Although Mandy Jo Spinetto and Bastian Moldehnke met during their time at the College of Charleston, their love story begins later. Bastian, from Germany, held a tennis scholarship at the school and met Mandy Jo through mutual friends. The two soon formed a tight bond, but it always remained platonic. “I believe that everything happens for a reason,” says Mandy Jo, and that certainly applies to this couple’s story. In 2004, Mandy Jo’s older sister Becky died from complications of a chemotherapy treatment for brain cancer. Before she passed away, Becky was offered the chance to travel anywhere in the world by her father, and she chose to visit Frankfurt, Germany – her birthplace. Sadly, Becky didn’t live long enough to take the journey. But when Mandy Jo graduated from college, she asked to go on the trip that Becky never got a chance to take. Bastian and his family opened their home to Mandy Jo as she traveled in Germany. It was during this emotional trip that the two realized their love for each other, and they returned to the United States as a couple. After four years of dating – including a brief period of long-distance courtship and graduate work for both Mandy Jo and Bastian – the two were engaged during a camping trip that Bastian planned. When it came to the wedding, every last detail was symbolic of something special in their life together. The ceremony and reception were held at Mandy Jo’s parents’ farm, where Becky’s memorial garden rests. In honor of Becky’s favorite color, junior bridesmaids and groomsmen carried purple flowers, and a large vase at the end of the row of bridesmaids allowed her to be included. “In the video, we saw that there was a butterfly that landed on her flowers and then followed the wedding party,” says Mandy Jo. “It was like she was there.” Each bridesmaid was given a personalized flower bouquet, all in yellow but with types that represented her relationship with the bride. Mandy Jo’s bouquet was white and included a variety of flowers. She walked down the aisle in a satin gown and custom-made veil from Mecklenburg Bridal Gallery. After the ceremony, guests participated in a memory walk, in which they walked around the farm enjoying poster-size photos of Bastian and Mandy Jo as they grew up on separate continents. For the reception, an indoor tennis court was transformed into a “castle,” with lounge areas of antique furniture and even a knight in shining armor. The family hand made ravioli and other foods that represented both Mandy Jo’s and Bastian’s cultures. Mandy Jo’s mother helped to bake the 2,000 cookies that were served instead of a wedding cake. Instead of party favors, a donation board was set up for guests to choose between four carefully selected charities, and money would be donated in honor of each guest. With the bride’s and groom’s families being included every step of the way – in person and in spirit – Mandy Jo and Bastian’s wedding left no detail overlooked. “Every time we think of the wedding, we think of how our families put it together,” says Mandy Jo. “Knowing that it all happened because of them is amazing.”
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