Real Weddings: Renée-Claude Cardinal and Kevin James Melnuk

Real Florida Weddings: Renée-Claude Cardinal and Kevin James Melnuk | Weddings Illustrated

Learning to waterski requires almost total concentration, but in the summer of 1998, while attending Matt Rini Waterski School in Orlando, a then 10-year-old Kevin Melnuk was more interested in a fellow student than he was in figuring out how to stay upright in the water. It was then that he first met a nine-year-old Renée-Claude Cardinal, who was attending the same summer waterskiing class.

Fast forward 17 years, to April 4, 2015, and Melnuk referenced that fateful day in the vows he recited to Cardinal, who was moments away from becoming his wife. “My shyness kept me from talking to you when we first met, but I knew one day I’d have the courage to talk to the prettiest girl I had ever seen,” Melnuk told Cardinal. “I eventually did have the courage to talk to you, to become your friend, to fall in love, and, today, to become your husband.”

The couple had to navigate some choppy waters on the way to becoming Mr. and Mrs., including a five-year period of long-distance dating when Kevin was studying accounting in Phoenix and Renée-Claude was working toward a degree in Speech-Language Pathology in Montreal. During those years, the couple made efforts to see each other once a month, and they managed to spend most summers together, including two in Jerseyville, Illinois, where they ran—what else?—a waterskiing school.

In 2012, the couple purchased a townhouse together in Orlando, where Kevin finally asked Renée-Claude to be his bride. “We got engaged on October 18, 2013, at our townhouse,” Renée-Claude says. “Kevin had made a book containing pictures of its construction—our townhouse is very significant to us, as we purchased it together after five-and-a-half years of dating long-distance—and the question ‘Will you marry me?’ was typed on the last page.”

Kevin and Renée-Claude decided to swap vows close to home, at the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, on April 4, 2015, an event that Renée-Claude describes as “romantic and glamorous.” They were married in a sunny outdoor ceremony and chose a spring-inspired palette of ivory, coral, and gray for everything from their bridal party’s attire to their reception decor.

A highlight of their long-awaited day, says Renée-Claude, was “Seeing Kevin tear up as I was walking down the aisle with my father, as well as seeing my father tear up during our father-daughter dance.”

Kevin shares similar sentiments. “Seeing my bride in her wedding dress for the first time, as well as seeing friends and family enjoying the atmosphere at the reception and the live band” were among his happiest moments.

After their ceremony, the newlyweds joined friends and family in a reception that included a carrot cake with cream cheese filling, as well as a chocolate cake with chocolate-mousse filling. Throughout the reception space, ivory Vendela roses, creamy white Majolica spray roses, and coral Amsterdam roses—all matching the blooms that the bride and her bridesmaids carried—added a classic air and a subtle spray of color, while silver candelabras, mercury glass candlesticks, mirrored and glass vases, and sparkling, sequin linens gave the party the glamorous feel its guests of honor had hoped for.

Finally husband and wife after that fateful ski-school class so many years ago, Renée-Claude and Kevin spent their honeymooned in Vail, Colorado, before returning to the treasured townhouse in Orlando they call home.

Photography/Videography: Justin DeMutiis Photography / Ceremony and Reception Venue: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort / Wedding Planner: Très Chic Southern Weddings & Events / Cakes: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort / Flowers: Raining Roses / Linens: Over The Top / Chargers/Chairs: A Chair Affair / Wedding Gown: Jim Hjelm / Veil: Rita Vinieris / Hair and Makeup: Makeover Station / Entertainment: Josh Walther & The Phase 5 Band

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