This originally ran as a Local Love in the 2019 issue.
Wedding Date April 28, 2018
It wasn’t exactly love at first sight when Vanessa Buenger and Anthony Conway met as theater students at Towson University. “She was kind of cold to me,” says Anthony. “I’m not hitting on you. For real,” he reassured her. For Vanessa, that allowed her to just relax into their friendship as they shared in the many plays and auditions that followed. It wasn’t until both were cast in Dreamgirls at Toby’s Dinner Theatre after graduation that their friendship flourished into something more.
“I always knew Anthony was going to be in my life forever. He’s such a grounded force and a really authentic person,” says Vanessa. “I think the moment when I knew this was a real thing was when we started to meet each other’s families. I loved watching him exist in a space that didn’t involve me.” They both moved to Chicago together, but then Vanessa relocated to New York.
For the next year and a half they made it work, talking and texting daily and jumping on airplanes for quick weekends.
He proposed on her birthday when they were both back home in Baltimore for Thanksgiving. She was still in bed, her mom hiding in the hallway. He had hidden the ring in one of her childhood dresser drawers. He got down on his knee. “No frills,” says Vanessa. “That’s exactly who Anthony is.”
They both knew the wedding would take place in Maryland. “Planning a wedding long-distance forced me to stay on schedule,” she says. They used the year and a half to take their time and not get too bogged down in the planning process. They both agreed their wedding would have a “very clean, natural, urban-chic vibe,” says Vanessa. The Accelerator Space, a repurposed 90-year-old auto dealership in Govans, gave the industrial loft feeling they were both after and it “felt like Baltimore.”
The wedding also celebrated their heritage. “We jumped the broom,” says Vanessa. “That was really important to me. It was a nod to my African-American history. I really liked the symbolism behind it. Anthony and I broke tradition in so many ways—this felt like something old, iconic, and memorable.” The rest of the wedding was a happy blur: lots of dancing, white Air Force 1 sneakers as their guest book, Vanessa’s mom’s famous crab dip as an appetizer, and a late-night French fry bar.
It’s easy, says Vanessa, to think, “‘Why are we doing this?’ as thousands of dollars are depleted from your bank account.” But, she says, “The wedding was us. I took it all in. All our friends. My dad was happier than I’ve ever seen anyone in my life. We threw a party and everyone we love was happy, and that’s so much bigger than Anthony and me.”
BEAUTY Jamaya Moore (makeup); Ericka Cherrie (hair) CAKE Taste This Cake CATERER Zeffert & Gold FLOral design Crimson & Clover Floral Design GROOM AND GROOMSMEN Bonobos HAND LETTERING Lauren Bell, friend of bride HONEYMOON Southern Spain and Portugal INVITATIONS Minted LIGHTING Event Dynamics LOCATION Accelerator Space MONTH-OF COORDINATOR Dream Defined Events MUSIC DJ John Howard Photographer Bekah Kay Creative OFFICIANT Andrea Conway, groom’s sister TRANSPORTATION Lyft VIDEOGRAPHER Canvas & Light WEDDING DRESS Leanne Marshall at Lovely Bride Chicago