FROM THE BRIDE & GROOM
“We met in Harlem after the NY Giants won the Superbowl in 2012,” says SueAnn Damassia. “Then, when we were at Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house, Kevin proposed to me with many family members present.”
She is an underwriting consultant with CNA Financial, he is a vice president at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and to help create their wedding, they decided to work with a wedding planner. “Michelle Flores helped plan a wedding in Jamaica that I went to,” says SueAnn. “I saw that she was very helpful in arranging the international travel and in planning the wedding itself.”
Once they started working with her, Michelle offered detailed advice about planning their wedding. “She even planned the ceremony to move in a very timely fashion, in 90 degree heat! She also made real-time adjustments to help the ceremony and reception work out fantastically when circumstances changed.”
SueAnn tells us about the best wedding advice she and Kevin received. “On the actual day, think of your marriage, and nothing else.”
FROM THE WEDDING PLANNER
“SueAnn and Kevin wanted to get married in just a few months, but they had very limited time off from work,” says Michele Flores of Floré Events. “Because SueAnn’s family lived in the Caribbean, the couple wanted a destination wedding, since having a New York wedding would make it very difficult for her family to attend.”
But the bride still wanted to have all the traditional wedding elements: a beautiful white wedding gown, a ceremony, a reception, and a celebration.
A destination wedding can be more expensive because of the airfare and hotels involved. “But once the bride chose Tobago as her destination, we called the hotel and the airline for group rates,” explains Michelle. “We were able to negotiate rates on every room category and blocked off the rooms. JetBlue gave us a discount as well. That’s much better than booking individual flights and, more importantly, you can keep everyone together.”
To simplify the planning process, Michelle helped SueAnn do as much as possible in New York. “She got her gown in New York City from Selia Yang, for example.”
To control costs for the wedding couple, Michelle did most of her planning long distance. “I only went to the destination one time, and did everything else on the phone.” First, she contacted all the vendors, starting with the hotel and its vendor list. She also got references from some of the individual vendors.
A Destination Wedding Weekend
“But I kept it a team effort,” says Michelle, “always making sure SueAnn and Kevin were up to date.” Coordinating with the couple, Michelle created a wedding weekend for their 125 wedding guests. “We had breakfasts every morning, parties every night, tours Thursday and Friday, the wedding on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday!”
Michelle arranged for two buses to provide transportation for guests throughout each day’s activities. “We also wrote a daily itinerary and slipped it under the door each night to let guests know what they could be involved in the next day and also to let them know when the bus was leaving if they wanted to participate.”
The ceremony was in a historic church in the town and the décor throughout the indoor reception was “beachy and light.” The menu was also inspired by the island ambiance and included Thai curry seafood soup, coconut bisque, rock shrimp salsa, and honey-roasted duck salad with mango avocado and a cherry tomato citrus vinaigrette.
“We also had a ‘Trini Grill,’ with grilled chicken breast marinated in rum and lime, raisin jasmine rice, lobster tail, crayfish with balsamic reduction, and a trio of chocolate desserts.
“I took an overnight flight,” says Michelle, “and when I arrived, it was amazing to see everyone together out by the beach and the pool. But I had to begin my on-site organizing immediately!
“The most exciting part of the whole experience for me was being with everyone during the day and partying at night. You really get to know all the guests and in some ways you become part of the family. It’s wonderful!”