Melissa & Robert's "anchored in love" underwater adventure wedding

By on Aug. 7th

This couple (plus a shark!) starred in a recent Monday Montage and we couldn't wait to bring this underwater-themed wedding to you.

Photography by Nate Silva

Photos by Nate Silva

The offbeat bride: Melissa, Sales and Marketing Manager (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Robert, Driver

Date and location of wedding: The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, FL — May 6, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We wanted an underwater-themed adventure wedding. Let's start with what we didn't do: no DJ, so we saved a bundle with an iPod and a PA system that I purchased from a pawn shop. This allowed us to play all of the music we both loved, including almost the entire soundtrack of the video game BioShock 2. The underwater setting was a perfect place to pay homage to the underwater city of Rapture, and a game series that we both enjoy.

Photography by Nate Silva

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We just couldn't picture ourselves slow dancing in front of all of our friends and family, so we didn't do that either. We just let the music play and watched everyone get down with their bad selves to our Spotify playlist.

Photography by Nate Silva

I chose a white silk shantung dress that was knee-length with an empire waist and pleats sticking up in the front. My veil was traditional mantilla style (a tribute to my family's roman Catholic background) but with silver tulle and white lace. The bouquets were made of paper, and were cost-efficient when compared to the price of real flowers.

Perhaps my favorite part of the attire calls back to Robert's Slovenian heritage. Red is a Slovenian wedding color that signifies one who is being wed. While I stuck out from the rest of the wedding party in bright white, my husband popped by wearing a red shirt and silver tie underneath his charcoal suit, completing his look with his signature fedora.

As guests entered the reception, they were encouraged to take a personalized Sharpie and sign a set of wooden oars that is now hanging in my dining room.

Photography by Nate Silva

Photography by Nate Silva

Tell us about the ceremony: We were married in front of a shark tank inside the Florida Aquarium. After the flower girl (or should I say "bubble girl") sprayed bubbles down the aisle, I came out to meet Robert for our handfasting ceremony. As we walked down the aisle after the ceremony, hands tied together, the accordion player nailed a rendition of "Le Mer (Beyond the Sea)."

We aren't a religious couple, so we chose handfasting to symbolize our love, as we felt the knot was a strong image.

Photography by Nate Silva

Photography by Nate Silva

Our biggest challenge: Finances were our biggest challenge. Robert and I shelled out half the cost of our wedding, and my parents picked up the rest, so it was important that we consolidated costs whenever possible. We did this by DIY save-the-dates and invites, affordable wedding gear, looking for deals on Etsy and through online vendors, finding a venue that was already decorated and offered co-location reception and in-house wedding planning, and side-skirting traditions that were not a reflection of who we are as a couple.

Photography by Nate Silva

My favorite moment: We hired an accordion player because we wanted to pay tribute to my late father-in-law, who loved the instrument. It turned out to be a great choice. It was really beautiful music.

Photography by Nate Silva

Guests also really seemed to love the shark tank. It was an exciting and interesting place to be wed. They kept swimming around behind us!

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My funniest moment: One memorable funny moment was when a friend of one of my guests had partaken in one too many drinks and was laying down outside the pavilion. I offered my guests Sharpies that said "Rob & Melissa" on them as favors, and some other guests made their mark on his face with them.

Photography by Nate Silva

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I always get a little anxious when you put all these people from different walks of life together in one room, many of whom do not know each other. In fact, my parents had only met my husband's mother just weeks before the wedding, and most of his family had never met most of my family before the rehearsal. I worried that maybe some personalities would clash, but everyone got along great.

Photography by Nate Silva

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? You DO NOT have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to have your dream wedding. That is a total myth. You just have to be a little creative and use some elbow grease. I wouldn't have been able to do it without help from my friends and family though, so pull your posse together and make it happen.

Photography by Nate Silva

Photography by Nate Silva

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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