In case you’ve been hiding under a coconut, you know that the hottest wedding trend this year is all things tropical. Taking cues from destinations from Tulum to Hawaii, the beachy effortlessness, vibrant color palettes, and deliciously gorgeous natural elements have taken over 2019 wedding design. To achieve those island vibes for your big day, we’ve rounded up eight tropical wedding ideas to turn any venue, anywhere in the world, into paradise. Spoiler alert: there’s palm leaves everywhere you look!
When Amanda and James began planning their Cole’s Garden wedding in Oklahoma City, they knew two things with absolute certainty: they wanted to create a “wow” factor that was all their own, and they wanted photographer Melissa Marshall to captured it all! So, it should come as no surprise that we’re completely obsessed with everything about this oh-so-romantic wedding day! The couple started with a classic vibe by selecting champagne bridesmaids’ gowns and using tons of candles and antique furniture to decorate the venue. Then they added a modern twist with modern calligraphy, neon signs, and a geometric wedding cake made by Amy Cakes. To finish it off, they tasked Poppy Lane Design with creating “organized chaos” with over-the-top floral designs that added a totally glamorous look. Wow factor = achieved!
If I had to pick just one of the most memorable moments of the day, it would be when James shed some tears during our vow exchange. At that point we had been together for about 7.5 years, but I had never seen him cry before. We felt it would be important to write and personalize our own vows, and I’m so glad we did. Seeing him tear up made my heart burst with emotions, and everything about that moment was perfect. There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.
Growing up, I always dreamt about what I would look like on my wedding day, and that image always included a long train. That said, I never dreamt I would cry when I found my dress, but when I put that baby on, “the moment” was so real. I had never felt so beautiful, and it was everything I could’ve wanted. It had the most romantic lace and beaded details throughout the gown. I made the dress my own by turning an extra beaded applique into removable off-the-shoulder sleeves. I felt amazing in it!
As part of Vietnamese tradition, the bride and groom will change into their ‘ao dai’ while visiting with guests and toasting to a happy marriage during dinner. Both our ao dais were custom made in Vietnam during my mom’s yearly visit. I also wanted a dress that would be easy to move in on the dance floor, so I changed yet again into a great backless slip dress from Lovers and Friends that gave me moves like Jagger all night.
I’m floral obsessed and knew I wanted heavy flowers where it mattered. I told my florist my floral vision was “organized chaos.” I wanted everything to be intentionally unintentional. When my florist knew what I was talking about right off the bat I knew she was my girl! I also knew I wanted the sensation of dancing under the stars with flowers dripping all night. We accomplished this with lots of string lighting and a stunning flower chandelier over the dance floor.
James is an avid whiskey connoisseur so we decided to do a whiskey tasting for our guest during cocktail hour. We brought in some local Kansas City whiskey that James loves such as Rieger and Tom’s town, along with other ones he adores. We also made one of our signature cocktails a horse feather, which is a staple whiskey cocktail around the Kansas City area. Everyone at the wedding was a huge fan of the tasting and cocktails.
The most important wedding planning advice I can give is to hire a great wedding planner! Ariana, with Aisle Be With You, was a godsend! She worked with me on bringing my vision to life and made it all cohesive, while also keeping a running budget along the way. Planners have connections to the wedding industry and work with different vendors every weekend. They can steer you in the right direction when it comes to selecting a team to achieve a certain vision. I know a lot of times people will cut out the planner to save money but I really believe that we ended up saving money by having the guidance of a planner. They will also answer all the big day questions by vendors, caterers, and guests and make sure your day goes as smoothly as possible.
My husband surprised me by having our wedding band learn “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes. For as long I can remember, that has always been my go-to karaoke song. I’m a horrible singer, too! For some unknown reason, when I sing that song, I drop about 3 octaves lower than my actual voice. Close friends and family always associate that song with me, and every time they hear it I’ll usually get a text about how my song is on! When James was planning this with the band, he told them that I would most likely be tipsy and, no matter where I was, I would get really excited, run on stage, grab the mic, and start singing. I did exactly that and the entire crowd sung along. It was a great time and a memory I’ll never forget!
Calling all country-loving, fashion-forward couples: Meghan and Jimmy’s Buxton Hall wedding is everything you need to see today! The couple put their personalities on full display for their guests, showcasing the venue’s vintage design with minimal, retro decor and drawing inspiration from the geeral vibe of Asheville, their love of BBQ, and country music. When we first laid eyes on the bride’s chic Morgane Le Fay gown, which she topped with an embroidered white denim jacket from Rusty Cuts, we were in love. But then we saw that each of her bridesmaids also had a custom jacket to match the bride’s and the groom went full-on western with a custom nudie suit from Union Western Clothing, and our hearts exploded with happiness! This wedding is unlike anything we’ve seen, and Sarah Murray Photography was literally the perfect choice to capture it. If you think you’ve seen every type of southern wedding, think again!
Jimmy is from North Carolina and has always loved Asheville. We’ve traveled there many times together and, after we got engaged in Chapel Hill, we went to Asheville the next day. It just felt like the perfect place for our wedding! Jimmy also has an affinity for cooking and barbecue, so we knew that was definitely the vibe we wanted. I actually reached out to Buxton Hall when we were still on our engagement trip because the space was so incredible. We’re so grateful that they let us use their incredible space and amazing menu!
Our dear friend Rhea — who is a shamanic priestess — was our officiant, and she did an incredible job. We didn’t know what she was going to say until we both got up there, and she highlighted our life together. She even surprised us with a quick film photo right before we said our vows to commemorate our very last moment as an unwed couple. We also said our own vows, which was special to us — though, in fairness, I started ugly happy crying before I could get the words out! So my months of writing the perfect vows actually just materialized into me repeating, “I love you!”
Our best advice for other couples who are planning their wedding is to be true to yourself and your aesthetic as a couple. There were moments where I just wanted everything to be white and modern, with pink carnations and baby’s breath, vellum menus, and a sheer molly Goddard dress. But then I remembered that I wasn’t planning my 30th birthday celebration; it’s needed to be about both of us! When planning your wedding, make sure to use both of your ideas, preferences, aesthetics, and tastes so the day feels like both of you.
As a jeans and a t-shirt girl, I wanted my wedding dress to be modern, clean, and simple. I really love the dress that Julia Roberts wore at the end of Runaway Bride, so thought a sheer element would be interesting. I just didn’t know where or how to find it! I came across Morgane Le Fay after tons of Google searches and popped into their shop on a whim after a marathon day of dress shopping. As soon as I put it on, I knew it was the one. It is still the prettiest thing I have ever worn, and I felt so amazing in it that day!
Jimmy was planning to wear a black tux, but it just didn’t feel like him. Because we both love of country music so much, he decided to wear a custom nudie suit a la Graham Nash and Flying Burrito Brothers. We finally landed on the sun from a bright Phoebus album cover (one of his favorite albums) as the inspiration, along with dogwood flowers to represent his home state of North Carolina.
The mustard leather chairs at Buxton Hall really sparked the inspiration for our color palette. Buxton has a lot of vintage elements, particularly with the dark wood floors and tables, so it felt like soft pinks and greens would be the perfect juxtaposition. We also made palo santo bundles with quotes from our favorite artists or songs for each place setting so that everyone could take the good vibes from our day with them!