The Wedding of…
Shavaun Cotter & James Gakos
Ceremony: Saint Anthony's Orthodox Church
Reception: The Westin Governor Morris Hotel
Gown: Sottero & Midgley at i do ... i do …, Morristown, NJ
Bridesmaids: at Hearts For You and Castle Couture
Photographer & Cinematographer: Off BEET productions
DJ: DJ Ness
Makeup & Hair: Styled by Kayla
Florist: Flowers by Connie
Cake: Calandra’s Italian Bakery
Wedding Planner: Kelli Teglas Events
“Everything We Needed”
We met online through the app Bumble in Feb 2018. Our first date was at South House, a popular restaurant in Jersey City. I told James I was an environmental consultant and learned he was a financial advisor. We hit it off right away and had many adventures while dating, including a big trip to Greece in 2019. We moved in together in March of 2020, when the pandemic was starting.
James proposed in the summer of 2021 over Memorial Day Weekend at a winery in the Poconos on a stroll between the grape vines! We stayed the night at a cute little hotel with a restaurant attached. The next day, I thought we were coming home to just share the news with our parents and I walked into a surprise engagement party with our closest friends there to celebrate with us! James did a great job planning such a special moment for us.
We wanted a venue that had everything we needed in one place and would make travel and transportation as easy as possible since lots of family and friends were traveling from all over the country. We also consider ourselves foodies, so the menu was very important to us. The Westin operates a very well known restaurant where the head chef is in charge of all the wedding food as well. The cocktail hour and dinner service were excellent and the menu was a mix of fan favorites with an elegant twist so everything felt very refined while also giving that comfort food flavor everyone loves.
The ballroom and cocktail hour spaces were large enough to accommodate our wedding of around 215 guests. The spaces were also adjacent to each other, which made moving everyone from cocktail into the main ballroom quick, simple, and seamless. The rooms and price per head were also very reasonable, considering the post-Covid backlog. The Westin had everything we wanted for our wedding weekend.
We worked with Director of Catering David Lombardi and Christina Rodriguez, sales manager. Christina handled all the room block and hotel bookings while David handled all the onsite catering and wedding planning. We very much enjoyed the menu tasting and selecting our final menu for cocktail hour and dinner. Christina fixed any issues that were brought to her attention and we were upgraded to the Presidential Suite for the weekend, which was great for us!
Our ceremony was at Saint Anthony’s Orthodox Church, where James went to while growing up. He is Greek, so the orthodox ceremony was an important part of our marriage sacrament. I did not grow up orthodox, but Saint Anthony’s has always been very welcoming to me and they were very excited when James and I announced our engagement. Father Michael did an amazing job during our ceremony, making everyone feel included, informed, and welcomed.
Everyone raved about the cocktail hour. The food was plentiful as well as delicious. One of the highlights was the Knickerbocker martini bar which included mashed potatoes and smoked gouda mac n cheese with various toppings. Our guests loved it! When we entered the ballroom, it looked absolutely amazing. Our florist did an outstanding job with the centerpieces. Our candelabras looked stunning throughout the ballroom and we loved the large dance floor. The ballroom has an elegant decor and we also brought in our own special touches to enhance the room to our liking.
We selected chateaubriand with a red wine demi-glaze for our entrée and it was absolutely delish. It was cooked perfectly and our guests raved about it as well. We also chose the salmon which was the perfect option. It too was perfectly cooked and paired with great side dishes.
We were so blessed to work with such amazing professionals. David and Christina from The Westin were attentive to our needs and coordinated great with our vendors. It rained the day of our wedding, so we asked to do our portraits in the wine room at the hotel restaurant, which David set up just 30 minutes before cocktail hour! The pictures are amazing and are some of my favorites!
Several of our vendors were long-time friends who’ve been in the business for years. Connie’s selection of flowers brought my vision to life. OffBEET productions provided amazing entertainment. The energy from MC Denny and music from DJ Ness made our wedding such a memorable event. Kayla and her team made us all feel special and my makeup and hair held up all night even after hours on the dance floor! Kelli Teglas orchestrated the entire event and covered every detail from start to finish. We couldn’t have done it without her!
The Westin Governor Morris
Morristown, NJ, 973.539.7300, marriott.com