A Casual, Backyard Beachside Wedding at Sanderling Resort in Duck, North Carolina

When their wedding planning began, the only request from Megan Donoghue (29 and a purchasing manager)  Andrew Arnold (32 and a sales manager) was that

When their wedding planning began, the only request from Megan Donoghue (29 and a purchasing manager) Andrew Arnold (32 and a sales manager) was that their wedding feel less like a wedding and more like a laid-back beach party. Getting married on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where their engagement began, was an integral part of making Megan and Andrew’s big-day dreams come true. The ceremony took place on a rustic seaside observation dock under a birch tree arbor adorned with loose fabric. Vines and fresh flowers were added, as well as a handmade dream catcher. The wedding party perfectly accentuated the wild beauty of the shoreline, highlighting the various hues of nautical blue. The bridesmaids were unconventionally dressed in mismatched flowing floor-length gowns of their choosing. The men kept it casual yet sophisticated in tieless postman-blue suits. Cocktails were sipped at sunset on the long dock and in the gazebo facing the sea, where Andrew had proposed to Megan. The reception, however, was at the resort’s pavilion with dramatic vaulted ceilings and flooding natural light. To enhance the space and encapsulate the laid-back bohemian aesthetic that was so important to Megan, the installation of distressed windows were hung from the ceiling and bright flowers were added. Megan looked stunning yet natural in her one-of-a-kind boho-inspired gown with delicately beaded sleeves. Sweet flower crowns tied together with bits of lace and ribbon were handmaid by the bride herself for the flower girls, while she and her bridesmaids added baby’s breath to their hair. Organic just-picked-looking bouquets were breathtaking against the rustic-chic decor of the Sanderling Resort. Personalizing every aspect of their big day to reflect their journey as a couple is what made this wedding so loving and sweet. “The best advice you need to keep in mind is to be absolutely sure that your entire wedding clearly reflects your personal style,” Megan says assuredly. —Juliette Cheatham

“We lit the long dock with a zigzag pattern of lights and added more dream catchers, lanterns and bohemian throw pillows,” Megan says. The guests were able to enjoy a romantic sunset from the structure that faces outward into the sea.
Megan knew she wanted a bohemian gown but with a hint of glamour. “It needed it to be comfortable, light and flowy to work with our oceanside wedding,” she says. And once she was told it was the only one ever made, she was sold.
“I wanted to stay away from the overly formal and perfectly matched look,” Megan says. She told her bridal party to pick any long, pale blue dress to accent the flowing blue waters that surrounded them.
The couple was married under a birch-pole arbor adorned with loose-flowing fabric and flower arrangements. Swooping vines were left to blow around in the sea breeze in an organic fashion. A large handmade dream catcher also hung from the arbor.
The bohemian-style aisle was decorated with neutral rose petals and random assortments of wood slats, lanterns, candles and balls of vines. The beautifully natural elements were used to accent the organic setting of North Carolina's Outer Banks.
To match the organic, loose feel of the wedding, Megan carried a neutral, just-picked bouquet with a cascade of greenery flowing from it. “The bridesmaids held a petite version of mine with amazing blue accents to tie in with their dresses,” she says.
The men sported postman-blue Calvin Klein slim-fit suits. Although Andrew included a tie, his groomsmen went tieless to keep them feeling cool and comfortable and to stick with the nontraditional theme.
A sweet handwritten seating chart was displayed for the guest’s convenience. Written in chalk with hearts and swirls around the border, a more laid-back feel was created from the informality of the writing.
Mixed with traditional round tables, long farm tables at the boho-chic reception were topped with armatures hung loosely with green vines. “The centerpieces varied from table to table but consisted of votives and bud vases, as well as lit candles and rustic silver lanterns,” Megan says.
The vaulted ceiling in the pavilion reception area was accented by draping it with white fabric and simmering lights underneath. From the ceiling also, a hanging installation of distressed wooden window frames at varying heights were adorned with vines and floral arrangements.
Offering their guests varying dinner options with chef-attended stations throughout the reception was the perfect way to ensure everyone walked away full and happy. To honor the coastal venue, they included all types of local seafood, including a beautiful oyster bar. Pasta, steak and of course North Carolina's famous shrimp and grits made an appearance too.
Alongside a small three-tier chocolate cake, barely iced and topped with fresh flowers,  cupcakes and an ice cream sundae bar were included to end the night on a sweet note.
The rustic yet chic resort offers incredible views from just about anywhere being nestled in between the sound and the ocean. The pair knew that hosting a wedding in the same place they got engaged was an important part of sharing their love story with their friends and family.