Lea Mei and James Buchanan were married Friday, May 6.
Where it all began
Lea and James were introduced through mutual friends during their sophomore year at Cardinal Mooney High School. Lea recalls that she enjoyed watching “the football stud” while he played as a fullback for the school. The two shared a friendship and stayed in touch after college. Once it was time to plan their 10-year class reunion, the two reconnected. Lea was unable to attend, but James got her phone number and invited her to a Christmas party the following evening.
Just shy of their four-year dating anniversary, James popped the question to Lea on Oct. 31, 2015, at Walt Disney World. Combining Lea’s love of Halloween and Disney, James surprised his soon-to-be fiancé with a trip to the park. On Halloween, Lea and James were enjoying another day at the park — an unsuspecting Lea thinking the highlight of the day might be the jalapeño and cheddar pretzels and the ride “Spaceship Earth.” Little did she know James would surprise her with a private boat ride to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks — and a proposal. Afterward, James had a private car waiting to take them to dinner, where Lea was surprised to find her parents, brother and sister-in-law and James’ parents.
"The entire evening was everything I could have dreamed of and more." — Lea Mei Buchanan
The wedding and reception
Using a gold rose as the cornerstone to their design, the couple included classic, elegant details ranging from gold bridesmaids’ dresses to hand-painted gold rose favors by Sarasota artist Debbie Danheisser. Elements of gold, ivory and sparkle illuminated the evening and were seen in even the smallest of details, including the place settings and stationery.
The ceremony took place at First Baptist Church in downtown Sarasota, followed by a reception in the courtyard at the Ringling Museum of Art. The bride and groom arrived in a Rolls Royce, and guests enjoyed a cocktail hour complete with ballerinas in the courtyard. The bride’s father, owner of Cafe Baci, created the meal in collaboration with Paul Mattison. Guests enjoyed live music by Serenade of Souls, dancing and a fireworks show after dinner.