Allison & Cory’s Cocktail Style Outdoor Wedding
Real wedding highlight courtesy of Up The Creek Farms
Tell us the story and inspiration behind this wedding.
Soon after we got engaged, Cory and I sat down and listed out the top adjectives we wanted to describe our wedding day. We landed on “fun, relaxed, casual, upbeat, personal, and happy.” We aligned on what we would prioritize (music, open bar, relaxed atmosphere, etc.) and decided what was less important to us (typical wedding traditions, formal dinner, etc.). We wanted people to walk away from that day feeling like it was a true reflection of our interests and personality as a couple, not necessarily a day that checked all of the traditional “wedding boxes.”
Our vision of the ideal wedding day was to minimize our guests’ focus and attention ON us and instead maximized time guests would spend WITH us, and each other. All of our decisions and choices were grounded in that vision. To achieve that, we decided to forego some of the typical traditions—like assigned seating, a sit-down dinner, and toasts/speeches—and instead opted for a cocktail-style reception where everyone could feel free to eat, drink, mingle, and dance whenever they wanted, without a set schedule.
We wanted to maximize time with our AWESOME band, so we decided against some of the typical traditions later in the night too, like the bouquet and boutonniere toss, so we could get the most time on the dance floor and not disrupt the overall “flow” of the night.
A note about some of our other details/choices that helped create the vibe we wanted: We love music and wanted to fill the venue with it from the moment people stepped off the shuttle! We chose an incredible bluegrass band to play as people arrived, for the ceremony, and during cocktail hour to round out the old southern Florida feel of the venue, and create a festive, upbeat vibe. They were such a hit! Everyone loved it.
For the reception, we chose our favorite local band that we knew would keep the energy up all night. With Kiera’s incredible help, we were very intentional with the tables and floor plans. We created a mixture of low- and high-top tables, some with tablecloths and some without, to create the relaxed seating style we wanted. We wanted to encourage people to sit wherever they wanted and not necessarily remain at a table all night, so we kept seating open. We were intentional with the overall “flow” of the reception too, making sure the transitions between cocktail hour and reception, etc. were smooth and kept the vibe up and energetic. We recognize that everyone’s idea of “fun” is different, so we wanted there to be a setting or activity for everyone.
There was lounge furniture inside and outside if you wanted to relax, outside space if you enjoyed the outdoors, lawn games and dancing if that was your thing. We provided shuttle transportation to and from the venue so guests could sit back and enjoy themselves without worrying about logistics, and could fully partake in our open bar. 😉 As for the overall aesthetic, we were going for classic, subtle colors, and design, with gold finishes of course (since I’m obsessed with gold, lol!)
We also had a welcome reception the night before the wedding at the Crowne Plaza for all of our guests to stop by and have an app and drink on us. We rounded out the night with a few beach bonfires and s’ mores—such a fun activity for our guests! It ended up being such an awesome night and helped relieve the pressure that some couples might feel on the wedding day when it comes to “making the rounds” and talking with everyone. We had so many opportunities throughout the weekend to socialize with our guests that it freed up the wedding day for us to really enjoy it and be present as well.
What was the most important lesson you learned while planning your wedding?
1) Start earlier! It creates less stress later on in the process. (This is not advice I took for myself.)
2) Divide and conquer. Challenge the assumption that the bride needs to do all the planning. Cory and I made almost every decision together and we both had “to do” lists we worked through each week. 🙂
3) Do your best to ENJOY it! You won’t ever have that time back, planning such a special occasion with your soon-to-be-spouse.
Why did you choose the ceremony and reception venue?
We knew we wanted to have our wedding in Florida where Cory is stationed with the Air Force and the place that has become our home, but we didn’t want the typical Florida beach wedding. Up the Creek Farms was the first and last venue we looked at because it was absolutely perfect.
It’s stunningly beautiful with the large, mossy oaks and each part of the grounds, Decklan House, and boathouse struck the right balance of beauty with a relaxed rustic feel, without being kitschy. And since most of our guests were traveling from out of town, we wanted the ceremony and reception to be in the same location to eliminate any logistical issues for our guests.
We also loved that Up the Creek Farms was going to be so “hands-on,” offering a coordinator throughout the process. You can’t put a price on the guidance and support that was offered! Up the Creek Farms is truly exceptional and in a league of their own when it comes to coordinating weddings and making the day as easy as possible for the couple. We appreciated their willingness to work with any vision. Choosing Up the Creek Farms as our venue was the best decision we made in the wedding planning process.
Memories, moments and stories about the day you would like to share:
It’s hard to choose one particular moment because it was all so wonderful! But one of our favorite moments was while we were taking pictures post-ceremony during cocktail hour, it was SO FUN to look around and see everyone mingling and drinking and enjoying the bluegrass band. Even though it was December, it was unseasonably hot (the high 80s!) and sunny, and everyone seemed to be loving the gorgeous venue and warm sunshine. It all turned out even better than we expected!
And overall, it was a great feeling to see so many people we loved from different parts of our lives intersect on that day. We felt so humbled and loved having everyone we loved in the same place to celebrate us! Our favorite sentimental moment was dancing to our first dance song (“Harvest Moon” by Neil Young) again at the end of the night. So glad Up the Creek Farms recommended this. We still dance to this song every Sunday night – it’s become our weekly tradition. 🙂
What were the personal details of the wedding that are a great reflection of you as a couple?
We decided from the very beginning of the planning process that we wanted the wedding day to feel like US. Every choice we made was intentional and deliberate. We committed to only doing things or choosing things if it felt like a reflection of us (which is why we decided on the cocktail-style set up). Everything from the quirky, non-traditional, gold frame “photo booth” to the Polaroid guest book and Fireball shot favors. Everything we chose was something we truly loved. Other small touches we loved include Cory (with Kiera’s help, lol!) “icing” some of his closest guy friends in the Decklan house.
We had sangria for guests as they arrived and the bluegrass band was playing as they stepped off the shuttle. We kept the ceremony short and simple, with music from the violin, short vows, and our favorite poem (“Love is Simple” by Tyler Kent White). We also were excited to share our city and the things we love with our guests since most were coming from out of town.
This is why we chose our favorite local band – HOT PINK – to play! We’ve been watching them play around Brevard for years and we knew that their energy and eclectic playlist would have something for everyone, rather than opting for the traditional top dance hits.
Do you have any helpful tips or advice for other engaged couples?
We heard from so many people that the wedding day goes by in a flash and that it’s often hard to stick together. We made a mental note before the wedding day that we would try, as much as possible, to be TOGETHER on the wedding day. Whether it was talking with guests, eating dinner, or dancing, we made a point to do it together (rather than getting pulled in different directions). Other advice.. don’t feel pressured to check the boxes of what you think a wedding SHOULD be; instead, make the wedding day what you want it to be. (And trust the folks at Up the Creek Farms to help you make that vision a reality.)
Lastly, in order for things to look effortless, you have to think about the details. Even though we wanted the day to appear relaxed and casual, a lot of time and energy went into thinking about the details of HOW to create that environment. It doesn’t always happen naturally so you have to be intentional with your choices and the details on the front end to make sure the day turns out just like you envision.
Ceremony/Venue: Up The Creek Farms
Photographer: Lisa Marshall Photography
Ceremony Music: Blue Cypress Bluegrass Band
Band: Hot Pink
Florist: Buds Etc
Stationery: After a While Crocodile
Catering: Green Turtle
Cake: Cakes So Simple
Linens: Connie Duglin
Hair/Makeup: In To Your Beauty
Tuxedo: Balani Custom Clothiers
Transportation: BTM Transportation