I’m a big believer that intimate weddings are the way to go. And after the loss of the groom’s father during the wedding planning process, this sweet couple decided on the same. They brought on Orange Beach Weddings to bring their family-focused vision to life and Christopher Nolan didn’t miss a beat. It’s a small beach affair with a whole lot of heart, and you can swoon through it all right over here.
From the Bride… Ross and I started dating in 2006, got engaged two years ago and jumped right into planning our large, beautiful, formal wedding. Unlike many, I had not been planning my wedding since a little girl – I played house and dreamt more about my future husband. Of course, with the introduction of Pinterest, that certainly changed, and I was overwhelmed with the possibilities.
Our wedding was a dream, but along the way decisions began to feel forced, and it started to feel like someone else’s dream. After all, we’d originally wanted a destination wedding on the beach but, at the time, it just wasn’t in the cards. So when we started planning our first wedding I’d often find myself saying, “I wish I could give this beautiful, half planned wedding to someone else.”
We had an awesome wedding planner—Jessica Kersey at Finishing Touch Designs—and she was wonderful to work with. She took care of everything from handling vendors to helping us come up with a great menu to finding the best tasting cake! To each his own when it comes to getting a wedding planner or not, but we certainly could not have managed the beginning of this process without her.
About six months into wedding planning, Ross’s dad went into the hospital with liver failure and he did not come back home. During that time, planning our wedding was torturous: It wasn’t fun; decisions were laborious; and we felt our focus wasn’t in the right place. So we decided to postpone until Ross’s dad’s health was in a better state. Unfortunately, that day never came and he passed away on March 10th, 2012. Our large wedding party, close friends, and family were very understanding throughout it all and we could not have asked for more support.
A few months after his passing, Ross and I were ready to start planning again, but this time our priorities had changed. We wanted small, intimate, much more casual, and to get married in a family vacation destination that meant something, that meant a lot, to our family, the beaches of Gulf Shores, AL. Once that was decided, we hired Gulf Shores local wedding planner Jessica Wright at Orange Beach Weddings to handle everything and she more than delivered.
The inspiration for our wedding stemmed from the merging of three areas: Our original color palette of navy blue, ivory, and fresh green; the laid back vibe of our favorite beach; and the goal for our photos to not look dated in years to come. Finding the stunning pale blue and white Halekai III beach house was the ideal start to the planning process. We knew it was the perfect place to host our large families for a week of relaxing and celebrating, as well as a fantastic backdrop for the ceremony and reception on its private beach. Along with the original color palette and flowers (peonies, succulents, and hydrangeas), we were able to add in a nautical vibe with large lanterns, bistro lights, and driftwood as well as navy blue stripes on some décor. Along with Jessica, Etsy and Hobby Lobby were integral in pulling it all together.
I couldn’t begin to put a finger on my favorite detail of the wedding. I absolutely loved how everything came together (including the indescribably perfect, God-sent weather!). The large chalkboard program allowed us to honor our former wedding party and our loved ones who couldn’t be with us. I loved my dress and the guys looked stunning in their tan suits and navy ties. The food, especially the pancetta mac & cheese and truffle oil deviled eggs, was outstanding—guests were dragging leftovers out of the fridge late that night.
There were so many sweet, wonderful moments throughout the day, too: getting ready with my sister; my dad, happy and reluctant, responding “her mother says I have to” when asked who gives me away; and struggling to put Ross’s ring on the wrong hand and then trying not to laugh too loud. But I think my favorite is Ross singing along to the entirety of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby” and not missing a word. I love that guy.
On top of all of the perfect details, what made the entire week so special was our family and friends being there to celebrate with us. We got to spend days lounging on the beach, celebrating two family birthdays, eating some great seafood, and all with those closest to us. A few special people, some still with us and some not, could not make the trip, but we are reassured in their support and are so grateful for those who could be there. We got to hear some hilarious and heartfelt toasts; Ross’s Uncle Ron was able to perform our ceremony; cousin Lilly hula-hooped to “Baby Got Back”; and we danced the night away with our best friends. It absolutely made our wedding what we wanted it to be – a friends and family affair.
Photography: Christopher Nolan Photography | Event Planning: Orange Beach Weddings | Floral Design: Dale Tatum | Wedding Dress: Proposals | Wedding Cake: A Specialty Bakery | Invitations: Minted | Ceremony Venue: Halekai III House | Bridesmaids' Dresses: After Six | Catering: Villaggio Grille | Hair: Reflexions Salon | Groomsmen's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Save the Dates: Caligrafia Bella Shop - Etsy