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  • Laura and Steven Pessoa
  • Melanie Fernandez
  • Wedding Advice Series
Laura and Steven Pessoa

Laura Abello and Steven Pessoa

December 17, 2011

Ceremony: La Catedral

Reception: La Escuela de Bellas Artes - Cartagena, Colombia, Antonio Florez

How you met your husband.

Steven and I met in Key Largo, Florida, Memorial Day weekend 2008. We were both at the same party that Saturday night and met through mutual friends. We started dating shortly after that.

Tell us about the engagement.

We were doing long distance the first three years of our relationship because Steven was attending law school in Atlanta. His last year, he came home for Thanksgiving break and was insistent upon taking me out for a nice dinner the night he got home. I had happened to have a very stressful day at work and got out very late, so I was rushed to get ready for the ‘nice dinner’ and was not in the mood. We made it to dinner at the Mandarin Oriental after lots of complaining and then afterwards I wanted to take a walk to the little beach area the hotel had overlooking the bay and do a little more de-stressing. When we got down it was closed and he told me to keep walking. As we were approaching a bench along the walkway overlooking the water, he got down on one knee and proposed. After about 10 minutes of utter shock, he drove me to my house so we could ‘tell my mom.’ I was freaking out as I was opening the door thinking my mom had no idea, and when I opened, all of my friends and family were there to surprise me. It was the most amazing feeling I have ever felt. I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t even walk into the house for a good 5 minutes!!

Engaged Step One – What you did first.

Decide on the location. My dream was to get married in Cartagena, where my family is from and my second home, but I wasn’t sure if he and his family would agree so we needed to get that figured out before anything else. Once we decided that, we picked a date.

Venue Shopping - what made you decide on your venue?

I wanted a venue that had both inside and outside spaces since the weather in December in Cartagena is usually tropical but with a cool breeze at night. I also wanted a venue inside the old city to give my guests a real taste of the city.

Describe your wedding look and how you came to the “look” decision. How did you pull it off? (venue, inspirations, items, etc.).

I wanted a very elegant and romantic all white look. Cartagena’s old town is really romantic and I wanted a look that would match that. I always envisioned lots of candles, flowers and mirrored accent pieces. I decided on the look after I chose the venue because I wanted the colors and decorations to enhance the ambiance of the venue. I was able to pull it off thanks to my wedding planner. As I would talk about what I wanted, she would show me pictures and it was always on point. I was also on pintrest, wedding blogs and the knot.com at all times, looking for inspiration.

Your dress and accessories: describe the dress shopping process a little and the accessories you wore. What made you say yes to the dress?  

I didn’t really get to experience what it’s like to go dress shopping, although I would have loved it. My aunt is a wedding dress designer in Colombia so my dress was made by her. I wanted something not so traditional but with lots of tulle. Since we were far away, I only had a short amount of time to brainstorm with her and really only two chances to try on my options. I got a lot of ideas from magazines and blogs and she made it happen. I wore small Swarovski crystal hanging earrings since my dress didn’t go with a necklace and a hair piece from my aunt.

Your bridesmaid dresses. Where were they from? What inspired you to choose the certain style(s)?

My bridesmaid dresses were Bari Jay. I wanted a style that would look good on all the girls and weren’t the typical bridesmaid dress material. I found two styles and two colors I liked and then let them pick which one they liked most.

Flowers: Tell us a little bit about your arrangements, types of flowers you used, how they fit with your “look”, and how much you loved them.  

My flower arrangements were all different. Each table had a different centerpiece so the tables that did have flowers were either white roses, hydrangeas or orchids. My bouquet was all white orchids and my bridesmaids had white roses. I wanted all the same color scheme but nothing to look the same.

Details: Talk about any special details you incorporated throughout the wedding.

I actually wish I would have put more thought into the small, special details. I would have loved to have made it more personal but I think I was so focused on making sure it was fun, and really capture the essences of the location that I didn’t incorporate any special details myself. However, a few of my best friends and some family gave me small little details to wear the day of which to me was very special.

What you found most overwhelming and difficult about the wedding planning process.

The guest list and the budgeting!!

Looking back, you would have done this differently (in general).

No, not really. There are definitely things that I would change about the decoration, or details here and there, but I loved everything about my wedding overall. Tastes change and you will see things you wish you would have done different after the fact - I think its normal. However, the way everything worked out and the way that I went about it all, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Your favorite moment all day/night.

The first dance. All of the “work” was over, and I really felt it was just us at that moment.

Your advice to any bride planning a wedding is…try to remember that in the end, this is about you and him and what makes you happy. Don’t try too hard to impress others or do what you think they will like. Things will go wrong and you will not make everyone happy, so focus on what’s important and don’t lose sight of that. Don’t let the stress take away from any moment in your night. It ends too quickly so take it all in and enjoy each moment!

  • Melanie Fernandez
  • Wedding Advice Series

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