This week's #WeddingWednesday blog is all about Amanda + Bryan and their gorgeous "Great Gatsby" inspired Roaring '20s Fourth of July Destination Wedding in Clearwater Beach, Florida! It was such a warm, welcoming weekend filled with family fun and, of course, celebration! I photographed several days in Clearwater Beach with the wedding party and their families and am so grateful and humbled to have been a part of the family to capture all of these great moments! I'm very excited to share them with you, and know you will be too! Stick around until the very end for the Grande Finale ;)
Bryan + Amanda chose the Hilton Clearwater Beach to host their destination wedding because of it's beautiful, white sandy beaches and picturesque, teal-blue water. Additionally, the Hilton is within walking distance of most, if not all local hotspots, including plenty of local flavor restaurants, bars, and beach shops. For good eats and entertainment, you won’t be disappointed with a night of live music and karaoke at lively establishments such as The Brown Boxer Pub and Grill, Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, and Shephard's Tiki Beach Bar and Grill. Your best bet for shopping in Clearwater Beach is at the Shoppes on Sand Key and the SurfStyle store on Beach Walk.
The rehearsal dinner was held just down the street at Bob Heilman's Beachcomber, an upscale restaurant that certainly boasts it's old Floridian charm - oh! and their fried chicken, too. We joined everyone for dinner, cameras in hand, ready to capture the anticipation on the faces of everyone as they were filled with excitement and happiness for Bryan + Amanda. If you knew them, the first thing you would notice is how perfect they really are for one another, and how they love and respect one another just by the way they look at each other with fireworks in their eyes!
Of course I had to have some fun with the wedding party and family while waiting for dinner and the second (or third) round of cocktails!
A fun pre-wedding night of celebrating at the tiki bar on the ocean, dancing to the acoustic guitar on the warm ocean breeze led to singing karaoke and a night out in Clearwater, where we met Pirate Captain Bill who so graciously offered to tote us around different nightlife spots in his "Shipwrecked" golf cart. I can't make this stuff up, people. I'm a magnet for the awesome.
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for! It was finally the Fourth of July, and it was going to be one amazing(ly hot) wedding day. The ladies started their day early and caught breakfast and mimosas before starting hair and makeup. While they were off preparing for their day, I photographed the detail shots, bridesmaids dresses, and Amanda's wedding dress. Aren't these custom hangers cute? Each bridesmaid had a custom-made hanger decorated with their name, which makes for a really great extra touch over those plain and boring plastic hangers.
The beautiful Bride Amanda enjoyed some quiet morning time reading her favorite book, none other than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! I love her imagination!
Amanda + Bryan's wedding theme was a really neat, "Roaring '20's Wedding", complete with feathers, bow-ties, bowler hats, and vaudeville flair! Lights, Camera, Action! Hollywood style is what I am all about!
As I left the ladies with my associate photographer, Marissa, I went over to see how Bryan and the groomsmen were coming along, and that the boys weren't causing too much trouble back in the room. Bryan started suiting up as he enjoyed a vodka martini with lime, and plugged in his guitar to shred The Star Spangled Banner on the beach to celebrate Independence Day.
We made our way down to the lobby to prepare for the First Look (where the Bride and Groom see each other privately for a few minutes before the ceremony). Bryan hugged his mom as she pinned on his boutineer and we headed towards the beach to meet Amanda.
Bryan was pacing with excitement and anticipation, waiting and wondering to see how his beautiful Bride to be would surprise him.
Time to get hitched! The ceremony is up next! I had to throw one of me in here ;) I'm packing my normal wedding day gear here. I use a Black Rapid Double camera sling, ThinkTank Photo accessory belt with a lens pouch attached, as well as a ThinkTank Urban Disguise travel camera bag. I am sponsored by ThinkTank Photo as an affiliate photographer, use this link when you shop to receive free gear with purchase! Use my ThinkTank Photo promotional code and affiliate link.
Here comes the bride!
After the ceremony, we photographed on Clearwater Beach and around the reception area, capturing the beautiful blue and silver tints of the ocean, sand and horizon, and then hitting the boardwalk and landscaped areas to add in palm trees, greenery, and textures for contrast and variety. We had a blast working with everyone to capture these fun, lighthearted, naturally happy wedding party photos!
What's more patriotic than a wedding on the Fourth of July in Clearwater Beach Florida?? The flag that adorns the background in these next photos belongs to Bryan's father.
"It was the Holiday Flag flown on the USS Coral Sea during Operation Desert Storm. My dad served on the ship (Marine Coprs) and after Desert Storm the carrier was decommissioned," Bryan shares. "The Holiday flag is the largest amongst military decor flags and is typically flown when returning home to an American port."
Amanda is red, white and beautiful! I love how the American Flag hangs so boldly in the backdrop!
Complimenting and completing Amanda + Bryan's Geat Gatsby inspired Roaring '20s Wedding theme is a very soft pastel color palette. Seafoam and aquamarine tints compliment the white linens and simple, yet very effective beach-style patio chairs. Teal outdoor lanterns, classic white candles and minimalistic letterpress invitations decorate and adorn the placeholders for the reception guests. And look at those old antique tin champaign holders! I'll have to ask where they found those if anyone is interested!
Two very special and unique touches to Amanda+ Bryan's wedding were the "Conner Cigar Bar", and the custom Great Gatsby inspired wedding cake. The cigar bar was a great touch for guests to enjoy, using a simple chalkboard for placement and scattered matches on the table, where the boxes read "Bryan + Amanda / Fourth of July".
Amanda + Bryan easily win best wedding cake of all time (for me). The cake is decorated with F. Scott Fitzgerald's text from "The Great Gatsby" and reads,
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning - So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Dancing and celebration carried away long into the night as the sun set across the ocean's horizon, drawing the Fourth of July fireworks and festivities near! It's go time! Enjoy the show ;)
We whisked Amanda + Bryan through the gathering crowds to a few pre-planned locations to photograph a series of beautiful Fourth of July Fireworks wedding photos. Using a little off-camera flash and good timing, the bombs started bursting in air as I bursted with excitement for what I would photograph and capture through the lens next! A grand sparkler exit followed by Clearwater Beach's Fourth of July Fireworks show made for an incredible magic show to end the night with.
Congratulations, Mr. + Mrs. Conner! Thank you and your families so much for welcoming me into your family over those magical few days! You are two of the most warm-hearted and wonderful people whom I've ever met, and I'm grateful to call you good friends!
I traveled down to Orlando, FL to photograph Amanda + Bryan's one-year anniversary session at Walt Disney World, where Bryan is a Special Effects Technician in Disney's Cast. There's plenty more magic (and fireworks) to come! Each and every Wednesday, I publish a #WeddingWednesday blog highlighting weddings I've photographed from all over the country and the Caribbean. I'd love to hear your comments, thoughts or feedback. Let me know what you think in the comments section below, or send me an email here.