Photograph by Chrisman Studios Margot Murphy and Joel Slamkowski dance at CMA.


Teamwork is the key to a successful wedding. There is a lot going on behind the scenes to create the magic of that special day.
Recent bride Margot Murphy reflected on the planning for her June wedding and the reception at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

“My mom has always had a special gift for creating magic when she entertains, and our wedding was no exception,” Margot Murphy noted. “We both wanted to create a setting where friends and family, old and new, could make connections and, most importantly, dance!”

“We had an incredible team of people who made that vision come to life. We had the most gorgeous and colorful floral arrangements that created a dramatic and beautiful setting at the art museum. We had a fabulous band that kept the energy up the whole night and we were served by an incredible staff at the art museum that executed flawlessly,” she said. “The whole team, including our wedding planner Kim Singerman, partnered so well together to bring to life a truly magical night that appeared effortless. It was simply amazing and we are so grateful.”
Cynthia Murphy, mother of the bride, also credited the wedding contributors. “The wedding was unique because of the élan of the group that we put together,” she said. “Everyone worked so well together. There are the mechanics of a wedding that some people don’t anticipate. Nowadays, with everything in the cloud, it makes it easier if you are willing to go that way. I can’t underscore the importance of Excel spreadsheets, because there are so many things to manage. Keeping track of 250 guests’ dietary restrictions alone is a challenge.”

“The most important things to address are the things that book early like your venue, the band, the florist, the wedding planner,” Cynthia Murphy added. “You also want to book your block of hotel rooms for the wedding, especially if there is a major event in town at the time of the wedding. The good hotels will give you a block of rooms at a discount. Look at the calendar year ahead and look at all potential booking conflicts.”

The bride said that she had a particular style in mind for her wedding. “I fell in love with my wedding dress in a bridal magazine, never thinking that I would actually try it on let alone end up wearing it on my wedding day. It had this sort of classic elegance that was at once traditional and completely different from any of the other dresses that I had seen,” she said. “I liked that. From the time that we bought the dress, we kept going with this ‘vintage glam’ feel of an elegant black-tie affair.”

“The art museum was the perfect setting for this dream. My wedding was actually quite traditional, which really isn’t very trendy these days. We got married in the same church where my parents were married,” Margot Murphy said. “We were lucky to have our cocktail hour on the terrace overlooking the lagoon of the art museum. We had live jazz playing while the staff passed glasses of champagne to our guests and the bartenders mixed our signature cocktail, and Old-Fashioned, among others. After cocktail hour ended, our guests got to walk through the galleries of the museum to arrive at the atrium for the reception.”

Heather Thomas of HeatherLily verbally painted a picture of the floral story she created for the Murphy wedding. “From the start, color was a key component for this event,” she said. “The Ames Family Atrium of the Cleveland Museum of Art is an elegant and majestic space in which to create. The atrium is massive, enclosed by a curved glass ceiling that bathes the space in light. The charcoal-colored stone floor complements the building’s classic marble façade. The Cleveland Museum of Art is considered to be one of the most beautiful and impressive civic spaces in the country. It was important to pick a color palette that would explore the chromatics and the harmony between colors, while also bringing life to the monochromatic space.”

“Much of the inspiration came from Margot’s family garden and their invitations. We used large blooming peonies, ranunculus, anemones, garden roses, hydrangeas, lady’s mantle, jasmine vine and sweet peas,” Thomas explained. “The color palette was shades of cornflower and sapphire blue accented with coral, salmon, chartreuse green, finished with touches of soft peach and blush pink, Large-scale arrangements complemented the vast space, which helped to bring the guests’ eyes down. The vibrant and exaggerated floral centerpieces helped to create visual anchors within the atrium, drawing everyone closer together. The floor plan was intentionally designed to make the guests feel closer and more united. We essentially created a space within a vast space.” After the wedding reception, according to Thomas, all of the flowers were donated and repurposed into smaller arrangements for multiple elderly care facilities.

The music was also an integral component of the wedding reception. “The band started playing immediately to get the party started,” Margot Murphy recalled. “After a short set of songs, we were introduced for the first time and then we had our first dance. We didn’t want a standard first dance song. I really wanted my older brother Chris and his singing partner Erle Mylius for our first dance. They performed a version of Sam Smith’s ‘Latch’ that was so beautiful it gave me the chills. We learned a dance with some help from a dance studio in the Twin Cities where we live, and performing our dance to the music created by my brother and Erle is one of my favorite memories of our wedding.”

“Another unique thing that we did was to hire an artist, Jacqueline DelBrocco, to do a live painting of our reception. In lieu of a more common photo booth, I thought it would be a fun way to capture the memory of the night while paying homage to the incredible setting of the Cleveland Museum of Art,” she noted. “The painting turned out beautifully, and many guests stopped by to watch the artist in action.”

Asked if she has any tips for future brides, Margot Murphy added, “Yes! If you have a wedding cake, make sure you know which tier to cut. We didn’t see the small cutting cake next to our display cake and spent quite a few minutes awkwardly poking at a cardboard cake. We eventually found it, and it made for a comedic series of photos, but I’d advise getting the cake-cutting instructions beforehand.”
“The most important part of the wedding process for me was to take the time to reflect on and be thankful for the overwhelming amount of love and generosity that we received as a bride and groom,” Murphy said. “It truly was an affirming experience to feel the love and support of so many people. To be able to celebrate in such a big way was just the icing on the cake.”