For Tori Saputo and Jared Toothman, it was easy from the get-go. “We met in May 2017 on Bumble, had our first date at a ramen restaurant, and have been together ever since,” Tori shares. “We knew very early on that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.”
Wedding planning, however, wasn’t such a sure thing. After Jared popped the question at Tori’s birthday dinner in April 2019, “we were all over the place deciding where we wanted to get married,” Tori says. “One minute we were thinking of a destination wedding. The next minute we liked the idea of a wedding in the mountains. The hardest part [of planning] was the constant decision making. Every time I would decide on something, I’d go online and see a better or different way to do something.”
They finally settled on Sarasota, Florida for their wedding location. “It holds such a significant place in our hearts. It’s where we got engaged, it’s where my parents live, it’s where we convinced Jared’s mom and stepdad to move, and it’s where I grew up visiting as a child,” Tori says. “It’s also such a beautiful place with great weather and stunning beaches, so we knew people would be happy to make the trip and travel to this kind of destination.”
There, they fell in love with The Ringling Museum, an Italianate architectural masterpiece with a courtyard full of classical sculptures and stunning landscape. “Jared and I are obsessed with Italy and we both have Italian roots,” Tori shares. “Ringling made us feel like we had been transported to Italy. I also loved how the venue was a bit unassuming from the outside, but once you walked through the doors you were suddenly hit by its immaculate beauty and in awe of its unceasing elegance.”
That’s a bit how their wedding was (and how the couple is): Unassuming, yet utterly elegant. Read on to see all the pretty details of their December 10, 2021 big day, planned by Kerri Bauer and Nicole Kaney of NK Productions Wedding Planning and photographed by Ledia Tashi.
“My vision for our wedding was more of a vibe that I wanted to evoke, rather than specific colors or themes,” the bride says. “I wanted it to feel classic, elegant, and upscale, but also wanted it to feel comfortable—like we just threw this ornate party together in a beautiful courtyard with all of our friends and family. I prefer the less-is-more approach, in life and in our wedding vision.” The tone was set with a chic invitation suite featuring hand-painted envelopes and a drawing of the venue in the envelope liner.
Tori prepped her skin with a series of Diamond Glow facials leading up to the wedding. “My vision for the day’s beauty look was to look like myself, just more elevated,” she says. “I wanted my makeup to have an effortless and dewy look to it; natural, soft, feminine, and elegant.” She continues: “I chose to do a loose low bun because I love that look with the neckline of my dress. I wanted my curls to still show, but I knew if I wore my hair down that I’d constantly be pulling it away from my face. I liked the beauty of a swept back bun that still showed my hair texture.”
After visiting five different bridal salons, Tori found herself torn between two dresses—each the complete opposite of the other. “The first dress I really liked was super form-fitting and covered in lace, while the other dress was smooth, silky, and flared out at the waist.” She decided to sleep on it, and when she returned to try them both on again the next day, the decision was clear. “That’s when I knew I wanted the ballgown!” And, she even went the extra mile, wearing a large detachable crinoline to amp up the voluminous drama.
Jared went ultra classic with his attire in a slim fit Bonobos tuxedo with peak lapels, a white tuxedo shirt with mother of pearl buttons, a silk pocket square, and black patent leather Oxfords. “He looked so debonair and handsome,” says Tori, who had never seen him in a tuxedo before their wedding.
Daylight Savings Time necessitated a first look: The ceremony was starting at 5:30 p.m., with sunset at 6 p.m.. So in order to get photos in natural daylight, they’d have to see each other before. “I had to walk down the long beautiful loggia to get to him,” Tori recalls. “As we got closer, a countdown started and then he turned around to face me. We were just smiling so big at each other, he told me how beautiful I looked, and we hugged and kissed.” Tori had been feeling self-conscious: Her hair and makeup team cancelled the night before the wedding, so the artists she worked with had never done trials with her. She wasn’t sure of the results. “But, Jared told me I looked so stunningly beautiful and perfect,” she remembers. “That moment helped turn things around for me.”
“The easiest part of planning was working with our wedding photographer, Ledia Tashi,” Tori shares. “During the planning process, we had phone calls and Zooms to discuss wedding details and photography needs. It always felt like she really took the time to get to know me and listen to what I was needing and expecting.” She continues, “Ledia actually tore her ACL a few weeks leading up to the wedding and she still showed up for us—crutches and knee brace in tow. Ringling is such a massive venue with so much ground to cover, but even on the day of the wedding, she was still such a breath of fresh air and so positive.”
The courtyard ceremony was a stunning showcase of greenery and lush white florals. An asymmetrical open floral arch decorated the altar, and florals burst forth behind chair backs in tones of white, cream, and light champagne.
Our vows referenced the times we got each other through difficult seasons, and how we were so much stronger together.
“We both wrote our own vows. We referenced the times we got each other through difficult seasons and how we were so much stronger together,” Tori says. “I have lupus, and he has been there with me through so many hard health battles, hospital visits, sick days and months, and he never wavered. A lot of the things we dealt with and handled were not for the faint of heart.” She continues, “Hearing Jared’s vows made me so overjoyed and thankful that this man was my soon-to-be husband. He is a very kind, gentle, and caring man and his words touched me so deeply.” They exited the ceremony to the joyous Wedding March.
Decked in shades of cream, champagne, and gold, the courtyard radiated elegance for the reception. Shimmery linens, gold flatware, crystal glassware, and menus stamped with custom wax seals set a regal scene. And, even outdoors, lighting was paramount. “The Ringling courtyard is full of hedges and trees, so we decided we wanted lights covering all of them in the reception and cocktail areas,” Tori describes. “The twinkle lights looked so magical at night; it was mesmerizing. We were so happy we decided to pay extra for lighting because it really created a glowing ambiance once the sun went down.”
“The music aspect of the wedding was one part I cared the most about,” Tori says. “Jared and I started picking out songs we love separately, and then came together to create a playlist of our combined songs. We chose songs that we played when we first started dating, which brought back great memories.” For their reception entrance as newlyweds, the DJ played “Be Faithful” by Fatman Scoop. “It was different from your typical walk-out song, and it was very us. I loved that part of the night because we were so pumped up and happy. I couldn’t stop singing and dancing.” Later, they performed a choreographed first dance to Snoh Aalegra’s “Find Someone Like You.”
Over dinner of filet mignon and pan-seared Florida grouper, guests heard speeches from a few guests of honor. “My sister gave the most heartfelt and creative speech,” Tori remembers. “She blew us away with her kind words, and ended her speech with a custom poem.”
The duo cut into a floral-adorned white cake with buttercream frosting, then hit the dance floor. “At the end of the night, our DJ played ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver and it was such a nice homage to Jared’s West Virginia roots,” Tori says. “We and our friends all gathered on the dance floor and sang every word in unison. I looked around and everyone was hugging each other and swaying together. It felt like a scene from a movie.”