Florida Oceanfront Vow Renewal


August 9, 2018
Words by Lauren Marshall
Photos courtesy of Erica Melissa

Vow renewals are often a way for married couples to mark a new phase of their life together. Our couple, Josue and Yliana, decided to have their special vow renew ceremony in Fort Myers, Florida, an island off the coast of Florida where they both grew up. We usually take these responses and write up an article, but in this case, the bride was so well spoken that you needed to hear the story straight from her!

Why did you choose to have a destination wedding?
“Beautiful, serene, and intimate. These were our goals for our ceremony, and since this was our vow renewal, we knew we had to follow our hearts to the beach! We’ve grown so much in our marriage that we wanted something relaxing and beautiful, like this new phase.”

How did your family and friends respond to the decision? If any of them had a negative reaction, how did you resolve it? “They loved it! They truly supported our vision for this ceremony and the location was the icing on the cake! They were all for a sandy evening out on the beach.”

How/why did you choose the location/destination? Did you run into any issues specific to this destination and how did you resolve them?
“I was born and raised in Ft. Myers, Florida. As a child, and into my teenage years, my mother and I spent many weekends bonding on this beach. My husband, originally from Puerto Rico, moved to Ft. Myers as a young child and made many memories with his family on this same island. To us, this was the perfect location.”

How would you describe your overall experience of planning a destination wedding?
“Surprisingly, it was easy. I had the greatest team taking care of the details. Also, since this was a renewal we wanted the focus on us and our children and let the location speak for itself. Luckily for us, the scenery the island provided was breathtaking enough. Our resort wedding planner was on top of all our requests. The resort provided everything we needed, such as, the archway, chairs, signage, the drink station and more. Our décor planner and stylist had amazing vision, style and execution. From hanging fresh greenery, down to the hand-painted shells on our place settings, everything was perfect.”

Did you use any resources when planning your destination wedding that you feel would be helpful to other couples? i.e. books, a wedding planner, referrals?
“I would definitely suggest using your resources. The resort had a list of vendors they recommended. We were also able to get so much done by reaching out to local community vendors and by word of mouth. One community resource, for example, was our local nursery for fresh greenery. “

Did you include any do-it-yourself projects in your wedding/reception? If so, please describe them.
“I made lockets with printed photos that I attached to my pearl rosary. This rosary was then attached to my bouquet. Two of my grandparents who passed meant a great deal to me, so making these items was special and kept their spirit with us. We also printed and framed photos of other loved ones who have passed to keep them involved in our special day.”

What were the travel logistics like for your guests? Did you run into any issues and how did you resolve them?
“Many relatives were local, but for those traveling we provided lodging details and a list of local eateries and entertainment for their stay. Thankfully, we did not run into any issues.”

How were you able to coordinate with vendors from afar? Did you run into any issues and how did you resolve them?
“The only vendor from afar was our photographer who lives two hours south of us. However, she has been our family photographer for six years now, so she was so easy and gracious to work with. She just gets us.”

Do you feel you spent more or less money by choosing to do a destination wedding?
“We definitely spent less money on our destination ceremony. Our first ceremony was a huge event with 200 guests. The ceremony was at a cathedral and the reception consisted of a live band and a DJ. This time around, we focused more on the intimacy of the event and not the glitz and glamour.”

How do you think your wedding would have been different had you not held it away from home?
“Although the island was still close to home for us, having to actually drive onto the island made it feel like another world. It truly felt like a vacation, which made it special. The experience was far greater than I could have imagined.”

Overall, do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?
“Follow your heart. Focus on the joy of the union of marriage and not so much the details of impressing others. Weddings are so stressful that they sometimes take away from the intimacy of love that is about to exchange. Figure out what makes you and your future spouse happy and do that with all your heart!” 

Vendors: Photographer: Erica Melissa, Wedding Planner: Erica Melissa, Ceremony/Reception Site: Pink Shell Resort & Marina, Florist: Events by Zeiry, Stationery: Shutterfly, Cake: Sandra Rodriguez, Hair & Makeup: Ulta Beauty, Gown Designer: Alfred Angelo, Bridal Groom’s Clothing Designer: Men’s Warehouse, Bridal Cape: Champagne & Grit, Calligraphy: Only One Mark, Inc., Rentals: SLE Vintage & More

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