Get ready to fall just a little in love with the beautiful Naples wedding we're sharing today from Jamie Lee Photography! A high school crush led to a chance New Year's Eve meeting, and then a long-distance Minnesota/Florida love affair, and finally - the best day of Danielle and Mike's lives. The couple tied the knot at the Bellasera Hotel in downtown Naples, bringing to life their vision of a "neutral with a splash of color" affair with an emphasis on their love for each other, their love for family and friends... and a love of sweets!
Danielle and Mike both grew up in Hastings, Minnesota, but didn't become friends until their senior year.
From Danielle: The funny thing is all through high school I always had a crush on him, but never thought in a million years he would ever look my way! We both ended up being in long-term relationships our Senior year of high school and into our college years. It wasn't until a good year after college we started dating one another long distance. He had just moved to Florida for a work opportunity about three months prior to us dating. He had flown back to MN to visit family for Christmas and New Year's. We ended up going out with a large group of people for New Year's Eve and completely hit it off. After that night our relationship started with nightly phone calls and visits back and forth from MN to FL and vice versa when our schedules allowed. We continued our long distance relationship for 1 1/2 years until I made the decision to come to FL as well. I was teaching at the time and drove down to FL with intentions of staying here all summer, then going back to MN in the Fall to teach. Here I am 7 years later still in FL, needless to say I never made it back like our family and friends predicted!The couple had a first look in the hotel, at the bottom of a gorgeous staircase. Says Danielle, "We both were speechless and emotional. It was so reassuring to finally be in each other's arms."
Danielle also shared their sweet engagement story with us:
Mike is very sneaky and of course surprised me with our engagement. He was in cahoots with a girlfriend of mine who had asked me to meet her and girlfriend of hers at a restaurant. When I arrived at the restaurant I didn't see her so I went to the outside area to call her. As she picked up the phone and was telling me she was there, Mike tapped me on my shoulder. I was completely shocked to see him there as he was supposed to be at work. With my girlfriend still on the phone I told her to "hang on" while I asked Mike "what are you doing here?". Mike didn't realize I was still on the phone and immediately went to bended knee saying all of these wonderful things that I wish I could recall. I had never seen him so nervous before! After accepting his proposal we celebrated with champagne, enjoying the moment just us two.
After a few minutes I decided to call my mom to let her know the good news. She already knew this was happening today since Mike had not only asked my dad for my hand in marriage but also my mom since we are extremely close. She was so happy. I then thought it would be nice for us to get a picture together to capture this moment. Mike agreed and thought it was a great idea, adding that possibly my mom could take the picture for us. I looked at him in confusion with what he said since my mom lives in MN. When I asked him what he meant by that, he said "turn around". Approaching the two of us was my mom, Mike's best friend and his girl friend who had just picked up my mom from the airport! It was that moment that I became very choked up. I couldn't believe that she was there to celebrate our exciting news! The rest of the night and weekend of celebrations were perfect, and having her there meant so much more!
To honor family members who had passed away, the couple had a white hydrangea for each person arranged on the top of their ceremony arch. They also had a close friend (and groomsman) become ordained to perform their wedding ceremony. As Danielle tells us, "We couldn't have been happier with the decision to do this! So many people came up to us afterward and expressed how meaningful the ceremony was, and how well he did. Having him do this for us made our day even more special."
Neither Danielle and Mike are a fan of traditional wedding cakes, so they endulged Danielle's sweet tooth (her dad refers to her as the 'treat queen') and treated their guests to a delish spread of mini cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries, mini fresh fruit tarts and mini key lime tarts (a local favorite). For favors, they provided another local treat: Norman Love Chocolates, which were also a huge hit.
Danielle shared lots of details with us about the planning process and special moments of the day:
We wanted a neutral look with a splash of color which is why we went with the "toast" bridesmaid dresses and champagne dresses for the flower girls. I also had a champagne sash added to my dress to tie in with the flower girls. To add color, we used green and eggplant accents - green orchids, green hydrangeas, and eggplant calla lillies. We also used a lot of white for a clean, simple look. In order to make Mike stand out from the groomsmen, he wore a dark charcoal suit with a champagne tie while the groomsmen wore pants and a tie color similar to the bridesmaid's "toast" color. We really liked this contrast!
Another favorite moment was during dinner, right after we had finished eating. Mike and I looked at one another and we didn't even have to say anything as we were both thinking the same thing. We took time to just sit and observe all that was happening around us, and all the people who had come so far to celebrate our day with us. It was very heart-warming and incredible! All the hard work and planning was worth what we were experiencing in that moment. The entire day was everything we had hoped for and more.
Our band was AMAZING!!!!! They provided beautiful music for us during the ceremony, relaxing, romantic music during dinner, and the full band for the dance. The band had all of our guests on their feet dancing the entire night!!! People were dancing who typically don't dance. The band honestly sounded better than I ever imagined!
In college, my college roommates and I (one of them being my matron of honor) would choreograph and perform a dance for our friends on the weekends. One of the songs we used to religiously dance to every weekend was Michael Jackson's "Beat It". We had always said we will perform this dance at one of our weddings. Nearly ten years later with all of my college roommates already married, we had not performed the dance so we made a pact to do so that night. The night prior to our wedding we were all together practicing and trying to recall the steps to the dance. Needless to say, we succeeded in remembering the dance and therefore preformed the dance in front of all of our guests that evening! Everyone enjoyed it so much!
All that evening, the next day, and for weeks afterwards we were pleasantly surprised with the overwhelming compliments on our wedding. It was by far the best day of both of our lives!!! I look back and wish we could re-live that day over and over again.
Congrats you two! Thank you so much for sharing your perfect day with us.