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During our team retreat, we played a Southern Weddings version of The Newlywed Game. Kristin and I lost to Emily and Lisa by just one point! However, when the question of whether your partner would rather go to Mardi Gras or the Kentucky Derby came up, KNW knew me the best! I love Mardi Gras, but I’ve never been to the Derby, and we often daydream of a Derby double date with our beaus. Lindsey and Ryan’s Derby-inspired wedding only makes me want to go more! I love how they timed their cocktail hour with the race, included mint juleps as their signature drink, and aptly named their tables after past winners, inspired by the guests at the table (be sure to read about that below!). But, despite their love for every special detail, Lindsey and Ryan said “our favorite detail was becoming husband and wife.” That’s the best detail in my book as well!

Big SW hugs to our friend Elaine Palladino for sharing this fun day!

P.S. How fun is it that Lindsey and Ryan are celebrating their first anniversary at the actual Kentucky Derby this weekend? So special!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Mutual friends of ours, Dave and Rachel Gossett, hinted for eight years that we should meet. Living in different cities, we both presumed that it was never really meant to be. Fast forward to Derby Day 2012 when Dave and Rachel were at my annual Derby party and sent Ryan his first picture of me. A little later in the evening, one text was followed by a few clever other ones, that led to a conversation that never stopped. We texted through May into June, talked on the phone for the rest of the summer, and then Ryan came to visit over Labor Day weekend. We met on my front porch for our first date, and though I will admit to being profoundly nervous, we both knew instantly that there was something special between us. We spent the next year and a half dating and being engaged long-distance, while Ryan took care of his ailing father in Jacksonville before making the big move to Miami last spring, just in time for the wedding.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did. I am exceptionally traditional in most areas of my life, and was convinced I’d never do a first look, but when we decided to time the cocktail hour so that it was during the Kentucky Derby, we knew if we wanted to see it, we’d have to do pictures beforehand. It was a good thing we did, because as soon as I was dressed, all I could think about was getting to Ryan. If I had to wait until the ceremony, I might have gone crazy! It was just us for those few moments, and it was fantastic. Well, it was supposed to be just us, until I saw the pictures later of the entire wedding party watching from inside the hotel. :)

I saw my dress on Pinterest almost a year before getting engaged. I saved the picture thinking, “I would love to find a dress like this one day.” The night of my engagement, my sister, who was so excited to start planning wedding details, asked me if I knew the kind of dress I wanted. I shared the picture, just to give her an idea of what I was looking for, but realizing it would be hard to match something to that dress. Somehow, within a couple of days, she had found the dress, identified the designer, found the only store in Miami that sold that designer, and sent me there the following Saturday. I walked in, tried on the dress, and knew it was the one. I am forever grateful to her, more than I could ever express.

We chose orchestral hymns for the seating of the mothers and the processionals. Having both been raised in the Protestant faith, the hymns we chose felt like a natural way to invite the Lord into our day, while also honoring our moms at the same time. Our close friend beautifully sang The Lord’s Prayer at the end of the ceremony for the same reasons. Our first dance was to “Amen” by Dave Barnes. The words remind us that in all things, we are thankful to God and trust in His plans for our future. As a side note, the trumpeter at the wedding decided on his own accord that the bridal processional should start with a lively “Derby” fanfare. It was a surprise to all, and a great laugh.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? It was extremely important to us and our parents that we were married in a church. Our home church doesn’t offer ceremonies on Saturdays, so we chose a beautiful church near the Biltmore Hotel, where our reception was going to be. We wanted our day to be as enjoyable and easy as possible for all of our guests, so we kept everything as convenient as we could. The Biltmore was the perfect backdrop for the feel and style of our wedding.

We encouraged our guests to embrace the theme of the Derby by wearing big hats and bow ties–and boy, did they! We also included mint juleps, pennant mason jars, and a bluegrass band. To top the night off, we opened (and emptied) a long-saved bottle of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle with all of our friends. To represent “South” Florida, we had a cigar roller at the reception.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We named our tables after horses who have won the Derby throughout history, and chose names that best represented the guests sitting at that table (for example, “Behave Yourself” was for the wedding party and “Spend A Buck” was for my parents’ table :)). We also set thank you notes on each table, which we hoped expressed to our family and friends just how much their love meant to us. Honestly though, despite our love for every special detail we included, our favorite detail was becoming husband and wife.

What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Our first anniversary! We are going to the 2015 Kentucky Derby with our immediate family. None of us have ever been and we thought it would be a wonderful way to celebrate a year of marriage with our families!

Tell us all about the proposal! Each year, my family travels with the Gossetts and all of our extended family to Sanibel for the Fourth of July. Before the weekend, Ryan met with my dad to ask for my hand in marriage. On the night of the 4th, while on the beach, we joked about being married a year from that day. I gave Ryan a hard time, saying “First, we have to get engaged!” Just 20 minutes later, while watching fireworks, Ryan whispered into my ear, “Remind me again what step one is?” I turned around in disbelief and Ryan got down on one knee! It felt like we were the only two people on the beach in those few moments, and then, we turned around to find our families and friends there to greet us with hugs and champagne.
When did y’all get married? May 3, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We exchanged traditional vows, but we tweaked one line. Instead of saying “to love, honor and cherish,” we added “care for” into the phrase. The way we take care of each other is often our greatest expression of love.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings at the ceremony: Romans 12:1-2, 9-13 and Colossians 3:12-17. Romans spoke to us about how to honor the Lord, each other, and others through our union and love. Colossians taught us how to love each other. Also, Romans 12:13 tells us to “practice hospitality.” This instruction highlights a gift we feel God has given us, as we both find joy in opening our home and hearts to others.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mom gets the glory for the DIY details. Among the countless, non-crafty details she managed, she still found time to spray paint horseshoes, assemble pennants, and sew napkin rings for nearly 300 people. As a team, we stuffed invitations, assembled programs, hand-wrote the name cards and pennant mason jars, and painted flower boxes and “happily ever after” signs.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Make it your own; tell your story. But most importantly, stay calm and remember that everything will turn out okay. It will be more perfect than you can possibly imagine, because at the end of it all, you will be married.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? In lieu of wedding favors, we made a gift to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, in honor of Ryan’s father, Douglas Franklin Parker, who passed away in April 2013. Each guest received a note from the foundation and a chocolate horseshoe from Dr. Parker’s favorite chocolatier, Peterbrooke.

Photographer: Elaine Palladino / Videographer: Michael Burgos Films / Day-Of Coordination: Claudia Glasson and Claudia Santana / Ceremony Venue: Granada Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue, Catering, and Rentals: The Biltmore Hotel / Florals, Rentals, and Lighting: Always Flowers / Wedding Cake: Todo Dulces / Ceremony Musician: Ross DeBardelaben of Miami Virtuosi LLC / Band: Tropics Entertainment / Special Details: Unearthed Vintage / Paper Products: Fresh Impression Letterpress Studio / Bride’s Gown: Watters / Bride’s Shoes: Benjamin Adams / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Sung / Menswear: Jos. A Bank

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Who Gets Married on Kentucky Derby Day | Equestrian Stylist reply

    […] Weddings recently shared a “Kentucky Derby Wedding by Elaine Palladino” post, and check out a few of these […]

  2. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze #189 – Floridian Social reply

    […] must have had a blast shooting this fun Kentucky Derby themed affair at the Biltmore […]

  3. avatar Kirsti reply

    I just adore this wedding!! How precious can this be?? I love the derby theme and all of the little details they included in their special day!!

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