An Opulent, Intimate Wedding at the Versace Mansion in Miami Beach
After a mutual friend introduced Paola and Jose at a party, it took only four months for the pair to begin dating—and just a year later, during a romantic dinner at their home, Jose dropped down on one knee to propose. The couple wasted no time planning the start of their life together: Just three months later, on April 30, 2018, they were married in front of 45 guests at Villa Casaurina, the Versace Mansion in Miami Beach.
They chose a weekday reservation and let the beauty of the venue inspire the color choices for their wedding. While they kept their ceremony simple by foregoing attendants, the low-key plans didn't change the magic of their big day. "Getting married during the week—we got married on a Monday—can drastically help your budget," says Paola, "but it does not take away from the wedding day." And though Paola and Jose didn't get married in a church, the religious ceremony they planned allowed them both to celebrate their faith—starting with an unexpected moment on the morning of the wedding.
"When I arrived at the venue, my planner and her staff were saying a prayer and I joined in," says Paola. "This moment made me feel peace and God directing the day, letting me know this was what He wanted for me." Post-ceremony festivities included a family-style dinner, a heartfelt speech from the groom's best friend, and a night of dancing to Latin and jazz tunes. "The religious ceremony, the venue, the details, the guests," says Paola, "everything was done with much love."
The smaller guest list allowed the couple to invest in individually-made invitations from Silbia Ro. They chose a pale blue envelope and paper, a neutral ribbon, and a bronze-colored wax seal, with envelope liners featuring a sketch of the pool at the mansion. "Each invitation was done in handmade and hand-dyed cotton paper, and hand calligraphed," says Paola.
House of Style
When Paola and Jose began searching for a spot to host their dream wedding, their planner, Eileen Morales at Beauty in the Making, suggested Villa Casaurina, the Versace Mansion in Miami Beach. "Once I walked in, I knew this was the place," says Paola. "It is a place with a lot of character and we didn't want to change anything, but work with it."
A Work of Art
Paola's search for the perfect weddiing dress ended at Zuhair Murad, where she found a long-sleeved embroidered stunner with a high neckline and a low back. "I tried many dresses, but once I tried my dress on, I knew that was it!" says Paola. "It was simple but very detailed, and worked very well with my venue."
Love in Bloom
The bride's full, lush bouquet from Beauty in the Making included her favorite flowers—orchids and roses—in pale peachy-pink. Jose's blue Hugo Boss suit tied into the paler shade used on the invitations and other blue accents throughout the space.
A Private Moment
Paola and Jose took advantage of the mansion's stunning grounds to pose for portraits both inside—in grand hallways, rooms with elaborately tiled floors, and by intricate metalwork railings—and outside on the property's balconies and staircases.
Invitation designer Ro also created the programs, which were written in Spanish, from handmade, hand-dyed cotton paper with gold calligraphy.
Paola and Jose held their ceremony outdoors, in the mansion's courtyard, and lined the aisle with dozens of pillar candles surrounded by fresh greenery. "We wanted the ceremony to feel very romantic, intimate, and sacred," says Paola. "We wanted real candles to really enhance the exquisite venue and its authenticity."
Down the Aisle
The couple decided to forego having a bridal party—"We wanted to have a very intimate wedding," says Paola, "focusing on what was taking place"—so neither bridesmaids nor groomsmen joined them at the altar. Paola walked down the aisle unescorted to meet Jose for the ceremony.
Paola and Jose exchanged traditional vows during a religious ceremony enhanced by the outdoor surroundings. "We wanted to feel God's presence," says the bride. "Jose Ramon Santa Maria married us in the Mediterranean courtyard under the beautiful sky before our loved ones."
With This Ring
Jose's favorite moment of the day came when the two exchanged rings, as "the reality of the event set in at that magical moment." The pair left the altar as husband and wife while harpist Esther Underhay played "A Thousand Years." Says Paola, "The melody of the song really made the moment feel magic and angelical."
Finding Their Places
After the ceremony, the couple joined their guests for dinner by the mansion's pool. Ro, who made the invitations, calligraphed each person's name and seating assignment on blue silk fabric that the couple suspended between two trees as their seating chart.
The pool at the mansion, designed by the late Gianni Versace and inspired by his "Marine Vanitas" collection, includes "thousands of 24-carat gold tiles" that create images of Poseidon, shells, palm trees, and urns.
Paola and Jose chose to organize their guests at a single table for an intimate meal, and selected natural furniture that contrasted with the ornate landscaping and tiling in the pool area. "In order to have an understated reception that highlighted the beautiful and opulent venue, we had one long wood table where we sat together with all of our guests," says Paola. Taper candles in gold holders were placed next to low floral centerpieces to create an elegant garden atmosphere.
Metallic footed vessels held overflowing arrangements of Cymbidium orchids, roses, ranunculus, and green hellebores. To show off the warmth and grain of the wooden table, the couple traded full tablecloths for a pale silk runner, which was loosely gathered along its length and hung to the floor at each end.
Bright aqua chargers provided a tropical contrast to gold-edged plates, gold flatware, and blue and gold place cards made from hand-dyed cotton paper. "We used opulent dinnerware to accent the location and to honor its history," says Paola. "The top Versace plate also served as a wedding keepsake."
On the Menu
Guests dined on a family-style meal that included a first course of poached lobster and arugula salad with heirloom tomatoes and asparagus tips, followed by beef tenderloin, truffle pommes purée, grilled asparagus, and onion and branzino with basil foam.
The Lourdes Valentin Quartet played a mix of jazz and Latin favorites throughout the night, including Carlos Vive's "Casate Conmigo," which had the entire party dancing and singing. "We chose not to do a first dance," Paola says, "but we danced the night away!"
A three-tier cake with gold accents and pale orchids from E&M Sweets was displayed on a slim gold stand. The couple chose a wine cake—a black fruitcake—per Colombian and Venezuelan tradition.
Photography, Julie Cate
Location and catering, Villa Casaurina, the Versace Mansion
Event planning and flowers, Beauty in the Making
Stationery and calligraphy, Silbia Ro
Cake, E&M Sweets
Music, The Elegant Harp; Lourdes Valentin Quartet
Rentals, Bubble Miami; Love in Vintage
Bride's gown, Zuhair Murad
Bride's veil, Ever After Bridal
Hair and makeup, Carolyn Jones
Groom's suit, Hugo Boss