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Real Wedding: Aja Michel & Chris Powanda


Aja Michel & Chris Powanda

March 19, 2011
Ceremony: St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church
Reception: The Club
Photos by: Arden Photography

You™ve seen the typical big screen romantic comedy. Beautiful small town girl moves to New York City. She’s out with friends for a concert when out of the corner of her eye, she notices a handsome guy on the sidewalk not so casually noticing her. They smile and head off in different directions with their own friends. Later, by some twist of fate, they end up in the same line for drinks. He says hello. She replies “hey” in her adorable Southern accent. And then the music begins in as the sparks start to fly. Well, that’s no movie; that’s the real life story of how Alabama girl Aja Michel met New York City boy Chris Powanda.  Well, actually he’s from Connecticut”¦. but it’s close enough.

Here’s their wedding story:

The Back Story

Five years later, it is unclear to Aja who spoke first or who smiled first or who might have accidentally on purpose gone up to the bar to meet the other. For the sake of the story, we™re going to say it was Chris who noticed Aja and made sure he spoke to her at the bar. They were both with their respective friends to see Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk; both were really into music, and both obviously interested in the other. As the story goes, they spoke, the sparks flew, and Chris ended up hanging out with Aja and her friends for the entire show. Chris asked Aja on a proper date and came into the city to see her the very next week. They cooked dinner at her house and then later, met up with a group of her friends. Aja says “It was one of those things you hear about”¦ I knew. Pretty instantly, I just knew Chris was it. Even if I didn™t want to say it out loud or admit it, I knew. And my friends knew. And, really, his friends knew also.”

The Proposal

That was January of 2006. The couple dated for a little over four years. Aja’s family loved Chris and his family really loved her. She felt like a proposal would happen any day. On June 23, 2010, Aja’s parents threw a huge luau-themed party in Birmingham for her 30th birthday. Aja had told Chris she wanted a star shaped lamp for her birthday present but was more than a little disappointed when he handed her a huge, star-shaped package. As Aja unwrapped the lamp, she tried to be excited about the gift, not realizing that the hanger she thought she had in her hand was actually an engagement ring! With 75 of her friends and family looking on and cheering, Chris proposed.

The Wedding & Reception

Since Aja was in Birmingham, she and her mom got down to the business of planning the wedding almost immediately. Luckily for Aja, her mom was up for the job and wanted to plan a good deal of the wedding as a surprise for her. It was well known that she™d always wanted to have her ceremony in her church and the reception at Birmingham’s legendary The Club on top of Red Mountain. It had been Aja’s dream to have her wedding reception at The Club since she was a child because her grandfather had been a member there.  The big problem was that The Club only had two dates open for 2011: either March 5th or March 19th. The church, St. Paul’s Cathedral was not available on either date. The bigger problem was that March 19th was going to fall during Lent. In the Catholic Church, wedding ceremonies are not allowed to take place during Lent. Since she had gone to elementary school at St. Francis Xavier, she called to inquire about availability for March 5th. Her former high school teacher, Father Bob Sullivan, now the Priest at St. Francis told her he actually could do the wedding on March 19th because it was the Feast of St. Joseph and weddings were allowed on that day. Finally, all of the stars lined up for both the ceremony and the reception venues. And best of all, Father Bob was going to be able to perform the ceremony.

Aja’s dad had the assignment of finding the perfect band and putting together the menu. Her mom was in charge of the rest of the details and the overall event design and she enlisted designer Lisa Thompson Abele Venable to help pull it all together. Since Aja is not necessarily into flowers, the overall design theme for the wedding included lots of botanicals like Manzanilla branches hung with crystals. Roses in shades of purple, lavender, and cream graced the reception tables and tons of paper lanterns were hung from the ceiling. The bridal bouquet was a hand-tied bouquet of mini white calla lilies with purple throats. The bridesmaids had the same callas in their bouquets along with a variety of purple blooms. Chris and the groomsmen were dressed in classic black with vest and bow tie.

The wedding cake by Edgar’s Bakery was six tiers, each a different flavor, Aja’s favorite was the strawberry. Being from the Northeast, Chris was not aware of the Southern tradition of a groom’s cake so Aja surprised him with a hobby-inspired cake decorated like a carpenter’s belt since Chris is really into building and making things. The four tier square red velvet cake with caramel icing was decorated with pliers, a hammer, tape measure, and other tools made from fondant.

Keeping to another tradition, the couple did not see each other the day of the wedding until Aja walked down the aisle. She remembers the moment she saw Chris and the wonderful experience of walking down the aisle with her father, chatting together the whole way. After dancing their first dance to the Zac Brown Band’s Free, Aja and her dad danced their father/daughter dance to an original song written for Aja titled #1 Fan by Nashville singer/songwriter Marc-Alan Barnette. The couple danced the night away with their friends and family until they left The Club in a sea of well-wishers.

Aja and Chris have settled into married life in New York and are enjoying some of their Bromberg’s wedding gifts.

Aja & Chris™ Bromberg’s Wedding Registry includes:

Formal China: Vera Wang Grosgrain

Formal Crystal: Waterford Lismore

Serveware: Annie Glass Platinum Ruffle and Beatriz Ball Organic Pearl

Casual Glassware: Riedel O


Congratulations, Aja and Chris. Our very best wishes to you for a long and happy life together!

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