An Elegant Island Wedding at Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande, Florida

Although Emily (27 and a graduate student) and Jason (27 and a graduate student) call New York home, they whisked their friends and family off to Gasp

Although Emily (27 and a graduate student) and Jason (27 and a graduate student) call New York home, they whisked their friends and family off to Gasparilla Island on Florida's Gulf Coast for a relaxed weekend by the beach. The Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande was an easy choice for the pair, who were smitten with the venue’s innate intimacy, Southern hospitality, world-class food and ample amenities. “We love that when you cross over the bridge and arrive on Gasparilla Island, you instantly feel like you’re on vacation,” Emily says. “And all the wedding events, the beach, the town and our guests’ rooms were within close walking distance of one another.” With most of their guests coming from a New York winter, Emily and Jason emphasized the island's warm vibe with an alfresco affair filled with soft white, green, purple and blue hues, golden seashells and lush greenery. Lavish garden-inspired florals carried offered a marked contrast to the snow-covered landscape the couple’s guests left behind in the North and carried the evening’s decor. Verdant bundles of greenery and white blooms lined the ceremony aisle, creating the illusion of seagrass, while arrangements of proteas, roses and hydrangeas infused the open-air reception tent with an air of effortless elegance. “We knew everyone would be excited to eat dinner outside by the water,” Emily says. The views paired with dishes such as Florida crab cakes and filet mignon served over creamy polenta and sauteed kale for an unforgettable feast, made even more memorable with a spread of decadent desserts, including mini sticky toffee puddings, spiked milkshakes and freshly made doughnuts. After dinner, the newlyweds ushered their family and friends onto the dance floor, where Powerhouse Band pumped out high-energy tunes late into the night. A tip from Emily: “The couple set the tone for the weekend. If you relax and have fun, your guests will follow your lead.” —Libby MacCarthy

Emily and Jason’s invitations gave guests a preview of the waterfront affair with bright orange script and a custom watercolor map. “One of our friends designed a logo for us with our initials," Emily says. "We had the logo printed on a wax seal on our invitation, and we used it in different colors throughout the weekend."
Lush garden roses and ranunculus gave Emily’s bridal bouquet a classic, romantic feel, and clusters of bright white lilacs captured the vitality of spring and added a light fragrance to the arrangement.
Taking advantage of the sunshine and waterfront setting, Emily and Jason hosted their ceremony outdoors overlooking swaying palm trees and a quaint pond. “Our florist lined the aisle with flowers that looked like they were growing from the grass—this was so pretty and gave the ceremony location a whimsical, garden vibe,” Emily says. The wedding arch was the ceremony’s showstopper, with fluffy hydrangeas and textured greenery adorning a beachy driftwood structure.
While gilded accents, pillar candles and bold bouquets of hydrangeas, roses and proteas arranged in footed bowls gave the reception a sense of elegance and refined flair, antiqued wooden chairs and a Sperry tent infused the decor with a subtle rustic note.
To inject an element of drama into the escort card display, Botanica International Design Studio centered the golden seashell card holders on a trio of hurricane vases overflowing with delphiniums, branches, hydrangeas and lisianthus in bright shades of green and white.
The menu cards doubled as the place cards, with the names of each guest hand calligraphed in playful pink ink. Bearing bright watercolor flowers, they added a pop of color to the stately patterned plates, gold chargers and cutlery.
As a nod to the locale, Emily and Jason displayed their escort cards in gilded seashells. “I love watercolors, so we had watercolor artwork by Carly Martin of Clementine Studio integrated into our day-of items,” Emily says.
The Tipsy Cake Company in Boca Grande, Florida, whipped up a decadent three-tier carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for Emily and Jason’s after-dinner treat. Clusters of ivory garden roses and ranunculus framed by vines and a personalized gold script cake topper decorated the cake, striking the perfect balance of whimsy and Provencal elegance.
Before the festivities got underway at Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande, Florida, Emily and Jason hit the dance floor, sharing their first dance to Coldplay’s “Green Eyes.”
After the ceremony, Emily and Jason joined their guests for dinner and dancing under an expansive open-air tent that offered fantastic views of the surrounding palm trees and the crystal blue waters beyond Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande, Florida.