A Luxury Elopement


Luxury elopements are one of the newest trends in weddings, even if those elopements are in your own hometown. Asa Thomas, director of sales and marketing at Art Ovation Hotel, and Dominic Harris, a Sarasota Police Department detective, created their own luxury elopement here in Sarasota, with help from wedding planner Maria Brady of Choreographed Events.

“Sarasota was already a hot spot for destination weddings. We have people coming from all over the world to get married here,” Brady said. While luxury elopements were already beginning to become popular prior to Covid-19, the pandemic certainly increased their popularity, as couples looked for ways to simplify their weddings and eliminate potential stumbling blocks, Brady explained.

Just the Two of Them

Asa and Dominic became engaged on Christmas Day. Because of Covid, they knew that they didn’t want to plan a big wedding and then have to worry about all of the details. “With my work on events at the hotel, I had heard so many horror stories this year about brides having to change their dates two or three times, or cancel their weddings altogether. And, we knew we didn’t want to go through that,” Asa said.

The decision to not have any guests was a difficult one, but, as Asa said, “Once you invite this person, then you have to invite that person, and suddenly you have 300 people at your wedding.” That, plus concerns about people traveling, made her decision very simple.

Something Special

“Still, we knew we wanted to do something really special,” Asa said. “I still wanted all the bells and whistles and Maria promised me that she could make that happen, even if it was just for the two of us.

“Plus, Dominic had told me that he just wanted me to have the wedding of my dreams. This wedding was more than anything I could ever have imagined,” Asa said.

Their Day

Dominic and Asa were driven separately by limousine (provided by Blue Ribbon Transportation) to John and Mable Ringling’s home at Ca’ d’Zan. The “first look,” the private moment when the bride and groom first see each other on their wedding day, took place in Ca’ d’Zan’s Belvedere Tower. The couple was then married by Father Patrick Wenrick, right at the water’s edge on the home’s beautiful terrace. Malgorzata Zarzycka, a violinist from The  Sarasota Orchestra provided the music, and romantic floral arrangements were provided by Tailored Twig. Asa had flown to Atlanta and found her “perfect” wedding dress through Anthropologie’s bridal line, BHLDN; a dress Asa describes as “timeless and classic.”

Thanks to Blake Godbey of Vintage Motors, the couple was then whisked (in a luxurious, vintage automobile) to an elaborately decorated Michael’s Wine Cellar. “It was magical, with hundreds of candles, a sparkling chandelier and crystal, and a grand piano,” Brady said. Ariel Blue and Raleigh Mosely II from Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe performed for Asa and Dominic. Helping to set the scene were So Staged Event Rentals, Linens by the Sea, Cakes by Ron, and, of course, Phil Mancini and his team at Michael’s Wine Cellar.

Following the private dinner for two, the couple was driven to Element, where they met up with about 10 of their closest friends for some post-nuptial partying. And then it was on to The Ritz-Carlton, where they stayed before beginning their honeymoon the next day.

“This wedding was so stunning. It was absolutely beautiful, and such a romantic moment for just the two of them,” she said. “And, family and friends will still be able to share in the experience. Photographer John Revisky and Alex Karas from Voila Cinematic documented the big event, so it can be easily shared for years to come.