Virginia Brown, Nancy Byron, Marlie Griffith, Rylan Lee, Dana Randall, Britt Timmons, Peter Tonguette, Rebecca Walters and Nicholas Youngblood
This story first appeared in the fall/winter 2021 issue of Columbus Weddings, which published in June 2021.
Photo shoot vendors
PHOTOS: Tessa Berg of Starling Studio
STYLING, VISION and COORDINATION: Natasha Churches of Aisle & Co
VENUE: Hotel LeVeque
FLORIST: The Flowerman
RENTALS: Aiden & Grace
CATERING: Cameron Mitchell Premier Events
CAKE: Capital City Cakes
BRIDAL GOWN: La Jeune Mariee
BRIDESMAID GOWNS: Gilded Social
HAIR AND MAKEUP: Pearson and Sage at PENZONE Salons + Spas
JEWELRY: Diamond Cellar
OFFICIANT: Run to an Elopement
PHOTO BOOTH: Selfie Spot 614
DJ and SPECIAL EFFECTS: Josh Staley Productions
VIDEOGRAPHY: Nathan Peppers Films
MODELS: Candace Clark and Sandor “Alex” Gyerman
For two years in a row, readers voted the historic St. Joseph Cathedral in Downtown Columbus as the best venue for a religious wedding ceremony. The Gothic-style church provides the perfect backdrop for a “princesslike” wedding, with features that include vaulted ceilings, marbled floors, stained-glass windows and a long processional aisle. Brides and bridal parties have access to changing rooms, and the basement area can accommodate small receptions.
RUNNER-UP: Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 14%
If a couple can’t decide between urban charm and the majesty of nature, what better spot than the Franklin Park Conservatory? A variety of spaces allows for both modern and rustic atmospheres with indoor and outdoor options, meaning versatility is the name of the game. Every corner of the 13-acre property offers another stunning photo opportunity. Plus, there’s no better way to save on floral arrangements than to host an event in a tropical greenhouse.
Central Ohio is so teeming with great hotels and event centers that readers couldn’t even narrow it down to just two. Luckily, the Granville Inn, Le Méridien Columbus and the Westin offer three wildly different options to suit any reception. The Granville Inn is a one-stop-shop for wedding-day needs, delivered with small-town hospitality. On the other end of the spectrum, Le Méridien provides a contemporary urban venue that places receptions above the hustle and bustle of High Street in the Short North. Farther south, the Westin splits the difference with both historic charm and big-city elegance.
RUNNER-UP: Hilton Columbus Downtown, 9.8%
The Ohio Statehouse is available to serve as the quintessential historic location for your wedding. Built in the 1800s, the Ohio Statehouse still features some of the details from that time, such as the original flooring in the rotunda, to maintain the integrity of the building. Because of the architecture of the building, couples can make a statement while spending less on décor. The package includes a wedding coordinator, security, parking, tables, chairs and equipment.
RUNNER-UP: Granville Inn, 11.8%
The Strongwater event space offers historically industrial features that make unique memories. The warehouse in Franklinton was originally built in 1901 and features exposed brick, natural lighting, century-old steel beam framing and grapevines, which make a gorgeous backdrop for wedding ceremonies and receptions. Committed to making your wedding day as special as possible, the Strongwater team treats its clients like family.
RUNNER-UP: High Line Car House, 14.8%
Elegant, charming and spacious, this year-round organic farm wedding venue is a one-of-a-kind experience for you and your guests, from the farmhouse to the flower field to the crystal chandeliers in the barn. Don’t be fooled by the intentionally minimalist aesthetic, though. Jorgensen Farms packs more amenities into its rental packages than most venues, including a wedding coordinator; set-up and tear-down of tables, chairs and linens for up to 250 guests; complimentary parking and attendants; and much more.
RUNNER-UP: Magnolia Hill Farm, 16%
It’s no surprise to see the Columbus Museum of Art take home these two reception categories for the second year in a row. The museum offers a variety of venues that range from sleek and modern to ornate and classic, all surrounded by breathtaking works of art. Couples who rent a space and their guests are treated to private gallery access during the event. Beyond its aesthetics, the museum boasts a dedicated events team, private hospitality suites, in-house bar services and catering, plus close relationships with plenty of local vendors.
The Scioto Reserve Country Club, returning as a winner from 2020, offers a streamlined and sophisticated planning process. By offering a full-service experience, an elegant setting for receptions and ceremonies, and luxurious special touches for couples to choose from, the staff at Scioto Reserve hopes to exceed expectations in crafting dream weddings.
RUNNER-UP: Country Club at Muirfield, 12.2%
In addition to its overnight accommodations, Hotel LeVeque was chosen by readers as the ideal spot for small-scale events, which have become increasingly important. The hotel houses several spaces for smaller groups that each feature different aesthetics, and director of sales and marketing Michael Shannon says it has even become popular to book space solely for wedding photography. This is the second year the LeVeque has won for best newlywed hotel destination.
Hocking Hills Wedding Chapel offers the perfect blend of adventure and convenience. Owners Eric and Karen Thompson created a woodland wedding retreat with this picturesque log chapel and lodging less than an hour’s drive outside the city. Packages range from a simple elopement to the “bride’s dream,” which includes ceremony, dinner, reception and more for up to 55 guests.
RUNNER-UP: Gervasi Vineyard, 13.6%
A rehearsal dinner at the 40-year-old Lindey’s in German Village features not just top-ranked cuisine but an elegant, charming backdrop. Choose the ambiance that best suits you and your party—the restaurant makes available the stately Library Room, elegant Mohawk Room and celebratory Terrace Room—or use catering services well-equipped for a variety of indoor or outdoor venues. “We’ve done things in the middle of a field in Hocking Hills,” says catering and sales director Grant Cassidy.
RUNNERS-UP: Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, 8.7%; Marcella’s, 8%
Morning-after brunches offer a relaxed, low-key environment for newlyweds and their guests. These two Columbus staples ensure that the meals are as good as the conversation. With locations in Gahanna, Fifth by Northwest and Dublin, Cap City offers a full complement of brunch options. German Village landmark Lindey’s offers brunches on-site or catered to a location of your choice.
RUNNER-UP: The Pearl, 11.5%
Call them the turnkey caterers: Thanks to the noted restaurants in the Cameron Mitchell family, couples are likely to be familiar with the quality of the food served by CMPE—but the events portion of the business provides comprehensive event planning, too. “Our event sales managers will work with couples to plan and coordinate all of the wedding details,” says vice president Melissa Johnson, noting that “all” can include vendor coordination, design, tablescapes and more.
RUNNER-UP: The Berwick, 11.1%
You’ve cut the wedding cake and sipped the Champagne—now it’s time for some doughnuts. This OSU campus-area mainstay offers a catering service guaranteed to keep your guests satiated with doughy, sugary goodness as the evening winds down. Packages range from random assortments of the shop’s best and most popular sellers to fancy varieties, including red velvet, apple fritter and, of course, buckeye doughnuts.
RUNNER-UP: Mikey’s Late Night Slice, 20.3%
Details make a wedding more memorable, and that’s where Aiden & Grace Specialty Rentals comes in. This sister company to MMJ Events carries a diverse collection of top-end rental items ranging in style from modern and luxurious to rustic and bohemian. “We love to help our clients create their dream aesthetic with our specialty pieces,” says co-owner and founder Meleka Jolliff.
RUNNER-UP: Lasting Impressions Event Rental, 12.6%
Two trolley companies—Short North Trolley and Columbus Trolley/Coach Quarters—appeared together on our ballot, and their combined forces earned them first place in the transportation category. The companies are in the process of merging and offer a nostalgic and fun transportation option for wedding parties and guests traveling to and from the wedding and reception. Providing an experience that will be cherished and remembered for years to come, the companies ensure that guests can ride in comfort and style on trolleys that are both heated and air-conditioned.
RUNNERS-UP: Fun Bus, 14.4%; Xtreme Limo, 14%
For the second year running, readers have voted the Hilton Columbus Downtown the best place for wedding guests. Its convenient location between the Short North and Downtown gives guests unparalleled access to some of the best food, arts and entertainment Columbus has to offer, in addition to the amenities and comforts that have made Hilton a household name.
RUNNERS-UP: Hotel LeVeque, 12.8%; Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph, 12.6%
Topgolf is among the premier entertainment destinations in Columbus, specializing in having a great time. By combining technology and entertainment, Topgolf is a new breed of sports bar, offering a unique golf game for everyone to enjoy. The bachelor party hotspot off Ikea Way near Polaris tailors to all skill levels and includes private event spaces.
RUNNER-UP: Pins Mechanical Co., 19%
Voted the best place in town for bachelorette parties, The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar is the go-to place for bridal parties looking for nonstop, high-energy fun; the “dueling” piano players on stage take turns playing audience requests all night long. “The Big Bang Dueling Pianos creates a unique entertainment experience unlike anything else in Columbus,” says co-owner Meredyth Muller. “We always try to get the bride-to-be onstage for special attention, as well as their entire group.”
RUNNER-UP: Lincoln Social, 16%
New Albany-based Aisle & Co. creates dreamy, stress-free weddings through its month-of and full-service event planning and design services, which earned the company top honors for the second year in the planner category, and in the first-ever designer category as well. Each Aisle & Co. client has a dedicated team working behind the scenes, so nothing is left to chance. “It starts with relationships,” says owner Natasha Churches. “The wedding should be about their story, their love story.”
Wanderlust Travel & Tours specializes in honeymoons and destination weddings. Leslie Sobnosky, founder and owner of this local travel agency, demonstrates a high level of personalized services by creating “Wanderlust Moments” for her clients. She selects resorts, destinations and cruises with a critical eye. Sobnosky believes in delivering the attention to detail her clients expect and deserve.
RUNNER-UP: Bliss Honeymoons, 18.9%
Josh Staley and his fellow energetic DJs are more than mere record-spinners. The company brings pizzazz, both musical and visual, to weddings. In addition to tailoring musical selections to every couple’s tastes, the company promises a highly professional presentation that keeps the evening moving along effortlessly. Packages can be upgraded for maximum eye-popping effect, with add-ons including indoor fireworks and cloud cannons— seen on Pages 41 and 27 of the print edition, respectively.
RUNNER-UP: Buckeye Entertainment, 15.4%
Issuing a split decision, readers just couldn’t decide which live band provided better accompaniment on the dance floor. Headed by vocalist Amber Knicole, who will occasionally sing while suspended on an aerial hoop, MojoFlo is defined by a “neo funk” style sure to add attitude and exuberance to any first dance. The Conspiracy Band, part of the Sutton Entertainment Group family of bands, is a 12-piece ensemble (plus DJ) that’s flexible enough to accommodate any musical preference.
RUNNERS-UP: Jazz Arts Group, 9%; Honey and Blue, 8.7%; The Wet Bandits, 8.7%; The Floorwalkers, 8.3%
For brides on a budget, The Flowerman delivers by offering do-it-yourself bouquet-making workshops and bulk flower sales—though full-service flower arranging is also available for those who prefer to be hands-off. “We help brides bring their vision to life with whatever budget they have to work with,” says Steve Smith, who has been in business, along with his wife, Jane, for nearly 40 years.
RUNNERS-UP: Petals & Leaves, 7.6%; Prema Designs, 7.1%
Grove-City based Capital City Cakes provides customized wedding cakes. Its staff enjoys the personal aspect of getting to know customers, who are treated as if they are family, says wedding cake coordinator Jenni Watterly—and she would know, as she’s the daughter of Capital City owners Gary and Sue Baisden. “It’s important for people to choose what they want and for us to help them realize their vision,” Watterly says.
RUNNERS-UP: Short North Piece of Cake, 12.7%; Lavender & Honey Wedding Cakes, 11.9%
Pistacia Vera, which won this category for the second year, specializes in homemade, French-style desserts and is known for its macarons that come in a rainbow of colors and flavors. “Our macarons are both pretty and appetizing,” says Anne Fletcher, who owns the bakery with brother Spencer Budros. The naturally gluten-free cookies are a great option for guests with special dietary needs, too.
RUNNERS-UP: Duck Donuts, 12.6%; Sadie Baby Sweets, 11.8%
Known for combining flavors and providing lots of options that everyone appreciates, Clintonville-based Pattycake Bakery specializes in organic, plant-based baked goods for individuals with special dietary needs. “Our goal is to have every treat be delicious and special,” says co-owner Elizabeth Estenik. “We love being able to contribute to the memories, joy and celebration of a marriage.”
RUNNER-UP: Bake Me Happy, 27.2%
In 2008, Allison Leonard’s husband bought her a camera. Employed full-time as a graphic designer, she began photographing her children, friends’ children, and eventually was asked to shoot a friend’s wedding in 2010. Five years later, she left her job to focus on Kismet Visuals. “I am very lucky to capture joyful moments … [that] will forever be remembered [in] a photograph,” says Leonard. The second-year winner this year tied for best photographer with Tessa Berg of Starling Studio, who came to the wedding business through photojournalism. That experience prepared her for the demanding nature of weddings, she says. Now a decade into her wedding photography career, it comes as no surprise that what she loves most about her work is … love. “I celebrate all identities and love stories,” Berg says.
RUNNERS-UP: Photo 243, 6.5%; 614 Wedding Photography, 5.7%; Comfort Photography, 5.5%
Kristin Gibson began boudoir-style photography in 2014, but a big reason why the owner of 614 Boudoir won this category for the second year in a row is because the business is about much more than photos. “My mission extends far beyond just sexy photos and focuses on empowering women to feel confident in their bodies and [with their] sexuality,” Gibson says. “I will never judge anyone for their stories, situations or choices. My job is to simply document their session the way they want to be seen.”
RUNNER-UP: Kismet Visuals, 20.1%
Because a video of a wedding should be as vivid as the day itself, choosing a videographer is an especially important decision. These two Ohio filmmakers help couples capture their day. Epps gains an understanding of clients by asking them about their love story, and on the big day, he pulls out all the stops, including the use of drone photography. Peppers’ standard package includes a five- to seven-minute highlight film, but for couples who want a fuller record, he can provide the full raw footage for an additional fee.
RUNNERS-UP: Columbus Wedding Videos, 11.2%; ALC Productions, 11.1%
Run by Allison Leonard of Kismet Visuals, The Selfie Spot 614 started in 2019 as an answer to the immediacy that social sharing demands—guests can use the booth to send photos via text, email or directly to social sites, and the newlyweds automatically get a digital copy, too. The fun doesn’t stop with still images; the booth also makes GIFs and Boomerangs, and clients can add on predesigned or bespoke balloon backdrops for extra glam.
RUNNERS-UP: Josh Staley Productions, 15.4%; Buckeye Entertainment, 14.7%
Keith Hasenbalg, the artist behind Studio Von, began doing live event painting after 30 years as an architectural illustrator. Since then he’s painted nearly every moment of couples’ special days, from first looks to first dances. But Hasenbalg says the key to Studio Von’s popularity is that he doesn’t capture a moment; he captures the whole experience in one moment.
RUNNERS-UP: Kurt Dreier Caricatures and Illustration, 16.6%; FunFaces by Steve Campbell, 16.4%
With custom illustrations and invitations, you can count on Jes McGinley of JesMarried to show your love story in an elevated way that also showcases the wedding’s vibe and the couple’s personality. Also available are custom illustrations to decorate your dressing room or give as a gift. McGinley’s use of markers is a rare find in terms of technique among wedding stationers.
RUNNER-UP: Ink & Ivory, 12.5%
For over a decade, this design studio has helped couples represent their weddings with beautifully articulated branding on everything from invitations to programs and menus to thank-you notes. Founder Kaitlin Sockman solicits ideas from couples that are carried over into the design process, but she says that current trends include using unique paper textures and adding translucent vellum for printed wrap labels.
RUNNER-UP: Lovely Arrows Designs, 18.1%
Whether it’s a 300-person wedding or a couple privately exchanging vows, Run to an Elopement’s Windi Noble can make it meaningful. “I customize each ceremony according to the couple’s faith, values and traditions,” says Noble, who is licensed in six states and is LGBTQ-friendly. “I love people, I love connecting, and I love love,” she says. “I love being part of people’s love stories.”
RUNNER-UP: Wows and Vows, 16.8%
With six locations in Columbus and its suburbs, PENZONE Salons + Spas has grown into a serious Arch City go-to when it comes to the big day. Whether you know the specific hairstyle you’re looking for, looking for an expert makeup application, want to establish a facial routine or simply need to wind down before tying the knot, you’re in good hands with Penzone—which takes home wins in the hair and spa categories, as well as tying for first place in the makeup category, this year.
For the second year running, PENZONE Salons + Spas tops the ballot in the wedding-day makeup category. This year, however, the Central Ohio chain is joined by former runner-up 614 Beauty, run by 20-year veteran makeup artist Delcina Brown and staffed by 15 independent contractors. “What truly makes me happy is seeing the joy on [clients’] faces when they look in the mirror,” Brown says. Her focus is on creating a deep connection with each client. “I love getting to know our clients on a personal level.”
RUNNER-UP: Kenneth’s Hair Salons & Day Spas, 9.3%
Ohio natives and sisters Lauren Hunter and Manda Mason were raised in a family-owned business, so they always knew they wanted to open a business one day. Disturbed by the prevalence of infection at many nail salons, the duo opened a naturally focused nail salon, W Nail Bar, in 2015. “We have the most talented artists in the city,” says Hunter. “And cleanliness and customer service [are] the centerpiece of our brand,” along with culture and community. Today, the company has nine locations in three states, including six salons in the Columbus area.
RUNNER-UP: Lacquer Gallery, 16.4%
La Jeune Mariee has one of the largest selections of wedding gowns in a boutique setting in the Columbus region, with more than 20 designers and 500 gowns that are available in price points for all types of budgets. In business for 17 years, the Downtown designer boutique specializes in providing an “exceptional experience and making memories,” says owner Lindsay Fork.
RUNNER-UP: Wendy’s Bridal, 20.1%
Short North-based Luxe Redux Bridal specializes in off-the-rack designer wedding gowns and accessories that can be purchased and taken home the same day. “Our dresses may be discounted, but our experience is nothing short of magical, and we take pride in that,” says owner Lindsay Fork, who also owns La Jeune Mariee. Inventory constantly changes, and all of it can be browsed online.
RUNNER-UP: Off White, 36.5%
Whether restoring antique lace from 1886 or cleaning and preserving your wedding dress for decades to come, Dublin Cleaners founders Margaret and Greg Butler handle each gown themselves. Their passionate attention to detail, personal touch and services to cover all your pre- and post-wedding needs make it no surprise that Dublin Cleaners earned the readers’ pick for the second year in a row.
RUNNER-UP: Columbus Lace Dry Cleaning, 16.2%
The staff at Gilded Social go out of their way to make selecting bridesmaids dresses enjoyable. With one of the largest selections in town and more than 100 plus-size samples, owner Tanya Hartman says her customers appreciate the personalized service. “We really want this to be more than just about shopping for the dress,” she says. “It’s a chance to get together and cherish time with one another.”
RUNNER-UP: Wendy’s Bridal, 18.7%
Short North-based Pursuit specializes in suits, tuxedos, dress shirts and accessories—and in providing an outstanding customer experience for everyone. “We make outfitting a group stylish, fun and easy while we manage your group through our unique process,” says owner Nate DeMars. “Our human approach makes us very approachable and extremely inclusive to so many more people.” Last year, the shop launched a line of women’s suiting, which further supports DeMars’ goal of inclusivity.
RUNNER-UP: Romanoff’s Classic Tuxedo, 16.4%
From its humble beginnings above a local five-and-dime to its three-state, five-store presence, Diamond Cellar has seen a lot of changes in its 74 years. Most recently, that’s included a “less is more” approach that uncluttered its selection, created a more relaxed atmosphere—including, during non-pandemic times, cookies and bubbly!—yet kept the shopping experience luxurious. “We are a customer-centric company,” says partner and president Alex Johnson. That’s vital, he adds. “Find a jeweler who is genuinely interested in you—the couple—not just interested in your money.”
RUNNER-UP: Worthington Jewelers, 17.8%, 17.3%, 21.3%
What started as a hobby for Kate Stevens has turned into a burgeoning jewelry business with three Columbus locations. “We’re made for someone looking for more affordable, yet customized,” Stevens says. Hand-stamped pieces—personalized with a date, meaningful quote or initials—are among the most popular for brides, bridesmaids or moms, Stevens notes. “Putting some thought into it makes the best gift.”
RUNNER-UP: Honey Rose & K, 17.4%
“Scenting for weddings is all the rage now,” says Sarah Chait, director of marketing and customer experience for The Candle Lab, which recently merged with and rebranded as Penn and Beech Candle Co. With 140 fragrances to choose from and blend, couples can create a signature scent for their big day, then send guests home with a small, matching candle to evoke lasting memories.
RUNNER-UP: Cheryl’s Cookies, 17.5%
Check out cbuswedmag.com/Best2021 for in-depth profiles of our winners, plus more photos and behind-the-scenes video from our shoot!