I previously shared a quick recap of our wedding here but now that we've received our professional photographs, I wanted to do a larger post with more details of our big day. It was really difficult to narrow down to just some of my favorites - Alyssa Morgan, captured our day beautifully! Looking back through these photos makes me want to relive that magical day over and over again! Not pictured: the epic dance-off at Sloppy Joe's after the reception!
Below is our wedding story from my perspective. It's long and you can totally skip ahead to the photos but I wanted to share my experience for my benefit more than anything. This blog is my outlet and provides a time-capsule of my most treasured memories so why not tell it all.
On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida. The news and weather coverage in the days leading up had me a nervous wreck as the storm was projected to pass right over our venue in Key West. The thought of all of our wedding plans from the past year coming to a screeching hault (and the massive destruction that impacted the entire state, countless homes and families) gave me a literal panic attack at work. Irma narrowly missed Key West but the middle Keys were hit extremely hard, and therefore access was prohibited following the storm. My wedding coordinator, Peggy, and I were on the phone every day anxiously waiting to hear an update from officials if the bridges and roads were safe and if we would be able to enter the Keys for our wedding less than a month away. Peggy was an absolute life-saver and made alternate arrangements for our venue, caterer and florist in Miami just in case we wouldn't be able to have our dream wedding come to life. Thankfully just one week from the big day, the mayor lifted the travel ban. To say we were relieved would be the understatement of the century. At that point, I honestly didn't even care about the details, all that mattered was that we were getting married in Key West with all of our family and friends surrounding us!
The week prior to the wedding involved a lot of baking, packing and relaxing. Greg and I did not want a traditional wedding, and chose to have more personal and sentimental touches. Case in point: no wedding cake! If you know me (or are a regular reader of my blog) you know that cookies are my thing, thanks to my beloved Grammy Audrey. Most of my fondest memories with her are in the kitchen eating cookie dough out of the bowl. For the wedding, I baked my grandma's famous oatmeal cookies, along with mine and Greg's favorites - chocolate chip & sea salt and white chocolate macadamia nut. It took hours, but I had so much fun baking hundreds of homemade cookies for our guests that would honor her legacy.
The day before we left to head down to the Keys, my mom and I had a spa day - complete with massages, facials, mani/pedis and eyelash extensions. It was such a relaxing and indulgent day that we both really needed! On Wednesday, we packed up my dad's truck full of food, booze, and the cookies, while my gown took up the entire back seat of my car. Greg and I decided to drive separately at the last minute and looking back, I'm so glad we did. It was such a special time for the two of us, chatting and laughing the entire 7 hour drive. Once we hit the Keys though, it was incredibly somber. Mountains of debris lined both sides of the road - not just downed tree limbs, but people's belongings, pieces of their homes. Our hearts were breaking for the Conch Republic residents that lost everything. Truthfully though, Key West needed us there. We were the first wedding in Key West after Irma and our vendors were so grateful that we didn't cancel or postpone because they needed our business to help keep them and their employees afloat.
My parents rented a huge house just outside downtown Key West. We had seen pictures of it online and it was even more amazing in person! It was the perfect place for all of our guests to come hang out - whether they wanted to lay by the pool, swim under the grotto, or relax with a drink at the bar in the living room. It became home-base for everyone with an open-door policy that made for a very laid-back atmosphere. There were 12 of us staying at the house so it was a constant party! Greg and I had the master suite and it was so nice to be able to escape the craziness if we needed a quiet minute to ourselves. Thursday night we did the Duval Crawl and bar-hopped around downtown Key West - it was a blast! Friday night after the rehearsal, we had everyone over at the house for a pizza and pool party which was so much fun!
On Saturday, Greg and I spent the morning in bed with coffee and exchanged our wedding day gifts. Everyone staying at the house made egg sandwiches for breakfast and we ate outside on the patio. Greg and I started getting ready together but once my girlfriends showed up, we kicked him out while the girls got ready upstairs. My talented bestie Emilee gave me a gorgeous blowout and waves, but thanks to the humidity and rain shower an hour prior to the ceremony, my hair fell out within 10 minutes! Greg and I decided not to have bridesmaids and groomsmen and I'm so happy we did. I still spent the afternoon laughing, drinking champagne and getting ready with my mom, sister, aunt, cousins, and my 3 best friends - but without all the drama and matching dresses.
I did a "First Look" with both my dad and with Greg and it was so special to see both of their reactions. Greg cried when he saw me as his bride, and it was the sweetest thing ever. He couldn't keep his eyes off of me. My dad was speechless for the first time ever and we both laughed through the tears!
After taking photos with our photographer, we all hung out around the bar and waited for the trolley to take everyone to the venue. Once we got to the Audubon House, my dad and I hid inside the gift shop until the ceremony started. I had butterflies in my stomach waiting to walk down the aisle as I heard "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" start playing. It was so surreal! I'll never forget the look on my mom's face as I rounded the corner. The ceremony was the most special part of our wedding. We asked my Aunt Patty to officiate - she's one of our favorite people, she has the biggest heart, a contagious laugh, and has known us as a couple since the beginning. Her ceremony was beautiful and we are honored that she married us. Just before saying the vows we each wrote, a rooster crashed the wedding and hopped on stage with us! It was so funny and classic Key West, and it immediately relaxed our nerves.
After taking family portraits, our 40 guests went off to cocktail hour while Greg, Alyssa and I took a victory lap around Mallory Square and Duval Street at sunset. When we reminisced on the day and talked about our favorite part of the wedding, we both said dinner. The food was so delicious and we enjoyed having a little time just the two of us at our sweetheart table. After the toasts and speeches, we all headed to the dance floor. Greg and I had our First Dance to Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud," my dad serenaded me with "My Girl" by the Temptations, and Greg and his mom Susan danced to "Days Like This" by Van Morrison. It was insanely hot (October in Florida!) and we were all drenched in sweat by the end of the night, but that did not stop us from dancing! We ended the night with cookies and had jars of maple syrup as favors. We got engaged in Vermont, where my mom grew up and her family owns a maple syrup farm there.
Our wedding was more perfect than I could have ever imagined, thanks to our family, friends, and vendors who pulled it all off post-Irma! Everyone says your wedding day flies by in a minute so I did my best to really live in the moment. With a destination wedding, it felt like the entire weekend was our wedding since it was a little vacation for everyone. We had the best time celebrating with our favorite people, and most of all, I couldn't be happier to spend forever with my best friend.
Thank you to our amazing vendors!
Photography - Alyssa Morgan Photography
Venue - Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
Caterer - Key West Catering Company
Florist - Karro Events & Floral
Wedding Coordinator - Destination Wedding Studio
Wedding Gown - Maggie Sottero from Aurora Bridal