Christen and Jeff had a lovely Key West destination wedding at the historic Casa Marina. Conceived by the railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, Casa Marina opened its doors in 1920 as a resort for the wealthy patrons of Flagler’s Overseas Railroad. The luxury and extravagance still remains today as this historic property continues to amaze and inspire guests. It is the perfect place for a classic Key West wedding and I never tire of shooting at this location.
Casa Marina for getting ready photos is just perfection.
After getting ready, we got the day started with a first look and some bridal party photos at Truman’s Little White House.
I get a lot of questions about first looks when talking to couples. Fundamentally, whether or not you want a first look is up to you. Christen and Jeff had a first look so that they could spend time going around Key West with their wedding party for photos. They hired a trolley, grabbed some drinks, and had a little party as they traveled around Key West. Having the extra time before the wedding does give us more opportunity for photos as you can rarely schedule something like this for after the ceremony.
When doing around-the-town sessions, be in Key West or Knoxville, we always plan out the stops that we want to make and detail out the driving route. Generally, depending on the number of stops, we like to plan between an hour to an hour and a half. However, the day of, flexibility is the name of the game. I have had around the town sessions where we can actually add additional stops and then other times when we only make it to half of the places. Traffic, weather, and timeliness all play into exactly how much we can capture. It always works out fine but we have to be willing be flexible and change directions if necessary.
And what about these bridesmaids dresses from Tommy Bahama? I may or may not have tried to find one online to purchase after the wedding…. for me. I couldn’t find them but I still keep my eye open. Regardless – does anyone else just adore how they match the actual palms? It is just so fun.
Truman’s Little White House and its grounds are not only historic but are a really great place for photos.
And then we headed off for some fun shots around Key West and at Casa Marina.
The light around Mallory Square can be a bit tricky. There is very little shade and a ton of reflections but it is well worth the visit. During the day, Mallory Square is much less crowded and the old buildings make for some great backdrops.
And if you bridal party is as fun as this one was…
There are a ton of great places to photograph Casa Marina bridal portraits and couple portraits but my favorite are under the archways. The light is always diffused and complimentary and the archways just scream classic and historic.
One of my favorite moments? The moment right before a kiss….
Christen was just lovely and classic in her Chelsea Cutrell gown. It was light and airy – the perfect beach wedding dress. She reminded me of a Greek goddess.
If the tide is just right, I love having my couples walk out onto the rocks on the beach at Casa Marina. The reflection in the water makes for some fun images. Plus at sunset, it is really easy to get a a wide variety of images – from silhouettes to more light and airy images.
One thing that drew Christen and Jeff to my photography was my use of film in my wedding images. I love their appreciate of film and adore that they love the different types of images I get from my film shots.
Let’s talk about the ceremony –
Casa Marina has two areas for beachfront wedding ceremonies. They are far enough away to where you can’t see the other ceremony and feel very secluded. The staff does a great job of keeping onlookers away.
Let’s talk reception for a moment.
Christen and Jeff chose to have their reception on the beach at Casa Marina, surrounded by string lights, the full moon and the sound of the water. It was about as romantic as you could get. Plus, since they had a smaller guest count, they could all fit at one table which made for a very relaxed, intimate feel.
A Casa Marina wedding is always such an extravagant affair.
One of Jeff’s favorite part of the night was the first dance with Christen, which I think is the sweetest thing ever. The intimate nature of their wedding made the first dance even more sweet.
Christen and Jeff echoed what I hear from a lot of couples. Don’t stress over the little details. Christen said – “Do what you want but don’t let those little details cause a lot of stress.” I love this!
Christen’s dad gave an amazing toast that had everyone roaring.
And this, honestly, may be one of my favorite shots ever.
A final piece of advice from the happy couple – if you are planning a destination wedding, make sure you make time for you and your fiancé/spouse at the location. You can easily spend all of your time entertaining guests so make sure you make time to focus on the two of you as well.
Please reach out if you have any questions about having a Casa Marina wedding or planning your perfect destination wedding anywhere in the world!
Venue: Casa Marina
Planner: Destination Wedding Studio
Hair and Makeup: Studio Marie Pierre
Florals: Duarte Floral Design
Megan Ellis is a Knoxville wedding photographer and a Key West wedding photographer. She specializes in working with couples who are planning destination weddings and in creating natural, classic images with an artistic flair. She is also a licensed Smoky Mountain wedding photographer, with all necessary permits to photograph in the national park.