As a Clearwater native, Leah always dreamed of a Florida beach wedding with her closest family and friends.
“I always knew I wanted to be married barefoot in the sand and what better place than Clearwater Beach?” the bride shared. “We used a combination of driftwood, barn wood, lanterns and soft flowers. I wanted something that complimented being on the beach, but still looked casual and pretty.”
The bride and groom's casual Clearwater Beach wedding featured an outdoor ceremony with a rustic, wooden altar covered in peach and purple flowers. The couple's friends and family were an important part of their wedding day, with a close friend officiating the ceremony and Leah's father helping to create many of the wood elements.
“Walking down the aisle was like a dream. Every thing that I pictured in my head came to reality, and seeing Rush at the end waiting for me was perfection,” Leah reminisced. “Hearing and saying the vows we wrote ourselves was really special; they weren’t at all alike, but went together so well.”
The bride chose her favorite color, purple, as the main color for her wedding palette and bridesmaids dresses.
“Every girl got to pick their style. I think that was very important so that everyone felt their best in them. All I asked was that they hit slightly above the knee and be the same shade of purple,” Leah explained. “We chose Bella Bridesmaids because they carried the designer I wanted, Jim Hjelm; they were very easy to work with and had locations all over for girls who didn’t live locally.”
At their reception, Leah and Rush incorporated a tradition from her parents' wedding day.
“We were introduced first, and then we introduced our wedding party, carrying on a tradition my parents did when they got married,” the bride shared. “That was fun. We got to share a little bit about each person.”
Looking back, one the bride's most memorable moments was a surprise performance from the groom.
“Rush wrote me a song and surprised me with it at the reception. He had it professionally recorded so we could dance to it. It was so beautiful!” Leah gushed. “The whole day was perfect, start to finish! People said it was one of the best weddings they’d been to and that it was so ‘us'.”
How would you describe your theme?
Rustic, casual, beachy. We used a combination of driftwood, barn wood, lanterns and soft flowers. I didn’t want the “cheesy” beach theme. I wanted something that complimented being on the beach, but still looked casual and pretty.
What were your colors?
Our main color was a muted purple, and we tied in peaches, greens and tans. Purple has always been my favorite color, but I didn’t want it to be over the top. I wanted the guys to like it just as much as the girls!
What was your inspiration for your bridesmaids dresses?
Every girl got to pick their style. I think that was very important so that everyone felt their best in them. All I asked was that they hit slightly above the knee and be the same shade of purple.
Rush proposed during a cheerleading practice for a youth team I coach, the Palm Harbor Panthers. Everyone was in on it, and the girls did a special cheer, then separated as Rush came in the back singing to me. He brought all my close friends and family. I was shocked, and it was the most thoughtful way to do it. I loved that everyone closest to me was involved.
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay Brides?
It’s cliché, but just enjoy every moment. I never got stressed out or worried about anything. It is supposed to be the best day of your life! I had a lot of help, but it was such a fun process.
Anytime it gets to be too much, take a break for a couple days or ask for help.
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Carlouel Yacht Club
Photographer: Stephanie A. Smith Photography
Videographer: VPN Studios
Florist: Family Friend
Caterer: Carlouel Yacht Club
Cake: Cake Designs by JC and Sugardarlings
DJ: Hardy and Co.
Officiant: Family Friend
Dress Shop: Athena Bridal
Bridesmaid Dress Shop and Designer: Bella Bridesmaids – Jim Hjelm *Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pro
Hair & Makeup: Eri Vincent Makeup