Donna Simoneau and Ray Polito
Lucky in Love.
Happiness and romance flourish for two Gator
fans who found love through a blind date.
By Abby Moon | Photography by Jacquelyn Marie Photography
Donna Simoneau was a physician assistant in Gainesville when she was set up on a date with pharmaceutical representative Ray Polito in July 2005. “Ray was the first to arrive at the sushi bar, followed by me,” said Donna. “I didn’t recognize anyone when I walked into the restaurant, but I noticed a hot guy sitting on a bench. I thought to myself, well, if the guy I am being set up with is a dud, maybe I can talk to this guy. As it turns out, it was Ray!”
Ray proposed to Donna with his grandmother’s wedding ring on Memorial Day weekend 2008. The two were planning a long weekend in sunny Sarasota. When she arrived at his condo she found herself surrounded by rose petals, candles and their favorite songs. Pictures hung from the ceiling with captions attached explaining the significance of the images and telling her where to go next. “The final picture led me into the master bedroom where there were a million ribbons hanging from the ceiling. One ribbon had a beautiful ring tied to it and in front of it was Ray down on one knee,” said Donna.
“Donna is beautiful inside and out,” said Ray. “She is loved by everyone she is around, especially my family, which is one of the reasons I knew she was ‘The One.'”
The happy couple immediately began planning their wedding. With the help of her mom and sister, Donna found the perfect dress. The Pronovias Hindu dress was complete with a cathedral length veil. She personalized the soles of her silk satin, rhinestone-accented, Grace Crystal shoes with the words “I Do” and her new initials “DSP.”
When it came to location, Donna and Ray knew that they wanted an outdoor wedding with the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception all in one place. The three-tiered courtyard of The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota provided the flow they desired.
The ceremony took place under a brilliant, blue April sky. Donna and Ray were surrounded by 140 guests and 19th and 20th century replicas of ancient Greek, Roman and Baroque sculptures as they exchanged vows. “I didn’t feel nervous at all,” said Donna. “I saw Ray and everything else just went away. This was the day I had waited for forever and it was definitely worth the wait.”
After the ceremony, guests stepped down to the second tier of the courtyard where they enjoyed an eclectic mix of the couple’s favorite songs. Fete Catering served Cosmopolitans and hors d’oeuvres.
Donna and Ray earned master’s degrees from the University of Florida, met in Gainesville and are huge Gator fans, so it was only appropriate that they entered their reception to the sounds of their alma mater’s fight song, “Gator Bait.”
As the sun set, candlelit centerpieces from Flowers by Fudgie cast a warm glow on each table and twinkle lighting provided by Affairs in the Air gave the courtyard a mystical shimmer. Chilean Sea Bass, Beef Tenderloin, Broccolini and Shiitake Mushroom Hash was served, and the Politos danced their first dance as a married couple to “This Year’s Love” by David Gray.
Donna and Ray chose the theme “Lucky in Love” and gave lotto tickets and playing cards as favors. “Although there were no huge winners, we figured, we are lucky in love,” said Donna. Wedding coordinator Maria Brady, of Choreographed Events worked closely with Donna and Ray and thought the theme was perfect. “They both possess all the wonderful qualities that make for a great relationship,” said Maria. “In working with them I saw strong communication, respect, genuine affection, appreciation for each other and most of all they are both happy in life. I wish them a lifetime of happiness.”
The Venue – The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Videographer – A Reel Wedding
Caterer – Fete Catering
Event Planner – Choreographed Events
Flowers – Flowers by Fudgie
Cake – Cakes by Ron
Photography – Jacquelyn Marie Photography
Linens – US Tent
Music – Romanza Strings, More than Music, DJ JB Baxter
Invitations – My Gatsby
Bridal Gown – Pronovias 2009 “Hindu”
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