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Y’all know we absolutely love when couples incorporate meaningful details into their celebrations. We also love when those details are deeply rooted in Southern culture! Jen and Alan’s beautiful day wasn’t lacking of either, from the big oak tress adorned with heaps of Spanish moss, to one of Jen’s favorites, the magnolia garland. Jen and Alan even served boiled peanuts at their cocktail hour as a nod to a road trip when Jen had introduced Alan to the yumminess of this roadside treat! What could easily be passed over as just another fun detail to check off the list became something truly special. That’s what wedding details should be all about–taking the small things that hold meaning to you as a couple, and sharing them with the ones you love. Who knew something as simple as peanuts could become so memorable?

We’re so thankful to Blue Ribbon Vendor Michelle March for sharing this pretty day!

P.S. Fun fact: Michelle also shot my darling EK’s newborn session!

Our ceremony and reception were at the same venue, Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota, Florida. In spite of our 100+ guest list, we wanted an intimate outdoor wedding and a reception under a canopy of trees and lights. Although this venue typically rents out the gorgeous historic mansion located on the property, I happened to walk by a secluded, shaded area under a large oak tree adorned with heaps of Spanish moss. It was love at first sight. Unfortunately, the park’s event coordinator informed us that the spot I had fallen in love with was not part of the area available for events. We waited patiently and found out a few weeks later that for an extra fee, we would be able to incorporate this beautiful space into our ceremony. She mentioned that it might need some cleaning up because it was completely wild, overgrown, and natural but those were the exact qualities that initially drew me to the area!

Describe your wedding flowers. I had my heart set on a cascading bouquet with greenery spilling out of it. Choosing our flowers was probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of wedding planning for me. Mary was so generous with her time, sitting down and really listening to what I envisioned for our wedding. Our bridal bouquets consisted of tulips, ranunculus, roses, carnations, seeded eucalyptus, ivy, and sword fern. Our wedding flowers also included a whole lot of greenery and garlands. I’m a huge sucker for magnolia, which was at the top of my “want” list, but we simply couldn’t afford it. On our wedding day, Mary surprised us with a magnolia garland, which were hung throughout the ceremony and reception. I was absolutely stunned! It was the sweetest gesture and I can never thank her enough.

Alan’s most memorable moment about our wedding day was when he saw me walking towards him with my dad. He says he couldn’t take his eyes off me or stop smiling. Since he didn’t want to do a first look, Alan says this was one of the most special moments of the day to him! The recessional was also one of my most memorable moments from our wedding day. Turning around to see all of the smiling (and some crying) faces of our guests just made me feel so special and grateful to be entering our marriage with the support of an amazing community of family and friends, near and far.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Throughout the engagement (and let’s be honest, we could probably go back a few months before the proposal), I found myself inspired by soft, flowing fabric and light hints of texture. I knew that the vision I had for my dress did not fit the mold of your traditional/classic wedding dress, so the thought of walking into multiple bridal salons seemed incredibly intimidating at the time. Luckily for me, I found my wedding dress buried in the clearance of all clearance sections at Macy’s. Can you believe it?! Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a simple, nude, floor-length gown poking out amidst the rows of disheveled hangers, and decided to try it on. It couldn’t hurt, right? I honestly didn’t love my dress right away, at least not in its original form. Instead, I had a pretty clear vision of what the dress could look like for our wedding day, so I went with it. I worked with an amazingly talented seamstress who specializes in bridal wear. We met several times and discussed various fit and design modifications. She managed to transform my clearance Macy’s dress into a one-of-a-kind, straight-out-of-my imagination wedding dress!

We included quite a few Southern details in our celebration, especially in the food we served. We loved the idea of barbecue and family-style dining, so we had several banquet tables pushed together to create long rows of tables for our guests. A few summers ago, Alan and I went on our first road trip together to Savannah, Georgia and Beaufort, South Carolina. On our way up there, we stopped at a boiled peanut stand, because he had never actually tried them before! We love making each other try new things, especially if it’s something we really love, and boiled peanuts are my favorite. Alan was pretty hesitant at first, but when I woke up from my nap, I noticed he had eaten the entire bag! Naturally, boiled peanuts (both regular and Cajun) made an appearance on our cocktail hour menu, served in small gold scalloped cups. I’m pretty sure I stole at least one cup before the introductions! We also served local honey from Pure Florida Apiary to go with the biscuits and jam for our cocktail hour. Our wedding favors were mini pies in various flavors, which we boxed individually the day before.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? While most people rent items like tablecloths and napkins for their reception, we decided to purchase instead, because we were able to buy them at a lower cost than it was to rent them. Our napkins were actually tea towels from Ikea, so we now have a lifetime supply of tea towels for our kitchen, our kids’ kitchens, and our grandkids’ kitchens! The table we used to display the wine and bread for communion, as well as our welcome table, are both mine from home. We tried our best to be creative and resourceful with the ways we cut costs at our wedding!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Lots of prayer, reading, and conversation about everything we could possibly anticipate. I don’t think anyone ever feels 100 percent prepared for marriage, and we realized that there are going to be circumstances that we won’t be able to plan for or anticipate. Our understanding of marriage is that we must always seek each other for support and accountability, and whether it is a time of growing or harvesting, lean on the Lord throughout all seasons of our life together.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Alan and I met about five years ago when we both lived in Boston. We were introduced by one of my closest friends at her housewarming party. I was moving back home to Florida in just a couple months to start graduate school, so timing wasn’t quite on our side. We went on a few dates and kept in touch when I left, but neither of us wanted to admit our feelings for each other, especially since we now lived over a thousand miles away. Being brave with your feelings can be so scary! We didn’t see each other again until the following year when I spent a long weekend back in Boston. I remember feeling so nervous the night of a party because I knew Alan was going to be there. I changed outfits about a million times, and when I finally saw him, I couldn’t stop smiling. This night will always be close to my heart. We climbed through a window, sat on the roof, and just talked and laughed until we cried. I can remember that sweet and comforting awareness that I had finally met my person. I felt content in his presence and so full of gratitude to be right where I was.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just gotten off work from the hospital. Clearly, I had no idea a proposal was in store for me because when he arrived at my doorstep that evening, I welcomed him in all of my hospital-clad glory: scrubs and sneakers with my hair in a tangled mess. Little did I know, he had just spent the afternoon hanging out with my dad, asking for his blessing, and preparing for the night! Instead of letting me get my way (which would have meant a night in with take-out and a movie), he politely asked me to get ready and reasoned that this might be our only chance for a date night anytime soon, since at the time, we worked completely opposite schedules. Before I had a chance to turn towards my room, Alan grabbed both of my hands with the biggest smile on his face and… just stood there. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. What a weirdo.” After several seconds of seemingly innocent, but sort of creepy, smiling and hand holding, my thoughts slowly caught on to what was going on and progressed to “No way. This must be a joke!” No one loves a good practical joke as much Alan does, so I couldn’t tell if this was one of them until he got down on one knee with the most beautiful ring I have ever seen in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I blurted out “yes” before he had a chance to finish proposing! We spent the evening celebrating with my parents at the same restaurant that catered our barbecue dinner for our wedding. It was perfect. I still can’t believe he chose me.
When did y’all get married? February 20, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 150
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Since some of our wedding details were nontraditional, we decided to stick to the traditional vows. It really calmed our nerves knowing that most people can’t mess up saying “I do!”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? For our ceremony, a close friend, who was also my bible study leader in college, read a few lines from Ann Voskamp’s “The Bravest and Most Beautiful Love Affair.” When I first came across this passage a few years ago, I was completely captivated by her depiction of marriage as a covenant between two people and the Lord: “This is an epic, everyday love story, one written with years and skin and the rings. My grandmother lived with true courage, the kind that made a vow and had the bravery to let it age. How she said that the bravest love is wildly faithful and it falls hard again every morning. How it puts the toilet seat down and the cap on the toothpaste and winks for those already-won eyes. It knows what we may seek may be found in what we already have. And there can always be this–the allure of vows. It’s grace and fresh gratitude that can make us strong enough to marvel in the seeming monotony of anything. And the happily married have eyes that look long enough to make the familiar new. There’s this beautiful drama’s in a long faithfulness and aged love might be heroic. God knows the passion of a covenant.” Our officiant, whom I’ve known for a long time as well, also read from Ephesians 4. It’s such an all-encompassing reminder of how we should treat each other, especially as husband and wife.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was two-tiered with a cookie butter-flavored base, a nutella-flavored top, and ivory buttercream ruffles all over. Since Alan typically prefers pie over cake, we also ordered several types of pies: blueberry goat cheese, caramel apple crumble, deep dish chocolate cookie, and bourbon pecan fudge ganache. We ordered our cake and pies from the Short Giraffe, a boutique bakery in Sarasota. We were very excited to share one of our local favorites with our family and friends, especially those who traveled to Florida.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Well, right now, we are responding to this from our honeymoon in Paris! I received Michelle’s email sharing this amazing news the night before our flight, so I was just too excited and couldn’t wait to respond! We decided to take our honeymoon a couple of months after the wedding to give us some time to rest and save up. Of course, starting our own little family is also on the radar. Our prayer is that in His timing, we experience the joys of adoption in the not-so-distant future. This would be a dream (prayer) come true!

Photographer: Michelle March Photography / Planner: Kelsey Peduzzi / Venue: Phillippi Estate Park / Florist: Flowers and Designs by Mary / Cake Baker: The Short Giraffe / Caterer: Sonny’s BBQ / Rentals: Rent All City / Lighting: Marcus Peduzzi / DJ: Fairy Tale Productions / Special Details: Shannon Kirsten / Paper Products: Charley Whiskey Lettering and Design / Bride’s Gown: Anne Klein / Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott / Bride’s Hair Accessory: Beads Brooches Bridal / Hair Stylist: Ali Severson / Makeup Artist: Makeup Artistry by Corinne / Bride’s Shoes: French Connection / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Camilyn Beth / Menswear: J.Crew and Target

Michelle March is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Brandi Marie reply

    What a sweet and thoughtful wedding, and bride! I loved all her sentiments and words on marriage. You can truly see her heart and it’s as sweet as honey!

  2. avatar Mary reply

    Love that sweet proposal story that they used Ikea tea towels as napkins. Beautiful celebration! I’ll be praying for their adoption journey!

  3. avatar Tied the knot: Jen + Alan at Phillippi Estate Park – Michelle March – Wedding Photography and Films – US and Destination – Michelle March – Wedding Photography and Films – US and Destination reply

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This. Wedding. Rocks! Mariangelix + Steven look like such a fun couple, don’t they? Their outdoor wedding was inspired by the 1940s Southern plantation style that we all know and love from The Notebook. M + S even asked their guests to come dressed in WWII-era garb! In addition to the fun theme, M + S’s wedding was full of amazing color and fun surprises! Their bowling alley reception was kept a surprise until right after the ceremony and guests were treated to adorably-wrapped socks. Love! Biggest thanks to Michelle March who shared this wedding with us.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Finding my wedding dress was a tricky adventure. I began the search with my mom, knowing exactly what I wanted: a mermaid shape, ivory lace, cap sleeves and a key hole back. Monique Lhuillier’s “Scarlet” has always been my favorite dress, but it was not in my budget. After weeks and weeks of searching, my best friend was in town and we just decided to stop by a shop where I found my dress! I didn’t have that “Aha,” crying moment that people describe, but I just knew that it was meant for me. It couldn’t have been more perfect!
Describe your wedding flowers: COLOR! This was one of the most important details of my wedding. I treated my flowers as if they were a part of my outfit. I did my own flowers and I used all of my favorite ones, including purple tulips, blush pink peonies, red ranunculus, billy balls, black & white anemones, purple anemones, white hydrangeas, and red pin cushions. I tied it with black and white striped ribbon and finished with a light pink cameo brooch given to me by my mother-in-law. It really was spectacular, the colors were breathtaking!

How much do you love these dapper little gents and their fun sign?

Did you decide to do a “first look”? No, we didn’t do a first look mainly because Steven wanted to keep things more traditional. He wanted to look forward to seeing me walk down the aisle for the first time. I was happy with the decision, it was really sweet!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Our wedding was 1920s-1940s-themed and very inspired by The Notebook, therefore our song choices were connected to our theme in some way, as well as a reflection of us. We had an amazing pianist, Adlan Cruz, playing our songs on a grand piano. It was incredible! Before the bridal party walked down the aisle, he played “I’ll Be Seeing You.” The bridal party walked down the aisle to The Notebook’s theme song and then my dad and I walked down to “What a Wonderful World.” For the father-daughter dance, we played “Unforgettable”

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I feel like our ceremony had a Southern plantation feel to it, especially since it was inspired by The Notebook. I always wanted an outside wedding, so we held it on a piece of land that was on the property of our church. It was perfect! A blue vintage car dropped me off at the end of the aisle, which was elevated just enough so everyone could see. We had benches for our guests to sit on and purple rose petals mixed in with the green grass gave the aisle a nice touch! We gave everyone glass Coke bottles as favors after the ceremony and we played old jazz in the open air, while the wind blew and the sun was shining brightly. It was magical! Another Southern detail, which I treasure dearly, is my 1920s art deco estate ring!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: I had two wedding cakes. We designed both sets of cakes to fit the theme and reflect us in different ways. The first one was at the small reception right after our ceremony. It was a set of three Puerto Rican cakes with sweet mint green frosting. It was delicious! They were displayed on a red vintage desk with wooden hearts as toppers. The second cake was a bit more artsy. The five-tier masterpiece was the same style of cake as the first one, but with black, mustard, plum and mint colored fondant. The base and top tiers were black and white striped and the middle tier had a beautiful lace design. It was topped off by a set of wooden figurines that I made to resemble drawings that I make of us. Both cakes were made by my aunt, who is an amazing baker and artist in the Central Florida area.

How did the two of you meet? We met in high school. We had similar friends and knew of each other for a while before we started dating. We ended up having the same class my last year of high school and got to know each other. The last day of class before Christmas break, I happened to be leaving school early and he was skipping class. So, that was the first time we officially hung out and after that, it was a wrap! 8 years later, here we are!
Describe the proposal. Our proposal was magical! Michelle March actually had something to do with that as well. She had asked to shoot us a few times before, whenever she was in town, but it never seemed to work out, especially because Steven is not really the most photo-loving guy out there. This time, though, he ended up saying yes! “Just to get me off his back!” So, he ends up contacting my best friend and Michelle and they come up with this grandiose plan. We get some really nice shots in France and then Michelle says, “I want some ice cream,” their code word for the proposal. Of course I had no idea, so I say “Ooh, I want some ice cream!!” However, Michelle goes back to her position and keeps snapping away. About a few seconds later, Steven starts saying all these nice things to me and I think he’s joking (because he’s a jokester) so I tell him to stop playing! Then he gets on one knee and says, “This is real! Will you marry me?” I was so surprised, I started bawling like a little baby! As soon as I said yes, all I heard was clapping from all of the people that were around. It was the most beautiful thing ever! The pictures were beyond amazing and I was just so surprised! The night ended with a private view of the fireworks show on a balcony in the Italy pavilion. Disney really is where dreams come true — it was surreal!
In what month did you get married? March
How many guests attended your wedding? 200+
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I have to pick three!
1. Since it was a themed wedding, we asked our guests to wear attire from the 20s, 30s, or 40s. We didn’t think that so many of our guests would actually participate and it was a great turnout. It was such an amazing feeling when I saw all of those people dressed up right before I walked down the aisle. It was exactly as I imagined it! I felt like I was on a movie set!
2. Our reception! We had our reception at a bowling alley and it was a surprise to everyone! We kept our reception details a secret until the actual wedding day. All of the guests received the details right after the ceremony. They were so surprised and had a blast. It was really awesome to see them enjoy themselves! We wanted our wedding to be FUN as well as a reflection of us entirely. Plus, what’s better than taking your guests bowling?! Our favors were socks, because, of course, we knew they wouldn’t be ready!
3. Balloons and confetti! As we were walking back up the aisle, our guests threw confetti at us from little bags that were placed on the benches. Right before we departed to the reception, we gave everyone a red balloon and they let them go as we drove away. It was phenomenal to see the clear blue sky filled with red balloons as a celebration of our marriage!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge was keeping the bowling alley reception a secret. The only people that knew about it were our parents. We really didn’t think that we could do it, but we did! It was a great surprise!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Steven’s custom-made suit! He is a pretty fashionable guy, so he always said he wanted a double-breasted suit. The only problem was finding it. We found a custom tailor in town to help us, which allowed Steven to be able to pick everything from the buttons to the lining and the pattern of the suit. It really was a neat experience. Steven always said that if there is any time when a man should splurge on his outfit, it should be on his wedding day! His whole entire combination was brilliant and he looked so dapper! I did not get to see the suit until the day-of and it was a really nice surprise!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The most memorable moment was walking back up the aisle with my husband as everyone was throwing confetti at us. It was like a dream!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be you! Think outside the box and don’t worry about what everyone else is going to think. Our wedding was truly a reflection of us and we didn’t have to break the bank for it. Sometimes wedding visions are way bigger than your budget, so be realistic and think of every possible way that you can do everything you want with the amount that you have. Prioritize your wants and it will all fall into place. Do as many DIY projects as possible. Additionally, don’t get caught up in so many traditions. You can do things your way if you want to! We wanted fun, so we went to a bowling alley! It was memorable for us and for our guests. Don’t let the planning stress get to you. Try to embrace every moment. This day is about you and your groom, so do as you please!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? That’s a really exciting question! We are recently taking my event design business to the next level and we are ecstatic! Finally we are doing something greater with my passion with Peplum Events & Design. We are excited for the opportunities, dreams and goals that we have for this business. I look forward to growing as partners and building a stronger marriage each day. Kids and those will show up someday! In the meantime, we are passionate about each other’s dreams and desires.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
23 Comments
  1. avatar Amber Lewter reply

    Very original! I love how each member of the wedding party has their own look, so personal and well thought out. Beautiful wedding!

  2. avatar Adeline reply

    These photos are beyond gorgeous! What a beautiful couple with an amazing concept!

  3. avatar Nine Photography | Dallas Wedding Photographers reply

    This wedding stopped me in my tracks! Best bridesmaid outfits ever!!!! Love this couple for being so creative and fun with their details. :)

  4. avatar The Friday Fresh Squeeze | Floridian Weddings reply

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  5. avatar mandy reply

    Where did those fabulous garters come from?!

  6. avatar Kristin Hubbard reply

    This wedding is fabulous! From the outfits, to te decor, and even the bowling alley at the reception– this wedding rocks!!

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  12. avatar Tied the knot: Marian + Steven – Michelle March Photography – South Florida / Miami Wedding Photographer – US + Destination Weddings reply

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  22. avatar Photo Booth Rental Florida reply

    Wow! Really like the picture with the socks and the guys very very cool. And also like your picture with the car in the background.

  23. avatar Uplighting Rental reply

    Wow, love the pictures some really great moments on your blog. Thanks for sharing!

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