A Stunning Sarasota Wedding


May 15, 2020
Words by Kristi Blane
Photos courtesy of Everence Photography

Merrill, like many brides dreaming of their wedding day, had her sights set on a destination wedding. “Growing up, I always knew I’d have a destination wedding. There’s just something so special about them to me, and I always envisioned my wedding to feel like one big vacation with my closest friends and family.”

wedding couple surrounded by pampas grass standing by the ocean

Lucky for her, when she floated the idea past her fiancé, Zak, he was fully on board.

They settled on the idea of Sarasota, Florida for their wedding away not only because many family members could drive, but because of their love of warm, tropical weather. “The beaches are absolutely gorgeous, and we felt it would be the most romantic setting for our wedding. And as soon as we finished our walk-through at our venue, The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, we knew we had made the right choice. From the gorgeous ceremony location to the rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the ocean for our reception, we were blown away by its beauty,” says Merrill.

stationery surrounded by flowers and rings

head table at a wedding covered in greenery and flowers

mother and daughter standing together on brides wedding day

Friends and family were treated to a long weekend of escaping the chilly hometown November weather of Ohio for a getaway in the sun. A hosted pool party brunch the morning after the wedding added to the overall cost, but was just what Zak and Merrill were after. “To us it was worth every penny to spend an entire weekend celebrating with our loved ones,” says the bride.

 bride and groom kissing at the altar in sarasota florida surrounded by pampas grass and roses as the sun sets

Planning their destination wedding was “a lot of work, but so worth it in the end,” says the bride. Their team of vendors played a major role in keeping the planning experience easy from the get go. “We found several of our vendors through referrals, as well as recommendations from friends and family who live in the area, which was so helpful for us! I also cannot stress how important hiring a planner and/or day-of coordinator is for your destination wedding, especially when you’re traveling long distances. The last thing you want to do is worry about having to handle all of the moving pieces! Our wedding coordinator handled absolutely everything, making our day (and weekend!) completely stress-free,” recalls Merrill.


Merrill’s advice for other couples planning their own destination weddings right now is “research, research, research!”

“Because you most likely won’t be at the location to meet or vet your vendors in-person, it’s so important to read reviews, scan social media, and even ask your other vendors if they’ve worked with the company or person before hiring them. Do your homework, and you’ll be so much more confident that you’ve chosen the right people that will make your day everything you’ve imagined.”


Photographer: Everence Photography, Wedding Planner: Kate Schanuel – The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, Ceremony/Reception Site: The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club SarasotaFlorist: Signature Florals (Zoe Wright) 
Stationery: Minted, Cake: The Ritz-Carlton SarasotaHair & Makeup: Brides by Kelly AnneGown Designer: Martina LianaGroom’s Clothing Designer: Express MenBridesmaids/Groomsmen’s Clothing Designer: LulusVideographer: Love & Covenant PhotographyLighting: Affairs in the Air 

Couple in Punta Cana doing a destination wedding by the ocean
Weddings at Sandals
Black couple getting married in Jamaica
Jamaica Destination Weddings
Couple in Cancun doing a gazebo destination wedding
White couple getting married in Punta Cana, DR
destination wedding couple throwing rose petals in costa mujeres

Find a Vendor

Access our list of vendors based on your destination location.