Mariah and Nathan's downtown Tampa wedding featured sentimental details overlooking the city skyline. The Tampa natives chose a striking color scheme of shades of pink and maroon accented with metallic gold.
“We wanted the day to reflect us; we tried to keep other people's opinions to a minimum and focus on what we like. There were several details that were personal to us. We chose a venue that overlooked the city of Tampa, where we both grew up. We selected a family friend to marry us, and the guitarist at the ceremony was a family friend who played at my parents' wedding,” the bride shared. “We decided on a small cake and instead provided a dessert bar that featured Nathan’s favorite, gummy bears. My sister actually brought some of our favorite gummies with her from a small shop in Luneburg, Germany!”
Mariah could not wait to begin exploring wedding options and inspiration, so she turned to Marry Me Tampa Bay immediately after getting engaged.
“Nathan proposed on a Friday evening in Tuscaloosa, AL. We attended an Alabama football game on Saturday and had a 9-hour drive back home on Sunday. I spent the entire 9-hour drive back home on the Marry Me Tampa Bay website getting inspiration and researching vendors. I found our photographer, videographer, planner, and DJ on Marry Me Tampa Bay!” the bride revealed.
To help guide them through the process and keep them on track with budgets and contracts, Mariah and Nathan made sure to hire a wedding planner.
“Staci at UNIQUE Weddings + Events made sure that the day went off without a hitch (or at least I didn't know that anything went wrong!). I am so happy that someone else could handle communication and keep the wedding day on track so that I could just enjoy the day!” Mariah beamed. “Staci held a budget meeting where she went over the contracts and wedding plans to help save money and afford the things that were important to us.”
To bring personality and color into their venue, the selected chairs, napkins, and linens to help tie their vision together.
“I could not imagine how everything would look together, so Kate Ryan Event Rentals allowed me to visit their office, and they pulled different combinations of linens, chairs, and napkins so that I could see how everything worked together and feel confident in my selection.”
Witnessing the impact that photography and videography had on her parent's wedding, the bride placed an emphasis on finding the right vendor to capture her own special day.
“Growing up, my parents watched their wedding video every year on their anniversary. I love that tradition, so hiring a great videographer was important. We were looking for someone that could capture our wedding day, not just all the big moments, but all the small details that really make the day special. I didn't want to feel like we were ‘posed' for pictures all day. I wanted the photos and the video to really capture what was going on throughout the day. Bonnie Newman Creative did an incredible job!” the bride raved.
The couple prioritized their guest experience in a way that would make their wedding truly memorable. And having those special moments captured on photo and in video was paramount to preserving their favorite memories of the day.
“We wanted to have a good time and to make sure that our friends and family also had a good time,” Mariah recalled. “We focused our budget on the details that people would remember, food, beverage, and DJ as well as the photos and video that we could look back on. Our dance floor was never empty!”
What did you look for in a wedding hair and makeup artist?
I wanted my makeup to look elegant and natural. I didn't want it to be overdone. I wanted to look like myself, just the best version of myself. I wanted to hire someone who could hide any imperfections and highlight my best features.
Femme Akoi Beauty Studio was recommended by Marry Me Tampa Bay. I did set up a trial run and was very happy with how my hair and makeup turned out.
Where did you host your bachelorette party?
My best friend and now sister-in-law took a girls' trip with me up to St. Augustine. I wanted to get away but didn't have a lot of time. St. Augustine was just a short drive away and we had a great time. We loved visiting the local winery and distilleries.
I graduated from the University of Alabama. Nathan had never been to Tuscaloosa or an Alabama football game. In October, Nathan and I headed up to Tuscaloosa to meet up with my sorority sister and her husband. We had talked about getting married, but I had no idea he was going to propose on the trip.
Looking back, there were several signs. I asked if he wanted to just pack one suitcase to bring and he refused. He wanted to bring his own bag. On the trip up, I kept asking if he was excited. I thought he was being a jerk when he was like, “Why would I be excited?”
When we arrived in Tuscaloosa, we went out for drinks with my sorority sister and her husband. She had a gift bag with her, and when I asked who the gift was for, she told me she got a gift for her husband since it will be his first time going to an Alabama game. When we were at drinks, I asked if she was going to give him the gift, she told me she wanted to wait until dinner. I thought it was odd but blew it off. The bar was on the rooftop of a hotel overlooking the river. Even though it was dark and you couldn't see much of anything, my sorority sister asked to get a picture with her husband and then offered to take one of me and Nathan. Of course, I wasn't going to turn down a photo op! As Nathan and I posed for a picture, he got down on one knee and proposed. I couldn't believe it. I just kept asking “Is this for real?” but I eventually was able to say yes!
What did you look for in a wedding planner?
Staci at UNIQUE Weddings + Events made sure that the day went off without a hitch (or at least I didn't know that anything went wrong!). I am so happy that someone else could handle communication and keep the wedding day on track so that I could just enjoy the day! Staci held a budget meeting with me where she went over the contracts and wedding plans to help save money and afford the things that were important to us.
What were your colors?
Our colors were burgundy, blush, navy, gold.
What did you look for in a wedding photographer/videographer? Growing up, my parents watched their wedding video every year on their anniversary. I love that tradition, so hiring a great videographer was important. We were looking for someone that could capture our wedding day, not just all the big moments, but all the small details that really make the day special. I didn't want to feel like we were “posed” for pictures all day. I wanted the photos and the video to really capture what was going on throughout the day.
Bonnie Newman Creative did an incredible job! The way that they cut the video to show my dad practicing handing me off to Nathan to the ceremony was spot on. My dad was practicing it for weeks, and now I will never forget it.
Some of my favorite pictures from the wedding day are from when Nathan and I were practicing our first dance. We arrived at the reception space to take a look before everyone entered. We then took a few minutes to take a deep breath and practice our first dance. The room was empty and it felt like it was just us enjoying the moment. When I received the wedding pictures, I was surprised to see that Jon and Bonnie captured the moment. I didn't even know they were there!
Another one of my favorite photos was after the first look, when the bridal party, Nathan, and I were on the bus from the hotel to the ceremony venue. The emergency exit was open and letting in some wind. Nathan reached up to close the emergency exit so it wouldn't mess up the girls' hair. My sister then made a witty comment about it being symbolic that Nathan was closing the emergency exit on the way to the ceremony, not taking his last opportunity to run. Jon was on the bus with us and captured the moment in a photo.
I think hiring the photographer/videographer was one of the most stressful decisions that I had to make. I really wanted to make sure that we got great pictures and videos that we could look back at for the rest of our lives. I set up calls with several photographers/videographers. Bonnie and Jon were very responsive; they took the time to listen and ease any concerns I had. I loved that they work as a team, and I wouldn't have to worry about communication between the photographer and videographer, who is capturing what portions, or getting in each other's way. Our package also included an engagement shoot, which allowed us to meet Bonnie and Jon before our wedding so that we were more comfortable on the wedding day.
Where did you spend your honeymoon?
We already had several trips planned around the same time that we got married, so we didn't take a traditional “honeymoon.” We decided that we can spend the rest of our lives traveling together.
A couple of months before our wedding we took a “pre-honeymoon” to Ireland and Germany. We flew into Dublin for a couple of days and then we went to Hamburg, Germany where we attended the Rotary International Convention. Then we visited my sister and her family in Luneburg, Germany.
In March after our wedding, we attended Nathan's brother's wedding on a cruise. We left on the cruise right as they announced the first case of Coronavirus in the United States. When we returned, everyone was wearing masks and shutting down.
How did Your rentals add to the ambiance of your event?
I could not imagine how everything would look together, so Kate Ryan Event Rentals allowed me to visit their office and they pulled different combinations of linens, chairs, and napkins so that I could see how everything worked together and feel confident in my selection.
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay couples?
Take the wedding process step-by-step so that you don't get overwhelmed, and hire a wedding planner! I am so happy that someone else could handle communication and keep the wedding day on track so that I could just enjoy the day!
Ceremony Venue: Rooftop 220
Reception Venue: CAVU
Photographer & Videographer: Bonnie Newman Creative *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pro
Planner: UNIQUE Weddings + Events *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pro
Florist: Events in Bloom
Caterer: SaltBlock Catering
Chairs, Linens, and Napkin Rentals: Kate Ryan Event Rentals *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pro
Cake and Dessert: Goldies Goodies Bakery
DJ: Grant Hemond and Associates – DJ Jason Tally *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pro
Officiant: Gabriel Morgan (St Paul Lutheran Church Tampa)
Transportation: Network Transportation
Dress Shop: The White Magnolia Bridal Collection
Shoe Designer: Betsey Johnson
Bridesmaid Dress Shop and Designer: David's Bridal
Hair & Makeup: Femme Akoi Beauty Studio *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pro
Rehearsal Dinner: Harpoon Harry's Crab House
Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
*Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros are highly respected by our local wedding community and have been personally vetted by our editor.