Real Florida Wedding: Paria and Bradley at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

PHOTOGRAPHY BY HUNTER RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Bride: Paria Shirzadi

Groom: Bradley Heeter

Wedding Date: October 15, 2016

Ceremony Venue: Bayview Hotel Lawn, The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota

It started with a chance meeting and a terrible pick-up line.

Paria Shirzadi and her roommate only intended to have one drink and go home – but just a few minutes after arriving at a World of Beer in South Tampa, Paria crossed paths with Bradley Heeter, her future husband.

“Brad came up to me and said what sounded like the worst pick-up line,” Paria says. “‘You look familiar. I really think I know you from somewhere.’ It ended up being that we actually have a bunch of mutual friends and go to all the same places, so it could have been true – and he still swears he meant it.” Cheesy or not, the line worked – Brad got Paria’s number and called a few days later to ask her to dinner.

The Tampa-based pair dated for two years before getting engaged, but the proposal didn’t come quite when Paria thought it would.

“I had always mentioned that I thought getting engaged after two years of dating was perfect,” she says. “I really thought he was going to propose during our two-year anniversary trip, but that didn’t happen.” Rather than settling for the obvious opportunity, Brad held onto the ring and a week later, he invited Paria up to the roof of their apartment for a drink. While sipping champagne, Brad pointed out that from their roof, they could see the restaurant where they went on their first date – then dropped to one knee and led into the proposal.

“It was perfect, because as much as I thought I wanted it to happen on our trip, I love being surprised,” Paria says.

The pair wed at one of their favorite vacation spots, the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota. Frequent visitors, Paria and Brad have checked in for anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions, so having their wedding at the hotel only made sense. Paria also loved how the location’s look fit with her elegant and glamorous theme.

The bride’s two favorite details from the day also tied in to her love of the beautifully sophisticated. The first detail was her dress, a Lazaro from The Collection Bridal in Winter Park; the gown was the first one Paria picked out, and the final decision took less than 30 minutes, despite the bride planning on trips to several stores over multiple days.The second detail was the ceremony’s Mediterranean-style location, including the elegant staircases and balconies.

“The moment that stands out the most to me was walking down the spiral staircase that was overlooking the ceremony, the beautiful Ritz lawn and the water, and seeing Brad and all the guests’ faces,” Paria says. “It was such an exciting entrance because I could see everyone from up above where I was hidden away.”

Brad and Paria had two ceremonies in a row – a traditional American ceremony, and a Persian ceremony to honor Paria’s culture. In the Persian ceremony, Paria and Brad were seated at the Sofreh Aghd, a beautifully decorated table with various symbolic items to represent elements of the couple’s new life and marriage together.

“During the Persian ceremony, someone close to the bride – for me, it was my mother – rubs sugar cones together over the delicate lace cloth held over the couple’s heads to shower their life and marriage with sweetness,” Paria explains. “At the end of the Persian ceremony, the couple dips one pinky finger in the cup of honey and feeds it to the other to sweeten life.”