In October 2017, Robert Vincent surprised Milena Petkov with at at-home proposal at their apartment, just hours after they'd closed on their first home together. "We were dressed up to go to a gala that evening and he proposed in our apartment before we headed out to meet up with our friends," she recalls. "Possibly the best part of our engagement was that our dog who had been sick—and passed away a week later—was there. I like to think that he waited to see his mom and dad get engaged. I’m not a big center of attention person so a private proposal was perfect!"
For their wedding, the couple again kept things relatively private, marrying in front of just 28 guests at The Betsy Hotel in South Beach, Miami on May 4, 2019. "We actually booked our venue without visiting first! We wanted the feel of a destination wedding but wanted it more accessible for our guests coming from different states," admits the bride. "We also appreciated that The Betsy had different venue options throughout that would not feel overwhelmingly large for our intimate wedding. The beach and city views didn’t hurt either!" Also on the couple's must-have list? "We wanted something modern, not stuffy or traditional, and lots of fun," says Milena of their wedding vision.
The couple planned their wedding from another state, relying on month-of coordinator Ashley Zuppas of The House of Gather, who Milena calls a "lifesaver," to pull the details together. "It was lots of texting my maid of honor, loads of Instagram research, and a healthy dash of Pinterest inspiration," says the bride of the planning process. That said, despite the long-distance planning, Milena admits that the process was fairly easy. The only the hiccup they had was finding an officiant, as she admits "it felt odd to have someone marry us that knew nothing about us." On a whim, her bridesmaid stepped up to the duty—and, as the bride says, "the rest is history."
Keep reading to see more of the Milena and Robert's intimate yet unique vows overlooking South Beach, as photographed by Madison Hope Photography.
Modern black and white invitations by Bliss & Bone welcomed the couple's 28 guests to Miami for the weekend. Instead of a rehearsal dinner, Milena and Robert opted to host everyone for a welcome dinner at a restaurant they love. "We wanted the weekend to be fun and not traditional," she explains.
Milena found her dress at Lovely Bride in New York City, ultimately saying "yes" to a fully sequined gown by One Day Bridal. "The dress was fun, comfortable, the perfect mix of modern meets glam meets sexy," she says. "I also had to have a dress that I could dance in all night!"
While dress shopping, Milena admits that she completely passed her dress at first. "As the stylist and I were browsing the racks, I actually completely passed over the dress, but she pulled it anyways based on a remark I had made about another dress," she recalls, "I tried it on, loved it, the squad loved it, and I returned after my other two appointments to purchase it."
On the big day, she kept her accessories simple—"With my dress being fully sequined, I wanted to keep the accessories fairly simple," she explains—and with white satin Jimmy Choo pumps, gold ear climbers from Shashi, and the long veil from Made With Love Bridal.
"For my girls, I also wanted something fun, modern, and neutral that wouldn’t break the bank," Milena says. "We chose a white off-the-shoulder dress by Bardot that had a slit that echoed my dress and didn’t feel like a traditional bridesmaid dress." The couple also asked their guests to dress in neutral hues, though, the bride admits with a laugh, "that part didn’t quite go as planned!"
"On the day of, we opted for an intimate wedding with our closest friends and immediate family," Milena says. "We had welcome mojitos before the ceremony because who doesn’t love a mojito overlooking the beach and Miami skyline?!"
Despite planning from afar, Milena took on a few DIY projects such as making the welcome sign and seating chart sign and printing the reception menus and table numbers.
The ceremony site was set with a cooper altar accented with greenery and neutral blooms. "It was clean and just a bit tropical without being over the top," says the bride.
We wanted something modern, not stuffy or traditional, and lots of fun.
The couple wrote their own vows, and Milena's maid of honor did a reading of Johnny Cash’s love letter to June Carter.
For the processional, Milena walked down the aisle—alongside her mother!—to Kina Grannis's “Can’t Help Falling in Love. As newlyweds, she and Robert exited to One Republic’s “Feel Again” played by a DJ.
Following the ceremony, the couple took a moment to take portraits before dark.
"Instead of a traditional guest book, we did a photo area with a custom 'Til Death' neon sign, and an Instax camera where guests could snap pictures, write us a note on it, and drop it in a box labeled 'Pics, or it didn’t happen,'" Milena explains.
At the reception, the couple continued to put their own twist on tradition, ditching certain traditions like father-daughter and mother-son dances, bouquet toss, garter toss, and send off. "Instead of a registry we opted for charity donations to causes with meaning to us: Sgt Pepper’s Friends (where we adopted one of our dogs), Trevor Project, and ACLU," Milena adds.
We had our first dance during sunset with the most perfect golden hour glow and then danced the night away with the skyline as our backdrop.
The couple chose "Stay With You" by John Legend for their first dance, which also took place on the roof of The Betsy Hotel. "Our venue was an actual dream," says the bride. "We had our first dance during sunset with the most perfect golden hour glow and then danced the night away with the skyline as our backdrop."
At dinner, the décor mixed old and new with modern wire-backed chairs and more traditional wooden farm tables. "We carried the neutral theme into the reception and chose runners for the tables with white flowers and greenery with minimal black-and-gold candle holders scattered throughout," Milena says. "For linens, we chose simple white napkins, topped with minimal black-and-white menus, and marble calligraphy place cards." Above, bistro lights completed the overall romantic look.
Earth and Sugar made the couple's two-tiered wedding cake, which featured chocolate chip with mocha buttercream and vanilla with dulce de leche flavors. It was placed under the ceremony altar for double-duty décor!
Since they're both vegetarian, Milena and Robert served an all-vegetarian meal that was sprinkled with speeches throughout. "The maid of honor speech had me 50 shades of ugly crying," Milena admits. "I'm not typically an emotional person, but my MOH gave the sweetest, most touching speech I’ve ever heard and even cried herself."
"We chose to have a very intimate wedding with just our closest friends and immediate family," Milena adds. "It was amazing seeing people come from both coasts and everywhere in between for our wedding." Looking back at their destination celebration, Milena had this advice to share for those planning: "Savor it! The months leading up to the wedding go by so quickly and it’s so easy to get caught up in and stress about the small details."
Wedding Venue & Catering The Betsy Hotel
Month-Of Coordinator Ashley Zuppas of The House of Gather
Floral Design Primrose Florals
Bride's Dress Chosen by One Day
Veil Made With Love Bridal
Shoes Jimmy Choo
Bridesmaids' Dresses Lulus
Groom's Attire Bonobos
Engagement Ring Brilliant Earth
Weddings Bands Cartier; Helzberg
Invitations Bliss & Bone
Calligraphy Ink & Nibs
Music Event Factor
Cake Earth & Sugar
Rentals Unearthed Rentals; Nuage Designs
Accommodations The Betsy Hotel; The Kimpton Angler
Photography Madison Hope Photography
Neon Sign Echo Neon Studio