Vendor Love: Villa di Felicita
Vendor Love: Villa di Felicita

One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with other delightful wedding peeps.  Rather than hog them all to myself, I thought I would introduce you to a few of them. Give them a chance to tell a part of their story and why they do what they do.  I could not think of a better way to kick off this series than with the Villa di Felicita located just outside of Tyler, TX. (7891 Hwy 110 North Tyler, TX 75704) You should stop reading this and call and book them for your wedding now! 903-597-0002.

OK, now that you’ve done that, why not learn a bit more about them. :)

How did you get started and long have you guys been in business?

This is kind of a long story but I will give you the short version… My dad’s previous company sold, and he retired early in life. He’s a workaholic and wasn’t quite ready to retire. My mom and I had always enjoyed helping friends and family with their weddings, and my mom got the idea to build a wedding venue after going to a friend’s wedding in Dripping Springs, TX. We knew it was something Tyler needed, and there was no other wedding venues in Tyler at the time. We found the land, and started the building process in the beginning of 2005. We officially had our first event in April of 2006. This April will be 11 years in the business!

What’s your favorite part about hosting weddings every weekend?

I personally love to see how they all come together! I love the flower arrangements, dress colors, the amazing cakes, and just how they are all decorated. It’s such a long process for a bride to plan their big day, and I feel very lucky to get to see the final product of all their hard work! It’s just a great feeling when you see them smile when they walk in, and see how it all came together! I also love to be part of such a happy day in people’s lives! It’s very rewarding!


OK, let’s get some of the details knocked out. Tell me about your spaces, places, and all the options brides can pick from.
Villa di Felicita translates to “mansion of happiness” in Italian. We are the only Italian inspired venue in East Texas. We have a very large reception room that was designed to resemble an outdoor Italian Piazza. We gave it this feel by having fiber optic stars in the 20 ft ceilings to make you feel like you are sitting under the night sky!


We can accommodate about 350 in the reception room. We have 2 ceremony locations, but most known for our outdoor garden area. Tall cypress trees, manicured gardens, stunning backdrop views and a 120 foot stone-stamped aisle leading to the ceremony pergola arches is the best way to describe our outdoor ceremony location. We also have a nice indoor ceremony chapel that is a perfect setting for those who do not want to get married outside, or if inclement weather takes place.

Our venue sits on 50 private and picturesque acres. We made some changes to how we operate in 2016 and have had great success with it. We currently operate as a site rental only venue. This means we charge a flat fee (no mater how many guests you have) and include amenities such as tables, chairs, linens, set and clean up, etc. We allow outside catering and alcohol. Clients are given a preferred vendor list, and a welcome packet full of information from us, that makes their planning experience much easier for them! They are able to bring in what they want and we help them along the way.


What Disney princess is the most likely to choose your place for her wedding?
I think Cinderella would love to get married here. I feel like every bride feels like Cinderella on her wedding day – getting to go to the ball all dressed up and feeling beautiful. Then finally getting to marry her Prince Charming! Plus we also have some furry friends like rabbits and sweet birds who love to live in our gardens, so I think she would love that feature!

What’s your favorite “feature” about your venue?
My favorite feature about the Villa are our large cypress tress that surround the grounds. Every time I drive up, I am reminded of the beauty of this place by those large amazing trees! They just really give you the feel that you are in the Italian country. I feel it is a big part of what makes our venue unique and magical.


Tell me one story that stands out from the hundreds of weddings you guys have hosted.
We had a military wedding and my mom wanted to give those who had served a shot from the bar to say “thank you”. This became kind of a tradition for awhile when we had military weddings here. At one specific wedding, after giving them a shot, my mom told one of the young men, “Thank you for your service, and I know that shot isn’t much, but it’s just something I like to do to say thank you.” The young man looked at her with a tear rolling down his cheek and said, “Ma’am, it’s not what you did. It’s the recognition of saying “thank you” that means the most!” That night, my mom knew she wanted to do something and began working on a project to give back to those who served in our community. We started a 4013c non-profit fundraiser called Country for our Country and hosted that event for 4 years here at Villa di Felicita. That event helped so many veterans who came back and wanted to get back into civilian life and go to collage. It truly was created because of that young man at that wedding, and the impact he had on my mom. It gets us choked up every time we think about it or talk about it.



What is one piece of advice you would give a couple regardless of where they get married?
To be happy! Marriage and love isn’t always easy. You have to both work at it to be happy. Planning a wedding is hard. But in the end, when you finally get to be together on the wedding day and enjoy all your loved ones together, it makes it all worth it. Stay connected. And communication is huge in a strong relationship!

Anything else you wanna say?
We love Alex M and his amazing pictures that he takes at the Villa!! He truly captures weddings and couples with his heart and passion!


And, in case you guys are not convinced that this place is legit.  This wedding happened at the Villa di Felicita.

So yeah…. Go book your wedding.

Wanna see more Villa di Felicita goodness?
Here is every post ever on my site with images from their venue.
Here are a couple of my favorite weddings I’ve done there.
Lauren & BrentErin & Brett

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Movie Lovers
Movie Lovers

When it came time to decide where to do their engagement photos, Rachael & Briley knew the perfect spot.  The spot where their story started, and they have shared so many moments along the way.  Let’s go to the movie theater!

Their first movie together was a friend outing to see one of the 82 Twilight movies that were made.  They were not a couple at the time, but it’s fitting that their story began watching two people also on their journey towards eternal love.

Fast forward a couple years (and hopefully improved taste in movies), Briley started to take notice of Rachael.  She worked at UT Tyler gym and he was working out “2-3 times per day”. (That’s what she said.)  I’m thinking part of him wanted to get swole and the other part of him wanted to get noticed; he figured the getting swole would help the getting noticed.  That’s what us dudes call a win-win.

A few months ago, they went back to their theater to see another movie.  They arrived a bit late and it was already dark and they ended up sitting on the front row. Because they had not had a chance to eat, Rachael began stuffing her face with popcorn. Commercials were pre-rolling and when the commercials ended, a video came on telling their story together and ending with “will you marry me?”

Then the lights came up and the theater started cheering and when Rachael turned to look, she saw that Briley had invited their friends and family to be there.  They all went out to eat and Rachael never got to finish her popcorn.  The end.

These two both have such a tender spirit and personality to them.  I LOVED Rachael’s big giant laughs.

Rachael said she is so attracted to how committed Briley is to his faith.  She “loves that he is a leader and knows that will give them a strong foundation in our marriage.”

Briley said that at first he thought that Rachael was just like a “super-basic, white girl”.

Full stop.  He said that.  Swoon.


Once he got to know her, he realized she is “goofy as all get out” and she has been surprising him ever since.

“Body and soul, I am marvelously made!” I think Briley would agree.

Thank you guys for spending your morning with me.  Can’t wait for your super-basic, white girl wedding.

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When Someone Sees You
When Someone Sees You

smu engagement photo

One of the best parts of my job is getting to see how all types of couples interact.  Getting to meet and hang with two people who have recently discovered their person in life is pretty great.  Alex & Rob are the absolute best.  The thing that stood out to me right away was how they looked at each other.  They are connected. Constant smiling and laughter.

Seriously.  Look at how they look at each other in these photos.

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Alex & Rob met a few years ago at New Mexico State. (Go Aggies!)  Right away Rob liked her but the timing was off.

(That’s code for Alex had a boyfriend.)

Eventually she broke up with the boyfriend.  Then she found ANOTHER boyfriend.  Eventually she broke up with him too and then she started dating Rob.  The end. :)

After college Alex moved to Texas and her and Rob managed to keep their relationship going even though they were in different states.  I asked Alex when she knew it was serious and she told me “I knew it was a big deal when I was willing to spend my minutes and data on him.”  Pure Gold.  I love that their relationship is measured in gigabytes. (Shout out to Verizon!)

smu engagement photo

Rob told me that what he loved most about Alex is how great and easy their conversations were.  She is super easy to talk to. “It also helps that she’s gorgeous.”

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So much joy.  I love this photo.

smu engagement photo

When I asked Alex what attracted her to Rob she had this to say:

“Rob was the first relationship I was in that encouraged me to have my own space and my own life.  I had always heard ‘They will love you for who you are.’ but never understood it till I met Rob.”

How beautiful is that?

Runaway Bride is one of my wife’s and I’s favorite movies.  She must have watched it 2,573 times in college and so many parts of it mirror our story.  One of my favorite lines is when Richard Gere is talking to his ex wife Rita Wilson about why they broke up and he asks: “Did I just… not see you.”

It is so simple and yet so powerful.  We all have a desire to be seen and to be known.  The thing that makes a relationship work and last is when couples are constantly looking to “see” each other and give each other the freedom to grown and become the full person they were meant to be.

Rob treated Alex this way and it filled her with life.  By encouraging her to be herself, she grew as a person and in turn was more drawn and attracted to him.   (Smart play on Rob’s part.)

Now they look at each other like this.  That’s pretty great.
smu engagement photo

When they are not looking into each others eyes with 100% pure love, they like to make awkward faces at each other.

smu engagement photo

And because of course why not champagne?
smu engagement photo

Thank you guys for a great morning and I can’t wait for your New Mexico wedding.

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my favorite part of a wedding day: bouquet toss
my favorite part of a wedding day: bouquet toss

OK. It’s time again for that killer blog series: My Favorite Part of A Wedding.

Today’s topic: Bouquet Toss

Ah, yes. That moment in every wedding, where single ladies either get way too excited about it or vomit at the shear thought of it.

Quick history lesson:
Tossing the bouquet is a tradition that stems from England. Women used to try to rip pieces of the bride’s dress and flowers in order to obtain some of her good luck. To escape from the crowd, the bride would toss her bouquet and run away.

First of all, this sounds AMAZING! More like this please.

Somehow, the toss has evolved into this thing that now guarantees that the lucky lady who catches it will be the next one married. Because you know… magic.

So even though it’s a bit corny, I do love this little moment when your girlfriends get a chance to go all Hunger Games during your reception.

I love when there are literally dozens of competitors.

I love when they stretch their arms like NFL wide receivers.

I love when the girl that does NOT catch it is more excited than the girl that does.

I love when the girl you think is going to catch it does not.

I love the taunting that is often performed by the victor.

I love when the girls trip over themselves trying to catch it.

I love it most of all, when a girl falls to the floor, and a bride is willing to meet her down there for their photo together.

I also love when a lady has so much swag and confidence, that she knows she can jump, hold her red solo cup in one hand, and snag the bouquet with the other.

But seriously. Here is the key that I have found after shooting hundreds of weddings: some people love it, some people don’t. But you know your girls better than most. If you think they will enjoy it, then by all means, go for it. If you know they hate the idea… punt it. Sure it’s your wedding, but these are your closest friends. The goal isn’t to embarrass or shame them because they haven’t found someone to file taxes with jointly.

And, sure it’s a glorious moment for the winning lady, but it’s not like catching your flowers actually empowers the girl with the ability to become the next one married.

Or does it?

Because you enjoyed this, I know you’ll want to see more in this series. Click here for more words and pretty pictures.

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Haley + Devin = Joy
Haley + Devin = Joy

Haley & Devin’s Ashelynn Manor was may be the most joy-fill wedding I have ever attended.
(Because of course you can accurately measure joy and I keep track of such things.)

Haley’s bridesmaids were a fierce bunch.  I loved them to pieces.

True story: while putting on her jewelry someone asked where she got the pearl bracelet and Haley blushed a bit and said it was a gift form an old boyfriend.  Everyone laughed and Haley’s mother said “You don’t get rid of pearls.”

Gypsy Blooms made everything look super pretty.

Devin’s connection with his family was incredible to watch.  the way he interacted with his brother and honored his mother gives me so much hope for their marriage.

I LOVED this groomsman.  For the first 2 hours he was either napping, or having someone trim his beard.  Either way… he was not going to exert himself.

Of course they all had themed socks.

Shout out to the groomsman with the slightly too tight pants. (You know who you are.)

Devin lasted about .0001 second before the tears came out.

There’s always one.  Also, make a mental note of this iPad.

We spent about 10 minutes in song.  It was pretty great.

So… about 75% of the time, the ring never quit fits the guy’s finger.  I always wait for that face from the bride.

That giddy moment right before you are about to be married when you arch you back to express the pure joy and anticipation of two becoming one.

A lot of couples raise their hands in celebration.

Most don’t actually skip and jump down the aisle.

Seriously, the wave of joy, emotion, cheering, and clapping that this crowd of people let out almost knocked me over.

Hey hey, look at all the beautiful people looking beautiful.

This was actually the THIRD wedding I have photographed for this family.  Haley is a cousin to Hilary & Blake.
You remember Hilary right?  Hilary of Hilary & Kirk fame.
And I know you could never forget Blake.  Form that one time Ashley & Blake got married.

The cheering continued.

The best man and maid of honor gave the sweetest speeches.

Despite not wearing shoes.

I love a good first dance.

And I also love a Mother/Son dance.

And of course I love a Father/Daughter dance.

But sometimes my favorite is to capture other fathers and daughters during the Father/Daughter dance.

Anniversary dance.  And…. when you’ve been married 52 years… you are allowed to take an iPad out into the dance floor with your lady.

The dance floor was on fire.  Seriously.  On. Fire.

I told you the bridesmaids knew what they were doing.

Lipsync battle.

Bye Bye Bye was good.

But the guys managed to come up with choreography for Man! I Feel Like a Woman on the spot.  It was epic.

My top 10 Mug Machine photos from the night.

To Haley & Devin: Thank you two for letting me share in your day.  Your energy, excitement, and love for each other is so contagious.  I can’t tell you how full my heart was when I left your wedding.  You guys are a joy to be around and I can’t wait to see what you build your marriage into.

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