When Jackie Laino was planning her dream wedding, there was one thing she knew she and her groom Don definitely didn’t want to have: a wedding cake.

“We don’t like cake, so we decided to have a candy bar instead. It was perfect,” says Jackie.

The couple, who chose The Grand Hotel in Cape May for their big day, didn’t stop with the candy bar though.

“We really like cheesesteaks, and I wanted to have something where it was, ‘OK, everybody eat a little something and meet us back down at the bar, so we decided to have a cheesesteak bar too,’” says Jackie.

Guests at the reception were able to grab a roll and then load it up with steak and their choice of toppings, while the sweet candy spread featured everything from lollipops and mints to Pop Rocks and Hershey’s Kisses.

“Don’s mom also made hand-dipped chocolate-covered pretzels and Oreos,” says Jackie. “She was excited to help with everything. She’s been very good to me, and we’ve been close since my mom hasn’t been around.”

Jackie lost her mom to leukemia before the couple tied the knot, but she was sure to honor her memory during the wedding.

formals (116)“Our colors were purple and silver, because her favorite color was purple,” says Jackie. “And I guess because it was her favorite color, it’s also my favorite color.”

But honoring family didn’t stop with the colors. A memorial table at the cocktail hour paid tribute to the family members who had passed away since the couple had been together. Small beach chairs – because they all loved the beach – with each person’s name held mementos: flip flops for Jackie’s mother, a fishing hook for her grandfather and a lottery ticket for her uncle.

The reception, though, was all about the guests and featured a photo booth and Mad Libs for entertainment, while Don and Jackie’s ceremony was all about them. The two kicked off the day reading the letters they had written to each other.

“That was the only time I cried,” says Jackie. “Luckily, they hadn’t started my makeup yet.”

Jackie says she expected to become emotional while walking down the aisle, but seeing Don waiting for her at the altar actually calmed her nerves.

“He was smiling ear to ear,” she says of Don. “He calms me down anyway, so seeing him smile made me smile.”

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