Lovely Florida Keys WeddingWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Kristen Weaver Photography
Jennifer and Graham have friends and family spread throughout the U.S. and U.K., so a destination wedding was an easy decision. What resulted after months of planning was a lovely Florida Keys wedding. When it came to deciding the “where” for W-day, the bride took a practical approach. “Florida has always been close to our hearts, as it was essentially the place of our first date, our first holiday together and where our relationship began. We thought what better way than to come full circle and start our forever where it all began? It was also a nice ‘meet in the middle’ place as my family and friends all came from Texas and Graham’s family and friends all came from England.”
Once the couple decided on a wedding in Florida, they needed to hone-in on a host city. “As far as finding the city, I have to say the Keys sort of found us…after originally changing our minds about flying into another city due to difficulty, which was Naples, we started from scratch after months of planning,” says Jennifer. The couple took a gamble in more ways than one. “We happened to be browsing Wedding Wire when the Key’s came up and, furthermore, a brand new 5-star resort was being built, the first in over 30-plus years in Key Largo, which was the Playa Largo Resort & Spa. Not only had we never visited the Keys or stepped foot anywhere near this hotel, the hotel wasn’t due to be completed for another six or so months. [It] was a huge gamble to book a wedding, plus all the vendors knowing construction could delay and we might have to scramble at the last minute.” Thankfully, after assurances from the property’s wedding coordinator, the couple booked site-unseen and never looked back. “…we knew right away this was the place for us. It was the perfect mix of Florida Keys combined with elegance we were after.”
Because the couple was planning their wedding from afar in Texas, they felt it was essential to hire a local wedding planner. Their instincts paid off and they largely credit Carin Hunt with Key Destination Weddings for the success of their event. “My husband and I took the approach of trying not to get stressed over the planning process. It’s hard enough planning a wedding in your own city, so we knew this wasn’t going to be the easiest of feats being 3,000 miles away and also in a city neither one of us had never set foot in. The resort wedding coordinator, Wendy, and our day-of wedding planner, Carin, truly saved our sanity as they guided us in the right direction. Both of those ladies knew their town and helped us tremendously! We couldn’t have done it without them.”
“We had the best experience planning our destination wedding. We decided we would pick vendors from anywhere, not just the Florida Keys, and fly them in and [our coordinator and planner] really were resources we couldn’t have replaced! It’s quite difficult to choose a vendor when you can’t see/touch/look at the said-products, but their guidance and loads of emails, helped immensely.” The couple’s approach of remaining stress-free and handing over the reins to the professionals worked like a charm. What resulted from the planning process was a beautiful and seamless ceremony and reception. We asked the couple how a hometown wedding would have been different and this is what they had to say:
“It would have been just as amazing had we held it in England or Texas due to the love and support of our families and friends,” says the bride. “However, making it a destination wedding just meant we had a full week to spend with our guests. It made all the difference in the world, as that amount of time isn’t usually given for a local wedding.” The bride was kind enough to share some final words of advice for other couples currently planning or considering a destination wedding.
“Occasionally, stop with your [partner] throughout the day to take in the magic, as it goes by so fast! It sounds so cliché, but being present and just pausing occasionally to look around makes all the difference. We also didn’t worry if things didn’t go exactly as planned or get hung up on details the day-of. We just wanted to enjoy each second and we trusted our vendors to do what they do best – and they did. But, even if everything went the other way, that would have been okay too, as it wasn’t just a day, it was our day and it was the start of our forever. As they say, the best is yet to come!”
Vendors: Photographer: Kristen Weaver Photography, Wedding Planner: Carin Hunt with Key Destination Weddings, Ceremony/Reception Site: Playa Largo Resort & Spa, Florist: Ever After Floral Design, Stationery: Wedding Paper Divas, Cake: Maggie’s Bakery, Make-up: Courtney Montes, Hair: Taniesha Boursiquot with Playa Largo Spa, Gown Designer: Eve of Milady, Groom’s Designer: Tommy’s Tuxedo’s, Bridesmaids/Groomsmen’s Clothing Designer: “Lynn” dress by Watters/Tommy’s Tuxedo’s, DJ: Liquid DJ’s, Videographer: James Rayner Films, Saxophonist: Scott Klarman Music & Officiant: Frank Nunez
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