Real Wedding | Jessica & Stephen

Jessica and Stephen’s host a fun St. Patrick’s Day beach wedding.  But as fun and charming as the details were, I honestly can’t get past the greatness of this dress.  It is modern, timeless and sexy all at once. I guess that is why Jessica knew it was the one when she saw it on a mannequin….

Jessica & Stephen |  Hillsboro Beach Lighthouse in Hillsboro Beach, Florida

How he proposed
While backpacking through Europe, we rented a car and drove from Venice to Bellagio, Italy and splurged on a stay in a romantic Bed and Breakfast with views of Lake Como. After a lovely Italian dinner, Stephen slid a jewelry box across the table and when I opened it I was excited to see a beautiful charm bracelet, but was ecstatic when I realized the diamond solitaire was not just a charm and he popped the question. The first times a charm!

The ceremony
There was never any question about the wedding location. Both Stephen and I went to school in Florida and fell in love at “the beach house” – Coast Guard property in Hillsboro Beach with a working lighthouse and three beach cottages where my family has been vacationing for years. My father, a retired Coast Guard Officer was able to reserve the entire property for a secluded beach wedding on Saint Patrick’s Day and our families stayed in the houses for the week surrounding the wedding.

For the ceremony, guests were seated in chairs in the grass overlooking the ocean. Seashells dangled from ribbons in the wedding colors and the weather was breathtakingly perfect. As the flower girl, ring bearer, and bridesmaids walked from the main beach cottage down the sandy aisle, my cousins snuck me into the lighthouse so I could make a surprise appearance from the lighthouse and meet my father to walk me down the aisle to a string trio playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

Real Wedding | Jessica & Stephen

My bridesmaids were both of my sisters and they wore simple green dresses with espresso sashes from Ann Taylor. I made their pearl jewelry, which doubled as a simple thank you gift. I also found the most fabulous green amethyst ring as a fun accessory for my dress.

Real Wedding | Jessica & Stephen

The reception
Since we were married on Saint Patrick’s Day, our lighthouse wedding had an Irish charm to it. The wedding colors were espresso and light green with splashes of pink thrown in for effect. The invitations set the tone for the oceanside wedding by including the coordinates to the lighthouse and in place of the standard “will attend/will not attend” on the RSVP cards were the options “beachy, we’ll be there” or “our tide’s out that day.”  We even found collector item stamps of the Hillsboro lighthouse to put on our thank-you cards that we mailed out after the wedding.

For our close family and guests in our wedding party we had sand pails waiting when they arrived with some of our favorite treats for them to enjoy, like coffee from Baltimore, chocolate from Canada, and Florida oranges. We had little stickers made for the pails with our names and wedding date on them. I also made t-shirts for our wedding party to wear during Rehearsal Dinner that were so much fun.

Real Wedding | Jessica & Stephen
We had a windowed tent set up for dinner, which was lovely. We also organized a tour guide from the lighthouse preservation society so guests could ask questions about the lighthouse and take guided tours up the 175 steps and learn about the legend of the Barefoot Mailman during the cocktail time before dinner and throughout the evening.

Real Wedding | Jessica & Stephen
Each dinner table displayed the name of a lighthouse that had personal meaning to us, like one in Alaska where I was born and one in the town where we met. There was a table for guests to write their wedding blessings for us and traditional Irish blessings printed out on vellum with green ribbon for guests to take with them. In lieu of gifts for the guests, we made a donation to the American Diabetes Association and had cards at each place setting to let guests know. The DJ mixed in Irish music from a Celtic rock band we love and one of our dearest friends wrote and performed a song for everyone. There was a lot of dancing under the stars at our wedding!

Real Wedding | Jessica & Stephen
We cut our cake with my Dad’s sword, which was special because it is a part of the uniform he wore for more than 25 years and is the same sword he and my mother cut their wedding cake with.

Real Wedding | Jessica & Stephen
We also had our close male friends form a “seat” for the traditional garter toss instead of a boring old chair – it made for much better pictures too!

Real Wedding | Jessica & Stephen

The moment Jessica will never forget
The father-daughter dance when my handsome Dad whisked me around the dance floor outside, on the most perfect night and sang the words to Jimmy Buffet’s “Little Miss Magic.”

What Made Your Wedding Dress “The One”
I searched all over the East Coast for dresses – I went shopping with my Mom, Mother-in-law, sisters, and friends. Almost every dress I tried on fit perfectly, but each time, I kept waiting for that “ah-ha” moment that never came. Finally one day while I was out by myself I wandered into a wedding dress shop and tried on everything. As I gave up and was walking out, I noticed a dress on a mannequin and knew right away it was “the one.” It was love at first sight when I tried it on so my Mom flew up from Florida and we drove to the Amsale flagship shop on Madison Avenue for a trunk show. It was an incredible mother-daughter experience. Amsale herself had me walk a makeshift catwalk and chose the perfect shade of green for the sash that fit the Irish lighthouse wedding theme.

Real Wedding | Jessica & Stephen

Advice for Brides:

My advice in regards to finding the perfect dress is to try on everything so you don’t leave any stones unturned. Start shopping early to avoid feeling rushed and then identify the best time and place to buy, whether you could benefit from a trunk sale or can save money by shopping online. In regards to the big day – splurge for a facial and drink lots of coconut water – it will make your face glow and ward off dehydration and the post-wedding hangover. Most importantly, know that something will go wrong and everyone will be looking to you to gauge their own reactions, so when the wrong flowers show up (yep, it happened to me) or the electricity goes out (yes, that happened too) – just laugh, because it’s only the beginning and marriage isn’t perfect either.

Real Wedding | Jessica & StephenReal Wedding | Jessica & Stephen

Photographer Credit: Balance Photography
Jessica’s Wedding Dress: Amsale A489