Kara Lee Jewell and John DeLacio’s fate was sealed before they even met, and they have Kara’s mom to thank for the encounter. Every year on December 23, Kara and John meet up with high school friends at Cenci’s, a beloved Pittsburgh bar, while they’re in town for the holidays. The annual tradition looked a little different in 2014. After Kara and her parents arrived at the usual meeting spot, her mother, Debbie, went over to say hello to one of Kara’s fellow classmates at Penn State University. Debbie noticed that her daughter’s friend was standing next to her brother, John. After realizing that Kara and John had a lot in common, Debbie asked, “Well, why are you not dating my daughter?”
Although Kara and John didn’t meet in person that night, it was foreshadowing of their future together. A year later on the same night at the same bar, John finally introduced himself to Kara with the opening line, “Hi, I’m John, and your mom wants me to take you on a date.” The rest was history.
Four years later, Kara and John were vacationing in Watervale, Michigan, a place Kara has been visiting with her family since she was 5 years old. John had suggested the group take a family photo on June 26, 2020. “We got to the dock, and I saw the photographer and abruptly asked, ‘Where is everyone?’” Kara recalls. John led Kara to the water’s edge and got down on one knee. “I was so surprised and excited, and it was made even better when both our families popped out with champagne,” she reminisces. The duo marked their engagement with a day on the beach and a boat ride before joining their family for a celebratory dinner.
From the start, Kara had a clear vision in mind for her nuptials, but since the couple started planning their big day during a pandemic, they had to jump through all sorts of hoops to execute it. Initially, they wanted a destination wedding in Capri, Italy, but when it looked like conditions weren’t going to improve anytime soon, they decided to switch gears.
Since the duo had just moved from New York City to Florida, they began exploring local venues and fell in love with Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami. “It combined our love for Italian architecture and greenery with the beauty of the ocean and being on the water,” Kara describes. However, the venue was pretty much booked, and the only weekend left in 2021 was New Year’s Eve. “As we love to host big parties, it was the perfect date to host our wedding, welcoming a new year and our new life together,” Kara says.
After legally marrying one another in the Greek church the week prior, Kara and John rang in the new year with an extravagant affair on December 31, 2021 with 200 guests. Read ahead to see how their vision came to life, planned by Guerdy Design and photographed by Erika Delgado Photography.
The bride and groom set out to plan a wedding that was “thoughtful, unique, and a true fête.” The end result? An opulent and romantic affair painted in white, emerald, black, and metallic tones and decorated with lucite, crystal, velvet, and mirror details. They set the tone of their glamorous wedding with an elevated stationery suite, which featured their custom crest and a nod to their venue.
Before saying “I do,” Kara and John hosted a rehearsal dinner at Seaspice. “We loved the adrenaline of having multiple occasions to see our family, closest friends, and guests,” Kara shares. For the pre-wedding festivity, the bride donned a sequined Rime Arodaky gown with a thigh-high slit and a dramatic bow in the back. She rounded off her look with mesh bow heels by Stuart Weitzman. The groom also brought his A-game in a classic black tuxedo.
The couple had the brasserie and lounge transformed into an upscale setup, engulfed in rattan lanterns and metallic balloons. Guests found their seats on gold-rimmed oyster shell place cards, which were hand-calligraphed with each of their names. Kara and John also had each place set with floral menus that matched the bright blooms used in the centerpieces.
The future newlyweds spent most of the evening on the dance floor with their guests. They enlisted Orson Whitfield, their favorite pianist and violinist, energize the room.
For the big day, John sported a black wool tuxedo with a peak lapel by Zegna. “We tried on many tuxes and investigated the custom route, but he looked best in Italian designs and cuts,” Kara explains. He accessorized with a Tom Ford bow tie, Jan Leslie mother-of-pearl cufflinks, and Santoni velvet loafers.
Kara got glam in a white silk Dolce & Gabbana nightgown with lace trim and a sheer lace robe while her bridal party coordinated in blue silk pajama sets with feather cuffs. The bride settled on a timeless makeup look and an elegant updo affixed with a Keren Wolf hair pin. “I wanted to look like the best version of myself,” she explains.
After trying on countless dresses from various designers, Kara decided that she wanted to go the custom route. She worked with Lee Petra Grebenau and the Spina Bride team to design an original piece that captured the drama of New Year’s Eve while providing multiple looks in one. The final product was a hand-beaded A-line gown with 3D snowflake and floral appliqués, an overskirt, removable tulle cap sleeves, and a plunging neckline. For a sentimental touch, Kara had a blue heart from her Yiayia’s 1950 dress sewn into her own gown. She completed her look with crystal-embellished Mach & Mach pumps with a bow accent, Verstolo earrings, and a tennis bracelet that her parents gave her as a 30th birthday present.
After slipping on her getup, Kara revealed her custom dress to her dad during a sweet father-daughter moment.
We were so excited and happy our special day was finally here.
Since their ceremony didn't start until after the sun set, Kara and John knew doing a first look was necessary for photo purposes. Of course, another benefit was sharing some alone time together. The couple debuted their outfits in the Marine Garden, which is usually closed at that time. But after some convincing, the garden opened its doors to them. “It felt like such a private piece of paradise without having others walking through,” Kara reflects. “We were so excited and happy our special day was finally here.”
Kara worked with Joy Cioci to design three custom pieces with different necklines for each member of her bridal party. To match the formality of the event, her squad sported silver slip dresses inspired by Kate Moss. “I wanted each woman to feel gorgeous and their best self while still supporting the design aesthetic of the event that we worked so hard to achieve,” she shares. Each woman carried calla lilies tied with a velvet ribbon, which complemented the bride’s round bouquet of white peonies.
A standout component of Kara’s wedding look was a 14-foot veil embellished with crystals, which maintained the deluxe aesthetic.
The duo worked with their planner to create an enchanted garden setting to exchange rings. “I wanted the ceremony to lean on the natural beauty, but add an opulent and magical element to the area,” the bride notes. A white floral hedge and glowing candles bordered the 60-foot-long aisle, which was scattered with white rose petals. The couple had their altar stationed on an 8-foot stage, surrounded by more white blooms and 200 candles with a backdrop that featured Gilded Age architecture and three chandeliers.
Kara and her dad strolled down the aisle to a custom arrangement, which included the composition “Trumpets Voluntary” and Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.”
My nerves instantly went away when John started to speak.
Since the duo’s Greek ceremony called for traditional vows, they wanted to personalize their second wedding with heartfelt promises, which ended up being one of their favorite moments. “Sharing our vows in front of our 200 guests was beyond nerve-wracking,” Kara admits. “My nerves instantly went away when John started to speak somehow. It was incredibly intimate. When we both pulled in a lyric from our first dance song and a mention of agape love, it felt like the stars were fully aligned.” With John’s best friend officiating and special readings from close friends, their ceremony truly captured their love for one another.
For their recessional, the couple looked to Love Actually for inspiration. They exited the ceremony while a live singer performed “All You Need Is Love” and “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.
After cocktail hour, guests strolled through a secret garden until they landed upon a lavish custom acrylic seating chart. At the center of the structure was a lucite sign that exhibited their last name, which was adorned with all-white hydrangea and delphinium. Candles in glass cylinders and more hydrangea surrounded the setup.
Once friends and family located their seats, 20 metallic spheres towering above the dance floor greeted them. The white vinyl dance floor featured another special touch: the couple’s monogram. During that first glance, guests also spotted the stage, which included the same floral arrangements used to embellish the aisle.
The clear-tented reception boasted 19 tables with grand décor. A runner of white hydrangea, roses, phalaenopsis orchids, and lucite candelabras lined the head table. A tall arrangement of baby’s breath covered in twinkle lights and suspended with bulb candles and roses stood at the center of each round table. The rectangular tables saw acrylic bridge structures with hanging silk wisteria and teardrop crystals.
The couple also had crystal columns with white orchid blooms hung from the ceiling of the tent. White pillar candles formed the basis of the structures.
After spending months conceptualizing their vision, Kara and John were beyond impressed with the final product. “Seeing the reception design come to life was definitely a moment for John, my parents, and me,” Kara mentions. “I remember walking into the tent and all of us being blown away. I don’t think there is a better feeling than seeing something be even more special than we thought.”
The newlyweds glided across their custom dance floor while a live band played “A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay. To master their performance, they took dance lessons. “One of the most fun parts of wedding planning was learning our first dance,” Kara states. “We had such a fun instructor, and John was way more into it than I thought he would be. We took on a somewhat challenging dance. It was so fun to do together at our wedding and invite guests to join us at the end.”
The dancing didn’t stop there. The pair also arranged family dances with their parents. Kara swung around the dance floor with her father to “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder. John swayed with his mother to “You’ll Be in My Heart” by Phil Collins.
Before topping off a tower of coupes with champagne, Kara changed into a mini Nadine Merabi ensemble with hand-embellished waterfall crystals and sequins.
The couple and their guests spent a large portion of the evening dancing to a thoughtfully curated playlist with all of their favorite tunes. Before the ball dropped, their DJ displayed a custom 2022 countdown. Once the clock struck midnight, “22” by Taylor Swift wafted around them.
After savoring a slice of vanilla, dulce de leche, and chocolate cake, the newlyweds headed over to their after-party at a ramen and cocktail bar. To conclude their wedding weekend, they hosted a pool party and boozy brunch the following day.
From their Greek ceremony to their post-wedding party, Kara and John credit staying present as one of the reasons why they were able to enjoy every moment. “Planning large events can be stressful, but once they start, you need to switch off and trust your team,” Kara shares. “If the couple is carefree, present, and having fun, your guests will feel the good energy, too.”
Ceremony & Reception Venue Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Rehearsal Dinner Venue Seaspice
Pool Party Venue Kimpton Epic Miami
Planning & Design Guerdy Design
Bridal Gown Designer Lee Petra Grebenau
Veil Lee Petra Grebenau
Bridal Salon Spina Bride
Bride’s Jewelry Verstolo Fine Jewelry
Bride’s Hair Accessory Custom Keren Wolf
Bride’s Shoes Mach & Mach
Bride’s Hair Daniela Gozlan
Bride’s Makeup Daniela Gozlan
Bride’s Rehearsal Dinner Attire Rime Arodaky
Bride’s Rehearsal Dinner Shoes Stuart Weitzman
Bride’s After-Party Dress Nadine Merabi
Bride’s Pool Party Attire Maygel Coronel
Bride’s Getting Ready Attire Dolce & Gabbana; girlandaseriousdream via Etsy
Bridesmaid Dresses Custom Joy Cioci
Mother of the Bride’s Dress Jenny Packham
Mother of the Bride’s Shoes Aquazzura
Groom’s Attire Zegna via Bergdorf Goodman; Tom Ford; Santoni
Groomsmen’s Attire The Black Tux
Engagement Ring White Carbon Inc.
Wedding Bands White Carbon Inc.
Floral Design Petal Productions
Invitations Momental Designs
Other Paper Products Boxed Wedding Invitations
Guest Book Shake and Share Media
Music DWP Live Factory; Rock With U; Orson Whitfield
Catering Bill Hansen Hospitality Group
Cake Earth and Sugar
Rentals Decora Event Rentals; Swag Decor; Atlas Event Rental; Nüage Designs
Lighting & Production Evoga Events Production
Accommodations Kimpton Epic Miami
Photography Erika Delgado Photography
Videography Kaco Films