By Kaitlin Flaherty | Photos by Jenni Grace Photography
Jillian Chambers says that her first meeting with now-husband Ryan Mundy is “not really a romantic story,” but we think it’s a charming tale of two people who were meant to be. Ryan, a safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was in Atlanta for a few days with his Steeler teammates. He met Jillian at Esso Ultra Nightclub and invited her to brunch the next morning, but she declined, saying she was too tired to meet. Despite their failed first date, the two stayed in contact via text, which slowly grew to phone calls, and eventually, trips back and forth between Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
After one and half years of long distance dating, Ryan was visiting Atlanta and took Jillian on a date to see a live band play at the Twelve Hotel. While sipping a few cocktails and enjoying the music, Ryan pulled a disappearing act. After calling his cell phone a few times, Jillian was given a key to a room upstairs by their waiter. When she arrived at the room, she was greeted by a note that instructed her to put on a blindfold and knock on the door. “When I took off the blindfold, he was on one knee, and there were flowers everywhere and pictures of us all over the room,” Jillian says.
Thinking ahead, Ryan hired a photographer to capture the whole evening, including the proposal. “The photographer later uploaded all the pictures on a website and my family was able to see it. They live in California, so they felt like they were a part of it,” she says.
For the big day, the couple wanted “simple elegance.” That meant draping the ceremony space at Heinz Chapel with “a little bit of everything” in the flower department. There were hundreds of hydrangeas, roses, lilies, and orchids in all different shades of white from Mocha Rose Floral Designs. The style was very clean and modern, including the full-length champagne dresses worn by Jillian’s 10 bridesmaids. “That was his fault. He had so many groomsman,” Jillian says, laughing.
The simple theme went out the window though when it came to Jillian’s gown. The Chambers women made a weekend of the search and drove up to Kleinfeld Bridal in New York. Jillian decided on a gorgeous Anne Barge dress with a jeweled belt and sweetheart neckline.
When it came time to walk down the aisle Jillian was nervous, but her dad slowed her step and kept her steady as she headed for the altar. And, even though Jillian was breathtaking, it was Ryan and Jillian’s two month old daughter, Ryan Taylor, who captured the crowd’s attention as she was pulled in a wagon down the aisle. “She kind of stole all the thunder,” Jillian jokes. “I expected that, though. That’s how it should be.”
Following the classically beautiful ceremony, Jillian and Ryan planned a full-night of exclusive entertainment for their 250 guests at the reception. The Fairmont Pittsburgh proved to be the perfect space as the couple kicked off the evening with their first dance to “Sweetest Love” by Robin Thicke. During cocktail hour, magician Lee Terbosic mesmerized the audience while a live pianist serenaded guests. After dinner, a caricature artists drew portraits as unique party favors. “We didn’t want there to be just dancing, and we wanted to utilize the whole space, which made it a lot of fun,” says Jillian. The couple’s favorite part? A candy bar adorned with hand-picked sweets for guests to graze on all night long.
This article is featured in the Fall / Winter 2012 issue of WHIRL Wedding Guide.