This Floridian Couple's Outdoor Wedding was Filled with Tropical, Floral Accents
Every love story has a unique beginning, but this couple's is more singular than most: Their shared passion for martial arts brought them together. Melissa Romana, a tourism consultant, met Lindsey Baker III, a legal assistant, in September 2016 at a mixed martial arts school in Miami Shores, Florida, where they were both members. They began chatting over the next month, and Melissa says their common interests quickly brought them together. "We both love TV shows and our first conversation was initiated because he was discussing one of our favorite shows at the time with another member of the school," Melissa says. "We really bonded after a strenuous four-hour special training a couple of weeks later." The duo went on their first date soon after, beginning a relationship that culminated in their engagement three years later.
Lindsey popped the question on their two-and-a-half-year anniversary, on May 11, 2019. Melissa notes that while he had a vision of how he was going to propose, last-minute changes on her part altered his original plan. "Lindsey suggested that we go for dessert in the evening to 'celebrate' the day. My stomach wasn't up to it when the time came unfortunately, so change of plans, we ended up on Hollywood Beach (my personal favorite)," the bride says. The couple enjoyed a walk on the beach when Lindsey offered her a rose, and the two then sat down and chatted—however, Lindsey was uncharacteristically quiet.
"I couldn't stop talking about the events of the day, [I was] gesturing quite a lot [with the rose]," Melissa says. "He then opened up and during his speech he picked up the rose and to my astonishment ended up pulling a ring out of it! You can imagine the amount of stress he was under while we were walking, with me gesturing all over with the rose in my hand." After an emotional proposal that Melissa says was unforgettable and tearful, she said yes, and the pair later began planning the details for their next memorable moment: their wedding day.
Melissa and Lindsey wed at the Historic Walton House in Homestead, Florida, on November 10, 2019, in front of 135 guests. Thanks to their wedding planner, Sandrine Boisson Francis of Maison Francis, their big day went off without a hitch. From picking the dusty-rose-and-navy-blue color palette to choosing their picture-perfect outdoor venue, the "A team," as the bride describes her vendors, made planning a seamless process—and their big day a floral work of art.
Floral Invitation Suite
When Melissa and Lindsey began planning, they knew they wanted their big day to exude three elements: simplicity, elegance, and romanticism. These overarching motifs also inspired their Minted stationery suite by independent designers Robert & Stella, which included "European fresco and gilded details, and featured real rose gold aluminum foil," Melissa says. "We were looking for an invitation that was minimalistic but that shared the elegance and chaotic feel of nature." The set was also awash with rose quartz color, tying the notes into the wedding's color palette.
Blossomy Details and Lace Touches
The bride donned a mermaid wedding dress —titled the "Sophie"—from Something New Bridal Boutique. The gown, she says, was incredibly comfortable—and played into her ethereal, elegant vision for the celebration. Picking the garment was no small feat, though. Melissa did not initially picture herself in a lace dress, and although the Sophie design was flawless in her mind, she didn't have that "a-ha!" moment. The reason? She thought she'd already found "the one" at another shop. "The first dress I fell in love with was found by chance on our first day, as we walked into a bridal boutique that wasn't on our list," explains Melissa. "The next day we drove all the way to Orlando (I live in Miami) to find what would become my wedding dress, but despite the obvious, I was still obsessing over that other gown."
After rounds of appointments in Ft. Lauderdale, she and her mother went back to Miami to try on the first dress—again. While Melissa says she still loved the frock, slipping into it a second time affirmed that it wasn't perfect for her big day. "My poor mother was exhausted by the end of all of this, but she supported me all the way. We sat down on my bed that night, looked at all the pictures and we could not ignore the obvious: the Sophie dress was the winner!"
To complete her look, Melissa held a tropical bouquet filled with lisianthus, clematis, and orchids, all tied together with silk ribbons.
Blush Bridal Party
The bride offered her three bridesmaids and groomsmaid different big-day attire options. "I didn't want to impose one unique design as we all have different tastes and body shapes, but I still wanted to ensure that the color and quality would be the same," Melissa notes. She gifted her bridesmaids dresses from AlineBridal and gave her brother a custom Indochino suit in a darker hue that referenced the dusty-rose palette.
The groomsmen—dressed in 2 Cute Bridal & Tuxedos ensembles—and the groomswomen's outfits matched Lindsey's navy tuxedo. The groom notes that his groomswomen were inspired by a fashion-forward (albeit fictional) icon when selecting their suiting: "They saw Carrie Bradshaw wear a tuxedo in one of the Sex and the City films and they were all for it ever since." They sourced theirs from online retailer Little Black Tux, which specializes in women tuxedos.
Dressed to the Nines
According to Melissa, the ring bearer and flower girl were nervous before walking down the aisle. However, she says they took their jobs very seriously—and looked adorable while carrying them out. The ring bearer wore the same style tuxedo, also from 2 Cute Bridal & Tuxedos, as the groomsmen, while the flower girl wore an A-line tulle and lace sleeveless dress from JJ's House.
A Private First Look
Melissa and Lindsey appreciated the moment alone during their first look at the Historic Walton House. "Time flies at light speed and in retrospect, this was the only moment where I didn't feel it was running away from us. It was our moment, with no other distractions, and I savored it fully," Melissa says.
Lindsey agrees, also noting that he was anxious to see her. "We had time just for ourselves to get all the pictures we wanted while we were still freshly dressed, without tear-soaked eyes," he says. "I was pretty cool, calm, and collected on the outside just before the first look, but as I heard her approaching me from behind, I began to get very excited, as well! I was finally going to see my bride in her gown that she has been teasing me with for several months."
When ideating the ceremony space, the couple didn't want to detract from the greenery- and flower-covered venue, says planner Sandrine Boisson Francis of Maison Francis. "It was also very important to the both of them that the end result not overpower the beauty of the venue itself," she notes, adding that it also reminded Melissa of a typical home back on her island of Guadeloupe.
A ground arch, full of on-palette blooms, didn't detract from the surrounding nature.
Father and Daughter Ceremony Moment
Melissa shares a tight bond with her father; their walk down the aisle, to "Beautiful" by Stevy Mahy, was a true big-day highlight.
Emotional Vow Exchange
The couple chose to write their own vows—and added in a few surprises during the exchange. Lindsey chose to sing for a part of his, with help from his half of the wedding party. The group performed a few lines from "To Make You Feel My Love."
Melissa paid homage to her roots by reciting her vows in English and in her native-tongue, French. "It was a moment that I had always wanted to experience, especially since our wedding traditions back home don't really include vows sharing," the bride says. "I've seen it plenty of times in movies, and I always thought that this was the most important part of the ceremony." The bride also shares that all-in-all, it was an emotional ceremony, and that she was grateful that their family and friends could witness such a meaningful, vulnerable moment: "When Lindsey started to share his vows, we all started crying—including many of our guests!"
Sealed with a Kiss
After their service, the couple sealed the start of their new adventure as husband and wife with their first kiss. This journey, Lindsey notes, was the heartbeat of the non-religious ceremony as a whole: "We kept it about our love and devotion to each other, to celebrate the journey we have been on so far and our excitement for the future that awaits us."
A Natural Cocktail Hour
The Historic Walton House allowed the newlyweds to host the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception in separate spaces—a major plus, says the duo. The cocktail hour space immersed guests in a lush garden, surrounded by exotic animals like baboons and flamingos, Sandrine notes. To avoid including too much extra décor that could potentially conflict with the natural surroundings, the couple skipped flowers and instead used simple blue-and-white linens from the Ceci New York x Nuage Design collection.
The bride and groom served two signature cocktails during their reception—one to represent Miami (a passion fruit mojito) and another to nod to the bride's Guadeloupean roots (a Ti-punch).
Moments Frozen in Time
To keep guests entertained throughout the cocktail hour, the couple set up "photo trees" and encouraged attendees to snap polaroid photos—and then clip them to the tree with mini clothespins, suspended from nylon thread.
Blooming Seating Chart
The planning team wrote guests' names on the boxed acrylic seating charts. As a nod to the colors and design themes of the day, each cube was filled with flowers.
When Melissa and Lindsey had the chance to sneak a peek at their reception, the word "perfection" came to mind. "It was magnificent, and as soon as I saw it, I was overwhelmed by emotions, full on crying, as this was the results of months of hard work and planning. It came together so beautifully, well beyond what we expected!" Melissa says.
The planning team rearranged the flowers from the ceremony throughout the reception area. "We then added an explosion of flowers to the entire space, by repurposing the aisle and altar flowers at the ends of each royal table, as well as the front of the bride and groom table, to mimic a growing garden," Sandrine says.
An Organic Reception Venue
The locale's natural décor was on full display during the party, something the bride knew would be a hit with their guests. "The Walton House is an attraction in itself, and we knew that our guests would have a wonderful time just by walking around this vast estate," Melissa says. "We did our due diligence and visited the other venues we had short listed, but in the end, we knew we had found the perfect place."
One-of-a-Kind Reception Style
"The bride and groom wanted to fuse both their styles," Sandrine says on ideating the reception décor. The planning team highlighted the couple's unique tastes by creating modern, Ikebana-inspired centerpieces that also referenced the tropical locale.
DIY Place Settings
The pair created the napkin rings themselves; they enjoyed the process so much, that the couple now think of the project as a soothing hobby: "We bought the unfinished wood rings and stained them with a regular and dark walnut finish. It was our first [time] staining wood and we enjoyed the process quite a lot!"
Custom Party Favors
Melissa and Lindsey sent guests home with customized wood magnets from Etsy that read "Stick with Love." The magnets were presented on a bed of preserved moss, packaged in a clear covered box, and tied with a dusty-pink ribbon, the bride notes.
Dancing the Night Away
The couple took their first dance to "Longtemps" by Amir, a choice that Lindsey says was connected to Melissa's French roots. Melissa translated the song to Lindsey after it came on during a car ride together, and they both knew it was "the one" after falling in love with the lyrics.
A Cake Spotlight
The couple's wedding cake, encircled by lush florals, was put on full display during the party.
Photography, Masson Liang Photography
Venue, Historic Walton House
Wedding Planning, Cristi G Events
Event Design, Maison Francis
Wedding Stylist, Soco Alicea
Videography, Alex Martinez Films
Flowers, Sandrine Boisson Francis of Maison Francis
Invitations, Robert & Stella on Minted
Programs, Robert & Stella on Minted
Officiant, Aurora Abad from Sunshine Wedding Officiants
Bride's Gown, Something New Bridal
Hairpiece, Dareth Colburn Designs
Shoes, Steve Madden
Hair and Makeup, Bellelite
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Aline Bridal
Groom's Attire, Indochino
Groom's Bow Tie, Cuffed Design
Groom's Cufflinks, AllAboutYouCreations
Groom's Shoes, Ted Baker
Groomsmen and Ring Bearer's Attire, 2 Cute Bridal & Tuxedos
Groomswomen's Attire, Little Black Tux
Flower Girl Dress, JJ's House
Engagement Ring, Jared the Galleria of Jewelr
Bride's Wedding Band, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry
Groom's Wedding Band, The Rustic Ringmaker
Music, DJ Dro Entertainment
Catering, Dade County Food Group
Cake, Edible Creations
Rentals, Imperial Event Rental (tables/chairs/lounges); DragonFly Rentals (tabletops)
Transportation, One Limo
Linens & Napkins, Nuage Event Design in collaboration with Ceci New York
Calligraphy, Yasmine Boisson of Maison Francis (signage)
Ribbons, Tono + Co
Acrylic Sheets, Raminimal Studio (place cards, menus & signs)