A Tropical and Elegant Backyard Miami Wedding Planned in Less Than 3 Months

Planned by Makaira.

Bride and groom

Photo by Adriana Rivera

When Sydney Strauss and Daniel Restrepo met through mutual friends in Miami, their connection was so strong and familiar that it seemed as if they were already linked. Even though the couple only saw one another sporadically since “Daniel lived in Colombia at the time and would come to visit every so often,” they always felt comfortable in each other’s presence. Whenever they did spend time together, things just clicked, so their relationship naturally evolved into a romantic one.

In the fall of 2019, Sydney was traveling a lot for work (she owns the clothing brand Just Bee Queen with her mother), so once the duo finally reunited in October, Daniel suggested a couple’s trip. “My first thought was Palm Beach because it’s close enough to Miami but far enough away to feel like we went away,” Sydney explains. The pair intended to spend the weekend resting, relaxing, and spending quality time together. But, unbeknown to Sydney, Daniel was orchestrating a surprise proposal. “I planned a spa day and a dinner at Sant Ambroeus for Saturday since it’s my go-to spot when visiting. He proposed that night at dinner,” the bride shares.

After spending over a year blissfully engaged, Sydney and Daniel decided to finally tie the knot. “Dani and I started seeing friends taking the plunge and getting married,” Sydney recalls. “He was like, ‘Syd, let’s just do this. What are we waiting for?’ So, the next week, we started to deep dive and do some research.” They ended up planning their entire wedding in less than three months, all while navigating moving into a new home and transitioning to Sydney’s new office location. “There were many changes happening really fast and all at once, which required a lot of patience,” Sydney reflects. 

The duo managed to convert Sydney’s parents’ backyard into an upscale and elegant event with vintage and tropical touches that would accommodate 200 guests. They settled on a neutral color palette and let the breathtaking scenery guide their aesthetic. “Mostly, we wanted to keep the wedding as simple and elegant as possible,” Sydney summarizes. Keep reading to see how their big day unfolded, as planned by Makaira and photographed by Adriana Rivera.

Invitations

Photo by Adriana Rivera

The minimalist invitations set the tone for the couple’s big day. They wanted their wedding to feel tasteful and sophisticated, so they decided not to include any loud or bold decorations. “I wanted my guests to be the ones that brought color to the party,” Sydney expounds.

Fans

Photo by Adriana Rivera

To represent Daniel’s Colombian roots, the couple passed out handwoven fans that the mother of the groom brought straight from Colombia. Guests used them to cool off during the ceremony and took them home as favors after the wedding. “I have a weird obsession with fans, so this is something that we knew we wanted to have,” Sydney reveals. “They’re colorful, beautiful, and practical on a hot Miami night.”

Bridesmaids getting ready

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Sydney wanted a smaller bridal party, so she chose her best friends and sisters-in-law to have by her side. Instead of dressing her bridesmaids in the same outfit, she let them show off their own unique style. “I wanted all of my girls to feel fabulous in whatever they chose to wear because I truly believe that if you feel confident in what you’re wearing, you’ll always look your best,” Sydney shares.

Bride and her grandmother

Photo by Adriana Rivera

One of the most special parts of the wedding for Sydney was having her grandparents attend. “My grandmother has been sick, and it’s been hard for her to walk,” the bride discloses. “She told me she prayed so much that morning that it gave her the strength to walk.” Thanks to Adriana Rivera, the couple’s wedding photographer, Sydney will always have a keepsake that preserves those meaningful moments. “I appreciated how [Adriana] really listened and observed, capturing my grandparents’ emotions and presence throughout the day,” Sydney remarks. “You can tell she knew how much they meant to me.”

Bride getting ready

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Bride's hair and makeup

Photo by Adriana Rivera

The bride wore her hair in a low bun with face-framing pieces, and she completed her look with diamond accessories that honored both of her grandmothers. “I wore a diamond ring that my grandmother on my father’s side left me when she passed away, and it’s the only thing I have from her,” Sydney expresses. Her diamond drop earrings were a wedding gift from her maternal grandmother.

Bride's wedding dress

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Bouquet

Photo by Adriana Rivera

I wanted something romantic with a little bit of structure.

Bride's train

Photo by Adriana Rivera

For her wedding look, Sydney selected an off-the-shoulder trumpet gown with dramatic balloon sleeves and a long train from Monique Lhuillier. “I wanted something romantic with a little bit of structure,” the bride illustrates. An all-white bouquet of orchids gave her getup a contemporary flair.

Groom and groomsmen

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Groom's attire

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Daniel sported a black Canali tuxedo, a matching bow tie, and Dior shoes, which were embellished with a crystal bee that held a deeper significance to the couple. “I love bees so much, and my brand’s logo is a bee,” Sydney illuminates.

Umbrellas

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Ceremony chuppah

Photo by Adriana Rivera

To sustain the Miami heat, the couple handed out umbrellas for guests to use, which coordinated with their neutral palette. For their ceremony at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, the pair wanted to exchange vows underneath a wooden chuppah covered in greenery and floral garlands. “My father is Jewish, and although we didn’t have a religious ceremony, I really like the meaning behind it,” Sydney explicates. 

Flower girls

Photo by Adriana Rivera

The flower girls almost stole the show in empire waist tulle dresses adorned with a large bow on the back. They topped off their look with flower crowns made of baby’s breath.

Bride and father of the bride

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Ceremony setting

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Father of the bride escorting his daughter

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Sydney’s father escorted her down the aisle while a live string quartet played the classic processional song, “Canon in D.” The couple used a burlap runner to pave a runway across the vibrant lawn.

String quartet

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Ceremony

Photo by Adriana Rivera

The lovebirds kept their ceremony décor simple to let the surrounding palm trees and ocean backdrop shine. Their main decoration of choice was sustainably sourced greenery. “I tried my best to be as sustainable as possible throughout the whole process, like we do at Just Bee Queen,” Sydney mentions. “We rented all of our plants and had them sent back to the nursery as soon as the night was over.”

Ceremony

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Ring exchange

Photo by Adriana Rivera

The duo recited traditional vows and exchanged rings beneath the stunning chuppah. 

Wine unity ceremony

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Breaking the glass

Photo by Adriana Rivera

The pair incorporated a wine unity ceremony to symbolize the fusion of two individuals becoming one union. Although they didn’t have a traditional Jewish wedding, they included the breaking-the-glass ritual. 

Couple kissing

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Recessional

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Ceremony setting

Photo by Adriana Rivera

After Sydney and Daniel had their first kiss, they recessed down the aisle to New Orleans-style music. They took a pause to celebrate a successful ceremony, which wouldn’t have been possible without enlisting planners Lala Pereira and Rachel Alpert Giammattei of Makaira. “These two are a powerhouse, and I couldn’t imagine doing my wedding with anyone else,” the bride declares. “The team they build to create your event is just top notch.”

Bride and groom kissing

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Getaway car

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Vintage car

Photo by Adriana Rivera

In keeping with their wedding's old-fashioned flair, the pair hopped into a vintage convertible and drove to their reception in style.

Vintage convertible

Photo by Adriana Rivera

No matter how little or how long your planning process is, try to be as involved as possible. It will be so rewarding.

Couple kissing in their car

Photo by Adriana Rivera

While driving around, the bride reflected on all of the steps she took to get there. “This process is once in a lifetime, and no matter how little or how long your planning process is, try to be as involved as possible. It will be so rewarding,” Sydney recommends.

Bride and groom holding hands

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Couple on the dock

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Before making their grand entrance, the lovers snuck away to take photos on the dock. Planning a wedding taught the twosome so much about relationships, and it helped strengthen their bond. Sydney learned to “be patient with one another, listen, and choose your battles.”

Ceremony decor

Photo by Adriana Rivera

The reception took place at the most special venue, Sydney's childhood home in Key Biscayne, Miami. She transformed the setting into a sophisticated soirée that “didn’t feel so much like a backyard wedding.” The newlyweds intended to mimic a cozy restaurant atmosphere, which they achieved with natural elements like wood and greenery. “We didn’t want to use table linens, so we focused on these beautiful wooden tables,” Sydney notes. They topped each table with green coconuts, green mangoes, and green bananas, along with orchids in various hues.

Dance floor

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Vintage lights

Photo by Adriana Rivera

“The first two things I focused on when planning my wedding concept were greens and light fixtures,” the bride shares. “I’m really into fun vintage lighting, so this was very important to me to include in my inspiration.” Assorted hanging light fixtures fastened to a canopy of greenery was the ideal setup for an epic dance floor.

Bar decor

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Flamingo lamps

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Since unique lighting was a priority for Sydney, she also made sure to incorporate fun lamps into her bar décor. “We had 12 gold palm tree lamps and House of Hackney lamps placed at each end of the bar,” she states. “These were my favorites and something I wanted from the beginning.” 

Drinks

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Once guests arrived at the reception, the duo served refreshing blackberry mojitos for their signature cocktail in addition to other classic sips.

Backyard

Photo by Adriana Rivera

There are so many memories there already. Then, we created another big one that we’ll cherish forever.

Backyard wedding

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Although the mother of the bride’s home wasn’t the first venue Sydney had in mind for her wedding reception, it ended up being the perfect location. “What’s more personal than getting married at one’s home?” Sydney asks. “There are so many memories there already. Then, we created another big one that we’ll cherish forever. We would never have been able to do this anywhere else.”

Couple holding hands

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Preparing her parents’ backyard for a wedding was no easy feat, but Sydney knew the hard work would pay off. “Transforming the space was tricky, but so fun to see the outcome and the reactions of our friends and family who have spent so much time there,” the bride observes. “I still can’t believe what we created in so little time.”

Live band

Photo by Adriana Rivera

French jazz and swing music from The French Horn Collective set the tone for the evening. “Somehow, after scouring Instagram, I came across [the band], and I instantly fell in love with what they do,” Sydney explains. “I went to see them play at The Bath Club in Miami, and I knew this was it.” The band played throughout the first half of the reception to welcome guests and provide soothing background music during dinner.

First dance

Photo by Adriana Rivera

First dance

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Since the music was such a highlight, Sydney and Daniel made sure to share an intimate moment on the dance floor. They swayed to “L.O.V.E” by Nat King Cole for their first dance.

Father-daughter dance

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Sydney also wanted to reserve a dance with her dad. For the father-daughter dance, they twirled around to Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately.” 

Reception gown

Photo by Adriana Rivera

Before the end of the night, Sydney changed into a dazzling one-shoulder dress decked out in sequins

Cake

Photo by Adriana Rivera

The couple wrapped up the evening by savoring a piece of their modern three-tier white cake with a lemon and strawberry buttercream filling while soaking up every moment of the exceptional evening. Sydney asserts that unnecessary stress during wedding planning is the biggest waste of energy because everything will fall into place on the big day.

“The day of the wedding, we were so happy, and everything was perfect,” the bride reminisces. “Don’t stress about the little things, and if anything goes wrong, no one will notice. Take everything step by step.”

Wedding Team

Ceremony Venue The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami 

Reception Venue Sydney's Family Home

Planner Makaira

Officiant Marcus Weston

Bridal Gown Designer Monique Lhuillier

Bridal Salon Chic Parisien

Shoes Monique Lhuillier

Hair Guillaume Boucher

Makeup Hanic Arias

Rehearsal Dinner Attire Brandon Maxwell

Second Bridal Gown Nedo Collection

Groom’s Attire Canali

Mother of the Bride Attire Silvia Tcherassi

Flower Girl Attire OliviaKateCouture on Etsy

Wedding Bands Albert’s Fine Jewelry Inc.

Floral Design Ati Fiori; Petal Productions

Invitations & Other Paper Products PuroPapel

Music The French Horn Collective; Hugo M. Milochevitch

Catering Thierry Isambert Culinary & Event Design

Cake Earth and Sugar

Rentals Event Effects Group

Transportation Miami White Trolley

Accommodations The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami 

Videography New Rez Media

Photography Adriana Rivera

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