The phrase, “when you know, you know” gets thrown around a lot among the newly-engaged. But in the case of Aaron and Erin, the adage also lent itself to finding a fairy-tale wedding venue. “Walking around Bella Collina is transformative,” Erin says. "You feel like you’re in Tuscany! I blurted out, ‘We’re booking this!' five minutes into our initial tour."
With their dream venue found, the twosome tapped planner Stephanie Hunickie of Swanky I Do's and set their sites a romantic garden wedding in Montverde, Florida. On November 7, 2015, after months of planning, Erin and Aaron transported their guests to a picturesque European villa — without ever leaving the Sunshine State! Luckily, Vine & Light was there to capture it all.
Like many brides, Erin did her homework before embarking on her wedding dress shopping trip — and it paid off in a big way. "I made an appointment at a salon in New York City, but I wanted to look locally before my trip to have a better idea what my preferences would be,” says Erin. "I ended up walking out of that local store with the first dress I tried on!"
The dress that couldn’t be beat was a Monique Lhuillier A-line gown with a sweetheart neckline. Layers of tulle of lace gave the skirt a soft, ethereal vibe and a beaded rhinestone sash added a dose of glam. For a finishing touch, Erin accessorized with an antique sapphire and diamond bracelet.
Aaron wore a classic Armani tux with a skinny bow-tie and and a bold gingham pocket-square. We especially loved the small rose boutonniere that matched his betrothed’s bouquet.
The bridesmaids wore light blue chiffon gowns from Bill Levkoff. Aside from looking flawless on each of the five girls, the dresses checked another box, remembers Erin. “The color was perfectly matched to our vision and the bridesmaids helped me pick them out.” Perfect for the couple's garden wedding, the attendant’s bouquets were filled with blush and blue roses. Then men, too, looked stylish in classic tuxedos from The Black Tux.
The ceremony was held on the venue's sprawling lawn, but based on the breathtaking views, it could just as easily have been at a villa in Tuscany. The large stone-walled mansion set the scene and tall arrangements in garden urns flanked the start of the aisle. Pretty as it was, it simply wasn't enough to get one of the more bashful ring bearers down the aisle. "We had two ring bearers, but only the youngest one made it down the aisle," Erin remembers. "The oldest one was too shy!"
The bride made her entrance on her father's arm while a string quartet played Pachelbel's Canon in D. A flower-covered ceremony arch framed a table with unity candles where the couple exchanged traditional vows. What's more, Erin and Aaron made sure to include a reading by one of their own: "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss.
Citing their shared love for reading, the newlyweds decided against traditional table numbers and named tables after literary greats instead. Upon entering the reception area, guests found their seats at tables like the Fitzgerald and Bronte, all listed on a custom chalkboard display. Complete with a monogrammed centerpiece and floral arrangement, the table made a great first impression for all of the romantic details to come!
The bride and groom incorporated their favorite blue hue throughout their décor, elevating the day’s color palette beyond the pastel hues you envision for a garden wedding. Sky-blue linens were even draped on each table, setting a perfect foundation for the antique charger place settings Erin and Aaron chose to decorate their reception.
You can’t have a garden wedding without some beautiful blooms, and this couple did not disappoint. A combination of high and low centerpieces marked each table, and once filled with hydrangeas and a mix of ivory, blush, champagne, and lavender roses, the centerpieces completely encapsulated the day’s theme. Along with scattered rose petals, each table also featured a framed quote from its designated author.
Even the reception's cross-backed chairs received a garden-inspired upgrade. Swags of hydrangea, roses, and eucalyptus were attached to trailing pieces of satin.
Erin and Aaron took the night in from their sweetheart table, which was set against the courtyard’s stone wall. The ceremony's gorgeous floral arch was repurposed for the reception to frame the bride and groom at dinner, making it near impossible to look away from the newlyweds.
Intricate calligraphy with floral flourishes on custom chalkboards made its way into many details of the day, but our favorite use was the quirky photo-booth backdrop that was a hit with guests. Another instance of unique décor? Floating flower arrangements! Set in the reflecting pool, the arrangements even had gaslight flames in the center adding a warm glow to an already magical evening.
When it was time for dessert, the couple sliced into a three-tiered champagne and raspberry cake topped with real flower petals.
A crystal chandelier hung above the dance floor as the bride and groom danced to their first song as husband and wife, the classic love song, "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel.
While the threat of rain lingered all day, it held off just in time for the newlyweds to make their great escape through a blaze of sparklers. They hopped into a vintage car and sped off into the night.
Venue & Catering: Bella Collina || Wedding Planner: Stephanie Hunicke of Swanky I Do's || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Veil: Solutions Bridal || Jewelry: Tiffany & Co.; Maria Elena || Shoes: Angela Nuran || Hair & Makeup: True Love Bridal Beauty || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bill Levkoff || Groom's Attire: Armani || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Flowers: Raining Roses || Invitations & Paper Products: Dogwood Blossom Stationery || Music: Beautiful Music; White Rose Entertainment || Cake: The Sugar Suite || Rentals: Over the Top Linens; A Chair Affair; Orlando Wedding & Party Rentals; Kaleidoscope Lighting || Photo Board & Signage: Chalk Shop Events || Videographer: Shutter Life Productions || Photographer: Vine & Light