Heather and John's outdoor Myakka City Florida wedding transported guests through time and space to a magical land of Vikings. Guests donned themed attire and celebrated in a woodland setting complete with candlelight, jewel-toned florals, greenery, and a bountiful feast topped off with assorted Nordic-inspired confections.
“Our wedding was Viking themed with a slightly modern twist. John and I have always been interested in Viking history, culture, and mythology. We each also have Scandinavian ancestry on both sides of our family. We chose this theme as a way to honor our ancestors and incorporate a theme we were passionate about. We did not want in any way to have a traditional wedding. We wanted something truly unique, inspiring, and one hundred percent us,” the bride revealed. “Our wedding colors were black, grey, boysenberry, mauve, and white. We also had a lot of greenery around to create a woodland effect on our centerpieces. We picked these colors to fit our theme, as a couple like dark and moody colors. Our wedding also was two days before Halloween, and it also tied into the holiday vibe as well.”
The Sarasota bride turned to Marry Me Tampa Bay for helpful articles to provide inspiration and insight during the planning process.
“We referred to Marry Me Tampa Bay for the advice section and inspiration in the beginning stages of planning. It was very useful in helping us to decide on what we wanted to do and shape our desired outcome,” Heather shared.
Heather and John prioritized finding a wedding officiant who would embrace their wedding vision and help craft a truly personalized and unique wedding ceremony that was an authentic reflection of them. After their first phone call with Weddings By Bonnie, they knew that owner Bonnie Sanchez was the perfect person to lead them through the exchange of sacred vows.
“We specifically chose Weddings by Bonnie initially for Bonnie's experience with traditional Viking wedding ceremonies and for her enthusiasm. Bonnie is such a sweet and compassionate soul,” the bride beamed. “She took the time to get to know us, our story, and what traditions meant the most to be incorporated into the ceremony. She was also full of very useful information and inspirational ideas. Bonnie was a great guide on how to obtain our marriage license, and she helped guide me through the name change process. She was so easy to work with and really helped to simplify and take the stress out of planning our ceremony.”
The couple's Viking style came through in various aspects of their celebration, from the groom's attire to the bride's floral sword bouquet and even a Viking mead ceremony after exchanging vows. The curated details made for a truly unforgettable wedding experience for their guests.
“Our Viking theme itself is really what made the whole wedding unique. We wanted to create a unique and memorable day, not just for us, but one our guests would walk away from and never forget. We also wanted our guests to have fun with the theme and encouraged them to dress up in Viking attire. To our surprise, everyone was really excited and got into dressing up for the day. It was so fun to see all the costumes everyone came up with!” the bride recalled. “Also, the attention to detail and tradition made our day stand apart from anything our guests have seen before, and our wedding is still a topic of discussion.”
Heather bucked tradition and opted for a black lace gown with a fur wrap and a dramatic braided hairstyle to completely channel her inner Viking Queen. She even swapped the traditional bouquet for a sword adorned with flora.
“I decided to incorporate a little bit of a modern twist with my look. I have always wanted to be bold and have a black wedding dress. I think they are absolutely beautiful, and the traditional white wedding dresses pale me out since I am a redhead. So I found the black wedding dress of my dreams and these beautiful black lace boots to go with the dress,” the bride detailed. “Everything else was more of a traditional flare. I had silver fox furs as my mantle for my shoulders. I had a hand-forged Viking-style sword to carry as my bouquet with flowers attached to it. My hair was braided Viking style with metal rings and hair Viking coils placed throughout. The jewelry I had handmade and picked out Viking Runes that I thought represented our day and us.”
In addition to walking herself down the aisle, which made for a very memorable entrance and empowering feeling that she said she would never forget, Heather maintains that the unity traditions during their ceremony really stood out in her memory.
“A memorable moment of the day was our ceremony. Just being there, holding John's hands, and staring deeply into his eyes, there was something so majestic, pure, and deep about that moment. After 14 years, we were finally tying the knot in the most perfect way imaginable,” the bride reminisced. “The smudging ceremony with my real Icelandic Raven wing, to tying the knot on our handmade handfasting cord, to saying our vows, and to finally taking three drinks of mead from our Viking drinking horns, that moment was simply perfect, and our hearts were one.”
How would you describe your theme/wedding design inspiration?
Our wedding was Viking themed with a slightly modern twist. John and I have always been interested in Viking history, culture, and mythology. We each also have Scandinavian ancestry on both sides of our family. We chose this theme as a way to honor our ancestors and incorporate a theme we were passionate about. We did not want in any way to have a traditional wedding. We wanted something truly unique, inspiring, and one hundred percent us.
What were your colors?
Our wedding colors were black, grey, boysenberry, mauve, and white. We also had a lot of greenery around to create a woodland effect on our centerpieces. We picked these colors to fit our theme, and we like dark and moody colors. Our wedding also was two days before Halloween, and it also tied into the holiday vibe as well.
John proposed on March 20. It was right at the beginning of COVID-19. I had gotten off from work and came over to see him. We were just hanging out and talking about what was going on currently in the world. As I was talking, John reached up into the closet and pulled out a small box. Next thing I know he bent his knee and opened the box to reveal a beautiful engagement ring. He said, “With everything going on in the world right now, I just have one question for you. Will you marry me?” I ecstatically said, “Yes!” By the time we got married in October, we had been together for 14 years.
One of the most memorable moments of the day was when I walked myself down the aisle. My father is disabled, and It would have been hard with the wheelchair and myself walking down together, so I decided that I would empower myself to give myself away, and walk down alone. My parents have always taught me to be a strong and independent woman. I wanted to honor and show them what a strong Viking woman I had become.
I will never forget when the doors were pulled back to reveal me standing there as a Viking Queen, my sword bouquet in my hands and a mighty powerful Viking song I picked playing. The gasps, smiles, and tears of joy I saw as I walked down the aisle, I knew I had made a powerful statement and was the subject of beauty. It was a beautiful and empowering feeling as I walked toward my future husband.
What did you look for in a wedding officiant?
We wanted a wedding officiant who was going to be excited about our theme and able to perform the ceremony we wanted. The experience was an absolute must, as well as knowledge of traditional Viking wedding ceremonies. We also wanted someone who was warmhearted, passionate, and easy to work with.
We specifically chose Weddings by Bonnie initially for Bonnie's experience with traditional Viking wedding ceremonies and for her enthusiasm. Bonnie is such a sweet and compassionate soul. After our first phone call and discussion of ceremony options, we knew she was the one we wanted as an officiant. She took the time to get to know us, our story, and what traditions meant the most to be incorporated into the ceremony. She was also full of very useful information and inspirational ideas. Bonnie was a great guide on how to obtain our marriage license, and she helped guide me through the name change process. She was so easy to work with and really helped to simplify and take the stress out of planning our ceremony.
We are extremely pleased with Bonnie's service. She crafted the most truly unforgettable Viking wedding ceremony for us. We included a sage blessing, handfasting, and Viking Mead ceremony. We also had some Viking prayer, poetry, and of course, the vows and I do's. She even got into the themed costume spirit and dressed as a Viking Priestess for us! It was such a beautiful, deep, and meaningful ceremony for us. It is certainly one we and our guests will never forget. We had so many compliments from our guests on how unique and beautiful it was.
Where did you spend your honeymoon?
La Fortuna, Costa Rica. John had already been to Costa Rica twice, and it was one of his favorite places he has been to. I had never been there before, and I had always wanted to experience and see the rainforest. We spent the week staying at the Ti-fakara hotel in our beautiful rainforest bungalow. La Fortuna is also near Arenal, the adventure capital. We spent our time ziplining, hiking around the Arenal volcano, visiting the La Fortuna waterfall, relaxing in the hot springs, sloth tours, night tours, and sampling the local food and drink. It was amazing to see all the animals and listen to the birds of the rainforest. There is simply nothing like it!
Where did you host your bachelorette party?
Disney World in Orlando. We went for a three-day weekend and stayed at the Boardwalk Hotel on Disney property. The Boardwalk Hotel has two-night clubs that we could party at and just walk back to our rooms, which eliminated the need for a driver. It is also in walking distance to the back entrance of Epcot, and they had the Food and Wine Festival going on at that time. We were also a short bus ride away from Disney Springs for shopping and dining. So it was a great location in which multiple activities were available, and free transportation was included for safety.
Which vendors really exceeded your expectations?
Our wedding planner was the first to hear about our themed wedding and by far the most excited to work with us. She immediately went to work designing a rough draft of our design board and incorporating so many tiny details that we were looking for. It was mind-blowing just how well she got us, and our vision for the day. She made finding the rest of our amazing team of vendors a breeze and was there for us every step of the way. I was so impressed on the day of our wedding with how well everything came together. It was an absolute dream, and she made it happen! She was our biggest cheerleader of the day and made the whole event flow so smoothly. We are so grateful to her for everything she did for us, and she was so much fun to work with.
Our incredible team of photographers did an amazing job of capturing our day from start to finish. Their work is breathtaking, and we couldn't be happier with the photos that we will cherish forever.
I simply can't say enough wonderful things about Bonnie, our wedding officiant. She was like the best friend we didn't know we had. She was just so personable, caring, and invested in making sure we had the best Viking ceremony. She even texted me the night before our wedding to wish us a “Happy Wedding Eve” and reminded us to make sure we brought our ceremony items. She also checked in with me on the day of the wedding in my get-ready room. Her personal touch, enthusiasm, and skill in conducting our ceremony truly touched us. Because of her efforts, we had the Viking ceremony we dreamed of.
We had a blast at our [dessert] tasting On our wedding day, our dessert table and Kransekage looked fantastic! All of our guests were raving about the desserts and how good they were.
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay couples?
Make sure you do your research and be prepared with questions when you talk to potential vendors. I listened to a great podcast called “Put A Ring On It” on Spotify before starting the wedding planning process. Besides doing my own research, it was such a great tool that left me feeling prepared to take on the process. Let's face it, wedding planning is hard work, but entering the game prepared makes all the difference.
Hire a great wedding planner. A truly great planner is worth their weight in gold and well worth the investment. I was amazed at how much a planner can streamline the process, help you find vendors, and make your vision of the day become reality. It really helped to take some of the stress off us and allow more time to focus on other details. A planner is a wedding lifesaver! Our day was perfect because of ours, and we couldn't have done it without her.
Be unapologetically you. Remember that it's your party for everyone else! Make the day how you want it to be as a couple, and create the experience you want guests to enjoy and remember for years to come. Be bold, be brave, and be you.