A CLASSIC COUNTRYSIDE WEDDING AT SALAMANDER RESORT WITH GARDEN FLOWERS
Gabriela Gomez and Matthew Marrero may have met in the hallway outside their college statistics class, or years earlier during their families’ annual summer trips to Siesta Key. Depending on who you ask, the answer may differ.
“Matthew and I first saw each other in Siesta Key, Florida where our families vacation every summer,” Gabriela explains, “but we didn’t officially meet until years later at a friend’s spring break party. We didn’t exchange numbers or continue talking until months later, when he sat next to me in our shared statistics class; and the rest is history!”
Anyone who knows Matthew knows he is incredibly adventurous, creative, and confident. As Gabriela got to know him better, she fell in love with his thoughtfulness and kindness. Matthew says he quickly knew Gabriela was the one when he never wanted to leave her house. He would even stay until 3 a.m. no matter what time he had to wake up for school or work the next day.
“We visited the Salamander Resort & Spa and quickly fell in love with the charm of Middleburg.”
The couple dated for six years – some of which were long distance – and got engaged in 2021. Unbeknownst to Gabriela at the time, Matthew had asked her father for his blessing a year earlier, prior to his passing. When the time came, Matthew didn’t tell anyone else he was planning to propose.
“He picked the ring and planned the proposal by himself, which is totally Matthew,” Gabriela shares. “He told me we were going to see a new exhibit that just opened at Glenstone, our favorite museum. While walking through the forest at Glenstone, he got down on one knee and proposed. I was completely shocked! Matthew hired a photographer to secretly capture the moment to send to our family and friends in Miami. We ended the night with drinks and dinner at our favorite date night spot – Cut by Wolfgang Puck in Georgetown.”
Planning a Wedding at Salamander Resort
Although Gabriela and Matthew were born and raised in Miami, they knew they wanted to celebrate their wedding in the D.M.V. area.
“We visited the Salamander Resort & Spa and quickly fell in love with the charm of Middleburg,” says Gabriela. “Matthew and I always wanted an intimate, timeless, classic wedding, and the Salamander checked all the boxes!”
“Matthew, being Matthew, purchased his suit alone at the Ralph Lauren boutique in Georgetown,” she continues. “He always dreamed of wearing a pinstriped navy double-breasted suit for his wedding and no one could stop him. I think his suit really solidified the Ralph Lauren-classic feel of the wedding. When I showed Renato, the stylist from Chernaya Bridal House, Matthew’s suit, and he instantly responded, ‘The look is Ralph Lauren, garden, runaway bride, and I know what dress you need to wear.’ And he was spot on! I chose a Viktor&Rolf taffeta, classic A-line gown. It felt timeless, elegant and romantic.”
To round out the planning process and bring their Salamander Resort wedding to fruition, the couple enlisted the help of several top wedding professionals.
“The second we spoke to Tabitha, I knew she was meant to be our wedding planner,” Gabriela states. “She is incredibly knowledgeable, intuitive, and honest. She understood the vision from the beginning, guided me through every decision, and selected the most perfect vendors. Adam Barnes, our photographer, captured every beautiful moment candidly, adding to the magic of the day. Remona and Carl Ray were incredible and made us all feel so beautiful. Andrea from Lynnvale Studios created the most stunning architectural floral arrangements. She wanted all the florals to look like they were handpicked in the garden, which I loved.”
A Classic Countryside Wedding at Salamander Resort with Garden Flowers
The couple’s classic countryside wedding at Salamander Resort kicked off with a welcome party the night before. Taking place on the Grand Lawn of Salamander Resort, the party included the bride’s sisters, Nikki and Claudia, welcoming guests with a speech, along with a surprise appearance from Charlie – Gabriela’s nephew.
“It was the most magical evening and the perfect way to welcome our guests to our special place,” says Gabriela. “In fact, there was a full moon the night of the welcome party. My dad, an avid fisherman, used to famously say, ‘The days leading up to a full moon and the day after are always the best for fishing as the moon directly affects the tides and energizes the sea.’ We viewed this as a blessing and sign of a special weekend to come!”
When the big day arrived, the cool breeze was a welcome surprise for the couple’s Miami guests. The bride walked down the aisle in her Viktor&Rolf wedding gown while a string quartet played “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Her mother, who wore a gorgeous turquoise gown by Carolina Herrera, escorted her down the aisle. With the ceremony décor showcasing an eclectic mixture of pots, baskets, and garden flowers, it was a picture-perfect countryside wedding scene.
After the ceremony, happy hour was held in the Salamander Resort’s culinary garden. A jazz band played live music while guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres under the bistro lights. Dinner was served in a tented reception, which was the couple’s favorite part of the evening.
“I still get the chills when I see photos,” says the bride. “The clear tent, hardwood floors, and string lights were a dream come true. We had long tables with baby’s breath, candles streaming down the middle, and my favorite wishbone chairs. Each guest’s name and table assignment was hand scripted on terracotta pots, incorporating the garden theme into the tent. Each plate had a rosemary sprig on top, which was a nod to my dad who loved to cook with rosemary. The carefully curated music playlist at dinner also had his favorite songs from artists like Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé, and Steve Tyrell. The wedding cake was also gorgeous – simple, classic, and delicious. I let my little sister, Sofie, choose the flavors because she’s a cake enthusiast, and she killed it!”
When the dinner and speeches were finished, everyone transitioned to the ballroom for the bride and groom’s first dance to Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The ballroom had a circular wood bar, an elevated DJ booth, and a dance floor that made the space feel like a mini club. The bride quickly swapped out her heels for a pair of “Virginia Is for Lovers” slippers that had been gifted to all the guests. Midnight marked the start of a disco themed “hora loca” or “crazy hour,” which is a Cuban wedding tradition. Guests wore costumes and selected props for one last hoorah to end the evening, while disco cocktails and an array of gourmet grilled cheeses with disco ball skewers were passed around.
“The party was so much fun,” says the bride. “We didn’t stop dancing the entire night. Thankfully, all our guests received hangover kits – Oreos (Matthew’s favorite), Route 11 chips, and some Jack & Coke to cure their hangovers the next day. I am forever grateful to my mom for making our dream wedding come true!”
Gabriela and Matthew’s countryside wedding concluded with a farewell brunch in the culinary garden the next day, before the newlyweds hopped on the next flight to Paris for their honeymoon. They spent eight days walking, shopping, eating, drinking, and taking in everything the City of Light has to offer.
“Matthew and I both love art, fashion, architecture, and wine, so it was the perfect honeymoon,” says Gabriela. “It was so romantic! Paris will always have a special place in our hearts – and so will Middleburg!”
Location: Salamander Resort, Middleburg, VA; Planner: Roberts and Co Events, Washington, DC; Floral Design: Lynnvale Studios, Gainesville, VA; Rentals: Something Vintage Rentals, Maryland; Linen: Table Manners, Washington, DC; Invitations: August and White; Lighting: Dan Goldman Events, Entertainment: Lucy Black Entertainment, Washington, DC; Dress: Viktor&Rolf; Bridal Salon: Chernaya Bridal House, Miami, FL; Hair: Bridal Hair by Remona, Vienna, VA; Makeup: Carl Ray, Washington, DC; Groom’s Attire: Ralph Lauren; Groom’s Watch: Rolex; Cinematography: Bowen Films, Washington, DC; Photography: Adam Barnes Photography, Washington, DC