We were very much looking forward to this wedding and reception, both of which were planned for the historic Venue 1902 in Sanford. The bride and groom, a lovely young Orlando area couple, were charming, thoughtful and clearly full of excitement about their wedding day and future together. The couple's choice of venue was an added source of anticipation as we had heard great things about the landmark two-story structure- a restored turn-of-the-century brick schoolhouse building.
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Moises and Carina’s wedding took place just after 5:00 pm in a sun-dappled outdoor setting behind the red brick citadel of a schoolhouse, made stately with symmetrical rows of tall white-cased windows. Bordered on two sides by a high white wooden fence and fronted by a dense line of leafy trees, the venue’s open-air wedding arena features an eighty-foot brick walkway and was accessorized with attractive flower stands. At the top of the walkway was a clever faux doorway through which the bride would pass. In the shaded narrow courtyard at the rear of the building the venue's event coordinators had placed a very nice refreshment stand with a basket of hand-held bamboo fans.
Earlier, guests and family members began congregating in the Venue 1902’s first-floor lobby and interior rooms - a remarkable blend of old and new (see below for more on this). They came dressed for a very special occasion (including the children). The bridal party was a great looking group, with bridesmaids in detailed dusty pink gowns with rhinestone belts, and groomsmen outfitted in sharp light gray three-piece with deep pink vests and neckties with bright white shirts. The maid of honor - the bride’s sister- wore a beautiful beaded full-length gown in ruby red. The best man accessorized his gray suit with a themed-colored burgundy vest and necktie. The deep red shade was incorporated throughout in multiple large coordinating flower arrangements and in the men’s boutonnières.
The bride’s proud mother and father accompanied her down the aisle. Carina’s mother also wore light pink - a beautiful two-piece ensemble with a glittering belt. Her father was dressed in a classic charcoal suit with red accessories and white shirt.
The bridegroom, Moises, chose a bright blue three-piece suit, burgundy red tie and classic white shirt. The bride wore a beautiful full-length, neck-high sleeveless, beaded and lace gown with a shimmering rhinestone belt and matching headband. The ensemble was completed with a mantilla-style wedding veil.
The groom's father also wore a bright mid-blue three-piece suit and his mother wore a gown in the bridal shade of pink.
Bride and groom were married in a lovely Christian ceremony with about 80 family members and friends in attendance. Immediately afterward, participants and guests took part in post-wedding photos in and around the venue and enjoyed a selection of hors d’oeuvres and beverages inside.
The reception took place in Venue 1902's second floor event hall, a spotless white and airy rectangular space reached by twin spiral wood staircases. There, a band played on the raised reception stage, with two keyboardists, a bassist and a drummer. Tables were decorated with shimmering gold chargers and large vases of roses, carnations, ferns and baby’s breath. The rich wooden guest chairs had been accessorized with pale pink sashes fastened with rhinestones. Similarly, matching table napkins were affixed smartly with rhinestone rings.
While this was a truly memorable reception, we’re sure we won’t forget the young bride and groom taking the stage and delivering a musical performance that just knocked us out. Other members of the bridal party joined in later. Fortunately for us, this multi-talented crew didn't do the cooking or we would have missed the whole show.
For their reception menu, Carina and Moises decided on a semi-tropical theme. The post wedding appetizers were coconut shrimps, lump crab cakes and spinach feta triangles. The main menu included a tropical fruit salad with 2 vinaigrette dressing selections (balsamic and raspberry), whipped home-style potatoes, medley of fresh oven-roasted vegetables, and two main courses - a tropical breast of chicken with pineapple and beef tips braised in cabernet sauce. The meal included artisan rolls and butter.
Nothing, however, was going to top the spectacular flower-adorned wedding cake, which looked as though it had floated in on a magic carpet. We understand that a family member created the masterpiece, and so if there is a DYI hall of fame, this creation should be granted immediate entry. To no surprise, it was reported to be delicious.
Thoughts on Venue 1902
We arrived an hour earlier than the scheduled wedding time so that we could tour Venue 1902 and take photographs. Entering from the rear of the property, we passed through a tall wooden gate and found ourselves immediately within a sun-dappled, intimate outdoor wedding arena. Bordered on two sides by a high white wooden fence and fronted by a line of leafy trees, the spot lies just behind the compact red-bricked citadel of a schoolhouse, made stately with symmetrical rows of tall white-cased windows. The wedding site has a brick walkway of about 80 feet and there were appealing accessories and flower stands placed about along with a clever faux doorway at the top of the walkway, through which the bride would pass. The event staff had placed candles that lined each side of the brick path.
When we entered the Venue 1902 building, we were deeply impressed with how smartly the owners had fashioned the interior spaces to create a place of casual elegance, while retaining the historic character of the original design and materials of the structure. The original wood-planked floors are still in place, refurbished beautifully with a lustrous patina. There are two original classrooms in the building, remarkably restored and lit by a warm ambient light reflected in caramel-colored wood floors and ceilings. We felt as if we were walking onto the set of a Steven Spielberg period film.
From the front entrance of the building, a graceful entryway extends back to a small paneled reception room, pristine with white walls and ceiling. Also on the first level, there are amply sized dressing/waiting rooms for bride, groom and wedding party members, and the building’s bathrooms are stylishly modernized. Everything in the building seemed to be spotless, and the venue staff were highly engaged, attentive and a pleasure to work with.
A pair of gently curving and elegantly restyled staircases rises to the main reception hall on the second floor, where you find yourself inside a vast rectangular white jewel box of a reception hall under Italianate chandeliers. At the backside of the room is a raised recessed stage. Here on this early summer evening, soft filtered light flowed in through the tall windows from all sides of the room.
Sometime later in the twilight, we were standing in front of the old schoolhouse building admiring its fine proportions. We looked at the wonderful old bell tower that rises straight above the main entrance, bisecting the building, and were struck by how it imparted spirituality to the building. But then we recalled how this kind of structure - a vertical bell tower of right angles and a pyramid top - have been a key component of churches dating back to the 11th century.
Suddenly the bell rang - heralding the future of the bride and groom, who were soon to be on their way to their honeymoon destination on the Caribbean island of Curacao ■
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