Kristen + Stephen's Anna Maria Island Destination Wedding
Kristen's smile says it all.
Seashells, crystal waters, and childhood memories on the shores of Siesta Key made Anna Maria Island the perfect place for Kristen + Stephen's intimate, ocean front wedding. Bright yellow and magenta florals, palm fronds, and the lush setting came together seamlessly complete with handmade signs by Kristen's dad!
This gorgeous destination wedding day was photographed by Love and Style Photography.
Tell us a little about you and Stephen.
Stephen and I met online through Match and quickly found out how much we had in common. Our first few dates hit on all of our different interests – running, hiking, eating Italian, pizza, and ice cream, and music.
In October 2017, I came home from dinner with friends to find Stephen in the backyard with wine and a nice fire going. Just one day after my birthday, Stephen told me had one more gift for me. I opened up the present and found a post-it note that my daughter Sophia had written 3-4 months prior. The post-it note read, “Will you merry me? Love, Stephen.” Stephen got down on one knee, and I happily accepted.
Stephen and I still love to run, hike, go out to eat, and go to shows. We share these interests with my two daughters Sophia and Mackenzie who love to run and play tag outside and eat ice cream.
How did you decide on your venue? Why was it the perfect choice?
We both knew that we wanted to get married outside and on the beach. We love the water! One of our first trips as a couple was to Naples, where we both fell in love with the Gulf Coast. We picked Anna Maria Island because it was close to one of my favorite childhood destinations Siesta Key. Several years prior to the wedding, my mom and I went on a trip to Siesta Key and saw three weddings on the beach in one week! I knew I wanted to be married in the sand. We decided on The Beach House for the wedding because we loved the beautiful white sand beach and of course the back up covered pavilion in the event of rain.
How were your personal styles reflected in your wedding day?
We both love to be outside in the sunshine, near water, and having fun! We are both pretty laid back and wanted the day to be festive, fun, and relaxing for our friends and family. I love nothing more than a pop of color (especially yellow), and Stephen has embraced this since his life has been blessed with three ladies. I have two daughters who fill our lives with pink, pink, and more pink. My love for yellow and the sunset, gave way to our pink and yellow theme. All of this combined into one beautiful, bright day at the beach.
We had 15 children under the age of 9 attending our wedding, so we did a lot to make this a special, fun evening for them. We gave each child a sand bucket with toys and things to do. I tossed the bouquet to all of the “single ladies” who were 9 years and under -my 7 year old niece caught it!
The flowers for the wedding were the most beautiful I have ever seen! I sent the florist pictures of the tropical flowers I liked, and he went above and beyond. The bright colors were beautiful and looked so pretty against the ocean and sunset backdrops.
One of our favorite memories was seeing each other for the first time on the beach. We decided not to see each other before the ceremony, so our first sight of each other was on the beach with all of our family and friends. Seeing each other’s faces and big smiles was a moment we won’t forget.
There is one moment during the ceremony where Stephen and I were holding hands, and I felt Sophia and Kenzie come up and put their arms around me. This was totally unplanned but such a welcome surprise to be surrounded by all of my favorite people! We wanted to include the girls in the ceremony and did a unity sand ceremony where we all combined our sand colors.
We had Sophia, Kenzie, and my three nieces ages 4-9 years old read “Everything I Need to Know In Life I Learned in Kindergarten” during the ceremony. It not only shared important life lessons for us as a couple and as a family, but it was adorable!
We felt so blessed to have so many of our family and close friends come to Florida to celebrate with us. The wedding ceremony itself felt so special and intimate as we were so close to the people we love the most. We love the picture of the entire group on the beach. We also had wonderful, heartfelt toasts on our wedding day and at our rehearsal dinner. Stephen’s father gave a beautiful toast at the Welcome Dinner that told the story of meeting Kristen, Sophia, and Kenzie for the first time. Kristen’s father spoke at the reception about Stephen’s strong character and what a great relationship he has built with Sophia and Kenzie. The Best Man and two Matrons of Honor gave touching toasts about our relationship and hopes for the future.
Kristen’s Gown: Tara Keely by Lazaro from Hyde Park Bridal | Bridesmaid Dresses: Dessy from Bridal and Formal | Attire: Groom and Groomsmen wore Vineyard Vines | Flowers: Ms. Scarlett’s Flowers | Day Of Coordinator: Shawn Rhoton at the Beach House Anna Maria Island | Cake and other Sweets: Cupcake Delights Anna Maria Island | Catering: The Beach House Restaurant | Music: John Rinell for steel drums, live music, and DJ | Venues: Tortuga Inn Beach Resort (getting ready location & some photos) and The Beach House Restaurant, Anna Maria Island | Linens: The Beach House Restaurant and All Occasions | Photography: Love & Style Photography | Stationery: Poeme | Transportation: Island Beach Monkeys – “The Monkey Bus”
What were your favorite details?
I have so many favorite details of our special day! Here are a few of the them: My two daughters are Sophia (age 7) and Kenzie (age 5). They were so excited about the wedding and having it on the beach that they titled themselves “Mermaids of Honor.” I loved their enthusiasm and idea so we carried this theme through the wedding with their “Mermaid of Honor” robes and of course mermaid tail cupcakes! We also had John Rinell play “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid on the steel drum during the ceremony.
The “Mermaid Family” drawing that my 7.5 year old daughter Sophia drew one night. It includes the whole family, including our yellow Labrador Reese, as a mermaid family. Sophia’s attention to detail was impeccable as she even gave Stephen the merman a beard. We wrote our own vows for the wedding ceremony which gave it such a personal, special touch.
We had our first dance to “Perfect” with Ed Sheeran and Beyonce. We then did a first family dance with Sophia and Kenzie to Carrie Underwood’s “Little Girl Don’t Grow Up Too Fast.” Before the end of the song, Sophia and Kenzie were showing off their flossing skills, and all of the other children had joined us on the dance floor.
My father made a sign for the wedding that said, “Our Story Begins Here. Anna Maria Island. June 29, 2018.” This is one of my favorite details because it was handmade with love and signaled the beginning of our family.
Describe your wedding day. Is there a particular moment that remains in your memory most vividly?
Our wedding day was filled with rain! I was in a bit of a panic all day as the 80% chance of rain loomed over our 5:30 PM wedding time. My bridesmaids all kept telling me it is good luck, it will be beautiful no matter what, and at the end of the day you’ll be married. I think someone is watching out for us because at about 4 PM the rain started to clear, the sun peeked out, and we were blessed to get married in the sand.
What helped you in the planning process? What resources did you find helpful?
We did a lot of research on Pinterest and The Knot to give us inspiration. Our parents also gave us lots of ideas, support, and help. They drove to Florida to transport the wedding dress and details. They moved so much from Kentucky to Florida. I’m surprised they didn’t need a U-haul.
Best thing about being married?
We love being able to spend each day together. We always tell each other that life is better with you from the song “Life is Better With You” by Michael Franti. Going to Costco is so much more fun when you do it together!
Where did you honeymoon?
During the wedding planning, Sophia promptly asked where we were all going on our honeymoon. We spent 3 days in Disney World after the wedding for our “family moon”! We had a blast in Disney celebrating our marriage and, of course, our family. Stephen and I also went to Asheville for some relaxing time just the two of us where we hiked and went fly fishing.