Intimate At-Home COVID-19 Wedding

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Jessica and Tyrone’s intimate Tampa Bay wedding was made possible by their family and friends who surrounded them in love during a stressful summer. While the couple’s original wedding plans were changed, there were many welcomed surprises, including a surprise drive-by parade.

“COVID changed the entire trajectory of our wedding. Initially, we were going to reschedule and tried several dates, but we didn’t know how long COVID would last,” the bride explained. “We basically canceled the entire wedding, as most of our guests were from out-of-town. Therefore we were just going to have the ceremony at the church, but my brother and sister-in-law are amazing, and they hosted our intimate reception at their home.”

MORE: INTIMATE WEDDING INSPIRATION

As the impacts of COVID-19 caused Jessica and Tyrone to cancel their initial plans, they knew their love for each other would pull them through the challenges and changes. Their original wedding planner had moved, leaving Jessica to rely on the expertise of Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pros to pull off their dream reception.

“Marry Me Tampa Bay was my go-to for all our vendors. They especially helped me when I was without a wedding planner and florist, several weeks before the wedding,” the bride revealed. “They went above and beyond, stepped in, and connected me with the amazing florist we ended up working with.”

After canceling their original reception plans, the couple decided to move forward with their original date, emphasizing the importance of having their mothers and family at their vow ceremony. Jessica’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law stepped in to host the magical reception experience she and Tyrone deserved.

“We decided to move forward with our date because as much we wanted to celebrate amongst family and friends, our wedding was truly about our union and our love for each other,” the bride reveled.

Seeking a luxurious and romantic experience, the Riverview couple selected The Don CeSar hotel for their wedding weekend accommodations.

Initially, we wanted something on the water with a lovely ambiance, but unfortunately, we had to cancel our reception,” Jessica shared. “We hired The Don CeSar due to their known luxury in the area, especially since our wedding day was rearranged due to COVID.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DON CESAR | EMAIL

During her wedding planning research, Jessica sought a reputable and experienced photographer with a diverse portfolio.

“We looked for someone professional, friendly, and who had experience taking photos of people of color,” the bride shared. “Our initial venue recommended Lifelong Photography Studio, and one of my friends from college used them for their wedding. [The owner] Buffy knew the property well, and the manager spoke highly of her.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT LIFELONG PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO | EMAIL

The bride wore a flirty sweetheart neckline wedding dress from Isabel O’Neil Bridal. The lace detailing on the fitted bodice flowed down the white A-line style gown.

“I looked for a dress that was classic and elegant, yet something you didn’t see every day,” the bride beamed. “Isabel O’Neil Bridal was a preferred vendor on Marry Me Tampa Bay. The service was wonderful, and Liz was great!”

LEARN MORE ABOUT ISABEL O’NEIL BRIDAL | EMAIL

After finding herself without a florist leading up to her wedding date, the bride consulted with Marry Me Tampa Bay who referred her to Monarch Events & Design who created a bridal bouquet with lush blush pink and ivory roses, complemented with eucalyptus leaves.

“My floral design inspiration was classic, elegant, yet chic,” Jessica explained. “Jean from Monarch Events & Design was recommended to me by Marry Me Tampa Bay because I suddenly no longer had a florist a few weeks prior to the wedding date. Jean was so sweet, accommodating, and wonderful!”

LEARN MORE ABOUT MONARCH EVENTS & DESIGN | EMAIL

To pull off a magical ambiance, rentals from Kate Ryan Event Rentals provided the level of luxury needed to turn a living room into an intimate wedding reception.

Kate Ryan Event Rentals were amazing, especially when my wedding planner, who connected me with them, was unresponsive,” the bride explained. They were extremely professional, helpful, and understanding of us switching our venue from Isla Del Sol to my brother and sister-in-law’s home.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT KATE RYAN EVENT RENTALS | EMAIL

No wedding is complete without a memorable meal, and the couple incorporated their heritage into the menu.

“Our menu inspiration was a mix of traditional American, Latino, and Jamaican food as I am Dominican, and he is Jamaican,” the bride shared. “My sister-in-law coordinated the food, as she has used Catering by the Family before for various events.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT CATERING BY THE FAMILY | EMAIL

Looking back on their whirlwind wedding weekend, Jessica cherished the journey that led her and Tyrone to finally saying “I do.”

“The most memorable moments were surprising him with one of his best men since they both live out of the area, having our family and friends who don’t live in the area attend our ceremony via Zoom, and my brother and sister-in-law completely took their house apart to make their home look like a ballroom,” Jessica reminisced. “My brothers walked me down the aisle, as my father passed away in 2016. My sister-in-law connected with Jean, the florist, and surprised me with my favorite pictures of my father and me, hanging from the bouquet.”

Engagement Ring Bridal Details, Diamond Solitaire with Gold Band, Dark Blue Triangle Velvet Ring Box | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
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Modern Blush Pink Wedding Invitation, Purple Block Font, with Triangle Shaped Ring Box | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Romantic Ballgown Tulle and Lace Hanging Wedding Dress on Custom Hanger | St. Petersburg Wedding Venue The Don Cesar | Tampa Bay Bridal Salon Isabel O’Neil Bridal | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio

What did you look for in a wedding dress?
Something classic and elegant, yet something you didn’t see every day.

Isabel O’Neil Bridal was a preferred vendor on Marry Me Tampa Bay. The service was wonderful, and Liz was great!

Florida Bride and Bridesmaids Cheers and Getting Ready, Wearing Matching Silk Navy Floral Robes | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Romantic Florida Bride Holding Classic Bridal Bouquet, With Blush Pink Roses, Ivory Flowers, Eucalyptus Leaves, Bride Wearing Isabel O’Neil Bridal Collection Lace Wedding Dress | St. Petersburg Wedding Venue The Don CeSar | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Tampa Bay Wedding Florist Monarch Events and Design
St. Petersburg Ceremony at St. John Vianney Catholic Church | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Tampa Bay Bride and Groom Exchange Vows in Church Ceremony | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Tampa Bay Bride and Groom Exchange Vows in Church Ceremony | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio

The Proposal:
We initially went to Cancun for Tyrone’s birthday, but I was the one in for the surprise! The first night that we arrived, we were walking on the beach. He had music playing (I later learned he made a special playlist and I was so oblivious) and distracted me by asking a question about a hotel further down the beach. When I turned around, he was on one knee!

Tampa Bay Bride and Groom Exchange Vows in Church Ceremony | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Traditional Wedding Venue St. John Vianney Catholic Church
Tampa Bay Bride and Groom Just Married During Exit in Church Ceremony | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Isabel O’Neil Bridal Collection | Wedding Florist Monarch Events & Design
St. Petersburg The Pink Palace | Tampa Bay Wedding Venue The Don CeSar | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio

What did you look for in hotel accommodations?Initially, we wanted something on the water with a lovely ambiance, but unfortunately, we had to cancel our reception.

We hired The Don CeSar due to their known luxury in the area, especially since our wedding day was rearranged due to COVID.

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Modern St. Petersburg Bride and Groom Wedding Portraits Inside Wedding Venue The Pink Palace The Don CeSar | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Modern St. Petersburg Bride and Groom Wedding Portraits Outside Balcony of Wedding Venue Pink Palace The Don CeSar | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Wedding Dress Isabel O'Neil Bridal
Romantic Dreamy Modern St. Petersburg Bride and Groom Veil Blowing in the Wind Wedding Portrait Outside Balcony Wedding Venue Pink Palace The Don CeSar | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Blush Pink and Ivory Rose Bridal Bouquet by Monarch Events and Design | Wedding Dress Isabel O'Neil Bridal Shop

What did you look for in a wedding photographer?
“We looked for someone professional, friendly, and who had experience taking photos of people of color,” the bride shared. “Our initial venue recommended Lifelong Photography Studio, and one of my friends from college used them for their wedding. [The owner] Buffy knew the property well, and the manager spoke highly of her.”

Modern St. Petersburg Bride and Groom Wedding Portraits Outside The Pink Palace Wedding Venue The Don CeSar | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Blush Pink and Ivory Rose Bridal Bouquet by Monarch Events and Design
Florida Bride and Groom During COVID Wedding Reception, Drive By Honk and Cheer for The Newlyweds at Valrico Private Residence Reception | Tampa Bay Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studios | Ballgown Lace and Tulle Wedding Dress Isabel O'Neil Bridal
Florida Bride and Groom During COVID Wedding Reception, Drive By Honk and Cheer for The Newlyweds at Valrico Private Residence Reception | Tampa Bay Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studios
Florida Bride and Groom During COVID Wedding Reception, Drive By Honk and Cheer for The Newlyweds at Valrico Private Residence Reception | Tampa Bay Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studios

How did COVID-19 affect your wedding?
COVID changed the entire trajectory of our wedding. Initially, we were going to reschedule and tried several dates, but we didn’t know how long COVID would last. We basically canceled the entire wedding, as most of our guests were from out of town. Therefore we were just going to have the ceremony at the church. But my brother and sister-in-law are amazing, and they hosted our intimate reception at their home.

Why did you choose to move forward with your wedding date?
We decided to move forward with our date because as much we wanted to celebrate amongst family and friends, our wedding was truly about our union and our love for each other.

Tampa Bay Wedding Decor and Details, Fuji Instant Polaroid Camera Selfies Guest Book | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Romantic, Modern Florida Wedding Reception and Decor at Private Residence, Gold Chargers, Dark Blue Linens, Cascading Lush White Flower Wall, Low Floral Centerpieces with Vibrant Pink, Purple, White and Ivory Flowers | Tampa Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Tampa Bay Wedding Caterer Catering by the Family | Furniture Event Rentals By Kate Ryan Event Rentals | Floral Decor Monarch Events & Design

What was your floral design inspiration?
I wanted something classic, elegant, yet chic. Jean from Monarch Events & Design was recommended to me by Marry Me Tampa Bay because I suddenly no longer had a florist a few weeks prior to the wedding date. Jean was so sweet, accommodating, and wonderful!

St. Petersburg Romantic, Modern Florida Wedding Reception and Decor at Private Residence, Gold Chargers, Dark Blue Linens, Cascading Flower Wall, Low Floral Centerpieces with Vibrant Pink, Purple, White and Ivory Flowers | Tampa Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Tampa Bay Wedding Caterer Catering by the Family | Furniture Event Rentals By Kate Ryan Event Rentals | Floral Decor Monarch Events & Design

How did the rentals enhance the ambiance of your event?
Kate Ryan Event Rentals were amazing, especially when my wedding planner, who connected me with them, was unresponsive. They were extremely professional, helpful, and understanding of us switching our venue to my brother and sister-in-law’s home.

Intimate Wedding Reception and Decor, Low Floral Centerpiece with Blush Pink Roses, White Florals and Purple Flowers | Tampa Bay Wedding Florist Monarch Events and Design | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Romantic, Modern Florida Wedding Reception and Decor at Private Residence, Gold Chargers, Gold Table Runner, Low Floral Centerpieces with Vibrant Pink, Purple, White and Ivory Flowers | Tampa Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Tampa Bay Wedding Caterer Catering by the Family | Furniture Event Rentals By Kate Ryan Event Rentals | Floral Decor Monarch Events & Design

What was your wedding menu inspiration and what did you serve?
A mix of traditional American, Latino, and Jamaican food as I am Dominican (the bride), and he (the groom) is Jamaican.

My sister-in-law coordinated the food, as she has used Catering by the Family before for various events.

Intimate Reception Dessert Table, Three Tier Wedding Cake with White Icing, Blue Ribbon and Blush Pink Floral Accent, Moreno's Bakery Cookies | Tampa Bay Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio | Wedding Caterer Catering By The Family
Florida Bride and Groom During Intimate Wedding Reception At Private Residence, Backyard Pool Screened In with Romantic Decor and Rentals, Oversized Custom Letters | Florida Wedding Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio

What advice would you give to other couples who have been affected by COVID?
Focus on your love for each other and the union.

Ceremony Venue: St. John Vianney Catholic Church
Reception Venue: Private Residence
Portrait Venue: The Don Cesar *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Venue
Photographer: Lifelong Photography Studio *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Videographer: Tanner Lorenzo Media
Florist: Monarch Events & Design *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Caterer: Catering by the Family *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Additional Catering: Latin Market
Furniture Event Rentals: Kate Ryan Event Rentals *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Cake: I Heart Cupcakes
DJ: Playlist curated by DJ NY Giant
Officiant: Deacon Rich
Invitations: Shop Surcie, Tori Leigh Stationery
Transportation: Alpha Limousine, Chauffeur Service Inc.
Dress Shop and Designer:  Isabel O’Neil Bridal Collection *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Bridesmaid Dresses: BHLDN, Lilly Pulitizer
Hair: Facelook Salon by Ivett Pichardo
Makeup: Casey Cheek
Cookies: Moreno’s Bakery
Flower Wall and Large Custom Letters: Flower Me Tampa




MEET THE EDITOR

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 talkshow Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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