The youngest member of The Jet Sisters is married and we have a whole new Jet Pack filled with brothers to travel with! Can y’all believe our little RaeRae is married? It seems like yesterday she was a gangly, emo teenager visiting me in NYC for weeks at a time and learning the PR ropes at my agency. I’m going to get carried away with memories so let’s get down to business – Rae and Ben’s perfect wedding in Apopka, Florida!
Planning an Orlando Wedding (in a Pandemic!)
First things first: planning a wedding during a pandemic is not something I’d wish on my worst enemy. But if it had to happen to someone, Rachel and Ben are the two most easygoing folks in the world and they continuously found ways to make lemonade out of a very lemon-y situation.
Did everything turn out how they planned? Not even close. They dreamed of a destination wedding, but ended up keeping it close to home so no one would have to risk traveling. They had to un-invite all except family members and the wedding party. They had to think about so many things that you would rather not deal with in addition to the normal stress of having a wedding – public health being priority No. 1. But they did it so gracefully and if I do say so myself, they had the most beautiful wedding I’ve been to in a long time.
For anyone planning an Orlando area wedding, Rae is dishing on all the vendors and venues below for your reference.
Orlando Wedding Venues
Ben and I only had one criteria when looking for a wedding venue.
Is Sheba allowed?
Not kidding. We checked out dozens of venues that were gorgeous but said no when they told us the most important member of our family couldn’t be there. Bye Felicia.
When we found Highland Manor we didn’t realize how good we got it. Our coordinator, David, was on top of everything from the second we met him. From table set ups to napkin folds, menus and day-of schedule, David handled everything.
Here’s everything you get when you book a wedding at Highland Manor:
• Tasting for Two Scheduling and Menu Guidance
• Ceremony and Reception Layout Assistance
• Vendor Coordination
• Planning Session
• Final Event Planning Meeting – 1 to 2 Hours
• Conduct Ceremony Rehearsal
• Day-of Event Vendor Check-In and Management
• Schedule, Coordinate and Manage Day-Of Event
• Digital Display Creation (Dubsdread Location Only)
• Placement of Favors, Centerpieces, Place Cards, and Table Assignments
• Floral Distribution for Family and Wedding Party
• Door Greeters for Guest Arrival
• Personal Butler for Wedding Couple
• Cake Cutting Coordination
Where to Stay for a Wedding at Highland Manor
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Apopka City Center and hear me on this: there’s no closer or easier location to stay for a wedding at Highland Manor. You are mere steps away from the venue which means no planning for after-wedding transportation, no late-night Uber rides and no stress if you forget something back in your hotel room. We merely had to cross a little street to get from the reception to the after party at the hotel. Easy, easy, easy.
Check availability and rates at the Hilton Garden Inn Apopka City Center.
Need a bit more space or pet friendly accommodations? Vacation rentals are in abundance in Orlando and Kissimmee! Here are some of our favorite pet friendly Airbnbs near Highland Manor and all the Orlando attractions that make it such a great spot for a wedding.
Orlando Wedding Photographer
When I first started thinking about a wedding photographer, I wanted to do it up BIG. Video, multiple camera operators – everything. As I started researching and watching wedding videos, I realized that on my wedding day, I didn’t want to treat it like a job. If there’s a camera, I would totally take myself out of the moment and start being “editorial.”
So I axed video and stuck with photography. I chose Corner House Photography and Dawn as our photographer. Every photo on this post has been from her. I could go on and on about how great she was and all… but a picture’s worth 1,000 words!
My only wish is that we had a second shooter. So much was happening simultaneously throughout the day that we missed photographing because you can only be in one place at a time. Make sure you have more than one photographer.
- Price: Starting at $1575
Orlando Wedding Hair and Makeup
Originally, I was going to do my own hair and makeup. I’ve been doing my hair all my life, I’m pretty good at it. And then I remembered. Prom. Disastrous blue eye shadow. Dots around my eye lids. FRIZZY CURLS. Alright, maybe on the biggest day of my life, I could hire someone.
Ben’s friend Joshua kept hyping up his wife to do my HMU. I started following her Instagram (@Rymerhairandmakeup) to see if this man knew what he was talking about.
Turns out, she was pretty incredible. I felt so beautiful and natural! Think Valentina, not Trixie Mattel. LOOK AT MY FACE. I’m a 1000/10 and you can’t tell me otherwise. Thanks, Jaclyn!
- 11/10 stars
Orlando Bridal Salon
A lot of you have been asking about my dress. Was it over budget? Yes… oops! Do I regret it? Only a little bit. I loved my dress.
My dress is from Lily’s Bridal. The designer, Demetrios, makes the most GORGEOUS dresses I have ever seen. My dress was the very first one I tried on at the store. I instantly knew it was the one.
I still tried on every other wedding dress at the store, but that was still the one.
My only regret – it didn’t fit right. Even after spending $500+ on alterations.
I had 3 appointments at Lily’s Bridal to alter the dress. On my last fitting, it was still slipping off my shoulders. Because it was backless, I figured this was normal. The seamstress told me just to tape the dress to my skin to keep it up — so I took her word for it. When wedding day came, I taped the dress to my skin but IT WOULDN’T STICK TO THE FABRIC.
It was probably my most frustrating part of the wedding (thank God). Throughout the whole day I was trying to keep my entire family and group of friends from seeing my boobs. If I flashed you on accident…well, you’re welcome.
Moral of the story. If you spend $500+ on alterations, practice with tape and MAKE SURE it works before you leave the alterations!
- 4/10 Alterations
- 10/10 Demetrios
- 8/10 Lily’s Bridal
Orlando Men’s Wedding Attire
Ben and his groomsmen got their suits from Mens Wearhouse. The tailor could not have hated his job more and Ben’s sizes were all wrong. He had to get sent new sizes which barely made it in on time, yikes! But all that said, all the guys looked great and were able to play air guitar comfortably throughout the day.
- Would not recommend the shop on Millenia. 1/10 stars.
Orlando Wedding Attire for Sassy Dogs
I got crafty and made my own wedding bouquets with flowers from Hobby Lobby, and while I was at it, I hot-glued some flowers on a leash for Sheba. She looked better than everyone.
- 10/10 stars for hot glue
Bridesmaid Dresses in Orlando Area
Due to procrastination and indecisiveness, I accidentally waited until around 30 days before the wedding to give my bridesmaids details on dresses. Totally my fault – the big day really snuck up on me! And in doing that, we ended up with very limited options in colors, styles and sizes at David’s Bridal (which we went with because the bridesmaids lived in four different cities and it was just the easiest for everyone).
It’s nothing short of a miracle that we were able to make it work on such short notice, but having the most easygoing bridesmaids helped greatly.
- David’s Bridal 10/10
Orlando Wedding DJ
We chose Soundwave Entertainment for our DJ and lighting because the DJ, Justin, happened to be our trainer at our gym. We low-key hated him for kicking our butts on a daily basis, but he DJed one of our friends weddings last year and we knew he could amp up any party. It was a much smaller dance party than anticipated due to COVID, but it could not have been more fun.
- 10/10 stars
There’s no better wedding officiant than the Jet Brother – Alex Orth! But sorry, folks. This one is a family exclusive. Hodgie says he’s hanging up his preacher hat after Rae’s Apopka wedding. We shall see.
- 100/10 stars
I’ve been friends with Karl since junior high, so I knew without a doubt it wouldn’t be a party without his presence. We added him to the wedding party as our illustrious Flower Man. Karl was fierce and he very nearly stole the show. You have never seen a man commit to a task the way Karl did. We love you, Karldashian.
- 100/10 stars
About Apopka, Florida
Where is Apopka?
Apopka is just 12 miles northwest of Orlando, a short drive to downtown Orlando, the Orlando International Airport (MCO), Disney, Universal and all of central Florida’s top attractions. Apopka is about 34 square miles and is the second largest City in Orange County, Florida.
If you want a pretty winter-y wedding with 0% chance of blizzard, you really can’t go wrong with central Florida. We initially wanted to get married in Montana but due to the pandemic, we changed course and decided on a Florida wedding instead.
The weather in Central Florida tends to be hot and muggy 9 months of the year – think 90+ degrees Fahrenheit – so 65 degrees on their wedding day in December was perfect. No one melted in the heat and everyone was comfy throughout the outdoor ceremony. Apopka was not on my wedding radar, but it pleasantly surprised us.
Compared to my destination wedding which was basically the wedding industry’s answer to FYRE Festival, the Miller Wedding was perfection on every level. The wedding staff showed up, the hair stylist knew how to style hair, the pool was filled with water, there was plenty of food, not a hurricane in sight, the relatives all behaved AND thus far, no one at the venue has sent post-nuptial death threats to the bride and groom. So this is how it’s supposed to go?!
I’m so relieved that Rae and Ben really did have one of the most perfect weddings I’ve ever been to – pandemic notwithstanding. Everything went off without a hitch – the weather was idyllic, the toasts were heartfelt and hilarious and Sheba stole the whole show.