Being true to their personalities was important to Meriel and Ryan when it came time to plan their wedding. They envisioned a casual event surrounded by their loved ones and enjoying as much time together as possible. The end result was a night spent laughing and dancing under the string lights. Also known as, perfection.
Ryan's sister inadvertently played matchmaker a few years ago when she asked Meriel to join them for lunch one day. They both say their friendship was almost immediate but, it took a few years before they began dating. According to Meriel, "I had a dog, Haley, and he ended up getting a dog, too. We bonded over dog park outings and I always welcomed Ryan's calls or texts to join him at the park. We never needed to try with each other, it was just easy. Eventually, we were both single and after a night out and some 'liquid courage', Ryan kissed me. It caught us both by surprise, but I remember just knowing instantly that there was no turning back. We knew."
How stunning is Meriel's dress!? I love the simplicity and elegance.
Ryan and I own a business that sells Air Plants (cool little plants that don't require soil) so I knew I wanted to incorporate those into the décor. We let the wedding party choose their outfits, and I scoured thrift stores to find some fun, eclectic serving trays, vases, and other items to use in decorating. I wanted the wedding to feel like a cozy and warm party at our house, and we encouraged the guests to make full use of the Sanchez House space, with areas, for relaxing, dancing, eating, and even smoking cigars.
Ryan was one of those grooms that couldn't wait to propose after he got the ring from the jeweler. "It was a random Tuesday and I set up a nice romantic dinner. I was planning on taking Meriel to Curtis Hixon Park before hand, which runs along the river and sits next to the restaurant. My friend told me about a concrete paver by the river that had 'Will you marry me?' written on it, so my initial thought was to take her there and pop the big question. Well, things didn’t exactly go to plan! When we got to the park, it was very windy and Meriel was ready for a drink and didn’t really understand why I kept wanting to walk around the park. We made our way over to the paver, but to my surprise it was located right in front of a children's playground with a hundred screaming kids! This was not the ideal place, so instead of asking there, I just pointed out the paver and we kept walking. I think Meriel even made a comment to the effect, 'I hope she said yes because now its in stone!' We continued to walk a little bit and stopped at a nice quiet area overlooking the river. I nervously grabbed the ring from my pocket and asked her, 'So will you? Will you marry me?' Of course, she thought I was kidding until I made her look down at the ring I was holding! The rest is history from there!"
Meriel and Ryan knew they wanted a destination wedding from the start. They loved the idea of all their guests enjoying a mini-vacation together. The two fell in love with St. Augustine's historic downtown and choosing The Sanchez House was an easy decision. The historical house and grounds have a natural charm and beauty which was appealing to them and it's nearby to all of the B&Bs, restaurants and bars. The best part about planning according to our cute couple is they used it as an excuse to have mini getaways together. So fun!
Our family and friends were a HUGE help in pulling off this home-made event. My bridesmaids helped create floral arrangements, I had girlfriends help me make pinwheels for the ceremony backdrop, Ryan's close family friend was our officiant, and my parents and sister, who are all musicians, made our ceremony extra special by singing a sweet song.
I just love the portraits Leslie snapped all around the cobblestone streets. St. Augustine has some serious charm and she captured it beautifully!
Being from Vermont, I wanted to have a few Vermont details in the mix so we gave out Champlain Chocolates as our wedding favors. We even had one of Ryan's groomsmen, who owns Craft-A Brew, create a signature craft beer for the day, one of which was a Vermont Maple brew.
Oh, you know all the guests were totally blown away with Chillula, our Faves!
No matter what your style or budget, my biggest piece of advice is to keep telling yourself that it is just a party and nothing is the end of the world. Appreciate the fact that your friends and family are there to support and celebrate your marriage, which is way more important than any detail of your wedding day.
Great advice, Meriel! Here's to many years of happiness and lots more mini-getaways for the two of you!