One Couple's Personalized Waterfront Wedding at Ocean Key Resort in Key West, Florida

2022 saw a rise in <a href="" target="_blank">domestic destination weddings</a>, and K

2022 saw a rise in domestic destination weddings, and Katie and Kaitlin were one of the many couples who found it more appealing to stay within the United States. The uncertainty of border-crossing regulations, paired with unprecedented travel delays, means that many to-be-weds who may have previously looked abroad for a venue are turning their attention to locales accessible by car as well as air. For Kaitlin and Katie, that meant traveling from Ohio down to Florida for a weekend making memories with loved ones.

Even though friends from different stages of life all came together to support Kaitlin and Katie at their wedding, the couple shares that "there were truly no sides or groups, and we had so many people walk away with new friends! I think part of that was because we had additional time and events with it being a destination wedding. We have the most incredible people in our lives who showed up to have a good time and share their love for us with everyone around them." 

Despite the tropical Key West locale, Katie and Kaitlin were adamant that they didn't want "a typical beach wedding. It was important to us to keep it personal and fun yet elegant, so we were inspired by the idea of creating an elevated coastal experience for our 115 guests," says Katie. To achieve their elevated-coastal aesthetic, the couple leaned into "a neutral color palette accented with lush tropical greenery. We chose two statement pillars for the ceremony but otherwise allowed the passing sailboats to create ambiance. I think texture can really make a space feel luxurious so we splurged on our beige velvet linens, rattan chargers and chandeliers, and long wooden farm tables," says Katie. "Another investment for us was the clear tent and twinkle lights. It was so magical all lit up at night. We wanted to create an atmosphere without distracting from the natural beauty that is being surrounded by the ocean and the most beautiful sunsets."

Beyond elevated rentals, the couple's flower arrangements also played a major role in bringing their waterfront wedding celebration to life. "Florals played a very important in the overall style of our wedding," says Katie. "The first inspiration picture I found had this lush greenery installation hanging from the tent and it immediately became an anchor of the vision. I feel like it really set the tone of the entire space."

While the wedding was visually stunning, it was also paramount to Katie and Kaitlin that the entire guest experience be top-notch. "We pride ourselves on being very thoughtful people so personalization and guest experience was at the center of everything we did throughout the entire process. It was very important that, more than anything, people felt appreciated and thought 'that is so Katie and Kaitlin' throughout the day. We also had the benefit of being some of the last of our friends to get married, so we had a lot of time to see the elements of their celebrations and dream up how we could make them our own," says Katie.  

To start the day on a personal note, the couple chose to share vows in a private vow exchange during their first look. "I loved getting to have that time to make those promises and settle our nerves." From there they continued to fill each and every part of the celebration with meaningful personalization. "Kaitlin's dad recently passed away and I had a handkerchief of his embroidered for her as a piece of him to carry with her," says Katie. "For my dad, I had his favorite photo made into a patch that went on the back of his tie." 

When it came time for the ceremony, guests were greeted on arrival by mojitos to enjoy. Then, to get everyone involved in the wedding ceremony, the couple included an Irish ring-warming ritual. "This allowed us to not only involve more people by asking two special aunts to officiate this part of the ceremony, but allowed everyone in attendance to say a prayer or impart well wishes onto our wedding bands. I think it made each person feel personally involved with our vows!"

Later on at the reception, the couple made the decision to skip a cake cutting and "instead opened a beer for each other at the end of our welcome speech," says Katie. For yet another dose of personalization, the couple "incorporated our beloved dogs in the cocktail napkins. Lastly, the most personal thing we did was write handwritten notes to each wedding guest that served as their seating assignment and meal marker at their table. We have many people tell us that it was their favorite part, and at the end of the night there were literally none left on the tables—everyone took them home with them."

Looking back, the couple recalls how special it was to see their day come together as they'd hoped. "You try so hard to envision each design element in the days of planning but there's nothing like actually seeing all of your hard work turned into reality. I really wanted a first look of the event space before everyone was in it, and although schedule-wise it wasn't possible, we did get to sneak into the tent while everyone was at cocktail hour and have a few moments to just take it all in. I would say the most special part of the day though was seeing both of our families and friends from all different parts of our life come together into one big party that was just full of love and fun. There were truly no sides or groups, and we had so many people walk away with new friends! I think part of that was the fact that we had additional time and events with it being a destination wedding, but most of it was because we just have the most incredible people in our lives who showed up to have a good time and share their love for us with everyone around them."

Couple Portrait Under Veil
Diamond Engagement Rings in Velvet Boxes
Bride With Off-the-Shoulder Wedding Dress and Statement Earrings
Blush-and-Gold Vow Books
Custom Bride Clutches
Tropical Watercolor Wedding Invitation Suite
Bride and Mother of the Bride Embracing
Custom Tie for Father of the Bride
Bride Crying During First Look Private Vow Exchange
Smiling Brides With Cascading Tropical Bouquets
Cascading Bouquet With Greenery and Dendrobium Orchids
First Kiss at Tropical Waterfront Wedding Ceremony
Wedding Party in All-Black Attire in Front of Estate
Beach Wedding Reception With Twinkle Lights and Clear Tent
Tropical Centerpiece With Leaves and Pampas Grass
Hanging Greenery in Clear-Top Tent
Beer Welcome Sign Mirror
Personalized Beer Escort Cards
Beers in Personalized Koozies
First Dance Under Woven Rattan Chandeliers