A mutual friend accidentally set up these lovebirds. Ryan, 41, was new to Atlanta and Dafina, 33, was a longtime resident. Their pal thought she’d be a great friend in the city and possibly even a tour guide that would help him get acquainted with the area. The day they first met at a local coffee shop, they both knew instantly they had much more in common than just a zip code. On October 6, 2012, they were married in a romantic ceremony at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta. Share their love!
“I knew that I would find true love,” Dafina says. “I just never knew the how or the when.”
“The flowers for the bouquets were shades of pretty purples,” says Dafina. “I love orchids, and we had these amazing fuchsia orchids weaved in with hydrangeas and roses to give this lush bouquet feel.” Their super savvy wedding planner coordinated the florals and the décor for their big day.
Dafina says Ryan’s infectious curiosity is one of the things she loves most about her new husband. (And, we’re sure that smile makes her list too.) Here, Ryan is writing a special wedding day letter for his new bride.
Dafina’s goal was for every detail of their wedding day to have an ethereal and elegant feel. (And, she nailed it with her stunning wedding gown and flowing cathedral veil!)
On her wedding day, Dafina donned the lovely Lourdes gown from The Steven Birnbaum Collection. “I went shopping for a wedding dress by myself for the first time,” she explains. “I highly recommend it. I was able to learn about which silhouettes I liked and get a feel for the whole process of shopping for a wedding dress.“
Ryan grins as he gets a first look at his beautiful bride on their wedding day.
We told you Dafina wowed her groom. Just look at that smile!
“As soon as I met him at the coffee shop, I just felt an opening of myself that I had never really experienced so immediately with a man,” says Dafina. “I was who I am immediately with him.”
Dafina’s fabulous bridal bouquet earned its very own close up.
“I have always loved the quote, ‘You like someone because; you love someone although,’” says Dafina. “That’s how love and marriage are to me.”
The newlyweds pucker up on their big day. Dafina says she did most of the wedding planning, but Ryan stepped in to help in the weeks leading up to the wedding day, and she’s very proud of their teamwork.
The groom wore a chic tux from J. Crew. “We wanted a simple and elegant Old Hollywood look,” says Dafina. “We went with a tie instead of a bow tie for Ryan so that it would be a modern twist on an old style.”
Dafina and Ryan’s lavish and romantic ceremony decor really turned the luxurious Ritz Carlton ballroom into a magical space.
“My mother was with me when I selected my dress,” Dafina tells us. “I just knew it was the one when I tried it on because it was every bit of my Old Hollywood fantasy dreams. I felt like Lena Horne and Rita Hayworth combined. I just didn’t want to take it off. “
Dafina is a vision of beauty as she makes her way to the ceremony.
When Dafina walked down the aisle to the sounds of a piano instrumental of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” her father and her stepfather escorted her.
News anchor Ryan is used to smiling big for the cameras, but the giant grin plastered on his face as he watched his beautiful bride Dafina head down the aisle was the biggest smile of all.
“Looking into his eyes during the ceremony only crystallized for me what the covenant of marriage is all about,” says the beaming bride. “It felt pure and secure. I was afraid to make eye contact with anyone else because all I heard was sniffling sounds around us, and if I saw people I loved crying, I knew I would have lost it.”
“Earlier that day, I had given him a pocket watch I purchased in Moscow when I was 15,” says Dafina. “In my note to him, I told him I bought it at the time with the intention of giving it to my future husband on our wedding day, with the hopes that he would be distinguished and esteemed enough to wear something like a pocket watch. As she was telling the story at the altar, he got choked up, along with half of the other men in the room. It was magical!”
To create a traditional church altar feel for the couple in the ballroom where they held their ceremony, their wedding planner arranged an elegant all-white chuppah.
During the couple’s traditional ceremony, Dafina’s sisters read first Corinthians and Ryan’s sister read a poem.
Dafina and Ryan seal the deal with a romantic first kiss as husband and wife.
The newlyweds happily make their way back down the aisle as their proud guests lovingly cheer them on.
Romance was the big theme on Dafina and Ryan’s big day – Old Hollywood style. What a kiss!
“Our wedding planner suggested that we look at hotels back when I hadn’t even considered a ballroom wedding,” Dafina explains. “We went to the Ritz Carlton, and they had a hand-painted, silver ballroom that was an ode to Old Hollywood. It worked with our wedding colors and desired wedding date, so that was that – we had a venue.”
Dafina and Ryan originally wanted to wed in Jamaica, where her father now lives, but decided against it when they realized how much more convenient and flexible it would be to marry close to home in Atlanta. “One night, while obsessively looking at wedding blogs, I stumbled across a wedding where the couple had served Krispy Kreme donuts to guests,” the bride says. “It made me think it would be so much easier to inject our personalities and favorite things into the wedding if we planned something where we lived.”
The newlyweds chose to hold their cocktail-style reception in the same ballroom where their ceremony took place. Their planner expertly flipped the gorgeous space while guests enjoyed an elegant cocktail hour with live piano entertainment. We love that the couple paid just as much attention to detail for both their ceremony and reception decor.
For their first dance as husband and wife, Dafina and Ryan chose to sway to the sweet sounds of throwback 90’s jam “Happily Ever After” by Case.
The reception centerpieces were a dramatic representation of the bouquets in large highball format. “They were stunning,” says Dafina. “I wanted the room to be filled with purple but for people to still be able to see each other from across the table.”
“Initially, with my experience planning events in my career, I thought I would be able to plan the wedding myself,” says Dafina. “I realized during the process that it isn’t about the planning; it’s about the relationships. Our wedding planner, Jade Lee of Lovelee Affairs, has amazing relationships with the best vendors in Atlanta, and we were able to get the best level of service and the best price on every element of our wedding.”
“Our wedding cake was from The Baker’s Man,” says Dafina. “He indulged my ultimate fantasy of a decadent wedding cake. I wanted flowers, sequins and patterns, and he did it all without it looking tacky. It was made of alternating layers of red velvet cake and amaretto pound cake.” Yum!
The bride and groom share an intimate moment at their reception party.
Ninety guests were on hand to help Dafina and Ryan celebrate and dance the night away.
Dafina and Ryan enjoy a little slice of heaven on their wedding day.
Seeing the way these two look into each other’s eyes really makes us smile. You can certainly feel the love.
Although the couple says was disappointed with some of the risqué song picks their DJ played (that weren’t on their playlist!), they just laughed it off and hoped their parents and elderly guests weren’t listening too closely.
Fun-loving couple Dafina and Ryan weren’t shy about hitting the dance floor.