Our Favorite Real Wedding Photos of 2019

We searched the archives for evidence of pure married bliss

main image

Photo by Melissa Marshall

If there's one thing we love here at Brides, it’s a really gorgeous real wedding. Each week we bring you five inspiring stories, all packed with unique details, beautiful dresses, and some of the most unique love stories we’ve ever heard. And while we will never get enough of the flowers and décor at each event, it’s really the two people at the heart of each celebration that continue to draw us in again and again. After all, it’s the couple that makes each wedding so distinctly unique and personal.

In honor of the spectacular couples and the weddings they threw, we went through the archives and selected our favorite real-wedding moments from the past 12 months. Of course, choosing our favorite photos from this year’s celebrations was no easy feat. After all, we’ve shared each of our real weddings with you because they featured great ideas, beautiful details, and even better photography. That’s why, in the end, we resurfaced the photos that felt distinctive, unique, and downright beautiful. They’re photos of real people, in love, having the time of their lives. They felt in-the-moment and, above everything else, real.

Keep reading to see which photos (and couples!) made the cut, and get inspired for your own big day while scrolling through. After all, you could be included in next year’s list of the best real-wedding photos!

Bride and groom kissing
Photo by Jennifer Johnson

Some brides obsess about their dream dress. Others, their fairy-tale location. But when Jamie Baratta started planning her wedding to boyfriend Maurice Slade, she had a different focus. “For me, it was all about the music,” she says. “The music had to be bomb.” In fact, the couple sent their guests an island-inspired playlist before guests even arrived in Jamaica—and, naturally, the festivities ended when Maurice, a lifelong OutKast fan, got down on his knees and serenaded his new bride to UGK’s “International Players Anthem,” backed up by all his groomsmen. Says Jamie, “It was pretty epic.”

bride and groom
Photo by Melissa Marshall

Valentina Hernandez Botero, who was born in Bogotá and raised in South Florida, convinced George Dufournier, her boyfriend of five years, that Cartagena, Colombia was just the spot for their nuptials. “I wanted to show my country to his family and have them experience everything I love about it,” she says. To that end, the couple orchestrated three days’ worth of fun, blending age-old Colombian traditions with a distinctly modern approach. “We decided to focus on what was most important to us—making our guests feel like they were on the most amazing trip—and forget the rest.”

flower petal toss
Photo by Chris and Ruth Photography

Thom Scherdel and Genna Boner's three-day celebration encompassed three things that the couple loves most: food, music, and no curfew! The day's design was inspired by the couple's shared love of fashion—the color scheme came from the Acne Studios logo—and paired modern details with wild local foliage to create an environment that was simultaneously natural, contemporary, and carefree. Gemma ended up in the pool (dress and all!) at the end of the night. "Someone whispered in my ear that you only live once, so I jumped in, shoes and all!" she laughs.

couple at dinner
Photo by Leo Patrone

Logistical issues prevented Jen Kay and Zack Swartz from tying the knot in Mexico, but a private residence in Montecito, California, proved to be the perfect spot for their nuptials. In fact, Jen pinpoints finding the location, with its olive trees and lavender fields, as the easiest planning component. The hardest piece, on the other hand, was picking someone to capture the big day given the bride's professional photographer profession. Their final vendor choice rose to the challenge, though, catching the couple in their most natural moments, as well as their stunningly simple wedding. "I don’t love a lot of bells and whistles and I wanted the day to be about me and Zack, our vows, and our loved ones," explains the bride regarding the overall vision. "I wanted it to feel like an elegant party more than a typical wedding."

<p>Bride and groom main image</p><br><br>
Photo by Blink & Co. Photography

Sunny and Seema, founders of Venus et Fleur, invited 250 guests to Miami for a three-day wedding event. Once there, they treated everyone to a spectacular progression of parties—from a Parisian-inspired Sangeet ceremony to a moody reception with a surprise performance by DJ Khaled—at three different venues. "All three venues are historical and they all are so different, but equally just as beautiful," Seema explains. "We wanted our guests to see a different part of Miami."

<p>wedding cake</p><br><br>
Photo by Morgane Lay and Jonny Cocherane

For their wedding, Edouard Moreau and Anne-Laure Mais didn’t want a theme as much as they wanted to use lots of color and decor that felt like the bride’s grandmother’s home. “I am obsessed with vintage pieces, and we started buying old vases and candelabras right away,” the bride explains. But the most important part was having as much fun as they could! “We wanted our guests to really have fun, so we opted for a cocktail-style reception instead of a seated dinner,” says the bride.

brides smiling
Brooke Boyd Photo + Film

Though Emily Lambert and Emerson Hemperley had gone dress shopping together, they say seeing each other in their wedding dresses was an exciting and emotional moment on the wedding day. "As an LGBT couple, we felt like we had a lot of freedom to throw tradition to the wind," says Emily of their Charleston wedding. "We spent the day together, doing yoga and getting ready with our closest friends. That really relieved the pressure—we didn't want the suspense at the aisle as much as we wanted a calm and fun morning!"

<p>bride and groom</p><br><br>
Photo by Allan Zepeda

As brand director for the modern lifestyle company Something Navy, Tara Foley is a pro at creating moments with visual impact, and she relied on her fashionable instincts while planning her nuptials to investment banker Tyler Moni. “We liked the idea of a warm-weather destination wedding in Palm Beach,” says Tara. The New York couple was captivated by the grandeur of the Flagler Museum, a winter retreat for railway magnate Henry Flagler dating to 1902. “The spot has so much elegance and old-school glamour, perfect for a black-tie event,” she says. The couple's second ceremony—they officially married in New York City a week prior—was held outside. “We were the first ones to marry on the front lawn,” says Tara. “The setting was so dramatic.”

<p>bride and groom on trolley with guests</p><br><br>
Photo by Wild Whim

After meeting in New York City and living together in London, Justine Couvillion and Rory Andrew moved to Los Angeles to be closer to Rory's music career. There, Rory proposed (with an antique diamond ring he'd found in London!) and they decided a California wedding would be the perfect way to show off their new home. “We invited 100 guests from all over—Mississippi, London, New York, and even New Zealand, ” Justine says.

<p>brides in wedding dresses</p><br><br>
Photo by Thierry Joubert

Planning an intimate event was a top priority for Caroline and Courtney Smyth-Lace, especially since they wanted their families to intermingle. "We wanted the wedding day to be relaxed and filled with laughter, and our main objective was to spoil our guests, give them an experience to remember, and to give back to them all the love and support they have given us throughout our five years together," Caroline adds. Their chateau wedding was all that and more—see more here.

<p>bride and groom</p><br><br>
Photo by Jenny Fu

College sweethearts Brianna Williams and Richard Ezerins knew they wanted a more intimate wedding, with just 120 guests on the list, but didn’t want to skimp on a venue with serious stature. “We loved the incredible architecture at the Providence Public Library,” Brianna says of their Rhode Island wedding venue. “It barely needed any decoration. It shone all on its own.”

Photo by Esther S Yi

Item one on Carly Cardellino and Giovanni Anthony Vaccaro's wedding to-do list was to ask their pastor John Termini and his wife, Katie, to marry them. "We went with traditional vows because we both really like what they stand for and how they hold you accountable," Carly says. "And while we didn’t have any special readings, our pastor did ask all of our guests to come up and lay hands on us, praying over our marriage and our baby girl we had on the way."

<p>couple with son</p><br><br>
Photo by Kadeem Johnson and Dar Es Salaam Riser

Adeline and Sinclair Bolden married in a bilingual ceremony officiated by their friend, Redha Medjellekh. "We didn’t write vows," Adeline says. "Our officiant handled all the talking and did a great job." Sinclair’s son, Phoenix, was a groomsman, crying happy tears during the ceremony. “It was a huge bonding moment for the three of us, for the family,” Adeline says. “It was his wedding too!”

bride and groom riding on boat
Photo by Ross Harvey

The Italian proposal paved the way for the couple's August nuptials at Villa d’Este in Lake Como. "We decided we wanted to have a destination wedding in a more exotic location to make our wedding much smaller, and to create shared memories with our friends and family over several days," Kelly says of the venue choice. The duo also leaned toward the locale for its deep-rooted history and picturesque, wedding-worthy backdrops. The celebration was hardly confined to the breathtaking property, however—after encountering so many equally striking nearby venues while planning, Christophe and Kelly strove to squeeze as many as they could into the itinerary. "We wanted our guests to see and experience as many beautiful places as possible," the bride adds. The result? A four-part celebration in the heart of Italy!

newlywed grooms
Photo by Lance Nicoll

Garrett Pinder and Peter Testori had visited New Orleans separately before, but on their first trip together, they really felt the magic in the air. "All of our senses were tingling," says Garrett. After getting engaged, they visited again with their mothers, who fell in love with the city's historic charm as much as their sons had. "We toured the Terrell House in the Garden District, and we all knew it was exactly what we wanted," Peter says. There, their morning ceremony took place on the courtyard steps, with guests seated on the brick patio. "We walked down the aisle together, which was a really special moment," says Peter. The couple wrote their own vows, setting a word count to keep them the same length. Garrett used quotes from some of his favorite authors, while Peter infused stories of their relationship along with hidden meaning that only Garrett would understand.

Couple walking
Photo by Benjamin Wheeler

Sarah Falconer and Stephen Wilson set out to create a romantic wedding that didn't scream “fairytale.” Easier said than done, when the couple met in Edinburgh, Scotland, and reside in London. But one place proved to have the unrefined beauty that they sought: Mallorca, Spain. “We wanted a party in the middle of nowhere, in the heat, with natural beauty—an easy ask in Mallorca,” says the bride. Since natural beauty and the venue were the centerpieces, Sarah and Stephen did little to accent the space. Instead, they made the day more about the friends and family in attendance, than about flowers and décor.

<p>bride and groom toast</p><br><br>
Photo by Sasithon Photography

Shelter Island is known for its low-key vibe, which played right into Jillian Shatken and Elias Mablekos's wedding vision. “It was bright and colorful, with some ‘60s inspiration,” Jillian describes. The bride, who is the co-founder and designer of SAYLOR, put her fashion chops to use. “I often produce photoshoots, and am so hands-on with the business that I figured planning a wedding wouldn’t be too much more complex,” she says. “In the end, though, I would not have minded a little extra help!”

bride and groom
Photo by James x Schulze

Megha Agrawal and Rohan Sood began their ceremony by exchanging floral garlands, traditional for Hindu weddings.  “We wanted all of our guests to feel as if they were a part of the ceremony and that we could feel their presence and love too,” Megha says of placing bells on each guest’s seat. They could ring the bells during the designated time noted in the program. “Though we were sitting at the mandap, it was amazing to hear the ringing of bells.” Father John Misty’s “Real Love” played as the newlyweds recessed down the aisle.

Bride and groom dancing
Photo by Tec Petaja

For Julia Gilliam and Daniel Sterling, choosing a wedding venue was easy: They just went back to the place where they’d first met! Julia grew up visiting The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, with her parents, and after graduating college in August 2013, she returned to the resort to take a job as an event planner there. “There I was, bossing everyone around before the event began, when I noticed a sweet and handsome chef in the kitchen,” she recalls. That chef was Danny, who wasn’t intimidated by the bossy new event planner and sent her a Facebook message the next day. “That event we were working on took place at Howard’s Creek Lodge, and five years later, it’s where Danny and I had our first look,” she says.

<p>ceremony exit</p><br><br>
Photo by Taylor McCutchan

For their wedding, Amanda Sims and John Francis chose to say "I do" in California wine country. “We knew most of our guests would be leveraging their vacation days in order to attend, so we wanted to treat our wedding as the ultimate weekend getaway,” explains the bride. To do that, they decided on Tre Posti in St. Helena, California, as their venue, ultimately bringing guests to Napa for a picturesque setting, sprawling vineyards, and a modern California vibe. 

first dance
Photo by Patricia Lyons Photography

At Chelsea Laverack and Scott Clifford's summer wedding in the Hamptons, they had a brass band led the way for their grand entrance. "We wanted to have a special entrance into the dinner tent and worked with Jimmy Vali's team on a custom trumpet entrance to one of our all-time favorite songs, 'You Can Call Me Al' by Paul Simon," Chelsea says.

Photo by Lisa Poggi

At their destination wedding in Tuscany, the ceremony was a highlight for Tara and Brian Lehrer. "Writing our own vows was, honestly, one of the most important, highly personal, and incredible parts of the wedding for me and my husband," Tara explains. The bride also made a point to consistently stay present and revel in each major wedding moment. "For instance, while we were at the chuppah, I made sure to stare at everyone in their seats, really soaking in everyone’s love," she adds. "You’ll never be in that situation again, and it really is such a magical experience to share with these important people."

bride and groom
Photo by Phil Chester

Brie and Marco Antonio Simental Granadosnow call New York City home but decided that a destination wedding in Mexico seemed fitting, given their engagement in Cabo San Lucas and the groom’s familial heritage. After a deep-dive into “practically every hacienda within a 200-mile radius of Mexico City,” they found Hacienda Acamilpa, a property in Acamilpa, Mexico, that dates to the 17th century. There, their party immediately kicked off with the entrance of a mariachi band, who ushered guests from ceremony to cocktail hour. But the couple's favorite nod to their Mexican locale surprisingly wasn't the mariachi band (or tequila, for that matter!)—it was the "tournafiesta," a late-night arrival of Mexican street foods like esquites, chilaquiles, and quesadillas.

<p>Bride and groom with mom on swing</p><br><br>
Photo by Ross Harvey

In 2016, Shallon Hunter discovered @provencepoiriers, an account documenting a family’s renovation of an 18th-century farmhouse in Provence. “I loved the owners’ taste in everything from antiques to paint colors, and the gardens were gorgeous,” she says. For Shallon, the estate, known as Le Mas des Poiriers (“The Pear Trees Estate”) was yet another Insta fantasy, a place she’d likely never see in real life. But she and her longtime love, Brian Manion, found themselves marrying in front of 118 loved ones (including the bride's grandmother!) in the very grand gardens she had come to know on a tiny screen. 

<p>Bride and groom with giraffe</p><br><br>
Photo by Lacie Hansen Photography

"We wanted a wedding that was more fun than serious,” says Erin Moy, describing how she and her husband, Nicholas Vik, decided to get hitched at the Santa Barbara Zoo, surrounded by squawking, howling creatures great and small. And indeed, when the couple said “I do,” a very good time was had by all—regardless of species. The ceremony, in the zoo’s dramatically verdant palm court, was interrupted by enthusiastic roars from a nearby lion. “It was pretty memorable,” Erin says. During the cocktail hour that followed, guests were able to hand-feed giraffes and socialize with flamingos, or “flamingle,” as the newlyweds called it.

couple dancing
Photo by Heirlume Photography

“Kurt and I danced to ‘Fruits of My Labor’ by Lucinda Williams, then our friend Josh Desure did a live acoustic performance of his song ‘Stranded Son’ while Kurt danced with his mother,” says bride Carle Peterson. Then, once the dancing was over, she and Kurt joined their guests for dinner under bistro lights. “We are both fairly reserved and try to avoid being the center of attention, so sitting with our guests instead of at a sweetheart table made us feel like part of the party and truly surrounded by love.”

Photo by Thierry Joubert

As cofounders of London-based interior design firm Sella Concept, Gayle Noonan and Tatjana von Stein are known for their refined sense of style and unerring good taste. So when they heard about La Donaira, a remote eco-retreat on a beautiful farm near the village of El Gastor in Spain, the pair had an inkling it was just the inspiring setting they desired for their wedding. “Our legal ceremony took place in London at the Old Marylebone Town Hall, but our true spiritual ceremony happened under a 700-year-old tree in Andalucía, on top of a mountain,” says Gayle.

<p>first dance</p><br><br>
Photo by Unique Lapin Photography

Maria Bobila and Matthew Gawrych booked Dobbin St in Brooklyn as their wedding venue. “The rooftop has an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline, which was the perfect backdrop for our ceremony and cocktail hour,” says Maria. The modern aesthetic was just the right setting for the couple’s sunset-inspired vision and dance-filled reception. “Of course we had a disco ball!” says the bride, who had included a number of images of disco balls in her inspiration. “Matt and I spent a lot of time personalizing the musical selections to reflect our memories over the past nine years.”

Photo by Olivia Rae James

When it came time to say “I do,” Becca Barnet and Charles Carmody knew exactly where to hold the big event: a venue on the shores of their go-to summertime destination. They chose Camp Greystone for its proximity to the lake, but also because Becca grew up going there as a camper. “We thought renting the camp was a perfect way to bring our friends and families back together at a place where we spent many wonderful summers,” she says. Wearing her favorite color (yellow) was a must for bride Becca, so she found a Costarellos design featuring sheer panels and yellow lace online via Net-a-Porter. The couple's dog Gus acted as their “flower pup.”

Bride and groom ceremony recessional
Photo by Norman & Blake

As evidenced by their proposal location, Brittany Ouyang and Andrew O’Reilly love to ski—so much that they frequently escaped New York City on snowy weekends for trips to Stowe, Vermont, while they were dating. “We decided to get married in Stowe so we could show my family, from San Francisco, and Andrew’s family, from Philadelphia, what we love so much about the mountains: the verdant landscape, farm-to-table cuisine, and friendly Vermonters," explains the bride. So, for their summer wedding, they invited 200 guests to join them at Topnotch Resort for a refined take on an organic celebration that was completely overflowing with flowers.

<p>ceremony recessional</p><br><br>
Photo by Sara Lobla

At their Barcelona wedding, Oscar Trias and Ale Pravia walked down the aisle together, each holding hands with his mother. "We were holding their hands so tight, we can still remember how it felt," says Ale. Oscar's cousin officiated, but when it was time to exchange rings, they were nowhere to be found! "Friends offered their rings as substitutes, but Oscar ran back inside to look for them," says Ale with a laugh. "We'd left them in the room where we were waiting for the ceremony to begin!" With the rings retrieved, Oscar and Ale were able to make it official. After the ceremony, guests shot cannons of gold confetti over the newlyweds. Their two dogs waited nearby to celebrate!

<p>sparkler exit</p><br><br>
Photo by Jill DeVries Photography

"We wanted to create a big and welcoming dinner party," says bride Marina Goldi of her wedding to Kevin Stover. She turned to longtime friend Haley Letrola, owner of Detroit Cultivated, and essentially chose a venue and bridesmaids dresses before handing over the reins. "I knew I could let Haley really run with it," Marina adds enthusiastically. On the big day, Mariana and Kevin gathered with 115 guests, a killer team of vendors, and the farm's resident lambs and baby goats (seriously!) to make it official at Zingerman's Cornman Farms in Michigan

<p>brides in a field</p><br><br>
Photo by Henry + Mac

Early on in their relationship, Allison Clark and Kate Dewey took their first weekend-getaway to Portland, Maine, and knew the city they loved would be the perfect place for their wedding. "In fact, we love Portland so much we moved there from Boston just a month before our wedding!" Kate reveals. Adds Alison, "Our favorite part of planning was the monthly trips to Portland, especially for our menu and cake tastings!"

<p>groom carrying bride</p><br><br>
Photo by Carina Skrobecki Photography

Two years into their relationship, Vanessa Olsson was in an accident that resulted in her being paralyzed (for the foreseeable future) and in a wheelchair. Christopher Bartlett was right by her side. "Chris never ever wavered in his support for me," she says. "When I woke up out of my coma, he was on the phone with a real estate agent trying to find a handicap accessible house to buy. His love and encouragement are a big part of the reason I went back to work again and have a rich, full life." The couple married in Whitefish, Montana, describing the setting as "comfortable space for their guests" and a "place that felt safe from all cares in the world.

first dance
Photo by Raquel Reis

Simi Katragadda and Vinni Trehan surprised their guests during the first dance. After beginning with a slow song, “Northern Sky” By Nick Drake, the music swapped to upbeat Bollywood jam “Dilliwaali Girlfriend” by Arijit Sinh. In fact, Simi notes it’s one of her favorite memories of their New York City wedding.

bride and groom at dinner
Photo by Paola Colleoni

Though Allison Merrett and Prashant Hedge didn't set foot in their wedding venue until the weekend of their wedding, the results were exactly what they'd envisioned: a soft palette of white, ivory, and antique rose surrounded by lush greenery (including lots of olive branches, as a nod to their Italian setting!), lit with candlelight that filled their courtyard reception with warmth. "I think having a destination wedding made a lot of things easier," says Allison. "I couldn't go see the venue or do trials, so it left less to control—and therefore less to worry about!"

<p>Traditional Korean attire</p><br><br>
Photo by Roberta Facchini

While their entire wedding day was incredible, Joyce Ha and JT Akers III admit that they are most proud of their Korean ceremony— and, more specifically, the fact that they were able to make it happen in the Tuscan countryside. "One of my favorite memories is of JT giving my mother, and his new mother-in-law, a piggy-back ride as part of the Korean ceremony," Joyce says with a laugh.

Photo by Golden Hour Studios

Calli Nicoletti and Pierce Swofford's close friend Brian officiated their outdoor ceremony in the Hamptons. "We've gotten to spend so much time with him in Colorado, and Brian has really seen us grow as a couple," says the bride. "The ceremony was so personal, which made it feel less formal and more like a comedy sketch mixed with a love letter."

Bride and groom standing at altar
Photo by Joey Willis

Cydney Morris wed Oliver Edwards in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. The destination married the dramatic scenery—the Sydney Harbor—with Cydney's love of lace, vinyl records, and unmanicured florals. “Saying our vows was something I was so nervous about, but also looking forward to,” Cydney admits. “I thought I would be shaking and could barely get my words out. But when I got up there, it was just Ollie and I, and I've never felt more comfortable telling him the way I felt without one stutter in my voice.”

Photo by Natalie Watson Photography

With the goal of an epic dance party and a weekend spent enjoying the party, Alan "Reid" Terry and Alison Edell tied the knot in relaxed style in the mountains of Tennessee. At the end of the night, the couple exited through a sea of sparklers and joined their guests at an after-party—at which point, Ali swapped her skirt and heels for jeans and sneakers!

<p>first kiss</p><br><br>
Photo by Stephanie Brazzle

Wedding planner Karli Jones grew up in Colorado, and wanted to share the beauty of the mountains in the summer with their 110 guests. "It was the perfect excuse for an escape to Vail with our nearest and dearest," she says. The couple filled their wedding weekend with adventure, from white water rafting and dinner on a working ranch to a mountaintop ceremony. "All I'd envisioned before we got engaged was marrying Matthew, and I kept that feeling in my heart as our big day approached," says the bride. Of course, as a pro, she knew her way around the process. "Matthew and I weren't afraid to buck tradition and make the day our own!" 

couple at ceremony
Photo by Heather Waraksa

Sasithon Pooviriyakul (a.k.a. Sas) and C. Montague Hermann (he's Monty to pals) exchanged vows in the late afternoon on the banks of the Mara River. “One of the most alluring parts of being on safari is how time slows down,” says Monty of the idyllic setting. “It's a return to a simpler time, where you can focus on your natural surroundings.” Their friend—and "fellow wanderluster"—Justin Trificana performed the ceremony, which the couple says brought everyone to tears. Another friend Rob McCulloch read a beautiful piece from “Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak before the couple exchanged their vows. ”We both wrote our own vows, but frankly, Sas’s killed at the ceremony,” Monty admits. “I think she had a leg up after hearing hundreds of vows as a wedding photographer.”

couple dancing
Photo by Alex Bramall and Lucy Birkhead

Alexandra McDonough and Max Bandier down the aisle at the groom's parents' house in Southampton, New York, where they had accumulated eight summers of blissful, sun-soaked memories together. "We had so many happy times here with family, friends, and one another," Ali says. The big weekend kicked off with a rehearsal dinner at Topping Rose House and ended, naturally, with an epic house party—complete with a spring break in Acapulco theme, a tequila popper station, an assortment of alcohol-infused desserts, and a custom neon sign.

<p>couple kissing</p><br><br>
Photo by Tida Svy

Ashley Bradbury and Sean Kane’s intimate guest list of 61 stayed on the property, and Korakia’s natural decor set the mood, inspiring Ashley to stick to natural elements like wood, metallics, and fruit rather than a strict color scheme and theme. Food, drinks, and music took center stage as did laughter, with plenty of inside jokes and a heartfelt yet hilarious toast from Ashley’s father. “I wanted to feel like I was hosting friends and family on a weekend away in a beautiful setting where just one of the activities was the wedding itself,” she says.

newlywed brides
Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Roz Vara and Lauren Good spend their free time out in the mountains around Denver and wanted a wedding venue that showcased what they love about living in Colorado—but without an hours-long drive west for their guests. They found River Bend in Lyons, Colorado, just north of Boulder, and knew it was the perfect compromise of stunningly beautiful and easily accessible. They invited 145 guests to join them there as they tied the knot in a relaxed (seriously—the brides were barefoot!) wedding overlooking North Saint Vrain Creek.

ceremony exit
Photo by Belathée Photography 

At their destination wedding in Arizona, Jason and Philip skipped official readings and instead spoke from the heart. Family was also central to their ceremony: Their sisters, Dana (Jason's sister) and Jennifer (Philip's sister), officiated the proceedings and their grandparents, who were unable to travel, watched on Facetime. After, they walked up the aisle to a ukelele cover of “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. “We were crying, our sisters who officiated were crying, and pretty much everyone in the audience was crying tears of joy,” Jason says.

picnic party main image
Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie

When Mary Kate Miller and Steve Clay said "I do" at the bride's parents' home on Lake Michigan, there may have been hanging wires and blue tape here and there... but the couple saw it as part of the charm, focusing on their joy and the love of their family and friends instead. "Steve and I had a very specific vision for our wedding, so we did a lot of the planning ourselves," says Mary Kate. "Everything from the flowers to the signage to the hot sauce we ate during our ceremony was a DIY project. It meant that, on our wedding day, we could really say that it felt like us."

bride and groom feeding each other cake
Photo by Justin Lee

At the end of their summer wedding in the Catskills, Keshia Crosby and Corey Williams cut into a sweet (and memorable) treat: a six-layer chocolate cake baked by Corey’s family’s baker from Rhode Island. Looking back on their big day, the bride had this advice to share: “It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you’re not just throwing a party but planning for one of life’s most special moments,” she says. “Remember that you’re doing all this because you love each other.”

first kiss
Photo by Chris and Ruth Photography

After a proposal under the Tuscan sun, Kelley Bowen and Oliver Atcheson brought 60 guests to a swoon-worthy villa for their Tuscan destination wedding, turning to Laura Bravi to execute all the details. "Our vision and aesthetic are really her specialties, so she was able to bring together a team of world-class vendors to make it happen, even though we were planning from afar," says the bride. Inspired by the Tuscan countryside, they chose a neutral palette of taupe, greens, and ivory, accented with lavender, blush, and mauve. "We combined materials like terra cotta, marble, and brass for texture and glamour," adds the bride.

millefoglie wedding cake
Photo by Monica Leggio

Once the rain stopped at their wedding in Tuscany, Camille Cregan, William Overby, and their 100 guests enjoyed emotional toasts and a traditional Tuscan millefoglie wedding cake al fresco. "The chefs prepared the layers of pastry, cream, and berries right in front of us," says the bride. Camille's father is a musician who played and wrote with Rod Stewart for more than 20 years. "He actually wrote 'Forever Young,' which he played for me during the reception," says the bride.

breaking the glass jewish wedding
Photo by Ryan Ray Photography

As part of Jewish tradition, Ariel Burman and Alissa Koller spent 18 minutes alone together immediately following their nuptials at Ojai Valley Inn in Southern California. Alissa and Ariel tucked away to the resort’s artist’s cottage for a few private moments. “We basically just held each other the whole time,” Alissa says. “It was very magical.”

bride laughing
Photo by Cinzia Bruschini

Neither Christopher Golda nor Karelle Steiner can recall how they decided to get married in Paris. "We must have discussed it at some point, but it really was such a natural choice," she says. "We'd each fallen in love with the city on our own, and then discovered it all over again during visits together." For their wedding, the couple hoped to embrace the city's romance and history—as well as its avant-garde style and unexpected quirks—and booked Hôtel Le Marois, a private home near the Grand Palais, as their venue. "Our vision was maximalism," Karelle says. "We wanted everything to feel a little over-the-top and dramatic, with a few modern touches."

couple during tea ceremony
Photo by David Bastianoni

Paulina Yeh and Peter Corvi paid respect to their parents with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony the night before their nuptials. The couple served their parents with tea to symbolize purity, stability, and fertility in marriage. “It was the most emotional part of the entire wedding weekend,” Paulina says of partaking in the honor. “I cried like a baby. Actually, everyone did. At the end of the day, who are we if we don’t celebrate and carry on our traditions?”

savannah and riker wedding, recessional
 Photo by Lucy Cuneo

After unexpected snow showers pushed their ceremony indoors, Savannah Latimer and Riker Lynch said "I do" in front of a cozy fireplace accented with romantic candlelight. The newlyweds recessed down the aisle to Earth, Wind & Fire's "September"—a fitting choice given their September 20, 2019, wedding date.

bride and groom at wedding reception
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

For their wedding, Leanne and Brian wanted to reflect their California home and their laid-back nature and chose Green Gate Ranch in San Luis Obispo as the place to do just that. "It's exactly what you would want if you had all the money in the world for a backyard wedding," says Leanne. The sprawling property was the perfect place for the couple to spend the weekend with everyone they love. While keeping the guest list small was challenging, the couple knew they wanted a more intimate celebration and set the cap at 110 guests. "It was important to us that every single guest had something to do with our relationship. They were each a part of our journey, and every face was familiar," says Leanne. 

Couple closeup
Photo by Samm Blake 

Cindy Pan and Colin Sullivan exchanged vows they’d written themselves during their ceremony, which was officiated by Colin’s brother. “The most special reading was my grandmother’s of a poem composed by my great aunt to celebrate our marriage,” says Cindy. “She’s a former literature teacher in Shanghai and a truly beautiful writer.” After making it official, the newlyweds recessed to a recording of Matt and Kim’s “Daylight.”

Dancing below disco ball
Photo by Jenn Emerling Weddings

Rosie Rothrock and Andrew Parietti’s loved ones expected a trendy city wedding in San Francisco. Instead, they got a weekend sleepover at a summer camp in Boulder Creek. “It was the best surprise,” the bride says. The weekend sleepover for 290 guests included a disco-themed pool party, an intimate ceremony in the redwoods, and a colorful outdoor reception—all followed by an after-party designed to resemble the couple's favorite dive bar.

Bride and groom dancing
Photo by Erich McVey

At Caroline Cuse and Sean Duncan's wedding on a Malibu mountaintop, everyone got along famously—so much that the night ended with guests surrounding the duo and belting out Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” and “sending all this energy and love our way,” says Caroline. “There was a ton of energy on the dance floor from all the generations,” she adds. “Both my 88-year-old grandma and our flower girl were tearing it up!”

couple with cake
Photo by Sergio Sandona

For her wedding, Danielle Snyder chose Harbour Island in the Bahamas, which is known for its pink-sand beaches, and the Other Side for the ceremony. “The island is the perfect combination of bohemian and soulful,” Danielle says. The couple collaborated with event planner Michelle Rago of Michelle Rago Destinations with the goal of juxtaposing the aesthetics of two favorite movies. “I wanted the barefoot, wild elements of The Blue Lagoon mixed with Victorian lace and pearls reminiscent of Legends of the Fall," explains the bride.

Bride and groom
Photo by Lisa Poggi 

Brittany Meagley’s father walked her down the aisle to the altar, where she and Jarian Wade exchanged a combination of traditional vows and words they’d written themselves. The couple included a number of traditions, including jumping the broom after their first kiss. “Our ceremony was so powerful and full of love,” says Brittany. “I will never forget the surreal joy I felt listening to Jarian tell me—and our guests—how he feels about me.” 

First kiss
Photo by Jillian Mitchell 

Nishant Reddy and Dulce Martinez's Hindu ceremony took place at Instituto Allende, an arts school in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Dulce was carried in on a doti before making her way to meet Nishant, the priest, and her father beneath the mandap. “My father washed Nishant’s feet, then placed my hand into Nishant’s and poured water over them,” says Dulce. “Nishant and I held hands and walked in circles around a small, enclosed fire before exchanging rings and taking seven steps to symbolize our vows to support one another.”

A double rainbow over the wedding site
 Photo by Steve Steinhardt

At the end of their oceanfront ceremony on Hawaii's Big Island, Tyler Wilder and Caitlin Mouton recessed to Beyoncé’s “Love on Top” as friends and family cheered. “The song immediately got people dancing and ready for the party,” says Caitlin. Almost as if it on cue, a double rainbow appeared in the sky as the ceremony concluded. “It truly was the most wonderful wedding gift from Mother Nature," says the bride.

Photo by Jenny Fu  

“We’d originally planned to have the ceremony outdoors, but the wind picked up and the temperature dropped so we moved it inside, in front of a beautiful stone fireplace topped with candles and foraged fall foliage,” says bride Sonny Georgevich of her wedding to Jeff Allen. “It created a more intimate vibe that was so romantic!”  Sonny and Jeff’s vows were more like love letters to one another, filling the room with happy tears. A friend of the couple played “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks on the violin.

Ashling Loh-Doyle and Andrew Nunnelly marry in Lexington, Kentucky.

“When we started planning our wedding, we knew we wanted to pick a place with meaning to us,” says Ashling. Both of Andrew’s parents were born and raised in Kentucky and he grew up spending holidays in Lexington, Kentucky, where his grandfather is a professor, researcher, and mentor at the University of Kentucky and the president of historic Spindletop Hall. After many years of visiting Kentucky with Andrew, it felt like home to Ashling, too, and they were eager to share it with family and friends. "A destination wedding in Kentucky, as we liked to say," she adds.

Photo by Volvoreta

After walking down the aisle to an orchestral version of “Unchained Melody,” Anabel Maldonado and Lennart exchanged traditional vows in a civil ceremony on the top of a Moorish fortress. “Seeing the expression on Lennart’s face and the look in his eyes when I arrived was a once in a lifetime moment I will remember forever,” Anabel says. The newlyweds exited the ceremony to one of Anabel’s favorite songs, “Married Life” by Michael Giacchino, which she swears is a favorite not because of its name!

The couple leave the ceremony
Photo by Melissa Marshall 

Katy Guo and Dustin Cox wrote their own vows, exchanging them on a remote beach in Tulum, Mexico. "We both included references to our bulldog, Mika,” says the bride. “We each wrote from the heart about what life had been like the last 13 years of dating, and how excited we were to spend our lives together in the future.” The newlyweds recessed to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours).”

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