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Settle into your seats this morning, y’all–we have an extra sweet love story to share! Ellen and Richard first met in middle school, and their friendship grew throughout high school. In college, after realizing there were sparks between them, Richard finally suggested they start dating, but Ellen resisted, afraid of losing such a close friend if things didn’t work out. The ultimate comeback? “Richard thought it might be problematic if, by not giving it a shot, we would both end up married to other people, and he would still want to call me every night to tell me about the funny things that had happened during the day!” Naturally, Ellen couldn’t argue with that, and a little ways down the road, these two friends-turned-sweethearts planned a fabulous celebration in New Orleans to kick off their marriage. Our Blue Ribbon Vendor Sapphire Events helped them pull the details together at the same hotel where Ellen’s parents had honeymooned years before, and from the traditional ceremony to the energetic second line, I can only imagine that the 350 loved ones in attendance won’t soon forget this joyful day!

Thank you so much to the talented Ryan Ray for sharing Ellen and Richard’s celebration with us!

My mom and I shopped all over Houston for three weeks for my wedding gown. I have always heard that I would just know it when I saw it. I was 99% sure I had found the perfect dress, so we decided to go back and try it on one more time before ordering it. When we walked into the shop, my mom, who knows me so well, said, “Now, Ellen, do not look to the left or right. Go straight to the fitting room.” Well…I looked to the right, and there it was: the dress of my dreams, which had not been there before. My mom cried when she saw me in it–I had found my dress!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? From the welcome bags that were filled with Mardi Gras beads, Zapp’s Spicy Crawtater chips, Aunt Sally’s pralines, and maps of things to do in the French Quarter, to the Cajun Creole dinner at the reception that included seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits, braised short ribs, and king cake, everything about the wedding was Southern! We also had a classic Louisiana “cake pull.” The pastry chef put ribbons with pewter charms tied to the ends in between layers of the bride’s cake. Each ribbon had a wish or fortune, such as “you will soon find love.” Before we cut the cake, 12 of my close friends, who were not bridesmaids, were asked by the band to go to the cake table. Each friend grabbed the end of a ribbon and pulled out her charm. In addition to getting to participate without having a duty, each lady had a special keepsake from the wedding.

After much discussion, and getting way too much advice, we did decide to do a first look. Since the wedding was in picturesque New Orleans and the ceremony was at 7:00 P.M., we had so many fabulous locations and daylight hours for photographs. We wanted to take advantage of that, so we met in the courtyard of the hotel. It was such a sweet, fun time, and it felt private, even though our wedding party and parents were watching from the surrounding balconies and french doors! The pictures of our first look are such treasures. Plus, having already seen each other, we were then able to walk around the French Quarter with our wonderful photographer, getting so many pictures out of the way before the ceremony, freeing us up to celebrate with our guests the rest of the evening! For us, the first look also calmed lots of nerves.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we did not write our own vows. We are both very traditional, and wanted to make the same vows our parents had made years ago. Our favorite pastor did a beautiful job officiating, using Scripture we had selected together, helping us begin our marriage with the solid foundation of our shared faith.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? One of our dear, lifelong friends read 1 Corinthians 13, the beautiful “love chapter” from the New Testament.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I was born in Mississippi and have many childhood memories of happy times in New Orleans. Both my maternal and fraternal grandparents, as well as my parents, spent their honeymoons there. As a matter of fact, Richard and I got married in the Grand Ballroom of the Royal Sonesta, the hotel where my parents honeymooned! My mom and dad had taken Richard and me to New Orleans a couple of years before we got married, and we did everything we could to make Richard fall in love with the city. It worked! When the time came to plan our wedding, New Orleans was the obvious choice. We wanted our guests to have fun! Everyone was so excited to spend the weekend in the French Quarter and celebrate with us.

Describe your wedding flowers. My bouquet was a cascading arrangement of white garden roses, white gardenias, white lilac, white ranunculus, and white orchids. The flowers used throughout the evening were lush, imperfect combinations of beautiful white flowers and green foliage.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was probably the second line parade. This tradition descends from African American Jazz funerals. Led by a New Orleans jazz band, the newlyweds carry parasols and are followed through the French Quarter by family, wedding party, and guests. It is basically a huge street dance and block party! We had hankies with our names and wedding date on them for guests to wave as we all sipped champagne, celebrated, and danced our way a few blocks to and from the hotel. Crowds lined the streets, waving and cheering, with some even falling in line and joining the parade. It was such a festive experience for us, as well as our guests, many of whom had never witnessed a second line, much less joined in one. It also gave the hotel a chance to “flip” the ballroom for the reception.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Richard and I met in seventh grade when Richard transferred to the small private school I attended. We became close friends in tenth grade, but always dated other people. He was captain of the football team and I was the cheerleading captain. We spent a lot of time with each other, and even went to senior prom together! College found me at Baylor University and Richard at The University of Texas at Austin. Throughout freshman and first semester of sophomore year, we saw each other often, as friends. In February of sophomore year, Richard suggested that there might be something more than friendship between us. I agreed, but feared losing him as a friend if things were to go badly. Richard thought it might be problematic if, by not giving it a shot, we would both end up married to other people, and he would still want to call me every night to tell me about the funny things that had happened during the day! I couldn’t argue with that, so we started dating, running back and forth between Waco and Austin each weekend. We have never regretted going for it!
Tell us all about the proposal! From Richard: I graduated from law school in May 2014. One night in June, I picked Ellen up to go out to dinner. When we got in the car, I made up an excuse to run back to my house, and I suggested that she come inside. When we walked through the house, she looked into the dining room and saw the table set for dinner for two (which I had prepared), along with an open ring box containing the heirloom setting we had admired a couple of years before, with my grandmother’s diamond in the center. Ellen became a little hysterical, and kept asking, “What is going on? Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” Yes, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. She said, “Yes!” (For the record, I had taken her dad to lunch a few weeks earlier to get his permission!)
When did y’all get married? March 28, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Our hope was to have 300 guests. Amazingly enough, there were around 350 people in attendance!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Since we knew each other and each other’s families so well, we were already ahead of the game. We share so many of the same values, so a lot of the typical compromises and adjustments were not really necessary. We did attend a wonderful marriage prep class at our church, in addition to excellent premarital counseling with our precious pastor who conducted our ceremony.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Although our grandmothers would be horrified, we chose thermography over engraving for our invitations and save the dates!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy every minute. Do not let anyone steal your joy! This is the one time in your life when it is okay to be a little selfish. You cannot please everyone. You and your groom need to have it your way, as long as your underwriters (in our case, my parents) are fine with your decisions. When we got engaged, my parents told me, “This wedding is our gift to you and Richard. It is about the two of you.” What a great gift it was!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We have bought our first home and look forward to starting our family in the near future. I hope we will always remember to cherish the simple everyday things that really bond and unite us as a couple.

Photographer: Ryan Ray Photography | Videographer: Studio Vieux Carre | Planner: Sapphire Events | Venue, Catering, and Cake: Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans Grand Ballroom | Florist: Kim Starr Wise Floral Events | Band: Memphis Soul Revue | Save the Dates and Invitations: Crane & Co. | Custom Welcome Bag Packets and Wedding Programs: Bering’s Hardware | Bride’s Gown: Style 9215 by Alvina Valenta | Bridal Salon: Ivory Bridal Atelier | Bride’s Belt and Veil: Anne Barge | Hair and Makeup: Kiss and Makeup Beauty Services | Bride’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style 450049 by Monique Lhuillier | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids Houston | Menswear: Perlis Magazine Street | Second Line Band: Storyville Stompers | Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Musicians: New Orleans Finest Musicians | Invitation Calligraphy and Custom Monogram: PenDance Calligraphy | Custom Stamp: Paper Gold Co. | Custom Map: Designs by Robyn Love

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Richard King reply

    What absolutely beautiful work, Inspired!

  2. avatar Jen M reply

    Beautiful wedding! My husband and I were married at Royal Sonesta in 2013…lots of amazing memories! Wyeth was a joy to work with and she is such a sweet, sweet lady. Best Wishes to you both!

  3. avatar Cyprus Wedding Photographer reply

    Beautiful work, really, really inspiring!

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It’s true, wedding planning can be stressful, y’all. But, that said, it can also be a time to really grow as a couple–you can learn what is deeply important to your future spouse, and how to compromise. For Lindsay and Josh, their wedding planning served as just that: a way for them to become better partners in life through becoming partners in creating a day that truly reflected their love story. Our Blue Ribbon Vendor Kim Starr Wise even helped them add personal details into their florals by including peaches and oranges, a nod to their home states of Georgia and Florida. Another sweet detail I love? The vintage lights that are now hanging in Lindsay and Josh’s dining room as a daily reminder of the day they became husband and wife!

Big hugs to Kaylynn Marie for sharing this beautiful day with us!

P.S. Extra congratulations to Lindsay and Josh! They’re expecting their first child in December!

Our florist was incredible and spent a ton of time learning about us. At our first meeting, she and Josh were talking about where we are from (Florida and Georgia), and the idea of including peaches and oranges into the wedding was born. Additional inspiration came from our bridesmaid dresses (dark blue) and our love of burlap and lace. I knew that I wanted each table to look different, and our florist took it from there. The chuppah that we were married under was also her creation, and we loved it!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Hands down, weather was our biggest challenge. When we picked our wedding weekend, we knew we were smack dab in the middle of hurricane season and the day after the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. We always had to be aware that canceling was a real possibility, and had to ask each and every vendor what their hurricane policy was. As it turned out, our venue had the best policy, and several of our other vendors changed their policies to match the venue’s, so we knew we would be okay in the event we had to cancel. Double planning for everything was a pain, but I’m so glad that we did. The morning of our wedding, it poured! It was so bad that the weather here was making news elsewhere. As soon as we boarded the bus to our backup portrait location, the rain slowed down and we ended up taking almost all of our pictures at a carousel inside City Park. Had it not rained, that part of the park would have been open to the public, but since the rain came, we had the carousel to ourselves and took SO many pictures there. Definitely a blessing in disguise!

Josh and I are super outdoors-y people, so we knew we wanted the venue to speak to that side of us. Finding a venue in New Orleans can be tricky because many, many venues are not big enough for a 200-person wedding, and that narrowed down our options quickly. Additionally, Josh had been to many NOLA weddings and wanted a venue he had never been to before to make our wedding special and different from all the others. We had heard that City Park had several great venues, and two specifically could accommodate our numbers. Both were pretty spectacular, but we ended up choosing Popp Fountain and the Arbor Room for the blank slates that they were. They were also right next to each other so our guests wouldn’t have to change locations after the ceremony–a rarity here. It all ended up being the perfect backdrop for our personalities.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows. We had a traditional Jewish ceremony and recited the traditional Jewish vows.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We chose “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri for me to walk down the aisle to because of our long history. We waited so long for one other, and we’d both wait 1,000 more years if we knew we’d still end up together.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We put so much effort into the branding of the weekend. The person who designed our stationery also designed every other personalized detail that went along with it, from the cocktail napkins, to the program, to the cake topper, to the go-cups and second line hankies (both NOLA standards). We knew what details we were willing to spend extra money on (the J&L vintage lights, our ketubah, the personalized cornhole set), and what meant less to us. I love that the lights now hang in our dining room and are an awesome accent that people always comment on. Our ketubah (marriage license) that hangs in our bedroom is a paper-cut, one-of-a-kind piece that is both a nod to our love of the outdoors and our first meeting at a camp. The trees are even arched to mimic the oak trees that line many New Orleans streets.

Knowing we had to feed a lot of people, we ended up with a four-tiered almond cake with strawberry filling. Our cake topper came from a suggestion by the woman who designed our invitations. We were chatting one day about cake toppers and she said she had someone who could laser cut wood. It sounded awesome and we said yes. I love having that topper in our home, mixed with some dried flowers from our wedding day.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. The story of “us” begins in the summer of 2002 at summer camp. Josh was a CIT at his summertime home, Camp Coleman in North Georgia, where I had signed on to be a counselor. While neither of us remember actually meeting, I know for a fact that our paths first crossed during color-war when we were placed on the same team. From there, a pretty fabulous friendship was formed, and over the next year, Josh and I grew closer while catching up at youth group events in Atlanta. Our paths didn’t cross very often after that year, as Josh headed off to New Orleans to spend four years at Tulane “studying” and I began my career in youth engagement in Atlanta, then Boston. All the while, we remained in touch and often caught up on the phone during long road trips. In late spring of 2007, Josh decided it was time to visit me and anticipated a fun weekend that would allow us to catch up in person. My roommates quickly fell in love with Josh (they were the smart ones here), and were so excited that I had a friend who could easily be “the one.” I, however, had to make things difficult and decided that a friendship was all I had in mind. After an awkward weekend in New England, Josh headed back to New Orleans, confused and heartbroken. From there, our friendship took a backseat and we lost touch for several years. We reconnected again via Facebook in September 2012, just a few days after my birthday. We picked up right where we left off, and a few months later, we decided it was time to see each other again and put the past in the past. I headed to New Orleans for a long weekend and it was clear very quickly that love was in the air. After a weekend laughing, exploring the town, and meeting many of Josh’s friends, we were a couple. In April 2013, me and my dog, Riley, moved to New Orleans to begin a new chapter in a new city with an old friend.
Tell us all about the proposal! For his birthday dinner, Josh made a reservation for two at his favorite restaurant (also the place we had our first official date). He parked way too far from the restaurant, and after walking over six blocks blocks in heels, I was less than pleased. Dinner and drinks were quickly ordered and I snuck over to tell the host that it was Josh’s birthday. After dinner and a little surprise birthday cheesecake, the bill paid (thanks to Josh’s Aunt Laurie), and a very generous tip left, it was time to trek back to the car. Josh casually mentioned walking along the river, when I felt the need to ask “Why, so you can propose?” Josh recovered nicely, and off to the riverfront we went. Within moments, I noticed a creepy dude following us with a camera, but Josh played it off as a tourist. A random bench appeared with unlit candles around it (it was windy, so the candles didn’t stay lit), and I assumed it was set up for something else, until Josh steered me to the bench, sat me down, and got down on one knee. As a teary-eyed Josh tried to fumble through a pre-planned proposal, I sat there asking ridiculous questions (“Is this for real? Are you sure you know what you’re doing? Is this really happening?”). When the ring appeared from Josh’s sock (because he was afraid I would pat him down!), I knew it was the real deal. The question was asked and I said “Yes!” After a few congratulations from onlookers and a quick hello to the two guys photographing the whole thing, it was time to make calls to our parents before heading to Josh’s “birthday party.” Of course, this was no real birthday party, but a surprise engagement party!
When did y’all get married? August 30, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 180
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Becoming partners in wedding planning truly made us better partners in life. We learned when the other felt something was deeply important and non-negotiable. We learned how to compromise so we both felt connected to a decision. We learned how to navigate our family’s wishes and concerns and weave them into our plans. Ultimately, we learned that effective communication is the key to a solid beginning. We’ve had to rely on each other a lot in the last year and I truly feel that having planned our wedding together helped us take on many of the challenges we faced during our first year of marriage.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We’re pregnant! Josh and I are expecting our first child in early December and we cannot wait to be a family. In addition, we’re moving into our forever home in just a few weeks and look forward to settling down and making our family’s memories under one roof.

Photographer: Kaylynn Marie Photography / Planner: Lara Mintz / Venue and Caterer: Popp Fountain and Arbor Room at New Orleans City Park / Florist: Kim Starr Wise / Cake Baker: Swiss Confectionery / DJ and Lighting: LA Music Source / Special Details: Plum Street Snoballs / Paper Products: Lionheart Prints / Bride’s Gown: Modern Trousseau / Bridal Salon: Wedding Belles / Hair Accessory: “Kayla” by Courtney Lee Collection / Jewelry: Hiller Jewelry / Hair and Makeup: Blush and Bashful / / Bride’s Shoes: Abeline Boots / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Kylie” and “Nadia” in Dark Cove by J.Crew / Groom’s Attire: Macy’s

Kim Starr Wise is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Lauren Ashley reply

    Oh my!! Kaylynn, what a fun wedding!!! I am obsessed with the stationary and paper products!!

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BDK and I actually celebrated our reception in the lobby of the historic Lakeside Inn! So, I love seeing couples transform non-traditional venues into beautiful reception sites that represent their own personal style and love story. Tess and Bernard wanted to show off where they’re proud to live, so they chose to hold their reception at the historic Etoile Polaire Lodge built in the 1830’s. No one had ever held a wedding reception there, so Tess and Bernard worked with their planner Clandestine Events, and Blue Ribbon Vendors Pret a Fete and Kim Starr Wise to develop their vision for a swamp-inspired, romantic vibe into the beautiful reception celebration Tess described as “perfection.” Keeping with their South New Orlean’s feel, they even ended the night with a “bounce” (new Orleans-style rap) performance by Vockah Redu!

Big thanks to Heirloom Collective for sharing such a fun day with us!

We met at the Voodoo Experience music festival in New Orleans in 2008. I was dating someone else at the time, but we became good friends. Bernard, as he likes to say, played the long game — and we got together for good in the spring of 2012. By the time we started dating, we didn’t need to worry about uncovering each others’ skeletons in the closet — we already knew all the dirt there was to know about each other!

Tell us all about the proposal! I came home from breakfast at my dad’s house to find a puppy (our second mixed breed rescue) on our bed with a ring on a gold cord around his neck. It was 9:30 in the morning and I was not expecting it in the slightest! The diamond was my great-grandmother’s, and my mom had helped Bernard design a contemporary setting.

How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? The ceremony was only 40 our nearest and dearest — then we celebrated with 215 wonderful guests at the reception!
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? We wanted all our wedding weekend events to be right in or around our neighborhood — we love where we live and wanted to show it off to visiting family and friends. Preservation Hall is a gorgeous, historic space that just screams New Orleans, and it’s small and intimate. The reception was at a masonic lodge built in the 1830’s — again, a gorgeous historic space. The coolest thing about the reception venue was that no one had ever had a wedding reception there — that also made it a ton of work as they had minimal infrastructure!

Did you write your own vows? We wrote our own vows, and we incorporated bits and pieces of various traditions. My favorite part was a vow we modified from a Buddhist ceremony we found online: “Tess and Bernard, just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us. Do you pledge to seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy?”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Tess’s sister officiated our ceremony, which was wonderful — so sweet and intimate. Each of our moms did a reading — Bernard’s mom read “[love is more thicker than forget]” by e.e. cummings and mine read “The Two of You,” by Czeslaw Milosz. Bernard’s friend Barry read a selection from a gorgeous poem that moved us to tears the first time we read it, called “Little Sleep’s-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight,” by Galway Kinnell.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were psyched to work with Emily Shaya from Pret a Fête rentals in New Orleans. She has an awesome selection of vintage furniture that helped us give the reception a distinct style beyond the typical table-chairs-centerpieces.

South Louisiana is a bit of its own animal as far as the South is concerned, but our wedding was certainly chock full of unique South Louisiana elements. Instead of a rehearsal dinner we had a crawfish boil for all our guests on Friday night — and a Cajun band, Soul Creole, played. On our wedding day we represented quite a few New Orleans musical traditions: traditional jazz at Preservation Hall, New Orleans funk from Dumpstaphunk, and even a bounce (new Orleans-style rap) performance by Vockah Redu to close out the reception!

Describe your wedding flowers. The interior of our reception venue was pretty stark, so we knew we’d need to go big with the flowers. Bernard wanted to stay far away from the typical ivory-and-pink palate — we developed a vision for a swamp-inspired, rustic, romantic vibe that our florist Kim Starr Wise executed to perfection. The vines all over the interior were her (brilliant) idea.

When did y’all get married? 3/29/15
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I spent a weekend shopping for wedding dresses with my mom in New York, where I grew up, and didn’t find anything perfect. On a whim, I stopped into Town & Country, an old school bridal boutique in New Orleans, during my lunch break one day — and found the perfect dress!
Did you decide to do a first look? We didn’t do a first look. We had a small ceremony followed by champagne hour just with the ceremony guests — so we did our photos right after the ceremony. Everyone we wanted in photos was at the ceremony, so it was easy. Also, from being with friends the day of their weddings, it seemed that once they had their hair and makeup done, and their dress on, they were anxious to get the ceremony underway!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to “Such a Night” by Dr. John — a New Orleans classic and a nod to our shared history before we got together. Our first dance was “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson — we took dance lessons to prepare, which was a blast.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had a wedding cake — coconut lime cake with lime curd filling and cream cheese frosting — as well as a groom’s cake, which was Super Mario-themed and complete with a fondant Yoshi (the name of our puppy, who delivered my engagement ring to me).
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We bought and renovated a house together before we even got engaged, which we felt was the big test of our relationship. We also started a joint checking account to pay all our shared expenses, which helped ease the transition and build trust!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? It was definitely a second job, and the work fell (surprise, surprise) mostly on the bride. Planning an event in a space without the typical wedding infrastructure allows you to be way more creative — but it can also end up costing a lot more, and taking a huge amount more time and effort to plan.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? When my mom got confused about the order of the ceremony and stage-whispered loudly from the front row, “When are you going to kiss?”
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? The main thing your guests care about — and the main thing they will remember — is how happy you look. And believe it or not, all the stress of planning will melt away once you turn to each other to hold hands and say your vows.

Photographer: Heirloom Collective | Planner: Clandestine NOLA |
Ceremony Venue: Preservation Hall | Reception Venue: Étoile Polaire Masonic Lodge | Florist: Kim Starr Wise | Wedding Cake: Shake Sugary | Caterer: MoPho NOLA | Vintage Rentals: Pret a Fête | Rentals: Event Rental | Lighting: Firefly Ambiance | Musicians: Little Maker, Dumpstaphunk, Quickie Mart, Vockah Redu | Paper Products: Sarah Mangerson Design | Bride’s Gown: Watters Wtoo | Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil/Jewelry: Ted Muehling | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Blush and Bashful | Bride’s Shoes: London Sole | Groom’s Suit: Paul Smith | Groom’s Shoes by Cole Haan | Photo Booth: Deep Fried Photo

Kim Starr Wise, Firefly Ambiance, and Pret a Fete are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Janna reply

    What a gorgeous wedding! And I love the Lakeside Inn- growing up in the Altamonte Springs/Apopka area, I know Lakeside Inn well!

  2. avatar Emily Sawyer reply

    Marissa, I am curious! Is there a post of your wedding at the Lakeside Inn? I love Mount Dora and have been to the Lakeside Inn. What does a reception in the lobby look like?
    Thanks!
    Emily

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