For Valentina + Max’s wedding, they wanted to draw inspiration from the feelings they experience on their adventures by choosing a venue with naturally beautiful outdoor spaces and incorporating lots of greenery and wildflowers.
Of her RYDELLE gown, Valentina said: “I put on the Rydelle, I saw that it was all the things I wanted and more! It looked like no other dress I had ever seen, yet also felt so classic and like something that could be admired for ages.”
Names: Valentina & Max
Wedding Date: 05.28.22
Guest Numbers: 80 people.
Wedding Location: The Ribault Club in Jacksonville, Florida
Photographer: Rebekah Sage Photography
Tell Us Your Love Story
How did you meet?
Max and I were a blind date set up by our friends! It was the start of our junior year of college, when a friend of mine told me that one of her boyfriend’s good friends needed a date to Navy Ball (both Max and her boyfriend were in Navy ROTC together at our university), and that she thought we would hit it off really well! I was super hesitant, but eventually agreed- and neither Max nor I expected anything to come of the night! But from that night on, we were inseparable. We spent our time studying at coffee shops, going to UF football games (go gators!), took our first trip together to Savannah for spring break, and got to know the people most important to each of us. When the pandemic hit in 2020, we were set to graduate in just a few short months, and ended up being two of the very few people still left in our college town. But, those days became some of our absolute favorites. We stayed quarantined together and did our online work, took walks out in the fresh air, played lots of boardgames, got a lot of to-go food and drinks that we’d share together on the balcony of my college home while watching the sunset, and just got a few beautiful months of a lot of quality time (which is my love language!)
Now, almost 4 years from that Navy Ball date, not only are we married, but we graduated college, moved to a new city, started our careers, have two sweet rescue cats (Burlington and Tommy), have gone on countless trips (lots of backpacking/camping/kayaking- anything outdoors is our favorite!), and often spend our Sundays sipping warm drinks (tea for me, coffee for Max) and reading books. We’re always happy just getting to do life together. 🙂
How did he put a ring on it?
Max proposed to me at sunrise at the top of Chimney Rock in North Carolina! We’re big outdoorsy people, and North Carolina is one of our favorite places to adventure into the mountains. I had always joked to him that I wanted to be proposed to in hiking boots- meaning I wanted the moment to be somewhere outside and private, doing what we love most- and that’s exactly what happened! The trip had been to celebrate 3 years together, and it was all so perfect.
Where did you draw inspiration from?
When I think of my relationship with Max, I think of the feelings I get and the things I experience when we go on our adventures together. I think of the light and airiness that exists when we reach the peak of a mountain, the beautiful colors and imperfections of the trees and wildflowers we see on our hikes, the way everything feels bright and amplified, and the kind of joy that can only come from the way simplicity and complexity coexist in nature. So I really drew from those feelings and wanted them present at our wedding. It’s why I chose a venue with naturally beautiful outdoor spaces, and incorporated a lot of greenery and colorful, not-perfectly-set wildflower-feeling type of florals, a lot of white and glass detailing, drapery around the tree we got married under, delicate string lights above the dance floor, and a simple wedding cake design, but also some bright neon signs, a more statement-piece checkered dance floor, a bubble exit, and a large champagne wall. It all felt fun and joyful, yet simple and airy!
What made the wedding personal to you?
I think at the end of the day what made the wedding feel most personal to both of us was the people who we got to spend it with. Max and I have both moved around a lot in our lives, and even just since graduating college we have found some of the people we care most about to be further away than we’d like. So it was so special to have a day surrounded by all of our favorite people, who had traveled from near and far just to celebrate this occasion with us. My aunt and uncle had flown from Croatia (their first time in the U.S.), Max’s family traveled from California, Colorado, Illinois, Georgia, and South Carolina. My childhood best friend traveled from Nevada, while my college best friends traveled from states like Wisconsin and New York. We don’t know when we’ll be able to have all of these people we care so dearly about all in one place again, so we really soaked that up!
What were you most nervous or excited about?
I was most nervous AND excited about getting to exchange vows! We had decided to write our own as a way to really personalize our ceremony, and I just couldn’t wait. I was so excited to have the chance to talk about just how truly amazing Max is, and I knew that whatever he said would make me cry (in the very best way). But at the same time- it was so nerve wracking! Trying to make all of the love, appreciation, and admiration I feel for Max fit on a few small notebook pages felt like an impossible task! I could gush about how important he and our marriage is to me for days!
But it ended up being both of our favorite parts of the ceremony, and it was just perfect! And we’re super thankful to Matt, our officiant, who is both a friend and mentor, who helped us share even more of our love story through his incredibly written and very personal sermon!
Now, the most important part – the Dress!
Tell us about your dress?
My wedding dress was “Rydelle” by Tara Lauren- and it was just an absolute dream of a dress. I knew I wanted an A-line dress that was unique, had a lot of lace detailing, and felt flowey and light while simultaneously having a more full skirt. And the second I put on the Rydelle, I saw that it was all those things and more! It looked like no other dress I had ever seen, yet also felt so classic and like something that could be admired for ages. It was such a dream-like piece, and its flow mixed with its structure mixed with its uniqueness felt like the exact energy I was looking for. And most importantly- I just felt so beautiful and comfortable in it. I knew it was the one! Seeing how the family I brought with me that day reacted, only further solidified this feeling. I had brought my mom, my sister, my now mother-in-law, and my now sister-in-law with me, and they were all just so excited about the dress and as in love with it as I was. They all felt that it somehow just felt like me. None of us may have known what exactly my perfect wedding dress looked like when we walked into dress shopping that day, but we certainly knew once I had the Rydelle on!
What stockist did you get it from?
I got my dress from One Bridal in Jacksonville, Florida. They were absolutely fantastic and my bridal consultant told me I just had to try this dress on that she thought would look perfect on me – and it ended up being my wedding dress. 🙂
What was your most memorable moment from your day?
The most memorable moment of the day for me was during the last song of the night, before our private last dance. It had just started raining – just enough that it was palpable and refreshing, but wasn’t a kind of pouring down that made everyone scurry inside. The DJ put on “Piano Man,” and everyone at the wedding joined together, arms over their neighbor’s shoulders, forming a circle around me and Max. They swayed together, singing along to Billy Joel at the top of their lungs, as the rain fell and Max and I danced together in the middle. The rain felt like it was christening this new life we were starting together, and we just felt so wrapped in love and joy by the people who were swaying around us. I just remember looking at Max and looking at our people and listening to them sing and feeling the rain and just thinking that I couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out the very best night of my life. They say that rain on your wedding day brings good luck to your marriage- but rain on our wedding day just confirmed to me that our marriage is already so lucky, because it gets to grow and exist among the best community of people (and will hopefully be full of more sing-your-heart-out-in-the-rain kind of nights).
Vendors to credit:
// Venue The Ribault Club // Photography Rebekah Sage Photography // Bridal Shop One Bridal // Hair Hair by Sabrina Lynn // Makeup Sol Beautiful Makeup & Style // Day-Of Coordinator Vicki Blood of Lulu Events // Florals Jacksonville Flower Market // Catering + Bar David’s Real Pit BBQ // Cake and Desserts Publix // Videographer Scott Belanger Films // DJ First Coast Sound // Rental Company Luxe Party Rentals // Pickup Shuttle East Coast Transportation