#SEENWedding: Chocolate is for Lovers

You know a Sarris family wedding is on the horizon when a 3-pound piece of milk chocolate is the save-the-date announcement.

Candace Sarris, daughter of Bill and Jamie Sarris of Sarris Candy, wed Robert "Tino" Rionda III at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Canonsburg on Saturday, and it was an extra-sweet family affair.

"When my eldest daughter, Athena, was married 14 years ago, it was emotional. But Candace is our last and there are 20 friends and relatives in the wedding, so this is very, very special," said the mother of the bride, who wore a red shimmery Stephen Yearick Design dress.

Setting the SEEN: Wedding gowns galore

SEEN editor Natalie Bencivenga and style editor Sara Bauknecht explore the wonderful world of wedding dresses at Glitter & Grit bridal boutique in Lawrenceville. (Video by Nate Guidry; edited by Melissa Tkach; 8/15/2014)

The traditional Greek ceremony began with flowers, feathers and fanfare. The flower girls descended the aisle holding parasols, followed by junior bridesmaids carrying kissing balls of ranunculus, 'Blushing Bride' protea and cymbidium orchids. The bridesmaids, in blushing pink Monique Lhuillier, did not carry traditional bouquets. Instead, florist Bill Chisnell gave each one a unique bedazzled floral headpiece, arm band, necklace or bracelet and matron of honor Athena Sarris Simms wore a gray feathered, bejeweled, Yearick-designed gown from Anne Gregory for the Bride.

Bill Wade/Post-Gazette

Father Michael Varvarelis, left, leads Robert "Tino" Rionda III and Candace Michelle Sarris during the Ceremonial Walk in their first steps as a married couple.

The bride was a glittering vision in a champagne-colored, halter neck, drop-waist, full-skirt Yearick gown, complete with crystal headpiece and cathedral train. It was one of three gowns she wore throughout the day. To add even more bling, Mr. Chisnell created a brooch bouquet dripping with pearls and rhinestones. Mrs. Rionda's childhood priest, Father Michael Varvarelis, came from North Carolina to officiate at the ceremony along with local priest, Father George Livanos. At the end of the ceremony, Father Michael's ode to Sarris ice cream was so long that the groom had a few false starts in kissing the bride, making guests giggle.

The cocktail hour(s), catered by the Westin at the Westin Downtown, was a trip around the world. If you felt like Chinese, there were stations for stir-fry. Sushi? A chef made fresh rolls on the spot. And Greek food, of course, including plenty of grape leaves, grilled veggies, hummus plates and pitas. Looking for something lighter? How about orzo salad in a martini glass?

The drinks were just as abundant. Pink bow-tied servers had mini-margaritas and there were several bars, including one whose centerpiece was a giant peacock made of feathers and flowers.

In the ballroom, round white couches and a brand-new white carpet beneath crystal chandeliers and glistening draperies created comfy seating areas for the 575 guests, who perused family photos on a pink-and-white wall while looking for their assigned seats in the hall. Each table had a unique arrangement of hydrangeas, ivory and blush roses from Holland and local orchids. Gray Devio, a Grammy award-winning violinist, played electric violin during the reception, as well as a special performance at dinner.

"This is like nothing I have ever seen," said Shruti Gupta, who wore Roberto Cavalli at the ceremony and Versace at the reception. "This is like being transported to South Beach or St. Tropez."

No Bad JuJu played as a three-course dinner was served. The first course was a seared scallop and vegetable Napoleon ravioli, followed by filet mignon layered over lobster, spinach and risotto.

The five-tiered wedding cake (from Bella Christie & Lil' Z's Sweet Boutique) was upside-down and suspended from the ceiling. Thanks to gravity, cutting a piece was quite challenging, and Mrs. Rionda, who had changed into a silver embroidered, peplum style-gown by Yearick, had to stand on a chair. She and her new husband laughed as pieces of vanilla cake and frosting fell on her.

Araujo Photography

Suspended wedding cake at Candace and Tino Rionda III's wedding. Cake was made by Bella Christie and Lil' Z's Sweet Boutique.

So, what is it like marrying into the Sarris family?

"She is the most genuine and caring person in the world, and I did OK for being a short, bald guy," he joked.

A Giving Family

All of the leftover candy, desserts, food and even the carpet were donated to FOCUS, an organization that provides supplies to children in need, including schools supplies, said Bonnie Walker of Bonnie Walker Events, who orchestrated the evening.

“This is the most giving family with the biggest hearts you’ve ever seen,” added Dorothy Candelore of Elizabeth Township, whose husband, Norman, has worked with Sarris for roughly 30 years in computer software.

"We just got married. What did you expect him to say?" she responded, but added, "I love that he is so untouched by it."

Then the doors opened again. As the band played "The Candyman," guests were transported into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, where stations served s'mores, mini-doughnuts and -- what else? -- chocolate. Guests were encouraged to fill boxes of goodies with everything from chocolate-covered potato chips to pink glittering bon-bons.

"I'm speechless. This is incredible," said Amit Grover (in a Prada tux) as he and his wife, Beth (in Monique Lhuillier) stocked up on goodies.

A woman inside a cake handed out mini cakes to go with jewelry boxes that were parting gifts. But the fun didn't end there. An after-party in the Pennsylvania room had turkey paninis, chicken fingers and a full cereal bar. A DJ kept the party going as guests made custom sweatshirts with 50 different logos all relating to love.

"It's over the top, yes, but at the core, it's all about love," said Athena Sarris, the bride's grandmother.

Any words of wisdom for the groom?

"Always listen to your wife," she said with a smile.

#SEEN: Ken and Pam McCrory, Dr. Thomas and Joy Starzl, Manuel "Buns" and Dolly Pihakis, Benjamin and Alisha DeLuca (wearing BCBG who did the hair for the event), Elizabeth Geanopulos with mother Jennifer Takos, Rose Kutsenkow and Carol Sirianni (in Herve Leger), Dr. Jim and Ruby Kang, Jon Gold, Lynda Parkos, Paul Wetzel and LA FinFinger (in Aidan Mattox), Mark and Kim Heirendt, Norm Candelore Jr. and his wife Cindy, jeweler Louis Anthony (in a Zegna suit and David Yurman cufflinks) and wife Veronica Guarino (in Escada), Dr. David and Ellen Geller (in Herve Leger), Joe and Nancy DeStadio, Rachel Geiger, Aimee Breegle, Gregory Cherico (of Anne Gregory for the Bride), Dan and Lisa McMenamin, Terrie Piatt, Ralph Andy, Greg Orakis (of the Four Coins), George and Becky Loutsion, Kareem and Mireille Corbin, Sam Badger and Clyde Jones.



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