Ola and Jeff's romance started with a serious splash. They both attended Syracuse University, but the pair didn't officially meet until two years after they graduated, at a friend's backyard barbecue in the summer of 2008. "Jeff tossed me in the pool, and the rest is history!" Ola laughs.
Six years later, while Ola was in Connecticut visiting her family, Jeff decided to fly up from Florida and meet her in New York City for the weekend. The pair went out to a romantic dinner, then Jeff said he needed to stop by their hotel room before they headed out for the night. "When I opened the door and saw what he set up for me, I immediately started to cry," says Ola of the display of photos from throughout their relationship and a lush display of flowers. Once she'd said yes, he surprised her with an engagement party with their family and friends. "It was the perfect proposal," she says.
While they live in Miami, the pair quickly decided on a Palm Beach wedding. "My family has spent winters in Palm Beach for years, and I always knew I would get married at the Flagler Museum," says Ola. Opting against a long engagement, the pair chose January 10, 2015, as their wedding date—just eight months after Jeff proposed. Their fabulous wedding planner, Heather Lowenthal of Posh Parties, was the key to making their classic, grand, and elegant wedding come together in time, and it all went off without a hitch. See the totally stunning celebration (as well as a few fabulous surprises!), photographed by KT Merry Photography, below!
With a traditional theme in mind, Ola knew exactly what she wanted in a wedding dress. "I've always loved Oscar de la Renta because his designs are so feminine and timeless," she says of her embroidered lace and organza ball gown. "I loved the way my gown sparkled in the light. I added a tulle skirt beneath it for extra volume!" She also added two feet to the train for a serious dose of drama.
Underneath the skirt, Ola tucked two special mementos: The corsage her mother had worn on her own wedding day 30 years ago and her grandmother's lace handkerchief.
Ola's bouquet was all white, with a combination of white roses, peonies, and orchids. She opted for classic Badgley Mischka peep-toes with embellished heels.
Jeff looked equally timeless in his Armani tuxedo, which he paired with a monogrammed pocket square and a single white orchid boutonniere.
"We originally weren't going to do a first look, but because it was January, it was the best way to make the most of the light," says Ola. "I was originally upset about it, but by the time our wedding day came, I wouldn't have changed a thing. It was so special to share that moment in private, and it calmed my nerves before walking down the aisle. It also meant we got to enjoy cocktail hour!"
The bride's dramatic train was a serious statement-maker, as was the cathedral-length veil with gorgeous embroidery on the edges.
Ola's bridesmaids wore convertible Jenny Yoo dresses in a creamy cashmere hue, which they could twist and wrap however they liked. Her maid of honor had a bouquet of all-white roses, while her other bridesmaids carried spray roses and orchids. Jeff's groomsmen donned classic tuxedos to match the groom.
With nine bridesmaids and nine groomsmen, the wedding party was made up of siblings and close friends.
Ola and Jeff's invitation suite by Dauphine Press was beautiful and classic, finished with calligraphy by Laura Hooper Calligraphy. Because most of their guests were from out of town, the save the dates were luggage tags embossed with "And so the adventure begins..."
Guests were welcomed in their hotel rooms with mini bottles of Prosecco, Florida oranges, and other sweets and treats, as well as an itinerary for the weekend. The morning after the wedding, guests gathered for brunch at one of the couple's favorite restaurants, where they were given a personalized newspaper featuring a Q&A with the newlyweds and advice from family and friends.
Ola loved the idea of having a traditional ceremony in a spiritual place, so they chose the beautiful Royal Poinciana Chapel. The front entrance was flanked by urns full of hydrangeas, French tulips, and delphinium.
The non-denominational ceremony included vows gathered from multiple sources and readings like Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love" and "The Key to Love."
In addition to being totally stunning, the couple's wedding had a few charitable aspects, too. "Instead of favors, we made a donation to Jamie's Rescue, the shelter where we rescued our dog, Austin," says Ola. After the reception, they also donated all of their flowers to Petals with a Purpose, an organization that repurposes the blooms and delivers them to shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes.
At the museum, guests were greeted with an arch covered in strands of blooms. Each ended with a gold glitter clothespin that held guests' escort cards.
"We treated everyone with a 15 minute fireworks show between cocktail hour and the reception," says Ola. Lounge furniture was arranged on the museum's deck, where guests nibbled on popcorn as they watched the display. "We wanted our guests to be surprised and wowed at every turn," the bride says.
Inside the museum, a mix of round and rectangular tables surrounded the 40-foot head table, where the newlyweds sat with their bridal party. A dramatic runner of lush roses, peonies, and orchids was tucked between votive candles.
Over the rectangular tables were displays of hydrangeas, roses, and amaranth, as well as orbs that held votive candles and blooms. The table itself was covered in candles and a lace runner. Round tables were decorated with dramatic topiaries of roses and orchids.
Each place setting featured gold-rimmed chargers and glassware. Tucked into menus was a note about the donations the couple was making in lieu of favors.
For dinner, guests dined on fig and brie tart and herb-grilled filet of beef. "We kept the meal to two courses and had dessert passed once the party started. We wanted people on the dance floor instead of in their seats!" says the bride. When they weren't at their seats, friends and family were either dancing to the tunes of Rhythm Collective or gathered around the scotch bar, which Jeff stocked with the help of Ola's father. "It was a fun way for them to bond," she says.
The couple's first dance was to a slow rendition of Capital Cities' "Safe and Sound," which built up to the faster version by the end—when everyone joined the bride and groom on the dance floor. Anyone who didn't want scotch (or the signature Old Fashioned and Moscow Mule) was treated to glasses of Armand de Brignac champagne.
Jeff and Ola's wedding cake, decorated in gilded fondant and delicate ruffles, featured layers of red velvet and vanilla cake. Passed desserts included Reese's s'mores, Magnolia cupcakes, and ice cream sandwiches.
Ola changed into a more fitted Berta gown with a mesh bodice, perfect for dancing. At midnight, guests headed out the door with "Happily Ever After Meals" of cheeseburgers, parmesan truffle fries, and toasted marshmallow milkshakes and found the biggest surprise of all—a faux snowfall that transformed warm Palm Beach into a winter wonderland. "It was January, so we had 'snow' coming down as everyone exited the museum!" says Ola.
The pair honeymooned in South Africa, starting in Franschhoek's wine country before heading to Kruger National Park. Advises the bride, "Don't be afraid to speak up! If you aren't crazy, madly in love with an aspect of your wedding, skip it, fix it, or nix it!"
Ceremony Venue: Royal Poinciana Chapel
Reception Venue: Flagler Museum
Wedding Planner: Posh Parties
Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Hair Accessories: Untamed Petals
Hair: Cesar Salazar
Makeup: Robert Espinosa
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo
Groom's Attire: Armani
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Pavé Jewelers
Florist & Rentals: Xquisite Events
Catering: White Apron
Cake: The Sugar Monkey
Fireworks: Zambelli Fireworks
Snow: Frost Event Production
Cigar Roller: On Site Cigars
Videographer: Cabana Pictures
Photographer: KT Merry Photography