Carolina Marques and Derek Rocas are a perfect match. They are so sweet together, in fact, they practically belong on top of a wedding cake — or perhaps, more appropriately, twirling together inside of a jewelry box.
Derek and Carolina met in 2013 when she moved to Birmingham from New York City to dance with the Alabama Ballet. Derek was already one of the main dancers with the company, and was actually one of the first people Carolina met upon her arrival in Birmingham. (Fun fact: He actually sold her his bed!) They had the same group of friends, composed largely of their fellow dancers, and therefore spent lots of time together first in that group setting, which eventually progressed into the two of them making plans separately. “We started dating before we really knew we were dating,” Carolina says. “We just enjoyed each other’s company so much, friendship became love without notice.”
The proposal was as fuss-free as the beginning of their relationship had been, but perfectly sweet and completely romantic. Over a simple weeknight dinner at home, Derek kept making jokes about getting married. They had talked about marriage before, but Carolina had no idea when it would actually happen. Derek then came up with the idea to crochet a ring for her with pink yarn. He wrapped a string around her finger to get the right size and then left to get a small box he could place the crocheted ring inside. When he returned with the box, he got down on one knee and opened the box to reveal not a crocheted ring, but a beautiful rose gold engagement ring. Needless to say, Carolina said “yes!”
Carolina had dreamed about her wedding since she was a little girl, and she had a clear idea of what she wanted the day to be like. “I really wanted the wedding to be special, romantic and fun for us and for everyone,” she says. “We both wanted a small wedding, live music and beautiful flowers. We are both so happy we made it all happen.” Light-pink peonies, abundant greenery, shades of ivory and a touch of delicate lilac set the tone for the romantic day.
This couple knew that finding the perfect venue would be key to achieving their vision, which proved to be the biggest challenge they faced while planning, due to their busy schedules at the ballet and Carolina’s full-time class load at UAB. “I think picking the venue was really important,” Carolina says. “It helped shape everything else involved in the wedding. We were lucky to find a place that had everything we wanted.” They decided on Historic Rucker Place in downtown Birmingham as the perfect setting. “There’s a wonderful little garden for ceremonies, which is exactly what we wanted,” Carolina says. The ceremony would take place in that charming garden, and the circa-1900 gorgeous white home would provide the perfect backdrop for a joyous evening spent eating, dancing and celebrating the bride and groom.
The morning of the wedding, the bride woke up to a rainy forecast, threatening her dream garden ceremony. There was a backup plan in place, but Carolina tried to remain calm and hope that the rain would clear in time. “It actually rained until just before the wedding, just enough time to get everything ready for our outdoor ceremony and take pictures outside,” Carolina says. “I’m so happy the weather cooperated! It looked beautiful outside, the lighting was perfect for pictures, and the rain helped cool the air.” The rain even invigorated the plants in the garden, making the late-summer greenery even more vibrant and lush, a true garden oasis.
With the rain holding off above them, 50 of the bride and groom’s closest friends and family members gathered in the garden to witness the personal ceremony uniting the couple. Carolina made her way down the aisle to find her groom waiting for her in the heart of the garden, under strings of globe lights and an arch of pink roses. There, the couple held hands and exchanged the meaningful wedding vows they wrote themselves. “The whole ceremony was very special to me,” Carolina says. “Holding hands with Derek during our vows was my favorite part.” With their closest friends and dog Marzi as flower girl standing alongside them, Carolina and Derek were pronounced husband and wife.
After the ceremony, guests made their way inside the historic home while the bride and groom lingered in the garden for a few minutes, enjoying their first moments as husband and wife. After being introduced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs., Carolina and Derek shared their first dance as husband and wife to “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole, a perfectly happy and lighthearted song for these two dancers to twirl to. Guests enjoyed a delicious meal of fresh garden salad, steak and roasted summer vegetables and potatoes, while friends and family members shared celebratory toasts to the bride and groom. Carolina and Derek cut into their chocolate wedding cake and linked arms for a champagne toast. The reception was so lovely; Carolina says the only thing she would change would simply be to make it last a little longer. Plenty of dancing and laughter filled the walls of Historic Rucker Place before this pair of dancers floated off into the night — this time, as husband and wife.
Thank you for sharing your gorgeous wedding day with us, Carolina and Derek! Here’s to a lifetime of wedded bliss!
And if you want to see Carolina and Derek dance together onstage with the Alabama Ballet, catch Ovation at the BJCC this October 20-22, 2017.
Photography: Melissa Dooley Photography
Wedding planning: Engaged Wedding Library
Wedding dress: Romona Keveza from Ivory & White
Groom and groomsmen’s attire: Zara
Cake: Magic Muffins
Flowers: LSL Event Design
Venue: Historic Rucker Place
Band: Steel City Prophets
Hair & makeup: Melissa Bogardus
Merchandise & stationery design: The bride!
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