Whimsical Purple Downtown St. Pete Wedding | The Birchwood

TheXpos Tampa Bay Bridal Show | August 30, 2020 | Centro Asturiano de Tampa

Sarah and Mark’s bespoke downtown St. Pete wedding was filled with personal touches that narrated their love story through stationery, food, and decor. From the five-course guided meal with wine pairings to the old world charm of the reception tablescapes, each element was thoughtfully and creatively crafted to take their 75 guests on a symbolic journey.

The St. Petersburg couple focused on providing an experience for their friends and family, rather than implementing a typical wedding theme. A striking floral arrangement found while scouring social media inspired the overall color story, with neutral hues that would allow the flowers to truly stand out.

“We knew we could not pick a singular theme or word for the event. We also recognized that we were obliged to share as much of our love with our friends and family as possible (most of whom had traveled a long distance), so we focused on taking our guests on a sensory experience through our courtship. And while every nuance, like the ink color for the invitations matching the menu from the restaurant where we got engaged, was not obvious; each of those details was a meaningful thread in the tapestry of our story,” Sarah reflected. “There was no one color scheme we had our heart set on when we started the journey. We scoured every #WeddingFlowers post on Instagram and stumbled across the most striking arrangement of moody bramble berries and said, “That’s it!” Once the colors were selected, we knew we wanted all of the color to come from the florals. The balance of the design elements were creams, whites, and golds to allow the flowers to be the focal point. I will never forget walking into the ballroom and seeing the incredible bramble berry garden brought to life for us. It was everything I dreamed of.”

MORE: WHIMSICAL WEDDING INSPIRATION

The bride relied on Marry Me Tampa Bay when researching vendors and venues, even utilizing the real wedding images to envision the layout of their reception.

“Marry Me Tampa Bay was one of the first resources we used to see weddings in various venues we had been considering. As we were looking for vendors, we looked at weddings the vendors had contributed to so we could see the aesthetic and final products,” Sarah shared. “We also used the photos from the Birchwood weddings to look at layouts when we were considering our floorplan. There is so much information on the site, and so much inspiration from real weddings that happened in the area, it was so helpful!”

MORE: LOCAL REAL WEDDING INSPIRATION

The couple envisioned a wedding venue with old-world charm, modern finishes, and a friendly and passionate team that could execute a creative custom menu for their event. Upon touring downtown St. Pete wedding The Birchwood, Sarah and Mark knew the boutique hotel was the perfect option.

“Taking in all of our considerations for a location, The Birchwood was a natural choice. It not only has an incredible beauty with its modern Gatsby-era feel and breathtaking views of downtown St. Petersburg, but the staff was truly excited to create a unique dining experience with us,” Sarah raved. “They powered through our numerous questions and requests with quick responses, unreal tastings for food and wine, and the utmost creativity, joy, and professionalism. They are truly exceptional and brought every aspect of their creativity and industry know-how to bring our vision to life.”

The couple’s menu reflected special celebrations throughout their relationship, and it was that detail to attention that added a truly unique element to their wedding day.

“It was incredibly important to us to make our wedding day the truest reflection of ourselves. You can chronicle our courtship with the special meals that we’ve shared, and it was important to us to share that journey with our friends and family. From a mackerel and potato chip appetizer that we enjoyed at a birthday dinner, to a scallop and steak dish inspired by our engagement dinner, our wedding was a journey through our love story,” Sarah revealed. “A stand out moment was when Chef came out to talk us all through the menu for the evening. His explanation of the courses, and how we came up with the menu to share with everyone, took the feeling we have had in other wonderful restaurants along our journey and brought it to our wedding. Every element reflected a thread in the tapestry of our story. Take any one thread away and the story would change. We truly had an intimate, bespoke celebration of our love.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BIRCHWOOD | EMAIL

The well-traveled newlyweds favored the look of painted cakes, and one taste of cake from The Artistic Whisk brought back memories of European bakeries.

“We had the opportunity to try all of the cakes from the various vendors we were considering at The Birchwood’s bridal show. The minute we tasted The Artistic Whisk’s cake we were both transported back to Europe. When we met with Jovana for our tasting, listening to her explain how she bakes using the traditional European style, with natural ingredients, allowing them to sing without being overly sweet, we were sold,” Sarah gushed. “She patiently went through every cake flavor and then every inspirational picture we brought in. Then, she drew up a sketch of all the details we asked for and it was perfect. The final product on the day was a breathtaking masterpiece. I couldn’t recommend them more to anyone looking for a traditional cake style in the most creative and modern flavors and adornments.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ARTISTIC WHISK | EMAIL

In addition to the fabulous meal, Sarah and Mark wanted their guests to enjoy an amazing party. They searched for a live band that could be customized in size and ensemble and that would bring lots of great energy and showmanship.

“Our florist recommended we watch one of the Bay Kings Band showcases, and we instantly saw the energy and talent that they had. We were able to pick our lead singers and the band members to create a sound that captured the mood we wanted,” the bride beamed. “Their service was incredible, and their performance got everyone on the dance floor. One of our fondest memories was looking out and seeing no more room on the dance floor, which was thanks to the Bay Kings Band!”

LEARN MORE ABOUT BAY KINGS BAND | EMAIL

A special moment on the dance floor attributes to one of Sarah’s most memorable experiences of the day.

“The grand entrance as a newly married couple hit us with the atmosphere of love and joy we had hoped to achieve. The family dance right after the first dance allowed us to really share that moment with our closest family and that feeling could sink in and set the tone for the rest of the evening,” Sarah reminisced.

Tampa St Pete Wedding Beaded Pearl Bridal Headband Bride Accessory

Champagne and Ivory Lace Allure Bridal Ball Gown with Sweetheart Neckline and Illusion Lace Bodice and Sleeves | A Line Wedding Dress with Cathedral Veil

Mother of the Bride Helping Bride Get Dressed and Ready | Champagne and Ivory Lace Allure Bridal Ball Gown with Sweetheart Neckline and Illusion Lace Bodice and Sleeves with Buttons

Please include any additional info about your wedding:
My wonderful mother handmade my wedding veil and headband. The veil was made of silk tulle imported from England, where my husband is from. She created an antique-inspired Juliet veil pattern, adorned with pearls and beads. It was beautiful, dramatic, and the perfect accompaniment to my wedding gown. My headband design was also her creation adorned with pearls from her personal collection. My best friend told me I looked like Cinderella on the wedding day, which would make my mom my Fairy God Mother. Her work was magical.

St. Petersburg Florida Traditional Greek Orthodox Church Wedding Ceremony

St. Petersburg Florida Traditional Greek Orthodox Church Wedding Ceremony | Bride Walking Down the Aisle Wearing a Champagne and Ivory Lace Allure Bridal Ball Gown with Sweetheart Neckline and Illusion Lace Bodice and Sleeves

St. Petersburg Florida Traditional Greek Orthodox Church Wedding Ceremony

Halo Ceremony during St. Petersburg Florida Traditional Greek Orthodox Church Wedding Ceremony

Black and White Wedding Photography | Bride and Groom Portrait | Church Ceremony Exit Rose Petal Toss Send Off

The Proposal:
We were out to dinner at a very intimate, tasting-menu only, restaurant in London. Due to a slight translation issue, the restaurant thought we had already gotten engaged instead of it happening during the meal. As we sat down the menu had “Congratulations on your engagement!” written at the top, and when I read it, it was time for Mark to ask the question. There was applause and champagne to follow.

Bride and Groom Outdoor Portrait at Traditional Greek Orthodox Church Wedding | Ballgown Wedding Dress with Cathedral Veil | Groom Wearing Classic Black Tuxedo Suit with Bow Tie

Downtown St. Petersburg Florida Marina Outdoor Bride and Groom Portrait | Champagne and Ivory Lace Allure Bridal Ball Gown with Sweetheart Neckline and Illusion Lace Bodice and Sleeves with Cathedral Veil | Groom Wearing Classic Black Tuxedo Suit with Bow Tie

Downtown St. Petersburg Florida Outdoor Bride and Groom Portrait | Champagne and Ivory Lace Allure Bridal Ball Gown with Sweetheart Neckline and Illusion Lace Bodice and Sleeves with Cathedral Veil | Groom Wearing Classic Black Tuxedo Suit with Bow Tie

Bridal Bouquet with Blush Pink Garden Roses and Ivory Ranunculus with Olive Branches and Queen Anne's Lace and White Stock and Astilbe

Bride and Groom Veil Shot Outdoor Wedding Portrait

Downtown St. Petersburg Florida Marina Outdoor Bride and Groom Portrait | Champagne and Ivory Lace Allure Bridal Ball Gown with Sweetheart Neckline and Illusion Lace Bodice and Sleeves with Cathedral Veil | Groom Wearing Classic Black Tuxedo Suit with Bow Tie

Downtown St. Petersburg Florida Marina Outdoor Bride and Groom Portrait | Champagne and Ivory Lace Allure Bridal Ball Gown with Sweetheart Neckline and Illusion Lace Bodice and Sleeves with Cathedral Veil | Groom Wearing Classic Black Tuxedo Suit with Bow Tie | Wedding Pets Dogs of Honor

Where did you spend your honeymoon and why did you choose that location?
We were lucky enough to have a lot of our family and friends from around the world fly in for our day. It was important to us to be available to spend time with them leading up to the day and after. To accomplish that, we stayed local for a few days after on Clearwater Beach. After, we mini-mooned in New Orleans where we enjoyed amazing food, music, culture, and cocktails. Our full honeymoon was going to be in Greece this summer, however, with the pandemic, that has been put on hold until it is safe to travel again.

Wedding Seating Chart Poster with Calligraphy Table Names

St. Pete Wedding Venue The Birchwood | Indoor Ballroom Wedding Reception with White Linen Tablecloth and Tall Floral Candlestick Centerpieces with Deep Purple and Burgundy Floral Arrangement

What did you look for in a wedding venue?
The first and most important aspect we looked for was a place where we could fully customize our dining experience. We knew going in we wanted a bespoke meal and cocktail offering. We also wanted a place that felt like us; a bit modern, a bit formal, a bit old world. Additional considerations included how many weddings were going on the same day and how we jived with the staff. Planning a wedding is one of the most intimate things you will do and having a team of people who are excited to execute the vision you have is imperative to its success.

First and foremost was the food and wine. Taking in all of our considerations for a location, The Birchwood was a natural choice. It not only has an incredible beauty with its modern Gatsby-era feel and breathtaking views of downtown St. Petersburg, but the staff was truly excited to create a unique dining experience with us. They powered through our numerous questions and requests with quick responses, unreal tastings for food and wine, and the utmost creativity, joy, and professionalism They are truly exceptional and brought every aspect of their creativity and industry know-how to bring our vision to life. The Birchwood put together a custom five-course dinner for us. Each dish was inspired by a meal we enjoyed along our journey together. The wine was an extension of those choices. We knew we wanted one red, one white, and one sparkling for the day. The wines we served are wines we love and drink often. A stand out moment was when Chef came out to talk us all through the menu for the evening. His explanation of the courses, and how we came up with the menu to share with everyone, took the feeling we have had in other wonderful restaurants along our journey and brought it to our wedding. It was such a sweet moment for us, and we hope for him, too. The Birchwood’s dedication to executing our bespoke vision was truly inspiring. They brought every bit of creativity and professionalism to their work throughout, from the cocktails to the wine, to the meal, and space. I am still awed that our vision became a reality, and their team was a huge part of that success.

Wedding Centerpiece Inspiration | Tall Candlestick Centerpiece with Loose Cascading Floral Arrangement of Purple Hydrangea, Deep Red Burgundy Roses and Amaranthus, Olive Branches and Eucalyptus Greenery

Wedding Centerpiece Inspiration | Low Compote Centerpiece with Floral Arrangement of Purple Hydrangea, Blush Pink Astilbe and Stock, Deep Red Burgundy Ranunculus and Greenery with Taper Candles

How would you describe your theme/wedding design inspiration?
We knew we could not pick a singular theme or word for the event. We also recognized that we were obliged to share as much of our love with our friends and family as possible (most of whom had traveled a long distance.) So we focused on taking our guests on a sensory experience through our courtship. And while every nuance, like the ink color for the invitations matching the menu from the restaurant where we got engaged, was not obvious, each of those details was a meaningful thread in the tapestry of our story.

What were your colors?
There was no one color scheme we had our heart set on when we started the journey. We scoured every #WeddingFlowers post on Instagram and stumbled across the most striking arrangement of moody bramble berries and said, that’s it! Once the colors were selected we knew we wanted all of the color to come from the florals. The balance of the design elements were creams, whites, and golds to allow the flowers to be the focal point. I will never forget walking into the ballroom and seeing the incredible bramble berry garden brought to life for us. It was everything I dreamed of!

How the rentals enhance the ambiance of your event?
We had linens, the dance floor, chargers, and some glassware from Kate Ryan Event Rentals. The elegance of the items really made the tables convey the fine dining experience we were hoping to share.

Wedding Sweetheart Table with Purple Pink and Red Bud Vases and Gold Mercury Glass Votives with Taper Candles

Wedding Cake Art | Painted Colorful Watercolor Floral 5 Tier Wedding Cake with Sugar Flower Poppies by Tampa Cake Bakery The Artistic Whisk | Wedding Cake Table with Gold Votives and Taper Candles

What was your wedding cake inspiration/ flavor?
The cake was an opportunity to bring together all of the color and style of the wedding into a single element. We both agreed we loved hand-painted cakes pretty quickly. They are romantic, bold, and unique. We also wanted to include some sugar flowers for dimension and as little joyful confections. While we didn’t go into the tasting knowing exactly what flavors we wanted, we quickly zeroed in on our nostalgic sides. Our two flavors were orange creamsicle and chocolate strawberry. They reminded us of our favorite childhood ice cream flavors.

We had the opportunity to try all of the cakes from the various vendors we were considering at The Birchwood’s bridal show. The minute we tasted The Artistic Whisk’s cake we were both transported back to Europe. When we met with Jovana for our tasting, listening to her explain how she bakes using the traditional European style, with natural ingredients, allowing them to sing without being overly sweet, we were sold. She patiently went through every cake flavor and then every inspirational picture we brought in. Then, she drew up a sketch of all the details we asked for and it was perfect. The final product on the day was a breathtaking masterpiece. I couldn’t recommend them more to anyone looking for a traditional cake style in the most creative and modern flavors and adornments.

Black and White Wedding Photography | Bride and Groom First Dance at St. Pete Wedding Venue The Birchwood

What did you look for in a wedding band?
The top consideration for a wedding band was a group that would get our guests up and dancing! Other things we considered were how customizable the band was in regard to the size, instruments, and overall sound and performance.

Our florist recommended we watch one of the Bay Kings Band showcases, and we instantly saw the energy and talent that they had. We were able to pick our lead singers and the band members to create a sound that captured the mood we wanted. Their service was incredible, and their performance got everyone on the dance floor. One of our fondest memories was looking out and seeing no more room on the dance floor, which was thanks to the Bay Kings Band!

Bride and Groom Reception Send Off Light Up Wands

What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay couples?
Take time to decide as a couple what you want your day to be and then be bold and true to that vision. Surround yourselves with people who can execute that vision for you. Don’t skimp on hiring a wedding planner- they are saviors who will keep you sane. And, when the party is carrying on, take a step back with your spouse and take in the view of your friends and family enjoying the celebration. It is such a special memory to have.

Ceremony Venue: Saint Stefanos Greek Orthodox Church
Reception Venue and Caterer: The Birchwood *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Venue
Photographer: M.A.D. Images
Planner: Plan-It! Events
Florist: Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft
Rentals: Kate Ryan Event Rentals *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pro
Coffee: Cafe A’La Carte
Cake: The Artistic Whisk *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pro
Band: Bay Kings Band *Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pro
Officiant: Very Reverend Father John Stefero
Invitations: URBANcoast
Transportation: His and Hers Limousines
Dress: Allure Bridals
Party Dress: Nordstrom – Mac Duggal
Bridesmaid Dress Shop and Designer: Dillards – Adrianna Papell
Hair: JCon Salon

Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

*Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros are highly respected by our local wedding community and have been personally vetted by our editor.




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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