Real Weddings/Destination Weddings

Pretty Pink Beach Wedding With An Elegant, Formal Reception

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Who says a beach wedding can’t be elegant? While the groom in this Florida wedding may actually be wearing a pink tie, this mostly classic and formal affair shows you truly can have it all – with a dreamy oceanside ceremony and a delightfully sophisticated reception.

While many stylists would advise a bride to pick her dress according to her venue or wedding destination, we all know what’s often the truth – “The wand chooses the wizard Harry!” Oops! We mean the dress chooses the bride, of course! And that is absolutely the case in this graceful beach wedding.

Bride Samantha entered a bridal salon on a whim while visiting her mother, totally unprepared to meet her dream gown that day. And as it goes in life, she walked out head-over-heels for a simple and classic Carolina Herrera wedding dress totally apart from anything she had ever imagined. As we’ve advised in past wedding dress posts, don’t be afraid to try on something different!

And while beachy weddings often have more casual vibes, Samantha and Andrew’s yacht club venue was the perfect amount of class for a formal and absolutely elegant gown.

Wedding Images
Wedding Images

Our Love Story

Andrew and I met at our part-time college job. We both attended Florida State University and worked at the local Jimmy John’s making sandwiches. Andrew had been working there for about two years and I was new to the shop. After about two months of working together, I asked Andy if he wanted to cover my Friday night shift or join me at a party. He attended the party.

A month after adopting our puppy Finn, we decided to take him to our favorite farmer’s market in Hyde Park, Tampa. After walking around for a little while, we headed back to the car. I sat down and Andrew pulled the box out of his pocket. I responded with “Yea, duh!”

Finn then tried to eat the ring. We kept it intimate and then surprised our families by Facetiming them all!

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Wedding Images
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Wedding Images

The Dress & Attire

I went to visit my mom in New York and we randomly stopped in a wedding dress shop to kill some time. My wedding was still over a year away, but we thought it would be fun to try some dresses on. I always envisioned myself in a straight lace dress. I tried a couple of them on and none gave me that “wow” feeling. One of the last dresses I tried on was completely different from the rest, but the moment I saw myself in it, I teared up. My mom even knew it was the one. I panicked because I couldn’t believe I found my wedding dress in the first store we went to, so we ran to three other stores that day, before realizing there was no beating that dress. I loved how elegant it was and adding the cathedral veil tied it all together. The dress even had pockets which was a fun touch!

We felt tuxedos would be too formal for a yacht club wedding, so we opted for suits. We had Andrew wear a vest underneath his suit jacket to differentiate him from the groomsmen. Andrew and the groomsmen also bought the suits so they can wear them to work or other events as well!

I knew I wanted long flowy dresses for my bridesmaids to give our wedding an elegant, yet beachy feel. I also wanted my bridesmaids to feel comfortable in what they were wearing, so I allowed them to choose between three different styles. They all looked beautiful!

Wedding Images
Wedding Images
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“The first look is something that will always stick out to me. The feeling of pure joy when I saw my bride for the first time. It was nice to share a private moment together, so we could have some alone time before a night of celebrating with guests.”

– Groom Andrew, favorite moments

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The Flowers

For our wedding flowers, I wanted them to be organic, but not too messy. We used a lot of greenery with roses and ranunculus. I liked the natural look. The arch flowers were definitely my favorite. I loved how they also were able to re-purpose them to the mantle pieces inside of our venue. Very creative! I also loved our head table. The girls were able to put their bouquets in water so they acted like centerpieces and then we had greenery run along the table.

2 Birds Events did an amazing job taking my vision and making it a reality! They were so flexible with all of my changes as well. I really appreciate that! They also provided many of the decorations. Having a florist who could do it all was very helpful.

Wedding Images
Wedding Images

The Wedding Venue

With Andrew’s family from Indiana and mine from New York we wanted to do something by the beach so guests could have a mini-vacation while attending our wedding. We visited about five venues on Clearwater Beach with no luck. Most of those venues you got married on a public beach, and then had to go into an enclosed ballroom for the reception. We wanted to keep our ceremony intimate and let our guests enjoy the water views at the reception.

We were nervous we wouldn’t find a venue that felt like “us” until we came across Stephanie A. Smith‘s blog featuring the Carlouel Yacht Club. We fell in love with her pictures and scheduled a meeting with the venue a week later. The minute we walked onto the private beach we knew we had to get married at the Carlouel Yacht Club. I even cried a little because of how perfect it was! We loved how the venue was both simple and elegant.

We didn’t really have a theme picked out, we just knew we wanted it to be pretty and romantic. The color choices of navy and blush accented the yacht club, without being too “beachy”. We also wanted to have a decent amount of flowers to help with the romantic feel.

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Favorite Moments

My favorite part of the day was hearing Andrew’s vows he wrote for me. We were both saying how we didn’t know what to say a week before our wedding, but apparently, he did! He wrote about the evolution of our relationship and how far we have come as a couple and as individuals. He also wrote about how excited he is for our future. Myself and many of our guests were crying. Writing about it now doesn’t even do it justice.

Another moment that sticks out to me was when my mom saw me for the first time and helped me put my veil on. She started crying and then I started crying. We were both just so happy. My mom was a big part of keeping me sane during this journey. Stephanie caught this moment in our photos. I am so grateful she did!

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Wedding Images
Wedding Images
Wedding Images
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The Photography

The most important thing to us was the photography since we would be looking back at these photos forever. Andrew and I try not to take ourselves too seriously and many of the photographers we were seeing online took very serious formal photos. We wanted someone who could capture the raw emotions of that day, more naturally.

When we came across Stephanie’s photos we knew we wanted her to be part of our special day. She is also the reason we booked our venue, so what better person to shoot your wedding then the person who made you fall in love with your venue! We booked Stephanie for the whole day, along with a second shooter so they could capture everything. They were both so amazing. Thank you, Stephanie, for everything!

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Advice to Other Couples

Book your venue and vendors as far in advance as you can. Since we set our wedding date a year and a half in advance, we were able to get all of the vendors that we wanted. It also gave us time to really meet with different vendors to see who matched with our vision and personalities.

It’s okay to change your mind! When you start planning your wedding so far in advance your taste changes. If you want something changed, change it. You only get one wedding!

Get your invitations printed as soon as possible! I procrastinated our invitations due to minor changes I kept wanting to make and then Hurricane Irma delayed them even more as we were without power for a couple days. Tona from Paper Seahorse was amazing to work with! Very talented!

Also, once you get a month out from your wedding, don’t stress too much about things since you can’t really change anything that close to the wedding. I found myself getting really stressed about little details. Looking back, no one probably even noticed those things!

Last – HAVE FUN! You only get to do this once in your life, so enjoy it! It really is the best day of your life!

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The Cake

Hands on Sweets made the most delicious wedding cake! Our guests are still raving about it! We had our cake tasting with Chef Marie who helped us pick out the perfect flavors. We chose a vanilla cake, with cream cheese and strawberry filling, and a buttercream outside. I showed Chef Marie what I wanted the cake to look like and it came out perfect! Just like the rest of the wedding we wanted it to be simple, yet elegant with white icing and flowers to bring in some color. It was so light and airy, but full of flavor.

We still think about it to this day. We can’t wait for our one year anniversary! Hands on Sweets said they will bake us another one instead of freezing the top.

Wedding Images
Wedding Images

The DJ

To save some money, we passed on a band and opted for a DJ. We did end up getting the best DJ in Tampa Bay though since we booked all of our vendors over a year in advance! DJ Cory was so great, keeping everyone on the dance floor most of the night as well as keeping us on schedule with the ceremony, speeches, cake cutting, etc.

Our first dance was Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”. When we were doing a year of long-distance dating, our favorite song was “Thinking Out Loud”. I even had it as my ringtone for Andrew for when he would call me. My father actually recommended “Perfect” for us. Once we heard it, we fell in love with it.

We also had a private last dance while our guests were outside lighting their sparklers for our exit. Our last dance song was Zac Brown Band’s “Whatever It Is”. This was the first song Andrew said made him think of me and that he loved me. It is special to both of us.

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The Honeymoon

The honeymoon was AMAZING! It was great getting to disconnect from the world and just spend some quality time together. We headed to Costa Rica where we spent a couple days at the Arenal Volcano where were ziplined through the rainforest, relaxed in the hot springs and hiked to the La Fortuna waterfall. We even saw a sloth!

After a couple of adventurous days, we spent the rest of our honeymoon at an all-inclusive beach resort on the Pacific Coast. There we just relaxed, ate and drank. It was just what we needed after planning a wedding!

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