A Week-Long Destination Celebration in Anguilla

Not even a hurricane could stand in the way of this romantic island ceremony.

bride and groom kissing

Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

After Sarah Jesup Hershey and Brett Hershey got engaged on a beach in Anguilla in April 2017, it was a no-brainer that the couple would convert this special spot (and their favorite island!) into their wedding venue. However, Hurricane Irma threw the pair's planning for a loop, completely destroying the private villa where Sarah and Brett had chosen to tie the knot. In the end, they had to postpone the ceremony by two months. "That was an unexpected road block that made things stressful!" the bride admits.

Regardless, the duo's week-long destination celebration (featuring a beach party to start!) went off without a hitch. "Every day was unique and different while still keeping the island vibe," says Sarah. With the help of Stefanie Cove and Co., the couple's dream venue was restored to its former glory thanks to a bit of added greenery and a custom open-air dancing space. For the ceremony and reception, Sarah and Brett stayed within a neutral white and ivory color palette, paired with muted mauve accents. "Our wedding day was the perfect mix between relaxed island, New England prep, and modern chic," adds Sarah.

You have to see this idyllic island ceremony (and the bride's three gorgeous outfit changes!) so keep reading for all the photos by Lauren and Abby Ross.

bride and groom swimsuits
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
beach drink menu
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

The couple stuck to their island theme by hosting a beach party for their guests. The bride wore a swimsuit by Bamba Swim for the occasion. Also, note: The groom's customized towel, which was personalized with illustrations of the couple's dogs!

Anguilla rehearsal dinner restaurant
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
custom bunting with couple's names
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

Sarah and Brett wanted their rehearsal dinner to feel festive and fun. They booked Picante, a casual taco restaurant, and decorated the outside seating area with custom Papel Picado banners.

bride in backless dress on beach
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
bride's beach party dress
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

On the big day, Sarah wore a pink slip (by Are Your Am I) to get ready at the private villa.

bride with bouquet
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
bride holding bouquet
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

The ceremony itself took place on Friday, during which Sarah sported the first of her three bridal ensembles—a beaded tulle Marchesa ball gown. Brett gifted her diamond studs, and she paired them with a simple tulle veil and white Gianvito Rossi sandals.

Keeping in line with the wedding's soft, subdued color palette, the bride carried a delicate blend of textured ivory, mauve, and blush florals in hand.

couple embracing under trellis
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
bride and groom kissing ceremony
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
bride and groom kissing
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

Sarah and Brett converted a preexisting trellis (overlooking a fountain, no less!) into their ceremony altar. Hurricane Irma had ravaged the vegetation formerly growing on the property, but the couple's florist stepped in with plenty of local blooms and greenery to create a completely natural look. Clusters of delphinium, lilac, and spirea lined the aisle.

The bride and groom weren't the only noteworthy guests—the couple's three dogs, escorted by the bridal party, also made an appearance at the wedding, which was officiated by one of their best friends. "My husband and I wrote our own vows and read them in private after our ceremony," says Sarah.

bride and groom embracing
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
bride and groom holding hands
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

Brett's look featured a navy linen-and-silk-blend Tom Ford suit with a Patek Philippe 5170P watch and a white garden rose boutonniere.

seaside cocktail hour space
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
seaside cocktail hour
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

"Food was really important for us, so we flew three chefs from the U.S.," says Sarah of the reception. "During cocktail hour, we had a large raw bar, a caviar station, and light passed apps." The couple also served two signature cocktails, the Skinny Margarita and Classic Daiquiri.

oceanfront escort card display greenery
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
greenery escort card display
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

Escort cards were placed atop a glass table filled with tropical plants.

tented reception table with greenery
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
tented reception table with greenery and lanterns
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
reception tabletop with menu and flowers
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

The newlyweds and their 49 guests all dined at one long, narrow table beneath a seaside tent. Low floral centerpieces ran the entire length of the tablescape. The original flora intended for the tent ceiling unfortunately arrived dead, so the duo's florist saved the day yet again, foraging local plants to accent the custom rattan lanterns overhead. "It ended up looking even more amazing than the original greenery," says the bride.

bride and groom kissing
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross
back of bride's wedding dress
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

Sarah and Brett's family-style menu hit on a few of their favorite local foods, like Anguillan grilled crawfish, jerk chicken, whole grilled red snapper, plantains, pigeon peas and rice, jonnycakes, and hearts of palm salad.

bride and groom cutting cake
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

As the night wore on, dancing took place in a custom open-air space made from striped, sheer panels. "The guests could enjoy the natural beauty of the ocean backdrop, yet still have the essence of a true structure to block strong sea winds and create an intimate afterparty space," says the couple's wedding planner, Stefanie Cove. Lanterns also contributed to the area's understated elegance, adding an extra focal point.

After dinner, Sarah changed into another beaded Marchesa number, this one slightly more fitted. She and Brett opted for not one but two simple sponge cakes, complete with a handmade topper depicting their dogs.

bride and groom dancing sparklers
Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross

For the bride's third and final look, she sported a white Olivia von Halle slip dress with Manolo Blahnik sandals during the after-party. DJ Sam French helped kick the celebration into high gear, along with mini versions of Brett's favorite drink, piña coladas. The next day, the couple wrapped up the week-long destination celebration with one last hoorah at Blanchards Beach Shack, a picturesque local food joint on the island.

All in all, despite the natural disaster setback, Sarah largely attributes their wonderful experience to their planner. Her advice for couples who are planning? "Hire a wedding planner who you absolutely love and have complete faith in—it makes the process so incredibly easy and enjoyable," she says.

Wedding Team

Wedding Planner: Stefanie Cove and Co.

Bride's Dresses: Marchesa, Olivia von Halle

Bride's Shoes: Gianvito Rossi, Manolo Blahnik

Bride's Purse: Bottega Veneta

Hair: Teddi Cranford

Makeup: Liza Zaretsky

Groom's Attire: Tom Ford

Floral Design: Tinge

Invitations & Paper Products: East Six

Music: Omari Banks, DJ Sam French

Catering: Joshua Smith of Moody’s

Transportation: Bennies Travel & Tours, Eagle Tours

Rentals: Black Orchid

Accommodations: Cerulean Villa, Four Seasons Anguilla

Videographer: Hart Media

Photographer: Lauren and Abby Ross

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