Every now and then a bride stops us in our tracks and we go WOW. That was the sentiment when we stumbled upon real Stella York bride Angel’s wedding. Deep crimson mixed with Florida’s natural beauty to create a wedding that whispered romance. We are OBSESSED with how Angel’s layered tulle wedding dress captured that romance. A large hand-tied bouquet, crimson bridesmaid dresses and sweetly Southern traditions made this wedding something to swoon over. A love story 10 years (!) in the making, Angel and Alex said “I do” like only they could. Congratulations to this happy couple!
From the bride: For the three years before we were engaged, Alex had been in law school. Unfortunately, my birthday is ALWAYS during final exams. I would come home from Gainesville every year and celebrate my actual birthday with our families and friends while he stayed in Gainesville to study. Alex and I would always go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party and do all sorts of things the week after exams to celebrate. Even though he always went above and beyond for my birthday after finals, I am a birthday brat and I would always joke that since he wasn’t there for the actual day the last 3 years, he better make up for it the year after he graduates.
The day before my birthday in 2017, Alex threw a surprise party complete with an elaborate diversion to throw me off. I truly had no idea! Alex held my hand and led me to the front of the venue. As I opened the door I was met by a dark room and a sudden flash of a camera. All of a sudden I hear “SURPRISE!” and looked around the room to find 80 of our very closest family and friends. People traveled from all over to surprise me for my birthday- Birmingham, Minnesota, Pensacola, Palm Beach, Miami, Orlando, etc. I later learned that Alex had started a Facebook event almost a YEAR before the party planning this thing! Out of 80 or so guests and over a span of a year… nobody ever spoiled the surprise or even gave me a hint that something was going on!
I am obsessed with Christmas and I have been wanting to see New York City at Christmas time for as long as I can remember! I talked about it all the time!! After Alex gave me those incredible gifts, he sat me down and began to sing a song for me. I immediately recognized the song. It was a song he wrote and played for me back when we were “just friends.”However, the original ending was about his broken heart and wishing we were together. Luckily he was able to rewrite the ending. He included references to inside jokes and songs/movie quotes/things that we love. At the end of the song he sang “Each and every day, I fall more in love in a totally new way. I want to spend the rest of my life with you and I want the rest of my life to start today. Because you are beautiful as can be, you are the love of my life. You are beautiful as can be, will you be my wife?” I, of course, said “YES!” <3
The first time I went dress shopping, I had it in my mind that I wanted pretty much the opposite of a strapless ballgown but upon trying on fitted, long-sleeve dresses, I realized it wasn’t the style for me. I tried on a Hayley Paige ballgown and I fell in love with the horsehair trim skirt but wasn’t totally in love with the rest of the dress. The second time I went dress shopping, I explained all of the individual elements that I liked from the various dresses that I tried on at my first dress shopping adventure. I liked elements of lace to give it that little bit of southern flair, I liked the strapless sweetheart neckline, I wanted the bodice and the skirt to be different textures, and I had to have that chic horsehair trim! The first dress they pulled out that day was Stella York. I immediately FELL IN LOVE. It had every element that I hoped for in a dress! I felt like I had to keep trying on a few but everything was compared to the initial Stella York 6432 ballgown. I tried it on again and I was sold! I feel like it went perfectly with our elegant, southern, winter wedding.
Since Alex and I had known each other for nearly 10 years by the time we got engaged, we had spoken about what we would want in a wedding many times. Those that knew me best had seen my 30 perfectly organized Pinterest boards years before we were even engaged! haha, There are many interests we share as a couple… Christmas, traveling, music, Disney, bourbon, animals, and the Florida Gators. As we set out to begin the wedding planning process, we both knew we wanted a rustic, elegant, southern wedding with a nod to Christmas that wasn’t JUST pretty. We wanted it to be pretty but more importantly, SATURATED with details that showed our personality as a couple. We felt like if we stayed true to ourselves and let our love and the things we love to be present in our day, the beauty would follow. We spent countless hours ensuring there were many details that were special and unique to us. We found the perfect venue in St. Augustine, Florida to bring our vision to life. The beautiful white barn was the perfect setting.
Ceremony: Large, lush wreaths were used as the backdrop to our ceremony to give a Christmas-y feel. I am very close to my maternal grandparents. We lived with my Mamaw and Pa for many years while I was growing up and they played a big part in helping my mom raise me and my two little brothers. My grandfather is a retired preacher. It was so special for us to have him officiate our wedding. We also couldn’t imagine our special day without our sweet pup, Lady. She has been with us for the majority of our relationship and she is the light of our lives. We had a floral crown made for her and the best man walked her down the aisle. It was so funny when she just sprawled out on the floor in the middle of the ceremony and fell asleep. In 2013, my stepfather passed away unexpectedly. I had a charm made for my bouquet with his picture on it so he could be there to walk me down the aisle with my mom and dad. My brother is in the army and got deployed overseas three months before our wedding. We still wanted him to be a part of our day. We had his military photo framed so we could have him in the reserved section of our ceremony and we could also have him in our family portraits. We decorated his seat with a yellow ribbon in support of our troops. My other little brother is very musically inclined. He played acoustic guitar for all of the music for our ceremony and he played Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” as I walked down the aisle.
Reception: For our reception entrance, we had our bridal party stand in two lines and wave blue and orange pom-poms as the Gator Fight Song played (we had some reluctant Seminole fans in our bridal party but they were good sports out of love for us haha). Alex ran ahead of me, hiked me the ball, and then I threw him a Tebow-worthy pass. Haha, It was the perfect entrance for us gator lovers. Our first dance was to “More of You” by Chris Stapleton… one of our favorite artists. However, once the sweet song ended, another song began. Alex and I are huge fans of the TV show “Friends.” For those of you that are also fans of the show, we broke out into “Ross and Monica’s Routine.” It was so fun and our guests had a good laugh over it. We really wanted a small farmhouse sweetheart table to share our first meal as husband and wife. We also thought it would be special to build one instead of renting one so we could cherish it in our home forever. There was one problem, Alex and I are not the handiest people. Our sweet friend (and groomsman), Christian, and his father, Doug, spent days helping us build our sweetheart table.
Burying the bourbon is an old southern wedding tradition where you bury a bottle of bourbon at your venue exactly one month before the wedding. It is supposed to bring luck to your wedding day weather and your marriage. Since we are from the south and share a love of bourbon, we HAD to incorporate this into our wedding day. We drove to St. Augustine exactly 1 month before our wedding (4 hours away) just so we could bury the bourbon bottle in the woods behind our venue (my husband is a real trooper!). We dug it up right before our reception. So far, married life has been blissful and the weather for our wedding day was PERFECT so I’ve become a believer! We plan on taking a drink out of the bottle we dug up on every anniversary.
The time we shared with a family that is so dear to us has made our table something that we will cherish forever. Our best man (Alex’s brother, Austin) and our maid of honor (my best friend, Chloe) gave two hilarious and heartwarming speeches. Alex and I are very family-oriented people and our families and friends mean the world to us. So, after the traditional speeches, we decided we wanted to make a short speech of our own thanking everyone for coming and for always being there for us. We had our bridal party circle around us and Alex thanked everyone. Unbeknownst to me, he ended the thank you speech with an incredibly sweet dedication and thank you to me that caused sniffles to be heard around the room. We ended this time toasting with our bridal party and our guests. On the night Alex proposed to me, he bought a huge bottle of champagne that was passed around the room and everyone signed that night. We took this bottle to the wedding and we popped it open and shared it with our bridal party after the speeches concluded. After the formalities, we had the time of our lives dancing the night away and spending time with those we love most.