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Laid Back Island Vibes Mix with Southern Elegance at this Florida Wedding

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Jason Martin of Concept Photography

Sometimes love happens when you least expect it. Such was the case with newlyweds Malia Dreyer and Jason Palma. Dreyer, the owner of an embroidered linens company called Lettermade, first met her institutional money manager future husband, Palma, through mutual friends ages ago. But it wasn’t until they bumped into each other outside of a restaurant years later that their love story officially began. Palma was out celebrating his younger brother’s engagement when he and Dreyer recognized each other from a distance, and before long, he asked her if she’d like to join in on the celebration. After two and half years of dating, they, too, were on the road to the altar.

One day, Palma, who loves to cook, was in the kitchen whipping up something special when he asked Dreyer to give him a hand with the prep. When Dreyer walked in, he was down on one knee with a ring. She said yes, and after spending the next two hours calling all of their friends and family, they were so busy celebrating their engagement that they forgot to eat. “I think we had three bottles of champagne in lieu of dinner that night!” Dreyer recalls.

When thinking about her ideal wedding, Dreyer described her vision as “a little bit of the islands mixed with an intimate dinner party.” Wedding planner Susie Weiss with Wonderful Weddings helped bring the couple’s dream to life. Their nuptials took place last June at the Interlachen Country Club in Winter Park, Florida—a suburban city outside of Orlando where the bride and groom both grew up and now call home. While Dreyer’s family is from the Southeast (Florida and South Carolina), Palma is of Italian and Jamaican heritage, and so the couple decided to bring a bit of that Caribbean island vibe to their big day. The end result was a casual yet elegant dinner party. As for Dreyer’s wedding look: “I wanted to wear a dress that was elegant and timeless, but easy and relaxed,” she says. “Just like we envisioned for the feel of our reception.” This meant a Pronovias gown that would have felt just as at home had the couple tied the knot on the white sandy beaches of Jamaica—or back at home in Dreyer’s own South Carolina.

For accessories, Dreyer added off-the-shoulder straps, so that she could remove them for dancing. An Art Deco sapphire-and-diamond bracelet that belonged to her mother provided sparkle. The jewels also inspired Dreyer’s wedding veil, which was yet another heirloom from Dreyer’s mother. The bride’s mother-in-law, a seamstress who specializes in heirloom embroidery, also had a hand in the final look, as she reconstructed and hand-embroidered the accoutrement for Dreyer’s big day. “My dress didn’t have any lace, so I wanted that to be kept to the veil and the significance behind it,” Dreyer explains. The bride also carried a handkerchief that her aunt fashioned from the lace on her grandmother’s wedding dress. “It was really important to both Jason and I that we incorporate our family history in our ceremony and reception.”

The wedding party attire also hit close to home. Dreyer called upon Florida-based designer Camilyn Beth to create her bridesmaids dresses of different styles but in the same fabric. The groomsmen opted for crisp navy suits from The Black Tux accentuated with pocket squares purchased from Siegel’s, the groom’s favorite Winter Park men’s clothing store. The ceremony venue was also quite familiar; the couple was married in Knowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College, which is Dreyer’s alma matter. “I walked by the chapel going to and from class everyday,” she recalls. “There’s an elaborate three-manual organ that was built in the chapel, so the music sounds incredible!” They had a traditional Presbyterian service and a tenor named Chevalier Lovett sang “The Lords Prayer” as the Prelude and “Ave Maria” during the ceremony.

When it came time for the reception, guests came together over ice-cold Daufuskie Island Rum cocktails, plus conch fritters and fried chicken bites, while a steel drum band helped set the mood. As they wandered past a lush pink bougainvillea leading into the reception hall, everyone was handed a glass of bubbly. “Jason and I have a tradition of celebrating anything big or small with rosé champagne,” Dreyer says. As guests filed up on jumbo lump crab cake and fillet, candles and brightly colored coral charm peonies mixed with magnolias and florals arranged by Velvet and Twine lined the tables. Though, according to Dreyer, the real treat was the speeches. “There’s no other time like a wedding to have all of your favorite people and (entire!) family in the same room celebrating,” she says. “Hearing from all of our siblings and my dad felt like one of those moments in the movies that leaves everyone in happy tears—it kicked off a very magical reception!”

Indeed, that’s when everyone hit the dance floor while a nine-piece band kept the momentum going. Once it was time to call it a wrap, guests sent off the bride and groom and later went to the The Alfond Inn, a new contemporary boutique hotel in Winter Park, for the after-party. In an all-the-more appropriate twist (for the couple who came together over food), Dreyer put in a request weeks before to have their getaway car stocked with a to-go box of fried chicken and wedding cake as they wheeled off into the sunset—and later, Jamaica, for their honeymoon.