Fairy-Tale Winter Wedding with Red, Gold & Greenery Décor

Amanda Toledo and Joao Paulo Ferreira

Photographed by: Inna Elsie PhotographyLocation: Richmond, Virginia, United States

“We met the ‘millennial way,’” shares Amanda Toledo of being introduced to Joao Paulo Ferreira online. The busy professionals spoke on the phone for a few months before finally meeting in person for dinner and a movie. It wasn’t long before Joao Paulo proposed to his beloved just days before Christmas while visiting her family in Florida. “It was truly perfect!” smiles Amanda. 

When the betrothed returned to California, they spent the next year planning a destination wedding that would fulfill Amanda’s childhood dreams. “I am that girl who has pictured my wedding day since I was young, and I’ve always known I wanted to get married in a castle,” she confirms. “We were originally planning to get married in Europe, but ran into complications, so we searched for the next best [thing].” When they visited Dover Hall Estate in Virginia, they knew it was the perfect place to say “I do.” 

Though Amanda and Joao Paulo chose to lock eyes for the first time at the ceremony, the bride shared a heartfelt “first look” with her father beforehand. When the time came for Amanda to walk down the aisle, she did so to “Tale As Old As Time” from Beauty and the Beast as an ode to their first date. The bride wore a custom long-sleeve Galia Lahav gown with wintry floral appliqués and a piece of her mother’s dress sewn into the skirt. As she met her groom in front of the stately fireplace, which served as the altar, the pair exchanged traditional vows. “My husband is from Brazil, so it was important for everyone to feel included,” explains the bride of their desire to include both of their families. Thus, they provided translated ceremony scripts at each guest’s seat. 

Once Amanda and Joao Paulo were pronounced husband and wife, they shared an intimate moment in the wine cellar before being whisked away by their photographer to take photos and later join their loved ones at the reception. “We had light bites and Champagne and were able to really look at each other and soak in what just happened,” muses Amanda of the cherished moment. Meanwhile, attendees enjoyed delicious passed canapés – including fried chicken croquettes and bruschetta – at cocktail hour. 

As everyone entered the reception space, the stately setting showcasing an oversized fireplace, towering ceiling, and chandeliers certainly impressed. Winter wedding décor featuring red, gold, and ivory tones, with accents of fresh verdure, embellished the room. Long tables were decorated with runners of lush greenery, and centerpieces were kept small as to focus guests’ attention on the grand venue and allow them to speak freely to one another throughout the dinner service, which included a choice of pan-seared salmon, oven-roasted chicken breast, or asparagus risotto. To keep everyone comfortable for the winter wedding, plush blankets were placed at each seat. 

At the end of the night, the bride had a special surprise in store for her new husband. Following their romantic sparkler exit, Amanda arranged to have a Porsche 911 Carrera as their getaway car. “Joao Paulo is a huge car guy and this is one of his favorites, so it’s safe to say he was both surprised and excited to see it waiting for us to speed off in at the end of the night,” shares the bride. “We even got to drive it around the next day before heading to the airport!” 

Amanda admits it’s hard to choose the most memorable moment of the wedding day because it was such a special weekend overall. “Each moment felt like a ‘pinch me’ moment,” she confirms. “My family lives on the East Coast and my husband’s on the West Coast, so having everyone in one room was so special… Not to mention, seeing something you have literally been planning for a year finally come to life is magic!”