An extra special feature for you, in honor of our Founder, Ceci Johnson, and her husband, Alan's fourteenth wedding anniversary. Keep reading below for an inside look into her wedding, from the original #CeciBride herself!
An Inside Look at Ceci's Wedding in Puerto Rico
Working in the wedding industry for almost seven years now I was often asked, "when is it going to to be your turn to get married, Ceci?" I would always smile and secretly wish to myself that that day would come sooner than later. Luckily, my dream came true last year and my husband Alan Johnson and I finally got married (after being together for 6 years!). I was all smiles and happy tears when he proposed to me on our favorite beach in Rincon, Puerto Rico. It was the best day of my life! Until our wedding day.
Originally wanting to get married in Spain, but with two sets of parents that did not have passports (nor any desire to get them) we chose to do an intimate destination wedding celebration in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Old San Juan has the old world characteristics and charm of Spain that I loved. And the venue, Hotel El Convento's architecture was inspired by Spain so it ended up boasting all the details I was looking for.
We celebrated with 60 of our closest friends and family starting with the ceremony at five o'clock in the cathedral. I had a live string quartet that played traditional classical music for the ceremony. It was so lovely. My favorite part besides seeing Alan's smiling face at the altar waiting for me, was my dad walking me down the long aisle. My dad has always been an inspiration to me. Not only has he taught me so much in my life but his strength and dedication has set such a great example for me to follow. So this was my moment with my Dad who also recently was diagnosed with Cancer. So the fact that he could be there on this day meant everything to me.
Guests received our wedding programs rolled up and tied with a burgundy ribbon to an ornate wooden fan to keep them cool. We did a flat program that simply highlighted our ceremony details and wedding party. In my program, I also gave a nice "In loving memory" dedication to my grandmother who had passed away many years ago. Her one dream was to live long enough to see me get married. Well, she did live to be 93 so I guess I just waited too long. Regardless, I knew she was there in spirit.
After the ceremony everyone walked across the street to the courtyard of El Convento and were greeted with sangria and mojitos while live spanish guitar music filled the evening air. Paper lanterns were strung overhead along with white twinkle lights that dangled from the trees of the courtyard. I wanted the cocktail hour to be very light and glowy from candle light and lanterns. I even made paper wraps of my invitation designs that I wrapped around the votive candles to bring in some of my design details to decorate the tables. Passed hors de'ouvres of traditional Puerto Rican delights swirled around the party while the cocktails were enjoyed.
Once cocktail hour was over the large 50 foot wooden doors opened and invited guests to come into the ballroom. I wanted the decor to be dramatic and exotic. The three long tables were positioned in a U shape so the seating would be intimate. Like a big dinner party. A feast of family and friends, I like to say. I also had the idea to break up my wedding party and seat them sprinkled throughout all the tables. That way it would encourage conversations and Alan and I got to sit with some of different guests that maybe we didn't get to see the night before at the rehearsal dinner. It worked out perfectly.
The tables' centers were lined with candles of all sizes that provided the nicest glow. I paired different candelabras, and pillar candles of varying sizes to create dramatic heights. They were covered in local red orchids and black magic roses. I did round menus out of red paper with gold foil stamping which shimmered in the candlelight. Each guest's name was calligraphed on red paper and paired with a single red orchid and peacock feather at their seats. My table signs were displayed on black lace Spanish fans and named after our three favorite beaches in Puerto Rico. When guests entered the space, they found my escort cards - which were in the shape of fans with an intricate laser cut pattern - and placed on the table with votive candles and red orchids.
We danced our first dance to Frank Sinatra's, "Zing went the strings of my heart". They lyrics were perfect for us and I loved how it started out slower and then turned into a swing dance. My dress was an Oscar de la Renta gown. It was incredibly detailed and unique. It was all made of hand-embroidered detailing with bits of folded fabric, beading and organza. My favorite part was the blue lining. It was my "something blue." Cole Haan generously gave me shoes which I proudly wore all night long. My bridesmaids wore the peep toes from the Ceci Air Bridal Collection. We dyed them red to match their gowns. I also chose to have them all carry bouquets of red black magic roses so the color became really intense and dramatic.
Since Alan and I love to eat and especially love the foods of different cultures, I wanted to incorporate the local Puerto Rican flavors into our meal to make it different. It was a five course sit down meal and the staff at El Convento was top notch. After dinner was finished the dancing began and we rocked out all night until around 11 when we cut the cake. April Reed from April Reed Cake Design designed my cake and flew bits and pieces of it in then finished in a local apartment in Old San Juan.
After the cake, we had a surprise entertainment appear. A local Puerto Rican percussion band, called the Batukada, came in and got everyone out of their seats with traditional drum songs and horns. Sort of salsa like sounds. Everyone loved it and the energy was flowing. I loved the infusion of the local culture.
A few more fun details that we infused...for an extra decor element, I printed my wedding logo on a sheer paper and wrapped them around glass vases with candles in them and had them line the stairs up to the balcony. Enticing guests to go upstairs where there was this huge mural painted on the wall. I had my photographer set up an extra camera so guests could go get their pictures taken with the mural as the backdrop. It was sort of my version of a fun photo booth. Also, at my cocktail hour I collected local postcards from Puerto Rico and laid them out on a small table next to a crystal bowl. With a message on one of the sample postcards that said "please write a postcard to the newlyweds and we will mail it to them while they're on their honeymoon".
Read more about Ceci's wedding invitation suite, here (think old world charm meets regal glam vibes!).