with friends. Ann was sitting on a crate with a friend when Dan’s madras shorts caught her eye. She gave them a tug. He asked her to dance.
They met again the next night and knew they’d be together forever.
“We just really hit it off,” says Dan, a local businessman who also works at Bank of America. “We had a lot of similar interests.”
They maintained a long-distance relationship while Ann was completing a master’s degree in health care administration at Georgetown University. But Dan didn’t wait for her to finish before he popped the question.
The surprise proposal took place on St. Patrick’s Day in a downtown Philadelphia parking garage where he presented her with a 2.2-carat custom-designed diamond ring.
Another surprise came her way when she found the perfect dress quickly—and unexpectedly.
“My sister and I had been running on a track in D.C.,” says Ann, a health care administrator with Christiana Care. “I knew there was a big event at the Vera Wang boutique, so we went down to check it out and I wound up walking out with a wedding dress.”
“Even my sister had never seen me in a dress like that, and she was like ‘wow,’” Ann recalls.
Ann complemented her gown with a cathedral-length veil embellished with Swarovski crystals. “My only ‘bling,’” she says.
Ann carried an all-white bouquet of hydrangeas, roses and tulips, her favorite flower. Dan wore a white tulip boutonnière in her honor.
For her bridesmaids, Ann chose knee-length dresses with ruched skirts and lacy tops in a metallic mushroom shade to complement their bouquets of green hydrangeas and orange roses.
On the October wedding day, guests gathered at the historic St. Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church in Greenville, where the pastor, Msgr. Joseph F. Rebman, officiated.
For the reception, everyone headed down to the sophisticated elegance of the Gold Ballroom, with its gilded rosettes, glittering chandeliers and bas-reliefs. Being sports enthusiasts, the couple had originally planned an outdoor reception. But when plans went awry, Dan checked out the Hotel du Pont and immediately realized that it would be the ideal setting.
“I think it was one of those things that was meant to be,” says Ann.
When Ann first saw the venue, she was awestruck. “Her eyebrows were up around her hairline and her jaw was down around her knees,” Dan recalls.
Ann lent a personal touch to the venue with alternating centerpieces that recalled her bouquet. One arrangement combined a white rose and white hydrangea while the other nestled a white hydrangea in some branches. Tea lights dangled from both creations.
Before dinner, Msgr. Rebman blessed the food with a prayer sung to the tune of “Edelweiss,” from the Larnick family’s favorite movie, “The Sound of Music.”
Dan also toasted his parents and his in-laws. whom he said represented “105 years of marriage, 14 kids, 23 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.”
Guests enjoyed a dinner with a choice of beef Wellington or chicken teriyaki. For dessert, they nibbled on carrot-and-Dutch chocolate layered cake topped with buttercream frosting.
After dinner, it was time to party. Ann’s mother had set the tone earlier by dancing her way into the reception. The FM Band took it from there with an eclectic mix of songs from Big Band favorites to more contemporary fare. Per the couple’s request, the dance floor remained packed all evening.
“Our band was unbelievable,” says Ann. “We probably had no less than 100 people out on the dance floor at all times.”
Quite an accomplishment, considering more than 200 people attended. Friends and family from 16 states came to honor the couple, as did Ann’s cousin, who is stationed in Afghanistan.
One of the highlights of the evening came when Ann’s friend Shelli Lord, a professional vocalist, joined the FM Band in a rendition of Etta James’ signature song, “At Last.”
Not to be outdone, Dan took the mike to deliver his interpretation of the Van Morrison hit “Domino,” substituting “Danny-O” for title lyric in the refrain. “All grooms should sing on their wedding day,” he says.
One of the things the couple still hears from their guests is how much fun they had dancing the night away.
“He had such a diverse group of friends, and everyone got along great,” says best man and former college roommate, Mark Dellose. “It was one of those weddings where you never looked at your watch.”
Jill Abbott agrees. “I’ve made friends from this wedding,” she says. “I don’t know of a time I’ve gone to a wedding and made new friends.”
While the couple has many wonderful memories, there is one moment in particular that Dan will cherish forever: the first time he saw Ann in her gown. “I was stunned,” he says. “She had a smile that gave me goose bumps all over.”
Venue: Gold Ballroom, Hotel du Pont, Wilmington
Gown: Vera Wang
Hair and makeup: Cielo Salon, Wilmington
Bride’s jeweler: Moe’s House of Diamonds, Washington, D.C./Annapolis, Md.
Bridesmaids’ attire: Nordstrom/Suzi Chin dresses
Bride’s and bridesmaids’ shoes: Jimmy Choo
Groom’s attire: Brooks Brothers
Groomsmen’s attire: Self-owned
Photography: Will Cisneros Photography, Foschi Photography
Videography: McNally Fine Video
Florist: Sweet Peas, Jennersville, Pa.
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Photo booth: Wilmington Photo Booth
First dance: “Have I Told You Lately” Van Morrison
In lieu of wedding favors, the couple made cash donations to The Mission Continues and the Wounded Warrior Project for disabled and wounded veterans.