March 2, 2013
Ceremony: Church of the Little Flower, Coral Gables, Florida
Reception: Private Residence (Bride's Mother)
Photographer: Ray Santana Photography
How you met your husband.
Technically, my husband and I have known each other all our lives. Our grandparents have been friends for over 60 years and our moms grew up together. We really met again after my grandfather passed away, and my grandmother sent me over to his grandparent’s house to deliver mangos from her tree (the world’s most delicious mangos). Little did I know that the abuelas had devised a plan to have us meet. He had just moved back to Miami after finishing his degree in Veterinary Medicine, and was living with his grandparents while he tried to find a job. His grandmother made him stay until I got there, and he was super annoyed because he thought she was going to introduce him to another “vieja” (old woman)! So, as he says, “when Ani got there, I was blown away! Behind her back I gave my grandmother a thumbs up and nodded with approval!”. Gonz says that his grandmother was basically his wing man! Haha. We went on our 1st date a few weeks later.
Tell us about the engagement.
On our 1 year anniversary, he planned a romantic dinner picnic on the beach. He had picked up sushi and an amazing bottle of wine (Jordan). He had everything all ready packed and ready to go by the time I got to his apartment. When we got to the beach, he laid down the blanket, poured us a glass of wine, and instead of sitting down with me to eat, he made me get up and walk along the shore. I didn’t think anything of it really (because he’s always been really cheesy and romantic). Plus he used to “pretend” propose to me all the time, and say “just kidding”! (Jerk!!). This time he started telling me how much he loved me, etc., but I thought it was going to be another “fake out” until he was holding me and I could feel his heart beating 100 miles an hour! He got down on one knee and proposed, BUT he didn’t pull out a ring! I kind of just looked at him and was super confused! It was so unromantic of me! I looked away and told him I had a hair in my eye – but I was really just trying to figure out if it was real or not?!!! By the time I turned around, I could see a little tear in his eye, and I almost died! I knew then that he was really proposing this time! Of course I was in shock and anything he started saying after that moment I completely didn’t hear! Then he went into the bag he had brought and gave me this gorgeous ring!!! It was beyond spectacular. And he is beyond amazing.
Venue Shopping - what made you decide on your venue?
Venue shopping was a bit of a mission. We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding, but couldn’t find something we really LOVED! I’m part Dominican and we have a house in Casa de Campo, so I’ve always wanted to get married there – but we knew we wouldn’t be able to have a lot of our family there because of either financial restrictions, or that fact that our grandparents weren’t really able to travel, so we had to ax that idea. We both come from HUGE families and there was much debate as to who we could remove from the list (which at one point was almost at 1000! - The cost of that would have been too much, and since I have 2 other sisters, my parents had to be fair in what the budget was). My mom lives in Coral Gables on the waterway and her house was PERFECT! It allowed us to do all the preparations in advance, so we didn’t have to worry about that the day of. Plus, we could invite who we wanted, and was more intimate.
Describe your wedding look and how you came to the “look” decision. How did you pull it off? (venue, inspirations, items, etc.). What sources or people helped you, including wedding planners, Pinterest, etc., and what was their advice?
I could not have done it without my mom! God bless her heart and her patience! We didn’t have a wedding planner (though it probably would have saved me a lot of work). I’m not that super detailed oriented, but I knew that I wanted to have a very simple, understated, yet classy and elegant look. We planned the wedding in 6 months, so it’s not like I had a lot of time to plan the whole affair (I apologize to my sisters for being super bossy during the planning stages!). Our wedding was an afternoon wedding in early spring, so I knew I wanted spring colors. I chose dark olive green, champagne, and plum. We hung glass votive globes, with candles inside, from our trees in the backyard, over the dancefloor, to give a starry night illusion. We also placed candles everywhere to give the night a romantic mood. We even have 4 macaws in our backyard, and as our guests were making their way to the back for cocktails, our macaws all started making noise, and called over a whole bunch of wild macaws, who joined in on the festivities! Everyone thought it was planned, but it definitely wasn’t. We also had a group playing the bongos – a little nod to our Cuban heritage – during the cocktail hour.
Your dress and accessories: describe the dress shopping experience a little and the accessories you wore. What made you say yes to the dress?
I went to Ever After first, and just didn’t absolutely LOVE anything I tried on (except this Oscar de la Renta that was to die for – but totally out of my budget – like $5k over budget!!). It also doesn’t help that I took my mom, two sisters and cousin with me, and they are all equally opinionated! I decided to go to Chic Parisien then and see if I could heal my broken heart. I was starting to get a little bummed, until I told Keidy (Agudo Ehret) what I was looking for, and she vanished and came back with this Monique Lhuillier dress that was just everything that I wanted! It was exactly what I was looking for. Simple, yet elegant. My husband’s grandmother called me and offered me her Spanish mantilla (veil) to wear, since my grandmother’s wouldn’t match my dress (we used hers instead during the ceremony when they place it on the bride and groom's shoulders). It was so special to me to be able to incorporate their family heirloom, along with my family heirloom. I used my mom’s diamond earrings and tennis bracelet and my other accessories.
Your bridesmaid dresses. Where were they from? What inspired you to choose the certain style(s)?
The bridesmaids’ dresses were from Daisy Tarsi. I wanted something that they could dance and be comfortable in. I also paid for them so they had to find something they liked that was within the budget. My sisters and cousin all have completely different styles and personalities, but the dresses seemed to fit each one in their own unique way.
Flowers: Tell us a little bit about your arrangements, types of flowers you used, how they fit with your “look”, and if and how your florist contributed to the design.
I knew I wanted hydrangeas, orchids and calla lilies. My bouquet was this cascade of white orchids, the bridesmaids each had a small bouquet of plum colored calla lilies (the groomsmen also had callas pinned to their suit jacket), and our four flower girls each had a basket with hydrangeas. We had huge arrangements of the hydrangeas on some of the dinner tables, and other tables either had oversized black lanterns, or orchids submerged in water in tall vases. We had these all over the reception. I really didn’t really have any clear vision as to what I wanted, so I basically told our florist to do whatever she wanted, as long as she used those three flowers. She did a great job!
What you found most overwhelming and difficult about the wedding planning process.
Having not enough time to plan!!! I was so unaware of how much in advance things need to be done!
Looking back, would you have done this differently (in general).
My husband and I joke that we should have just eloped and taken the money we used for the wedding and traveled for three months instead! But, no, everything came out exactly the way I wanted it to.
Your favorite moment all day/night.
I have two favorite moments. The first is when I was walking down the aisle alongside both of my parents, and I started getting really nervous. For those that know me, I am super strong and not one to be all emotional or nervous, but I was holding both of my parents for support, until I saw my soon-to-be husband with a HUGE smile on his face and any and all anxiety was just wiped away! He has always been able to calm me down and soothe me, so to be able to walk in and see him, and have this calm wave just come over me was incredible. The second was during the reception. I wanted to do something special for him as a surprise, so I spoke with my caterer and we actually had someone carve a Rooster Ice Luge! It was spectacular!!! My husband is a veterinarian and has a thing for roosters (no idea why). But the look on his face when he saw it was priceless! The guests all went crazy taking drink shots all night.
Your advice to any bride planning a wedding is...
Take it one day at a time. Don’t stress the small things. Everyone is always going to have an opinion on your wedding and the things you have chosen to do, but at the end of the day, you’re marrying your best friend! Soak that moment in, revel in it, and don’t worry, because at the end of the day, if someone complains about something, or something doesn’t go the right way, you still have your husband by your side. That feeling is better than anything else in the world. That moment you say “I do” is the single most important phrase you will ever say in your life. Enjoy it!