Rachel and Ashton’s rustic elegant Dover, Florida barn wedding featured a theme of cozy holiday charm to reflect the warmth and togetherness of the Christmas season. The couple elected a color scheme with evergreen and burgundy, and accents of gold to add a little luxury and balance the natural decor of their venue.
The Sarasota brides absolutely LOVE their dogs and they knew that they had to have them as part of their wedding day, so hiring Tampa Bay wedding pet-planners, FairyTail Pet Care was a no-brainer!
“We loved working with FairyTail. They were incredibly responsive and accommodating every step of the way. Without their help, our dogs wouldn’t have been able to participate in our wedding the way they did. We felt from the beginning that we could trust them with our babies, by how our dogs gravitated toward them immediately. They are our whole life and our babies. We wanted them there because they are the most important things in the world to us. Snowbelle was our ring bearer and both she and Bixby were our dogs of honor.”
When it came time to pick the wedding cake and sweets to complement their snow-lodge inspired wedding style, the couple used Alessi Bakeries, a preferred confectioner at the venue.
“We wanted our cake to match the winter/holiday theme so we had Alessi do a cable knit design (like a sweater) for the cake. The pastries were picked for my mom because she wanted guests to be able to have some traditional Italian pastries. My mom’s family is from Italy, so that was important for her.”
Rachel and Ashton wanted a warm feeling of holiday festivities for their wedding day music, requesting lots of Christmas tracks and Frank Sinatra from their DJ, Jody, of Grant Hemond & Associates.
“He was wonderful… He was very pleasant to work with and accommodated all our requests. Our guests thought he was great! We would highly recommend his services to anyone.”
Seeking a combination of Modern-meets-Hollywood-Glam, both brides were inspired by the bold red lips, flawless contouring, and stylish curls and chignons for which Femme Akoi Beauty Studio is renowned.
“Our bridal party and we were all very satisfied with Femme Akoi’s services. We felt like they went out of their way to accommodate us on shorter notice than ideal, and really went above and beyond the day of the wedding to make sure we were happy, and that makeup would NOT come off. It lasted well into the evening. I was very happy with its longevity and didn’t have to worry about touch-ups on the wedding night at all.”
Both Rachel and Ashton had favorite memories during the day, including special moments with Rachel’s Father and Mother, and the couple’s first look, however, they both agreed that one of their mutual favorites involved their furbabies.
“For both of us, seeing our dogs at the end of the aisle was huge. They were so cute and looked so dapper in their little outfits. Snowbelle was the ring bearer and I loved that she was able to play that part in our ceremony. At one point Ashton started crying during our vows and Bixby barked at a helicopter during that moment. It made us both laugh and she was able to continue with her vows,” the bride reminisced.
I proposed to Ashton after the Harvey Milk Festival. On our way home we bought a pint of ice cream and I put the ring with a note asking her to marry me inside. When she opened the ice cream to get a scoop, she saw my proposal and cried as she said yes.
Why specifically did you choose to include your pets in your wedding day?
They are our whole life and our babies. We wanted them there because they are the most important things in the world to us. I’ve had Snowbelle since I was in undergrad 6 years ago. I was living in a rural area at the time and she was dumped in the woods by my friend’s house. We tried for weeks to see if she had an owner looking for her and when we couldn’t locate anyone, I kept her. She’s been my best friend since. We added Bixby to the family about a year ago. Since Snowbelle is older and has breathing issues, Bixby became my hiking buddy.
We loved working with FairyTail. They were incredibly responsive and accommodating every step of the way. Without their help, our dogs wouldn’t have been able to participate in our wedding the way they did. We felt from the beginning that we could trust them with our babies by how our dogs gravitated toward them immediately. Snowbelle was our ring bearer and both she and Bixby were our dogs of honor.
What was your wedding day beauty inspiration?
We actually hired another makeup artist about a year out, but she canceled and refunded our deposit 3 months before the wedding. She canceled the same week our trial was scheduled. That’s when I started to ask other vendors who they recommended and Femme Akoi was one of the studios I kept hearing about. When I looked through their portfolio, I loved the contouring they did and how flawless their airbrush techniques were. When I contacted the salon, Christine responded right away. I told her what happened and she got us in for a trial within a week and was incredibly accommodating to make sure we had everything we needed for our day. We were extremely grateful we found them. Christine did our makeup and Holly did our hair.
Our inspiration was a combination of old Hollywood glam with a modern look mixed together. We wanted the bold red lip and gold eyes, with plenty of contouring. We wore the same lipstick color. I also wanted my hair to have long, shaped curls. Ashton’s hair was a little more formal, up in a loose chignon.
Our bridal party and we were all very satisfied with Femme Akoi’s services. We felt like they went out of their way to accommodate us on shorter notice than Ideal and really went above and beyond the day of the wedding to make sure we were happy. And that makeup would NOT come off. It lasted well into the evening and I was still trying to get it off the next morning. I was very happy with its longevity and didn’t have to worry about touch-ups on the wedding night at all.
How would you describe your theme/wedding design inspiration?
Christmas is both of our favorite holidays. To us, it represents family, friends, coziness, and warmth. We love to host Christmas parties in our home and take great pride in decorating for the holidays each year. We wanted this warm feeling of holiday festivities to be present at our wedding. While we wanted a Christmas feel, we also wanted it to have a more formal atmosphere than a typical holiday party. So in addition to evergreen and burgundy, we tried to incorporate a lot of gold and ivory for added elegance.
We played a lot of classic Christmas music and Frank Sinatra at the wedding. We also had a hot cocoa bar, gave pine tree seedlings as favors, and had a sweater cake. Our guest book was also themed and nontraditional. We had guests sign ornaments and hang them on a 6 ft. Christmas tree as they walked in. That way, we could hang the ornaments every year on a tree and be able to see our “guest book” all season long.
At the fireplace in the stable, we incorporated childhood photos as well as pictures of relatives who could not be present. Ashton also had a photograph of her with her grandmother attached to her bouquet.
What were your colors?
They were burgundy, evergreen, ivory, and gold. Burgundy and evergreen were to go with the Christmas feel. Gold was to add a luxe element to the wedding. Ivory was to make things feel “bridal.”
What was your wedding cake and dessert inspiration?
We wanted our cake to match the winter/holiday theme so we had Alessi do a cable knit design (like a sweater) for the cake. The pastries were picked for my mom because she wanted guests to be able to have some traditional Italian pastries. My mom’s family is from Italy, so that was important for her.
It was difficult at first because when we arrived at Alessi they told us we couldn’t order any flavor other than plain vanilla gluten-free. I have Celiac disease so I was upset that we might not be able to pick a wedding cake flavor. Luckily, the person we met with at Alessi contacted a manager and was able to make an exception for us and let us do an almond flavor for the cake. But it was very stressful during our appointment.
What did you look for in a wedding DJ?
For the DJ, they were the DJ service included with Cross Creek’s package. We didn’t meet our DJ, Jody, until the week of the wedding. He was wonderful though. He was very pleasant to work with and accommodated all our requests. Our guests thought he was great! We would highly recommend his services to anyone.
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay couples?
Don’t let details pile up at the end. Try to get something done every week because it can become overwhelming as you plan. Also, if you have a vendor you love and are looking for other vendors, ask the vendor you love who they recommend. It can save you a lot of time.
Venue: Cross Creek Ranch
Photographer/Videographer: Rad Red Creative
Coordinator: Annika with Cross Creek Ranch
Pet Planner: FairyTail Pet Care *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Florist: Alta Fleura
Caterer: Catered by Vesh
Cake: Alessi Bakeries *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Ceremony Music: Sunset Strings
DJ: Grant Hemond & Associates, Jody *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Officiant: Pastor Heath
Bridesmaid Dress Shop and Designer: The Perfect Dress, Hayley Paige Occasions
Hair & Makeup: Femme Akoi Beauty Studio *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro