Chris and Stevie’s Rustic Riverside Wedding in Tampa
It was fall in Tampa the day Chris and Stevie said “I do” but the tall green trees that shaded Stevie as she snuck up behind Chris before their first look would have you guessing otherwise. The lavishly green outdoors at Tampa’s Davis Islands Garden Club, with a breathtaking view of the point where the Hillsborough River flows into Tampa Bay, blended seamlessly into their color palette and floral design. There’s so much to love about this wedding, which was beautifully captured by Stacy Paul Photography. Draped seeded eucalyptus and lush greenery, a cozy lounge area with vintage furniture, modern calligraphy and a bride and groom who were determined to savor every moment of their special day are only a few of the incredible details of this gorgeous wedding.
The Love Story
Chris and Stevie were introduced through mutual friends, but it wasn’t until four years later that they started dating. “You could say fate brought us together when the time was right,” Stevie says. Three wonderful years later, Chris completely surprised Stevie with a ring on the beach as the sun was setting. “I had no idea he had planned to propose that night, and it was so surreal,” she says. “I remember hugging him, and when I rested my head on his chest I could hear his heart racing. It was in that moment that I realized what was about to happen; I remember being in shock yet so happy and wanting to savor every moment that night.”
Chris and Stevie said “I do” in a personalized ceremony officiated by Stevie’s aunt in the beautifully lush space at Davis Island Club Gardens, a venue they chose to reflect their love for spending time together outdoors. Chris wore a black, slim-fit suit from Jos. A Bank, which he paired with a black tie, white silk pocket square and black wingtips. And Stevie walked down the aisle to Dave Matthews’ “Lover Lay Down,” wearing a fitted ivory lace dress with a long scalloped train and ivory Badgley Mischka peep toe pumps with rhinestone-covered heels.
Instead of writing their own vows, the happy couple made careful selections of prayers, writings and vows that were reflective of their love and relationship. “I remember a moment during the ceremony when we were exchanging our vows,” Stevie says. “The entire time I was fighting back tears, but one of the vows was a promise ‘to play with you whenever I can as we grow old together,’ and for whatever reason, this made me giggle, which got all of our guests laughing. It was such a relief to lose the nerves and enjoy the moment.”
Earthy and organic details meet modern glam in the reception decor, which created a relaxed and organic feel thanks to the lush greenery and jewel-toned blooms that decorated the round tables, the head table and the escort card table where guests found their seats for the riverside reception with wooden escort cards that indicated their table number. A rustic and neutral color palette was accented by deep reds and bright pinks, which blended beautifully with gold details. Gold framed glass terrariums filled with a bed of green moss, blue thistle, antique pink lisianthus, topaz roses and seeded eucalyptus were used as centerpieces and as decorative accents on the cigar bar.
We absolutely love the newlywed’s sweetheart table where a seeded eucalyptus garland circled their initials carved out of wood and Mr. and Mrs. eyelet chair banners draped delicately over the chairs. Shrimp cocktail, mini grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato bisque shooters were served during cocktail hour. And to pair with signature cocktails of a cranberry Moscow mule and a gentleman’s Jack and Coke, a cigar bar offered a celebratory smoke to be lit with customized matchboxes. For dessert, their stunning, four-tier cake had his and hers flavors of marble cake with fudge, cookies and cream and vanilla with raspberry filling all covered in deliciously rich ivory cream cheese in a soft ripple, adorned with decorative flowers.
“During the year that we were planning our wedding, we had countless people tell us how fast the night would go by,” Stevie says. “We didn’t want to end up being the couple that had no idea where the night went; we were determined to soak up every moment. At one point, Chris grabbed my hand and pulled me aside. He pulled me to the edge of the lawn near the water, just beyond the glow of the market lights. He stood there holding my hand and said, ‘Look — this is our wedding.’ We stood there for a few moments, just the two of us, hugging, taking it all in. Watching our favorite people in the whole world, all in one place at one time laughing, dancing, enjoying themselves and celebrating our marriage. It truly was an incredible, unforgettable feeling.”