Golden Key Largo sunshine flooded the beach house room as bridesmaids clad in coral chiffon helped the bride prepare for her big day. It had been an unforgettable week for Alyssa and Jake, a glorious island vacation with their closest family and friends filled with boating, fishing, and relaxation — all leading to this day when the two would become husband and wife. Following a sweet first look in the presence of all their loved ones, the happy couple joined their guests to relish some coconut shrimp, jerk chicken, and drinks from the tiki hut bar before journeying to the balcony for the ceremony. After Jake and Alyssa vowed to love one another forever in the hazy beauty of the sunset, a mouthwatering meal from Key Largo Conch House awaited everyone on the patio, and the magical evening of drinking, dining, and dancing beneath globe lights and palm trees only ended when the newlyweds released a glowing lantern into the night sky. This bewitching beach affair is brought to you by Key West wedding photographer Mary Veal Photography!
Please give us an overview of the event.
Instead of doing a one night celebration we thought it would be fun to have a week long affair. Jake’s family has vacationed in the Keys for a decade so we decided to make the absolute most of having all our dearest together. We spent the week all together in the 7 bedroom house fishing and boating, cooking the boys catch of the day and dancing the nights away. The day of the wedding we had an intimate, relaxed ceremony during sunset overlooking the ocean followed by an outdoor, waterfront reception.
Tell us how you met. Was it love at first sight, blind date, friends forever?
I’m from a Chicago suburb. Jake is from Orlando, Florida. A mutual friend of ours, Evan, went to University of Central Florida for undergrad and met Jake who also attended college there. I met Jake one summer when he was up visiting but we didn’t stay in touch. Both Evan and Jake graduated, Evan going onto Dental school in Boston and Jake to law school in Fort Lauderdale. I was still attending University of Iowa. During Christmas break in 2009 Evan was home from school and Jake decided to come visit for New Years. My girlfriend, Shell, was planning to meet up with Evan and a couple friends and asked me to come but I had other plans. She asked me to go with her for just a little while and after much convincing I agreed. We met up with Evan and Jake a couple other friends and again Jake and I talked all night. We exchanged numbers and planned to meet up again before Jake went back down south. New Years day Jake invited me to Evan’s to watch a movie and from there on out we talked everyday. Long distance was difficult but we were lucky to see each other often and were even fortunate enough to study abroad in Ireland together the next summer.
Tell us about your wedding gown and what your wedding party wore.
I had a completely lace ivory gown with a jeweled belt. It was a sweetheart cut and flared out at my thighs. The train was fairly long and the back was button up. My bridesmaids wore coral chiffon sweetheart cut dresses that were knee length. I got each of them a starfish necklace to wear the day of the wedding. They all wore nude heels.
Now for the proposal…details!
We love traveling. We love adding new pinpoints to the map. In the spring of 2012 Jake planned a trip to Rivera Maya in Mexico. We stayed at a gorgeous hotel with a beautiful view of the ocean and I was more than ready for a week full of R&R…and, of course, exploring. We planned a few day trips, one of them being a trip to Tulum, a magnificant beach front with Mayan ruins scattered throughout. We took the tour of the ruins and were then able to explore on our own. We walked around for a little while, making our way up to a cliff edge overlooking the ocean and ruins. Jake offered to take a photo for a couple struggling to take one of themselves. When they were done Jake asked them to take a picture of us and then, you got it, he knelt down and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Spoiler alert: I said yes!
Was there a specific theme or style?
It was all very relaxed. We didn’t necessarily have a theme although somewhere along the way I started incorporating starfish into a lot of things…
Flowers & centerpieces! I called numerous floral shops and was shocked by the prices. I was thinking I could sell a kidney to pay for them OR I could risk it and order some flowers online. Worst come to worst we could hit up the local grocery store. We ordered from Sam’s.com and although there was a slight mix up (they were delivered to the house next door and sat out all day) they were beautiful and lasted past the wedding day. Most importantly, they cost about a third of what they would’ve through a florist. We had calla lilies and orchids and spent about $150!!!! We also bought vases from http://www.quickcandles.com and used tiered cylinder vases for the centerpieces. We filled them with water and orchids and topped them off with floating candles. Quick Candles was awesome too! We had one broken vase and they sent two extra just in case. That’s some customer service!
Did you DIY any of the details?
This made our wedding even more special than I could’ve imagined! My dad, a few bridesmaids and I put together the bouquets and centerpieces with flowers we ordered online. I made the ring bearer’s pillow and the signs that the ring bearer and flower girl (our daughter Colette) held. My dad, father-in-law, step mother-in-law and a few other friends set up the beautiful globe lights across the third floor balcony where the ceremony was. My step mother-in-law also set up the trellis and other ceremony decorations. My bridesmaids set-up the runner and put together the mason jars with sand and candles that lined the runner. Everyone had a hand in setting up whether it was cleaning up the outside for the reception or putting together details, we couldn’t have done it without everyone.
Tell us about the food and desserts.
We hired Key Largo Conch House to carter our wedding and were extremely pleased with everything! They were professional yet laid back and did everything that we asked of them and more. They seemed more like friends than people we just met. They fit perfectly into our day. I have to start with the dessert because we all still talk about it till this day: We had a coconut rum cake that was, to be cliche, to die for! It was so yummy that if/when we get back down to the Keys I will find a way to get some of that cake! The food was fabulous as well. We were pleasantly surprised by the appetizers and main courses. We didn’t hear one complaint. Can’t ask for anything more than that. Appetizers: conch fritters, coconut shrimp, and jerk chicken w/pineapple rum glaze. For dinner: Caeser salad, blackened mahi-mahi, beef tenderloin, rice, vegetables, and dinner rolls. And a rum punch they brought that was fantastic.
What were your playful twists that made the event unique?
Although, this extends far past our actual wedding, my best friend caught the bouquet and Jake’s best friend caught the garter. They just got engaged last November.
What was the most memorable moment?
Do I have to pick just one? The most memorable moment for me was the overwhelming showering of love I felt that day. I felt so much love for my husband, for our daughter, for my family and my friends and I felt so much love from all of them. It was completely euphoric. I remember sitting at our table for dinner, holding Jake’s hand and looking at all the people who came to celebrate with us and thinking how lucky we are to have such wonderful people in our lives. Our main goal wasn’t to have a day solely celebrating Jake and me but to celebrate love in all its beautiful entirety and I truly believe we accomplished that.