Lena and Brian’s Love Story:
Brian and I met through mutual friends about eight years ago. At the time, I was going to college at the University of South Florida, while he was working in the Tampa nightlife industry after recently moving from upstate New York.
When our relationship turned serious, Brian decided he wanted to move back home to New York to finish his education, and I followed him as soon as I graduated college. The transition to New York was very tough for me at the time, and after sticking it out for almost a year, we both decided it was best I moved back to Florida.
Long story short, distance has been a huge factor throughout our relationship — I wasn’t happy in New York and he was no longer happy in Florida. We faced a lot of ups and downs; our love for each other was definitely tested and over the years, we grew up and our hearts grew closer to each other.
About two years ago, I decided to take a leap of faith and give New York another shot, and thank God the timing was right this time! Brian popped the question on a random Wednesday night on our couch in August of 2012. Although it was very simple, the proposal was intimate and unforgettable.
Since the couple met in Tampa and it’s Lena’s hometown, they decided to wed in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Renaissance Vinoy.
“In our opinion, the Vinoy blew the other venues out of the water,” Lena gushed.
“We knew we needed all the help we could get and Lisa at Exquisite Events came highly recommended by Showorks Events when considering “Day Of” wedding coordinators,” the bride explained. “Having a wedding planner was definitely worth the investment.”
The pair held an intimate nighttime wedding ceremony, complete with a harpist, an abundance of candles and a crystal chandelier.
“Our bridesmaids and flower girl carried hanging lanterns in place of traditional bouquets,” the bride explained. “Each guest had heart-shaped glowstick wands on their chairs, which they waved in the air to light the path as Brian and I walked back down the aisle after saying ‘I do.'”
After the nuptials, wedding guests moved inside to a chic and modern reception room.
“We really wanted to change the vibe by creating a cocktail style atmosphere that was fun and had high energy, as if you were in a dance club or lounge. The layout was very contemporary, featuring lots of low tops, high tops and furniture settings with no formal seating arrangements. We featured white décor, blue uplighting, and candles in place of flower centerpieces,” Lena shared. “We didn’t want to have a formal, sit-down dinner; instead, we let our guests eat when they wanted.”
Lena and Brian incorporated their personalities into their wedding by including signature drinks during cocktail hour — “The Leni-Beanie Bellini” & “The Viscontini.” They also hired a cigar roller, a must for the their Cuban and Italian families, and handed out personalized matchbox favors.
“We are both known for having a distinct taste and style, so we wanted our wedding to stand out with lots of personal touches that capture who we are,” Lena explained. “We had a personalized hashtag, which guests used to share their pictures throughout the night — #Tootsnbootsgethitched. (I’m Toots and he is Boots.)
Looking back one of the bride’s most memorable moments of her wedding day came during her “first dance.”
“We danced to a Coldplay cover version of “Yellow,” and I just remember all the nerves of the day disappearing. I was at peace, and It felt like no one else was present in that moment with Brian,” Lena reminisced.
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay Brides?
It can be very overwhelming to plan your dream wedding, but once you get the ball rolling, you will find your inspiration. Don’t be afraid to think “outside of the box” when piecing your vision together.
Also, make sure you and your fiancée communicate every step of the way.
“We had a personalized hashtag, which guests used to share their pictures throughout the night — #Tootsnbootsgethitched. (I’m Toots and he is Boots.)” – The Bride
“Having a wedding planner was definitely worth the investment. Lisa at Exquisite Events came highly recommended by Showorks Events when considering “Day Of” wedding coordinators.” – The Bride
“One of the most important things for me, personally, was to make sure my deceased father was honored and remembered at all times. I found a large picture frame with the most beautiful words from Etsy, which we displayed on an easel facing me as we exchanged our vows. I also had a “Daughter/Friends of the Father” dance, in which each of my father’s closest male friends and family stepped in to dance with me. I have always been a ‘daddy’s girl’ and I don’t think there was one dry eye in the room.” – The Bride
“We really wanted to change the vibe by creating a cocktail style atmosphere that was fun and had high energy, as if you were in a dance club or lounge. The layout was very contemporary, featuring lots of low tops, high tops and furniture settings with no formal seating arrangements.” – The Bride
Tampa Wedding Venue: Renaissance Vinoy
Tampa Wedding Photographer: Aaron Lockwood Photography
Tampa Wedding Videographer: Starfruit Productions
Tampa Wedding Planner: Exquisite Events
Tampa Wedding Florist: Showorks Events
Tampa Wedding Caterer: Renaissance Vinoy
Tampa Wedding Rentals: Showorks Events
Tampa Wedding Cake: Renaissance Vinoy
Tampa Wedding DJ: RJ Vida
Tampa Wedding Harpist: Taylor Mills
Tampa Wedding Officiant: Father Steven Rosczewski of Holy Spirit Ecumenical Catholic Church
Tampa Wedding Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Tampa Wedding Dress: Reem Acra from Kleinfeld Bridal (New York)
Tampa Wedding Bridesmaid Dresses: Bari Jay
We are proud to have Exquisite Events as a Marry Me Tampa Bay sponsor!