A St. Louis couple brings their alma mater to the Coronado for an unforgettable wedding.
The story of Elma Hadziselimovic and Garry Garrison can be described as nothing less than fate. Unbeknownst to them, the couple had woven their way in and out of one another’s lives since 1998. Both undergraduate students at The University of Missouri-Columbia, they must have brushed shoulders a million times, but it wasn’t until one evening after college in 2005 that they first locked eyes.
Both working in the pharmaceutical industry, Elma and Garry happened to be out entertaining clients at Annie Gunn’s on the same night and were introduced. This could have been the end of their story, but Cupid had other plans and brought the couple face-to-face again just a few days later.
Fast forward to the winter of 2010, and Elma and Garry were planning a romantic getaway to Mexico. Convinced that Garry would pop the question while south of the border, Elma made no mystery of her suspicions, which is why Garry knew he had to throw her off. During one of their favorite “date night” activities, dinner and a movie at the Chase Park Plaza, Garry asked a friendly concierge to take a photo of them in front of a stunning Christmas tree. Just as the concierge raised the camera, Garry dropped to one knee and proposed to Elma in her native Bosnian language—and the rest, they would say, is istorija.
The first time Elma and Garry visited the Coronado, they knew it would be the perfect place to host their nondenominational ceremony while maintaining the romance and intimacy they were looking for in a location. Pillar candles and yellow rose petals lined the aisle as guests flowed into the Coronado’s Bradshaw Room. As Elma anxiously awaited her grand entrance, two sets of ring bearers and flowers girls preceded her, the first carrying the traditional flowers and ring pillow and the second carrying mini Bosnian and American flags. Following a lighthearted reading, “The Prescription for Marriage,” written by a good friend of the groom and playing off of the couple’s professions, Elma and Garry exchanged rings and their first married kiss.
After the ceremony, guests were treated to a cocktail hour, complete with a yellow vodka martini, affectionately named the “Love Spark.” In an effort to pay homage to their time at Mizzou, Elma and Garry opted for rich gold tones and black accents in the ballroom, styled by Yara Holt of Plume Events. As the cocktail hour came to a close, guests took their seats for dinner, which ended with a special treat—Bosnian Baklava, homemade by the bride’s grandmother and aunt, in addition to traditional wedding cake.
At a young age, the bride and her family left their native Bosnia, but the country and its traditions have never left them. In addition to the delicious desserts, the Hadziselimovics taught their guests to dance the Bosnian Kolo, and Elma and her father shared a very special dance to a Bosnian favorite, “Sarajevo, Ljubavi Moja” (“Sarajevo, My Love”) written for the country’s capital city. Each of the couple’s dinner tables was named for a city where the bride had lived during her many moves, in addition to cities Elma and Garry had traveled to together. Following a delayed honeymoon in May 2012, Elma and Garry will be able to add Italy and Croatia to their ever-growing list.
Gifts from the Heart
Prior to their trip down the aisle, Elma and Garry each presented their future mothers in-law with embroidered handkerchiefs. Garry presented Elma’s mother with a heartfelt note thanking her for being the woman that she is, and for all of the sacrifices she made for Elma over the years. Elma thanked Garry’s mom for raising the man of her dreams; both women were moved to tears. But, perhaps the most sentimental exchange of gifts was between the bride and groom. At the end of the day, they both removed their wedding bands for the first time to read the custom inscriptions chosen by their other half. The evening came to a tearful close as the couple discovered they had chosen the exact same inscription, “My Love, My Best Friend.”
Photo credit: Jon Koch