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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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When I hear a bride say she wants a dress “big and dramatic enough for Scarlett O’Hara,” my ears instantly perk up! So of course, I was already excited to see this stunning wedding from Blue Ribbon Vendor (and personal friend of mine!), Desiree Dawn Events, and, y’all, it did not disappoint! Mary Grace and Jason incorporated meaningful traditions into their wedding to honor the past, while also celebrating their future. There was plenty of sweet Southern hospitality and lots of special details, including hosting their reception in the same ballroom at The Biltmore that held their law school orientation dinner seven years prior! Jason even had an armadillo-shaped groom’s cake in honor of their favorite movie, Steel Magnolias. So fun!

Big hugs to Flora + Fauna for capturing this beautiful day!

I wanted a dress that was big and dramatic enough for Scarlett O’Hara–something that was Southern chic, with lace, a statement back, and a classic bow. I started my search by browsing images of dresses online, and came across Sheridan by Hayley Paige. When a dress takes your breath away, like when you have your first kiss with your husband-to-be, it must be the one!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, even though I’m very superstitious! We wanted to be able to savor that first moment of seeing one another on our wedding day–just the two of us, without all of our guests watching–and having that instant reaction and tender moment documented. A first look is a unique experience for each couple, so the way we saw each other for the first time on the most important day of our lives only added to our love story.


The Biltmore Hotel is the most storied landmark in Florida, and it holds special meaning to both of us. During orientation, our law school held a dinner at the Biltmore’s Country Club Ballroom. That dinner was one of the first times Jason and I crossed paths. Our reception took place in the same ballroom seven years later!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The moment that stands out the most was our ride to and from the ceremony. Since our ride was a vintage car, the mirrors weren’t tinted, so everyone driving by could see us clearly through the glass. They tooted, waved, and hollered at us as they passed by, rolling down their windows to congratulate us. That moment, of seeing perfect strangers being joyful and genuinely excited for us on our day, has stayed fresh in our minds.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Goodness gracious! Where do I begin? I wanted to incorporate meaningful traditions with my family to honor the past while celebrating our future, so I did a first look with my daddy and presented him with his gift–an embroidered handkerchief that can be passed down for generations. We gave miniature bottles of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and mini jars of delicious Southern honey (for our youngest guests) as favors, which also doubled as escort cards. We served our signature drinks in mason jars with colorful striped straws that guests could take home. We had a family-style layout with long farmhouse tables and mismatched chairs, surrounded by round tables with lace overlays, which gave a sense of warmth and family. Our table names were common Southern sayings, which filled our wedding with nods to the South. To give our guests a taste of good ol’ fashion Southern hospitality, we served classic Southern staples during cocktail hour, including a whole hog that was served with mac and cheese and honey cornbread. And we couldn’t do without everyone’s favorite Southern tradition: the groom’s cake. Our groom’s cake was in the shape of an armadillo because we (and especially Jason) love Steel Magnolias. During cake cutting, we even gave ourselves the tail piece, just like what Ouiser served to Drum! At the end of the night, we were certain our guests felt truly hosted, and not just entertained, because through the details, our wedding was an outpouring of genuine love for our friends and family.

Our flowers were reminiscent of fall in the South, thanks to an overgrown/organic look with lots of greenery, purple and wine tones, burgundy, palest peach and blush, and pops of coral. We also incorporated blackberries into the bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces for that extra touch of Southern charm!

Check out their wedding film by Flora + Fauna here!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Jason and I started law school at the University of Miami at the same time. We lived around the corner from each other, but we didn’t meet until October. My roommates and I threw a Halloween party (we dressed up as characters from The Wizard of Oz and I was the Scarecrow). Jason came and noticed me in my costume, which was enough to light a spark!
Tell us all about the proposal! One sunny morning, Jason took me back to the UM campus. We walked by our law school and stopped at a fountain. He proposed there, and told me that was the spot where he had first seen me.
When did y’all get married? We were married on November 9, 2014, seven years from the day we went on our first date. Our Canes were on a bye week that weekend, so it was meant to be!
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Describe your wedding cake. The inspiration for our wedding cake was Southern elegance. The bottom tier was light gold with textured buttercream icing and the other tiers had smoother icing with some texture and were a similar shade of ivory to my dress. Our florist incorporated fresh flowers, red berries, and blackberries around the cake. The top tier of our cake was spice cake with apple cheesecake filling–perfectly appropriate for a fall wedding! The second tier was marble cake with chocolate Godiva filling, and the third was half chocolate and half vanilla cake with cappuccino filling. The bottom tier was Jason’s favorite: vanilla rum. We tried each flavor during our tasting, and they were all slices of heaven!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes, to all of the above! My something old was my pearl necklace, which Jason helped me pick out when we were dating. My something new was my pearl bracelet, a wedding gift from my parents. My something borrowed was my sister’s Tory Burch perfume, which was literally and figuratively near and dear to my heart! My something blue was a sparkling blue crystal on the sole of my shoes. To complete my look, The White Magnolia sent me a sixpence for my shoe.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? When you’re planning your wedding, YOGMO–you only get married once! If you’re on a budget, but there is something that tugs at your heartstrings, do it and figure out where you can save money in other places. After the cake is cut and the last guest leaves, you’ll look back on your day without any regrets.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We were so busy planning our wedding that we didn’t have time to plan our honeymoon! Waiting until after we said “I do” turned out for the best because we both had the post-wedding blues, and planning our honeymoon has filled that void. We’ll be glamping in Montana in a honeymoon tent at The Resort at Paws Up this September.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? A little rain became a downpour. We got wet, and so did our guests, but it didn’t put a damper on our day, and actually added a bit of romance to the air. So brides, have no fear of some rain, because there’s something about it that’ll make your day beyond magical!

Photographer and Videographer: Flora + Fauna / Planner: Desiree Dawn Events / Ceremony Venue: St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church / Reception Venue and Caterer: The Biltmore Hotel / Personal Flowers: Julia Rohde Designs / Reception Flowers: Petal Productions / Cake Baker: Elegant Temptations / Rentals: Hitched Event Rentals / Vintage Rentals and Table Runners: Unearthed Vintage / Lighting and Band: AAMusicians / Linens & Overlays: Petal Productions / Chargers: Tastebuds Catering / Cake Stand: BHLDN / Paper Products: Make Merry! / Bride’s Gown: “Sheridan” by Hayley Paige / Veil: Cynthia Kay from The White Magnolia / Jewelry: Tiffany & Co. / Hair and Makeup: Amy Palma of South Beach Makeup Studio / Bride’s Shoes: “Conrad” by Something Bleu / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Lacey” by Joanna August / Photo Booth: Sideshow Booth Co. / Late-Night Snacks: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar / Groom’s Cake Baker: Todo Dulces / Menswear: The Black Tux / Groom’s Bow Tie & Pocket Square: Everett K Handcrafted Ties & Bow Ties / Groomsmen’s Ties: The Tie Bar / Flower Girls’ Dresses: “43312” in Oatmeal by Seahorse / Choreographer: Luis Lopez of Arthur Murray Dance Center / Vintage Car: Florian’s Classics

Desiree Dawn Events and Make Merry! are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Mary-Grace and Jason | Biltmore Hotel | Miami Wedding Cakes | Elegant Temptations reply

    […] Published: Southern Weddings […]

  2. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze #185 – Floridian Social reply

    […] involved in Mary-Grace and Jason's wedding was a dream! Their entire day was filled with Southern charm at the Biltmore Hotel. Every detail […]

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