In some regard, the coronavirus pandemic was a blessing in disguise for Broadway actress Taylor Louderman—known for her Tony-nominated performance as Regina George in the musical Mean Girls. After a holiday engagement to boyfriend Brooks Toth in 2019, the couple discovered a historic lighthouse in Jupiter, Florida, and immediately fell in love with the "picturesque venue." There was only one problem, however: The wedding site was completely booked throughout the year.
With the lighthouse unavailable, the couple turned to Taylor's hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri, for their nuptials. "However, when COVID hit, we didn’t want to wait and didn’t mind doing a small wedding," explains Taylor of ultimately altering their wedding plans. "So, we thought we’d see if the lighthouse had any openings, and sure enough!" The pair scored the dream venue for June 14, 2020, and decided to make the destination wedding a road trip. "We rented a motor home, drove Taylor’s family down to Florida, and made memories to last a lifetime," she says.
We rented a motor home, drove Taylor’s family down to Florida, and made memories to last a lifetime.
Under a canopy of Banyan trees, Taylor and Brooks exchanged vows in front of 25 guests. And although the couple didn't host a formal reception (they're planning a bigger celebration at a later date), they marked the occasion with a restaurant meal and steel drums performance. Plus, they took plenty of pictures together!
Keep reading for more of Taylor and Brooks' simple Florida micro wedding, planned by the bride's sister, Olivia Louderman, and photographed by Michelle Lawson Photography.
"The Banyon trees create a beautiful canopy and you’re in between the historic lighthouse and the water," describes the bride of why she initially fell in love with the seaside venue.
Early in the day, the bride and groom escaped to the property's pathways for first look photos where Taylor wore a comfortable wrap-style wedding gown.
While Taylor was planning her traditional wedding in St. Louis, she envisioned a very classic affair centered around "faint dusty blue." But when the couple made the venue change, her theme evolved into something more colorful. "By the time spring rolled around, I wanted more colors so I added some peach and light pink to the florals," she admits.
The couple met in the summer of 2018 at a mutual friend's birthday party in Manhattan. Just 17 months later, Brooks asked Taylor to be his wife on Christmas Eve. "It was adorable and a huge surprise," she recalls.
Taylor searched for her dream dress in New York City and Chicago before ultimately finding "the one" at a small boutique in her hometown. The strapless, floral embossed jacquard gown from Anne Barge made the actress "feel like the best version of [herself]." "I knew immediately when I tried this one on that I had found it and let out a huge sigh of relief," she says.
On her feet, the bride wore simple white heels while Brooks accessorized with a pair of patterned dress shoes. Of course, both were left on the steps as the bride and groom stepped into the sand for a beachside photo-opp!
Like many "corona couples," Taylor and Brooks essentially went through the wedding planning process twice. "As excited as I was to plan it pre-COVID, it was giving me serious decision fatigue," Taylor admits, saying she welcomed the "lower maintenance" pace of organizing a more simple celebration.
Because Brooks was unable to shop for his wedding suit in-store, he went straight for a brand he knew would fit perfectly. The groom did pay tribute to his soon-to-be-wife through his navy J. Crew suit by adding a calla lily boutonniere—the same flower embossed on Taylor's gown!
When it came to wedding planning, the bride describes the experience as similar to making her Broadway debut: "If we don’t relax and enjoy the moment, it’s gone."
As Taylor began planning her reimagined COVID-19 wedding, she hired a florist over the phone. But after seeing the final bouquet, she wasn't thrilled with the result. "So my mom and my aunt took me to a florist down the road," she recalls. "We worked with them on the spot to figure out how to get what we really wanted. They were so sweet and accommodating and even let my mom go buy extra white roses (because they were out) at the grocery store down the street."
"We walked too fast," says Taylor of the processional with her father. "Even after I said, 'Everyone says you walk too fast down the aisle on your wedding day…let’s not do that.'"
The ceremony took place next to the lighthouse underneath "magnificent Banyon trees," which coincidentally played a symbolic role during the nuptials.
During the ceremony, the couple's officiant, preacher Doug Scharf, compared marriage to a tree–fitting for their tree-covered altar. The bride explains, "He mentioned the roots are the foundation and not what everyone sees necessarily, but the fruits come out of having strong roots. It was something I won’t forget."
The bride and groom also exchanged traditional vows in front of their 25 guests.
Later, the preacher ceremonially wrapped the bride and groom's hands in his stole.
"I was really excited to do a more intimate ceremony," admits Taylor, whose career has already given her "plenty of glamorous events" to attend in the past.
After saying "I do," the newlyweds made their ascent up the lighthouse steps for photos overlooking the sea. Later, they joined their guests for dinner at the nearby Pelican Club, followed by a steel drum performance.
The simplicity of our wedding felt like it represented us well, and that is the silver lining with COVID. It gave us permission to shake things up and focus on the real reason we were there.
"During the planning process, we got so frustrated with the social norms and expectations that have evolved around a day that is meant to be a celebration of a new beginning," she admits. "We were diligent about it being fun, and about celebrating, and bringing our families together."
The pair does, however, intend to celebrate their marriage with even more family and friends in the future. "I had to forfeit much of my vision because of the pandemic, but when I dream up my wedding, I really see all of my friends and family on the dance floor with Brooks and me. I still think we will have some sort of larger celebration when it is safe again," the actress shares.
But for Taylor and Brooks, they wouldn't trade the straightforward day for the world. "The simplicity of our wedding felt like it represented us well, and that is the silver lining with COVID, I think," Taylor says. "It gave us permission to shake things up and focus on the real reason we were there. AND—we can have a legit party later that doesn’t have to abide by all the 'rules!'"
Ceremony Venue Jupiter Beach Light House
Reception Venue Pelican Club
Planner Olivia Louderman
Officiant Doug Scharf of The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
Bridal Gown Anne Barge
Veil Bel Aire Bridal
Bridal Salon Mimi’s Couture Bridal Salon
Bride's Reception Dress Reformation
Bridesmaids’ Dresses Show Me Your Mumu
Mother of the Bride's Dress Alex Evenings
Groom’s Attire J. Crew
Engagement Ring & Weddings Bands Susie Saltzman
Wedding Bands Susie Saltzman
Floral Design FlowerMart
Invitations Shine Wedding Invitations
Rehearsal Dinner Venue Johnathan’s Landing Club
Accommodations Jupiter Beach Resort
Photography & Videography Michelle Lawson Photography