A Match Made In Texas

When first meeting newlyweds John Bonadelle and Caroline Baliker, the sweetness between the two is immediately apparent; you can tell that this is a couple whose friendship is the core of their love for one another. John and Caroline’s story together commenced at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, but they are building the next chapter of their lives in Fresno, California.

It all started at SMU. Caroline grew up in Houston, Texas with her little sister, but moved to Dallas to attended SMU for accounting. John grew up the eldest of three siblings in Fresno, California, and also chose SMU because of its business school’s notoriety.

The two had mutual friends in college, but didn’t formally meet until their junior year on spring break, yet it wasn’t until that summer that they reconnected and hit it off. “I think we both knew pretty early on. It just felt natural,” said Caroline. She brought John to meet her family in Houston that following winter break, and then Caroline followed him to California to meet his family a few days later. They dated those final two years of college, and then for another two after graduation.

From shared interests to their calm dispositions, John and Caroline’s similarities far outweigh any differences. Independently, John loves duck hunting and golf, and Caroline is avid about running and Pilates. But together, they enjoy being physically active outdoors. Dallas made them major foodies, so they are always eager to try new restaurants, as well as experiment with cooking. The couple love to travel, and have been to several states together already. Before settling down, visiting Europe and going on a safari are on their bucket list.

It was on a vacation in New York City that John popped the question. The couple went out to dinner in Brooklyn with some friends, and then back to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where they were staying; he proposed in the lounge there. Was she expecting it? “Kinda, but we had talked about it ... I didn’t know exactly when, but [I knew] it was coming.” Friends had been teasing them the night before, asking when it was going to happen, but Caroline admitted she had no idea he’d do it right after.

John and Caroline Bonadelle

John proposed the weekend before Thanksgiving 2016, but the couple chose to wait until after the holidays to begin planning their wedding. “You got right into it! And I tried to stay out of it!” John divulged with a smile and an enduring chuckle. “Yeah, I was a very hands-on bride,” Caroline admitted, though the couple hired a wedding planner to help.

“We didn’t want to see each other before the wedding, the ceremony,” Caroline explained of their shared traditional tendencies. She made a point of integrating traditions to honor John’s Italian roots. His grandmother’s Italian cookies were included, and each place-setting had the traditional five almond favors, which signify five wishes for the bride and groom: happiness, health, wealth, fertility, and longevity. Both partook in groom & mother and bride & father dances. To honor Caroline’s special relationship with her maternal grandparents, she shared a dance with her grandfather, and carried the handkerchief her grandmother used on her wedding day.

Getting married on the SMU campus, where it all began, was the logical place to start their journey as husband and wife. John and Caroline tied the knot in a traditional Catholic ceremony on January 13th, 2018, at SMU’s campus church, Perkins Chapel. “It was perfect and everything we wanted,” mused Caroline of their wedding day. Well, almost perfect... It turns out the Catholic Church wasn’t on board with incorporating John’s beloved hunting lab, Brick, into the ceremony itself.

The wedding party included eight bridesmaids and nine groomsmen, and 250 guests joined them in the celebration. “Most people [came] from out of town, either Houston or Fresno ... Everyone that was there you knew on a really intimate level,” John said of their guest list. Black tie was optional, and everyone was dressed to the nines.

Caroline’s ivory, sweetheart neckline gown, with allover lace, was classically elegant. Her “something blue” was her grandmother’s sapphire ring. Styled with a sleek, side-parted chignon, petite diamond drop earrings, and perfectly pink lips, the look truly captured the bride’s polished aesthetic.

Both John and Caroline enjoy history and appreciate the elegant, elaborate architecture of historical landmarks, so they held their reception at downtown Dallas’ Adolphus Hotel. Round tables were set with white linens, topped with tall, fluted vases featuring bouquets of pale pink roses, a medley of white flowers, and a touch of greenery.

Being foodies, fantastic cuisine was a must. Canapes of tuna tataki on a wonton crisp, heirloom tomato on burrata toast, and black-eyed pea tempura shrimp were waiter-passed. A sit-down dinner began with charred corn, lump crab, and poblano soup as the appetizer. Guests had a choice between miso-marinated sea bass, Texas grilled filet mignon, or house-made cavatelli pasta for the main course. The five-tier wedding cake was vanilla sponge with vanilla creme and raspberry filling, while the groom’s cake was chocolate devil’s food sponge with white chocolate mousse and buttercream.

But, “The best part was the band!” John and Caroline enthusiastically agreed, revealing that their first dance was to “The Way You Look Tonight.” “We both loved The Parent Trap when we were younger,” Caroline began. “It was more a function of my sisters loving The Parent Trap,” laughed John. “So the song ‘L.O.V.E.’ was played while we cut the cake,” continued Caroline. Family friend Pat LaRocca, owner of Five Restaurant in Fresno, even serenaded the bride with a beautiful rendition of “Sweet Caroline” that evening.

The couple planned to ride away from the festivities at the Adolphus in a horse-drawn carriage, but seeing as the temperature was a mere 20° outside, the horse had to be convinced to get moving, leaving the newlyweds to wonder what the delay was. Guests partied until 4 o’clock in the morning, and eventually went for pizza, before retiring from celebrating the union of the young Bonadelle couple.

For their honeymoon, as much as John and Caroline love travel, they decided against going around the world because they wanted a short flight, so the couple spent a week at the luxurious Rosewood Mayakoba Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, near Cancún. “While we were sitting there on our honeymoon, we realized that we hadn’t really planned anything beyond the honeymoon ... The itinerary stopped!” John revealed.

Nevertheless, right after returning to the States, the couple packed up and moved from Dallas to California, where they have managed to find a happy work/home balance in Fresno; John is Director of Operations at Bonadelle Neighborhoods, and Caroline works as a CPA for The Garabedian Group. Weekends are their opportunity to go jogging and hiking, while most evenings are spent breaking in their new cookbooks together (they are really into making cedar plank salmon as of late) and catching up on favorite television shows (unless it’s baseball season; they’re Giants and Astros fans).

It really is the simple pleasures in life that make it worth living. With love, great company, and good food and music, it appears this couple is well on their way to a lifetime of happiness. Cheers to #BecomingBonadelle, the marriage of John and Caroline—a match made in Texas.

Managing Editor Lauren Barisic
Photography Jennefer Wilson