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This is the kind of wedding that I really love. Downhome gorgeousness. Chic but totally comfortable, cozy details. Beautiful, without being trendy or over-the-top. This is a wedding where the celebration of the marriage took center stage and the couple did everything they could to design a day that truly reflected their own style. And allowed their guests to kick back and join the party. Click here to see the whole she-bang.

sarasota wedding

sarasota wedding

sarasota wedding

sarasota wedding

sarasota wedding

{click here to see the full wedding}

My husband I are very much outdoor and environmental people. We both grew up, and now live together, on the West Coast of Florida. While we love the beach and ocean we instantly agreed we are not a “beach wedding at sunset” kind of couple. Ryan suggested our family ranch which was a perfect alternative. I chose March because typically it’s a beautiful time of year with perfect weather (not too hot, not too cold, very little rain).

We chose an oak tree in a pasture for the backdrop of our ceremony. The walkway was lined with shepherd’s staffs off of which we hung mason jars filled with delicate flowers. We held the dinner portion of the reception in a big white tent, subtly lit with strands of ambient lights. A southern menu of pulled pork, bourbon chicken, collard greens and black eyed peas was served family style to promote guest interaction, and the meal was topped off with homemade cookies for dessert.

My dad and husband strung icicle lights in the barn on the property, which served as our dance “hall.” I knew I wanted the wedding to feel natural and handmade, plus I wanted it to be low-impact environmentally, so I spent months on numerous wedding blogs and Etsy to find the best solutions to make it happen. The organic cotton bridesmaid’s dresses and the paisley teal ties were handmade by Etsy artists. The groomsmen wore hemp pants. I went with natural fabrics such as muslin, sinnamay, and burlap for table cloths and runners and for covering hay bales that we used as seating for the ceremony. My sister made the ring bearer’s pillow, and our dogs, also wearing Etsy-found bandanas to match the groomsmen’s ties, were present for the whole event, and even made an appearance in the ceremony.

I wasn’t too keen on traditional floral centerpieces for the reception, so we potted succulents, ivy, dusty miller and herbs that would find a home in someone’s garden post-wedding, and clustered these along the long banquet tables. Another Etsy artist hand-carved wooden cows and “branded” them with the table numbers, then we stuck them in the potted plants with dowels to represent the nature of the ranch, and to go home with the younger guests at the end of the night.

The seating for the dinner was also made from bales of hay, like for the ceremony, and these were later fed to the cows so as not to go to waste. I covered the bales in the tent with vintage pillowcases (found on Etsy) for guests to take home afterwards. The cake topper was also from guess… Etsy. The signature drink (strawberry vodka lemonade) was served in mason jars that I will use for canning this year. We served Guinness (Dad’s favorite) in kegs, along with red and a special white wine (Mom’s favorite). The wedding could not have been more perfect for us. Special touches, like a chalkboard message guest book, having a friend of both families marry us, and a close friend speak on our behalf, are what made the night ours. It was hard work, but our families and friends grew so close in the months and weeks and leading up to the wedding. I would not have changed a thing.

Photographer: Phillippe Diederich /Caterer: Sarasota Catering Company / Floral Design:  Elegant Designs by Yelena Riches