Luxurious Downtown Tampa Surprise Wedding | Le Meridien

Tampa Bay Wedding Planning Advice Group

Over the past eight years, we’ve formed not only a community with our Marry Me Tampa Bay wedding pros but also a friendship.

And what does friendship lead you to?

Weddings.

But when you attend the wedding of one of the most elite wedding planners in Tampa Bay, Jessica Ralph Bova, owner of Parties A’La Carte, you know you won’t be attending just any wedding.

When I first received the invitation to a “black-tie 40th birthday” for Jessica’s fiancé, Jim, I didn’t think anything of it because Jessica is known for hosting classy events.

But when I arrived, I discovered I was in for more than just a birthday celebration.

As a luxury wedding planner, Jessica understood the expectations that her guests would be hoping for, so she chose a truly unique experience that delivered a memorable night for her 130 guests.

“My friends and family see all the wonderful events I have planned for my clients in the past, which would set their expectations significantly higher when it came to planning my special day. With the idea that they were attending a 40th birthday party, the guests’ expectations were slightly different than what they would have been if they knew they were attending my wedding,” Jessica explained. “The shock of the surprise created that wow factor for all the attendees which helped add a unique element to my special day that no one saw coming!”

MORE: PARTIES A’LA CARTE WEDDINGS

As a celebrated wedding planner, Jessica knew all the right vendors to create a wedding day that even the most detailed-oriented bride would approve of.

“Having experience in the wedding industry actually made this planning process smooth for me. I think when you have planned as many weddings as I have you have a better understanding of knowing what could happen and what is needed,” the bride shared. “Additionally, I have been lucky to create many great relationships with vendors and that allowed me to be stress-free on the day of, especially with the large [reception] flip from my husband’s 40th birthday party to our wedding. It was great to have confidence in all of my vendors.”

Every detail of the surprise wedding was perfectly executed. From the unexpected outdoor ceremony to the personal monograms to the exquisite decor and late-night snacks, our editorial team was so honored to attend a memorable evening.

For couples looking to plan their own surprise wedding, Jessica advises to “keep things under wraps and make sure that your ‘cover event’ matches the style of your wedding.”

“Tell as few people as possible to ensure you have the element of surprise! If you’re going to transition into a formal event, have your cover event be formal as well,” Jessica shares. “This will make the transition smoother and keep the overall theme consistent. Go in all the way! Go all out with your branding and make sure your cover event is branded just as well as you would brand your actual wedding!”

Looking back on their wedding day, one of the couple’s favorite moments was sharing that the celebration was not a birthday party, but indeed, a wedding.

“My favorite part of the day was telling our moms. I handed each of them a little gift and said this is not just a 40th birthday party it is also our wedding day. They both started crying, it was a really sweet moment!” Jessica reminisced.

Elegant Classic White and Gray Wedding Invitation Suite on Marble Backround, Round Diamond Engagement Ring in Velvet The Mrs. Ring Box

Elegant Wedding Accessories, Bride's Badgley Mischka Ivory, Illusion with Rhinestones Peep Toe Wedding Shoes, Round Diamond Engagement Ring, Perfume Bottle and Clear and Gold Rimmed Jewelry Box

Romantic Classic Lace and Illusion Long Sleeve V Neckline Fitted Wedding Dress

Tampa Bay Bride Jessica from Parties A'la Carte Getting Ready Wedding Portrait Putting on Lace and Illusion Long Sleeve Fitted Wedding Dress

Tampa Bay Bride, Jessica Ralph of Parties A'la Carte in Lace and Illusion Fitted Rounded V Neckline Wedding Dress Holding White Roses Floral Bouquet | Historic Courthouse Wedding Venue Le Meridien

Romantic Bride Jessica from Parties A'la Carte and Groom Black and White First Look Wedding Portrait at Historic Courthouse Tampa Wedding Venue Le Meridien

Romantic Bride from Parties A'la Carte and Groom Black and White First Look Wedding Portrait at Historic Courthouse Tampa Wedding Venue Le Meridien

Tampa Historic Courthouse Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien Tampa

Garden Inspired Wedding Ceremony Decor on Stairs at Historic Downtown Courthouse Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien Tampa, Ghost Acrylic Chairs | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte | Wedding Rentals A Chair Affair

Garden Inspired Greenery Wedding Ceremony Decor with White Floral Arch on the Steps of Tampa Historic Courthouse Boutique Wedding Hotel Venue Le Meridien Tampa | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte | Wedding Rentals A Chair Affair

Romantic Garden Inspired Wedding Ceremony Decor, Greenery and White Roses Doorway Arch | Tampa Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

Florida Bride and Groom Exchanging Vows on Steps of Tampa Historic Courthouse Boutique Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien, Greenery Decor on Steps, White Roses Doorway Arch | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

Florida Bride and Groom Exchanging Kiss at Wedding Ceremony, White Roses and Greenery Floral Doorway Arch | Tampa Historic Courthouse Boutique Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

Romantic Bride Jessica from Parties A'la Carte Beauty Wedding Portrait in Lace and Illusion Long Sleeve Fitted Wedding Dress Holding White Roses Floral Bouquet on Steps of Historic Courthouse Boutique Tampa Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien

Romantic Tampa Bride Jessica from Parties A'la Carte and Groom Outdoor Wedding Portraits

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Elegant Romantic Classic Wedding Reception Decor, Gray Linen Draping with White Roses Floral Arrangement | Tampa Historic Courthouse Boutique Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien | Wedding Linens Over the Top Rental Linens | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

Elegant Wedding Reception Decor, Gold Vase with Greenery, White Hydrangeas Floral Arrangement, Luxurious Floral Print Ivory Round Lounge Seating with Gray Pillows | Tampa Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

Elegant Modern Wedding Reception Decor, Silver Starburst Balloons | Tampa Historic Courthouse Boutique Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

Elegant Wedding Reception at Tampa Historic Courthouse Boutique Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien, Acrylic Ghost Chairs with White Cushions | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte | Wedding Rentals A Chair Affair

Elegant Wedding Reception Decor, Sweetheart Table with White Floral Linen, Chairs with Dusty Blue Linen Chair Covers, Tall White Floral Centerpiece | Tampa Historic Courthouse Boutique Wedding Venue Le Meridien | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte | Wedding Rentals A Chair Affair and Over the Top Rental Linens

Elegant Classic Wedding Reception Decor, White Floral Linen,White Orchids, Hydrangeas, Roses, and Anemone with Eucalyptus Floral Centerpiece and Acrylic Silver Table Number, Gold SIlverware and Gold Rimmed Chargers | Tampa Bay Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte | Wedding Rentals Over the Top Rental Linens

Elegant Wedding Reception Decor, Round and Restaurant Booth Tables, White Floral Linens, Floral Centerpieces, Ghost Chairs with Ivory Cushions | Tampa Historic Courthouse Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte | Wedding Rentals A Chair Affair and Over the Top Rental Linens

Elegant Wedding Reception at Tampa Historic Courthouse Boutique Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien, Acrylic Ghost Chairs with White Cushions | Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte | Wedding Rentals A Chair Affair

Elegant Wedding Reception Decor, Gold Rimmed Chargers with Gold Flatware and White Linen on Marble Table | Tampa Bay Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

Elegant Gold Script Font on Marble Seating Place Card, Gold Flatware | Tampa Bay Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

Elegant Four Tier White, Gold and Silver Wedding Cake with Cascading White and Greenery Florals on Dessert Table with Marble Background | Tampa Historic Courthouse Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien

Elegant Four Tier White, Gold and Silver Wedding Cake with Cascading White and Greenery Florals on Dessert Table with Marble Background | Tampa Historic Courthouse Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien

Romantic Bride Jessica from Parties A'la Carte and Groom Wedding Portrait

Romantic Black and White Bride Jessica from Parties A'la Carte and Groom Kissing Under Love You More Neon Sign and Linen Backdrop

Fun Wedding Reception Favor, French Fries and Coca-Cola Bottle in Custom The Bova To-Go Box | Tampa Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

Fun Romantic Bride and Groom Gold Confetti Wedding Reception Portrait | Tampa Bay Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte | Historic Courthouse Boutique Hotel Wedding Venue Le Meridien | Wedding Lighting Gabro Event Services

Fun Creative Custom Coca-Cola Bottles on Gold Confetti Portrait | Tampa Bay Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte

How was it different planning a wedding when you are in the wedding industry?
Having experience in the wedding industry actually made this planning process smooth for me. I think when you have planned as many weddings as I have you have a better understanding of knowing what could happen and what is needed. Additionally, I have been lucky to create many great relationships with vendors and that allowed me to be stress-free on the day of, especially with the large [reception] flip from my husband’s 40th birthday party to our wedding. It was great to have confidence in all of my vendors.

What made you decide on a surprise wedding?
For me, I think my friends and family see all the wonderful events I have planned for my clients in the past, which would set their expectations significantly higher when it came to planning my special day. With the idea that they were attending a 40th birthday party, the guests’ expectations were slightly different than what they would have been if they knew they were attending my wedding. The shock of the surprise created that wow factor for all the attendees which helped add a unique element to my special day that no one saw coming!

Venue: Le Meridien Tampa
Photography: Photography by Avery
Videography: Voila Cinematic
Planner: Parties A’La Carte *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Decor/Event Production: MMD Events
Lighting: Gabro Event Services *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Rentals: A Chair Affair *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Linens: Nuage Designs
Linens: Over the Top Rental Linens *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Day of Stationery: URBANcoast
Cake and Desserts: Hands on Sweets
String Quartet: Bella Musica
Reception Entertainment: Total Entertainment by Matt Winter
Hair and Makeup: Lasting Luxe
Gown and Shoes: PronoviasBadgley Mischka
Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse
Neon Sign: Britelite Tribe
Transportation: Olympus Limousines
Photo Booth: Bash Booths
Confetti: Flutterfetti




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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