Italian immigrants have left an indelible mark on American society. Growing up in America, who hasn’t eaten pizza, ravioli, and spaghetti and meatballs? How many of us wouldn’t recognize the Italian words buongiorno, ciao and arrive derci? This is the story of another word we all recognize – Amore! This is the story of two people, Jalese and Zac, who fell in love and had a big Italian wedding.
Jalese and Zac both grew up in Michigan. She’s a city girl from Allen Park with a big family and Zac is more of a country, outdoorsy guy from a much smaller family in Battle Creek.
They met at Spring Arbor University. Jalese played soccer for SAU while majoring in Psychology and Zac joined the Air Force while studying Accounting. The couple had a few classes together and ran into each other off and on, but other than that, Jalese just thought of him as “that Zac guy”. However, she and her friends started going out once a week and Zac was always there. Jalese told me,
I would always find myself talking to “that Zac guy” all night. He looked at me like no one had ever looked at me before, like I was the only person in the world that mattered. He was funny, adorable and genuinely cared for me, like no one before. It was like finding my other half. He went from “that Zac guy” to the man I couldn’t live without.
After college, the couple kept their relationship strong despite it being a long distance one. And then during their engagement, Zac was deployed for a year.
Finally, they were able to tie the knot on August 2, 2014 with the wedding ceremony at Crystal Gardens in Southgate and the reception at Arnaldo’s in Riverview. Jalese wore a beautiful sequined lace gown with a keyhole back by Allure Bridal.
Jalese told me that there weren’t any specific Italian rituals or traditions at her wedding, however Italian culture played a huge part in the planning process. First, she said, Italians are all about food. Her paternal great grandparents were from Venice and Naples. (I’m starting to get hungry). She said the cooking in her family has always been amazing. And guess what? Her Great Grandpa Benny was one of Henry Ford’s chefs. Jalese assured me that food is “the main event” at any Italian gathering. She said,
At Thanksgiving, we have the traditional turkey meal. Then we’ll bring out the spaghetti and meatballs afterwards! Every Sunday, we have big family meals and we wanted the wedding to reflect that sense of having “a big family meal”! We actually should have warned our guests of the amount of food being served because everyone thought it was done and then more would come out. We even had pizza as a late night snack to keep everyone going!
Jalese also picked quintessentially Italian-American music for the reception - think Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
Above all else, though, Jalese said Italian-Americans are about Family and God. It is everything to them. “There is nothing like the bond an Italian family shares because we all love so strongly and are so protective of that bond. Every event in our family is always filled with love, laughter, food, music and that family bond. Nobody messes with family!"
Jalese just took the bar exam after graduating from Detroit Mercy Law School.
She’s one busy lady. We wish her and Zac a lifetime of happiness. And may they be blessed with bambinos of their own to start the next generation of Italian-Americans in this family!
Ah, but wait, there’s more! Jalese’s sister Julianna recently bought her gown from us so we look forward to another big Italian wedding on July 15, 2016!