Bride Louise shares how she and her groom Christopher planned their Boca Bay Pass Club wedding, together!
Please meet today’s couple, Louise and Christopher! That’s right, I said couple. While we traditionally spend a bit more time focused on the bride, today we are following Louise and Christopher’s lead and focusing on the two of them together. I love how our newlyweds’ “same team” approach not only influences how they do life together in marriage, but how they tackled wedding planning, too. “Our advice would be to plan it as a couple!” Louise says. “If both the bride and groom can work together to plan their vision, then the actual wedding day feels like all of your mutual hard work paid off.” Keep reading for a few of the sweet ways they stay unified while preparing for their big day!
Big SW hugs to Hunter Ryan for sharing this sweet day!
My mom, sister, and best friend came to New York City to help me with my wedding dress shopping. Our first appointment was at Kleinfeld’s and by the third dress I tried on, I knew it was “the one.” I felt obligated to visit all the other wedding dress stores that weekend, but after Kleinfeld’s we all went to Eataly’s rooftop and ordered champagne to celebrate because I knew I found the perfect dress!
I think one of the most important goals for our wedding was to feel like we truly engaged and celebrated with our guests. By having a first look, it allowed us to have more time to see our guests and to show them how grateful we were that they traveled so far to support us. Seeing each other before the ceremony also allowed us to relax and have more fun throughout the rest of the day!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. My grandmother plays the organ for her church and my mother was also very involved with her church and choir growing up, so I relied on both of their help to choose the ceremony music. In particular, my grandmother requested that we play “Chanson de Matin” by Sir Edward Elgar during the prelude and my mother suggested we have a live trumpeter play “Trumpet Voluntary” by Jeremiah Clarke during the bridal procession. Overall, we wanted the music for our ceremony and reception to feel upbeat and joyful, including our first dance song “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” by James Taylor!
Before our first look and the ceremony, Chris and I individually read letters that we wrote to one another. I’ve always been a big fan of writing letters and I think this method of sharing our vows privately felt very special to us. During the ceremony, it was meaningful to hear Chris’s favorite Bible verse read out loud (Proverbs 3:5-6). Overall, I think my favorite part of the whole ceremony was holding Chris’s hands and looking him in the eyes when we said our wedding vows. I’ll never forget how genuinely happy I felt at that moment.
What was Southern about your wedding? Chris and I both went to Southern schools (Vanderbilt and Elon) and although we now live in the North, we wanted to incorporate a lot of Southern charm at our wedding! For example, we included a family legacy table with portraits of our parents and grandparents. We also hung a bottle of bourbon with our wedding date from the Bayly’s house porch (we improvised from “burying the bourbon”) to prevent any rain. (And it worked!) Lastly, Chris and I went to college where it is tradition to paint a cooler and fill it with beer for your date before a themed date weekend. Chris and I designed each other’s coolers to reflect our personalities and used an amazing painter from Etsy (Kelsey Schild) who crafted the coolers for us. During our reception, we placed them next to our bar lounges for anyone who wanted to grab a casual beer and they were a big hit!
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? Hmmm… that’s a tough one. I love details at weddings because I feel like that’s when you truly get a sense of the couple’s personality. I wanted our guests to walk away from our wedding weekend saying something like, “that wedding totally felt like Lou and Chris.” So I would say one of my favorite details was our monogrammed crest that was sprinkled throughout our wedding (i.e. our ceremony programs, welcome bags, menus, bar lounges, etc). Our crest had unique little personal symbols including running shoes (for me), golf clubs (for Chris), and an apple (to represent NYC). I also loved how we decorated our bridal party trolley with fun wedding decor. Lastly, my favorite detail was our “Same Team” sign that was placed on the back of our chairs during the reception.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Chris’s parents live in Boca Grande, Florida and introduced us to the Boca Grande Lighthouse Methodist Church and the Boca Bay Pass Club many years ago. Both the ceremony and reception venues have always felt very intimate and special to us. The island of Boca Grande has a big place in our hearts because it’s where we often visit Chris’s family and it feels like our secret vacation spot. By having our wedding at these two venues, we felt like our friends and families could get a better sense of how meaningful this place is to us.
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? I don’t want to be one of those brides who says “EVERYTHING!” but from start to finish, I truly felt like it was the most magical, unforgettable experience of my life. Some of the most memorable moments include: seeing Chris for the first time on Banyan Street, walking down the aisle with my dad and seeing Chris smiling and waiting for me, celebrating and dancing with our bridal party during the trolley ride to the reception, taking pictures on the beach with our amazing photographers, and not leaving the dance floor the entire night with all of our best friends and family.
And don’t miss Louise + Chris’s highlights film by Current Films!
Tell us your love story in one sentence. Our love story is that we have always been – and will always be – on each other’s “same team.”
Tell us all about the proposal! Chris proposed when we were in St. Lucia for vacation before the Christmas holiday. On the morning Chris proposed, we were laying out and relaxing on a beach that was located in a remote, secluded cove area. Chris went snorkeling and when he came out of the water, I was lounging on a beach chair at the time. Chris knelt down and told me to close my eyes because he said he had found a pretty shell for me. When I opened my eyes, in place of a shell, Chris handed me a beautiful ring instead. There was a photographer in the background and a waiter ready with champagne on the beach – the whole experience was magical and unforgettable.
When did y’all get married? May 6, 2017!
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? about 160 guests total
What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? Why did you choose it? At every wedding we attend, Chris and I always make it a mission to take a break from the dance floor and taste the wedding cake. We both have a not-so-secret sweet tooth, so having a wedding cake was a must for us! One of our favorite drinks at Boca Grande is called the “hummer” (basically an adult milkshake) from the Pink Elephant restaurant in town. So we paired our wedding cake with mini “hummers” that were passed around the dance floor. We can’t forget to mention our favorite dessert, which was Mrs. Bayly’s famous chocolate chip cookies that were handed to our guests at the end of the evening.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? We were engaged for about a year and a half, so I felt like I really had time to plan out everything without feeling rushed. Chris and I wanted our wedding to feel like a weekend-long vacation (the advantage of having it in Florida!) so we planned activities starting with our Thursday night “Burgers and Beers” at the Bayly’s house and ended with a relaxed Sunday brunch. My favorite thing about wedding planning was going through the process with Chris. Oftentimes the bride and her family take charge of the majority of planning, but we wanted our wedding to reflect both of us (and both of our families). Therefore, we really shared the responsibilities and assigned each other different wedding tasks – Chris took care of the big vendors and I focused on the flowers and decor. Also, I could not have planned anything without my incredible wedding planners. Nicole Kaney Productions (NKP) Team helped me through every step of the way and I truly don’t think I could have done it without them!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? I think the hardest part was that we were basically planning a destination wedding. We live in New York City and Boca Grande is a relatively quaint island that is over an hour or two away from the closest airport in Florida. Initially, the start to our wedding planning felt intimidating because we didn’t really have any “word of mouth” vendor recommendations. We relied a lot on our wedding planners from Nicole Kaney Productions (NKP) to help us find vendors who really captured our personalities. The NKP Team was an incredible sense of support for us and really connected us to some of the most amazing vendors we could have ever asked for!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Before Chris and I even started to plan our wedding, we created a detailed Excel spreadsheet that had our estimated budget (including different tiers!) on every projected vendor and decor cost. Agreeing on this budget beforehand was really important for us because it allowed us to stay within a cost range for every vendor, or else it’s super easy to get carried away. We selected only a few big things to rent such as the tablecloths, chairs, and chargers, and then we utilized the Pass Club for everything else (tableware, glasses, food, drinks, etc.) to cut costs. It’s also easy to spend a lot of money on flower arrangements so we stuck to a less expensive flower (thank goodness hydrangeas are my favorite!) and used a lot of greenery to reduce costs. We also alternated between high floral arrangements and low floral arrangements on the tables. Lastly, I’m a huge fan of stringed lights and candles which are not expensive to rent. So rather than spending more money on decorations, we used a lot of hanging lights in the tent and candles everywhere to make it feel more intimate and romantic.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Our advice would be to plan it as a couple! I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the minor details and the stress of pleasing two families and all of your guests, but at the end of the day planning a wedding is all about what makes you both happy. If both the bride and groom can work together to plan their vision, then the actual wedding day feels like all of your mutual hard work paid off. Also, give yourself some time to be an engaged couple without always worrying about the wedding logistics. Chris and I would joke that we had “no wedding Wednesdays” where we would have dinner and talk about everything but the wedding to give ourselves a break. Lastly, I recommend choosing vendors who are fun, supportive, and take time to get to know you as a couple. All of our vendors were absolutely incredible and helped us feel like we could relax and have a blast on our wedding day!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? We had a smaller rehearsal dinner (just our bridal party and immediate family) at the Boca Grande Club and then hosted a welcome party where we invited all of our guests for cocktails and food. Having a welcome party allowed us to mingle with all of our guests in a more relaxed setting which took off some of the pressure to see everyone on the actual day of our wedding. It also created a more fun kick-off weekend vibe for all of our guests to get excited for the next day!
Photographer: Hunter Ryan Photo | Videographer: Current Films | Planner: NK Productions | Ceremony Venue: Boca Grande Lighthouse Church | Reception Venue and Caterer: Boca Bay Pass Club | Florist: Becca Creighton of Flowers by Fudgie | Wedding Cake: Cakes by Ron | Rentals: Linens By The Sea and MMD Events | Lighting: U.S. Tent Rental | Band: The Royals via East Coast Entertainment | Special Details: Simply Jessica Marie | Paper Products: A+P Designs | Save the Date Design: LB McKelvy Designs | Save the Date Printing: 5 Thirteen Designs | Bride’s Gown: Pnina Tornai | Bride’s Veil and Bridal Salon: Kleinfeld Bridal | Bride’s Earrings: J. Crew | Hair and Makeup: James Griffith Salon | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: The Dessy Group from Bella Bridesmaids | Men’s Attire: Ludlow Suit by J. Crew | Rehearsal Dinner and Welcome Party Venue: Boca Grande Club | Bridal Brunch and Suite: Gasparilla Inn and Club | Transportation: SRQ Trolley | Decorated Coolers: Lavish Lettering