Alyson, 25, and Thomas, 29, will tell you that having a destination wedding made their planning process easier, not harder. "We found our dream location, then made a few trips to iron out the details," the bride says. "And of course we got so lucky with a fantastic wedding coordinator!" The couple, who met at the University of Florida, wanted nothing more than to treat their loved ones to a vacation celebration, so Thomas and Alyson invited everyone to Bald Head Island for the weekend of April 27th, 2013. "We kept it classic, nautical, and comfortable. Every detail was representative of who we are as a couple," says Alyson.
Planning her wedding dress was an adventure in and of itself. "I wanted a gown with a full skirt, a little bit of bling, and a classic, timeless style," says Alyson. On a whim, she took her mom and her best friend to a local bridal salon to set up an appointment, where there happened to be a cancellation. Just as Alyson was about to turn it down, she quickly changed her mind. The reason? She found out that none other than Randy Fenoli was there on a book tour, and was helping brides with their shopping! "How could I say no?" Alyson asks.
She spotted an A-line ball gown with a sweetheart neck, box pleats, and pockets by Paloma Blanca, but she wasn't immediately convinced it was the one. "I loved everything except the very bling-y brooch in the center," Alyson says. "I put on a veil and a pair of earrings, but still wasn't feeling it. Then, Randy came over and covered the brooch, subduing the shine just enough. I was sold!"
Alyson paired her dress with navy blue pumps decorated with white lace and pearls. "They're so beautiful, and fit the theme perfectly," says the bride. She carried a coordinating blue-and-white bouquet of forget-me-nots, blue delphinium, corn flower, white ranunculus, and white sweet peas, wrapped with an organza ribbon.
Thomas paired his khaki pants and navy sports jacket with a playful navy blue-and-orange gingham bow tie—the colors of the Florida Gators.
Ceremony programs doubled as fans to keep guests cool. Since they didn't have flower girls, Alyson and Thomas invited their guests to play the role by tossing petals onto the aisle as she and her father walked down the altar.
The ceremony took place in a pavilion overlooking the beach, while metal lanterns hung from the rafters.
Branches and tiny blossoms were arranged in buckets on either side of the altar.
"I loved having uninterrupted views of the beach at the ceremony," says Alyson. "It provided the perfect combination of energy and relaxation." Instead of lighting a unity candle, the couple tied a Fisherman's Knot. "We were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Thomas 'Maddogg' Medeiros, which has been Thomas's nickname since high school!"
The reception was all white, with pops of blue from the natural centerpieces. "The sea glass bottles and soft flowers were elegant and nautical," says Alyson. Metal lanterns filled with candles topped alternating tables.
Thomas and Alyson shared their first dance to Brad Paisley's "She's Everything." Their friend, Sam Brewer, provided the entertainment for the evening and kept the crowd dancing all night.
The nautical-themed cake was iced in white and navy blue. Each layer featured a different flavor: Red velvet with cream cheese icing, key lime cake, and chocolate cake with chocolate mousse. Two tiny Adirondack chairs were used as the toppers.
Alyson and Thomas loved having a destination wedding. "We were surrounded by everyone who supported us, in such a beautiful and calming place," she says. The couple planned a drive from San Diego to Napa Valley for their honeymoon.
The bride shares one piece of advice for fellow engaged ladies planning destination nuptials. "Things may not go as planned," says Alyson, "But don't forget that saying 'I Do' is what really matters."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: The Shoals Club at Bald Head Island || Wedding Coordinator: Tabatha Walsh of Bald Head Island || Bride's Wedding Dress: Paloma Blanca, from Hannelore's of Olde Town || Shoes: A Bidda Bling || Bracelet and Earrings: Thomas Knoell Designs || Hair & Makeup: Bald Head Island's Island Retreat Spa and Salon || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Weddington Way || Groom & Groomsmen's Suits: Men's Wearhouse || Wedding Bands: Zales || Florist: Kim Fisher Designs || Invitations: Papyrus || Programs: MagnetStreet || Music: Sam Brewer || Catering: Bald Head Island || Cake: Carolina Cakes and Confections || Photography: Anne Liles Photography