There’s something really special about an intimate beach wedding surrounded by your closest family and friends. Alyson and Joe gathered their guests together for a coastal wedding getaway. We are loving the comfortable, laid-back vibe of their seaside celebration, the barefoot bride and groom, and especially those golden pineapples!
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? Right before we got engaged, we made a cross-country move from Brooklyn, New York, to Dallas, Texas. When we started planning our wedding, we knew that no matter where we held it, most of our friends and family would have to travel. So we decided to combine the wedding with a vacation that everyone could enjoy. We chose Orange Beach, Alabama, because it is near my hometown, and we found a beautiful rental property right on the beach with enough bedrooms to accommodate everyone in both of our immediate families. In addition to having the ceremony and reception there, we stayed in the home for five days and everyone got to know each other. Having a big house also works great because it becomes a centralized location for anyone coming from out of town to meet up and hang out.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I loved every moment of my wedding, but if I had to do it again, I would probably do it at an all-in-one location like a winery. Juggling a ton of vendors, especially when you don’t live in the area, is a challenge. But after you decide on your first vendor, be it your location or caterer, everything else tends to fall into place. Ask that vendor who they recommend and like to work with; they won’t steer you wrong.
“If I had to give other brides just one piece of advice, I would say: Just know that no matter how many things go wrong, at the end of the day, everything will come together. People say their wedding was the best day of their life not because all of the details were perfect, but because they were surrounded in joy by all of the people they love.”
Your ceremony in three words. Relaxed, funny, sweet
What was your ceremony music? You can’t really play music on the beach because it doesn’t carry. Instead, everyone sang “Here Comes the Bride” as my dad and I walked down the aisle. The people staying in the hi-rise condo building next door were also cheering the whole time. It was so fun.
Who officiated your ceremony? We chose Rev. Joe Bargmann, one of our dearest friends from New York. He is an ordained minister and had officiated another wedding ceremony of former co-workers of ours. We knew he would be hilarious and everyone would have a blast.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? I wore rings from both of my grandmothers on my right hand. They were the most important influences on my life and I wanted to feel like they were close to me for the whole ceremony. I also carried a blue handkerchief in my pocket—yes, my dress had pockets—that belonged to my step-grandmother. My step-mother carried it when she married my father, many years ago.
What were your vows like? My husband and I are both writers, but, ironically enough, we did not write our own vows. Our reverend, and friend, gave a talk about how my husband and I met and why we’re perfect for each other. He actually tried to pronounce us husband and wife before we said our vows! I stopped him and reminded him that we needed to do that, which was a funny moment.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? That everyone was sitting so close and we could look out and see everyone’s faces from the altar. It’s a surreal experience standing up there. It’s wonderful to be able to look out and be reminded of all the wonderful friends and family you have to support you.
“We got to hug all of our friends and family, eat, drink and just be thankful for everyone and everything around us.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Retro Miami beach. My sister and friends took a lot of inspiration from Pinterest, choosing tropical flowers for the bouquet, golden pineapple vases and classy black-and-white table runners.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? In the days leading up to the wedding, I handed over the decorating to my sister and friends, who completely nailed it. They got everything from thrift stores and local craft stores and it all came together beautifully.
Did you have a signature cocktail? I write about cocktails for a living and at first wanted to have one. But honestly, people at weddings just want to drink simple mixed drinks or beer. Another tip: we drove to Sam’s Club in Pensacola, Florida, to get our alcohol and mixers because alcohol isn’t taxed in Florida.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? I ordered our cake from momofuku Milk Bar in Brooklyn, New York. It’s my favorite bakery from the city and I wanted something to remind us of New York—aside from our awesome friends who made the trip—at the wedding. Picking the cake was one of the first wedding decisions we made. Milk Bar has a dozen different wedding cake flavors, so I ordered two sample boxes and shared one with Joe and sent the other to my dad and stepmom in Florida to taste test simultaneously. It was a fun way to include them in the decision-making process, even if we ultimately chose the flavors we liked best. The flavors we decided on were birthday cake for the top tier, mint chocolate chip for the middle tier and strawberry lemon for the bottom tier. Mint chocolate chip was by far the most popular. The cake arrived Friday night and it was smashed. Disaster, right? No, they were generous enough to overnight us another cake, which was perfect for the ceremony.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Don’t buy top-shelf alcohol because no one will care. And eat something at the reception! All of that champagne will go straight to your stressed-out head.
What was your first dance song? Joe and I danced to “You Save Me” by Kenny Chesney. We had been searching for a song for a while and I heard this one randomly on the radio one day and just broke down. Joe and my mom had the same reaction when I played it for them. My dad picked out the song for our father/daughter dance, “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts. It came on his iPod while he was on a flight a few weeks before the wedding. Hearing that song was actually his emotional tipping point because he cried for weeks.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. My dad gave a speech before our champagne (who am I kidding? It was prosecco) toast. It brought the house down. He cried the whole time and at the end he gave Joe an envelope containing the last piece of “me”: My student loan bill. It was not actually my student loan bill, but a hand-written letter to Joe from him.