Ashley & Joana – A Queer Wedding At Oxford Exchange, Tampa

In a romantic European-inspired venue, Oxford Exchange, complete with stone and marble, Ashley & Joana married with 80 guests, after initially wanting to elope.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Vibe Of Your Wedding?

We wanted a simple, elegant, and intimate wedding. We mainly chose tropical greenery and white flowers. Our close friend, Konrad, was our officiant. He incorporated memories even we had forgotten about and funny anecdotes during the ceremony. We were constantly either laughing or crying. Excellent cocktails and plenty of dancing were of the utmost importance to us. The goal was a perfect mix of Latin and country music, as we are from Miami and Tennessee.

Did You Undertake Any DIY Projects For The Big Day?

Our wedding party favors were Cuban cigars and Tennessee whiskey combined with the table assignments. We put them together with a personalized cigar label and tropical leaf with table numbers and names.

It felt like a perfect representation of us.

Talk To Us About The Big Day! 

Ashley– Our wedding day was the best day of my life. It started with a bit of anxiety, which improved with mimosas. I had an extraordinary morning getting ready with my mom and sister. I couldn’t wait to see Joana and spend the rest of my day with her. After family pictures, it was time for our first look. Everyone had told me that Jo was so nervous. We met on the stairs, facing back to back. Once we saw each other, it was like a weight lifted. We took more pictures and laughed the entire time. When it was time for the ceremony, I was definitely less nervous since I had Jo by my side.

Our ceremony was intimate and natural. We laughed, cried, and even forgot to exchange rings! Next, we had a cocktail hour with a saxophone player and hors d’oeuvres. The reception was quite a party, with nonstop dancing. My nephews had the time of their lives on the dance floor. The party ended with the song “Closing Time”, after which we took the party to one of our favorite bars next door.

Joana– Our wedding day couldn’t have been more perfect. I was pretty anxious most of the day. As we got ready, my two bridesmaids, my mom, my sister-in-law, and I had a killer Latin playlist and some champagne to calm the nerves. I was counting down the minutes to the first look. But, once I saw Ashley, all my anxieties faded away. I was so ready to walk down that aisle and say yes. Ash and I were able to be together before walking down the aisle separately, which was so unique to me. I loved spending those moments together.

Seeing her walk down the beautiful staircase to “The Story” by Brandi Carlisle had me sobbing. I had to get my composure before walking down myself. I’ll never forget that moment. Seeing everything come together, the months of work, the small details – was so special. To this day, I keep saying I wish we could do it all over again, but I want to be a guest this time!

Did You Incorporate Any Family Or Religious Traditions Into The Day?

Joana– I am of Cuban and Spanish descent and grew up Catholic, so my mom and I wanted to incorporate some of our cultures into the ceremony. In Spain, during a Catholic ceremony, the couple’s mothers place an ornate Spanish veil (mantilla) on the couple and read a prayer over them. Our moms placed the mantilla I borrowed from my sister-in-law over us during the ceremony and read a prayer, blessing our union. I loved that we could integrate some of my background and tradition into this special day.

What Does Marriage Mean To You?

To us, marriage is a commitment between two people you want to spend the rest of your lives with. It is truly something that you have to choose every day. We choose to put each other before ourselves, be loyal and honest, and make each other happy daily.

It was important for both of us to marry our best friend and someone who would make us better people. We push each other to achieve goals, both personally and professionally. We continue to work on communication and compromise every single day.

Most importantly, we have a blast together no matter what we are doing. Everyone says that marriage is hard work, and while there are times that are difficult for both of us, choosing to marry each other was an easy decision, and our relationship has grown stronger since we got married. 

Advice For Other Couples Planning A Wedding?

Firstly, everyone says this is the best day of your life, but it really and truly is! Take in every moment.

Be patient with each other. You will definitely get into some arguments during the planning process, but you have to pick your battles and try to compromise if you can. One of the most significant pieces of advice we got for the wedding day was that things would go wrong. Just be at peace with it because there is nothing you can do about it now. And most importantly, the day will absolutely fly by – try to enjoy every moment. I felt like the day lasted 30 minutes altogether. We both wish we could redo it and be a guest at our own wedding.

Photography by Josie Brooks

Cake Publix
Dress Boutiques Adorn Nashville, The Find Bridal
Dress Designers EnzoaniLela Rose
Florist Carmen Gonzalez
H&MU Femme Akoi
Officiant Konrad Karasek
Photo Booth The Gala Photobooth
Planner | Stylist One Fine Day
Shoes Jimmy Choo
Venue Oxford Exchange

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