Lauren and Joe's St. Pete Beach wedding at the Don CeSar featured a modern elegance theme, with a color palette of blush, neutrals and mixed metallics with pops of dark black and burgundy to complement the season.
For the Sarasota area couple holding their winter wedding in St. Pete Beach was a simple decision, as it was where they met and spent most of their time together, and they wanted to share their love for their city with their guests.
When it came to selecting a wedding venue, that was another easy choice, as Lauren had previously worked as the Catering Manager at the Don CeSar for 10 years.
“The Don CeSar is a very special place for me because it is where I started and built my career in the events industry. Because of this, no other venue compared. The Don is known for its high level of service and product,” the bride shared. “We wanted a place that our out-of-town guests would have a great time all weekend. It gave me peace of mind and made wedding planning and the actual wedding weekend more enjoyable to know that everyone would be wonderful thanks to the Don CeSar team.”
Booking their venue just five months in advance meant that Lauren and Joe had to plan their big day quickly. They knew they wanted to hire a St. Pete Beach wedding planner who could not only manage all of the details, allowing them fully enjoy their wedding day, but also keep on top of their tight deadlines!
“We chose Parties a la Carte because our vision aligned with theirs for our big day. From décor design to vendor recommendations and scheduling to maintaining our budget, they were there for us with very quick response times. This is key when planning a short-term wedding,” the bride explained. “On my wedding day, they took care of everything, so I could focus on getting ready and spending time with family and friends. They listened to our wedding wishes and ensured all were granted on the big day, including multiple confetti explosions.”
Searching for a St. Pete Beach wedding photographer who could deliver an amazing product and who was comfortable to be around, the couple chose Marc Edwards Photographs.
“I worked with Marc, owner of Marc Edwards Photographs, numerous times in the past, and I always thought he was extremely creative,” Lauren gushed. “I liked his artistic approach to photography. He has an amazing eye and sees things in a beautiful way. He is also very flexible and accommodating. As a photographer, you have to be able to think on your feet to get the best shots, he does that well.”
Creating a meaningful wedding ceremony as a top priority for the bride and groom.
“Joe and I incorporated the rose ceremony for our Moms, a wine ceremony and read our own vows to each other. Everything done during the ceremony including every word that the officiant read had a deep significance to us,” Lauren shared.
Looking back, the bride's most memorable moment was seeing Joe for the first time.
“It made my heart happy. He had the biggest smile on his face. I was so excited to be his wife. I basically ran down the aisle to get to him!” Lauren reminisced.
What did you look for in a wedding videographer?
I am huge advocate of wedding videos; nothing will tell your love story for years to come better than video. Similar to how we chose a photographer, first and foremost, I wanted to ensure we received an amazing product, so we watched a lot of videos prior to choosing our videographer.
James of Imagery Wedding Films' videos had the artistic approach I was looking for. His videos are quality; it looked like a mini Hollywood film. James was super accommodating and flexible on the wedding day. His turnaround time for the video was very quick, as well. He was very responsive and quick to reply to emails throughout the whole planning process.
What was your wedding hair and makeup inspiration?
For my wedding day makeup, I wanted to enhance my natural features, with emphasis on my eyes. I definitely did not want to look too made up (i.e. drag queen style). I wear my hair down almost every day, so I felt like mixing it up for the ceremony with a loose updo. To change up the look, after the wedding sunset photos, Femme Akoi stayed later to take my hair from up to down for the party.
I want to learn more about hair & makeup from Femme Akoi.
Femme Akoi was willing to do whatever it took to make me happy. They listened to my requests during the hair and makeup trial and really took those into account on the big day. I felt so beautiful, they did a stellar job!
During a weekend trip to Vegas, Joe booked a helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon, a place that was on my bucket list. After we landed in the Canyon, Joe was in search of the perfect backdrop to pop the question. Once he found THE spot, he hugged me tight, got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him! We celebrated all weekend long.
What did you look for in a wedding planner?
We hired a wedding planner because we wanted someone else to take care of everything on the day of the wedding, so that we could relax and enjoy with family and friends. We also wanted someone, who was not family, to turn and consult when making difficult wedding planning decisions. We had a relatively short engagement and booked our venue five months prior to the date. Because of this, we had to be quicker with wedding making decisions.
I want to learn more about planning from Parties A La Carte.
We chose Parties a la Carte because our vision aligned with theirs for our big day. Jessica, Ashley and Jackie from PALC made a monumental impact on our day. From décor design to vendor recommendations and scheduling to maintaining our budget, they were there for us with very quick response times. This is key when planning a short-term wedding. On my wedding day, they took care of everything, so I could focus on getting ready and spending time with family and friends. They listened to our wedding wishes and ensured all were granted on the big day, including multiple confetti explosions. The amount of value they offer for the price point is astronomical, they made our day go better than we ever imagined. The Parties a la Carte team went above and beyond to ensure that our vision was achieved.
How did you incorporate you and your spouse's personalities into the wedding?
We wanted our guests to have fun from start to finish. We began the ceremony with a bubbly bar serving Prosecco. During the ceremony, we gave our moms roses to honor them, read our own vows to each other, had a wine ceremony (since we LOVE wine) and during the recessional, a surprise sax player soloist came out to play one of our favorite songs. We also handpicked the songs our violinist played for the processional including Wagon Wheel for the wedding party, another one of our favorite songs.
We spent literally hours picking out our first dance song. We were so happy when we found the perfect one, a slowed down version of 500 Miles, the song from the 90s. It was I’m Gonna Be by Sleeping at Last. We loved the lyrics in this song and the melody of it. It was beautifully performed by the Phase 5 Band. At the end of the first dance, we surprised our guests with a confetti pop. We ended the night with a confetti pop, as well.
What did you look for in a wedding venue?
We wanted a place that our out-of-town guests would have a great time at all weekend.
I want to learn more about weddings at The Don CeSar.
The Don CeSar is a very special place for me because it is where I started and built my career in the events industry. Because of this, no other venue compared. The Don is known for its high level of service and product. It gave me peace of mind and made wedding planning and the actual wedding weekend more enjoyable to know that everyone would be wonderful thanks to the Don CeSar team. Having worked at the Don CeSar for 10 years with most of that time as a Catering Manager, we were heavily involved in creating our own dinner stations menu. The Don Cesar’s food and service were top notch. All of their staff were genuinely happy and excited for us. We had a great feeling through the whole weekend from all staff. Our guests loved our food, especially the mac and cheese in the parmesan wheel with short ribs and truffle. People are still talking about it months later. We celebrated all weekend long there with the rehearsal dinner on Saturday, followed by the welcome reception then the wedding and reception on Sunday. The weather was perfect and everyone had a blast enjoying the beach and the amenities.
What did you look for in a wedding photographer?
I wanted someone who delivers an amazing product and is comfortable to be around, someone who can make any moment meaningful and beautiful through photography.
I want to learn more about Marc Edwards Photographs.
I worked with Marc, owner of Marc Edwards Photographs numerous times in the past, and I always thought he was extremely creative. I liked his artistic approach to photography. He has an amazing eye and sees things in a beautiful way. He is also very flexible and accommodating. As a photographer, you have to be able to think on your feet to get the best shots, he does that well.
How would you describe your theme/wedding design inspiration?
Romantic, contemporary elegance. We were drawn to these types of designs. We love the modern look, but wanted it to still be wintery and cozy at the same time. We wanted most elements custom and unique. Each special touch and detail was taken into consideration, down to the labels on the champagne bottle favors “Keep Love Poppin,’” to the cocktail napkins “Every great love story starts with a cocktail, at least ours did”, to the table names, each was labeled as a significant location to us and described why.
What were your colors?
Blush, neutrals and mixed metallics with pops of dark colors like black and burgundy. I thought these complemented each other nicely and were unique together. We really love these colors, and they were a nice match for the winter season and looked great in the Don Cesar’s Ballroom.
What did you look for in a wedding band?
We were looking for a band who would keep high energy and our party going all night.
I Want to Learn More about Entertainment from Phase 5 Band.
We loved having Phase 5 Band at our wedding! The lead singer Josh Walther was amazing to work with; he was very responsive and accommodating throughout the whole planning process. We used Phase 5 throughout ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. We had very unique requests, and they were able to learn the songs for us. Josh and the band knocked it out of the park during our first dance; they really blew us away. It was such a special moment; one of my all-time favorites from our wedding that I will cherish forever. Everyone loved their energy and vibe; our guests were on the dance floor the whole night. I am so grateful to have had Phase 5 at our reception; they were absolutely fantastic!
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay couples?
Set weekly goals for yourself, this way it is not overwhelming when you are coming into the home stretch. Do your research through Marry Me Tampa Bay and other websites before hiring your vendors. Then when the big day comes, just relax and try to live in the moment and be present as much as possible because, like everyone says, it goes by very fast.
Ceremony/Reception Venue and Caterer: The Don Cesar *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Venue
Photographer: Marc Edwards Photographs *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Videographer: Imagery Wedding Films
Planner: Parties a la Carte *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Florist: Botanica International
Rentals: So Staged Event Rentals
Linens: Over The Top Rental Linens *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Draping: Cheers Events
Cake: The Cake Zone
Ceremony Violinist: Laurie Vodnoy-Wright
Band: Phase 5 Band *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Officiant: Rev. Tom Greene
Dress Shop: White Magnolia
Hair & Makeup: Femme Akoi *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Alterations: Alterations by Mirta