There are so many words I could use to describe the beautiful outdoor wedding that Shea Christine Photography and (our very own!) Desiree Dawn Events are sharing with us today. Modern, whimsical, romantic, rustic, meaningful... they're all a fit. Overall, the day was gorgeously and perfectly Floridian.
Claire and Zach met while working together doing medical research in Portland. Zach heard his bride-to-be before he saw her, catching the sound of her high heels clicking on the lab floor (which you can imagine is not common for a lab!). They didn't meet that day, but a coworker soon introduced them and the two bonded at happy hour over a love of beer; says Claire, "Not long after, we had our first date and have been together ever since. And we still bond over our love of beer."
Their venue, the Bay Tree Lodge in Stuart, is a family estate reserved for employees of Kiplinger (where Claire's mother is a VP). Claire has been vacationing with her family there since she was little, and had visited several times while dating Zach. From the architecture of the buildings to the beautiful grounds, the estate feels like a true Florida retreat.
Four years after their first date, Zach surprised Claire with an anniversary trip back to Portland... and a ring! From the bride: We arrived on a Friday and promptly went to our favorite burrito place (besides beer, we both also love food). Afterwards, he suggested we walk past his old apartment. He had the best place when we lived there: a corner apartment right in a park downtown. To this day we have the best memories of that apartment. Plus, that park is where we met for our first date. When we got there, he sat on a bench, and I sat down next to him. Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was the most perfect proposal, super romantic and emotional. Then right after a hippie chick came over to us and wished us many blessings and positivity in our lives. Ahh Portland.
Two of Claire's favorite moments were during the ceremony: The very best was getting pronounced man and wife by my uncle, who was our officiant. That moment was one of the happiest of my life. I still get butterflies thinking about it. I also loved the part when I was waiting to walk down the isle with my dad. It was just us and I could see Zach down at the end of the lawn from a distance.
How amazing are their portraits? Shea found some really gorgeous locations nearby to capture these two - from the groves to the docks.
The couple focused their planning on the things they love and that brought them together: music, beer and food. As a nod to their time spent moving around, the future travels they will have due to Zach's Naval career, and the distance their guests would travel for the day, a line from a Black Keys song was the start of their inspiration: "Have love, will travel". To showcase their love of beer, the couple served up craft brews from their favorite brewery in Portland, Rogue Brewery; to close out the night, PBR tall boys made an appearance on the dance floor. As Claire told us, "That's our version of a DIY project."
Another of Claire's favorite moments happened towards the end of the night: "There was a part of the night when it felt like everyone was out on the dance floor. People had PBR tall boys in hand and just seemed to be having a great time. That was awesome, because it's just what we wanted."
The bride shared a few words of wisdom for other couples planning weddings in Florida: First of all, choose a beautiful location, and there are a lot in Florida. That way the venue speaks for itself and you don't have to do much to it. Then hire an awesome planner. I chose Desiree because I felt like she knew my vision, knew my budget, and took them both seriously. I would recommend her to anyone. Seriously. I would then recommend that they just trust her - the vendors she found were perfect for what we wanted.
Shea took the most beautiful photos, Shaina made a video I will never forget, and Robin catered the best wedding dinner ever. So many people complimented the food, and that never happens at weddings. I know my parents were so happy with everyone and everything. Vision DJs played an awesome play list. Also, Acadiana Destination Service in Stuart. Our driver was so great, as was the whole experience of working with them. I have an elderly aunt who was at the wedding and they took really good care of her. I don't have one bad thing to say about any anyone.
For dessert, we have that beautiful video from Shaina Koren Cinematography to share with you!
And finally, a few words from Desiree: "Claire and Zach were a dream to work with and a beautiful couple to get to know. I loved everything about this wedding; the music, food (and beer!) and venue were close runners up only to the bride and groom. I feel very privileged that they trusted me as much as they did with their special day!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Private Residence in Stuart | Photography: Shea Christine Photography | Cinematography: Shaina Koren Cinematography | Event Planning & Design: Desiree Dawn Events | Floral Design: Julia Rohde Designs | Catering: A Matter of Taste Palm Beach | Desserts: Earth & Sugar | Lighting & Vintage Rentals: Unearthed Vintage | Linens: Atlas Party Rental | Tables, Chairs, Place Settings: Premier Party Rentals | Hair & Makeup: Jennifer Cruz Beauty Group | Men's Attire: Tux Shop | DJ: Vision DJs | Transportation: Acadiana Destination Services