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After Eloping in Nice, Both Brides Wore Ines Di Santo Dresses to Their Elegant Reception at Vizcaya Museum in Miami

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Louis Fort

Wedding photographer Rachel Santos was supposed to get on a flight to California for work, but a snow storm in Nashville delayed her by nearly a week. A friend who had four-wheel drive picked her up from the airport, and they decided to go to dinner and a jazz club to blow off steam. Rachel’s friend wanted to invite her best friend to come with. “That’s when we pulled up to my future wife’s house,” Rachel says of first meeting Larissa Santos. “As soon as we walked into her house and she hugged me, I felt like I’d known her for lifetimes. We figured out that we were supposed to have both been out of town and would have likely never crossed paths if this hadn’t happened.”

After six months together, the two decided they wanted to be engaged and headed to the Amalfi Coast to make it official. “We knelt on our balcony and read each other letters then exchanged rings,” Rachel remembers. “Larissa had two giant bouquets delivered and a bottle of Champagne. We went to dinner on the cliffside that night and danced.”

On February 22, 2022, the couple exchanged vows and wedding rings privately at sunset by the cliffs in Nice, France. One of Rachel’s best friends, Lishen Ye, came along and documented the special ceremony. “It was only us out on the edge of the cliff, so we were able to hold each other and cry,” Rachel remembers. “I’ll never forget the way she looked as she read her vows. In the middle of her reading, I realized that we had both wrote the exact same line, ‘When my body dies, my soul will still be yours.’ I started laughing because I couldn’t wait to read mine and her hear the line as well. It is from our favorite show Outlander that both of us had thought significant.”

Once back stateside, the two began planning their large reception for the following year. “Since childhood, I’ve been obsessed with Renaissance art, so we selected Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami because it provided the old world European aesthetic without making our family travel long distances,” Rachel explains. She first began shooting weddings at age 13 under her mother, who is also a photographer and a wedding venue owner, so she didn’t feel like she needed a lot of help designing the events. For the logistics, she enlisted the help of Robyn Baltuch of Baltuch Designs as a month-of coordinator. And to lens the wedding weekend, they recruited Louis Fort.

At Chic Parisian in Miami, both of the brides found their dresses by Ines Di Santo. “I am more into intricate design and shiny things, while my wife, Larissa, was more drawn to the classic design with an editorial element,” Rachel shares. “I told her she looked like Grace Kelly that day, a timeless beauty.” To complete their bridal looks, they both accessorized with jewelry from Etsy, shoes by Antonio Melani, and bouquets by Simple Florals.

On the morning-of, Rachel and Larissa asked their friends to get ready with them at their home in Miami. Larissa requested that her friends wear white button-ups, and Rachel asked that her group don black lingerie. “I have met the majority of my friends through photography, and they have all modeled for me at some point, so it felt sentimental for me to also photograph them while we got ready,” Rachel says. The glam team of Taylor Dutton and Anna Clara Rocha made everyone feel like the best versions of themselves.

On February 9, 2023, guests gathered at the museum for the reception. A video of the brides’ elopement in France started to play, and once it ended, the two made their grand entrance into the party to cheers and cries. Then, Larissa gave a welcome toast before the Brazilian feast by Little Brazil was served, a nod to her family in South America.

The brides had a first dance to Leon Bridges’s “Beyond.” “There’s a line in the song that says, ‘I know grandma would have loved her, like she was her own.’ My grandma, who we lost to cancer a few years ago, was a massive impact in my life, and she never had the chance to meet Larissa,” Rachel shares. “Before our reception began, Larissa had a box of butterflies she brought for me and my family to release in her honor. It was so emotional for us, and I’ve always known my grandma would have adored Larissa.”

At the end of the night, the two cut their cake by Sweet Temptations, and then Rachel surprised Larissa with a last private dance to one of their favorite songs, sung by Rachel herself. For their honeymoon, the brides jetted off to Paris for two weeks. Rachel remembers, “We just strolled the city and ate like queens everyday.”