Denée and Carl’s wedding day at Bella Collina in Orlando was a vibrant celebration, filled with colorful personalities and fun surprises. From the in-the-round ceremony and to the surprise Bahamian Junkanoo band to the most romantic vows, the day was truly a reflection of the couple and their partnership.
Having worked with countless couples over the years, there are some love stories that simply stand out. This is undoubtedly one of them! Denée Benton and Carl Lundstedt are both actors. They had their charming meet-cute in an undergrad acting class at Carnegie Mellon University. Fast forward five and a half years of love and career success, Carl pulled off a surprise proposal on a seemingly ordinary Friday night.
Bella Collina | Orlando, FL
Their top priorities when venue scouting were a beautiful outdoor setting with lots of greenery, a history free from ties to slavery, and ample space for their guests. Denée is from Orlando and Carl hails from the Midwest, so they decided to return to her sunny home state for a January wedding. Bella Collina in Central Florida emerged as the perfect fit. Nestled amidst rolling hills, surrounded by lakes, and boasting an Italian villa-inspired aesthetic, it combined luxury with the capacity to accommodate their extensive guest list.
The Couple’s Vision
A Vibrant Outdoor Wedding Celebrating Community and Love
Denée and Carl envisioned a wedding day that was uniquely their own, centered on family and a whole lot of fun. They desired a blend of traditional and non-traditional elements. These included circular seating at the ceremony and a vibrant color palette inspired by sunset hues. Their goal was to create a laid-back vibe that beautifully celebrated the merging of two families into one.
Getting Ready Moments
Embracing Natural Beauty and Personality
On the morning of their wedding, Denée and Carl each prepared in separate on-site condos at Bella Collina. Denée’s bridal look was all about embracing her true self and avoiding an overly made-up appearance. Her Pronovias gown, with its simple silhouette, low back, and delicate beading on the neckline, perfectly embodied the natural, ethereal beauty she sought. Denée was keen on showcasing her natural hair texture, which she styled herself with stunning results! To complete her look, she added a handmade beaded headband, a veil, and comfy flats, ensuring she could dance the night away.
Meanwhile, Carl rocked a snazzy dark blue velvet tuxedo with paisley detailing from Robbie & Co. in NYC. His aim for the attire was to infuse fun and personality into his wedding day look.
First Look & Portraits
At the Bella Collina Clubhouse
After getting ready, Denée had the sweetest first look with her dad against the backdrop of Bella Collina’s Italian-inspired clubhouse. Their close bond really shines through in every photo.
Then, after this sweet moment with her dad, Denée had a quick but equally heartwarming reveal with her paternal grandma. Finally, she gracefully descended the steps to meet Carl against the venue’s picturesque ivy-covered walls. It was a moment they had dreamed of for nearly half a decade.
The Wedding Party & Family
Mismatched Silhouettes Embracing Individuality
Denée’s bridesmaids had the freedom to choose their own dresses, all in sunset hues. Her priority was to celebrate their beauty as individuals and a group, ensuring each bridesmaid felt confident and comfortable in her chosen attire. Carl’s groomsmen complemented his dark blue tuxedo with the Huxley Outfit from The Black Tux. Denée’s niece was even a junior bridesmaid! We did photos with the wedding party as groups and individuals. Finally, we wrapped up the photo session with family photos!
The Circular Ceremony
A Vibrant Floral-Focused Event Under Twinkly Lights
The ceremony was incredibly romantic and intimate, set in a round configuration that allowed everyone to see the other’s reactions. You could really feel the love from their family and friends, especially during toasts and songs. Denée and Carl were deeply moved hearing each other’s written vows, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Denée’s grandmothers were meant to be her flower girls, but the passing of her mother’s mom, ‘Nanny,’ a month before the wedding, was a heartache. In her absence, Denée’s ‘Mema’ represented both grandmothers, wearing Nanny’s photo as a pin. A chair, adorned with Nanny’s cherished church hat, was reserved in her honor, and her presence was deeply felt.
After the touching ceremony and sunset portraits, guests were treated to a spread of appetizers and cocktails in the courtyard. Towards the end of cocktail hour, a Junkanoo Band burst onto the scene, complete with a lead dancer, trombones, tubas, steel drums, cowbells, and an exuberant percussion ensemble. Denée shared the significance of this choice, honoring her late maternal grandfather’s Bahamian heritage. The band ignited an infectious line dance that weaved through the entire cocktail hour, pulling guests into the rhythm as they made their way down to the reception. The evening took off with an exhilarating dance party that had everyone breaking a sweat.
Touching Toasts and a Firey Dance Floor
The reception was an absolute stunner, set under the enchanting Florida night sky, bathed in the soft glow of string lights. The couple’s vision of unity came to life as guests gathered around long communal tables, making it a beautiful blend of their diverse community. The tables were decorated with vibrant blooms of yellow tulips, pink peonies, and red poppy flowers from Orlando Flower Market.
Other thoughtful details included a champagne wall adorned with lush green leaves, a neon “Drunk in Love” sign as a nod to Denée’s love for Beyoncé, and a baggo set in honor of Carl’s Midwestern roots. The Bay Kings Band had the dance floor sizzling all night long. And when the music finally quieted down, the newlyweds and their closest friends headed to their Bella Collina honeymoon suite to indulge in some late-night burgers and beers.