Anna + Steven

Written by Kailyn Warpole // Photography by Denis Lemay, Ocean View Photography

Anna Wiest's and Steven Smith's relationship began seven years before their wedding date. In 2008, Steven, who was serving in the Marine Corps, met Anna, who was attending Kent State University in Ohio. "He was friends with my sister at the time, and he was visiting for spring break," says Anna. "We met and started dating from there." The couple maintained a long distance relationship for about a year until Anna graduated from college and Steven left the Marine Corps. From there, the two decided to move to the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, area.

In February 2014, Anna and Steven ventured to snowy Vermont for some skiing and snowboarding fun. Little did Anna know that a romantic surprise awaited her when they arrived at the hotel. "I had told Steven what hotel I'd wanted to stay at," says Anna, "and we walked into the room and I realized that it's this big suite, and I'm like, 'This isn't our room. We're not supposed to be in here. They gave us the wrong room!'" But then Anna saw the champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, and she realized something big was about to occur. Steven got down on one knee and asked Anna for her hand in marriage. After their six-year courtship, Anna officially became Steven's fiance.

The couple's wedding ceremony was held on July 11, 2015, at the Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary in Wilmington. Father Robert James "Bob" Kus officiated the ceremony, and 160 friends and family members were in attendance. Lovely garden rose arrangements punctuated the church, courtesy of Anna's family members. "My dad and my aunt were both florists, so they did all of our flower arrangements," she says. Anna's four bridesmaids wore shell pink, cotton J.Crew dresses. Steven's groomsmen wore tan suits from Men's Wearhouse. Steven also wore a khaki suit with a white shirt and pale pink tie to complement the bridesmaids. Going for an elegant and understated look, Anna chose a stunning, strapless, V-neck, J.Crew dress for her walk down the aisle. "It was really simple and light, perfect for the day," Anna says. Erin Kelly (of Raleigh) did Anna's makeup, and Veronique Breault (of Samuel Cole Salon, Raleigh) styled Anna's hair for the big day.

Following the ceremony, the newlyweds headed to their reception at the beautiful Brooklyn Arts Center. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were introduced at cocktail hour and shortly after shared their first dance to Ben Harper's "Forever." For dinner, guests were treated to a marvelous Middle of the Island Catering Company buffet, which included chicken, pork, squash casserole, rice pilaf, and strawberry spinach salad. An open bar was also available with beer and wine selections. The couple decided to go all out for dessert, offering guests a table full of sweet selections: cake pops, mini cherry pies, sugar cookies, tiramisu, macaroons, and more. The highlight of the desserts was the couple's white, three-tier cake from Alison's Cakery. The scrumptious creation featured fondant piped to look like lace, an amaretto frosting, and an S-shaped flourish in celebration of the newlyweds' last name. In lieu of a cake topper, Anna and Steven set some garden roses aside for their cake designer. "It was beautiful," says Anna of the final result.

Following the celebration, the newlyweds exited the Brooklyn Arts Center flanked by family and friends waving sparklers and offering well wishes. The couple did not leave their guests empty-handed. As parting gifts, Anna and Steven put together mixed-tape-style CDs filled with "All You Need is Love" songs, featuring tracks they had hand-selected. They also offered matchbooks inscribed with their names and the wedding date, and throughout the night they had given out wine and beer mugs with little chalkboard labels to help guests keep track of their drinks. Anna remembers both her ceremony and reception as being stress-free and praises Day-of Coordinator Brittany Adams (BAO Events), and all who were involved in preparation for her big day. "I don't think we had one issue," she says. "Everyone just made the day perfect and flawless and just so easy."

A honeymoon is still in the works for Anna and Steven, who have not yet had the chance to plan a big trip since their wedding. As for a small-scale celebration following the reception, "We actually stayed at the beach the week after the wedding because all our friends and family from Pennsylvania got beach houses on Topsail," says Anna. "But we are planning on going on a honeymoon probably next year." The bride says she and Steven would like to go to Italy and are considering a Mediterranean cruise.

The newlyweds currently reside in Durham with their black lab mix, Bourbon. Anna works for Jet Logistics, Inc. at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and Steven works for Durham County EMS.