A wedding day is a celebration of love, family and friends — and, when it exceeds the couple’s expectations, then it’s one big celebration, indeed! From the ceremony to the farewell, Kirsten and Steven Whalen had their perfect dream wedding day in Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Tell us a bit about the big day!
Our ceremony took place at the Washington Memorial Chapel, right down the road from the Philander Chase Knox Estate. We live in Phoenixville, as does Steven’s best friend (and, best man), so he got ready there, and my mother, mother-in-law and matron of honor got ready with me at our house.
Our morning started out with coffee and snacks, and I’m pretty sure that Steven’s started out with a hangover. Hayley with Something You beauty services came to our house to do our hair and makeup — she was so sweet and organized, and we were all so happy with our hair and makeup! Then our amazing photographer, Doug, from Douglas James Studios, joined us for the “getting ready” photos.
We made our way over to the Washington Memorial Chapel which is where we had our first look. The chapel is beautiful; pictures don’t do it justice. We love the historical significance and details, all the way down to stained glass windows of Revolutionary War soldiers. The church really fit in perfectly with Philander Chase’s aesthetic. Father Tommy was so kind and really helped us to feel comfortable with all eyes looking at us.
After the ceremony, we took more photos at Philander Chase. The grounds are beautiful: We took pictures in front of the gorgeous deconstructed green house, a fountain and several other beautiful places. Shout out to our photographer Doug — neither Steven nor I are big “look at me” people and we both are not used to being in front of the camera. Doug made us feel comfortable all day and we both had a lot of fun taking all the pictures.
How was Philander Chase? Was it everything you’d envisioned?
Shout out to Kevin Smith Transportation who got our guests to the reception!
Philander Chase Knox Estate was stunning; it was more than either of us could have ever imagined. Our day-of coordinator Edie Petaccio was incredible and super attentive to all of our needs. They brought us hors d’oeuvres and drinks to the bridal suite before we joined everyone for cocktail hour, and I cannot even express how great the hors d’oeuvres were. Our personal favorite was the Waldorf chicken salad inside of waffle cones … so, so good! It was nice to be able to use the patio and beautiful building for cocktail hour. Everything fit perfectly with our classic and historic aesthetic.
After the cocktail hour we got dinner and the reception started. Our DJ, John at Silver Sound Entertainment, was the best. He helped us party the night way. We entered to reception to “Great Balls of Fire,” inspired by Steven’s favorite movie, “Top Gun.”
Then came the party! The tent lighting was changed to “party mode” and the whole space made a great area to dance, hangout at the bar and talk with friends and family. Steven and some of his friends enjoyed having a cigar on the patio, as well. There’s so much more that I could say about the day, and I truly can’t do justice the great Robert Ryan Catering & Design (RRC&D) staff.
You mentioned the event planner was super-helpful in answering all your questions — how did the staff do, leading up to and on the day-of?
Amanda Frangoulis was our event coordinator and from day one she was super responsive to emails, and went above and beyond to answer all our questions. We loved the tasting about 8 months out from the wedding day. That was how we found our signature drinks, the “Mexican Mule” and the aptly-named “Madeline,” after our dog. Another thing that we loved was that everything — including the reception, food, drinks and cake — was coordinated through RRC&D so we didn’t have to have all different vendors to manage. Edie then stepped on the day-of. She literally saw to all our needs and we loved her!
One of the things I appreciated most about the Robert Ryan Catering & Design team is organization. We worked with Amanda and Edie and went over all of our various decorations and how we wanted the space to look. We dropped everything off the day before and when we walked in, everything was more than we imagined. Also, important note, they packed everything up and loaded it into our car at the end of the night (this was so huge as we were both exhausted by the end of the night)! Shout out to Moles Florist, too, as our flowers were beautiful.
How was the menu?
The menu was incredible; all our guests raved about it! They were really impressed with the bar and food during cocktail hour. We were able to enjoy a lot of variety with the hors d’oeuvres and food stations.
We chose to do the stations for dinner, and they did not disappoint. Also, one of the cool things RRC&D offered was to use the remaining balance from not having the minimum guests toward upgrades, so we enjoyed a flatbread pizza station, late night quesadilla and s’mores bars, plus having our signature drink extended throughout the whole night! We also had a Philly snack pack — complete with all the Philly favorites. The food was absolutely incredible and many of our guests told us it was the best wedding food they’d ever had. The staff brought us a sample from each part of the dinner stations to the sweetheart table so that we could spend time with each other while everyone was eating — we couldn’t have appreciated that more! We also loved the cake from The Master’s Baker.
No one went hungry! I think our great food really helped set our wedding apart.
Any sage words for anyone else still finalizing their wedding “post-pandemic”?
Steven and I were fortunate that we didn’t feel too many post-pandemic impacts. However, I would say that each of our vendors worked with us: We made sure that if there was a resurgence or issue with COVID-19 that we would be covered, reimbursed or rescheduled, if needed. I would recommend setting expectations with vendors about this.
We had such an amazing day and are so incredibly thankful to everyone that came together to make it happen!
• • •
Ready to learn more about our menus and events? Schedule a consultation with one of our event managers today!
Robert Ryan Catering and Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a five-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in a row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venues. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news and recipes from our executive chef.
All photos courtesy of Kirsten and Steven Whalen