Treasured Traditions Transform Over Time

Photographer//Colleen Lennehan
Photographer//Colleen Lennehan


A look into the blend of wedding traditions and couples creativity.

By: Colleen Lennehan

We laughed for a few minutes while we waited.

“What if my pants rip when I bend down?” Chez thought worriedly.

“It’ll be fine, I’ll be sure to capture the moment!” I lightheartedly replied.

Nerves floated back and forth between us as we stood under a wooden gazebo. And just as our last joke blew away in the breeze, she appeared.

Chez Pace met Jill Janetatos through a mutual friend. Within months of their first date he brought her home to meet his parents, soon moving in together shortly after. Before she had a rock on her finger to flaunt, the two booked their wedding venue, rolling through their love on their own wave.

The Knot reported that nearly 81% of grooms bend down on one knee, but where, when, and how they actually bend down has become a new phenomenon in itself.

The past few years have torn down many typical traditions and replaced them with a couple’s creativity. The biggest, most notable and viewed change is recording the proposal, whether through audio, video, or photographs.

Millions of viewers salty tears have flooded down their laptop and iPhones after watching the latest legendary proposal video, or swiping through a gallery of romantic photos.

Some gain millions of views for their beauty and class, while others for their adrenaline pumping tactics, including couples who say “yes!” while skydiving.

Many couples still have that intimate moment, but a camera is usually rolling close by to capture the memory, and share it with the rest of the world’s romantics. By photographing or recording the proposal it allows the couples emotional words and reactions to be forever saved.

Chez was no exception. He hired a videographer as well as myself, a self-proclaimed photographer to seize every moment of the day.

On September 20, 2015, nearly a year before their wedding date, Chez, dressed in a button down, navy blue pants, and a permanent smile began his epic proposal. He surprised Jill with a day packed full of cocktails, laughter, and loved ones.

The perfectly planned proposal began with a party bus surprising Jill and taking a few close loved ones, including her sister who flew in from Nashville, TN, on a day of proposal prep. The driver walked over to Jill handing her a letter from Chez which read,

“Today is that day you’ve been dreaming about since you were a little girl. It’s a day that will only happen once and change your life forever.

Sit back, enjoy the ride, and relax because today is all about YOU!

See you at the final stop,



The bus brought the girls to a local salon, MC Nail Salon, for manicures and pedicures, then drove them to pick up her engagement dress. After spending some time surrounded by fashion they ventured to one of the most beloved places on earth: a winery. The girls spent hours sipping Sauvignon Blanc and snapping selfies to savor the moments at Chamard Vineyard in Clinton, CT. They then headed to the last stop, where Chez waited for his soon-to-be fiancé to arrive.

Despite only 32% of couples hosting an engagement party, many are still upholding this festive tradition.

So, to keep up with their quickly evolving love, Chez gathered nearly 60 close friends and family at Waters Edge in Westbrook, CT to celebrate moments after he asked “will you marry me?”

While throwing an immediate engagement party may seem a bit offbeat in comparison to the traditional wedding timeframes, it is one example of couples personalizing their love.

When Jill arrived at Water’s Edge, she was brought to a beautiful hotel room where her white laced dress hung like a palm leaf. With her sister, mother, and close loved ones by her side she prepared for one of the most poignant days of her life.

Chez and I waited in the beaming sun for a glimpse of her blonde waves to appear down the path.

My heartbeat stopped for a moment. My fingers trembled and my camera fell to my side. As she walked towards us tears rolled down her face and past her smile. I was so stunned with their love I almost forgot to snap the photos, but my urge to capture this for everyone else jolted me back to reality.

Chez bent down on one knee and asked the question any true romantic swoons over.

“Will you marry me?”

Jill burst out in tears while accepting his proposal, and the two illuminated the already sunny September day.

The party of family and friends celebrated their engagement all night long, dancing away with cocktails in hand, laughing, hugging, and posing for hundreds of photos.

Chez says this day was “a dream come true,” and matching his feelings Jill said it was “the best day of my life.”

We are seeing many other trends bloom over the years with ties to engagements. Chez and Jill dipped into a few of them, including the use of social media to announce their proposal.

With photos of our “outfit of the days” and dinner plates drenching our feeds, it comes as no shock that couples proclaim their  changed relationship status soon after they celebrate.

I can’t imagine anything comparing to the moment ones Facebook status changes from “In a relationship with _____” to “Engaged to_____.What a fabulous time to be in love.

A recent BRIDES study claims:

* 71% of brides-to-be changed their social-media status to “engaged,” after telling close friends and family.

* 59% of brides posted a picture of their ring to social networks following the proposal.

* And 46% of brides rely on social media to share news of their engagement.

Social media allows couples to share their love and announcements to those who may not be close enough to toast a champagne glass.

Chez and Jill both posted to Instagram and Facebook after their day of emotion and celebration ceased, using another trend, the wedding hashtag.

A wedding hashtag allows anyone attending the reception, ceremony, bridal shower, bachelor party, etc. to tag their photos using a predetermined word or phrase, which will group them together in order to create an easy viewing process.

Though their wedding has yet to happen, the future Mr. and Mrs. Pace jumped on the hashtag movement with ideas of #pacepartyoftwo2016 and #chezandjillgethitched.

One of the most used wedding related hashtags is #bridetobe. With so many lovers out there, the creative realm is dwindling with every proposal, forcing couples to use extremely unique phrases.

Traditions stay in place for a reason; rings are worn on the left hand, vows are promised, and first dances continue to take center stage.  However, to match a bride and grooms personality, they are often altered, not because they were bad to begin with, but to allow growth and individuality over time.

Each couple has a right to pursue and uphold whichever traditions they find important and relevant to their relationship and ideals. Some trends disappear into the night and never come back, while others become so key to a wedding, they will truly never disappear.

Chez and Jill personalized their proposal in many ways, proving past practices may continue, but the creative changes are up to the couple.




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