It's been pretty dreary this week in South Florida, but I'm thinking I can fix that... even if it's only for the time it takes you to dive into today's inspiring celebration. This Key Largo wedding captured by Becca Borge Photography is like a little escape in the middle of your week, complete with fruity drinks, gorgeous tropical florals, sweet and meaningful details, and a beautiful couple (native South Floridians and high school sweethearts!) overflowing with love, joy and happiness on their big day. This is one of those weddings where I wish I could share every single photo and every last word of the couple's story with you - it's just that perfect. Enjoy! And thank me later.
Katie grew up in Boca Raton, and Chris in Pompano Beach. They first met in high school, attending each other's sporting events (says Katie, "to this day, we are each other’s #1 Fan!") then shared the college experience as Gators at the University of Florida. They attended every home game together and kept up the tradition of a kiss after every touchdown... since they were lucky enough to be in Gainesville during the Gators' latest National Championship streak, that was a lot of celebratory kisses! The adventurous (and hi, adorable) couple is now enjoying city life in Milwaukee while Chris attends dental school and Katie begins her career as an occupational therapist.
As Katie tells us, "Since we knew that we would be moving to Milwaukee and uncertain of when we would return to Florida, we wanted our wedding to be a wonderful send-off for our new life together. That's when we decided on a mini destination wedding with our closest friends and family in the Florida Keys. The Marriott Key Largo Bay Beach Resort was the perfect choice – with a laid back, 'real Florida' style and a beautiful resort setting – it was a vacation weekend for everyone!"
As a child, Chris spent more than nine years singing and traveling the world with Florida's Singing Sons Boychoir; as a tribute to this special time in his life, the couple brought the choir down from Fort Lauderdale to perform throughout the mass. After the ceremony, the choir also serenaded the bride and groom with an a cappella version of "Stand By Me" on the church courtyard! (As a special treat, you can watch the performance below.) As a nod to their Irish heritage, the couple incorporated the Irish Blessing during the service, and recessed to "When Irish Eyes are Smiling." In true Gator style, they then departed the church by running through a tunnel of orange and blue streamers and peeled out in Chris' uncle's 2011 Chevy Camaro... decorated with an orange and blue alligator tail hanging off the back, of course!
The groom was rockin' a James Bond-inspired white dinner jacket, so the way they chose to make an appearance at the cocktail hour was pretty perfect. Says Katie, "Our cocktail hour was outside under the palm trees with a spectacular sunset. Guests enjoyed our signature drink with umbrellas 'TequiLOVE Sunset' and butler passed hors devours which included tropical Florida bites like coconut shrimp, crab salad, and chicken pineapple skewers. Chris and I didn't want to miss the fun; so we decided to make a 'James Bond' entrance and arrived by boat (thanks to Pirate Island Divers—the onsite dive shop at the Marriott). We also had a table for guests to write a 'Message in a Bottle' that we plan to read on our 1 year anniversary!"
The couple filled their reception with tons of meaningful touches and memorable moments, and I'll let Katie give you all the details:
"Our 'Grand Entrance' to the reception was a stadium-style introduction. We played the video clip that is used at the beginning of Florida Gator Football Games before the players run out of the tunnel… 'The Swamp: Only Gators get out alive.' The wedding party was introduced one-by-one by height and fun fact. Chris and I were introduced as the Dynamic Duo - we ran through the wedding party tunnel and then chest bumped at the end!
"We used a Florida Gators Football Helmet as our 'Guest Book' for all of our 'fans' to sign. Instead of traditional table numbers, we used different ADVENTURES for our table assignments… some included 'Camping in the Grand Canyon,' 'Skydiving over the Atlantic', 'Gambling in Las Vegas', etc. We displayed generational family wedding photos our of parents and grandparents. Chris loves Superheroes… so we decided to surprise our guests with a 'Superhero Sundae Bar' after the cake cutting. It also worked as an alternative receiving line. We wore Batman and Wonder Woman aprons and scooped ice cream for each our guests – it was a nice break from dancing and gave us the opportunity to thank each and every one of them for joining us!
"Chris and 5 of his dental school friends performed an elaborate choreographed dance with a montage of music. They pulled out decades of dance moves that had everyone laughing! It was a pleasant surprise for everyone!"
"Chris and I were very close to his grandfather, who passed away just a month before the wedding. He had told us that he wanted to dance to 'The Twist' with us. So to kick off dancing after dinner, we called his wife, Grandma Josie, onto the dance floor and the 3 of us started The Twist as the rest quickly swarmed the dance floor in honor of Grandpa Clare! Chris wore his grandfather's cuff links with his Tuxedo.
"The night ended with a perfect dip and kiss from Chris at the end of a magical sparkler tunnel! We welcomed everyone to join us at the point for midnight snacks at the fire pit. We even set off some biodegradable 'Wish Lanterns' and watched them float into the stars! It was the most perfect day of our lives and more than we could have even imagined! There was so much love and happiness all around us! Everyone told us it was the best wedding they've ever attended, and for us, it was truly the most memorable day of our lives!"
Total and absolute perfection! Katie and Chris, we wish you all the best... we're so lucky to be able to share your amazing wedding - and story - with the world. And big thanks to the talented Becca Borge for sending this bit of loveliness our way!
Ceremony Venue: St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church | Reception Venue: Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort | Photography: Becca Borge Photography assisted by Evie Lynn | Event Planning & Coordination: Kimberly Read | Floral Design: Boca Flower Stand | Cake: Edda's Cake Designs | Choir: Florida's Singing Sons Boychoir | DJ: Nic at MB Entertainment | Hair & Makeup: Shannon Biondoletti | Bride's Dress: Ann Taylor | Bride's Shoes: Banana Republic | Bride's Earrings: jillianiizdesign on Etsy | Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew | Groom & Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse