From Coast to Coast
One formerly bi-coastal couple settles down close to home with a wedding thrown by family.
The prospective groom, Michael Johnson, invited his future in-laws, Suzanne and Bob Fraser, to lunch at Harry’s Seafood on Wilmington’s waterfront. It was September 28, the day before Suzanne’s birthday, and she assumed Michael wanted to celebrate the occasion. He did. But he also had another event on his mind. “Michael wanted to ask us for Bianca’s hand in marriage,” Suzanne says.
The catch was, Michael didn’t plan to pop the question until he and Bianca traveled to San Diego, where the Frasers’ younger daughter, Mia, is studying for her doctorate.
“Bianca and Mia are very close and Michael wanted Mia to be a part of their happiness,” she says.
So, even though Bianca hadn’t officially said yes, the family began planning the wedding by reserving the Gold Ballroom for August 18, one of the few openings at the sought-after venue.
“The minute I got home from lunch, I called the hotel,” Suzanne says. “I knew my daughter wouldn’t turn Michael down.”
She also phoned to save the date for the ceremony at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church in Greenville.
The entire family was bursting to share the happy news. But their lips remained sealed as Bianca headed to San Diego to visit her sister.
Ring in hand, Michael waited for Bianca on a romantic bluff overlooking La Jolla Cove on a beautiful October day. Mia, equipped with a cell phone and a digital camera, was hidden by shrubbery a few hundred yards away.
“She couldn’t hear what was going on but she could see, so she described the scene to us on her cell phone,” Suzanne says. “She said, ‘Mummy, Bianca is jumping up and down, so she must have said yes!’”
As soon as Bianca and Michael were officially engaged, Michael shared the secret he and the Fraser family had been keeping: The date was set for their wedding, complete with a reception at the Gold Ballroom.
The smiling bride-to-be, wearing a sparkling band of three diamonds set in platinum, took the news in stride. “My mom is a born organizer,” Bianca says.
Although the proposal went off without a hitch, there were a few bumps along the way to the lovely cove in California. The six-year romance of Bianca and Michael had endured years of separation and other challenges.
They went to college in different states, Bianca to Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and Michael to Pennsylvania State University. After graduation, they worked in different locales, with Bianca, a banking executive, and Michael, a civil engineer, heading as far afield as Maine and California.
“We agreed to put our careers first in the beginning, until we got established professionally,” Bianca says. “The closest our jobs ever got was Wilmington and West Chester—and that was only for a few months.”
Near-tragedy reversed that course. Bianca was severely injured in an automobile accident near Philadelphia. She endured serious leg injuries followed by a series of surgeries.
Michael immediately left his job in California and moved east.
“The accident showed me what a wonderful husband he would be,” Bianca says. “When I needed him most, he quit a job he loved to be with me.”
Bianca found the love and support in Michael after they were introduced by John Kennedy, a childhood friend of the groom. It wasn’t until they were in high school at Archmere Academy that John and Bianca became close friends. But shortly after, he introduced the couple. Several years after graduation, John died of leukemia.
“John was my guardian angel, looking out for me,” Bianca says. “He brought me to Michael, the nicest guy in the whole world.”
At their wedding, the couple honored John with the lighting of a memory candle. The Reverend Joseph McLaughlin, who had been headmaster of Archmere Academy, was the officiant.
Bianca walked down the aisle on her father’s arm, wearing a full-length veil with a blusher. Michael, in white tie and a black, single-breasted tux, wore a white rosebud in his lapel.
After the couple exchanged vows they headed off to party at the Hotel du Pont. “The ballroom is magical,” Bianca says. “It’s like stepping into a fairytale, just walking in there.”
Every fairytale needs a princess, and Bianca looked the part, dressed in a strapless, mermaid-style gown in dupioni silk of the purest white. The dress was detailed “with all the tiny little buttons, all the way down the back,” she says.
For something both old and blue, Bianca wore her aunt’s broach, pinned beneath her skirt. Her somethings new were her gown and veil. But her borrowed piece was by far the most spectacular. She wore a pearl and diamond necklace on loan from family friend Michael Goldberg of Indulgence Jewelers in Greenville.
“It was a bit hard, handing that back,” she says.
Bianca’s attendants were dressed in frocks of gold, reflecting the glamour of the ballroom.
The bride was still recovering from the car accident, but she and Michael were able to take to the dance floor for two slow numbers. Their first dance was to “I Cross My Heart,” by George Strait.
Guests danced to live music throughout the evening from the Eddie Bruce Band. The highlight of the performance was a rendition of “You Are the One for Me,” made popular by Charles Aznavour, the iconic Parisian tenor, who maintains a home in Montreal. The extended Fraser family came on stage to lift their voices together.
“Since we’re French-Canadian, we sang along in French,” Bianca says.
Sweetest of all are the memories the couple and their loved ones share as they look back on the celebration. “It was an amazing day—one we had waited six years for,” Bianca says.
After the party, the bride and groom honeymooned for two idyllic weeks in Tahiti, stopping on the way home to visit Bianca’s grandparents in Vancouver, who had not been well enough to attend the wedding.
The couple recently bought a home in Hockessin, and they report it’s blissful living in the same place.