What's better than a mid-week lunch break with a friend? How about one that goes from lunch to an afternoon at a luxe New York City spa? The day before Halloween in 2013, Erica Kulka's coworker talked her into stopping by Columbus Circle where she claimed she needed to pick up a document from her husband. "We were passing the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and decided to head up to the lobby to check out the view of Central Park," says Erica. She spotted her boyfriend, Peter Salanki, sitting on a couch and, in her confusion, barely noticed when her coworker disappeared.
"Peter and I headed up to the 35th floor, and he lead me toward the spa. I protested about having to head back to work, but he'd already cleared my afternoon with my boss," Erica says. They spent the afternoon indulging in a luxurious bath, a couple's body scrub, and a massage. Then, as they sat down for lunch, Peter opened his eyeglass case — and out came an engagement ring.
The couple took their time planning their wedding, choosing Casa Ybel Resort on Florida's Sanibel Island for their April 16, 2016, wedding. "Peter's best man's family owns a house in Sanibel, and we've always loved visiting there. We fell in love with the white sand beaches and the tranquility!" says Erica. While planning from afar was a challenge, a fabulous team of vendors helped the couple create a colorful seascape, full of sea fans, driftwood, coral, and air plants. "We don't love an over-abundance of flowers, so instead we focused on natural elements." The result was perfect for the pair's beachfront setting, and will have you wishing you were on a Florida beach!
Take a peek at all the gorgeous details, captured by Anastasiia Photography.
When Erica and her mom stopped by the Elizabeth Fillmore trunk show at Gabriella New York, she was so excited to see that the designer herself was there. The silk crepe and lace long-sleeved wedding dress Erica chose was the first one she tried on. "I was the first bride the designer had seen in the dress," says the bride. "My mom also got the first wedding gown she tried on, so I knew I'd found it!" We love how the design combines sheer French lace with architectural details — breezy enough for the beach, but covered enough for an early spring wedding.
Erica's organic orange and pink bouquet was comprised of garden roses, ranunculus, king protea, and air plants.
Peter stood out in a custom blue tuxedo with a black lapels and a black bow tie. Erica paired her look with a soft updo and her mother's pearl earrings. "My mother always said she'd wear them when her daughter got married. Turns out I wore them instead!"
Orange is the bride's favorite color, and it fit beautifully into the couple's wedding color scheme, including the bridesmaids' dresses! They wore strapless dresses by Alfred Sung, and carried air plants instead of traditional bouquets.
As guests arrived at the ceremony, a basket of parasols was on-hand to shade them from the Florida sun. Along the aisle, glass bottles were filled with beach grass and surrounded with sea fans, coral, and air plants.
The arch, made of manzanita branches, was flanked with flowing grass and offered guests an incredible view of the ocean beyond. "When we were planning our ceremony, Peter told me he didn't want to write personal vows, so we'd planned to only exchange the traditional ones," says Erica. "But when we were at the altar, Peter started sharing his personal vows with me! I was in shock and started crying — and had to come up with my own vows on the spot!"
On the resort's lawn, a mix of round and long tables were set beneath a tent draped in white fabric. Lucite chairs added an additional airy feel to the outdoor reception, with soft blue-gray napkins harkening back to the color of the sea.
Instead of lush blooms, the centerpieces combined small orange and peach arrangements with collections of coral and driftwood. An orange sea fan was placed at each guest's seat. Air plants and sprinklings of sea glass gave a soft feel to the bare wood tables, while round tables were draped with white sequin linens for a hint of sparkle.
In keeping with their beachy theme, the couple skipped traditional place cards in favor of of something a little more whimsical but still entirely elegant. Each guest's name was written in copper ink inside a mussel shell.
Other copper accents, like modern square vases and votive holders and calligraphy-style table numbers, added a touch of modern glam to the organic tablescapes.
Peter and Erica's three-tiered wedding cake, decorated with rose gold chocolate sea shells and starfish, had layers of raspberry cake with chocolate filling and chocolate cake with mocha filling. Yum!
"We had so much fun taking lessons for our first dance to Frank Sinatra's 'Fly Me to the Moon,'" says Erica. "I'd recommend it for all engaged couples!" She also recommends trying not to stress in the days leading up to the wedding. "Everything has a way of coming together, even if it's the night before!"
Venue & Catering: Casa Ybel Resort || Wedding Planner: Rosemarie Peluso || Bride's Wedding Dress: Elizabeth Fillmore Bridal || Shoes: Nina Shoes || Hair & Makeup: Makeup by Michelle Regis || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Alfred Sung || Groom's Attire: Buy4Less Tuxedo || Officiant: Beautiful Florida Weddings || Florist: Isn't She Lovely Florals || Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas (Now part of The Wedding Shop by Shutterfly) || Paper Goods: Zazzle; Cultural Intrigue || Music: Vanderbilt Strings; DJ Jason & Associates || Cake: LadyCakes Bakery || Rentals: Niche Event Rentals || Photographer: Anastasiia Photography