Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Planning The Best Private Beach Wedding EVER

Tim and I just got married about 5 months ago. Our wedding date was May 1, 2011 and we were married in Key West Florida.

Key West is a tiny island about 125 miles south of Florida. The island is just 6 square miles, but that little island is packed full!

Our wedding was SO MUCH FUN! I enjoyed planning it out almost as much as I enjoyed the actual wedding day........and our honeymoon was absolutely over the top. We left the day after our wedding for a 10 day cruise! More on our cruise-honeymoon in another post (or posts), but first I want to relive the excitement of planning my awesome beach wedding:

Just for a little backstory, Tim and I were high school Sweethearts back in 1983. We dated for several months during my senior year (Tim was a junior, he's 7 months younger than me), but after we dated we lost touch for over 25 years.

High school yearbook pictures of Tim and I from 1983:

During the 25 years we were apart, Tim and I both married other people, we both had kids (he had 1, I had 4), and we were both divorced.

We remet in 2008 and it just seemed it was the right time for us to be together. Tim took me on a date, and we have been inseparable since then. I realized very quickly that Tim is the perfect man for me. He is very patient, kind, loving, funny, smart, extremely hard-working, adorable.......you know, the guy every girl wants!

I made it my mission to get Tim to marry me, I wasn't planning on letting him get away again!

We began dating (our 2nd time around) in late July of 2008, and it took him until February of 2010 to actually propose to me. I couldn't say YES fast enough!

We immediately began to talk about wedding dates, venues, reception ideas, but ultimately we decided we wanted to go away by ourselves to get married. We decided since we had both been married before, we didn't want to put our parents and families through another wedding. We wanted to go off somewhere and quietly get married, and then have a really nice honeymoon. Neither of us had ever had a honeymoon.

So, we began kicking ideas around. We talked about getting married in places like Las Vegas, Hawaii, or at Disney World (I'm a Disney FREAK, as you can see from this post.) We picked Vegas first, and I had already started working on some ideas for a very cute Vegas wedding when we changed our minds.

Actually, I think we changed our minds several times.

We decided a beach wedding in Key West sounded very romantic and awesome. Neither of us had ever been to Key West before and we got more excited about a beach wedding as we talked about it and began to look into it.

From the time Tim proposed to me until our actual wedding date was 9 months. I know that sounds like a long time, but we had A LOT to do.

We had 9 months to plan out our wedding and honeymoon, book everything, and save save save! We had decided we did not want to be in wedding debt (or honeymoon debt) and Timmy worked hard to make sure everything was paid off before we left for the wedding.

We had so much to do! I had to pick a wedding dress, including jewelry, flowers and Tim's wedding clothes.
We had to pick out rings, I had an engagement ring, but we both still needed wedding rings. We also had to apply to Miami-Dade County for a marriage license. We had plane tickets to book, plus hotel and rental car.

Then there was our huge honeymoon to book, plan out and pay for. So much to do and so little time!

First, I needed a wedding planning book. I needed somewhere to gather my growing pile of notes and wedding ideas.

We went to the Hallmark store, and they had several wedding planning books to choose from. Unfortunately, none of their books met my needs. Tim and I were having an unconventional wedding with no guests, no reception, no bridesmaids or groomsmen. All of the wedding books were geared toward a "normal" wedding, and I didn't want to pay $30.00 for a wedding planning book when I couldn't use 95% of it.

So we headed off to the office supply store where I found the supplies to make my own wedding planning book.
I picked a pink soft-sided notebook, several folders to go inside, and some stickers to decorate it.
It worked great for my unconventional wedding planning.

I looked around on the internet to find out exactly how beach weddings work. It seems these are done all the time, and we just needed an officiant. There are many companies in Key West that do beach weddings. We wanted something VERY SIMPLE.

I found this website which made a beach wedding seem very romantic, but still simple and affordable. We wanted simple and romantic! And we love affordable!

I could have just emailed them, but I wanted to talk to a person. I called and spoke to Colleen, she was very sweet and professional. She answered all of my questions and I felt very comfortable talking to her. I found out that they are a husband/wife team. Colleen is the officient, and Gary is a professional photographer.

Looking at the sample pics on their website, it seemed like Gary was a good photographer.

Tim and I decided to book a Sunday May 1st beach wedding and we booked the photograph package too.
Our total wedding package was $750.00, which included the wedding bouquet and photography. A boutineer for the groom was also included, but we opted not to have Tim wear a bout. The wedding package did not include the Florida marriage license.

For my dress, I wasn't sure what kind of dress I wanted to wear, but I knew it would NOT be white. I had already had a wedding where I wore a gorgeous wedding dress with a 6 foot train. Been there/ done that. I wanted to do something a little differently this time, and I finally decided I would wear a simple sundress.

I picked this dress, and I loved it. I especially loved the price, it was less than $50.00

My dress was a size or two too big for me, so we went to visit Tim's Granny so she could pin it up for me. I did the alterations myself after she pinned it up.

Doesn't Tim have the CUTEST Granny?

Since we were having a "simple" beach wedding, I wanted Tim to be very comfortable on his wedding day. I was thinking he could wear jeans and a white linen buttondown shirt, and sandals.

This was the look I was going for with Tim's clothes, except Tim would be wearing jeans. Just casual beachy wear:

web image

We picked out our wedding rings.

This is Tim's ring:
It's gorgeous! It's white gold and has alternating square and rectangle diamonds. I love his ring as much as I love mine!

My ring:
First, ignore my wrinkly fingers! As for my ring, This is the picture the photographer took. The large diamond in the center is my engagement ring and it has a white gold band. The rest of the ring is gold and has diamonds in the shape of hearts on each side of the big diamond. I absolutely LOVE my ring!

This is my attempt at photographing my ring:

As usual, my pic is yellow, and looks terrible. Someday soon I will take a photography class...

See the hearts made of cut diamonds on either side of the center diamond? I LOVE THIS RING!!!

For my flowers, I went with this beautiful orange bouquet. The bouquet came with the wedding package. There were many beautiful bouquets to choose from on their website. I loved this one, it had that Caribbean feeling to me:

For my jewelry, I made my own necklace and earrings:

I also wore an ankle bracelet that I made. It had a bead to represent each of our kids:

Of course I did the "old, new,borrowed and blue" thing for good luck. For my "old" I wore a ring that my oldest son gave me about 7 or 8 years ago It's one of my favorite rings and has amethyst and jade stones:

My "new" was my wedding dress. I love the stiching throughout the dress, and the buttons that go all the way down the front:

My "borrowed" item was actually 2 hankies. I borrowed one hankie from my mom (the mom who adopted me and raised me), and the other hankie came from my cousin from my McMillin family (my birthfamily).

I liked that I had both of my families represented with my borrowed hankies.

And my "blue" was a little charm I made from a beautiful blue Lapis bead shaped like a heart. This charm was attached to my ankle bracelet.

See the gold flecks in the lapis? Gorgeous!

The only items I would actually be holding in my hands during the wedding ceremony would be my bouquet and the 2 hankies. I figured I could wrap the hankies around the stems of the bouquet.

I didn't have to worry about shoes, I got married barefoot! I did have a pair of simple rope sandals that I wore before and after the ceremony.

I took these out to the porch to photograph so the picture wouldn't be yellow. They are actually beige with a bit of gold trim.

My wedding dress and accessories came together perfectly, and I was very happy with my overall look.

 I had originally planned to do my hair and make-up myself, but as we got closer to the wedding date, I panicked and called in a professional. I paid $200.00 (plus Timmy gave her a $40.00 tip) to have a girl come into our hotel room at 8:00AM on a Sunday morning to do both my hair and make-up. I felt lucky I found someone willing to come to my hotel room that early on a Sunday. I really didn't want to deal with getting out to find a beauty salon before our 10:00Am wedding time. I was so glad Lorri was willing to make a "house call" to our hotel.

We filled out the required marriage license forms and sent our money off to Florida. It cost about $230.00 to apply for our Florida marriage license. We waited about 3 weeks and they sent our application back to us so we could have it notarized.

My best friend is a notary, so she came over and helped us get our paperwork filled out and notarized. (It was perfectly legal to have my best friend notarize our wedding papers. We aren't related!)

Here I am, signing my wedding application so I could marry my Timmy! How exciting!

And here is my best friend adding her notary stamp to our application:

We mailed the notarized papers back to Florida. From there our marriage license was processed and sent directly to our wedding Officiant from Miami-Dade County in time for the wedding.

We also got our passports back in time, we needed the passports for the honeymoon cruise. Our passports cost about $280.00 for both Tim and I.

Everything was falling into place.

We booked our flights with Delta (about $700.00 for round trip plus baggage fees), and we booked a hotel room at the DoubleTree Grand Key Resort in Key West. (Approx $180.00 for one night)

The nicer hotels in Key West were very expensive. I really wanted a room at the Sheraton Suites, but the room was $320.00 for ONE NIGHT!!

I thought $180.00 was also expensive for one night, but it was the best I could find without going to a Motel 6. I wanted something a little nicer than that for our wedding.

The Doubletree turned out to be VERY nice! We had no complaints.

We bought luggage, new clothes, swimsuits, sunscreen and everything we needed for our wedding and our 10 day Caribbean cruise. It was a lot of fun shopping and preparing for our wedding and honeymoon. I sure did make the most of it. I loved being "engaged" to my Timmy and planning our wedding and honeymoon!

I had to throw in at least one DIY project before the wedding. I made these cute drink coasters for our livingroom.

They say "Tim & Andrea" "Key West 5-1-2011"
Cute, cute cute!

I conspired with my mom to get Timmy a grooms gift. Tim loves watches and clocks, especially the wind-up ones. He picked out this mechanical Bulova watch, and my mom used her Macy's discounts to get it for me at about 60% off. If it wasn't for my mom's discounts, Tim wouldn't have gotten this watch, it was originally priced at $500.00, and way out of my budget. Thanks to my mom, this watch was only $220.00

Timmy loves it, he wears it all the time. Although I won't let him wear it to work, he has destroyed several watches already at work. He works in heavy construction, not really the place for jewelry.

In return for the watch, Tim bought me this awesome camera:

It's a point-n-shoot, and I sure do wish I could take better pictures! 80% of my pictures are either blurry or yellow. Most of Tim's pictures come out fine. sigh.

So, it seemed we were moving along just fine with the wedding plans. Then in February, about 90 days before our wedding, we had a bit of nice weather one weekend and Tim and his friend wanted to go for a motorcycle ride.
Later that day, my fiance looked like this:

THREE broken bones and 2 casts later, I brought my Timmy home from the emergency room and I was thankful he wasn't hurt any worse than he was. He was really lucky!

In the 12 weeks we had until the wedding, Tim slowly healed up. He graduated from crutches to a cane, and by the wedding he was wearing his shoes and barely limping. (He's fine now, although he says his bones in his foot hurt when the weather changes).

As Timmy healed, we continued on with the wedding plans. We were lucky we pretty much had everything in order, and Timmy had paid off almost all of the wedding expenses BEFORE his accident. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, we paid off the rest of the wedding expenses and saved for spending money for our honeymoon.

A week before the wedding, my best friend and I had a makeover party at my house. We invited our Mary Kay lady (Heidi) over to give us makeovers and sell us products.

I was in need of face cleansers and moisturizer, and I also wanted Heidi to give me some tips on how to do my own make-up for the cruise. I don't normally wear make-up and there were 2 formal nights during the cruise. I thought it would be fun to play dress-up on the formal nights, complete with make-up and a long dress.

This is Heidi, our MK lady, working her magic on my best friend Christina:

The day before Tim and I were to leave for Florida, Christina and I went to get our nails done together. She was acting as my maid of honor but she wasn't going to be going to Florida with us for the wedding. It was so nice to have her by my side for all of the planning though.

We both got french manicures. My hand is on the right (the wrinkly one!):

And we both picked purple for our toes, although we picked slightly different shades.
My foot is on the left:

At that point, Tim and I were ready for our BIG DAY!!!

Stay tuned to see how it all came together PERFECTLY, I'll post pics from our wedding day in tomorrows post.

***UPDATE - Wedding Post here

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