This Couple Planned Their Elegant Wedding on a Key West Beach in Just Four Months

beth john wedding couple on beach
Rachel May Photography

Choosing the wedding locale of their dreams was a bit of a challenge for Beth and John, despite the fact that the bride had always envisioned a wedding in France on her grandparents' wedding anniversary. "Unfortunately, due to people's schedules, this was not working out," Beth says. And then the plan changed. Beth was visiting her family in Florida when her mother suggested a day trip to Key West. "My parents had always mentioned this beautiful wedding on the beach at a venue called Casa Marina, so we decided to take a look at it while we were in town," Beth explains. The site was perfect, but the available dates were tight, so Beth and John agreed to plan a wedding in just four months—a blessing in disguise. "The shorter the engagement the better!" John says. "It makes you focus on the things that matter."

From the very beginning, the couple agreed they wanted their wedding to be an intimate celebration with their closest family and friends—and with such a short timeline, they wanted to keep things as simple as possible. "John is a bit more traditional while I prefer organic, which made black-tie on the beach a very fitting juxtaposition of our personalities," says Beth, a former floral designer who created her own wedding flowers. By combining the classic components of traditional nuptials with organic details and natural elements, the pair was able to fashion an event that was perfect for both of them.

Although the polar vortex hit the northeast the week before the event—translating to uncharacteristically cold, rainy weather in Key West—Beth and John's wedding day dawned warm and sunny without a rain cloud in sight. "The inspiration board was heavily focused on the colors of the sunset," says Beth, "and on the night of the wedding we got the most beautiful sunset." Everything went smoothly thanks to a next-level team of vendors and the cooperation of Mother Nature. "Each of our vendors was absolutely amazing!" Beth enthuses. "Our band did an amazing job of keeping guests on the dance floor, and the ambience was perfect! Our wedding was better than I could have imagined."

01 of 19

A Bespoke Invitation Suite

beth john wedding pastel invitations sea shell and ring
Rachel May Photography

Nika Smernoff, owner of Calligraphette Co., designed the couple's wedding invitations and other stationery elements. "We kept the colors very neutral and included shades you would find in the perfect sunset," says Beth. The lettering was done in gold and the envelope liner featured a delicate watercolor motif.

02 of 19

A Sentimental Bridal Hairstyle

beth john wedding brides updo
Rachel May Photography

Beth's elegant updo featured a complex series of twists, plus one very special element. "I love sentimental items and ordered lily of the valley to put in my hair for the ceremony," she says. "My mom used them in her wedding bouquet and they are her favorite flowers."

03 of 19

Perfect for the Beach

beth john wedding bride chair with bouquet and shoes
Rachel May Photography

The bride knew she wanted a soft and romantic wedding dress for her nuptials on the beach, but the couple's four-month engagement would require a rush-order to get a gown in time. "I decided to go an alternative route and custom design my dress on Etsy," Beth says. Three weeks before the wedding, she received the dress, but it didn't fit. "I decided to look at a vintage shop I love called Gossamer, and found a beautiful dress. It ended up being the dress I had in mind, and perfect for our wedding."

04 of 19

A Touch of Blush

beth john wedding brides pastel pink shoes
Rachel May Photography

Blush sandals with satin bows and crystal detailing served as Beth's footwear for the ceremony and the photo session that preceded it.

05 of 19

With Dad

beth john wedding bride hugging dad
Rachel May Photography

Beth's father and her dad enjoyed a private moment before the ceremony.

06 of 19

A Delicate Bridal Bouquet

beth john wedding bouquet on chair
Rachel May Photography

The bride used a colorful combination of butterfly ranunculus, sweet peas, hellebores, and garden roses in her bouquet. Jasmine vine and tuberose, known for their lovely scents, rounded out the arrangement.

07 of 19

A Gorgeous Maid of Honor

beth john wedding bride and main of honor in blue
Rachel May Photography

With her sister as her only attendant, Beth wanted to find something special for her to wear. "I also wanted to make sure it was something she would want to wear again," she explains. The pair settled on a lovely beaded gown in a smoky shade of blue.

08 of 19

Dapper Groom

beth john wedding groomsmen
Rachel May Photography

John donned an ivory dinner coat, black bow tie, and black tuxedo pants for the big day. Gold-plated onyx cufflinks and studs completed his ensemble.

09 of 19

A Meaningful Boutonnière

beth john wedding boutonniere on white suit
Rachel May Photography

The groom's boutonnière, made from of lilies of the valley, was tied with blush ribbon and matched the blooms in Beth's hair.

10 of 19

A Delightful First Look

beth john wedding first look hug
Rachel May Photography

Although John was initially hesitant about having a first look, the moment was ultimately memorable because the couple couldn't wait to lay eyes on each other. "We saw each other the night before at the rehearsal dinner, and it was so tough for me not to call John on the morning of the wedding!" says Beth.

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Members of the Wedding

beth john wedding young ushers
Rachel May Photography

Two sharply dressed young men helped out at the ceremony by passing out programs.

12 of 19

A Ceremony on the Beach

beth john wedding ceremony on the beach
Rachel May Photography

Although the bride's background is in floral design, the couple opted to limit their backdrop to the ocean. "For the ceremony, I wanted to keep things very simple and just focus on the water," says Beth. A live musician played "Canon in D" on an acoustic guitar as the bride made her way down the aisle of sand; the ceremony itself was filled with details about Beth and John. "[Our officiant] had asked us a lot about who we were as a couple ahead of time, and incorporated that into the ceremony," Beth says. As a surprise, the officiant gifted the pair with a starfish, and after the vow exchange, the couple walked back up the aisle to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder.

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An Elegant Beach Reception

beth john wedding reception table below palm trees
Rachel May Photography

Guests were ushered from a short cocktail hour to a sunset reception on the sand, where palm trees shaded tables dressed in creamy linens. Chiavari chairs of dark wood encircled round tables and ran the length of one long head table.

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Unique Seating Cards

beth john wedding escort cards shells
Rachel May Photography

The pair's calligrapher inscribed the names of guests along with their table numbers on delicate mussel shells, a perfect match for the beachy wedding theme.

15 of 19

Sweetest Centerpieces

beth john wedding floral centerpiece
Rachel May Photography

As a former florist, Beth knew she wanted to design her own arrangements for the wedding. "Flowers were really important to me," she confirms. In addition to crisp whites, soft shades of pink, and fresh berries, she incorporated orange tones in the arrangements in memory of her grandfather. "This was just a small detail, but something I knew would be special to me and my grandmother when we reflected on the wedding," she says.

White cards with blush lettering designated numbers to each table.

16 of 19

Along the Tabletops

beth john wedding long table floral bouquets
Rachel May Photography

In keeping with the bride's vision, the table décor was simple and organic. Each place setting featured a lovely menu card with a custom logo, as well as a very special touch. "A few years ago, I helped my friend hand-dye table linens and napkins for her wedding," Beth shares. "She kept them and we were able to reuse them for our own."

17 of 19

A Memorable First Dance

beth john wedding first dance under palm tree
Rachel May Photography

The couple's first dance as husband and wife was to the song "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley (sung by the band). "We both love the classics, and this song really captured us and our relationship," says Beth. "When we knew, we knew—and there wasn't anything stopping us." Following the dance, Beth's 12-year-old cousin surprised the pair by singing "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. "There were not many dry eyes to be found as we danced to that," Beth admits.

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A Sparkling Wedding Cake

beth john wedding cake with sparklers
Rachel May Photography

Although the couple served key lime pie for dessert, they had a small "funfetti" cake to cut into. "We got married on our golden retriever's third birthday, so it was our small way of celebrating with her in spirit." Sparklers lit the top of the cake, adding light to the love felt all around.

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beth john couple pink flower wall kiss
Rachel May Photography

Photography, Rachel May Photography

Location and Catering, Casa Marina Resort

Day-of wedding coordination, Destination Wedding Studio

Stationery and Calligraphy, Nika Smernoff for Calligraphette Co.

Music, Bay Kings Band

Bride's dress, Gossamer

Bride's hair and makeup, Carolyn Jones Makeup

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