When Sara asked me to photograph her wedding on Manasota Key, Florida, I didn’t hesitate to say “Yes!” I mean, come on! First of all, it’s Sara. And if you have ever met Sara, you love her. And it’s Florida. If you have ever been to Florida, …. well, you know the rest. Clearly this was a win-win situation for everyone, and I could hardly contain my excitement during the months preceding Sara and Mike’s wedding day. Every time Sara and I would chat, she would drop hints about her plans for the day. Succulents, Japanese lanterns, beach side ceremony… It was like a wedding photographer’s dream all wrapped into one! And, I need to tell you, it was all that I thought it would be…and more.
Manasota Key is a barrier island that sits on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It. Is. Gorgeous. And remote. And a true escape from reality. And did I say GORGEOUS? It is home to Manasota Beach Club where Sara and Mike chose to hold their wedding festivities. It is also home to about 568 million lizards. At least. But that’s a story for another day… The beach club was covered in lush, green, exotic plants and colorful hibiscus flowers decorated the walkways. Gopher tortoises wandered the premises at their leisure, making their way onto the beach club courtyard around noon each day for lunch. They were not phased by the visitors that shared their space and were happy to take hibiscus flowers out of your hand should you decide to feed them. The lizards I mentioned were everywhere. As in EVERYwhere. They scurried in every direction as we walked the paths, and the blue heron met us on the beach in the mornings. If it isn’t apparent already, the Manasota Beach Club was a magnificent, unique, perfect venue to celebrate the love of Sara and Mike.
On the day of the wedding, Sara…in true laid-back, calm, sweet, Sara style…went swimming. She swam in the ocean. She swam in the pool. And she enjoyed the downtime surrounded by her closest friends and family who had made the trip to Florida to stand with her and Mike as they became one. When it was time, Sara, her sister, and her best friends prepared in a seaside cottage overlooking the Gulf. The sun shone bright and there was a glimmer in Sara’s eye. She had waited for this day for a long time. A verrrrry long time…and she was savoring every. single. moment.
On the sand, a bamboo arbor stood facing the dunes. Mike had personally designed and hand-made this arbor for this day, and it was stunning. It’s simple beauty was breathtaking, and there in the sand, on an otherwise empty beach, it stood tall. Mike stood beneath it as Sara and her father made their way down the seashell lined path towards him. It was there, surrounded by their closest family and friends, that Sara and Mike promised each other forever. They said personally written vows to each other… they laughed at personal jokes… and they cried tears of joy. The crowd cried with them as they celebrated this moment..this day…this love. With arms raised in excitement, the newly announced Mr. and Mrs. Weidner made their way to the beach club’s Oak deck where strung lights decorated tree branches. Covered in burlap and lace, and underneath a canopy of green, the tables glowed in the evening light. It was beautiful in every way. Each and every detail Sara had planned for her day turned out just as she had hoped. Those that loved her and Mike most were at their sides. And she was finally Mrs. Weidner. All was right with the world.
They released Japanese lanterns over the ocean and danced well into the evening. There was much to celebrate and they had no intention of cutting this party short.
Sara and Mike,
I truly do have the best job ever. And I’m not just saying that because you invited me to Florida. But I am saying that because I can now say the number of friends I have has increased by two…well, three, if we count your sweet Aussiedoodle, Duff. I have absolutely enjoyed every moment of my time with you. Your friends and family are welcoming and gracious, and I couldn’t be more appreciative of their support of me and my work along the way. Your love for each other is evident, and I am honored to have been able to witness it at such a special time. I sincerely hope that you love your photos and that you are able to look back at them for years to come and remember the adventures you had at Manasota Beach Club. The sun, the sand, the family, the friends, and the overwhelming abundance of love that was poured out around you as everyone came together to make your wedding day spectacular. I hope you had a blast at the Cove in the Bahamas, and I hope to see you both again soon! Much love, M xoxo
Let me just tell ya…this bouquet was a labor of love. Sara’s Aunt Lynn put this bouquet together with hydrangeas and succulents Sara had ordered as well as greenery found around the beach club property. LOVE the end result!
Classic and simple accessories. Perfection.
Sara chose cream and sea green as her wedding day colors. Her paper suite was exquisite. Don’t you love that twine bow?
I’d say this bride is happy about that dress!
Sara, you made a beautiful bride. BEAUTIFUL!
It’s time to celebrate!
Before the First Look, we did some bridal portraits of Sara. She looked radiant as she waited to meet her groom.
I love a First Look. This is one reason why… How great are these photos. Mike is cracking me up! I’m pretty sure he’s about to explode with excitement!
It’s always nice when there are so many options for backdrops during a wedding. Manasota Beach Club left nothing to be desired.
This one may just be my favorite from the day. LOVE it!
Check out those branches! So cool!
From lush green backdrops to the Gulf of Mexico! Can we go back please? Like… NOW?
And there’s our blushing bride again…
More of the First Look…
Remember that arbor I mentioned earlier? That Mike made out of bamboo? Well, here is the masterpiece. And I am not even joking. How GORGEOUS is that thing!?!? Look at that detail!
And then it was time…
This intimate ceremony allowed for unusually emotional moments. It was special to have family so close to the couple and able to interact with them. Priceless memories were made.
Hey, pretty lady!
After dinner, the party got started on the front patio. Lucky for Sara, a friend she used to work with in Virginia was living in Tampa. So, she was kind enough to come and serve drinks at the wedding. It really is a small world!
Dinner on the Oak Deck…
Mike’s two sisters and Sara’s sister gave heartfelt and funny toasts to the happy couple!
Justin did a fantastic job of keeping the party going well into the night! He is a wonderful musician.
A first dance beneath the stars and with the sound of waves crashing in the background. Gah!
Each guest had their own lantern to release into the night sky. Talk about a sight to behold!
To view more of Sara and Mike’s Manasota Beach Club wedding, check back for updated links to their full gallery and slideshow! To view their Libby Hill Park engagement post, click here.
Happy Monday, friends!
Lanterns: Sky Lanterns.us
Dress: Charlotte Bridal
Bakery: (Key Lime cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies) Simply Yum Yum Bakery
Succulents: The Succulent Source
Table Decor: Made with fabric from Save On Crafts
Rings: Designed and Made by David Shae at Compass Jewelers
Photography: Michelle Renee Photography
Guitarist: Justin Layman