Fall is the perfect time to head to the beach — you get all the beauty of the sand and surf with milder temperatures. When Louisvillians Hannah Brotzge and Sam Brown got engaged, they knew they wanted to get married in Seaside, Florida, and they were willing to wait for more than 20 months to get the perfect destination wedding in Seaside. By having an extended engagement, they were able to ensure they had the perfect chapel and venue they always wanted.
Sam and Hannah met during their last year of high school and dated for more than five years. They dated throughout college and always knew they would get married some day. However their engagement came as a bit of a shock to Hannah. Sam surprised her during their family trip in January 2015 to Deer Valley, Utah, with a romantic sleigh ride. During the ride, they stopped to take a picture at an overlook with Park City in the background. Hannah had a prophetic feeling when they stopped that something was about to happen, and she slipped off the ring that she usually wore on her ring finger and dropped it in her pocket. Right after that, Sam got down on one knee and proposed. They took pictures and returned to the hotel to celebrate with family at a private dinner. As Hannah so eloquently shares, “Our sleigh ride was over, but our journey together was just beginning.”
Though they were able to have the wedding less than six months after they got engaged, they would not be able to get the Seaside Chapel or the lawn at Ruskin Place, where only four weddings are allowed each year, on that short of notice. They decided to book their wedding for October 1, 2016, which was 20 months after they got engaged, and they got all their first choices of chapel, venue and wedding planner. It was worth the wait.
Hannah hired a local event planner, Jennifer Lewis with It’s a Shore Thing, which was the key to planning the wedding away from home and getting access to all the best local vendors and services.
More than 90 guests happily made the trip to the beach for a long weekend, enjoying days in the sun and activities at night with a small intimate group. Guests rented homes throughout the area and got to spend quality time with each other in a relaxed setting.
Hannah’s family rented a large home in Seaside for the wedding that had two master suites and a large, open floor plan. She picked the home mainly for the wonderful natural light that encased it, knowing that it would make for the perfect place to take pictures. (As you will see in the pictures, she was right about the light.)
The reception was outside on the lawn at Ruskin Place with food stations, a five-layer tiered cake and a live band. Guests danced the night away, enjoying a beautiful sunset and perfect, warm fall beach weather.
Hannah, her four bridesmaids and her family all got ready at the house they rented for the week in Seaside. Hannah had matching short pajamas for everyone to wear while they did hair and makeup, enjoying a leisurely lunch at home before the 4 p.m. ceremony. Hannah chose sentimental jewelry and family heirlooms to wear for her special day.
Hannah found her dress at a boutique in California, where she was living at the time of her engagement. She had seen the dress online before seeing it in person, and she ended up getting the same dress in a silk taffeta material. She says it was perfect: “simple, elegant and timeless. It was the perfect fit to complement my body shape, and the only alteration I had to do was for the hemline.”
Bridesmaids wore simple navy dresses from J. Crew. Their strapless gowns perfectly matched the silhouette of Hannah’s wedding gown. Considering Hannah comes from a floral-minded family (her Brotzge grandparents founded Colonial Designs), Hannah knew exactly what she wanted for her flowers. Her bouquet was made of garden roses, polar star roses, ranunculus and hydrangeas. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were green and blue hydrangeas.
Hannah and Sam chose to not have a first look before the ceremony. They got dressed at their respective homes and then saw each other for the first time when Hannah walked down the aisle. The ceremony was at the beautiful rustic yet modern Seaside Chapel. Hannah had the altar laden with periwinkle hydrangeas, and the aisles had white hydrangea arrangements. She had a mostly white color scheme with pops of green and periwinkle, using one of her favorite flowers, hydrangeas, to incorporate all those colors.
Hannah and Sam said traditional vows before their guests in a non-denominational ceremony. Hannah describes the ceremony as the most memorable part of her wedding. “I still remember standing there saying our vows and us both being so overcome with emotion. It truly was the happiest day of our lives, and standing next to someone you love so deeply makes the journey even better.”
The reception was set on the lawn at Ruskin Place, a park in the middle of Seaside, which is kept in such immaculate shape that they only allow four weddings a year there. There was a dance floor, dinner seating and a lounge area all set up in this beautiful venue. Hannah used blue and green hydrangeas as accents and filled the tables with white polar star roses, garden roses, anemones, ranunculus and hydrangeas. She used reflective mercury glass, lanterns and candles throughout the space to give a luminous quality.
Hannah and Sam snuck out during the cocktail hour to take pictures on the beach at sunset. They based the timing of their wedding ceremony and reception on the sunset, which happened at approximately 6:20 p.m. While the guests enjoyed their cocktail hour, the bride and groom took magical pictures in the setting sun, and their guests never even realized they were gone. They rented a Rolls Royce to take them to the beach and back for pictures.
After the couple returned to the reception, dinner began. Hannah and Sam wanted everyone to be able to eat some of their favorite things, so they opted for three different food stations. The first station included grilled ribeye skewers with chimichurri sauce with spinach salad, smoked gouda mashed potatoes and roasted garden vegetables. The second food station was grass-fed beef sliders, Cajun grouper sliders, panko-crusted chicken fingers and French fries. The third station was a mac ‘n cheese station, which had gourmet mac ‘n cheese with topping options that included mushrooms, fried onions, Andouille sausage, jalepeños, bacon, cheddar, asparagus tips, fizzled shrimp and sun-dried tomatoes.
Hannah chose a local cake maker, Rhonda with Confections on the Coast. The wedding cake had five tiers with four different flavors — French vanilla, grand gala butter cake, chocolate pistachio, lemon poppyseed and a second tier of grand gala butter cake. They had a hard time limiting the cake to only four flavors, but they did get to enjoy eating the leftover cake the entire next week after the wedding.
After dinner and cake-cutting, guests headed to the dance floor where the party continued into the night. Hannah and Sam danced to “Everything” by Michael Bublé. Then, Hannah and her father danced to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra. With the sunset and the lights strung all over the lawn, guests danced to the sounds of Atlanta-based band Az Izz in the beautiful, warm fall night.
Cheers to the beautiful couple!
Venue: Seaside Chapel and the lawn at Ruskin Place (through Homeowner’s Collection)
Event planner: It’s a Shore Thing with Jennifer Lewis
Photography/videography: Pure 7 Photo Studios
Bride’s gown: Amsale from Haute Bride
Bride and bridesmaids’ shoes: Jack Rogers
Bridesmaids’ dresses: J. Crew
Hair: Johnathan Doria at Pure and Couture
Makeup: Jamie at Blush Beauty Lounge
Groom’s formalwear: Samuelsohn tuxedo from Rodes for Him
Invitations, programs & menu cards: Sally Balt of la Happy
Flowers: Florals By The Sea
Catering: Townsend Catering
Music: Az Izz
Cake: Confections on the Coast
Guest Accommodations: Homeowner’s Collection, VRBO & Watercolor Inn
See more spectacular Southern weddings — click HERE!