Josy Portella just knew Andrew Yoder was going to pop the question. After all, they were dining at an inn's intimate restaurant, the perfect spot for a romantic proposal. But the ring wasn't in the champagne, and it wasn't baked into the bread either. And when the hostess came to the table, asking if the couple might enjoy a tour of the inn's renovated rooms before their dessert course, Josy figured she had been wrong. The two walked from room to room until the hostess finally led them to the honeymoon suite, where roses, candles, dessert, and a diamond ring awaited. "I managed to get out, 'Is this for us?' just as I saw Andrew go down on one knee," the bride says. "I was so overwhelmed by emotion that I was speechless. Luckily, our hostess stepped back in with tissues and was the first to congratulate us."
With such a dreamy proposal, it should come as no surprise that the couple wanted their wedding to ooze romance, too. "We wanted to project the love we have for one another onto our guests and shower them with details that would create an unforgettable weekend," Josy says of their October 11, 2015, destination wedding in Sarasota, Florida. After months of planning, the pair pulled off an ethereal wedding with nautical touches that played up the beachy locale. Clover and Company directed the day, while Debra Eby and Villetto Photography were there to capture every detail. Soak up the gorgeous views from their seaside ceremony below!
Josy and Andrew invited 85 guests to join them at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota Beach Club. Their invitations hinted at what was to come using floral and starfish patterns.
Josy's Romona Keveza Legends wedding dress was made from head-to-toe lace with delicate pearl beading. She added an embellished belt for a bit of bling, while chandelier earrings and a beaded headband completed the look.
Andrew donned a three-piece tan suit for the beachside occasion, which he paired with a light green silk tie. But the groom's boutonniere was his standout accessory: A starfish was the perfect nod to the couple's love of all things nautical.
Bridesmaids purchased their dresses from J.Crew in the color dusty shale. Josy allowed her attendants to pick any floor-length style they wanted. Groomsmen wore linen pants and tan vests to complement — but not compete with — Andrew.
Josy's blush and peach bouquet featured roses, succulents, stock, and seeded eucalyptus, wrapped in an ivory satin ribbon, while her bridesmaids carried similar round bouquets.
The bride and groom held their ceremony on the beach, where a branch arch draped in white fabric and decorated in fresh flowers anchored the sandy space. The aisle was lined with white-washed lanterns, while chairs were adorned with blush satin sashes and nosegays of roses, peonies, and hydrangeas.
To ensure guests could really enjoy the ceremony, the thoughtful couple created a shoe station where friends and family could trade dress shoes for sandals until after the vows.
The couple's three flower girls wore starfish tiaras and carried nautilus shells that were fashioned with a ribbon handle, making them look like little purses. Each "purse" was filled with rose petals that the girls scattered down the aisle.
As the ceremony, which was perfectly timed with a gorgeous sunset, came to a close, the groom's cousins sang as the couple was pronounced husband and wife. "The entire crowd took a moment to listen to the beautiful and inspirational song before proceeding out to the reception," Josy says.
"We picked the Ritz-Carlton Beach Club because it was exactly what we were looking for," the bride says. "It was on the beach, offered an outdoor terrace for our use, and with the brand comes the knowledge that they can deliver top-notch customer service." They chose to hold the reception beneath an open-air tent that was draped with blush fabric. From its peaks, the pair chose to hang alternating glass and floral chandeliers. Stunning as they were, there was another design element the couple's guests couldn't quite take their eyes off of: A huge floral wall that served as the backdrop to Josy and Andrew's sweetheart table. The eight-by-eight foot installation was created from white hydrangea and blush and peach roses.
"Visually, the hanging floral chandeliers in the reception were breathtaking," Josy says. "But the biggest hit of the night was the sweetheart table with the floral boa and flower wall as its backdrop. It was the spot to be for pictures that evening."
"A mix of long feasting tables, lined with blush and gold metallic tablecloths, were offset by centerpieces of driftwood, candles, and small votives with succulents," the bride says of the reception décor. Glamorous gold chargers, bud vases packed with fresh blooms, and mercury glass accents tied the entire space together.
The couple's three-tiered yellow cake was iced with Florida-appropriate key lime mousse and topped with a white citrus ganache, edible sugar flowers cascading down its side.
"Andrew and I took dance lessons before the wedding and our routine was down pat," Josy says. "But we had failed to account for one minor issue: My dress. While we practiced between the ceremony and reception, we quickly discovered that my bustle was too long and too easy to step on. It wasn't the prettiest, but we managed to get through our routine and at the end, our wedding party held up scoring paddles with a row of 10's across the board, much akin to Dancing With the Stars! What a sweet gesture."
Guests danced the night away as the sun set on the beach. After the wedding, Josy and Andrew took their honeymoon in Italy.
The bride's best advice to other couples is to forget the favors. "Don't splurge on a trinket that will just gather dust on a shelf," she says. "Instead, think about forgoing them all together and budget in extras to the wedding reception itself. Our favors included flip flops to dance with, pashminas for the cool evening breeze, a photo booth with take-home prints, and a beignet bar for all to enjoy."
Venue, Catering & Cake: The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota Beach Club || Wedding Planner: Clover & Company Weddings and Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Romona Keveza || Jewelry: Nordstrom || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair & Makeup: Style Hair and Makeup || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew || Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Men's Wearhouse || Florist & Linens: Botanica International Design Studio || Invitations: Indigo Impressions || Music: Alafia String Quartet; Grant Hemond & Associates || Rentals: U.S. Tent Rental || Transportation: Sarasota Trolley || Videographer: Viola Cinematic || Photographer: Villetto Photography and Debra Eby Photography
Looking for more beachfront inspiration? Then you'll love the wedding below!