Carolina Bride

A twist of fate

Sarah Piekielny had her sights set on Colorado. After living in Chicago her entire life, she was ready for a change and Colorado seemed like the next best move, since both of her sisters were living there at the time. However, fate had different plans for her. What started out as a visit to Charlotte to celebrate New Year's Eve with some girlfriends turned into a whirlwind romance the night she met Jeff Maichle. The two met at Buckhead Saloon in uptown Charlotte, although Jeff has his own story and likes to tell people they met on a romantic cruise in the Mediterranean. In May of 2008, Jeff asked Sarah's parents for her hand in marriage and six months later on the day after Thanksgiving, he proposed to her while they were visiting New York City. As they were leaving Central Park, Jeff asked to borrow Sarah's Chapstick. When she handed it to him, he "accidentally" dropped the cap and as he bent down to pick it up, went down on one knee and asked Sarah to marry him. "I was so shocked I think it took me a good minute to say, ‘Yes!’ Sarah remembers. Once they returned to Charlotte, the couple went to work planning their wedding. Sarah, from Chicago, and Jeff, a Delaware native, chose Charlotte as their wedding location. "Since Jeff and I had met, fallen in love and lived together in Charlotte, we only found it fitting to have our wedding there," says Sarah. "We wanted our friends and family see why we love Charlotte so much." A modest wedding of 66 guests from 20 different states enjoyed the Southern charm of the city on a warm summer weekend in August. The bride's sister even flew in from Germany to be with her sister on her special day. The weather was perfect that weekend, which proved to be crucial since the wedding party took pedicabs to the church and most of the guests walked the few blocks to all of the attractions from their hotel.Sarah and Jeff included unique details about their engagement, like Chapstick wedding favors with their name and wedding date on them. Sarah also incorporated a family tradition that her mom started in 1973 when she got married – she used a 2010 penny for her "something new" and a 1973 penny as her "something old" and tucked them in each shoe. As the story goes, it’s supposed to bring you good luck on your wedding day.Indigo Photography captured the couple's special day, with images of the bride in her light, lace, vintage-inspired gown with a fingertip Giselle veil from J. Major’s. "I absolutely loved my veil! It had a slight shimmer to it and it was ivory to match my dress. There was a thin ribbon that outlined the veil that actually matched the bottom of my dress perfectly," Sarah says. "I actually didn’t really know exactly what I wanted until I went to J. Major’s. The staff was super friendly and helpful, which made it a lot easier."The couple exchanged vows and rings from Diamonds Direct, and Bentley's on 27 set the scene for an intimate reception. With the backdrop of the Charlotte skyline and all of their loved ones around them, Sarah and Jeff united and celebrated as husband and wife. After a long, memorable weekend with family and friends who had traveled near and far, the newlyweds traveled to Aruba for their honeymoon. It was a much-needed vacation after an eventful but exhausting weekend. Although the couple now lives in Winston-Salem, they will always have Charlotte as the city where they met and fell in love and ultimately got married. "It was the greatest feeling having everyone that we love and care about from our entire lives all in the same room," Sarah says. "It’s not everyday when that happens, and we are so blessed to have such amazing people in our lives."

Featured Vendors

Engagement and Wedding Rings

Diamonds Direct SouthPark

704-532-9041 or 888-400-4447


Indigo Photography


Reception Location

Bentley’s on 27



J. Major’s Bridal Boutique


Continue reading real wedding stories! Up next: 'A nomadic romance'