Ashley and Dan’s wedding – San Juan del Rio, Marywood, Cody Family Enrichment Center, Jacksonville Florida

Hello my dear reader,

I am so glad to feature another love story on my blog. This wedding was a refreshing display of family warmth and amazing friendships wrapped around two people beginning their lives together.

Enjoy the photos and then read the charming story shared with us by the bride. It will brighten your day!


“Our Love Story

Walking around on the first day of orientation for college, I turned around to my Mom, best friend (MOH) and her mother telling them, “I better meet my husband here.” Little did I know at that time how soon I’d be meeting my Prince Charming. Being a Communications major, an introduction to theatre class was a requirement for my degree audit. I remember laughing at the time when I signed up for the class, while my best friend, Meghan, was highly dreading it since she’s a little more introverted. Then again, I’ve never met a crowd too large for me.
We all know how the first week of college is, you wear your cutest clothes, best hair styles and always make sure to perfect your makeup because you just never know when your husband was going to walk through the door, as we’d joke. Well I think the big man upstairs was having the last laugh at me. Meghan and I headed to class (we had the same major and all of the same classes), sat down and waited for our other classmates to walk-in, we were always one of the first ones there because Meghan’s pet peeve is being late. 99% of our classmates arrive, all females except for 4 males- or so we thought. After about 15 minutes of class starting, in strolls a tall man, wearing a Florida Gator hat and his Costas still on. He clearly didn’t care that he was late and was making an entrance. In just walked my future husband- unaware at that time.
Due to his tardiness and sarcasm, he was far from the teacher’s pet. Thankfully (for him) I knew who he was and he quickly caught my attention. What can I say, I enjoy laughing and he was a class clown. About 8 weeks of the semester went by and suddenly our class clown was MIA. The next week we were informed that “Mr.Falk” had dropped the class. “Oh Falk!” Meghan and I joked.
Fast forward a few months and I receive a friend request on good ole’ Facebook from the one and only “Dan Falk.” As fate would have it, the same day he friend requested me was the eve of my 19th birthday. He invited all of my friends and I over and we all celebrated my birthday together with his friends. That night we’d have our first kiss.
We continued to hangout until around Christmas when Dan moved back to his hometown. We talked at first after he moved but as life and distance would have it, we slowly lost connection. That was until I was in a car accident that next summer and Dan messaged me to catch up and make sure I was okay, what a gentleman right? A week later my family went on a mini-vacation to Orlando and guess who showed up- Falker himself! He was awkwardly introduced as “my friend Dan.” Little did I know at the time that I would soon be starting a four year long distance relationship with my soon-to-be husband.
While in Orlando Dan informed me that he had joined the NAVY but wasn’t leaving for a couple more months for bootcamp. I immediately told myself to be cautious and not fall for someone who would soon be leaving again. Well, that lasted about a day. Dan started visiting me in college about every two weeks until he left for boot camp and I soon found myself head-over-heels in love.
Come April that following year, the day I had been dreading for months finally came and Daniel left for NAVY boot camp. I thought it was the worst day ever (slight exaggeration) but looking back now, I appreciate that time and the bond we recreated. We started writing letters to each other and I slowly starting stalking the mailman. I kept my phone on me, on loud and vibrate 24/7 because God forbid I missed my once a week phone call for 5 minutes. Fast forward 6 months, Dan graduated from the Navy, did his A School in Pensacola and then got his first orders in Virginia-again, another time that I thought was the worst day ever (I’m so dramatic).
We decided that we’d keep our long distance relationship for as long as we could. About a month after Dan was in Virginia, we both met our breaking points with stress from school and work, not to mention the longing to be with one another and called it quits. Yeah, that lasted long. For my spring break of my Junior year of college, Dan surprised me in FL and spent my spring break with me. We forgot all of the worries in the world and made a commitment that nothing would ever come between us again, ever.  Fast forward a year, we were married (civilly) in Virginia, May 2012 he “proposed” at my college graduation from the University of Florida, and a week after graduation I was moving with everything I had to a foreign land (VA) to be with my man.

My Fairytale Wedding

Ever since I knew what marriage or a wedding was, I longed and prayed for it. I was obsessed since about age five with wedding shows, magazines, wedding dresses, flowers, you name it and I could tell you all about it. I would sit in church and picture all of my best friends on my left and see a blurry image for my groom.

I grew up around a very close and tight family who was full of love all the time. I was very fortunate and blessed to have always been surrounded by love and commitment. Even though I had all of this, I longed for true love like a fairytale love or the kind I saw between my parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles.

Someone once told me the term “power couples” and that couldn’t be more true for my family. They were the best kind of role models anyone could ask for. They’ve all been married for decades and you can see the unconditional love in their eyes. I had very high expectations for my one-day husband because I expected him to care for me, love me, protect me, want me, father, and laugh like my Daddy, Grandfather and uncles. I watched their relationships very closely, always looking for what I wanted one day for myself.
Once I met Daniel I just couldn’t believe that my dreams and prayers had been answered and that someone outside of my family could love me so much. So planning the wedding to me seemed just like the icing on the cake and an “extra” because then I would truly have it all.

Friday night rituals in my house usually consisted of my Mom and I watching “Say Yes to the Dress” on TLC and my dad telling me to not get any ideas. Little did he know at the time, he’d soon be planning “The wedding of the century” as he referred to it, yes I had finally brainwashed him.
My parents were amazing. No questions were asked and the planning began. They always gave me so much and now were giving me my happiest moment. My mother and grandmother started “pinning” like it was their side job and off to work they went. Being that I lived in VA there was not too much that I could help with. I found my gorgeous Maggie Sottero dress at a local bridal shop in Mandarin and picked that specific dress because it reminded me of my grandmothers. We all cried and it was a priceless moment that I’ll never forget.
Almost every weekend, my mom and grandmother and some other members of my family would gather at my grandmothers house to start putting together centerpieces, making tutus, decorating candles- you name it, they were on it!
I joked with my mother and told her that she was my David Tuterra, because she was turning my dream into a reality and I had no idea what it was going to look like.
One very important element of my wedding that was created during those “craft days” was my beautiful bouquet made by my grandmother. She collected brooches from all over, handmade the white flowers on the bouquet and sewed pieces of her wedding dress into it. I cried the first time I saw it and will always love that bouquet. It was my “something old” for my wedding and I hope to one day pass it on to my daughter or cousins as a “something borrowed.”

Before the wedding I always joked that my wedding would be “My Big Falkin’ Cuban Wedding” because we both come from large families but my family can be accurately compared to a Cuban version of the case from “My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding.” We are loud, lovey-dovey, and always leave a lasting impression. Accents are flying, people are laughing and someone is always getting kissed. We kiss instead of shaking hands when we meet. I wasn’t sure if my new family, The Falk’s, were ready for all the madness but it was most definitely happening.
My big, Falking, Cuban wedding was definitely a family affair. Almost everything was handmade by my family and personal touches were all over the room. Before the wedding we requested that all married couples send in a black and white 8×10 from their wedding day so we could display it. There wasn’t a single detail that was missed by my family. I was stunned, as were my guests. My family nailed it.

Our Bridal Party

Our bridal party may be considered “large” to some but when you’ve had best friends since Kindergarten and more cousins than the Duggars, it’s pretty hard to cut it down. My bridesmaids were three girls I had known from Kindergarten, one from birth, my two high school best friends turned college roommates, one best friend from college and a cousin. Phew, what a mouthful. Dan had three childhood friends, my brother, his brother, two of my cousins and two uncles.
We had four flower girls because I think that every girl should have the opportunity to be a flower girl and one groomsmen. All of my uncles and one of my cousins read during the mass, my aunts participated in a Cuban tradition, and little cousins brought up the gifts. We tried to include everyone and make everyone feel important.
My bridesmaids wore black, floor length mermaid dresses and the guys were in “James Bond” tuxedo with bowties. My girls had large, baby’s breath bouquets and a statement updo to complement their look. My Prince Charming wore the “James Bond” tuxedo as well except his coat was white with black pants. He looked good! As I already stated, I wore a Maggie Sottero dress that I’m obsessed with and wish I could wear it again. I was decked out in bling and topped all of the bling off with my bouquet.
Our first song was “First Dance” by Corey Smith and I danced to “Butterfly Kisses” with my Daddy. The entire night was filled with laughter, happy tears, dancing, drinks and lots of people. We ended the night with a duo dance between my cousin and I which had everyone laughing. My mom always told me growing up that life isn’t always a fairytale but December 15, 2012 truly was a fairytale days and I look forward to starting my “happily, ever after” with my Falker.”

Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your beautiful story with us!


TressieMarch 11, 2013 - 4:23 am

What a beautiful love story! And gorgeous wedding – congrats!!

Jenny BMarch 14, 2013 - 3:26 pm

V you are an amazing photographer, these are just stunning. The bride looks like Claudia Schiffer! Keep up the gorgeous work!

Candy AveraMarch 16, 2013 - 12:41 pm

Wow wow wow! What a beautiful wedding!! You are a wonderful wedding photographer Violetta!

Judi MorrisseyMarch 19, 2013 - 7:36 am

Wow. These are stunning images. What a beautiful bride, and you work is fabulous!

Sue StendahlMarch 19, 2013 - 9:39 am

Stunningly incredibly GORGEOUS!

MeghanMarch 20, 2013 - 11:55 am

Love, love, LOVE this! Violeta, you are an amazing photographer– the pictures are absolutely beautiful. Ash, I still tear up reading the story; even though I’ve been there for all of it! Your wedding will always be one of my favorite and happiest memories. I’m so blessed to have stood by your side.

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