As fate would have it, the first – and only – online date that either Emilie Velasco and Michael Venincasa had gone on was their own. “We are so happy that we decided to download that app… it connected individuals based on mutual Facebook friends. We had one mutual friend in common, so we are even more thankful for that person!” shares Emilie. While Michael planned to propose on a trip to the Amalfi Coast, he had to pivot due to the pandemic. Just a short drive from their hometown, Michael proposed to Emilie over a sunset park picnic in Palm Beach. 

With delays inevitable during this trying time, Emilie and Michael were thrilled with their decision to start planning their wedding early. “Especially during the pandemic, there were so many canceled weddings hoping for the same wedding dates and so many risks of production delays,” remembers the bride. “Emilie and I are both in the medical field, so there was always the lingering concern about how we could be able to celebrate our big day,” affirms Michael. “After years of navigating waves of Covid-19 cases and caring for those affected, we needed to dodge one more storm… Despite the many ‘thunderstorms’ in Miami surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the sun shone through on us when it came to our wedding.” 

On Thanksgiving Weekend 2022, 160 friends and family members gathered for a traditional Catholic church ceremony at a cathedral the groom grew up attending. The house of worship was so beautiful on its own, it required little decoration, save for white florals with greenery accenting the pews. The couple was dressed in all-white attire to match the décor – Emilie in a long-sleeve embellished gown and Michael in an alabaster tuxedo jacket. While they had a formal mass, the ceremony also incorporated traditions special to their families, including the placing of the lace mantilla on the bride and groom and the couple bringing flowers to Mary during the mass. 

“It felt like we were transported to Italy, and we immediately fell in love with [the venue]!”

Following the “I dos,” loved ones made their way to the open-air reception at Bella Collina, a stunning Tuscan-style estate in Montverde, Florida, which honored the groom’s Italian background. “It felt like we were transported to Italy, and we immediately fell in love with it,” describes Emilie of the first time they visited the wedding venue. Guests enjoyed butler-passed hors d’oeuvres as well as a seafood and charcuterie display during cocktail hour, along with a cigar-rolling station as an ode to Emilie’s Cuban heritage. 

Later, attendees found their seats atop upholstered chairs for an alfresco reception showcasing a rustic-elegant design scheme highlighting light wood details and greenery. Round tables were decorated with high and low centerpieces to create interest with varying heights throughout the space, and rectangular wooden tables were strewn with long garlands of verdure reaching across the tablescapes and cascading down the sides. 

Taper candles displayed on golden candlesticks created a warm ambience, while twinkle lights illuminated the sky above. For dinner, an autumnal menu was served prior to slices of a four-layer wedding cake with red velvet and apple pie flavors frosted with buttercream and adorned with fresh florals and greenery. As an added sweet treat, a zeppole station was brought out later in the night to keep guests satiated. 

After spending the night dancing the night away with family and friends – many of whom are in the medical field as well – Emilie and Michael stayed behind for a final private dance before their special day came to an end. “After such an amazing day, it was so nice to spend this time together and get to reflect on our love and all of the people who were there to celebrate and to make it a perfect day,” smiles the bride.