we're married: the details


Hold on to your sunhats, folks, this is an insane post of our wedding details dissected (all photos by Jules Bianchi unless otherwise marked)!

St John, USVI (fly to St. Thomas, STT, and take ferry to St. John)
After J proposed last May, we decided to wait until the end of wedding season before focusing on our own plans. Knowing we couldn't get married during the summer in Maine because we are so busy focusing on our clients' weddings, we decided a destination location was necessary for a warm weather climate (a must-have) in our off-season. So late last fall, we settled on the Caribbean island of St. John without having ever gone there (tho we did take a quick 36-hour scouting trip in November to make some of our major planning decisions in person).

We had heard countless glowing recommendations of the island, its vibe, the food, the scenery and its safety from seemingly everyone we met, and loved the sense of adventure planning from afar would provide. A direct flight from Boston for our east coast guests and no passport requirements (this will change next month: starting in June, you *do* need a passport to enter the USVI), made our decision that much easier. Even tho I had dreams of getting married on a random Wednesday, we settled on Saturday, April 25th, honestly, because it was the first week of the off-season and still gave us plenty of time before our busy season picked up again.

Early in our research, we had seen a slideshow from a wedding that Katie Thurmes and Shyla Dalirifar had photographed in St. John just months before. They connected me with their bride who very graciously pointed us in the right direction of where to start (thanks again, Angela!!).

welcome drinks: High Tide Bar & Grill, Cruz Bay
Located directly next to the ferry dock, we chose this outdoor location to greet our guests with hugs, rum punch and a postcard sunset. It was a great way to kick-off the weekend of official festivities. If you go: try the local favorite drink, a Painkiller.

rehearsal dinner: Skinny Legs Bar & Grill, Coral Bay
We rented an open-air taxi and shuttled our guests to the opposite side of the island for an experience. A locals favorite, Skinny Legs is also known for its New England sports allegiance. We felt right at home with Red Sox and Patriots memorabilia on the walls of this outdoor establishment dining on burgers and Painkillers, to the soundtrack of excellent local folk music. It was the perfect non-rehearsal dinner rehearsal dinner.

ceremony: Hawksnest Beach ($25 permit)
St. John has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Trunk Bay, its most famous (and rumored to be ranked one of the world's Top 10), is also the most crowded. Having tourists standing around at our ceremony in bathing suits was something we did not want. So after renting a Jeep and scooting around to all of the beaches to test out how it might feel to tie the knot in November, we chose Hawksnest, one of the more quiet yet most easily accessible, for our I Dos (there was a crazy swell when we were there in November, so we had to guess the potential of what the beach could look like with less rough seas. Even tho the beaches are quite thin, we were happy when we arrived for our own wedding and there was plenty of dry sand).

Tho we were both raised religious (J went to Catholic school; and my church was the basis for most of my childhood activities and many of the friendships I still hold dear today), J and I are currently not active in any church (mostly because weekends for us are like the workweek for most folks). We knew we didn't want to have a religious ceremony (tho in my wildest dreams I would have loved to be married in St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Alas, I am not of Lady Di caliber), but we also wanted to honor the format of a traditional wedding ceremony. I turned to Amanda Tate, my absolute favorite non-denominational minister from Washington, DC, who I met while photographing a wedding and still recall the goosebumps I had from her inspirational service. She shared all (and I mean ALL) of her wedding planning ceremony materials with us, and helped construct a most beautiful ceremony (that yes, gives me goosebumps). The night we pieced it all together is still one of my favorite experiences of our wedding planning. We borrowed our vows from Ginna and Allan, a couple whose wedding we photographed at Migis Lodge in Maine last spring and again, gave us goosebumps. They are spoken in a back-and-forth format, in a beautiful poetic rhythm. I love them.

officiant: Julie Snider, Universal Life Church (free ordination online)
We opted to have a friend marry us instead of the two local options we knew of (a sailboat captain or a very spiritual, barefoot minister), keeping in mind our goal of making our wedding as personal and different as possible. Julie Snider, a colleague and cohort from my days at USA Today in Washington, DC, did the honors. In addition to being a trusted friend and shopaholic, Julie escorted me to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy in 2001 and stayed bedside until my mom could fly down. Now, she's practically family. She was ordained by the Universal Life Church (online! Just a few clicks!), and did a beautiful job delivering our special words.

reception: villa Kalorama ($7000 weekly off-season rental for up to 10 people +$2000 event fee)
St. John, we've learned, is not a cheap place to visit. With just two resorts- Caneel Bay and the Westin- and rates starting at $400/night, renting a villa for a week is the most economical way to go (tho there are many bed & breakfasts too). Virgin Grand Estates and Peter Bay are the two newest, nicest neighborhoods to rent, and therefore also have the heftiest price tag. My second cousin Tyler rents a villa in St. John for a week every year so he was very helpful when we started browsing online (there are several rental agencies to rent from. We chose to go through Caribbean Villas mostly because they are based, of all places, in Scarborough, Maine- literally 5 minutes from our house. Wild). Tho we inquired about at least a dozen places, we actually chose the villa Tyler and his friends were renting for their annual trip this year, just two weeks before we would be down there! We love the clean, modern lines of the villa and the simple, chic decor. Overall, we were completely satisfied with our choice. The mountain top location (and the insane route of switchbacks to get there), has a stunning view of the harbor, the sunset and twinkling lights of St. Thomas in the distance.

coordinator: Kate Parker Weddings (interested? contact Kate for your custom quote)
Over the last few years shooting weddings in New England, I have come to know Kate quite well. I appreciate her artistic eye and sense of control on otherwise often chaotic wedding days. After we got engaged, Kate was inquiring about our plans- our location, our colors (J and I met when he was working at Pictage. Tho we picked orange and blue as our wedding colors for their tropical feel, they are ironically almost the exact hue of our matchmaker's logo), etc., and our eyes both grew wide when she said she would love to design our wedding for us, and be there! She helped coordinate linens, table and chair rentals and gave her opinion on, oh, what seemed like daily emails I sent with ideas or questions.

Just 5 months after giving birth to their beautiful son Zachary and then undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer in January, Kate and her husband Ryan brought their visual magic to our island wedding day. She arrived with boxes and a smile, and set to work on making our villa just a bit more special by rearranging furniture, stuffing our favor boxes, tying ribbons, ironing our linens just perfectly, and so on. On the wedding day, Kate was not only a needed friend, but ensured things went smoothly at the ceremony, coordinated in the kitchen and even helped serve dinner! I don't think brides who have wedding coordinators ever truly now how much work goes into the job because they help make the day flow effortlessly; we don't see all the little fires put out along the way. I can honestly say, I couldn't have done it without her.

flowers: Kate Parker Flowers (interested? contact Kate for your custom quote)
With all of the other things Kate does so well, it's no surprise that she's an incredibly gifted floral designer as well. I'll admit, I have long coveted a Kate Parker ballet-wrapped bouquet. Silly? Maybe. But if you have ever held one of Kate's bouquets, you'd understand. It's truly a work of art, as are her perfectly produced centerpieces. Kate's signature style, or most popular perhaps, includes stunning hydrangea. Given my love of Cape Cod (vacationed there as a child, and now host Roots Workshop for a week each summer in July), I knew I wanted hydrangea in my bouquet even tho it is not found in the tropics but is a staple of the Cape Cod landscape. I also have always loved peonies. So we added those, too. And because of their durability in transit (Kate had the flowers shipped from California to the island), we also chose white orchids for my bouquet and orange for the reception flowers (I really wanted orange tulips, but Kate warned me they may not make it). I knew I wanted simple, classic white bouquet and I loved it. I was looking for something a bit more bold and modern for the reception to mimic the villa, hence the clean line of the repeating vases.

photography: Jules Bianchi (destination wedding coverage starting at 10K)
Clearly, photography was a bit of a weighted decision for us. Who to ask? Who would travel? Who would we have fun with? Whose portfolio do we love? You know, all of the questions every one of the couples who have hired me must have asked. It came down to availability and experience. We wanted someone who would have fun and be able to make a vacation out of the trip, and someone who wanted to expand their work to include a destination portfolio. In short, we wanted to give someone an opportunity. We were given the chance last year when I posted a contest on WeddingBee.com and traveled to both Key West and Jamaica to photograph weddings. That experience, in turn, snowballed and we have traveled to other cool locations such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic and later this year, we'll return to Mexico again and photograph in Costa Rica, too.

Jules was a friend of J's when he lived in California and I have long followed and admired her blog (she also has a blog for her dog Olive, where she posts a new picture every day of her adorable pooch), her spunk and her seemingly endless curiosity. For us, two normal folk who don't like being photographed- and actually usually avoid it at all cost- she was the right fit. We were downright honored Jules, her boyfriend Marty, her twin sister Joy and husband Brett, all wanted to be there for us, with us. And gosh, they certainly stunned us with their beautiful imagery. Many of my brides tell me they don't recognize themselves in the photos I take of them on their wedding day. I can definitely join that club as Jules made models of us (and actually, we have since been asked to model for a wedding photography workshop in Maine. Ha!), and given us the gift of a beautiful account of our day. I'll admit, I had a hard time not wearing the photographer hat and caught myself watching her, checking to see if she was capturing moments as I watched them happen in front of me, pondering her lens choice, position and exposure... I wouldn't have wanted to be my wedding photographer! But I can report that we're certainly happy and so grateful for her time and energy (and blushing that our images are already a featured wedding on her website!).

(point & shoot snapshot from the welcome drinks)

caterer: friends Reg & Kelsie ($200/person)
In addition to choosing our ceremony beach when we visited St. John in November, we also met with three different caterers. Each had things we loved, but also things we weren't so crazy about too. Given the open kitchen of the villa, whomever we hired was going to be interacting and closely watched by our guests. And so, since every other aspect of our wedding was so personal and didn't involve your average hired help, we brought our friends in to do the cooking too!

I met Kelsie and Reg about two years ago when they first started planning their Maine wedding, and upon learning that my aunt was Reg's (his full name is Rejean, but goes by Reg for short) English teacher and my cousin babysat him, I knew there was something special about these two. We became fast friends, and after an amazing home-cooked meal (and I mean, top 5 of my life) at their house one night several months ago, I had the brainstorm about bringing them to the island with us.

In between applying for residency and studying for finals (Reg is a studying pediatric neurology), Reg and Kelsie carefully crafted a tasty healthy island menu. They traveled to St. John with their knife set, favorite spices, and some ingredients from home and connected with a friend who runs a restaurant on the island for our the rest of our food and drink (we had a self-serve bar). Watching them prep for two days in the kitchen was exciting and exhausting all at the same time. And the result? Oh my gosh. Perfection. Truly. I have never had a meal like they created at a wedding, and likely never will again. It was out.of.this.world and matched the tone for our dinner party exactly as we had hoped.

cake: St. John Cakes ($225)
There were many tricky aspects of planning a destination wedding without really knowing the area, or any of the local vendors. If we were to have a wedding in Maine, I could tell you in less than a minute where it would have been and who I would have hired. So, when deciding on things like cake and music, we had to turn to the locals and those who have posted reviews online. I googled "cakes St. John" and the business St. John Cakes popped up. Done. I didn't have very high expectations for our cake, especially since we didn't have the opportunity to taste it in advance, but I think it's a sweet (no pun intended) tradition and wanted to include it. So, without much thought, booked them for a two-tier (8" and 6") square (again, following the lines of the villa) white cake with butter cream vanilla frosting. I specifically asked for the squares to be stacked straight (I didn't want to the top one to be placed at an angle) and no decorative frosting. I got one of the two, so I guess that isn't so bad. And it tasted pretty good for having been a total gamble.

cocktail musician: Carl Freedman, steel pan ($250/hour)
As we were starting to feel the pinch of our wedding budget, music was an area we were ready to forego completely as the villa was outfitted with a pretty sick sound system for an iPod anyway. We knew the elegant dinner party would be reserved for toasts and intimate candlelit conversation, which it was (most everyone stood and shared a story or a toast with the group. It was so sweet). But what about the other elements of the evening- cocktails and after dinner? We settled on a local steel pan player to set the tone of the evening for cocktails, the island tunes greeting our guests as they arrived at the villa from the beach. With a refreshing signature drink in hand, listening to Carl was as much fun as it was watching him, adorable and kind.

band: Inner Visions, booked via Fast Lane International ($2000/ two hours)
The letterpressed invitations were my splurge item, and the reggae band was J's. As photographers we see the advantage of live music at the weddings we attend and encourage our clients to do the same as it provides a completely different entertainment experience for guests. Everyone we asked said Inner Visions was the best band, but given some of their dated samples online, I'll admit I was skeptical. In person, however, holy cow! They were unbelievable! I could have listened to them all night long. They (five men, including a father who goes by Grasshopper and his two sons) played many reggae favorites, and some of their original music too. Inner Visions will be in Maine (!) this July, performing at a reggae festival in Damariscotta. Definitely check them out!

nails/hair/make-up: Grapevine Salon ($30/$85/$60)
I am not the DIY type, especially when it comes to beauty. I was happy to leave it to the professionals for my wedding day. Grapevine is one of two salons in Cruz Bay, I believe, and I chose it based on the recommendation of several brides' reviews online. I opted not to have a hair and make-up trial, which are billed at full cost, relying on hope that they could get it right the first time and wouldn't leave me looking like an 80s prom queen. I knew I'd be just fine when I sat down for my manicure and learned the technician went to my high school! Seriously! Such a small world. We experienced so many similar stories of New Englanders settling on St. John throughout the week.

For my hair, I knew I wanted a look a bit vintage to complement the overall look of my dress and veil, and was happy when Michele understood my vision and executed it quite well (I made sure to watch very closely and spoke up when it wasn't just right. It pains me to see brides who don't love their wedding hair. It's a collaborative process, ladies, so don't be shy!). I used a lot of the same colors for my wedding day make-up as I do every day, just bumped up a notch. I loved the look (and no, I didn't use fake eyelashes).

dress: Celiosa by Cymbeline Paris from Traci Romano Events ($2800)
You all know the dress drama (and if you don't, it's worth the time- and a few gasps- to read this post and learn of my incredible dress angel Traci), and I'm thrilled to share the happy result! I love, love, love my dress!! I never in my wildest dreams imagined I could feel so beautiful on my wedding day. Everything came together perfectly and I was so proud to present myself to J feeling so confident and comfortable. I chuckle when I look at the picture of this dress on the Cymbeline website, as I had the bust tacked nearly all the way to prevent any wedding day wardrobe malfunctions. I really can't imagine having worn it completely open! In addition to the bust, I just needed a basic hem and bustle. We decided to hem it for flat feet, as I was barefoot on the beach, and swapped my initial wedding shoes for sandals to wear the reception.

dress hanger: bamboo, Grand Benedicts ($2.50)
This was definitely the cheapest thing we purchased for the wedding, but worth mentioning. :) When you pick your wedding dress up from the shop, it's typically packed like a body, complete with a tissue or cardboard bust to keep its shape, understandably. Unfortunately, the plastic storage bag, cardboard stuffing, and especially the plastic hanger don't make for the prettiest photos. With this in mind, I logged on to discover a bargain online resource (the shipping was more than the product), and purchased two dress hangers (in case one broke in my suitcase) with notches (since my dress was strapless) to display my dress. They have a variety of woods and stains, but I picked bamboo for 1) luck and 2) for the organic island look.

veil/hairpiece: Colette veil ($440) and Breanna pin ($189) by Sara Gabriel from Traci Romano Events
The personality of my dress came to life when paired with the right veil and hairpiece. As luck would have it, veil designer Sara Gabriel was in town for a trunk show at Traci Romano's shop in Connecticut when I drove down to pick up my dress the week before the wedding. Together, the three of us squealed when we examined our result the mirror and I (yes, I'm going to say it) felt like a bride (bridal is a real feeling, I now swear). I didn't want to wear a veil, especially not on a beach. But the short, chic style of a French veil worked, and worked well. I have yet to photograph a bride with a birdcage-type veil (nudge, nudge) but would encourage you all to at least try it for the sake of feeling sophisticated and downright fashionable. Similarly, I assumed I would wear an orchid in my hair but again, was looking for something different than what I have photographed so often. I loved the idea of incorporating feathers, but wasn't too sure about its island appropriateness. Voila, a feather flower (with a Swarovski rhinestone center- bonus!) was the answer!

undergarments: strapless bra by Le Mystere ($62) and Spanx ($30) from La Femme Intimates, Portsmouth NH
Every woman needs to visit a lingerie boutique to be fitted for undergarments properly. Owner Irene put me right at ease as I jumped in and out of my wedding dress looking for the right items... stick-on, strapless, push-up... half-slip, boy-short or full-legged. Phew. But, it was service I did not receive at the shop my first wedding dress came from, and I so desperately needed. Irene says that boutiques exist to help women, and boy, is she right. I don't understand the snooty shops that hardly greet you when you walk in their store, and I welcomed Irene's good nature and knowledge (Oprah swears by this same bra, too).

jewelry: Stephanie Robb from Puttin' on the Glitz Portsmouth NH (earrings: $55 bracelet: $115)
I've blogged about this little gem of a store in historic Portsmouth before, and knew without question that's where I would go to score my wedding day accessories. Shopowner Assiah, per usual, did a fantastic job pulling pieces that would both complement and accentuate my dress without detracting from it, my veil or my headpiece, and be appropriate for the beach. She suggested beautiful coin pearl, white topaz and crystal earrings, and a coin pearl bracelet. She sent the bracelet to Stephanie and had her add the topaz and crystal to match. The result? Oh, I *love* them. And the best bit? I will certainly wear them again.

shoes: gold Campanellino by Apepazza from Stiletto Shoes, Portsmouth NH/Portland ME ($139)
Within the last year I discovered the delightful Stiletto that carries few, but well chosen, designer shoes. Never having been one to splurge on shoes and instead, always the one to be riffling through the clearance rack at DSW, learning to spend money on the right shoes has actually paid off. I have sensitive feet, and have long relied on moleskin and band-aids to keep anything that isn't a flip flop from hurting. But the managers at Stiletto have helped me find brands that fit, and look good while feeling good too (how novel). I originally purchased a pair of Stuart Weitzman's, my first ever, for my first wedding dress. But when I opted to hem my second dress for bare feet, even the small kitten heel of the first pair looked silly so I needed to find some flats. I breezed into their Portsmouth store while running last minute errands and was bummed not to spot anything at first glance, but was most giddy when I was shown a new arrival that included the trendy gladiator look- with jewels! Very fun, comfortable, and even adorable with jeans. Score.

parasol: 32" orange from Luna Bazaar ($18.50 including shipping)
Similar to the bamboo dress hanger, I admit, I bought the parasol for Jules' benefit. With our wedding colors being orange and blue, I knew the cool blue of the Caribbean water would take care of our that part of our wedding combination. I've long drooled over the sweet parasol shots that grace nearly every wedding magazine and thought it would be a fun accessory for our own wedding images. Indeed it was! And reasonable, too.

clutch: Orangina by BeeGee Bags from Etsy ($99 including shipping)
Inspired by the fantastic clutches of recent Mexico bride Kristin and at the suggestion from so many of those helping me find an orange clutch via a recent plea on Facebook, I purchased a sweet fabric clutch from Etsy for the wedding day. I especially like the brushed nickel modern closure and lucky me, it even has a blue liner! BeeGee Bag designer Brooke Galardi also makes custom clutches, so surely inquire if you, too, are on the hunt for the perfect lip gloss tote (9"x5").

rings: engagement & bride band: Tiffany; groom band: J Dostie Portland, ME
I have long had an obsession with Tiffany thanks to the high taste of my glamorous grandma, June, and dreamed of a Tiffany engagement ring for as long as I can remember. J, ever the sweetheart and because of it now in debt, granted my childhood wish when he proposed with the most stunning Tiffany diamond last May. And now, I have a diamond band to match. We've joked how that was the best move he's made because, as a symbol of our love, it takes but a moment for anything but happiness to cross my mind with just a glance at this ridiculously beautiful hardware on my left hand.

The closest Tiffany store is (unfortunately? fortunately?) two hours from our house. I had my engagement ring cleaned while in Massachusetts island clothes shopping three weeks before the wedding. I decided to not wear the diamond again until the wedding, for fear of it getting dirty, full of sunscreen or worse, lost. So the amazement I felt when J proposed and slipped it on my finger was felt two-fold on our wedding day when I put it back on, and added the matching band.

J chose a simple tungsten band from a local shop, J. Dostie, based on the recommendation of our January groom Ray. There are a lot of tacky and/or boring men's bands, but J was able to find something that suits his personality perfectly. I love catching him twirling it mindlessly while watching tv or the noise it makes when his hand graces the banister going upstairs. I know, I'm a dork. A happy one.

groom suit, shirt, tie, belt: Modern Suit by Banana Republic ($440)
Unlike the insanity of my wedding dress saga, J bought the first suit he tried on. Why is it that easy for men to shop? This happens to us countless times... I'll be in the fitting room with an oversized armload of outfits and *might* like something, and J can look good in everything he tries on. We had a friend who sported this same suit at his wedding and loved the look in person and in photos, so were pretty confident when purchasing it (we waited for a sale and then used a store credit card, and coupon, to help save a bit). J did, however, have to exchange the pants for a smaller size the week before the wedding after losing weight from our fitness program. The suit traveled well, wasn't too hot in the sun, and looked sharp. (Update: Banana has either changed the name of the suit, or they no longer carry this particular style).

And now for some miscellaneous, but fun, additional details...

linens: We purchased blue dupioni silk from Butterfly Fabrics in NYC via Kate Parker Weddings (white linens rented from Be Our Guest) and cut into four wide table runners. J's mom, an avid sewer, finished the edges for a sleek look for our tables. Thanks, Barbara!

rentals: Given the additional event fee charged by the villa rental company, having our wedding dinner at a local restaurant would have indeed been much cheaper. Steadfast to our vision, J and I decided to eat the extra costs to ensure the idea we held for our wedding day translated to reality. To do so, we also needed to rent tables, chairs, china, flatware and stemware. By default, we went with East-West Catering's rental supply as they were the only caterer on the island with square plates (again, to follow the lines of the villa) and non-tacky white garden chairs (we almost splurged for chivari chairs, but couldn't stomach $500 for 24 chairs to sit on for two hours. Instead, Kate used extra fabric and sewed sweet chair backs to help the chairs better blend).

signature drink dispenser: Not only did none of the caterers on the island have a cake stand, but none had a drink dispenser to rent either. I spotted this one in the Pottery Barn catalog and decided to purchase it and have it shipped to a mail center on the island (this was a godsend, actually, as we had the flowers mailed to this address for pickup as well. We weren't allowed to have anything shipped directly to our villa). I loved the label and twine in the catalog, and recreated the look to reflect our wedding style. We called it a Sunset Swizzle, a cocktail we had at the amazing restaurant Asolare when we visited in November. It includes mango run, Sprite and a splash of Rose's lime juice. Yum!

coasters/stickers: I had the coasters and stickers for the favor boxes printed from My Own Labels. Quick. Easy. Affordable.

Asian spoons: Inspired by, of all places, the television show Top Chef, we wanted to incorporate an amuse bouche (small bite to start the meal). I purchased these Asian spoons online from American Bridal ($31.80 for 24 including shipping. Of note: they took about three weeks to ship).

cake server: Again, in love with the sweetness of the wedding cake tradition, I equally adore the idea of passing down a wedding cake serving set. I purchased ours from Tiffany, but opted not to have it engraved (we didn't have the inside of our wedding bands engraved either).

favors: If you read my blog, you've heard me rave about the talent of New York pastry chef Zac Young. The brother of Spruce Point Inn bride Alisa, Zac treated us to delectable peanut butter & jelly chocolates when we visited him at Butter in NYC two years ago. We were so lucky that he agreed to make and ship his yummy goodness to the island for us (packed in a mini cooler with a bag of frozen peas. Classic Zac) to end our wedding day spread.

We also shared a local find with our guests, mini size Blind Betty's hot sauce made on the island.

invitations: I am still so happy we splurged on our gorgeous Onalisse letterpressed invitations by Bella Figura. I have gotten over that the color wasn't exactly as I had hoped, and have since had local framers Casco Bay Frames & Gallery frame our invitation set (for the wedding and our family party in Maine later this month), as well as an enlargement of Laura Hooper's custom map that we included in the wedding invitations. I love seeing them on our walls everyday, and feel less guilty than tucking the paper into a drawer for memory's sake.

program, menu, place cards: My designer Christina modified the Onalisse design for a version we could reproduce for a ceremony program, menu cards and place cards. I was going to print these myself, but she urged me to outsource my last tasks leading up to the wedding, and I turned to local stationery shop Papier Gourmet to finish the task.

flip flops: I see couples provide flip flops for their guests to wear while dancing at weddings quite often. But we actually had a need for flip flops because of our beach location! We purchased orange and aqua flips through Kate Parker Weddings, and surprised guests with a little treat for their feet.

registry: Even tho we had a destination wedding and the gift from our guests was their presence, we did opt to add a few items at Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn and Tiffany and have been bowled over by the generosity of family and friends. Not only is it a great way to give some direction to those who follow tradition and want to shower us with some tangible love, but most stores offer an incentive program with a discount to purchase the rest of the items after your wedding (hence why we have a dresser and patio table on our Pottery Barn registry. We don't actually think someone will buy that for us, but are hoping the discount will help if we make those bigger purchases).

mini-moon: We did our wedding in reverse. Because of the Sunday-Sunday villa rental rules and because we had a wedding scheduled to photograph in Mexico not long after our own nuptials (which was sadly postponed due to swine flu!), we embraced the idea of being different and had a backwards week. We all vacationed for a week together, and had a wedding at the end. This left us with just two nights to ourselves for a "mini-moon" before heading back home. Caneel Bay Resort is most definitely the nicest place on the island, and offers 7 gorgeous beaches, privacy and luxury. We splurged on the insane per night rate (and were surprised by a complimentary upgrade to a waterfront villa!), and enjoyed every minute of our spendy surroundings. Originally Laurance Rockefeller's vacation lodge and now part of national park, the landscape has been preserved in the same perfectly beautiful lush, pristine condition it was when the resort opened 50 years ago (or so we were told many times from repeat guests). Should we ever win the lottery, or maybe even if we don't, we will definitely return.

island attire: I had *such* fun shopping for clothes and accessories for this trip. I rediscovered my love for Anthropologie and why I don't shop there more regularly ($$), and the perks of using a personal shopper at Nordstrom. I treated myself to a Sea Bag for the beach which worked out perfectly, and bought bikinis en masse from Victoria's Secret online returning those that I did not love. I even picked up a few things I didn't think I needed, but now can't live without including adorable Kate Spade shades (love the green case) and Tory Burch flip flops. It was the one time in my life I spoiled myself- from clothes to beauty- and felt like a million bucks because of it.

Inspired to plan your wedding on St. John? Please don't hesitate to contact me for anything! I'd love to help recreate our celebration!

Other posts in this series:
We're married: the pictures
We're married: the bride's perspective (coming soon!)


  1. OH reading your post makes me MISS St. John so much! J & Emilie, I was thrilled to shoot your wedding (looove the details you got of the jewelry & clutch, Em!) and you're right, I am so happy to have such a gorgeous couple to now showcase (did you see the first page of my livebooks site?)


  2. Very helpful and insightful resource for anyone planning a destination wedding on the island. Super detailed - this must have taken forever to write!

  3. The smiles on your faces really show how much everyone enjoyed it all! Love all the details!

  4. GREAT Post! Loved your dress, loved our theme and how you pulled it off. You did an amazing job on everything! Love being married to you sweets!

  5. What an awesome post - very organized to have kept track of everything....I'm impressed :) beautiful beautiful beautiful!

  6. Hi Emilie,

    I stumbled upon your blog looking for info on st.john weddings. I just want to thank you for taking the time to share all of the details from your experience. It has been an enormous help for me. Your wedding turned out beautifully!


  7. Oh my, I came across your post looking for grooms suit ideas for my blog. I loved every detail of it and it was nice to put a face to the name , since we have exchanged emails in the past. Beautiful just beautiful!!!!!

  8. I'm getting married in St. John this April and I want to thank you for all your helpful links and ideas! Can you have any contact information for Carl Freeman, the steel pan drummer? I cannot find any contact information for him anywhere online!

  9. Hi Cindy,

    We learned about Carl through our band, Inner Visions. They took care of booking him.

    We photographed another steel pan musician Lem Callwood at a wedding there last year who was also very good if you can't track down Carl.

    Good luck and have a GREAT time! We wish we could go back and do it all over again!

  10. Hello! Thanks so much for this blog. I'm getting married in St. John in May & this is so helpful. I actually booked Inner Visions after reading this! I'd love to hear more about them. I asked them to send me a song list, but they haven't yet. Can you tell me some of the cover songs they played? Also, what did they play for your first dance? Thanks so much!


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