Catholic Ceremony + Organic, Elegant Reception at The Breakers

Marisa and John
Photographed by: Nancy Cohn WeddingsLocation: West Palm Beach, Florida, United States

Marisa Grgas and John Colantuoni became friends when they met on spring break in Aruba, but it took eight more years before they fell in love in New York City. Unfortunately, being stateside didn’t make things any easier, as John was only visiting the “Big Apple” while he resided in Chicago. “We traveled back and forth every weekend for two years to see each other and thankfully he moved back [home] to New York in April 2016,” explains Marisa. 

John was chosen to be the godfather of Marisa’s niece, and he was able to use that opportunity to ask for the blessing of his sweetheart’s parents. “They were very happy, and her mom cried,” he divulges. In addition to arranging the meeting at the christening, Marisa’s brother helped John find the perfect ring for his beloved – one that matched her mother’s. While visiting Boston for a friend’s birthday, the couple enjoyed a beautiful brisk winter day at the harbor and John asked Marisa to be his wife. 

Though the bride and groom desired a destination wedding, they also hoped it to be convenient for their guests. “My father and I wanted Croatia but we knew that it would be a tough location for people to travel to and we would miss having all our friends and family there,” admits Marisa. “So we decided on Florida since we both love it there. We visited around five locations in Palm Beach, but it was The Breakers that took our breath away and we knew it was the spot.” The couple was so impressed with the staff’s attention to detail that they opted to use the on-site design studio for the flowers and décor as well. Marisa’s parents were committed to making the celebration one to remember. “My father genuinely wanted every guest to have a perfect weekend and never be hungry! My mother was my right-hand woman for all decisions related to decorations, outfits, and all the fun stuff along the way,” shares the bride. Heather Lowenthal of Posh Parties helped to keep everything organized and also worked with the couple to create unique welcome bags for the attendees. 

As both Marisa and John were raised Catholic, it was important for them to have a traditional church ceremony with a full mass. The downside is that there were numerous restrictions in regards to the modern music the bride hoped to use; though ultimately a mix of contemporary and traditional tunes were selected. She walked down the aisle to a medley of “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran and Pachebel’s “Canon in D” – “I’ll never forget how beautiful she looked in her dress!” exclaims the groom. 

Arrangements of greenery and ivory flowers were repurposed for cocktail hour, but the reception was where the organic, natural look was really brought to life. “The Breakers created these stunning tree-like centerpieces that were breathtaking and paired perfectly with the orbs that were wrapped in ivy and suspended from the ceilings,” illustrates Marisa. “We tied everything in with a natural greenery backdrop for the band and photo booth, which had hints of white flowers throughout.” There were also displays of candelabra with feathered tulips, verdure, and gardenias around the base. The bridal party sat at two long alabaster tables with glass tops that showcased moss and snowy blossoms beneath the surface. 

The mother of the groom had gifted the couple dance lessons before the wedding, which proved useful for the first dance. “We [started with] a slow song – Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” – and then broke out into “Love Never Felt So Good” by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake. It was here that I surprised John with an explosion of indoor sparklers that lit up the room. His face was priceless and people were in shock!” the bride elaborates. John confirms: “Our first dance was really amazing; our hearts were pounding.”

After an elegant sit-down dinner, the festivities continued as guests enjoyed performances by a live band at the reception and an after-party that concluded at 2AM. Neither of the newlyweds would change a single part of their big day. “Everything was a dream come true,” the bride muses.