4 Things Every Bride Can Learn from This Intimate Destination Wedding

Real Weddings
Bride and Groom Destination Wedding

Photo: Sage Hammond of Crown Images

"There's no better place to get married than the Caribbean," says Jessica Feirtag, 30. For her June 27, 2013, wedding to Daniel Tyler, 31, Jessica planned a small ceremony and reception (just 28 guests!) at the Pranja Estate in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

An island wedding felt just right for the couple, who got engaged during a weekend getaway to Puerto Rico that Dan booked as a surprise. "We took a walk the first night before dinner, and he proposed on bended knee on a beautiful walkway by the water," Jessica recalls. The bride had vacationed in St. John several times over the years with her family — and twice with Daniel — and they both felt the "tiny, peaceful, uncomplicated island" was the ideal spot for their wedding.

For her tropical I do's, Jessica describes her vision in two words: simple elegance. "I wanted something that looked formal but had a relaxed quality to it," she says. Sage Hammond of Crown Images captured the couple, framed by the island's natural beauty, in her signature photojournalist style.

Conch Shell With Flowers

Photo: Sage Hammond of Crown Images

Work with your space (and your forecast)
When it came to décor, Jessica let the island do most of the work. "In such a magnificent location, you don't need to add much," she says. The couple had hoped to to exchange vows on the beach, but the weather refused to cooperate, so they moved the ceremony to the villa's covered patio, where planner Mary Bartolucci of Island Style Weddings added beach-inspired accents, such flower-filled conch shells lining the aisle.

Long Coral Bridesmaids Dresses

Photo: Sage Hammond of Crown Images

Keep the wedding party small
For such an intimate celebration, Jessica chose just two bridesmaids, her sisters Kate and Kelly. Their long chiffon Amsale gowns in two different shades of coral added a pop of color to the wedding's muted palette of blush, gold, and cream.

Gold and White Reception Table

Photo: Sage Hammond of Crown Images

One table? Bring on the flowers!
"We sat everyone at one long table, which allowed us to be more extravagant with the centerpieces because we only needed three," says Jessica. They used white phalaenposis orchids, peonies, hydrangeas and roses, balancing pomanders on tall, clear vases to add some height.

Small Round Wedding Cake With Roses

Photo: Sage Hammond of Crown Images

It's OK to buck tradition
"If you're planning a destination wedding, you have to be comfortable letting go of some of the traditions," Jessica says. Since the top tier of a wedding cake wouldn't stay frozen on their flight back home, Jessica and Dan skipped the big cake and cut a mini vanilla and papaya one after dinner instead. Their guests were served a variety of local desserts. "No one missed the cake!" Jessica says.

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Pranja Estate, St. John || Wedding Planner: Mary Bartolucci of Island Style Weddings || Bride's Wedding Dress: Allure Bridal || Hair & Makeup: Grapevine Hair Salon and Spa || Groom's Suit: Jos. A. Bank || Flowers: Jessica Aubain for Roses, Too || Catering: Chef Ted Robinson || Cake: Diana Griffin || Photography: Sage Hammond of Crown Images

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