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.

Alabama Ballet dancers Carolina Marques and Derek Rocas’ engagement photos are not your average engagement pics.
As if from a fairy tale, Derek sweeps Carolina off her feet with classical ballet form.
As if from a fairytale, Derek sweeps Carolina off her feet with classical ballet form.

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!”

This beautiful bride can’t stop smiling on the morning of her wedding!
Carolina says she was, understandably, a bit nervous the morning of the wedding, but spending the day surrounded by wonderful people, sipping champagne, chatting and laughing helped calm any nerves she had.
Carolina knew she had found her dream wedding dress the moment she laid eyes on it. “I made an appointment at Ivory & White and went with my maid of honor, bridesmaids and friends, all dancers from the ballet,” Carolina says. “We parked right in front of the store, and I saw this gown in the window that immediately caught my eye, I knew I had to try it on. I think at that moment I knew it was the dress, but I was trying to not get too attached just yet because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to afford it! It was the first dress I tried on and the only one I fell in love with. After trying it on, everyone just kept comparing the other dresses with the first one. Turns out it was way off my budget but the store sold it to me as a sample, which made it possible for me to have the dress!”
Carolina is the very picture of elegance.

RELATED: Behind the Scenes: The Alabama Ballet

Carolina used Pinterest to help narrow her vision for florals. “The fact that it was going to be a summer wedding helped me pick soft colors,” Carolina says. “I love light-pink peonies. They are my favorite!”
This lovely bride is also a graphic design student at UAB, and she created the invitation suite for the wedding. How gorgeous!
Carolina and Derek’s bridesmaids and groomsmen are all dancers and close friends.
“All of our bridal party are dancers, and most of them dance with the Alabama Ballet,” Carolina says. “We spend so much time together, we are all really close. I couldn’t imagine not having them there; they are our best friends.”
Such a sweet front porch first look!
The bridesmaids were gorgeous in their floor-length gowns in shades of light pink and ivory with stunning loose bouquets of lush garden roses, peonies and silver dollar eucalyptus. The groomsmen wore blue trousers with white shirts and navy ties, finished perfectly with a light peach ranunculus boutonniere.

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.

Puppy love! Derek and Carolina had their sweet pup, Marzi, serve as their flower girl!
Carolina makes her way down the aisle, and this groom can’t help but grin!
With greenery surrounding them and globe lights above, the bride and groom’s garden ceremony was absolutely enchanting.
Carolina and Derek exchange rings and vows as their friends, family and puppy Marzi look on. Carolina says that Marzi was the absolute perfect flower girl. “She behaved so well,” Carolina says. “She’s a very high-energy puppy, so we were crossing our fingers she would behave, and she did. She sat during the whole ceremony.”

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.

RELATED: 15 Gorgeous & Unique Wedding Venues Around Birmingham

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.

These moments after the ceremony are always the most special.
Sweet kisses in the garden under an arbor of pink roses — it doesn’t get dreamier than this!
Carolina and Derek chose “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole for their first dance as husband and wife. “It’s sweet and upbeat,” Carolina says. “I didn’t want anything too long or too cheesy, so this song was perfect!
Carolina and Derek chose a three-tier chocolate cake with white buttercream frosting, adorned with white peonies and pink garden roses.
The newlyweds ended the night as any couple of professional dancers would: blissfully dancing the night away with their closest friends and family.
Carolina and Derek share a kiss in the midst of their sparkler sendoff.

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
Catering: Savoie
Band: Steel City Prophets
Hair & makeup: Melissa Bogardus
Merchandise & stationery design: The bride!

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About the Author
Kellie Grammer

Kellie is a freelance writer stealing time between her toddler's play dates to write mostly about weddings for StyleBlueprint.