Real Wedding Wednesdays: Courtney Wade and Mike Marsden

Tristan Relet-Werkmeister

The proposal of Mike Marsden to Courtney (Wade) Marsden was like no other. While the Northeast Ohio residents were vacationing at Put-in-Bay, he hid a glass bottle near the water’s edge while Courtney wasn't looking.

“When I first saw the bottle, I figured it was trash,” Courtney says. “But then Mike called me over to it and said, ‘Look what I found!’ ”

The bottle had the words “Open Me!” on the outside, but Courtney didn’t want to do so, thinking it was part of someone's treasure hunt. Little did she know just how correct she was. Mike insisted, so Courtney opened it.

“Inside was a beautiful, handwritten letter,” Courtney says. “When I finished reading, I turned around and he was on one knee. I obviously said ‘Yes!’ ”

The couple dated for seven years before that moment. They met at Hudson High School, and their relationship withstood a transition to long distance during their studies at colleges  four hours apart.

In July 2017, the couple was married by Courtney’s sister, in a room at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Africa Event Center that was entirely decorated by their families. It rained all day, necessitating a change from the planned outdoor ceremony, but a beautiful sunset over the Heart of Africa exhibit’s savannah delighted all the guests.

Courtney and Mike also had the unique opportunity to hold baby snow leopards, a penguin and a kangaroo, and even to feed the giraffes, during their cocktail hour.

The Details

Wedding date: July 7, 2017

Wedding colors: Navy, coral and gray

Attendants: Four bridesmaids, four groomsmen, one flower girl and two ring bearers

Bride wore: A Demetrios gown and veil, shoes bought at Kohl’s and accessories bought at Dillard’s

Hair and makeup: Styles for the Aisle

Groom wore: Suit from The Black Tux

Rings: Ashcroft & Oak

Bridesmaids wore: Gowns from Etsy

Groomsmen wore: Suits from The Black Tux

Rehearsal dinner: Local Roots

Ceremony: Africa Event Center at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Reception: Africa Event Center

Caterer: In-house

Cake: Capital City Cakes

Florist: Petals & Leaves

Photographer: Brett Loves Elle Photography

Photo booth: Brett Loves Elle Photography

Videographer: Brett Loves Elle Photography

Invitations: VistaPrint

Reception tunes: Buckeye Entertainment

First dance: “At Last,” by Beyoncé

Guest favors: Seed paper shaped like zoo animals

Registries: Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond

Guests stayed at: Cloverleaf Suites

Honeymoon: Montego Bay, Jamaica