South Side couple proves ‘It Takes a Village To Plan a Wedding'
October 23, 2007
This Saturday, Oct. 27, South Side restaurateur Melanie Evankovich will marry her business partner and head chef at Gypsy Cafe, Jim Dietz.
What makes this wedding so unique? Constrained by time and budget and rebelling against the $20-$30,000 cost of the average American wedding, the couple has taken non-traditional approaches to the planning of their big day. The ceremony and wedding brunch, hosting approximately 80 people, and the Halloween party evening reception, hosting 200, will cost less than $5,000 total.
With an "It Takes a Village to Plan a Wedding" mentality, Ms. Evankovich and Mr. Dietz have designed a big event on a small budget. The couple has enlisted the help of friends and family, and also the close-knit restaurant and business community of the South Side, by offering trade and reciprocal gifts in exchange for wedding goods and services.
When the couple started dating, Mr. Dietz said he was looking for his "partner in crime." This phrase sparked not only the idea for their "Bonnie and Clyde" costumes for the Halloween party reception, but also inspired the wedding ceremony's 1940's theme.
"Weddings in the 1940's were efficient and practical for a country at war with goods on ration," says Ms. Evankovich. "This is where we saw women in wedding suits, men in uniform, and ‘punch and cookies' receptions."
Neighbor Kim Brown at Spotlight Costumes is dedicated to adhering to the 1940's theme. Ms. Brown is making the wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, and suits for all of the groomsmen, at her busiest time of the year. In return, Gypsy will host Spotlight's Christmas party.
As next door neighbors, Gypsy Café and City Theatre have partnered on many occasions. City Theatre's stage will host the wedding ceremony, performed by South Sider Gene Ricciardi. Neighbor and lighting designer Rob Long will open his studio for the masquerade reception and help to stage a "Bonnie and Clyde" style entrance featuring a car borrowed from a groomsman's father.
Many others are pitching in, including friend and pastry chef Joe Post, who will make the wedding cake. Friend and retired florist Andrea Rice will do the flowers. Chefs Claudio Masci and Eric Wallace and others will contribute food. Butler Linen will donate tablecloths.
Gypsy Café's resident musicians The Gypsy Strings will perform at the reception as a gift to the couple and loan sound equipment. Documentarian Chris Ivey will follow the couple through their day; friends Charissa and Rick Gribenas will photograph, and cartoonist Joe Wos, founder of Pittsburgh's "ToonSeum", will coordinate video of the reception.