Merri and Pete’s wedding weekend was incredible and I am excited to share everything with you guys today!
Merri and Pete have been together for nearly as long as Ryan and I have (nine years!) and since we all went to college together, I’ve had the chance to get to know them individually and separately and absolutely adore them as a couple. I feel like my girlfriends and I have been anxiously awaiting Merri and Pete’s big day for years and I am so grateful I could be a part of it.
On Friday afternoon, guests were invited to join the couple for a beach barbeque on Siesta Key Beach. The weather was perfect and we spent lots of time eating brats, grilled mahi mahi and burgers before it was time to play volleyball on the beach. A little before 3 p.m., everyone said goodbye so we could head back to our rooms to change before the wedding rehearsal.
Since Ryan was still en route to Florida from Italy and wasn’t scheduled to arrive in Sarasota until 5 p.m., I got ready back at my in-law’s place with my sister and her fiancé. Before we left, I took a couple of pictures of Leslie and Ross since they wanted a few contenders for their wedding save the dates that they will be sending out within the next couple of weeks.
I love them! And how cute does Leslie look!? I gave her that dress for her birthday back in June (French Connection via RueLaLa) and I think it looks stunning on her!
Once we were ready to go, we drove over to the Phillippi Estate Park for Merri and Pete’s wedding rehearsal.
The rehearsal kicked off at 4 p.m. and we walked through ceremony logistics for about an hour.
I was paired with Ross who was also a groomsmen in the wedding.
It was one of the most laidback rehearsals I’ve ever been a part of which made it a lot of fun!
The wedding party (minus Ryan):
Rehearsal Dinner at Andrea’s
After we ran through everything twice, we drove to Andrea’s for an intimate rehearsal dinner at the romantic Italian restaurant.
The rehearsal dinner began with a cocktail hour that included passed hors d’oeuvres.
Andrea, the owner of the restaurant, was born in Pallanza in Piedmont, Italy and his food is unbelievable! While I drank champagne, I sampled the bruschetta and rice balls (I’m sure there is much fancier name for that dish!) and both were fantastic.
The bride and groom:
The groom and the bride’s twin sister, Liz:
I loved every second I was able to spend with Merri and some of my very best girlfriends from college. Four of Merri’s bridesmaids (including myself) were Kappa Deltas at UCF together and whenever we are reunited it feels like we pick up right where we left off. I miss them like crazy.
At the very end of the cocktail hour, Ryan arrived! I was so, so happy to see him and he walked into the restaurant looking surprisingly energetic despite the time difference and the extra long flight.
We took our seats and were greeted with passed appetizers. There was definitely not a shortage of food at this rehearsal dinner!
The eggplant parmesan was my favorite passed appetizer and I went back for seconds. I can assure you that if I visit Andrea’s again, I will be ordering that dish as my entree. It was so cheesy!
Arugula salads came next followed by the main course.
I selected the homemade tagliolini pasta with shrimp.
You simply cannot beat homemade pasta and Andrea’s clearly knows how to do it right!
After dinner, Merri, Pete and her father gave heart-warming speeches and then it was my turn to read the poem Merri requested I write and share. I was nervous but I think it went well. I did my best to speak from the heart and I felt honored to share something with the bride and groom in front of their family and closest friends.
Once we were done with dinner and finished our wine (the restaurant did a phenomenal job selecting the perfect wine to pair with dinner!), we all drove to the Merri’s dad and stepmom’s house for an evening dessert reception.
Merri’s dad and her stepmother poured a lot of time and energy into making their backyard look incredible for the reception. I told them that it looked like a cross between a romantic bistro patio and an upscale bed and breakfast courtyard.
Guests hung out until a little after 11 p.m. I had fun chatting with everyone while I sipped on red wine and ate cookies and cannoli.
I loved the way the cookies had a little New York flare since that is where Merri and Pete live!
Eventually it was time to leave so we could all feel rested for the big day ahead of us. It was a great way to kick off one heck of a wonderful wedding weekend!
Wedding recap to come!