St Pete Love Shines Wall Art Mural Wedding Portrait Ideas | Tampa Bay Wedding Videographer Shannon Kelly Films

Elegant Dark Blue Downtown St. Pete Wedding | The Birchwood

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Elyse and Stefan’s Tampa Bay wedding began in a picturesque white chapel in the quaint city of Safety Harbor and concluded under the sparking lights of downtown St. Pete. The elegant wedding incorporated nods from the couple’s personalities with travel-themed decor and a dark blue color palette.

“Our seating chart had places we’ve visited or would like to visit, and we gave everyone luggage tags as ‘thank you’ gifts that said, ‘Life is a Journey. Travel through it with those you love.‘ We used charms to help recognize the meals for dinner. The ‘globe’ meant beef, the ‘boat’ meant fish, and the ‘plane’ meant chicken,” the bride shared. “We chose this theme because it signified two things. The first is that we love to travel and explore new places. The second is our journey to marriage from being high school sweethearts.”

The high school sweethearts sought to find a traditional ceremony site that would incorporate the bride’s Christian faith. Harborside Chapel’s contemporary design and dedicated wedding team, including pre-marital mentors, made the Safety Habor venue an ideal choice.

“We used Marry Me Tampa Bay to help us put together a list of potential ceremony and reception venues and found Harborside Chapel. We wanted something elegant, with plenty of natural light; a place where my husband and I could stand out as we said our vows. My dad always wanted me to get married in a church growing up, but we didn’t want to do a traditional church wedding,” Elyse explained. Harborside Chapel allowed us to get the feeling of that. We loved the natural light in the chapel, and everything was so bright that it made our colors pop. The aesthetic of the chapel was beautiful. It was the only place we visited to see about hosting the ceremony. From the moment we walked in, we knew it was the place. They made our day feel incredibly special.”

The 145-guest February wedding reception took place in The Birchwood’s ballroom with a view of the sparkling lights in downtown St. Pete’s Straub Park. The culinary team concocted two signature drinks for the couple, a French 75 called “My Sunshine” or an Old Fashioned called “My Knight in Shining Armor” to represent the couple’s nicknames for each other.

The Birchwood gave us the best of both worlds, elegance and a venue that provided a beautiful view of the water and the city. The tour experience exceeded our expectations. We loved the Grand Ballroom and how we could visualize the space flowing beautifully for the reception. The outdoor terrace attached to the ballroom was a cherry on top because we got the view of the water and downtown, where the guests could enjoy the beautiful weather when they needed a breather from the dancing,” the bride gushed. “After our tour, we immediately got into the vehicle and looked at each other and agreed that this was the place for our special day. Everything about the service at The Birchwood was excellent. We loved the food and drink packages. Our guests told us from the moment they walked into cocktail hour, hors d’oeuvres were served constantly, and drinks were flowing from the bartenders. They also gave us a complimentary couples suite for the night of our wedding, which was beautiful.

Having the intimate moments of the day documented was a priority for the Land O Lakes couple. They sought out a highly reputable wedding videographer to capture the essence of their love story.

“We wanted someone who could capture all the emotion of our special day and put it together into a memorable video. Not only did Shannon Kelly Films do that, but Shannon also used moments of the nine years of us together. It felt more like watching a movie than your normal wedding videos, which was exactly what we were looking for. She catered to us, making sure that our ideas were heard,” the bride beamed. “We loved how Shannon captured individual moments leading up to the vows and tied them together with highlights from the reception. Her work makes you feel as if you were a guest at the weddings she films, and she’s an incredible storyteller with filmmaking. The final video we received blew us away because it allowed us to live out the excitement and the emotion of the entire day again.”

To kick off the reception, Grant Hemond & Associates kept the vibe up and had guests excited to start the party while uplighting from Gabro Event Rentals created a romantic atmosphere.

“Having a great DJ, plenty of food, and open bar options were the most important We wanted to make sure that our guests had a great time celebrating, and the best way we felt to do that was to make sure they didn’t leave hungry,” the bride shared. “Guests had four additional dessert options other than cake. My dad gifted us a Paciugo gelato cart for the night.”

Looking back, it was the entire planning process that left an impression on Elyse.

“There are numerous moments, but I would say the one that sticks out the most is doing our engagement photos in Brooklyn, New York. My husband told me that our first trip to Brooklyn together was when he knew he wanted to marry me. He told me that the proposal was supposed to happen with Brooklyn Bridge as the backdrop, but COVID changed those plans. So, we did engagement photos there instead,” the bride reminisced. “Another moment was during the planning process, and we ended up doing a Christmas Pajama Party after the bridal shower. Now we plan to make that an annual tradition around Christmas time.”

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Where did you host your bachelorette party?
Las Vegas. There were plenty of options to keep us entertained. I am a huge Jersey Shore fan and always said I wanted to see DJ Pauly D perform. We for sure made that happen! I was always “that friend” that seemed to want her Bachelorette party in Vegas, so I thought, why not. We created incredible memories, and everyone was able to enjoy something that they love to do. 

Where did you spend your honeymoon?
London and Paris. We’ve always wanted to go to Europe, and we figured if we could see one city, then we could see the other while we were there. 

Bride and Groom First Look Wedding Portrait

The Proposal:
I was completely surprised. Stefan tricked me into believing that I was snapping his family’s Christmas photos at the University of Tampa. He had his sister drag me all over downtown Tampa, and when it was time to take photos, his family never showed up!

He proposed with a custom engagement ring that had the setting shaped into a tulip holding the diamond. He even had a photographer capture the entire moment!

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What did you look for in a wedding ceremony venue?

We used Marry Me Tampa Bay to help us put together a list of potential ceremony and reception venues and found Harborside Chapel. We wanted something elegant, with plenty of natural light; a place where my husband and I could stand out as we said our vows. My dad always wanted me to get married in a church growing up, but we didn’t want to do a traditional church wedding

Harborside Chapel allowed us to get the feeling of that. We loved the natural light in the chapel, and everything was so bright that it made our colors pop. The aesthetic of the chapel was beautiful. It was the only place we visited to see about hosting the ceremony. From the moment we walked in, we knew it was the place. 

We loved the service. They provided pre-marital mentors for us, who we absolutely loved! They made our day feel incredibly special.

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What did you look for in a wedding videographer?

We wanted someone who could capture all the emotion of our special day and put it together into a memorable video. Not only did Shannon Kelly Films do that, but Shannon also used moments of the nine years of us together. It felt more like watching a movie than your normal wedding videos, which was exactly what we were looking for. She catered to us, making sure that our ideas were heard

We loved how Shannon captured individual moments leading up to the vows and tied them together with highlights from the reception. Her work makes you feel as if you were a guest at the weddings she films, and she’s an incredible storyteller with filmmaking. The final video we received blew us away because it allowed us to live out the excitement and the emotion of the entire day again.

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How would you describe your theme/wedding design inspiration?
We chose a traveling theme. Our seating chart had places we’ve visited or would like to visit, and we gave everyone luggage tags as ‘thank you’ gifts that said, ‘Life is a Journey. Travel through it with those you love.‘ We used charms to help recognize the meals for dinner. The ‘globe’ meant beef, the ‘boat’ meant fish, and the ‘plane’ meant chicken, the bride shared. “We chose this theme because it signified two things. The first is that we love to travel and explore new places. The second is our journey to marriage from being high school sweethearts.”

What were your colors?
Marine blue, closer to a shade of navy, and gold. Blue is both of our favorite colors, and we wanted to incorporate something shiny to complement the blue.

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What did you look for in a wedding reception venue?

The Birchwood gave us the best of both worlds, elegance and a venue that provided a beautiful view of the water and the city.

We wanted to pick a venue that was nostalgic for both of us. The story of why we chose The Birchwood begins with how we almost didn’t get to see The Birchwood! We took a day during Thanksgiving vacation to visit the five places we had on our list. Naturally, The Birchwood was fifth on the list because we did not know much about it. Initially, we weren’t impressed with the other four places we visited, but when I called The Birchwood, we didn’t get an answer at first. Stefan told me, “Maybe it’s not meant to be,” so I called one last time as we were getting ready to head home, and we got an answer and scheduled the first available slot for the next day.

The tour experience exceeded our expectations. We loved the Grand Ballroom and how we could visualize the space flowing beautifully for the reception. The outdoor terrace attached to the ballroom was a cherry on top because we got the view of the water and downtown, where the guests could enjoy the beautiful weather when they needed a breather from the dancing

After our tour, we immediately got into the vehicle and looked at each other, and agreed that this was the place for our special day. Everything about the service at The Birchwood was excellent. From when we selected them as our reception venue, the amount of communication and how they tended to us at each step of the reception planning process was excellent. We loved the food and drink packages. We gave our guests options for three different plated meals, and there was an open bar for four hours. Our guests told us from the moment they walked into cocktail hour, hors d’oeuvres were served constantly, and drinks were flowing from the bartenders. They also gave us a complimentary couples suite for the night of our wedding, which was beautiful.

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What did you look for in a wedding DJ? 
We hired Grant Hemond & Associates because they were at a small wedding expo that The Birchwood was holding for preferred vendors. My mom went and met one of the DJs and loved his energy, so when she left, she recommended that we call them ASAP. 

We loved their service. Everything from our first call to see about our music selections to when they played our final song at the end of the reception. Our DJ, Tom, was incredibly professional and understood how to keep the reception moving along. They are one of the vendors we would definitely call again for any big party. 

Which vendors really exceeded your expectations?
Our videographer, Shannon Kelly Films, The Birchwood, our photographer, and florist, each were incredibly personable and provided added creativity for how we visualized our wedding day. We plan to use these vendors for future events as well.

What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay couples?
Enjoy every part of the process of planning. It is tedious, but you grow as a couple throughout the planning. Take care of your guests! Make sure there is plenty of food and drinks at the wedding reception. If they’re coming to celebrate with you, make sure they leave happy and full. Hire a good DJ. Don’t be afraid to spend top dollar for a videographer and a photographer. These are memories that should last a lifetime, and if you know what you are getting in those packages, then you should spend a little more than maybe you planned. 

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Vendors and venues marked with

are Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros and have been personally vetted by our editor.

Ceremony VenueHarborside Chapel
Reception Venue and CatererThe Birchwood
Rehearsal Dinner Venuejackson's bistro
Florists/DecorPeebs Petals
Cakes & Dessertmiriam's cakes
DJ/Band & Live EntertainmentGrant Hemond & Associates
Invitations & StationeryZola
Limo and TransportationElite Party Bus & Car
Dress and Bridesmaid AttireBridals by Lori
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About the Author

Anna Coats

Marry Me Tampa Bay editor Anna Coats created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area’s best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talk show Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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