ashley and erik-860

Afternoon Peeps,

Hope you all had a lovely weekend.

We have a gorgeous beach wedding to share with you today, sent all the way from the USA.

Ashley and Erik did not want to conform to the cookie-cutter wedding industry so, after initially being pressured into planning a big day full of everything you would expect to find at a traditional wedding, they cancelled all their plans and instead organised a family reunion where they would surprise their guest with a secret wedding. Nobody knew apart from them so there were no guest preconceptions, no conflicting advice from parents and above all no stress. Sounds good huh?

Here is their story……….

To be very honest, I hate weddings…

I find them, for the most part, to be generic, cookie-cutter events where the bride and groom muddle through a series of pre-fab events while guests watch your perfectly choreographed  evening searching for the slightest hiccup to talk about on the drive home.  So when I got engaged last year, you can imagine my horror when my now husband announced that he has always dreamed about having a big wedding and would be disappointed if we opted for my dream of an ‘adventure travel elopement.’

After many conversations (arguments), a lot of red wine and a few manipulative conversations with my family – I agreed to opt for the more traditional wedding (I mean, I was really the ONLY one with this dream of a Peruvian mountain wedding with my fiancée and miniature dachshund by my side.   I was outnumbered).

We crafted a project plan for the “please your parents” country club wedding set for November 22nd.  Set at a family military club in Washington D.C – we spent 6 months trying to do what my retired military father considered to be a ‘proper wedding.’  Complete with embossed invitations, a dress that didn’t look “too slutty,” and a guest list that included what felt like half of the nuclear navy.   I was allotted a whopping 8 seats for friends.

Then, it hit us that we literally HATED everything about it:  The date (almost winter?!  What were we thinking?! We were beach babies growing up), the colors (navy, red, and white streamed the venue from top to bottom – our normal color pallet consisted of pale blue, khaki and maybe some earthy greens), the oh-so formal process of going to a stationary store…  I even hated the idea of shopping for a wedding dress (I don’t shop.  I complete missions)

Around that same time, we got a call that my fiancées uncle was gravely ill with lung cancer.  It was the third time it had come back, and he was now in what they call the ‘goal setting process,’ meaning that his doctor recommended that he set timeline goals to keep his spirits up.  So he set a goal of attending the family reunion in June, then our wedding in November.  By all accounts, we heard that attending our wedding in November would have been a stretch for our Uncle Dave.   So in a brief, 10 minute conversation, we scrapped the whole (miserable) plan.   We cancelled the venue, gave my parents their money back, pushed the date up six months and planned a surprise wedding and my fiancées family reunion.

We rented a house one block from the other beach reunion houses, invited our wedding party of six down to stay with us, rented 50 chairs, invited my parents and a few close family members and sketched out what turned out to be the best wedding I’ve ever been to (ok, maybe I’m bit biased – but I loved every second of it).

We had invitations made and put them on the beds of each family member, so when they arrived for the reunion, they were invited to the wedding the next night.  We held the ceremony at 6pm, so after that, we all headed to the main house for dinner (Sunday was BBQ night!) and our cousin hired an acoustic guitar player to play out on the back deck for a few hours.  We ordered flowers to be delivered from Costco (yes, they have beautiful wedding flowers!), picked out bridesmaids maxi-dresses and men’s white shirts from Zappos & Steinmart.  I bought a dress from Anthropologies’ wedding line (BHLDN) for $260 and we had the ‘after party’ back at our own beach house.  It was perfect.

All in all, we (BOTH) wouldn’t have changed a thing.  And coming from a place that had two VERY different ideas of a what a wedding should be, that is saying a lot.  We saved about $35,000 (our wedding, all included, cost us around $5,000), we hosted our event at the beach we grew up at, we got the date/colors and simplicity that we both craved – but the most important piece, was that we got to share the day with the people who meant the most to us – Including our Uncle Dave, who passed away two weeks later.

Where is my present?

It was Thanksgiving Day and also my birthday when Erik proposed.  We were at my parents’ house for the holiday.  I woke up with a slight headache from red wine the night before so I crawled back into bed and jokingly asked “Where is my present?”  Erik got up to retrieve my ‘gift’ and I thought he was looking for something under the bed.  Low and behold he was on one knee and asking me to marry him.  At 6 am.  It was so ‘us’ it was perfect.


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I wanted to do what we loved….

I wanted to enjoy the day instead of stressing over whether everything would go off without a hitch.  I didn’t want to stop and chat with every single person for 15 minutes and I didn’t want to have an overly rehearsed event – I wanted to do what we loved.

Our vision was to create a wedding that was relaxed, casual & fun.  A whimsical and minimalist day that was just for us.

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Simple Decor…..

We had 50 simple white folding chairs, 10 lanterns lining the aisle and 2 larger lanterns at the front in place of an arch.  

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Favourite Moment…

My favourite moment was Erik picking me up like a figure skater after we walked up to the house after the ceremony.  It was like we had just won a gold medal!

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Any Advice?

STOP, STOP STOP pondering over whether you should (or should not) do certain things.  If you don’t want flowers – don’t get them.  If you can’t find a wedding ring that you love – skip it.  If you don’t want to do a garter toss – skip it.  There are no requirements, and most people will not notice if you don’t include it.  This day is about you and your soon to be husband – do not let society or familial expectations dominate your thoughts.  

The Line Up

Photographer: Studio Mynt, Charleston, SC 
Venue: Corolla, NC at the Family Beach House
Bride’s Hair & Makeup: Eden Day Spa
Brides Dress: BHLDN
Brides Shoes: Nine West Gladiator Sandal
Brides Jewellery: Earrings Pave Round Studs
Bridesmaids Dresses: Gabriella Rocha Hally Dress
Flowers: White Mini-Calla Lillie Collection 
Stationery: Minted 


Wedding beauty on its way!

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