Rachel Winn and Andrew Walden's first date in January of 2012 was on his boat, a 50-foot Chris Craft Motor Yacht. There, Andrew arranged a beautiful dinner catered by a favorite local restaurant and the pair fell hard and fast. Just two years later, in March of 2014, Andrew told Rachel they'd be meeting his family on the boat for a belated birthday dinner. But when they arrived Andrew got down on one knee on the bow of the boat and asked Rachel to be his wife. Once she said yes, both of their families came up from the bottom of the boat to celebrate.
The pair originally wanted to wed at Rachel's childhood church, but when they found out every date was already booked for the next year they started looking for somewhere equally as special nearby. In the end, nothing in her hometown felt quite special enough, so the couple rethought their plan entirely. "We turned to the place where I had the happiest memories with my family — the Ritz-Carlton in Grand Cayman," Rachel says. "My family and I have been traveling to Cayman since 2000 and began staying at the property annually since it's opening in 2006." With a stunning locale locked in for April 11, 2015, the future Mr. and Mrs. invited 50 guests to join them for a timeless and elegant wedding in the sun and sand, but with a hint of southern influence. Read on to see the beautiful details of their day, as captured by Ashley Seawell Photography.
The bride and groom decided on a blush and gold color palette, so Olivia Raufman created an invitation suite that perfectly complemented those shades. The classic invite felt entirely formal but received a tropical treatment thanks to punchy-hued stamps.
Andrew proposed to Rachel using a family diamond but had the stone reset in a platinum setting he designed himself.
"A few weeks before a planned trip to Charleston, South Carolina, to try on dresses, my mother and I were eating lunch in Augusta, Georgia. I realized that I had been engaged for several months at this point and had yet to try on a wedding dress," the bride says. So Rachel and her mother decided on an impromptu trip to House of the Bride to try on a few styles for fun. "My Christos Bridal dress was on a mannequin at the front of the store. It was the first dress I tried on and I immediately knew it was the one." The bride figured she was crazy not to try a few more styles, so she didn't purchase the gown then and there, but after visiting a few more salons, Rachel made the trip back to Augusta to get her dream gown.
The lace and silk dress, complete with a keyhole back, fit her like a glove and was detailed enough that she hardly needed any accessories. She chose a handmade French Alencon lace veil, an embellished sash, a pair of diamond earrings her parent's gave her as a 16th birthday gift, and an opal and diamond bracelet that belongs to her mother.
Rachel chose a white and pink bouquet comprised of peonies, hydrangeas, and ranunculus.
Andrew wore an off-white dinner jacket and tuxedo pants for the big day. "I feel like there is a lot of attention on the bride during the wedding so I wanted Andrew to wear something that set him apart," Rachel says. Sadly, the groom's father passed away when Andrew was in college, so his mother gave him his dad's wedding band to wear. "He feels like he now has a physical reminder of his father with him each day."
He finished his look with a white ranunculus boutonniere.
The couple's bridal party members were the picture of seaside elegance in blush pink gowns and black tuxedos.
Rachel and Andrew's ceremony was held beneath an arbor decorated with sprays of peonies, hydrangeas, and roses. Seats were draped with pale pink fabric. There, the couple exchanged traditional vows before being pronounced husband and wife.
Although the bride had always dreamed of wearing a cathedral-length veil on her wedding day, it didn't necessarily suit the couple's seaside venue. "I had this idea of how it would look on me when I walked down the staircase onto the Great Lawn in front of my guests," Rachel says. "Unfortunately, I did not take into account the wind, which promptly swept up under my beloved veil and almost pulled me backwards! Needless to say, I walked down the aisle without it."
Guests moved to an indoor-outdoor space for a covered reception with views of the property. "We wanted the reception to feel like a dinner party since we were with our close friends and family," the bride says. "The tables had large floral centerpieces mixed with single flowers in small vases, lots of candles, and blush pink napkins." In the spirit of a dinner party, the bride and groom chose a three-course sit down meal.
Rachel and Andrew served a three-tiered red velvet cake iced with a thick layer of buttercream and decorated with peonies for dessert.
After sharing a first dance to Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" and spending the evening on the dance floor with their guests, Rachel and Andrew made their exit in a flurry of sparklers. From there, the two retired to their hotel room for champagne and more cake!
The newlyweds then headed east for a honeymoon in a private villa in St. Barths. "Do what feels right and the people who love you will be on board," Rachel advises future brides. "Dr. Seuss was right all along: 'Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.'"
Venue, Flowers, Catering & Cake: The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman || Wedding Planner: Elena Karpechenko || Bride's Wedding Dress: Christos Bridal || Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Invitations: Olivia Raufman || Photographer: Ashley Seawell Photography
Ready more destination wedding inspiration? Then watch another couple exchange vows in a tropical locale in the video below.