Artistic Wedding at the Dali Museum – Saint Petersburg, Florida – Jen & Stephen
After a short four-month courtship full of full of whimsy, romance and a strong bond built on a foundation of genuine friendship and connection, Stephen proposed to Jen at the same pop-up gallery event (Current Galleries) where they first met, only four months after their initial meeting. “Jen just felt like home. A feeling I’ve never felt with anyone else,” he said, so it’s easy to see why the two would solidify their love in such a brief, beautiful whirlwind of a time! “We started meeting up here and there as friends and each time we hung out my feelings for her grew more and more. But I didn’t want to rush into it. I knew she was the one for me but left it to the universe to keep aligning us. Each time we parted, I would give her a Hershey’s Kiss in replace of a real kiss, waiting for the right moment to make my move. Our first ‘real’ kiss happened in Sanford, at the end of a night spent listening to live music and discovering each other’s dreams and passions, it was magical. Very soon after, I invited Jen to spend the day at the beach with me, which turned into dinner at her place, and basically spending every possible moment with each other from that day on.”
Jen was interested in having her own art show, so they worked with our friend Frankie to commit to hosting a ‘Jmeaky’ solo show at the gallery. As they prepared for her show, Stephen was making plans himself to ask her to marry him. “I didn’t really have a specific day planned, but I sold my motorcycle to buy the rings, which I designed and commissioned a local jewellery artisan to make. A week before the show, I had a feeling I would ask Jen to marry me at her solo show. So I created an interactive performance piece called “Be the light too” where I dressed up in a sports suit with a Jack Skellington mask. I would solicit gallery guests to help me open a locked box by asking them to find the artist ‘Jmeaky’ who had the key to open it (a reference to her having the key to my heart). I patiently waited until her Mom interacted with me that evening, and, with my hands shaking like a fish, I asked her for her blessings, and to hold the ring for me. Near the end of the event, Jen had a chance to conduct an artist’s talk and Q&A session in front of all of the gallery attendees. When she finished her talk and asked if anyone had any questions. I took off my mask, stood up, guided Jen towards the front of the stage to meet me, got on one knee, and asked her to marry me.” All of their friends and families would agree that their meeting and courtship has been nothing short of a fairytale romance, and their wedding was just as special and tender.
Both Jen and Stephen are multi-media artists so you can understand why their day is overflowing with personalised, artistic energy and flare. The afternoon of their wedding day began with bridal and groom prep in the iconic Avalon hotel just a few streets away from the museum, which set the perfect colourful backdrop for the rest of the day. The Avalon also enhanced the couple’s desire to maintain a vintage feel to their day, despite the bold and contemporary choices they made in other aspects.
They say that the goal in creating a theme or feeling for their special day was to ensure that it was a true representation of them, their love story, their interests, and their artistic styles. “We are both inspired by the works of Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo, which we drew upon when selecting the venue and reception decor. It was an obvious choice for us to host our wedding and reception at The Dali Museum, in St. Petersburg, Florida, which just happened to have a visiting collection of Frida’s works at the time we were making our decision about a venue. We drew upon the Mexican folk art feeling found throughout Frida’s work and our love of the Day of the Dead symbolism when selecting our colour palette and painted skull décor. While we wanted a colourful reception, we also wanted a primary colour to pop, especially for the ceremony, and we selected turquoise, a colour we mutually love. We also incorporated a ceremony into our special day, which was inspired by The Dali Museum’s wish tree and our love of an old Chinese proverb, “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break”. The wish tree serves as an anchor and starting place to The Dali Museum’s outdoor garden maze. Years ago, the story goes, museum guests started tying their colourful entry wristbands to the limbs of the tree and the tradition caught on! We decided to incorporate red strings into our programs, which were handed out to our guests. Immediately following our ceremony, guests were invited to form a line behind us and follow us out to the wish tree where they would tie their red string while making a wish, or leaving a positive prayer of intention. The pathway leading to this adorned, beautiful tree, as well as the tree itself, was beautifully lit and the Florida fall weather was perfect for a stroll out to the garden to share in this special ceremony with all of our loved ones. The string tying ceremony made for really amazing and personal photos as well, that we truly cherish.”
“All bouquet and boutonniere flowers were hand-made out of cardstock. A variety of bold colours and patterns, some with a metallic or pearlescent finish, were used to construct the flowers and foliage. We felt we really wanted to upcycle paper into flowers and create beautiful arrangements we could keep and admire for all of our days. For the bridal bouquet, a collection of satin, grosgrain and sheer ribbons were also attached for added length, drama, and pops of the turquoise accent colour. Again, we felt the paper element, with the bold colours and patterns would speak to the Mexican folk art theme running throughout the décor.”
“Our wedding had a personal touch added by our DJ and dear friend Frankie Messina, who is responsible for hosting the event where we originally met. Additionally, Frankie spins all vinyl and his style truly gave our ceremony a personal and vintage flair. For food, we had Puff n Stuff cater in amazing Mexican-inspired hors-d’oeuvre for the cocktail hour and delicious buffet-style main course. We further customized our special day by taking dance lessons and surprising our guests with a choreographed routine to the song Moondance, by Jon Morrison. Of course, it didn’t quite go as planned, haha. We started dancing, and as the many distractions started stacking up, the routine started deteriorating and we were having such a great time laughing at ourselves that our guests didn’t even realize we were winging it. We finished with the big spin, kiss, dip and our guests really loved it! What’s awesome, is that it goes to show you that there are inevitably going to be pieces of your day that don’t go exactly as envisioned or planned, but if you smile and just go with the flow, you might find that the mishaps can actually make for the most precious memories.”
“Inspired loosely by Jack Skellington from the Nightmare before Christmas, the groom and best man (groom’s Grandfather) wore coordinating suits/vests/bow-ties of blues and greys with pops of turquoise. The bow-ties, in particular, were very special as they were both a Christmas gift from the bride’s mother, which she selected because the fabric pattern was designed by a favourite artist of hers, and reminded her of her soon-to-be son-in-law’s style. Lastly, a turquoise pocket square and flower boutonniere (handmade by the bride) completed the look. The bride wanted something very traditional for her dress, with subtle deviations from tradition, and personal, unique accessories to further personalize the look. The dress was selected for its cut, champagne colour and beautiful lace-accented bust and train. A finger-tip veil with white, satin trim brought a more traditional nod, while the oversized and irregularly shaped string of pearls brought a bit of an artistic and personal element, and coordinated with the pearl earrings which were the bride’s Mother’s, serving as her ‘borrowed’ element. Lastly, to pay homage to the bride’s love of dancing, and to bring the turquoise element into the look, she opted to wear patent-leather turquoise Tieks ballet flats, which were also comfortable and great for dancing the night away with her new hubby. It should be mentioned that all of the rings were also designed by the groom and hand-made by a local jewellery artist. The rings contain favourite stones and symbols beloved by the bride and groom, such as moonstones/sunstones, diamonds in the shapes of constellations, and meaningful words (You are my moonlight/You are my sunshine).”
Their wedding reception was where the true spirit of Jen and Stephen was unleashed for all to enjoy: Drawing off of a vibrant, playful Day of the Dead theme, each table was topped with a unique, hand-crafted skull and lantern; two bright, well-dressed metallic teal skeletons served as an eye-catching cake-topper; and finally, their collaborative hand-painted canvases which had served as the blue prints for wedding invitations were proudly displayed beside the cake. In a room full of absolute joy, the couple laughed their way through a botched choreographed first dance that nevertheless made for epic images, and continued to dance the night away along with their guests to the vinyl musical styling of DJ Frankie Messina. “As artists, it was very important for us to make many of the components for our wedding day, starting with our hand-painted save the date and wedding invites, which we turned into original prints for all of our guests. In terms of décor, we painted or made and painted most of the items used on the guest sign-in/gift table and as our centrepieces for our reception. We collect wooden skulls and decided to hand-paint and personalize many of them, with the exception of Mexican artisan hand-painted skulls we’ve collected, which we left as is. Each centrepiece had one of our exquisite skulls perched upon a custom-made, wooden geometric stand mimicking neck vertebrae, and painted with accent colours pulled from the skull, made by the groom. To accompany them, each skull was paired with a unique vintage, style lantern, which we purchased and further distressed and/or painted, a mini paint bucket, which was dripped with paint, and filled with a bouquet of faux succulents and hand-made paper flowers, made by the bride. The lanterns were lit internally with dainty strung led’s, and the floor of each lantern was finished with a bright, limey green layer of moss. All of our centrepiece elements sat as a collection atop a round, wooden platform, which was covered in a feathered cement and hand-stenciled with symbols representing Native American laws of creation and unconditional love.”
Ushered from the reception in a shower of glow sticks, Jen and Stephen exited with as much flare as they entered, brandishing two of their favorite decorative skulls for their final portrait as husband and wife. This happy couple is now anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first child this month – congratulations you two!!
Photographer: Mcneile Photography // Venue: The Dali Museum // Event Planner: Taylor Falcon Events // Lighting: The Production Crew // Beauty: Vip Beauty Stylist // Dress Store: The Dressing Room // Caterer: Puff’n Stuff