9th Jan 2017

Maya & Sam

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The Big Question


We were traveling for Christmas and agreed that we'd give each other one gift the first Sunday we returned to Sarasota. When that day came, Sam gave me a bag during breakfast when we were completing a crossword puzzle, a Sunday tradition since we began dating. He told me that his one gift to me would be a whole day of presents and that four times throughout the day I'd receive this same bag with a different gift. The first gift that I received was a pendant with part of a crossword puzzle in it. The numbers represented on that puzzle were 
"7" and "21" which represented our first date on July 21, 2013. 

A few hours went by and Sam picked up lunch from our favorite Thai restaurant. Before we began eating, the bag appeared again. This time, there were custom-made chopsticks that were engraved with "Maya & Sam". 

It was time for dinner and he took me to Louie's Modern, the same spot as our first date. While we waited for our table, we had a drink at the bar and he presented the next gift. The menu he kept from our first date in a nice frame and said that wherever we live, he hopes that it will always hang in our kitchen. 

After dinner, we went home and as we got out of the car Sam gave me the bag for the fourth and final gift. At this point, I was very excited and thought that there may be a chance of ring inside of it. To my disappointment, the bag was somewhat heavy. Inside was camera equipment to take pictures at night; something we had a difficult time doing during a recent trip to Africa. He said, "turn around", and an amazing full moon was in the sky. He asked if we could go to the beach just a few minutes away to use the equipment and capture some shots of the beautifully glowing moon. Of course I couldn't say no after the amazing day that we had.

We got to Lido Beach, which happened to be the location of our first kiss, and set up a little picnic under the stars and full moon. Sam had brought some whiskey and champagne, and had a playlist on his phone that had our favorite songs. After a few drinks and experimenting with the new camera equipment, Annalise Emerick's version of 'Stand By Me' came on. At that moment, he reached into his bag and said, "There's one more gift." He got down on one knee, told me how much he loved me, and asked if he could marry me. With the full moon glowing down from above and the waves washing against the shore, it was a magical and intimate moment that I'll always hold close to me.  And of course, I said, "yes."

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Shop 'Til You Drop

I was never a girl who had a dream dress in mind growing up. Sam and I have similar tastes and enjoy timeless and elegant fashion. Instead of trying to find the perfect dress for me, I wanted to find one that was perfect in his mind.

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The dress hunt was a special experience for me because of who was with me - my mom, grandma, future mother-in-law, and both matrons of honor. We blocked out the entire weekend to visit several bridal shops, but only ended up going to two. At the second shop, Malindy Elene Bridal, I pulled out my 'dress list' that had must-haves, wants, and definitely-nots for my gown.

The owner of the shop pulled dresses for me, and when I tried on the Augusta Jones dress, right away, I knew this was the one. While there was a little stress going into the weekend to find the perfect dress, when I saw tears in everyone's eyes, the stress was gone and I knew that this is what Sam would see me in when I walked down the aisle. 

The Perfect Day

The coolest attributes of our wedding day were how personal we were able to make everything. From the bridal yoga in the morning and the intimate ceremony to the first dance and the perfect groom's cake, this was truly 'our day'.  

January 30 started at the Christy Payne Mansion at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for the ladies. Before hair and make-up, the bridesmaids and I took part in a private yoga class centred on giving love and support to me. After yoga, we went to the front of the mansion where I was surprised with an engraved brick at the foot of the front door that read: 
Maya + Sam, January 30, 2016, 'Stand By Me'. A gift that Sam had arranged weeks in advance.

A few minutes away, Sam and his groomsmen got ready at his office. His mom showed up with a gift from me. It was a custom watch with the engraving: 
Sam and Maya, Stand By Me. It's funny how great minds think alike. 

The ceremony began with a string quartet playing my favourite classical songs. With Sam and his groomsmen lined up on one side, and my bridesmaids lined up on the other, I walked down the aisle with my grandfather as the quartet played Pachelbel's Canon in D. When Sam saw me for the first time in the perfect dress, his eyes lit up and his jaw dropped. That first face was a surprised look that everyone loved seeing photos of, but my favourite was the look just after that when we both calmly smiled at each other and said, "We're finally here," with our eyes.

After the ceremony, we were able to scoot away for about two hours for some private time at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens before our guests arrived for the cocktail hour. Just married, we were on cloud nine with smiles ear to ear. We walked the gardens while the photographers followed and captured our happiness and love for one another. Perhaps one of the smartest decisions we made was having a private dinner for just the two of us about 45 minutes prior to everyone else arriving. We were able to relax and enjoy our dinner with a glass of champagne. The Christy Payne Mansion was incredible for this as we dined on the second floor looking out a window onto the back patio as our guests began to arrive and the sun began to set. 

For the cocktail hour, we asked our guests to bring a book that has inspired them, write a personal message to us, and wrap it. As they arrived, there was a table for them to leave their book for us. One of the best times after the wedding was opening these books and reading their messages. 

Our favourite singer/songwriter, Annalise Emerick, came from Nashville to perform during the cocktail hour. She played Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" (the same version of the song that Sam played during the proposal) for our first dance as the sun was setting over Sarasota Bay. This is how we were introduced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Davidson. It was a perfect moment. 

After sunset, everyone walked from the mansion to the Great Lawn for dinner and dancing. This walk was specifically designed to show off the gardens with up-lighting on our favourite areas and special photos from our world travels centred around the koi pond. As everyone followed the luminary path into the lawn, they walked under a trio of chandeliers hanging from mature, 100+ year-old trees. The dinner and dancing portion of the evening took place under an elegantly designed tent with ivory draping that gave the scene a regal ambience. The extra-long banquet table and checkered dance floor were the focal points on the ground as an array of twinkle lights perfectly complemented an arrangement of chandeliers in the sky. 

The dance floor was filled immediately. We loved the diverse age range that was getting down  from our grandparents to the flower girls and ring bearer. After nearly an hour of non-stop dancing, the emcee asked all of the married couples to join in on an anniversary dance. Alan Jackson's'Remember When' began to play, and one by one (starting with us newlyweds) the couples began to leave the floor as their anniversary year was called off. This went on as nearly all of our 160 guests surrounded the dance floor, many with tears in their eyes, as my grandparents outlasted everyone with more than 60 years of marriage. 

The night came to an end after nearly two more hours of dancing and the last song being Fools Rush In by Ingrid Michaelson. We asked our wedding planner, Jennifer Matteo, to include as many personal touches as possible, and a
s we look back on the day, we can't think of anything we would change. It was everything we asked for and more. 

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Wise Words


Start planning early so you have time to enjoy the engagement and everything leading up to the wedding. On the day of the wedding, don't take on any responsibilities; instead, delegate and assign tasks to bridesmaids and close family members. This is your day and those closest to you will do a great job with whatever it is you assign to them.

Take time to eat before the reception. Sam and I loved having a private dinner before everyone arrived. By the time the cocktail reception began, we were well-nourished and had a new sense of energy.

Limit the time spent on formal photos. When meeting with our photographer prior to the wedding, we explained this wish and it allowed for us to enjoy more time between the ceremony and reception and revel in the moment. 

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Photographer: Tiffani Jones
Dress: Daphne
Location: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Stockist: Malindy Elene Bridal
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