Tennis Star Sloane Stephens On Planning Her Dream Wedding: "Focus On Your Love"

"Remember that your wedding is the beginning of a marriage, not the end of a planning process." Tennis star Sloane Stephens opens up about planning her dream wedding to childhood friend Jozy Altidore with Zola.

By Lindsay Dolak

sloane stephens for zola
Photo by Stanley Babb

If you don't know US tennis star Sloane Stephens from her US Open win in 2017, her Miami Open win in 2018, or any of her other six titles and many accolades through the years, well, you should certainly know that her new husband pro soccer player Jozy Altidore describes her as "thoughtful, beautiful, and hardworking." And she of him? "Loyal, loving, and generous."

The couple, childhood friends who reconnected in 2016, were married on New Years Day this year in a private celebration in Miami. And what was the vibe at a wedding for two world-class athletes? “Elegant, classic, private, and fun,” Sloane tells Zola. After a nearly two-year engagement (plus, of course, a whole pandemic), she adds that, after all the planning, the thing they were most looking forward to at their wedding was simply “having our family and friends in one place.”

Ahead of the ceremony, Sloane, a personal fan of Zola, gave us an inside look at her planning thought process, her registry must-adds, and how her and Jozy managed to balance wedding planning with their busy and often long-distance schedules.

First and foremost, how did you want your wedding guests to feel at your wedding?

"Loved!"

What were your top three biggest planning priorities?

"In no particular order: an incredible DJ to make sure the dance floor was lit, an amazing photographer who captured us at our best, and thoughtfully communicating COVID testing and vaccination requirements so our guests felt comfortable."

We love that you take mental health so seriously. What acts of self-care did you prioritize most while planning your wedding?

"Self-care never stops in my world. I intentionally focused on relaxing self-care rituals like long baths, manis annd pedis, and staying hydrated. Something as simple as prioritizing good sleep went a long way in giving me a clear mind to tackle the next day’s to-do list and set of decisions.

"Throughout my life and career, I’ve found that slow and steady is always the best approach for me."

What’s one piece of advice you would share with a busy couple to stay connected while planning?

"Remember that your wedding is the beginning of a marriage, not the end of a planning process. Focus on your love and the life you’re building together. There will be some details in the planning process that are more important to one of you over the other—that’s OK. Always remember why you’re getting married to this person in the first place."

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What’s your best advice for couples planning together while traveling or long-distance?

"Jozy and I found a communication routine that worked for us and our schedules. We knew when we’re each practicing or competing, and when there were open windows to FaceTime and discuss whatever was going on that day.

"With wedding planning, we both had particular areas that we were more into that we each took the lead on. For example, Jozy was really excited about the reception and making sure it was a great party, but deferred to me on a lot of the design and aesthetic details. I’ve really enjoyed getting to work with Jozy as a true partner throughout the process."

What part of your wedding plans were you most excited about?

"We had a few days’ worth of activities planned around the wedding, and you better believe I had a full outfit ready to go for each event!"

What part of planning suprised you the most?

"A complete revelation to me during this process was how much some things cost. I absolutely love flowers and think they’re stunning, but wow, I had no idea what goes into them. So I learned a lot at my first design meeting. And ever since I started planning the wedding, I find myself paying way more attention to the flowers at events I attend."

Who (or what) has been the most helpful part of wedding planning?

"The Zola app! I had all the information available at the tip of my finger. I loved getting the notifications every time someone RSVP'd or we received a registry gift. If I was speaking with someone and they told me they were coming (or not), it was quick and simple to just update their status [on our Guest List] right away."

What item do you want most off of your registry?

"We’re in the process of renovating a house, so this registry is coming at the perfect time to start fresh together. We put a lot of entertaining and outdoor-focused items on it, and I can’t wait to have people over to grill and hang out.

"We're also excited about our cash registry item, which we've set up as a donation fund to Hope for Haiti to help expand a school in Haiti, where Jozy’s family is from. We started working on this project last spring before the August earthquake caused significant damage and delays, and it’s important to us to bring it to fruition as soon as possible so more children can have access to education."

Tell us your wedding song and why you chose it.

"Spend My Life With You" by Eric Benet. It’s such a beautiful song about love and two people choosing to be together."

How will you and Jozy spend your newlywed date nights now?

"We spend long stretches apart for our jobs, so our ideal date night is being total homebodies. We love that downtime together. So we’ll go out for sushi or Korean BBQ, and come home to relax on the couch and catch up on all our shows."

What are you most looking forward to when the wedding is all said and done?

"My tennis season starts shortly, so I’m looking forward to receiving all the photos and videos back and reliving it all while I’m on the road.

"Jozy and I have kept our relationship largely off of social media until now, so I think a lot of people will be excited to get this glimpse into our private life."

Here at Zola, we certainly are. Wishing the couple the happiest newlywed life! To see what Sloane and Jozy added to their Zola registry (and what Zola paper they chose!), head here.

No matter where you are in your wedding planning (or where you’re wedding planning from), Zola makes it easy to get and stay inspired ahead of your big day. From your invitation designs to your vendor search, and of course, your registry picks, we keep everything in one easy-to-use place. Because wedding planning should be fun and we’re here to help you with everything in one place.

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