IN EARLY SPRING last year, Alejandra and Jacopo Cavallari Montenegro were planning a large September wedding in the beautiful city of Xcaret, Mexico, on the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. No one could have expected how much the world would change before their nuptials would — or could — take place.
But by early April, with word that the pandemic’s closures would extend into the fall, the couple decided to cancel their September event even though they would not receive a refund.
The couple then decided to marry on April 18 with plans to host a reception with their families at a later date. Officiated by a priest, “we did a small wedding in a church,” Alejandra says. “We had all of our family on Zoom — from Mexico, Europe, and even friends from here.”
Jacopo, laughing, adds, “It was probably the biggest Zoom wedding.”
Not long after, Alejandra came across a Facebook post from a college friend, Nicole Lashar, owner of Nicole Leanne Photography, looking for a couple for a stylized wedding shoot. Alejandra thought it would be the perfect way to commemorate the reception they had to postpone. “She was looking for two models,” Alejandra says. “So that’s when I reached out to her. With everything that was happening, I told her that I would love to participate and be a part of this amazing project.”
It was an easy choice for Lashar. “I wanted it to be meaningful for the couple so we chose Ale and Jacopo so that they could truly celebrate their marriage,” she says. “This opportunity was perfect for them as it allowed them to have those special moments of a wedding without the stress of planning.”
For Lashar, the idea for this shoot began as a way to stay creative through a season when weddings and events were being canceled and rescheduled. “This stylized elopement started with a passion to creatively capture a real couple in the metro Detroit area,” Lashar says. “I decided to collaborate with another photographer to create this styled wedding so that we could mesh our creativity and strengths together. Mallory, from Mallory Mae Photography, partnered with me to select the location, design the theme, and curate an incredible team of vendors.”
Hosted this summer at Eastern Market in downtown Detroit, the shoot and all its details were a surprise for Alejandra and Jacopo. “We didn’t know any of the colors. We didn’t know what to expect,” Alejandra says.
When they arrived, Lashar and her “dream team” of vendors had surpassed anything the couple could have imagined. “It was just beautiful,” Alejandra says.
Not only was there a makeup artist thanks to Tayler Your Events, but there were beautiful gowns from Ox & Opal, custom bands from Jewelry Set in Stone, a stunning designer cake from A-Mazion Cakes, romantic florals from Copper + Sage Collective, and custom stationery by The Ambrosia Rabbit. Social Happenings provided day-of coordinating and Northern Native Photography captured video. No detail was forgotten — there was even a table set for the newlyweds to share a toast.
“We wanted it to feel like a wedding, not just look like one,” Lashar says. “We put attention and love into each detail, including the invitations and table setting so that when it all came together, it would feel like their day. And it wouldn’t be a wedding without cake and champagne, so we made sure to include those elements so they could truly celebrate.”
But what stood out the most for the couple was something they didn’t expect at all. “We read our vows by sunset,” says Alejandra, who was overjoyed when recalling the event. “It was amazing. I felt like it was my wedding. It was an amazing feeling.”
“I wanted to create a beautifully styled wedding that was not only artistically designed but also filled with meaning and significance,” Lashar says. “Since Ale and Jacopo missed out on that moment for their wedding, I wanted to recreate it so they could have that special memory. I remember how significant it was on my wedding day to read our vows that we wrote for one another. I asked Ale and Jacopo if they’d write vows for one another, and they were thrilled. It was such a beautiful moment to witness and document.
“They were so heartfelt and touching. Then they exchanged their rings with lots of laughter and love and celebrated with a huge kiss at the end,” Lashar says.
“We were really having a great time,” Alejandra says. The couple enjoyed the moment so much that, Jacopo adds, “We weren’t even paying attention to the photos.”
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