It took Alana Grelyak a few months to take Michael Gabriele’s invite for coffee seriously. Though they first hit it off at a party he threw in November 2009, their five-year age difference made her hesitant to go out with him — so he used Facebook to stay in touch until she had a change of heart. They dated for three years before getting married last fall at the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, where Grelyak’s parents and grandparents were both married. Selecting the music for the ceremony was particularly meaningful for the couple — Gabriele is a director and producer at DDB Chicago, and Grelyak an associate composer at Sonixphere — so when a Ukrainian quartet sang Grelyak down the aisle, “everyone was crying,” she says.
The reception took place at the Adler Planetarium, a spot the couple felt would accurately represent Chicago’s culture to Gabriele’s Italian family. After cocktail hour in the colorfully lit Clark Family Welcome Gallery, the party moved into the main hall, where the duo had their first dance. In Southern Italian tradition, Gabriele’s family wrapped the two in colorful streamers and showered them in confetti, setting a celebratory tone for the rest of the evening. Just before midnight, the DJ announced the newlyweds’ departure, and the crowd waved farewell. The evening concluded on an even sweeter note — guests snacked on Italian treats that Gabriele’s mother, grandmother and uncle had spent weeks baking.
Story by Katerina Bizios | Photos by Victoria Sprung Photography