Our Small Religious Ceremony Pt. 1

Hi friends! If you’re here from Over the Moon, welcome! My name is Stephanie; founder of The Style Bungalow blog. 

Today I’m sharing an in-depth look back at our weddings because I’ve found myself flooded with questions. Before I dive in, I wanted to share a small disclaimer…While I absolutely loved marrying my husband (twice!), planning two weddings during a pandemic was stressful and things inevitably went wrong behind-the-scenes no matter how many hours we spent finalizing the details…haha…that’s life, right?! From decor mishaps to supply chain issues to an overall heightened anxiety due to the pandemic, we experienced a roller coaster of emotions and in an age of picture-perfect weddings (at times, perpetuated by people like me), I think it’s important to remember this…no one’s wedding is perfect! Trust me, a few unexpected moments at a wedding are nothing compared to a lifetime of plot twists! Looking back, we’re eternally grateful for the experience despite the hurdles and learned so much about ourselves throughout the process.

The following three-part story was written back in 2020 shortly after our Miami wedding…hopefully it addresses everything! Next week, I’ll share more about our wedding in Mexico!

Still have a question? Send it to me on Instagram or comment below. 

PS, it feels good to be back on here! Enjoy, x

In 2019 we announced our plans to get married in Mérida, Mexico. We wanted something different; we wanted something special (and meaningful) for the both of us. Searching high and low (read more here), we picked a charming hacienda (formerly a sisal factory) from 1908.

From there, we went into planning mode, setting the date…thinking everyone could travel, but as we mapped out the logistics it became clear that my husband’s (fiance at the time) grandmother unfortunately wouldn’t be able to join us because she’s 94. She’s played a crucial role in my husband’s life and means everything to him. So, we agreed to have an intimate ceremony in Miami, specifically at the same church my parents were married in 34 years ago (coincidentally my brother-in-law got married there, too!). I envisioned something simple: opting for a no-name gown, styling my own hair and makeup…holding a petite bouquet while my husband would wear one of his old suits. Our families would witness our marriage, take photos then jet off to one of our favorite restaurants for lunch. 

But the pandemic had other plans…

Once the lockdown began, I was grappling with “What if’s?” and “We just don’t know?” to “Stephanie I can’t predict the future!” and a lot of tears in between. Things got chaotic to say the least but we had to keep an open mind. Ultimately, it came down to the health and safety of our guests, which meant postponing our wedding in Mexico to November 2021. At times the news and its slew of changes were hard to bear, but we held onto our health, families and job security. Letting go of everything we planned and remaining hopeful that things will get better. “Why not treat the wedding as an appetizer to the real thing?” KT Merry (our wedding photographer) suggested (read more here). 

The wheels started spinning. 

As I put aside our dream wedding in Mexico, I began to prioritize our small religious ceremony so we could get married. After sharing this, brides from across the world flooded my inbox with, “How are you handling postponing your wedding?” I’d say, “Honestly, I have no clue…it’s one emotion to the next. We’re trying to plan a ceremony in the meantime.” To which brides would say, “How are you planning during a pandemic?” and “Share everything, please; I feel defeated,” which I completely understood. I cannot begin to tell you how hard it is to let go of one wedding until the “foreseeable future…” All that time and money spent… and to plan “something else” instead…

Friends tell me planning a wedding is hard, especially if you’re doing most of the work. Now, throw in a pandemic, moving to a new home and running a small business during one of the hardest times we’ve ever faced. A few months before the civil ceremony, I found myself continuously frustrated with planning while fussing over looming deadlines and pressure from work, so I impulsively reached out to Heather Lowenthal from Posh Parties, one of the TOP wedding planners in South Florida for help. “Hi Heather, my name is Stephanie. I know we’ve never met…but I’m desperate. I don’t know what I’m doing…I’ve never planned a wedding. I need your help.” 

I honestly wasn’t sure she’d take on our micro-wedding — as Heather plans some of the biggest, most lavish weddings in South Florida — but without hesitation she came to my rescue when I needed her the most and saved me from the brink of losing it. *I laugh saying that, but it’s true. 2020 was rough. Working with her was a dream; easy, and at times therapeutic knowing she shared my weight! She understood all my emotions (and trust me, there were plenty) while quickly solving one problem to the next. For example, we initially planned to dine at a restaurant after the ceremony. What started out as a “Yes, absolutely!” spiraled to “We’ll take your deposit and socially distance your party, but can’t promise on the day of the wedding that we’ll be open…please check back with us the week before.”

It wasn’t until weeks before the ceremony, while working from home, that I looked up and saw our charming backyard in a new light. Month’s prior, we moved into our first home together…a historic 1920s 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom home in Miami. With little to no furniture, we settled on our backyard as the reception venue.


Now, it was time to find the perfect dress. This, in itself, deserves a blog post as if planning wasn’t hard enough, finding a dress was even harder because of supply chain delays. I wanted a dress appropriate for a civil ceremony; nothing too fancy or trendy. I started by ordering gowns online, but they didn’t feel like me…everything felt too fancy for a petite ceremony. 

After searching far and wide, I landed on the sweetest dress: a Carolina Herrera midi dress from Ever After in Miami. The original design had an embossed sunflower print; I can’t say I had an “a-ha” moment trying it on, but it felt one step closer to my vision. I texted friends and family asking for advice…“should I buy it?”; I tried it on three times! It wasn’t until the team at Ever After suggested remaking it in an entirely different fabric with permission from Carolina Herrera’s atelier, that it felt more me. It also meant waiting until the last minute (the week of the wedding) to officially try on my dress. Going the custom route isn’t for everyone, but it was a risk I was willing to take knowing that I was in good hands… trusting everything would come together perfectly.

And yes, it was a fully custom dress which means a true “one of a kind.” More on that later…

Friends say you should plan a wedding early, too. Like a year in advance. But how on earth do you do this during a pandemic? When things open and close from one day to the next? 

To give you clarity and some peace of mind, we planned everything in two months. Maybe less? Frankly, it was a blur. Everything came together at the very last minute thanks to an incredible team…Heather, KT, and wedding vendors. (Don’t worry, I’ll list out everyone below). We owe an extra layer of gratitude to our families who remained extremely flexible during that time… 

Click here for Part 2 and Part 3!

Xo, Stephanie 

A huge thank you to our wedding team! 

Planning: Heather Lowenthal, Posh Parties

Photography: KT Merry

Videography: Chelsea Anne

Floral design: Renny & Reed

Church: Plymouth Congregational Church in Coconut Grove 

Catering: Suzanne Michael Luxury Events

Plates, linens: vintage; Etsy

Illustrations: Ashley D Studio

Table accessories: Only on the Avenue

Cake: Earth & Sugar

Dress: custom Carolina Herrera via Ever After

Shoes: Jimmy Choo; Tabitha Simmons

Veil: custom, Girl and a Serious Dream

Headband, earrings: Jennifer Behr

Makeup: Jenah, @theJayyAffect

Hair: Lutz Karpf

Car: Florians Classics

1 Comment

  • Love this so much! My fiancé and I are doing a minimony as well. What material is your dress made of? It’s so beautiful!

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