When Sarah graduated from college, her family decided to celebrate with a Norwegian Epic cruise. Little did she know that the ocean adventure would be the start of an even greater journey! The boyfriend of Sarah’s sister decided to invite his boss and good friend, Joe, to join them on the vacation. Sarah and Joe immediately clicked, and one year and nine months after the cruise, on a softly lit pathway at the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas, Joe got down on one knee and asked Sarah to spend the rest of her life with him. Desiring an intimate celebration with only their closest family and friends, the couple invited forty-five guests to their spring celebration at Bella Collina, a winery wedding venue settled just outside of Orlando. The natural beauty of this site, with its rolling hills and and Tuscan architecture, lent just the Italian feel that Sarah and Joe were looking for, and they were wed inside the venue’s open-air atrium, an enchanting space with sandstone columns, intricate stone floors and candle-lit chandeliers. Following photos and cocktails, the newlyweds and guests made their way to the Grande Lawn, where round tables bedecked in a breathtaking combination of champagne and pink stood scattered across the yard. It was here that all were seated to enjoy a superb meal catered by Bella Collina, after which partygoers danced the evening away beneath a glowing canopy of stars. Images by Tampa wedding photographer, Justin DeMutiis Photography!
Was there a specific theme or style? What inspired it?
Our wedding day was an intimate and romantic tuscan getaway within Florida. The whole wedding took place outside where we were surrounded by rolling hills, big trees, beautiful flowers and glowing candles. We kept the decor light to allow the stunning landscape and ambiance of the outdoor venue be the main focus.
Tell us about your wedding gown and what your wedding party wore.
My wedding gown was an unexpected pick. I wanted a full lace sweet heart neckline, fit and flare gown and had tried on a few that I liked but nothing was “the one.” My mom and I went to go look at a gown I had seen online and while we were there, the bridal consultant helped us pick out a few other options just to try on for fun. When I tried on the lace gown I came in for I loved it. It was flattering and elegant and just what I wanted. My mom wasn’t totally convinced and so unwillingly I tried on the last gown we had picked out. The second I put it on, I was in love. It incorporated everything I wanted but then had a few details I didn’t even know I wanted. I got all giddy inside and even got a little teary eyed. I didn’t want to take it off. This was “the dress!” The very best part was it was exactly my size (which rarely happens in the world of wedding gowns) and it was 20% off! $200 below my budget!
What were your playful twists that made the event unique?
I surprised my husband by bringing our oldest of 4 dogs, 9-year-old black lab, Tyson, to the wedding. He had a white tie on that my aunt hand-made and he came strolling down the aisle after my dad gave me away. I told Joe that I knew he couldn’t get married without his other best friend being there. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the whole room. He was shocked and so touched that I had thought of something so meaningful to do for him. It is a memory we will always cherish.
What was the most memorable moment?
My most memorable moment was when my dad was walking me down the aisle, we turned the corner and I caught the first glimpse of my groom’s face. In that moment, knowing he was going to be my husband and that we were committing our lives to one another, was beyond anything I’ve ever felt. I felt humbled that he loved me that much and honored that God chose me to be his wife. I forgot there were cameras flashing and a room full of people watching. It felt like it was just me and him. It was real and beautiful and blissful.
Did you DIY any of the details?
Instead of hiring an event coordinator to plan invitations, decor and other details, we planned everything ourselves. We purchased our table linens and charger plates off-line and ended up paying less than we would have for rentals. The best part is we get to re-use them or re-sell them if we choose to! We re-purposed a lot of decor my sister had used for her wedding, along with using candlesticks and votives we had in our house. We used a website to create a customized guest book using our engagement pictures and also purchased ribbon and bags to wrap our wedding favors ourselves.
If there was one thing you could change, what would it be?
We wouldn’t have changed a thing. At the end of the day, I married my best friend and our friends and family got to be there to celebrate with us. I couldn’t have wanted anything more.
Venue & Catering: Bella Collina | Day of Wedding Coordinator: Blush | Photography: Justin DeMutiis Photography | Floral: Buds Blooms & Beyond | Decor: TableLinenDirect.com | Guestbook: Mixbook | DJ: Les & Wendy Kopasz at Soundwave Entertainment | Musician: Tori Fuso | Stationery: Wedding Paper Divas | Cakes: Elise’s Pieces, Party Flavors | Favors: Ghirardelli | Transportation: VIP Transportation Group | Calligraphy: The Pampered Paper | Bridal Shoes: Angelesque Stilettos