Beach Wedding Shoot at Night

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Today’s destination wedding is actually a photo shoot designed by wedding planner and designer, Kelly McWilliams, and an amazing team of Florida wedding vendors who wanted to show off a different side to destination weddings – a beach wedding at night! We asked Kelly all about their inspiration and the details from this big day and here’s what she had to say!

JF: Why did you decide to do a shoot at night?

Kelly: We wanted to do a shoot at night for a few reasons.  Mostly, because it is so rare that anyone produces evening styled shoots and inspirational images are hard to find.  We do so many Jewish wedding ceremonies on the beach and it’s hard to “imagine” what they can look like with great lighting.  Finally, we like the idea that if you’re having a destination wedding that you can take advantage of the entire day and night!  Maybe yoga & golf in the morning, a beach or poolside bbq lunch, free time for all the wedding guests to enjoy the island…all before the ceremony & reception.  The best part about a destination wedding is that it is unrushed time with all your guests…days, not 4-5 hours.

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JF: What do couples need to know about the unique elements of planning an evening event outside?

Kelly: By far the most unique part is how you have so many more options with lighting!  You truly can have a candle lit ceremony. You can incorporate chandeliers, or lanterns or strung lights.  Evening weddings are the epitome of romantic. Logistical things to consider are limitations with power and inclement weather.  No matter what, a back up plan (with a location) needs to be set well in advance in case there are instances of rain, lightning or strong winds. 

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JF: Why did you select the location you did?

Kelly: We chose The Sundial Resort because it has several outdoor locations available for ceremony, cocktail and reception.  Also, they have newly renovated indoor locations that would be equally as wonderful if the weather made a turn for the worst.

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JF: What was the inspiration for the decor?

Kelly: My inspiration for this concept was the full moon & open sky of stars.  Sanibel Island is dreamy at night and I wish more people had the opportunity to celebrate under them!  I also wanted to focus on having a contemporary, glamorous and formal design for the ceremony and dinner.  

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JF: How did you see that design through?

Kelly: The first things on my prop list were candelabras and chandeliers.  Lighting was for sure the key component.  To highlight them I wanted everything to sparkle and shine.  So we stuck with all white flowers, focusing on Phalaenopsis Orchids.  We also used sequin pillows & tablecloths, and centerpieces in mirrored vessels.  Even the ceremony programs were in a mirrored box.  To make sure that there was a little note of the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the chargers, menus & place cards, and the cake had a sea blue accent and the pillows on the pews had some sea creatures. Finally, to keep with the intention of the shine, I used ghost chairs so that any hint of sparkle could have the opportunity to show up.

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To see the finished product on video and a behind the scenes look at making this feature come to life, check out the films by Matt Steeves Wedding Films.

Destination Wedding Photographer: Hunter Ryan Photo

Destination Wedding Photo Shoot Team: Shoot Production, Art Direction & Styling: Kelly McWilliams – Celebrations, Weddings & Parties, Venue: Sundial Beach Resort, Floral Design: Floral Artistry, Props & Tabletop: The Prop Closet via Kelly McWilliams’ Celebrations, Weddings & Parties, Linens: Nuage, Chairs/Pews/Lighting: Island Event Rentals, Cake Artist: SweetSlices Cake Design, Fashion: Tie the Knot, Hair & Makeup Styling: Salon Tease, Talent: Clint Wiley & Dawn Kelly, Video Produced & Directed by: Matt Steeves Wedding Films



A Brightly Colored Mexico Destination Wedding in Sayulita, Nayarit

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Chris and Alyson said I do in a less common spot in Mexico for a destination wedding, but one we want to visit after seeing their amazing wedding photos! The couple wed in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico with brightly colored décor and a nod to a big fiesta with a little love to their home of Portland too!

We chatted with the couple’s wedding planner, Mishka Aznoe de Morales of Mishka Designs, who shared with us the details of their big day.  Alyson and Chris wanted a wedding that was quirky, chic with modern touches.  Alyson loved Jonathan Adler and patterns … and birds!  Bringing their Portlandia style down to Sayulita, Mexico quickly converted the wedding into Sayulitalandia!  At one point, they said, “When we say quirky, we mean Portland!”  

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The event took place at Don Pedro’s Palapa in Sayulita with a ceremony on the grass overlooking the ocean and long reception tables outdoors for the party. How they selected the location they did? “The couple wanted their guests to enjoy time out in the sun, on the beach, a relaxing, fun, memorable vacation.”

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“I worked closely with Chris on the wedding website but the final result was all his own – and it was really incredible – colorful with amazing details – probably one of my favorite wedding websites of all time and made even more personal because Chris designed and put it together himself.  They used paperless post for their invites and the whole set went together beautifully.”

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We asked their wedding planner what unique challenges they faced in a space like this. It’s a small town – and runs on a small town vibe – so it’s laid-back, relaxed “easy-going” = which is great but also means that vendors tend to be late.  If you want things to run smoothly (and on time – ha!) it’s good to have a coordinator there to keep things running on track.  And relax a bit.”

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“I had a few surprises up my sleeve through-out the evening … one was making sure we had a donkey adorned with colorful pompoms at the kiss – Alyson and Chris had been teasing me that they MUST have a donkey at their wedding and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to bring out our little “joke.”  

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Since the goal was to infuse Portland meets Mexico, I added-in details that were Mexican but with a bit of a twist to them.  For example, we made white papel picado lanterns to hang over the dance floor which looked great and Mexican festive in the day but inside were colored light bulbs – so it gave the lanterns a completely different look at night.  We used paper flowers for their chuppah but my sister-in-law hand-painted them specific colors so that they would go with the rest of the quirky vibe Alyson was looking for.”

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“I also found a beautiful hand-crafted, bird ring dish from Etsy which we used as the cake topper but which I knew Alyson could use later on after the wedding.”  

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Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Paulina Ulloa

Wedding Vendors: Wedding Venue: Don Pedro’s, Planning, Event Design & Florals:  Mishka Designs, Catering:  Plush Catering, Cake:  Charme, Wedding Website:  Chris Trombley


Cinco De Mayo Wedding Ideas

Is it your destiny to say I do south of the border? Then get inspired with the celebration of Cinco de Mayo for your wedding theme. Shake things up with maracas for you and your bridesmaids instead of the traditional bridal bouquet. Or if you decide to take a bouquet down the aisle, consider incorporating the colors of Mexico with your flowers. Have your flower girls wear colorful flowers in their hair to brighten up your wedding ceremony too. You can add special touches to your reception tables with vibrant floral decor and writing on the plates to give the room a romantic feeling.  Have the fun tradition of pinatas at your cinco de mayo wedding but with flowers to make it a bit more elegant. It isn’t a wedding in Mexico without a signature tequila cocktail! Start your fiesta with a tequila sunrise with your own twist. Let the vibrant colors inspire your wedding in Mexico to be a unforgettable journey in love and celebration!

Cinco De Mayo Themed Wedding

{Photos: Bridesmaids:Limelight Photography via Aisle Ready, Hair: The Goodness via Ruffled, Tabletop: 5ive15ifteen via Rachel Aclingen, Pinatas: via Laura Fenton via HGTV, Bouquet:Ashley Garmon Photo via SMP, Cocktails: via The Knot}


Los Barriles, Mexico Destination Wedding

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Jennifer and Travis hosted their destination wedding in Los Barriles, Mexico, where they embraced the bright colors of the culture around them and incorporated the celebratory colors of yellow, orange, and even teal into their big day. Jennifer shared a bit about their amazing experience with us – like how this unique location came to be their destination wedding location. “When I was younger I traveled to Los Barriles many times. It felt so peaceful, away from the typical tourist towns of Mexico, and I always left there feeling refreshed. As a result, when Travis and I got engaged I could help but think of Baja Mexico.”

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“Travis and I both wanted a small wedding that would allow us to really spend time with our friends and family. We essentially wanted a wedding week and not just a wedding day. With the help of a lot of people we were able to make that happen.”

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“The salon did a fantastic job with hair and make-up.”

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“Considering we were in Mexico, I expected some hiccups here and there. I was pleasantly surprised at how perfect everything went. The flowers and cake were amazing.”

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“The DJ played all of our favorite reggae tunes and everything seemed to fall into place thanks to our coordinator, Kathy Skaggs.”

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“It felt like our wedding week had everything we could imagine: a bonfire on the beach, a Mexican buffet, a poker tournament, paddle boarding, deep sea fishing, bocci ball, beach volleyball, hammocks, a beautiful beach ceremony, a memorable reception and a casual farewell brunch. On top of that, we had the perfect blend of family and friends to share it with! We were able to relax by the pool, drink margaritas and socialize with our guests without feeling rushed.”

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“Weeks later Sara Richardson sent us these stunning photos and I was able to relive the entire experience. In the end, a destination wedding was the perfect option for us and we couldn’t have been happier with the result!” 

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Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Sara Richardson Photography

Wedding Vendors:Venue: Hotel Palmas De Cortez, Los Barriles, Mexico, Wedding Dress: Marisa from Julie Allen BridalsShoes:, Groom´s Attire:  Custom made by Valentino Tailors, Groomsmen´s attire:, Bridesmaids Dresses: Donna Morgan, Wedding Cake: CaboCakery, Invitations: event123, DJ: Neo, Save the Date: event123, Florist: Emporio Arte Floral, Hair & Makeup: Salon de Cortez, Wedding Coordinator: Kathy Skaggs


A Burlap-Clad Destination Wedding in Maui

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Audrey and Matt hosted a truly global affair for their destination wedding in Maui. Each from different parts of the world, it was important to them that they find a place that worked for all of their loved ones. And today they share their special story with us! “We selected Maui because the Hawaiian Islands are almost exactly halfway between our two hometowns in Florida and Australia.  We only wanted to have one wedding- so we needed to make it as fair as possible for friends and family on both sides!  We wanted our wedding to be fun, non-stuffy, and reflect our unique styles and personalities.  We envisioned everyone laughing, drinking, and dancing- on holiday in one the most beautiful locations in the world.  Since travel has been a huge part of our lives and relationship, and always will be, it made sense to do a travel themed wedding, which inspired our guests and the décor.”

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 “My dress was a simple, sweetheart-neckline, strapless tulle dress with Swiss dot overlay, a crossover bodice, and medium train. It fit like a glove, but I could still easily eat and dance in it, which was crucial to me. I loved how soft and light it felt- perfect for a breezy beach wedding. I also wore a birdcage veil, large dangling blue crystal vintage style earrings, and sandals. Matt wore grey suit trousers & vest, white button down, and leather flip-flops. It actually looked great and was exactly his style! No closed toes shoes at the beach! And just under the surface, the groom’s party had personalized undergarments (groom, best man, and more!).”

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“Held outside on a grassy lawn adjacent to a long, white, sandy beach, attendees looked out over the water and islands off Maui.  The ceremony was a very intimate, special, family affair, with every family member involved.”  

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“Our flower girl was Matt’s Japanese step-grandmother, Yoshie, who designed and made her own hot pink dress.  Yoshie, the 3 groomsmen, 3 bridesmaids, Matt and his parents all walked out to Vitamin String Quartet’s version of God Only Knows.  I walked out with both of my parents to Vitamin String Quartet’s version of Hallelujah, the first song Matt ever heard me sing.” 

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“My grandfather performed my parents’ wedding, and my father wanted to follow by creating a new family tradition.  He got certified online and served as our officiant, which was a real treat.  My younger brother Vince wrote and sang an original song for us, while Matt’s brother James accompanied him on the keyboard.  His sister read the Hands Ceremony, and we gave each other our own, personalized vows.”

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Destination weddings are not always predictable, but luckily for these two, weather proved not to be a problem. “The weather forecasted a hurricane that day, but fortunately it never arrived and you would never know about the forecast from looking at the photos.” 

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“Vintage suitcases decorated the space, and our ‘guest book’ was an antique globe. Everyone wrote messages to us over their home country and state- something we will keep forever!”

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“We went with a vintage travel theme, with the main colors of mint and peach which gently reflected the colors of the tropics.  Family and tradition are very important for Matt and I, and we had antique picture frames with old pictures (one on each dinner table) of the weddings of our family members.  The large crystal chandelier hanging over our dinner table just glowed as the sun set over the Pacific.” 

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“We went in for the first dances and Matt and I danced to Meiko’s Stuck on You, while my dad and I danced to Free Fallin, our favorite song when I was little. We heard some hilarious speeches from our very international bridal party and everyone hit the dance floor. There were ‘shout out’ songs from the DJ for lots of our guests- music we picked specifically for them. Another funny thing was the groomsmen dropped their trousers just enough to show their printed “groomsmen” boxers, linking arms and backing it up across the dance floor! We also had a surprise video that our friend put together, with little video messages from friends and family abroad who couldn’t make it. Then we had cake, more dancing, and a big sparkler exit.”

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“The day itself was absolutely perfect- clear, blue and sunny- a huge relief since a hurricane had been forecast for that day!  I just remember being so completely happy and excited, I couldn’t stop laughing or smiling long enough for the makeup artist to do my lipstick.  Everything ended up being exactly as we had hoped, and it felt so amazing to be marrying Matt and to know that we have so many wonderful friends and family who would travel around the world to be there for us!”

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Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Aubrey Hord Photography

Wedding Vendors: Location, Wedding Coordinator, Catering + Cake: Sugar Beach Events, Videographer: IMF Visions, Florist: Maui Floral, Hair: Amanda Nigbur of Maui Modern Hair, Makeup: Dacia Waller of Spa Lotus, Officiant: Bride’s father, Larry Schueren, Ceremony Musicians: Brother of the Bride, Vince Schueren and Brother of the Groom, James Edwards, Rentals: Hawaiian Style Events RentalsRio Event Design, Signature Event Rentals, DJ: Liam Grist