Our Small Religious Ceremony Pt. 3

…continued. *This story was written in 2020.

Having purchased our first home together, where better to have our cake and champagne reception than our backyard?! 

well…and a few hor d’oeuvres.

As we sought out companies to potentially cater a three-course meal in our backyard (a month before the wedding), we realized our civil ceremony was quickly ballooning into a full-fledged wedding celebration. Imagine the quotes and costs. Between the “open bar” and our cuisine choices, the vintage flatware and cake display, we were immediately made aware that having a wedding in Miami (one of the most expensive destinations to get married) would cost way more than we had originally planned. But I wasn’t about to cut back on quality for the sake of “following tradition…”

Having already tossed out the rule book at this point, we felt comfortable doing things differently. Besides, our civil ceremony was always meant to be an “appetizer” and never intended to replace our actual wedding in Mexico. Instead, we served up delectable hor d’oeuvres, a signature cocktail, cake, and vintage Champagne from Dom Perignon (a gift I’d been saving for the “perfect moment”). Again, splurging on “key moments” coupled with the right team rather than dispersing our budget across things that don’t hold much meaning for us.

Filling the afternoon air with jazzy classics from our curated playlist, guests were welcomed through the wrought iron gate into our backyard, and greeted with a refreshing guava-margarita signature cocktail; one we specifically requested knowing we’d serve it in Mexico, too. We hired Suzanne Michael Luxury Events to ensure everything was executed perfectly. Not only did Suzanne understand our unique needs (opting for a robust “cocktail hour” instead of a traditional three-course meal), she made sure her entire staff was taking every precaution for the safety of our guests. Suzanne’s team served seven (yes, seven!) delicious hor d’oeuvres; savory mini ahi tuna tacos, crispy spring rolls and the list goes on…an absolute hit. I highly recommend!

At the beginning of “cocktail hour,” my husband and I drove around Coconut Grove and Coral Gables to take photos with KT Merry (our wedding photographer) and Chelsae Anne (our wedding videographer). Everything went smoothly…giving us plenty of time to capture moments together before the sun went down…while Heather (our wedding planner) made sure guests were comfortable at our home. 

Upon arriving back at the house, I caught my breath, removed my veil, and replaced it with a headband and earrings from Jennifer Behr; then, I slipped out of my high heels and into Tabitha Simmons mules — my heart racing with excitement — hand in hand (and with a cocktail of course), we walked through the gate to meet our family.

Surprised and delighted, our hearts were made full by every single detail. Even from our cocktail napkins to dessert plates that I sourced from different consignment stores in Palm Beach and Etsy (since our party was so small), everything was laid out beautifully. Some of our other nicknacks came from Only on the Avenue, one of my favorite places to purchase tableware goods. As I looked around, I noticed each mismatched piece, accentuated by the charming bistro lights, warm lanterns and gorgeous floral installations, all came together at the end. I couldn’t help but smile. Now, we reuse these pieces for intimate backyard dinner parties…and love getting to explain how each piece played a part in our wedding, which makes it that much more meaningful. Guests, too, feel extra special knowing that dessert is being served on our wedding plates! 

We cut into a gorgeous three-tier vanilla cake with strawberry-filling created by Earth & Sugar. I met Janderyn, the founder of Earth & Sugar, many years ago during the infancy of both our businesses. She’s a self-taught, Latin-owned, women-led business in Palm Beach. Honestly, there was no else I had in mind! Janderyn and her team designed a special wedding cake that didn’t feel “too wedding-ish” but just right for us. Again, saving “those” moments for Mexico…

In the moments that followed, we had our first dance to “Moon River” by Henry Mancini. Mancini, the composer of the soundtrack to Breakfast at Tiffany’s was also my grandfather’s hero (a composer as well, but in salsa). According to my mom, she grew up listening to his music every Sunday, which was why we couldn’t agree on a song until this one was brought up. It was perfect; it also felt very much like us

Although we would have wished to dance by ourselves (my husband’s initial request as he’s very shy about his dance moves, haha), we shared the first dance with our family…and I’m not sure that it could have felt any more complete than it did. Now every time we hear our song, “Moon River,” come on we’re able to slow dance in the kitchen — just the two of us.

With one last glass of champagne in hand, we toasted to an incredible and close-knit celebration at home. Making our way to the front where sparklers awaited us at the end of our driveway, we called it an early night thereafter. Our neighbors across the street watched the entire evening unfold, gifting us an orchid as guests drove away. Once everyone left, we slipped into pajamas, blew out the candles, and ordered takeout from a local sushi spot…our first meal as husband and wife. 

It was the end to a perfect night. 

Xo, Stephanie

Missed the beginning? Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

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

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