Photography by Kat Braman.
Not all winter weddings allow for a sleeveless gown and an entirely outdoor ceremony and reception, but that’s one of the great things about getting married in Florida, right? Inspired by their venue Estancia Culinaria, a working farm, this couple went for a natural, organic feel. Their whole day is just so effortless and relaxed – from the fuss-free greenery in place of traditional florals (how great is the sweet bride’s all-green bouquet?) to serving made-to-order grilled cheese so guests didn’t have to let eating get in the way of time on the dance floor!
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? Estancia Culinaria was unlike any wedding venue we had ever seen before (and we’ve been to a ton of weddings!) in South Florida. We never envisioned getting married on a beach, but we knew we wanted to be outdoors. As soon as we entered Estancia and saw all the deep green avocado groves, the beautiful home and magical chapel we knew it was what we were looking for. The fact that the property was run and owned privately by such a wonderful, warm family made it feel even more intimate. And, Jason’s family in Barbados live and work on a farm, so it seemed like fate that we would get married on one.
Your ceremony in three words. Personal, fun, non-traditional.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? The linen of the chuppah was Leiana’s grandmother’s.
What was your ceremony music? Jason walked down the aisle to Till There Was You by The Beatles. Leiana walked down the aisle to Somebody to Love by Vitamin String Quartet. Our recessional song was I Found You by Alabama Shakes.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We were married under a chuppah and in front of a Christian chapel to reflect our families’ faiths. Even though my father is Catholic and my mom is Jewish, it was very important to me to be walked down the aisle by both of my parents, as is custom in Jewish weddings. Jason’s family is Christian, but he loved the idea and ended up doing the same.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Cynthia Cappacio of Ceremonies with Cynthia. Leiana found Cynthia’s website online, and once we met with her, we loved her! She was open to everything we wanted to include (and not include) in the ceremony and it couldn’t have gone more beautifully.
What were your ceremony readings? Our ceremony was completely original! A friend of Leiana’s who had recently gotten married also wrote her own ceremony and she gave her a template to work off of. With Cynthia we made some edits, but we wrote it all ourselves.
What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows. It was very important to us for our ceremony to be as personal as possible and to reflect our beliefs and hopes. We wanted to reminisce and tell our story to everyone there to celebrate with us, the people we love most.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony?
Leiana: Hearing Jason read his vows. I swore to anyone who asked that neither of us would cry during the vows and he started crying almost immediately. The words he wrote were so beautiful and the anecdotes were hilarious. It was such a perfect speech, everyone applauded when he was finished.
Jason: That we wrote everything ourselves — the ceremony, our vows; those words will always be just ours.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We wanted our guests to leave saying it was one of the most fun weddings they’d ever been to.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Stay true to what’s most important to you as a couple when you make the big decisions. As long as you and your husband are on the same page, everyone else (read: your family with opinions!) will end up loving what you decided on because if they see you both having a blast, they will have a blast too.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? I originally wanted to elope. It always seemed so romantic! I envisioned taking our immediate family and a few friends each and travel somewhere beautiful to get married and make a trip out of it. Jason had a completely different idea. He comes from a very big family, has a ton of friends and wanted the big wedding. It took some time for me to come around to the idea, I couldn’t be happier that we had the big party. It was hands down the most incredible day of my life. Having our friends and family witness the commitment we made to each other was more important than I ever realized.
How did you go about planning your reception? We hired a “day-of” coordinator (who really did much more than just show up the day of), but we planned everything ourselves. We were lucky that whenever we had questions, our coordinators and the family who run Estancia Culinaria were available to lead us in the right direction. Most of the decisions for the wedding were made after a lot research or word of mouth from friends and family. Our top three priorities were the venue, music and food.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? The reception was held on another part of the property of Estancia Culinaria, but one of the (many) things we loved about it was the freedom we had to keep the party going as long as we wanted it to. Before we found a venue, we ran in to so many places with noise ordinances that would have made the party stop abruptly earlier than we wanted.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? We definitely went over our initial budget. Neither of us realized how much it would cost to bring in vendors ourselves versus using a venue where chairs, tables, linens, dinnerware, etc. were already available. There are definitely ways to save (for example, friends did mine and our bridal parties’ hair, a friend of the family did the florals, my dress and Jason’s suit were inexpensive), but we didn’t skimp on decisions we felt strongly about and never regretted it.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? We kept our decor simple purposely, but we did little things (the seating chart, an Instagram sign and invitation calligraphy) ourselves.
What was your wedding menu? We had two food trucks! Poblano’s Mexican Fusion served the most delicious burritos, tacos and quesadillas you’ve ever tried, and Ms. Cheezious served Leiana’s favorite food: grilled cheese! There were several different amazing kinds to choose from (with fries of course!) Having food trucks really allowed us to have the high-energy wedding we wanted. They opened as soon as speeches were over and stayed open until the end of the party — this way, guests were free to dance when they wanted and eat when they wanted!
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had two different kinds of cake—guava with buttercream frosting and chocolate with chocolate!
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance?
First dance: You Send Me by Aretha Franklin
Father/daughter: A Whole New World from Aladdin
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. I was really nervous about the first dance (stage fright!), but it ended up being a moment in time I’ll never forget. Everyone else kind of faded away for a minute and I was just so happy to be dancing with my husband.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We honestly can’t think of one thing!