Rachel and Eric's luxurious downtown St. Pete wedding was a beautifully planned affair that featured vibrant florals, elegant décor, and classic touches. With a mutual love of music and dancing, the couple's top priority was getting their guests on the dance floor and to have a great time.
“I always imagined an elegant black-tie wedding. I wanted our wedding to have a romantic, fun feeling while still elegant. I love flowers so having a lot of florals was very important,” the bride explained. “Our colors were pink, blush, orange, emerald, and gold. I love bright flowers, and the emerald green and gold lifted them up a notch so our wedding could keep the formality. Our hotel was also pink, so it all went together nicely.”
The central Florida bride relied on Marry Me Tampa Bay as she navigated researching her vendors, COVID-related postponements, and long-distance planning for her May wedding.
“We definitely used the website a lot as we were planning our wedding! Marry Me Tampa Bay was a really great tool. Especially being from out of town, it helped me look at specific venues and vendors,” the bride detailed. “I did look at every vendor on the weddings published on Marry Me Tampa Bay before making a final decision. I remember specifically looking at The Vinoy and hair and makeup on Marry Me Tampa Bay. I believe all our vendors had been featured at some point which was reassuring. It was also great for looking at styles since the site provided so many pictures so I could get an idea of what I was looking for.”
Since guest experience was at the top of her priority list, Rachel hired Jessica Ralph, owner and lead planner of Parties A'La Carte, to curate an elegant experience for their 175 guests. The romantic ambiance was orchestrated by a hand-selected team of vendors that were vital in executing the luxurious affair.
“We really focused on the experience of our guests. We wanted everyone to feel welcomed and be entertained and elements that were unique to our wedding. I was looking for a wedding planner who was professional and honest and someone who had experience in the local industry,” the bride shared. “Having a wedding planner that has good relationships with the vendors in the area is so important, especially when you have to move your wedding because of a pandemic. I really liked Jessica’s wedding portfolio, vision, and ability to speak her mind. We were really happy with the service.”
Incorporating their cultures was important to Rachel and Eric who included personal touches into the outdoor garden ceremony.
“Being Methodist and my husband being Jewish we wanted to have an intimate private ceremony that could incorporate both religions. We had many cultural and religious traditions that really made our wedding unique like a rabbi and pastor both officiating. We had our ceremony under a beautiful chuppah and glass breaking at the end of the ceremony paying respect to my husband’s religion,” the bride explained. “I walked down the aisle to a ukulele playing Over the Rainbow, and we both received leis at the end of the ceremony representing the Hawaiian side of my family that was not able to be present. We also honored our moms with white roses during the ceremony.”
Music and dancing were the focus of the reception which featured live musicians, a champagne wall, choreographed dances, a monogrammed dance floor, and cold sparklers from Spark Wedding Events.
“We both love music and dancing. We really wanted our guests to leave saying ‘that was so much fun.' We definitely achieved that with our live band and songs. We were lifted up in chairs for the Hora, and we had a live band and a fabulous Latin singer who played salsa and merengue throughout the night! We also had a ‘hora loca' (crazy hour) where we brought out glow sticks, light up leis, headpieces and more! We left certain elements out like a bouquet toss so everyone could spend more time on the dance floor. We received so many compliments on those elements that really made our wedding stand out!” the bride recalled.
While Rachel looked back on all the beautifully planned details, the moments on the dance floor made for the sweetest memories.
“Getting ready with my mom and sister was very special! I used my mom’s diamond earrings as ‘something borrowed.' We also loved getting to see the reception space for the first time. Spending time with close family right before the ceremony was also really beautiful. My mom and dad looked so happy when they greeted everyone at the wedding and during the toast. Our first look and actual ceremony were also top of the list,” the bride reminisced. “The most anticipated moments of the wedding day were the choreographed first dance and father-daughter dance! I had so much fun doing these. Eric and I really surprised our guests when huge sparklers went off in the middle of our dance! We performed right after our grand entrance. The father-daughter dance was also a lot of fun! We surprised everyone with a song that transitioned to salsa and invited everyone to join us on the dance floor! Those moments were really special! We spent the rest of the night on the dance floor!”
I was doing an externship in Puerto Rico, and Eric had just started his residency in Tampa. He decided relatively last-minute to fly down for the weekend. Little did I know, he had been coordinating and planning this with my mom for some time!
We were at a family friend’s house near a beautiful beach in Puerto Rico, and he asked me if I wanted to go for a walk on the beach and watch the sunset. While we were walking along the beach, he said such nice things about me and how happy he was that we were together. I was completely surprised when he kneeled down, surprised me with such a beautiful ring, and asked me to marry him!
I, of course, said “Yes!,” and we enjoyed champagne on the beach while watching the sunset. They had also coordinated a photographer to take pictures and video of the proposal. We then went back to the house and celebrated with our family and friends!
Where did you spend your honeymoon?
Le Blanc Cancun, Mexico. It was a 5-star adult all-inclusive. We wanted to relax and could not have asked for a better honeymoon. The staff there is amazing, and the beach was phenomenal. It was also a short plane ride away, plus the borders to Mexico were open.
Where did you host your bachelorette party?
Treasure Island, Florida. It was a great place for my out-of-town friends to visit. I would recommend Butlers in the Buff, they did a great job.
How would you describe your theme/wedding design inspiration?
I always imagined an elegant black-tie wedding. I wanted our wedding to have a romantic, fun feeling while still elegant. I love flowers so having a lot of florals was very important.
What were your colors?
Pink, blush, orange, emerald, and gold. The emerald green and gold lifted them up a notch so our wedding could keep the formality. Our hotel was also pink, so it all went together nicely.
What did you look for in a wedding planner?
I wanted someone who was professional and honest. I was also looking for someone that had experience in the local industry.
Having a wedding planner that has good relationships with the vendors in the area is so important, especially when you have to move your wedding because of a pandemic. I really liked Jessica’s wedding portfolio, vision, and ability to speak her mind. We were really happy with the service from Parties A'La Carte.
Which vendors really exceeded your expectations?
Meg at the Vinoy exceeded our expectations. She gave us complimentary nights at the hotel, and we were also given Marchand’s for an after-party after having a noise complaint in our suite. She was always very quick to respond and helped so much with our room block.
Our cake baker was amazing! She was so easy to work with, and our cake was beautiful and absolutely delicious.
My wedding dress seamstress was my favorite. She did such an amazing job with my dress, and it turned out exactly how I envisioned it.
Why did you choose to incorporate sparkler fountains into your wedding?
We saw the sparklers on an Instagram story. We loved how it really highlighted the moment.
I think everyone was surprised when the sparklers from Spark Wedding Events went off! Especially the first time. We had them go off during key moments of our dance. I remember hearing everyone cheer! They also produced a really nice glow for pictures!
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay couples?
Tour everywhere! Interview more than one vendor for each position! We went with the first person we interviewed on multiple occasions, but looking back I think we should have expanded our search. Everyone buys gifts at the last minute so make sure you have enough items on your registry. Write thank you cards as you go. Also, ask about what content you will have rights to and the costs of post-wedding elements such as a wedding album. Give yourself time to relax after taking pictures and before the ceremony!