Locally ever after: Howard County venues add meaning to these couples' weddings

Finding the perfect place to celebrate happily ever after can be a challenge.

When it comes to bringing together the elements that make the wedding look and feel like the relationship that binds two families, the venue can be the common thread.
These Howard County couples found just the right fit to honor their love stories, combining their personal tastes with their hometowns and heritage.

Natural beauty

Peace and nature were Krystal and Jonathan Williams’ goals for their wedding ceremony, and they found that the Historic Oakland manor in Columbia fit the mood of their relationship just right.
“It was overall a very peaceful location that let us contour the wedding ceremony and reception however we chose,” says Krystal.
And they chose to go all-natural for their June 24 wedding to feel closer to their faith and the bride’s Nigerian heritage.
“My wife and the matron of honor actually wore no makeup that day, and they also wore their hair in its naturally curly state,” Jonathan says of their nuptials, which included nearly 130 guests. “We went casual with food and had a mixture of Southern comfort food, such as barbecue ribs and home fries, and Nigerian food, such as jollof rice with beef.”
Jonathan’s uncle provided the ribs, and his aunt gave them a fruit tree, appetizers and nonalcoholic drinks for a cocktail hour.
Krystal and Jonathan, who met at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science in Catonsville, got married young, at 21 and 22, respectively.
“With the divorce rate being so high, many people discouraged us from getting married and saw the odds as being against us as we hadn’t graduated from college yet or gotten established in the work field, as many would expect one to do before getting married,” he says. “We took a leap of faith.”
As they start their lives together, the Williamses say they are grateful to look back on the day as a natural and peaceful beginning to their story. They’re thrilled to be expecting their first child in mid-March.
“Our wedding was unique because it was a way for us to tell the story of Christ in our lives and to share it with loved ones,” Jonathan says.

Close and personal

With Ellicott City as her hometown, Olivia Souweine knew she wanted her wedding ceremony to encompass the charm of Main Street.
But in July 2013, her father and sister died in a helicopter accident, and when it came time to plan the wedding, Olivia and her now-husband, Chris, wanted to keep it small and honor the family that would be missing as they started their lives together.
Olivia wanted to get married at the same place where her parents tied the knot, so they decided on St. Paul’s Church in historic Ellicott City.
“I thought it would be really special and mean more than we could put into words,” Olivia says.
Their photographer, Anna Arpasi, even re-created some of the photos from Olivia’s parents’ wedding day to make the memories even more personal.
The couple, who met playing pickup volleyball at the University of Maryland, were married on a Thursday night, Sept. 25, 2014, with just immediate family and a close friend. They held a reception with all of their friends and family in Ocean City, where Olivia’s family used to vacation frequently, at the Shallow Waters restaurant two days later.
“We wanted to make sure we did what we wanted and not pleasing other people,” Olivia says.

Circling back

When Jenn and Chris Cobleigh thought of Circle D Farm in Woodbine, they had fond — but separate — memories.
Chris’ parents lived on the farm years ago and ran a tennis club there.* Today, the fire station where he volunteers holds events at the farm.
“I’ve been around the farm ever since I could remember, and it’s always been a special place for me,” he says.
The couple met in a night public speaking class at Howard Community College in 2007. Chris was in one of his first semesters of night classes before entering the paramedic program, and Jenn was finishing her studies in criminal justice. It was the only night class she took.
It wasn’t until a conversation well into their relationship that they realized Jenn had a connection to the farm, too — she had attended summer camp at Circle D when she was growing up.
“It was kind of surprising; it was weird when I started talking about it, we made the connection when his firehouse had their banquets there,” Jenn says. “It’s weird how small the world can be.”
They knew then that it was the place that would mean the most for their ceremony and reception.
“It’s hard to put into words how special it was,” Chris says of their Oct. 17 wedding, which included 100 guests. “For me personally, it just gave almost like a sense of being home.”
The couple wanted to keep the family and hometown feel throughout the wedding, so chose people they knew and had connections with when putting together the look of the ceremony and reception. Their florist, Rene Bond Schiffler of Blossom and Basket Boutique, had been married at the farm as well; John Coll Jr. and Terrance Sheppard of The DJ Team, were affiliated with the local fire and police department; and their officiant was the firehouse chaplain.
“For us, it gives it so much more meaning than just a place we got married,” Jenn says. “It’s really a special place for our entire family.”