Bride and Groom Vow Exchange in the Coral Reef Gallery Ideas | White Wedding Ceremony Decor Inspiration | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium| Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio

Tropical Downtown Tampa Wedding | Florida Aquarium

Log in to Marry Me Tampa Bay to save your favorite vendors, venues, and wedding inspiration.

Need to register? Click here.

Chelsea and Chris’ tropical downtown Tampa wedding featured a summertime soiree in the couple’s hometown. The June celebration encapsulated the bride’s love for surfing and the tropical paradise aesthetic Florida is beloved for.

“I grew up surfing in St. Augustine and always pictured a vibrant beach wedding. We love everything about the ocean and the water. We wanted tropical vibes since the venue is under the sea! We loved all of the bright colors and felt like they enhanced and showcased our venue,” the bride shared. “Our guest attire was beach formal. We had the groom and groomsmen wear gray so that they would stand out against the blue tank. We chose lavender for the bridesmaids so it would complement the tank background and the flowers.”

To create a dream wedding experience, Chelsea did her homework by scrolling Instagram, viewing inspiration on Marry Me Tampa Bay, and attending Tie the Knot Ybor’s annual wedding showcase and venue tour.

“The Ybor expo was so much fun! We learned so much based on the way the venues were set up and met some of our vendors there. We also followed the Marry Me Tampa Bay Instagram for inspiration and local vendors,” Chelsea revealed.

For a vibrant 125-guest celebration, the bride and groom selected the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa’s Channel district, steering away from the unpredictable outdoors. The venue embodied beach vibes with climate control and offered an immersive guest experience.

“We wanted something beachy and fun that would allow for the ceremony and reception to be in one place and accommodate more than 100 people. We were initially thinking of the beach, but having a wedding outside in Florida can be a gamble. The Florida Aquarium was the perfect solution for the beach vibes, a/c, and a fully immersive guest experience. Our guests had a self-guided tour of the aquarium during the cocktail hour, and that really elevated everyone’s night,” Chelsea beamed. “The coordinators at the Aquarium were amazing to work with. They answered all of our questions in a timely manner and were able to accommodate some last-minute requests. I could not have asked for better people to work with; they really went above and beyond for us!”

In the quest for a photography team that could capture their moments with precision, the couple chose Lifelong Photography Studio for their skill in shooting in low-light conditions. During the engagement shoot, they had the pleasure of working with photographer Gabrielle, whose skill not only made them feel at ease but also ensured flawless posing, resulting in stunning photos.

“The ceremony was in front of the giant tank, and the room was dark. The staff at the Aquarium emphasized using one of their preferred vendors in order to make sure that the photography lighting was correct. We chose Lifelong Photography Studio because they were able to edit out any light reflections on the glass,” Chelsea revealed. “We did an engagement shoot with them and loved the photographer that we worked with! Gabrielle made us feel at ease when taking photos and not awkward at all. She also helped with posing us and corralling our large wedding party so that we have amazing photos.”

Chelsea envisioned the process of finding her wedding dress as an experience shared with her closest friends. Opting for a private shopping experience, she chose Truly Forever Bridal, known for its extensive selection of gowns and private suites. Femme Akoi Beauty Studio completed her look with a natural style glam.

“I wanted an A-line dress. Truly Forever Bridal has a large warehouse of dresses, and you try on dresses that are your size. I walked out with a dress that day,” the bride gushed. “We booked the Diamond Suite for all of my girls to come with and had food and drinks there. They did a good job of listening to what I liked and did not like and were able to pull a bunch of dresses to try on.”

The reception was adorned with stunning floral design from Save the Date Florida, while Grant Hemond and Associates kept the energy high on the dance floor. From a clever Polaroid station guest book to a custom wine glass solution and even a private moment of celebration between ceremony and reception, the couple enjoyed all the elements they planned for their wedding day.

“We wanted to be able to showcase our love and have a big party! Having people on the dance floor was a priority, and our DJ and light-up dance floor helped make that happen,” Chelsea shared. “Our guests have said that the venue and self-guided tour during the cocktail hour was the most unique wedding experience that they have ever been to. The lighting was amazing in the Everglades room, and everyone’s pics look amazing.”

Looking back at all of the excitement from the day, the moment that the pair declared their love to each other truly meant the most to Chelsea.

“We decided to write our own vows, and we didn’t share them with each other before, but they were complementary and flowed well,” the bride reminisced. “If anyone is unsure about writing vows, we would strongly suggest you do it.”


Instant Camera Rentals Banner1

Pearl Wedding Earring Ideas
Nude Wedding Shoe Inspiration
Matching Emerald Green Satin Wedding Day Pajamas | Elegant Bridal Hair and Makeup Ideas | Tampa Bay Hair and Makeup Artist Femme Akoi Beauty Studio

Where did you host your bachelorette party?
Vegas! I picked the weekend of my 30th birthday, so we were able to do a joint trip. I was one of the first to get married in my friend group, and no one had done Vegas yet. 

Groom's Gray Three Piece Suit with Tropical Tie Inspiration | Pink Bougainvillea and Greenery Boutonniere Ideas | Tampa Bay Florist Save The Date Florida

The Proposal:
Chris got the ring on a Friday in December when we were planning on giving our Christmas presents to each other. He immediately called my dad and my sister to ask for my hand in marriage. They both said yes.

He then hid the ring in a mortar and pestle set because it was the heaviest gift and proposed when I opened it. I had no idea it was coming, and it was nice that it was the two of us that got to share that moment. After, we went out to celebrate with friends!  

Wedding Party Trolley Ride Wedding Portrait | Gray and Lavender Attire Inspiration | Tampa Bay Photographer Lifelong Photography
Bride and Groom at the Mangrove Tunnel Tropical Wedding Portrait | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium | Bride and Groom Balcony Wedding Portrait | Photographer Lifelong Photography | Dress Truly Forever Bridal
Mismatched Lavender Bridesmaids Dresses | White Lace A-Line Wedding Dress with Cathedral Veil Inspiration | Tampa Bay Bridal Boutique Truly Forever Bridal Tampa | Florist Save The Date Florida

What was your wedding hair and makeup inspiration?

I don’t normally wear a ton of makeup, and I wanted a natural look that would last all night. I wanted my hair down since I didn’t have to worry about the weather in the Aquarium.

I found a really cute style on Instagram that I was able to show Monica, a stylist with Femme Akoi Beauty Studio, when I went in for my trial run.

Lavender and Gray Wedding Party Attire Inspiration | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium | Florist Save The Date Florida | Photographer Lifelong Photography

What was your wedding floral inspiration?

Tropical. I found Save the Date Florida on Instagram. Danielle Zechmann was amazing to work with, and with only a few inspirational photos, she was able to make our ideas come to life. 

Mismatched Lavender Bridesmaids Dresses | Tropical Summer Wedding Bouquet with Orange Roses, Birds of Paradise, Red Anthurium, Pink Bougainvillea, and Palm Leaf Greenery | Tampa Bay Florist Save The Date Florida
White Drapery with Crystal Chandelier and String Lights Wedding Ceremony Decor Ideas | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium
Stingray Fish Tank at Tampa Bay Wedding Venue The Florida Aquarium
White Wedding Ceremony Decor Inspiration | Coral Reef Gallery | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium | Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Bride and Groom Wedding Ceremony Vow Exchange in the Coral Reef Gallery Ideas | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium | Boutique Truly Forever Bridal Tampa

What did you look for in a wedding venue? 

We wanted something beachy and fun that would allow for the ceremony and reception to be in one place and accommodate more than 100 people.

We were initially thinking of the beach, but having a wedding outside in Florida can be a gamble. The Florida Aquarium was the perfect solution for the beach vibes, a/c, and a fully immersive guest experience. Our guests had a self-guided tour of the aquarium during the cocktail hour, and that really elevated everyone’s night. The coordinators at the Aquarium were amazing to work with. They answered all of our questions in a timely manner and were able to accommodate some last-minute requests. I could not have asked for better people to work with; they really went above and beyond for us!

Bride and Groom Vow Exchange in the Coral Reef Gallery Ideas | White Wedding Ceremony Decor Inspiration | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium| Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Bride and Groom First Kiss Wedding Portrait | Tropical Wedding Ceremony in the Coral Reef Gallery Inspiration | Lavender and Gray Bridal Party Attire Ideas | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium

What did you look for in a wedding photographer?

The ceremony was in front of the giant tank, and the room was dark. The staff at the Aquarium emphasized using one of their preferred vendors in order to make sure that the photography lighting was correct.

We chose Lifelong Photography Studio because they were able to edit out any light reflections on the glass. We did an engagement shoot with them and loved the photographer that we worked with! Gabrielle made us feel at ease when taking photos and not awkward at all. She also helped with posing us and corralling our large wedding party so that we have amazing photos.

Bride and Groom Just Married in the Coral Reef Gallery Wedding Portrait | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium | Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
Bride and Groom in the Coral Reef Gallery Wedding Portrait | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium | Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio
White Lace A-Line Wedding Dress Ideas | Tropical Wedding Ceremony in the Coral Reef Gallery | Elegant Hair and Makeup Inspiration | Tampa Bay Boutique Truly Forever Bridal Tampa | Event Venue The Florida Aquarium | Hair and Makeup Femme Akoi Beauty Studio | Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio

What was your wedding dress inspiration?

I wanted an A-line dress. Truly Forever Bridal has a large warehouse of dresses, and you try on dresses that are your size. I walked out with a dress that day.

We booked the Diamond Suite for all of my girls to come with and had food and drinks there. They did a good job of listening to what I liked and did not like and were able to pull a bunch of dresses to try on.

Romantic Bride and Groom Veil Wedding Portrait | Tropical Summer Bridal Bouquet with Orange Roses, Birds of Paradise, Bougainvillea, Mini Pineapples, Palm Leaves, and Greenery | Tampa Bay Florist Save The Date Florida | Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio

Where did you spend your honeymoon?
We were able to take two weeks off and spent the first week in the Maldives and the second week traveling Europe. We went to Germany, Florence, and Milan.

Tropical Seating Chart on Mirror with Gold Monogrammed Seal Wedding Reception Decor Ideas
Tropical Indoor Gold and Green Wedding Reception in the Vinik Channelside Room | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium | DJ Grant Hemond and Assoiciates

How would you describe your theme/wedding design inspiration?
I grew up surfing in St. Augustine and always pictured a vibrant beach wedding. We love everything about the ocean and the water. We wanted tropical vibes since the venue is under the sea! We loved all of the bright colors and felt like they enhanced and showcased our venue.

What were your colors?
Our guest attire was beach formal. We had the groom and groomsmen wear gray so that they would stand out against the blue tank. We chose lavender for the bridesmaids so it would complement the tank background and the flowers.

Tropical Indoor Wedding Reception in the Vinik Channelside Room | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium
Two-Tiered Round Wedding Cake with Textured Buttercream and Tropical Summer Orange Roses, Pink Bougainvillea, Red Anthurium, and Greenery Flower Accents | Tampa Bay Florist Save The Date Florida
Two-Tiered Round Wedding Cake with Textured Buttercream and Tropical Summer Orange Roses, Pink Bougainvillea, and Anthurium Flower Accents | Tampa Bay Florist Save The Date Florida
White Modern Wedding Reception Sweetheart Head Table with Better Together Neon Sign, Floating Candles, and White Roses with Tropical Greenery Decor Ideas | Tampa Bay Florist Save The Date Florida | Venue Florida Aquarium
LED Lit Dance Floor Inspiration | Indoor Purple Tropical Wedding Reception Ideas | Tampa Bay Event Venue The Florida Aquarium

What did you look for in a wedding DJ?

We wanted to get and keep everyone on the dance floor the entire night. My wedding planner told us that Jason at Grant Hemond & Associates was the first choice, and he was great!

We asked our guests what songs would get them out on the dance floor and made a playlist from those songs. Jason played songs exclusively from that list without us asking him to! He had a ton of suggestions for ceremony songs and was able to give us ideas and help narrow down what we wanted.

LED Lit Wedding Reception Dance Floor Inspiration

Which vendors really exceeded your expectations?
Gabrielle at Lifelong Photography Studios made us feel natural, and she even bustled my dress for me! Jason at Grant Hemond & Associates kept everyone on the dance floor and played all the songs we wanted. Our planner handled everything for us the day of, and we did not have to think of anything. Our wedding was exactly what we were imagining.

What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay couples?
Wedding planning is a lot, so take a deep breath and know that it will all work out. It’s a day about you, so try not to let all of the outside noise and opinions bog you down. Get multiple quotes from different vendors.

Behind the Vows Wedding Day Content Creation Banner

Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pros

Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros are highly respected by our local wedding community and have been personally vetted by our editor.

Feature Credits

Vendors and venues marked with

are Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros and have been personally vetted by our editor.

Ceremony and ReceptionFlorida Aquarium
Florists/DecorSave the Date Florida
DJ/Band & Live EntertainmentGrant Hemond & Associates
Dress and Bridesmaid AttireTruly Forever Bridal
Groomsmen AttireMen's Wearhouse
Invitations & StationeryShutterfly
Limo and Transportationjolly trolley
Categories
Wedding Styles
Setting
Wedding Colors
Location, ,

About the Author

Anna Coats

Marry Me Tampa Bay editor Anna Coats created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area’s best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talk show Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

View More Like This

Find Wedding Vendors
& Venues in Tampa Bay

We’ve done the research for you! Find the best Tampa Bay wedding vendors and venues for your wedding.

Search for Venues
Search for Vendors