Lush Outdoor Wedding on the Gulf of Mexico

Brianna Kozlarek / Wednesday January 17, 2018
Judy and Daniel met in medical school in Las Vegas when Judy was just starting out. “He was a class ahead of me so him and his friends threw a welcome party for the new students,” said Judy. “We became friends first for about a year or so. We’d hang out with friends mostly in a group setting. One night, I didn’t close the door to my townhouse tight enough so the wind blew it open and the alarm went off. Not knowing this was the case, I got so scared and called him and my friends to come help me. He was the only one in the area that night and came to my rescue. Afterwards, we started studying together and became close. The rest is history.”
Judy and Dan planned a destination wedding overlooking the aqua waters of the Gulf of Mexico, at Destin’s Emerald Grande. Their families and friends traveled in and spent an unseasonably warm October weekend showering this couple with love. There was so much joy, from the happy tears shed as Judy slipped into her gown and her mother saw her as a bride for the first time, to the hilarious antics of the ring bearer (and wedding dog!), Kisho. “This dog was seriously resplendent in his canine tuxedo, and I swear his pranced around with a puffed chest, proud of his appearance and ready to pose for pictures (evidence below in the photos!)” said photographer Aislinn Kate. The flowers in this gorgeous wedding, by Florals By The Sea, are some of the most beautiful and bountiful we’ve seen.

How he asked:

It was my third year of residency and Daniel’s chief year. We decided to take a break and planned a trip to Cancun, Mexico. By planning, I mean that all we did was book the flight, hotel, and transportation. We didn’t have any specific plans. All we knew was that we wanted to eat, sleep, drink, and explore. Wednesday night we went to the dinner and it was this beautiful cabana set in front of the beach. Not a single soul was around. The moon was shining above us and you could see the moonlight reflecting off the waves as it reaches the shore.

We had such a wonderful dinner with great conversation so I thought it would be nice to continue with a walk on the beach. Dan obliged of course. As we were walking along the beach, I saw an employee standing by the shower stalls cleaning up and I thought to myself “it must be nice to work at night cause there is no one around to serve”. Turns out he was in on it too. As these thoughts were running through my mind, I suddenly see out of the corner of my eyes something green colored light up on the ground. I turn to towards the light and there in the sand, in large bright green lights, were the words “WILL YOU MARRY ME”. So I’m panicking here. There are always words or phrases written on a daily basis in the sand as a message to the guests. What’s going through my mind at this moment is “what if this message is for someone else and their significant other is proposing to them at this very moment in their hotel room and I just happened to stumble upon this message randomly?”. So I hesitantly turned towards Dan then shyly and quietly asked “Is this for me?”. He was like “Mmmhhhh hmmmm” and got down on one knee and said “Judy, you are my best friend and I love you. I’m sorry it took so long, but I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”. I’m usually not a shy person, but boy was I shy here. I whispered “yes” as he put on my ring and then I gave him a big hug hahaha….then I kissed him! At that moment, I looked over to see the worker and Eduardo walking towards us holding the light switches and asking if we wanted them to take a picture for us. Of course we did! Afterwards, I wanted to record everything I could and take in the moment so I asked Dan to take some pictures of the words for me. Well the words were located where it could be seen from the center of the hotel, but the only way you could get a good shot of it is from the pool above it. My loving fiance, took off his shirt and pants and climbed into the freezing water in only his boxer briefs to take a picture for me. Watching him at that moment, I knew I made the right choice and that I would never love anyone else the way I love him.

The Ceremony

“I’m currently living in California, but I’m originally from the South. Growing up in Alabama, my family would take me to the beaches along the Gulf Coast. One of my favorite beaches is in Destin, Florida. The white sand shines so brightly against the emerald greenish blue waters. Daniel did not want to have a ceremony on the beach because he hate the thought of the sand in his shoes so we made a compromise. I found the Emerald Grande! The Captain’s Deck was a perfect compromise to give us both what we wanted! We got married with a breath taking view of the harbor in the background. Afterwards, we all got on a boat which took us to an island where we took sunset pictures on the beach. It’s fun though, in the end he still had to walk in the sand with his shoes. Hahaha!

We had a Vietnamese/Chinese Tea Ceremony the day before the wedding. My wonderful aunt, Thuy, is very traditional so she did majority of the planning for this. She was able to get my decorations made in Vietnam and had them sent to us here in the USA. My aunt and mom brainstormed on what type of food to serve our guests and decided on a traditional roasted pig! It was delicious!

Daniel is Chinese and the tea ceremony for the Chinese tradition is a bit different from ours. For instance, we wear different types of dresses, Ao Dai vs QiPao. Daniel’s parents had this beautiful coat that was passed down from generations and his sister actually used it for wedding. I wanted to wear both the ao dai and the coat. So I decided to wear the ao dai while I’m serving tea to my family and while I serve tea to Daniel’s family I would put on the coat. In a way this symbolizes me entering my husband’s family and taking on his traditions. It was such an emotional day and it turned out beautifully!!


The Reception

“The cocktail hour was located on the Sunset Deck which was this large space overlooking the harbor as well. I loved the idea of having white sofas in the area so that my guests could relax and enjoy the view. There were also highboys scattered around the space to allow for people were standing to rest their drinks and hor d’oeuvres. I loved the idea so much I even incorporated this into the dance floor in the ballroom!”

“My cake was really simple with 4 tiers of cake. The bottom layer was lined with edible lace and the front of the cake was adorned with purple and pink orchids. I have this adorable little Pomeranian, Kisho, and he wasn’t allowed in the ballroom. I wanted him to a part of the celebration so I had the bakery make a little peek-a-boo figure of his head on the back of the cake. So it was like he was with us the entire day!”


Judy’s advice for brides to be? “One of my good friends, Cindy, gave me this advice and I believe that it is really true. Don’t sweat the small details or dwell on things that didn’t happen. At the end of the day everyone had fun and no one knows what went wrong except you.”


Judy + Daniel’s Emerald Grande at Harbor Walk Village wedding film teaser. from Sixpence Productions on Vimeo.


Photography: Aislinn Kate Photography | Ceremony Venue: Emerald Grande | Reception Venue: Emerald Grande | Event Planning: Destin to Wed | Floral: Florals By The Sea | Stationery: Wedding Paper Divas | Videography: Sixpence Films | Wedding Cake: Bake My Day | Rentals: Big Day Rentals new | Hair: Destin Mobile Makeup Box | Makeup: Destin Mobile Makeup Box | Catering: Emerald Grande | Wedding Dress: Stella York | Groom’s Attire: Express | Submitted via: Matchology