While we try to share weddings that correspond with the season we’re currently in, one of the wonderful things about the South is that in some places, the season doesn’t really matter much! Ali and Matt were married on December 28, but in sunny Florida, that didn’t mean snow, pashmina scarves, and hot chocolate bars the way it does elsewhere; rather, it meant the perfect temperature for an outdoor ceremony and a reception under the stars. From the stone walls at their venue to their first dance, everything about Ali and Matt’s wedding day was incredibly romantic, and I can imagine that the December date made it feel even more intimate and cozy!
Thank you so much to Ash Imagery for sharing this lovely day with us!
Matt proposed on August 10, 2012. The plan was to go out to dinner for Matt’s dad’s birthday, so we got all dressed up and started walking to the restaurant. It was the summer, and Matt was extremely hot and started sweating. Since he was in a blazer, I kept telling him to just take off his blazer so he would be more comfortable, but he kept refusing, saying that “he looked good in it” (unbeknownst to me, he had the ring in his jacket and didn’t want me to accidentally see it!). We ended up walking almost all the way to the restaurant, and as we were walking through Rittenhouse Square (a really nice park in Center City Philadelphia), Matt just stopped. I turned around, and he was down on one knee!! I may have hit him with my purse in disbelief. Before I had the chance to call anyone, Matt ushered me to the restaurant, where my entire family and all of my closest friends were there waiting for us! It was absolutely perfect. We were able to have our private moment, and then share and celebrate with all friends and family.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had been obsessed (thanks to Pinterest) with a fitted lace dress, so as soon as Matt proposed, I started my hunt to find it. When I finally found it and tried it on, I was completely underwhelmed. At my next dress shopping trip, my mom suggested I try a completely different style than what I was previously thinking, so I tried on a big ball gown and absolutely fell in love. As soon as I put it on, I felt great in it–it was unique and still classic at the same time!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided to do a first look for a number of reasons. After picking all the hors d’oeuvres, live music, and decor, we wanted to be able to enjoy every aspect of the wedding, which meant we needed to do pictures beforehand. We also liked the idea of having a private moment between the two of us before hosting such a big event!
We had three readings–my cousin read the first and last, and my uncle read the second (the one in Spanish). The first reading was “Blessing For A Marriage” by James Dillet Freeman, the second was “Soneto XVII” by Pablo Neruda, and the third was “Union” By Robert Fulghum.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I am from Florida, but Matt is from Philadelphia (where we live now), so we started looking in both areas for wedding venues. As soon as we saw Bella Collina, we both knew that it was the perfect place. Neither of us knew that there was such a fantastic place in the outskirts of Orlando (where I grew up).
Matt and I had planned a whiskey and cigar bar with plenty of cutters and lighters, as well as matches that had our favorite book covers on them. However, the cutters somehow didn’t make it to the venue. Luckily, Matt had kept his wedding gift from me, a cutter and lighter, in his pocket, so everyone who wanted a cigar had to come say hi and chitchat with Matt to do so. We didn’t plan this at all, but it ended up being one of our favorite details because it made that part of the evening even more personal. We wanted everyone at the wedding to feel special, because they all are such important people in our lives.
For our first dance, we went with Louis Armstrong’s version of “La Vie en Rose.” I absolutely love this song–I find it so romantic, and Louis Armstrong’s version always makes me feel love. We wanted the DJ to skip the intro and start the song when Louis starts singing, but he must have misunderstood and only played the beginning trumpet solo. No one knew any different, and some of our guests even thought we did it on purpose and commented on how romantic it was!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I loved the idea of having a giant dessert bar with a bunch of tiny desserts, but we also wanted some cake. We decided on three small cakes (red velvet, marble, and carrot) that could be surrounded by all the mini desserts. The desserts included mini pear caramel bread pudding; mini Irish cream bread pudding; mini pies in cherry, apple, and pumpkin; Key Lime cupcakes; red velvet and chocolate Cabernet glitter cake pops; mini gingerbread bundts with powdered sugar; chocolate-covered Oreos; s’mores on a stick; raspberry tarts; hot chocolate on a stick; mini cannoli; lemon squares; fig tarts; Oreo truffles; and mini red velvet peppermint cupcakes. Our only regret of the night is not asking for a to-go box with one of each dessert! Somehow, the only dessert we got was the piece of cake we fed each other after the cake cutting!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Matt and I met teaching English in Chile. Matt had been there for four months, and I was one of the newbies. We hit it off as friends right away, and then developed crushes on each other, but being in another country, we didn’t really think that we would be able to last as anything more than friends. When we got back to the States, it was pretty obvious that we wanted to keep seeing each other!
When did y’all get married? December 28, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 250
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? Our wedding was on December 28 and it was held entirely outside; this could only happen in the South!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? More than $100,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I think the biggest way we saved money was on the invitations. We used Wedding Paper Divas and they turned out amazingly! Wedding Paper Divas had so many options for such a great price. Also, instead of using a calligrapher, we found and downloaded a really pretty font and printed the addresses right on the envelope. I found a how-to on the internet and it was so easy!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We decided to splurge on our videographer (Moetic Wedding Films) and photographer (Ash Imagery), and we were so happy we did! People tell you that the wedding day goes by so quickly that you will barely remember it, and unfortunately, that is true! Having a good videographer and photographer really paid off because we are able to relive our wedding day through our photos and video. They both did an incredible job and we are so grateful to have picked them!!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? For the ladies, I would say two things. First, Pinterest is your best friend during the initial stages of wedding planning, but once you start making decisions, stop looking!! Second, a day-of wedding planner is a must! I was able to relax and not think about a single detail on my wedding day because our planner/coordinator was taking care of it all! Matt’s advice for the gentlemen is “Make sure your suit fits and be on time.”
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are staying in Philadelphia for a little bit. Matt is finishing law school and I just got a job working in early childhood education. However, we can’t stay away from the South for too long, so I think that once we start expanding our family, we will make our way back to sunny Florida.
Photographer: Ash Imagery / Videographer: Moetic Wedding Films / Planner: Alison Watkins of Blush by Brandee Gaar / Venue and Caterer: Bella Collina / Florist: Lee James Floral Design / Wedding Cake: Party Flavors / Dessert Bar: Two Sweets Bake Shop / Lighting: Kaleidoscope Event Lighting / DJ: DJ Wade of Other Brother Entertainment / Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas / Bride’s Gown and Veil: Rivini / Bride’s Jewelry: Solutions Bridal / Hair and Makeup Artist: Cristi Miranda / Bride’s Shoes: “Something Blue” by BHLDN / Men’s Attire: Point Click Tailor
Two Sweets Bake Shop is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!
I literally teared up when I saw that last dress! It’s the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen!