By Andrea Milam
Their smiles, the joy in their faces, the laughter in their voices, the brightness in the way they
speak of one another—it’s all reminiscent of young love. The giddiness that bursts forth between Cliff Martell Fantini and Richard Ambrose is contagious; it’s hard not to laugh along as they recount the tale of their wedding day. The couple’s effervescent disposition is a testament to the power of love’ s ability to keep you young. These gentlemen are in fact in their 60s.
Cliff and Richard’ s distinguished Philadelphia wedding was the perfect balance to their jubilance. Held at the Lady Chapel at the esteemed St. Mark’ s Episcopal Church, the couple was flanked by their male and female attendants as they said their vows. The ladies dazzled incustom ensembles designed by renowned British bridal designer and Cliff’s best man, Ian Stuart. Following the theme of “60 Shades of Gray,” a nod to the ages of the majority of the wedding party, the flattering designs all featured three-dimensional ivory French Alencon lace and dove gray silk accessorized with ivory silk Carolina Amato gloves, and pearl and Swarovski crystal earrings by Malis-Henderson. Some wore picture hats, while others wore matching silk, lace, and English tulle fascinators. In their hands, English posey bouquets designed by Magnifique Decor rounded out the look.
Male attendants wore Ralph Lauren charcoal gray peak lapel cutaways and striped slacks accessorized with custom-designed silk striped ascots and dove gray waist coats, with pearl stick pins, cufflinks, and shirt studs.
Cliff and Richard never looked so handsome as they did on their wedding day, wearing black cutaways and striped pants custom designed by Frank Ventresca with paisley silk ascots and wool waist coats—ivory for Cliff and gray and black for Richard—with diamond and pearl jewelry and silk top hats, and rose, stephanotis, and lily of the valley boutonnieres on their lapels. In honor of his adopted uncle, Cliff carried the cane he’d inherited from him, the handle adorned with flowers matching his boutonniere.
Though they looked the part of distinguished Philadelphia gentlemen from head to toe, Cliff and
Richard’s youthful joy permeated the day.
“We just laughed and had breakfast and started getting dressed,” Cliff says of their wedding morning.“
Our plans were that people would help us get dressed separately, but it didn’t pan out that way. We were helping each other get dressed.”
Following the church ceremony, the couple and their guests arrived at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphiafor the reception, where the flower arrangements garnered almost as much “oohs and ahhs” as the handsome grooms. Towering above the heads of the guests with ivory vendela roses, Sahara roses, antique hydrangea, apple blossom, phalaenopsis and cymbidium orchids, blush peonies, cherry blossoms, and white lilac, florist Carole Powers Gordon’s designs transported guests to an English garden.
“It looked like an old English gentleman’s club with the woods, the chandeliers, and the colors in the room,” says Cliff. “The tables were all hand-painted with beautiful scenes. Everything was flowers and fruit, a feeling of abundance, springtime, and newness.”
“The Ritz staff did such a great job,” says Richard of the reception.“ Bar none, they were the finest group of people I’ve ever seen work at a wedding. Nobody wanted for anything.”
Ritz-Carlton Pastry chef Stephen Wilson turned out delicious cookies with white icing and the couple’ s initials in chocolate lettering. Ann’s Cake Pan designed a flower-themed wedding cake celebrating the arrival of spring at the May wedding; a second gluten free cake featuring boxing gloves in honor of the way the couple met—in a boxing-related online chat room—was designed by Philly Cupcake.
Cliff smiled his way through getting ready with his husband-to-be and exchanging vows during the ceremony, but the emotion of being married to Richard didn’t fully hit him until the couple
shared their first dance.
“It was to a song called ‘Betcha By Golly Wow,’ and those lyrics just did it,” says Cliff.“ As I
looked in Ambrose’s eyes, I just felt like I’m finally being honest with the world and telling the world how much I love this man.”
“The day went so fast; before I knew it, my shirt was off and I was dancing to ‘It’s Raining Men,’”
Cliff continues with a hearty laugh. “Everything was just perfect.”
Cliff and Richard, who up until now had maintained a long-distance relationship, look forward to finally living together. Richard has retired and is moving from Connecticut to Philadelphia to be with Cliff.
“I can’t wait to be under one roof 24/7,” says Richard. “I can’t tell you how happy I am with him.
He’s just a marvelous guy. I love him dearly.”