Shannon and Craig's luxurious Clearwater wedding featured white, pink, and blue florals with touches of greenery and a grand outdoor tented reception with a classic black and white dance floor and elegant chandeliers.
“I was going for a romantic garden estate vibe. I always knew I wanted the reception to be outside with a clear tent under twinkling lights,” the bride explained. “When we toured our venue, I could instantly see my vision come to life with the beauty of the grand lawn.”
The Tampa bride and groom got engaged in Charleston where Shannon always thought they would say their vows. With the help of the couple's Clearwater wedding planner, Riley Gersch of Elegant Affairs by Design, they brought their vision of sweeping green courtyards and historic architecture to the couple's hometown. Riley's experience and knowledge of the Tampa Bay industry allowed the pair to have their romantic garden wedding locally.
“I wanted a wedding planner who clicked with my personality and was easy to work with. Riley checked both of those boxes,” the bride gushed. “Five minutes into my first call with her I knew she would be my planner. She told me she was from Buffalo, N.Y., which is where my husband is from, and right there I told her, ‘I don’t need any time to think It over, you’re my planner!' Riley and her team were fantastic to work with and made my wedding day a breeze.”
The couple showcased their personalities by including a mix of elegant and formal coupled with an inviting atmosphere for their 121 loved ones.
“Almost all of our guests traveled far to be here, so we really wanted the weekend to be relaxing for our guests. It was such a beautiful weekend with so much laughter, and love felt in the building. We are both pretty laid-back people, so we just wanted the vibe to be easy-going, fun, but still a tad boujee,” the bride revealed. “Feedback on the event was gorgeous and fine dining but also laid back and everyone enjoyed not having to leave the site for after-parties both nights. So we nailed it!”
Flowers were a top priority for the bride, who incorporated an asymmetrical garden arch into the ceremony. Every detail from the customized champagne bottle to the blush goblets on the tables made the wedding day unforgettable.
“The flower arch was very important to us to transform the ceremony space and add that garden theme I was going for,” Shannon shared.
Since their guests traveled from afar for the January celebration, the pair wanted their reception to be an all-night celebration and selected the highly respected team at Grant Hemond & Associates.
“We wanted someone who would really listen to what music we requested but could also put their own spin on it. Every single person I asked for a recommendation all said Grant Hemond & Associates, so it was really a no-brainer,” Shannon beamed. “It was a pleasure working with our DJ, and we danced the entire night!”
The bride and groom look back fondly on their wedding day and can't forget all the love they received throughout the day.
“Being in one room with our closest family and friends was so special. They are from the north so it was very important to us that we could spend as much time as possible with them,” the bride remembered. “Some guests we really only get to see every couple of years, so it was very special to have everyone under one roof for the entire weekend.”
Where did you host your bachelorette party?
Miami, FL! We chose Miami because it was easy to travel to with COVID, and two of my friends are local to South Florida.
What did you look for in a wedding planner?
I wanted someone who clicked with my personality and was easy to work with. Riley with Elegant Affairs by Design checked both of those boxes.
Five minutes into my first call with her I knew she would be my planner. She told me she was from Buffalo, N.Y., which is where my husband is from, and right there I told her, ‘I don’t need any time to think It over, you’re my planner! Riley and her team were fantastic to work with and made my wedding day a breeze.
We enjoy going to golf tournaments, and we saw that the PGA Championship was at Kiawah Island near Charleston which is about a 7-hour drive for us. Craig knew I had my eye on Charleston for a potential wedding location, so he spontaneously booked the trip for the weekend.
On our walk to dinner Sunday night we passed the Emelie Hotel. I mentioned to him that it was the hotel I loved as a wedding venue (yes I was planning my wedding before I had the ring LOL). After dinner on our walk back, Craig said, “Hey let’s go check out that hotel you love.” The next thing I know, we were outside in the courtyard under their beautiful string lights, and he was down on one knee asking me to marry him.
How would you describe your theme/wedding design inspiration?
I was going for a romantic garden estate vibe. I always knew I wanted the reception to be outside with a clear tent under twinkling lights and when we toured our venue, I could instantly see my vision come to life with the beauty of their grand lawn. We initially were looking at venues in Charleston, and our venue has a similar look to the venues I loved there, so it was a perfect trade-off.
What were your colors?
White, pink, green, and blue. These colors went well with the romantic garden theme.
Which vendors really exceeded your expectations?
The venue really exceeded our expectations. We were one of the first weddings to have the ceremony and reception on-site, so we didn’t have much to go off of as examples, but no ask was too big for their team, and they were such a pleasure to work with. We had a last-minute change to move our ceremony inside due to the weather, and Diana and her team made it happen seamlessly. It ended up being so beautiful and meant to be.
What did you look for in a wedding DJ?
We wanted someone who would really listen to what music we requested but could also put their own spin on it.
Grant Hemond & Associates came highly recommended Every single person I asked for a recommendation all said Grant Hemond, so, it was really a no-brainer. It was a pleasure working with our DJ. They are extremely professional, and we danced the entire night!
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay couples?
Make a list of what is most important to you and your fiance before you even start to plan your wedding. Don’t sweat the small stuff; none of it really matters in the grand scheme of things, and only you will notice. I remember leading up to the wedding a guest said to me, “We have zero expectations for your wedding, so whatever happens…happens.” Once I heard that I really just let myself relax and let everything play out.