A Bright and Lively Wedding in Philadelphia

deborah meryl wedding couple
Photo: Redfield Photography

It was a wheely-fun (and personalized) wedding.

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Deb and Meryl

deborah meryl wedding couple
Redfield Photography

"I wish I could destroy her, but I can't," says Meryl Gorth of her bride, Deborah. She's referring, of course, to the track: Both Meryl and Deb play for Philadelphia's roller-derby league, and in the world of roller derby, ladies and gentlemen, that is true love. Four years ago, as a brand ambassador for Riedell Skates, Meryl Kordasinski traveled from her home outside Paris to Philadelphia to play roller derby. There she met Deb, a fellow player and M.D./Ph.D. student, who asked her out for coffee. Meryl, who is now studying to be a dietitian, worried she wouldn't understand her date's English. Luckily, Deb spoke French well enough that the conversation flowed. It went so well that their next date, in Paris that spring, lasted a week, and then Meryl returned for increasingly longer visits to America.

Fast-forward several months, and her 90-day visa waiver was exhausted. They wanted to be together and "didn't want to take the risk that she wouldn't get in anymore," says Deb. So with a sense of urgency and a '72 Yamaha motorcycle instead of a ring (vintage cycles are another shared love), Deb proposed. They had a "flash mob" wedding: Friends and family converged on Girard, a local restaurant, with a case of Champagne and signed the license to make it official. The legalities out of the way, the couple started planning their real celebration. "We wanted the big ceremony," says Deb, "bringing our whole community together to support our relationship."

And so they did, on the weekend of August 5, 2016, in their most unique way: The rehearsal the night before included cocktails at a favorite restaurant, Vetri; then they had a batting-cage party. The next day, they exchanged nondenominational vows in front of 130 loved ones at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, just five blocks from their house. Deb (left) wore a gown by Sarah Seven; Meryl wore Watters. Then they did the natural thing and laced up their skates for a spin on the dance floor to Nat "King" Cole's "L-O-V-E." Dinner was inspired by both French and American classics, and later, bite-size desserts were passed from trays so the dancing could continue. Eventually Deb and Meryl used their motorcycle and sidecar to head to the after-party—but not before taking a raucous, cheer-fueled in around the city they now call home.

Watch Deb and Meryl's wedding film by McKenzie Miller Films.

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Custom Artwork

deborah meryl wedding logo
Redfield Photography

A gift from a designer and tattoo-artist friend, this "life is beautiful" logo, featuring the couple and their cat, made its way onto day-of paper goods and favors.

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A Furry Friend

Deb & Meryl's wedding kitty
Redfield Photography

Deb's cat, Maxwell, admired the brides' bouquets as they prepped for the wedding at home. "One of the pre-conditions of our wedding was that she had to like my—now our—cat," says Deb.

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In Southern Style

Deb & Meryl's wedding whiskey bottle
Redfield Photography

The couple decided to try out an old Southern tradition of burying a bottle of bourbon upside down a month before their wedding, then digging it up on the big day. Legend says if you do, you'll have beautiful weather. They chose Kinsey Bourbon Whiskey from a local source—New Liberty Distillery. "The forecast predicted rain for the weekend, but it turned out beautiful," says Deb. "The bourbon trick must be true!"

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A Bold Bridal Bouquet

Deb & Meryl PA Bridal Bouquet
Redfield Photography

"Meryl's bouquet was designed to be wild, colorful with lots of different flowers," says florist Sullivan Owen. "It included nine bark, firework eucalyptus, cosmos, clematis, garden roses, chamomile, amaranthus, dianthus, and heirloom hydrangea."

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A Petit Bridal Bouquet

deborah meryl wedding bouquet
Redfield Photography

Deb's bouquet, in a more restrained, classic style than Meryl's, featured richly hued blooms, such as firework eucalyptus, clematis, garden roses, chamomile, and dianthus.

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Riding Around

Redfield Photography

The newlyweds' Ural motorcycle—which inspired their logo—was decked out for the big day. They snuggled in the sidecar while a friend drove to the venue.

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The Ceremony

deborah meryl wedding ceremony
Redfield Photography

The bridal party, clad in black suits and tuxes, stood on the steps of the museum's foyer as the brides exchanged vows. A roller-derby-announcer friend officiated.

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Flowers on Wheels

deborah meryl wedding guest book flowers
Redfield Photography

For the guest book table, florist Sullivan Owen created arrangements inside a pair of white roller skates.

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The Reception

deborah meryl wedding reception tables
Redfield Photography

The couple wanted to decorate with seafoam green and gold—the colors of their matching Moxi skates. But the PAFA space, with its red walls, lent itself to a richer palette.

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Spinning Around

deborah meryl wedding first dance
Redfield Photography

Before the first dance, Deb changed into a tux. "I was on the fence about what to wear," she says. "It was a good way to do both."

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French Sweets

deborah meryl wedding cake croquem bouche
Redfield Photography

In a dramatic blend of French and American dessert traditions, a classic croquembouche tops a vanilla cake with chocolate ganache and salted-caramel buttercream. Chef Stephen Wilson of Sweet Avocado created both confections—plus cream puffs to serve with the cake.

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Fun Favors

Deb & Meryl's wedding favors
Redfield Photography

The couple's motorcycle-and-sidecar illustration was used as a logo throughout the wedding, including on the tote bags and patches they gave as favors.

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The Grand Exit

Deb & Meryl's wedding sparklers
Redfield Photography

Meryl and Deb held hands as they left their reception surrounded by sparkler-wielding friends and family, then climbed aboard their motorcycle to ride to the after-party. "I didn't drink," Deb notes—so she drove.

The next day, Deb and Meryl hosted a brunch at their house, catered by one of their favorite local spots, High Street on Market. Afterward, about 20 guests joined them for a professional Chikara wrestling show.

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Deb & Meryl's wedding kiss
Redfield Photography

Location, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Day-of coordination, Lisa Cheresnowsky

Catering, Starr Events

Floral and event design, Sullivan Owen Floral & Event Design

Photography, Redfield Photography

Videography, McKenzie Miller Films

Logo design, Mike Ski of True Hand

Stationery printing, Paperless Post

Cake, Sweet Avocado

Cupcakes, Sweet Mercy

Music, CTO Artists

Brides' gowns, Sarah Seven (Deb); Watters (Meryl)

Deb's tuxedo, Edgar Giovanni Perdomo of Design Studio 4 Apparel

Tailoring of women's bow ties and Deb's tuxedo, Made Institute

Brides' shoes, Christian Louboutin

Brides' rings, Kusturiss Jewelers

Hair and bridesmaids' makeup, Blo/Out Blow Dry Bar

Makeup, Pretty by Elina

Photo booth, The Majestic Photobooth Company

First-dance choreography, Society Hill Dance Academy

Roller skates, Moxi Roller Skates

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