After two years of missed gatherings, Naples-based wedding photographer Anna Nguyen, of Zee Anna Photography, wanted to throw an over-the-top celebration for her 33rd birthday in February. “I felt life was too short to celebrate just milestone birthdays,” Anna says. She brought in her friend Jana Tobey, owner of event planning and design services Wedding Hero and Event Hero, to execute her vision. Anna wanted to support small, local businesses, so she chose one of her favorite places, The Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs, as the venue and hired an all-star team of Florida-based vendors she knew from photographing events.
She and Jana developed the design for a Bridgerton high tea—a theme that prompted guests to don elaborate hats, pastel-hued dresses and strings of pearls. The catalyst for the color scheme: the Impressionist-inspired Floral Monet Napkins from linen and furniture rental company Nüage Designs. Jana pulled shades of pink, yellow and red from the napkins’ motif, and Naples florist Tom Trovato selected florals to amplify the colors.
The wrought-iron tables in the glass-encased solarium—which resembles a design-savvy greenhouse—are black, so the team suspended black, flower-filled bird cages blooming with bouquets of Pink Floyd roses, blush butterfly ranunculus, green hellebores, Burgundy cremones and hanging vines from the ceiling. To heighten the secret-garden feel, smilax and jasmine vines were intertwined throughout the corners of the space.
For the alcohol-free party, Crave Culinaire laid the table with whimsical teapots with butterfly accents. Guests sipped tea accompanied by gold-trimmed stands stacked with crudités, tea sandwiches and pastries, as well as an assortment of single-tier cakes by Fort Myers’ Mom of 3 Cakes. Pianist Melissa Sanchez—who wore a white, puffed-sleeve floral dress and lace gloves that matched her keyboard—serenaded the crowd with contemporary and classical scores from La La Land, Bridgerton, Mozart and Vivaldi. To capture it all, the team enlisted Heather Nigro of Moxxii Photo to take portraits of the birthday girl in her lilac frilled hat and matching floral dress.
Because the venue is a botanical garden and refuge, Anna wanted to leave behind a gift that would become a living part of the sanctuary. She ordered 75 painted lady butterflies, which are native to this part of Florida, from a farm in Orlando for a butterfly release—her version of a birthday toast.
“The vision was to have live butterflies fluttering around the greenhouse, bright florals catching the eyes of guests and mouthwatering food that left everyone asking for more,” Jana says. “The overall mood was for guests to feel as though they were entering a secret garden to celebrate one of their dearest friends.”
The Nüage Designs Impressionist-inspired napkins dictated the color palette for the decor by Jana Tobey, of Wedding Hero, and flowers by Tom Trovato. Anna Nguyen (pictured above) encouraged her guests to don frilly hats and floral frocks to fit the venue, a Victorian-style solarium at The Wonder Gardens. (Photos by Heather Nigro/Moxxii Photo)