Because they shared the same last name, Lauren Halperin and Mike Halperin had heard of one another while in high school. So when they finally met one night at a party, it was as if they’d known each other for years. As Lauren recalls, “I said to him ‘Hey, you’re Mike Halperin! Do you know how many people ask me if you’re my brother?’” They talked for hours and learned that their similarities did not end with their last name. From that night on, Lauren and Mike were inseparable.

After becoming engaged, the two began tossing around possible wedding dates. “We wanted a date that was special to us and not just chosen because that was when the hotel was available,” says Lauren. They settled on November 11 because it fell on the weekend of their ten-year anniversary as a couple. “It made it that much more special to us to celebrate not only our wedding, but such a milestone together.”

For such a special occasion, Lauren and Mike pulled out all the stops. Even though the wedding was taking place in Miami where it felt like summer all the time, Lauren had always loved the romance of a winter landscape. She figured that given the 85-degree temperature outside, an “iced-over forest” theme for the wedding décor would be highly unexpected. So the design team paired a palette of pristine white, royal blue, and silver with draped fabric, countless crystal accents, and artificial snow to create a winter wonderland inside the grand spaces of The Ritz-Carlton South Beach hotel.

In addition to devoting special attention to the look of the décor, Lauren and Mike put an equal amount of effort into personalizing their traditional Jewish ceremony. The couple wrote every single word of their customized Ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract, so that it would reflect all that had been important to them over their ten-year relationship. They also designed the music for the ceremony, using songs from favorite movies and Broadway shows that held certain significance in their lives. They also recited original vows (“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” says Lauren) and participated in a special “sand ceremony” in place of the more common practice of lighting a unity candle. They each poured a different colored sand representing themselves into a third jar to form one inseparable mixture, which the couple still displays in their home as a beautiful reminder of their bond.

But the most memorable part of the ceremony was clearly Lauren’s two dogs, Tyson and Caesar, acting as the ring bearers. They wore custom-designed tuxedos to match Mike’s own formalwear and were pulled down the aisle in a white wagon by the two flower girls. “My dogs are like my children. I couldn’t imagine not including them,” admits Lauren, adding, “They ended up stealing the show.”

That was, until the newlyweds surprised the crowd with their inventive first dance. Since the guests had entered the ballroom to lively music, Lauren and Mike did not want to bring down the energy level by dancing to a slow song. Instead they entered together in costume – Lauren in a faux mink coat and Mike in a fedora – to perform a choreographed salsa routine to the upbeat “Ain’t No Other Man But You” by Christina Aguilera. Lauren stripped off her coat at the beginning of the song to reveal her reception dress. “We set the tone for the party ahead,” says Lauren.

The dance floor was continually in use thanks to the talented band, as was a long bar made completely from ice and monogrammed with the couple’s initials. Guests also enjoyed mugging for the camera in a nearby photo booth, piling into the booth in large, boisterous groups. The fun and silly shots they took were given to guests as favors and were also compiled on a CD for Lauren and Mike to take home with them.

After everyone enjoyed their own personal miniature wedding cakes (the couple also experienced “cutting the cake” by commissioning a traditional wedding cake made of several false layers and one real layer into which they sliced), the newlyweds unveiled the ceremony room, which had been transformed into a nightclub for the after party. A DJ took over the reigns, spinning hip hop and dance music while late-night snacks such as mini pizzas, bite-size desserts, and chocolate vodka shots were circulated throughout the room. Everyone partied until the wee hours of the morning, including the newlyweds, who used their honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to rest up and reflect on their amazing celebration.