Tastefully Tropical Accents Enhanced This Elegant Beach Wedding in Key West

bride and groom wedding portrait
Sacia Matthews

Shaun Hurley spent months conspiring with loved ones to coordinate his proposal to Dana Rybak, but even the best-laid plans can be shaken up by unforeseen circumstances. "Poor Shaun had planned to fly to my parents' house in Florida where I was visiting, take me on the Key West Express, and propose at sunset," shares Dana. However, after suffering the inconvenience of several cancelled flights, Shaun found himself without a rental car (the company had closed for the day while he was delayed). Then, the Key West Express suspended service due to weather. When the pair eventually made it to Key West, it was pouring—and Dana thwarted Shaun's plans further by refusing to go outside for fear her hair would turn into a frizzy mess before dinner. "My parents tell Shaun it was his first of many signs to run," jokes Dana. "But eventually it cleared up and he proposed at sunset at Fort Zachary."

The pair's ability to overcome challenges became relevant to their wedding-planning process, too. "Our original date was November 7, 2020," says Dana. A few months prior, the concerned bride announced she wanted to push it out amid COVID-19 concerns. "I couldn't risk our friends and family getting sick, so we moved it to May 2021," she says. "A huge, genuine shout-out needs to be given to my mom—she kept me sane throughout the entire process and she never once pushed me on anything. I ended up gifting her an infinity band to match mine. I felt like we went through the wringer together. I cannot ever thank her enough."

There were, however, straightforward moments: Creating their aesthetic vision for the big day turned out to be easy. Having gotten engaged in the Keys—and knowing they wanted their puppy Remy to be present—the couple embraced a destination wedding in Florida, where the bride's parents live. A Tommy Bahama-meets-Ralph Lauren vibe set the stage. "Shaun is very laid back and has a calming presence," Dana explains. "I am very much into fancy things. It was a great balance having an upscale beach wedding with relaxed touches." The best part of the day, they say, was all the love lavished on the pair by their closest family and friends. "There was a tiny lull in COVID-19 thanks to the vaccines, and it was so special to be able to celebrate with everyone we loved in one place after such a rough year," Dana reflects. "It was overwhelming, the support we have had."

01 of 20

Watercolor Wonder

elegant blue and green wedding invitations
Sacia Matthews

The couple's illustrated invitation suite by We Do Charleston was reflective of their big-day style, from the shades of blue and green to the palm-leaf accents. A custom crest, courtesy of Simply Jessica Marie, included their mini-doodle Remy, who was also featured on the envelope liner. A real palm leaf with a wax monstera seal held the set together.

02 of 20

Chic Accessories

bride's beaded and monogrammed wedding purse
Sacia Matthews

The delicate shimmer in Dana's white Loeffler Randall mules went beautifully with her personalized beaded bag.

03 of 20

Customized Cheers

bride holding wedding champagne
Sacia Matthews

Champagne bottles were hand painted by Go Coastal Studio to reflect the couple's crest; the bride popped some bubbly while getting ready on the morning of the wedding.

04 of 20

Timeless Design

bride in white dress standing under arch on beach
Sacia Matthews

Dana's tiered Stella York wedding dress checked all her boxes. "I felt comfortable in it and knew it wasn't what Shaun would expect," she says of the gown she selected at Coastal Knot. The sparkling, made-to-order belt made it dress her own. As for her bouquet? Leaves of robellini and sago palm surrounded the arrangement of white snap dragons, stock, and dendrobium orchids; Duarte Floral Design wrapped the stems in a piece of fabric from her mother's wedding veil.

05 of 20

Enduring Style

groom in black wedding tux
Sacia Matthews

Shaun's black, peak-lapel tuxedo from The Black Tux reflected the upscale aspect of the elevated beach wedding. "I love a classic tux," says Dana. "It's timeless."

06 of 20

In the Moment

groom spinning bride during first look under palm trees
Sacia Matthews

Dana laughed and Shaun got choked up, but both were grateful for the alone time their first look afforded. "It was really nice to have that moment to ourselves with no one around," says the bride. "After, we both felt a lot more relaxed, and I think it allowed us to start to truly enjoy the day."

07 of 20

Hi, Dad

dad smiling at bride during first look
Sacia Matthews

The bride shared a sweet debut with her father, too.

08 of 20

Puppy Love

flower girl hugging dog at wedding
Sacia Matthews

Dana's niece—clad in a white Hayley Paige dress reminiscent of the bride's—gave Remy some love before her flower girl duties commenced.

09 of 20

Sand and Sea

elegant beach wedding set up with clear chairs
Sacia Matthews

A pair of tastefully tropical floral arrangements, placed on wood pedestals, marked the entrance to the ceremony aisle, where clear ghost chairs blended effortlessly into the sand. "We wanted the focus to be on the water," confirms the bride.

10 of 20

Forever Friend

bride smiling at groom during wedding ceremony vows
Sacia Matthews

The bride and groom exchanged vows they wrote themselves—Dana, months in advance and Shaun, the night before. "Very on brand for us!" quips the bride. The service was thoughtfully written and officiated by the couple's close friend Jimmy, who Dana has known since her first day of college. "Jimmy was such a special person for Shaun and me to have marry us," she says. "We were so honored he said yes."

11 of 20

Kissing Up

couple kissing under tropical ceremony arch on beach
Sacia Matthews

Shaun swept Dana into his arms to seal their ceremony with a kiss as their delighted loved ones—and their pup!—looked on.

12 of 20

Smart Sips

wedding ceremony coconut drinks with oranges and straws
Sacia Matthews

Guests found their names and table numbers engraved on coconuts filled with rum punch, kicking off cocktail hour in style.

13 of 20

Sand Man

wedding ceremony sand art
Sacia Matthews

Shaun was surprised by the custom sand sculpture Dana commissioned Just Sand and Water to create; it was complete with a likeness of Remy. "It was so amazing to see it come to life, and really shocked Shaun," says Dana of the unexpected unveiling.

14 of 20

Clear Coast

elegant tropical table setting for wedding
Sacia Matthews

Guests enjoyed breathtaking views of the beach while they dined beneath a clear tent decorated with string lights. Woven lanterns up above shed additional brightness and coordinated perfectly with natural-colored linens and pale wood farm chairs

15 of 20

Table Talk

elegant tropical wedding long table
Sacia Matthews

The head table was embellished with a lush palm-leaf installation elevated on a stand.

16 of 20

Set in Place

palm leaf designs on wedding plates
Sacia Matthews

Bamboo chargers were topped with creamy napkins and tropical-themed plates. Green goblet wine glasses lent additional color to the tables.

17 of 20

Sweet Sparks

father giving speech at wedding reception with band behind
Sacia Matthews

Dana's father gave a toast during the party; the bride says he was instrumental during the planning process, as well, "though he really just cared about the grouper being served," she laughs.

18 of 20

Full Circle

wedding cake with coconut flakes, palm branch, and white orchid
Sacia Matthews

The bottom tier of the couple's classic white confection, created by Cakes by Carol, was covered in flakes of coconut and adorned with fresh white flowers. A palm leaf added a tropical touch to the dessert.

19 of 20

Dance with Me

wedding first dance in tent
Sacia Matthews

Dana and Shaun swayed beneath a beautiful ring of palm leaves and white flowers that coordinated perfectly with the other florals of the day.

20 of 20


bride and groom walking on rock in the water
Sacia Matthews

Photography and Videography, Sacia Matthews
Venue, Casa Marina
Wedding Coordination and Event Design, Peggy Russell of Destination Wedding Studio
Flowers, Duarte Floral Design
Invitations, We Do Charleston (invitation design and printing); Simply Jessica Marie (crest and watercolors)
Coconut Escort Cards, Coco Reserve
Palm-Leaf Place Cards, Zoo and Roo
Bride's Gown, Stella York via Coastal Knot
Earrings, Olive + Piper
Shoes, Loeffler Randall
Hair Colorist, Dan Sauer
Hair and Makeup, Bella Luxe Hair & Makeup
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Jenny Yoo
Flower Girl's Attire, Hayley Paige
Menswear, The Black Tux
Rings, Reeds Jewelers
Music, Island Steel Drums (pre-ceremony, cocktail hour); Bay Kings Band (reception)
Cake, Cakes by Carol
Rentals, BJB Linens; Eventfully Yours Rentals
Lighting, PSAV for Casa Marina
Sand Sculpture, Just Sand and Water
Custom Wine Bottles and Oyster Shells, Go Coastal Studio

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