What a beautiful sunny beach wedding we have for you today. WWW readers Ali and Jamie jetted off to Florida for their nuptials on the 27th April 2017 along with 46 of their nearest and dearest and of course their gorgeous son Oliver. Ali had a vision of keeping everything simple and to make sure that everyone was relaxed and well fed, which seems like a good place to start to me!
The décor was a fabulous combination of flamingos and pineapples, which perfectly matched the beach setting. The tables with their sparkly gold runners and perfect pink and gold settings look just stunning in the evening light. Ali brought a lot of the decoration over from the UK with her and I just love how it all turned out. Jamie even sprayed the pineapples gold on the morning of the big day, now that’s a labour of love for sure!
In keeping with the relaxed feel of the wedding, Jamie wore an Alexander McQueen short sleeved shirt, Reiss shorts and Tod’s loafers, perfect for the beach setting. Ali went for something more traditional and looks just gorgeous in her Madison James gown.
You’re going to love Chelsea Wielan of Finding Light Photography‘s incredible images, the way she’s captured the fading light at sundown is just amazing.
THE PROPOSAL | On my birthday on the 4 August 2015 over a picnic with our then 6 month old son Oliver at The Water Garden in Bushy Park. Jamie picked the location as it’s a park we frequent a lot and the water garden has a river running through it called the Longford River which is the same river that runs along the riverbank at the back of our house. Jamie proposed by having a chocolate and raspberry cake made in the shape of a ring box in the Tiffany colours and put my ring in there. He proposed to me with a stunning ring that had been his Mum’s who sadly passed away in 2012 so it has real sentimental meaning to us both. I was completely surprised and overjoyed to say the least as Jamie always lead me to believe he didn’t want to get married! We then went on to celebrate later that evening at Le Gavroche in Mayfair.
THE VISION | We wanted a very relaxed and happy affair surrounded by our nearest and dearest.
For our guests to wear what they felt comfortable in.
Parents to not be stressed about children having to sit and behave for hours on end.
Everybody to be well fed and watered!
I wanted to personalise it and for it to reflect us as much as possible.
Our guests to be drinking cocktails in the sunshine and the kids to be running around playing.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Originally I wanted a full on English wedding but Jamie wasn’t keen on this idea. He didn’t like the idea of a traditional wedding and suggested abroad, something I wasn’t keen on at all. We talked about it and were going on holiday the following month in September 2015 to Florida – a place I’m very familiar with and love. It then occurred to me that a place called Anna Maria Island could actually fit what we were both after. I found The Sandbar online, we made an appointment to visit the wedding coordinator when we were nearby. As soon as I saw the setting and got a feel for how the wedding could be we set a date there and then. I was so excited from the outset. Whilst there we checked out some bars, visited a cake shop then once home set the wheels in motion. I contacted an event planner who I worked closely with to achieve the wedding I wanted. I didn’t want to get caught up in all the small things – I wanted my budget to be spent on everybody having a great time, the kids being entertained and locally sourced produce. We didn’t want to have wedding bands so our registrar suggested we have a sand ceremony in place of the exchanging of rings which worked perfectly and we blended two different colour sands together into one glass – I brought the sand home.
BUDGET | We never actually sat down and said right we are spending x amount and we just priced things up and made a decision. To begin with our wedding was coming in at around £13k but exchange rates changed and it probably ended up being more £16k excluding our flights, accommodation and honeymoon.
THE VENUE | The Sandbar Restaurant was a perfect setting. Picture perfect on an amazing white beach – a good friend did ask me why there are diamonds in the sand! Its position means you can see amazing sunsets and I visualised how pretty our pictures would be. The area where weddings are held is really cute with twinkly fairy lights. The Sandbar served amazing food and it’s locally sourced – two things that were really important to me. I was able to serve a selection of food and people didn’t need to pre-order as we opted for a seated starter to get people into their seats – it was family style sharing platters of coconut shrimp and tomato bruschetta. I liked the idea of family style sharing to keep the feeling of informality. We were able to serve 3 main courses and sides as a buffet style. Kids were given the choice of anything from the extensive children’s menu on the day. I’m pleased to say we have had so many compliments on the food so we achieved what we set out to do. They were able to offer me a separate full bar that offered a wide range of drinks including a full cocktail list. Great food and drinks!
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Madison James MJ170 – Champagne/Ivory/Silver Richly embellished Swarovski beaded bodice with a tulle skirt.
LK Bennett matt gold wedges.
I wore my Stepdad’s Mum’s ring as my something borrowed and something blue – as it is a sapphire and diamond ring.
Simple diamond studs as my something old.
Jamie gave me a gorgeous delicate diamond heart bracelet as my wedding gift on the morning which I wore on the day.
Six simple diamante hair pins that my Mum had bought for me in Spain.
FINDING THE DRESS | I visited a few dress shops locally. I didn’t want to confuse myself with going to numerous shops and I found a lovely dress I was set on. When I left that shop we picked up a wedding magazine and that’s when I saw THE DRESS! I contacted Madison James who told me who stocked their brand in London and the M25 area but not one shop stocked the dress I’d seen advertised. Then the amazing Sally from Helena Fortley stepped in and said she’d hire it in for me – other shops had just said they had similar styles but I wanted to try the exact dress. So I headed to Caterham to meet Sally and see the dress. Sally and her team were amazing from the outset so full of energy and making you feel so welcome in their beautiful shop. Sally hired my dress in twice so I could be 100%. I couldn’t wait to wear it. Sally has an amazing seamstress, Kay who altered the dress perfectly – with 10 hours work of re-sewing on the beads. I was so excited the day I picked my dress up but sad that I wouldn’t be going back to the shop where lots of laughs and chatting took place with Sally! Anybody I know who is getting married I tell them to go and see Sally!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Jamie never wanted to wear a suit and I was chilled with that I wanted him to be comfortable. I was getting to wear what I wanted so why shouldn’t he. Plus in the sweltering Florida heat it was a good choice to go for a short sleeved shirt, shorts and loafers. At one point he contemplated no shoes at all but decided he’d need some to walk down the road in!
Alexander McQueen Brad Pitt short sleeved shirt.
Reiss pale blue shorts.
Tod’s suede black loafers.
Jamie’s best man, Neerav was in a similar relaxed style as was our Page Boy, our son Oliver.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | I wanted to keep my ceremony as short as possible so opted for no readings. I walked down the aisle with my Dad to “My Girl” by the Temptations, a song I love and think it’s a perfect song for father and daughter. Jamie & I walked out to “Don’t Get Me Wrong” by The Pretenders. I chose this song as I love the simple lyrics about how a person makes somebody feel – “If I’m looking kind of dazzled, I see neon lights, Whenever you walk by…. Don’t get me …If I’m acting so distracted, I’m thinking about the fireworks that go off when you smile.”
I wasn’t looking forward to a first dance – Jamie and I are aren’t the slow kind of dance couple! We both have a love of Stevie Wonder and opted for Signed, Sealed and Delivered. We were joined by Oliver for our dance.
We decided to do our own playlist on Spotify as I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find a DJ in the US that would be able to accommodate the slightly different music taste that we have in the UK to the US. For me lots of the songs I chose on the playlist were childhood songs and a few garage tunes that I had a good dance to with the girls pretending we were 19 again!
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My cousin Lauren was my Matron of Honour – I wanted to keep it simple and not have an entourage of bridesmaids, again a reflection for me of the simplicity of the wedding. I wanted Lauren to be as comfortable as possible so asked her to decide on what length dress she wanted, style of shoes. We ordered many and in the end chose a simple full length blush pink ASOS dress – they style suited Lauren perfectly. It had a small amount of sparkle on the shoulders that we thought would complement my dress perfectly. We teamed the dress with a Miss KG light pink espadrille wedge.
THE FLOWERS | I didn’t want to have lots of flowers – I was conscious of them going to waste as unlike a UK wedding I could hardly send people home with them. I visualised spray painted gold pineapples as my centre pieces – Jamie was busy spray painting on the morning of the wedding! A few people did question my choice but I stuck to my visualisation and I was so pleased with them on the day.
I wanted a simple peony and rose bouquet but was adamant that unless there were sourced in the US then I wouldn’t have them. This turned out to be the case with the peonies due to the crop and they’d have to come from Holland. I opted for a full rose bouquet a mix of garden and standard roses in blush.
Lauren had an ivory hydrangea bouquet – again I wanted to keep it simple and for both our bouquets to be full with limited greenery.
THE CAKE | We only went to one cake maker as I’d heard great things about Cindy. We fell in love with the cake as soon as we tasted a slice of the coconut and lime cake. Immediately we knew that was the one. I looked at numerous cake designs but in the end we decided to stick with how this cake is served in the store. Three tiers covered in shredded coconut. I’d fallen in love with flamingo cake toppers that I’d seen at a wedding fair – I knew these would be perfect for a Florida wedding and a little bit quirky. My cake maker was able to recreate these for me and also include a little flamingo to represent our son. I was so pleased with how my cake looked – I loved the simplicity and the flamingos really stood out by keeping it simple. Cindy was a pleasure to work with so relaxed and accommodating – she also makes the most amazing coconut macaroons so we had a platter of these too along with the cake. For a guest that was coeliac she ensured we had a cupcake for them also. It makes my mouth water just thinking about the cake and macaroons!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | I really researched photographers. Oliver’s Godmother, Laura, is a wonderful photographer and I wanted to try and capture a similar style to hers. Relaxed, natural shots that really capture emotion. As much as I’d have loved Laura to photograph my day it was more important to me that her and her family be part of our day and not working. I shortlisted a few and knew who my favourite was but I asked Laura her opinion and she picked my favourite out of the list, Finding Light Photography. I was so happy when Chelsea was able to accommodate our date. Photography was really important to me and it was my biggest outlay. It was money truly well spent and looking at the pictures really takes me back to the day. Chelsea was amazing to work with from the moment we first spoke on email to the first day I met her on my wedding day. Everybody commented on her style, how she was so chilled and integrated on the day. She wasn’t invasive but was so natural and she just seemed like one of the wedding party. Her capture of light is amazing and she really did this with our wedding pictures. Chelsea took note of everything I’d asked for from our wedding pics there isn’t one thing she didn’t picture for me. Looking at her pictures really takes me back to the day.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | The look and feel was important to me. Jamie left me to it! I wanted a pretty and girly feel to my wedding but equally I didn’t want it to feel too British given I was on a beach. I knew I wanted a simple blush pink and gold theme, gold pineapples as centre pieces, sequin table runners, antique style pink glasswear – I was trying to look for something a little bit different at my wedding hence the pineapples. Fairy lights to enhance the setting once the sun had set.
We’d agreed on a horseshoe style table setting as I wanted to get away from the traditional round table set up and not have a traditional head table. I wanted our Matron of Honour and Best man to be seated with their partners so having an unconventional head table allowed us to do this. We had guests sitting opposite us which was so nice as we felt really integrated and part of a table getting to chat to guests.
I found a great events planner, A.J. from TheLoft5. She was amazing and from the outset we really connected – she got my vision exactly and complimented it beautifully. She was able to source the pieces I was after and add some lovely additional details – gold mirrors, the cake stand, an informal seating area. I didn’t meet A.J. until we arrived for the wedding but we had not problems chatting via email or phone. Her ideas and inspiration is great I really bounced of her.
I bought a lot of wedding pieces from the UK with me – gold pineapple frames, table names, a pink flamingo, table stationery, selfie sticks, selfie props, kids party bags. I had my table plan designed in the UK but printed in Florida.
THE HONEYMOON | We decided to head on down to the Keys for 2 weeks after our being in Anna Maria Island for the wedding week. We wanted to be able to include our son in our plans. We did have 2 nights to ourselves in the beautiful town of Naples in Florida whilst Oliver was with his Grandparents. Then we collected Oliver and headed off to Key Largo, Little Conch Key, Key West & Islamorada. We had a fabulous time in a beautiful setting. The highlight for us in the Keys was Key West – such a vibrant fun town. Loads for us to do as a family, great restaurants, boutique shops and so much history. Oliver had a great time in the pool, playing in the beach playgrounds and meeting the six toed cats at Hemmingway’s House.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Going against tradition and staying together the night before. We then went for a breakfast of pancakes the morning of the wedding with Oliver – I loved this.
Having some of my closest friends around me getting ready and seeing me put my dress on – this was really important to me and was so lovely to be with the girls.
My Dad, who isn’t an emotional man getting choked up at his speech and being so super proud of me. He still hasn’t stopped telling people how great the wedding was!
When Jamie spoke about his Mum no longer being with us in his speech and looking at his lifelong friends who had all welled up – seeing such emotion in those guys really showed the strength of their friendships.
Knowing that 46 guests had flown across the Atlantic to be with us on our wedding day – it was a very overwhelming and humbling feeling – a feeling of such love to do that for us.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Keep it real – don’t get caught up in all of the small things that you can consume yourself with a wedding.
Stick to being true to yourself and your wedding reflecting you as a couple. Spend your money on people having a great time as that’s what people remember and appreciate. It’s not about how much you spend but how you spend it.
Your pictures are your memories so research and find a photographer that really suits your style.
Serve great food – people enjoy being well fed – nothing worse than being hungry!
It was important to me that as much as a wedding is about the couple it’s also about your guests – they’re there for you and I think it’s important to remember that.
If it’s important for you to have kids at your wedding try to give them stuff to entertain them and most importantly don’t stress over them being little angels I just wanted parents to feel relaxed. I didn’t care if the kids were running around or having a cry.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Chelsea Wieland, Finding Light Photography
Venue | The Sandbar
Cake Maker | Cindy Tutterow
Dress Shop | Sally at Helena Fortley Bridal Boutique
Seamstress | Kay Heely, Angel Couture
Florist | Flowers by Edie
Hair & Make up | Adriana at Kyle Lynn
Invitations | Feel Good Invites
Wedding planner | Antonia J.Latteri-Caster
Wedding stationery | Bekki Flaherty, Love Lettered by Bekki
Thank you so much Ali and Jamie for sharing your fabulous Florida wedding with us. Rachel x