“Gabby and David are both Marine Biologists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic which is why the Florida Aquarium was the perfect location for their wedding. Gabby teaches college courses and David was actually one of her students; which is how they met – and boy are they the perfect match! David is an avid fisherman and scuba diver so the boutonniere’s were handmade fishing lures. Gabby also had a custom made lure in the shape of a heart made for David. Both the ceremony and reception were in front of the largest tank at the aquarium, full of blue and aqua accents. Gabby designed all of the table decor herself with some help from some very special friends, each table was named after a different sea creature. So many fun and beautiful moments were captured!” – Carrie Wildes Photography
“My favorite part of our wedding was how personal and unique it was! As Marine Biologists, my husband and I love the ocean, so the Florida Aquarium was just the perfect place for us to get married! It was awesome to be completely surrounded by our favorite sea creatures – we even had penguins walk down the aisle! It was a totally different experience having the aquarium all to ourselves, our guests enjoyed exploring the exhibits (and it was really fun posing for our pictures in front of them)!
We also wrote our entire ceremony script ourselves and asked one of our good friends to be our wedding officiant (As a bird researcher she was especially excited about the penguins)! My husband is from Brazil, so his family and friends traveled many miles to join us, which meant a lot to us. We wanted to incorporate some of these unique elements in to our wedding, so for example, his family brought sand from the beach where he grew up in Brazil and my parents brought sand from my hometown in Florida for us to use during our sand ceremony – it was a unique touch that made it extra special!
…Yes! Every detail for our wedding was DIY-ed. The process was a lot of fun, but also a ton of work. I’m really proud of how everything turned out! Here are some of the things we made:
My necklace and hair clip were put together using pearls, shells, faux coral and rhinestones. My mother-in-law also made my veil and used some of the same pearls from my jewelry to decorate it. My husband made the boutonnieres from fishing lures by cutting the tips off the hooks and attaching pins to the back – the guys totally loved them!
We created all of our bouquets and centerpieces using shells, artificial flowers, sand, lanterns and “sea fans/corals” that we made by spray painting decorative leaves from the craft store. I made the cake stand by covering a plain metal stand with the coral looking leaves and painting it with an ombre effect. We also tried to be eco-friendly with our decorations by using faux plastic/ceramic instead of dried animals.
Each of our tables was named after a different sea creature (shark, sea turtle, penguin, manatee, etc). Our place cards were wooden ornaments that we hand-carved, painted, attached a name tag to and set at their seat. Guests found their seats using a chart on the back of the wedding program we made and they kept their ornament as a favor!
..We had the awesome opportunity to literally “take the plunge” at the Aquarium the week before our wedding. During our SCUBA dive in their Coral Reef exhibit (which actually framed the room we were married in), I found an old tooth that one of the sand tiger sharks had shed. So in keeping with our unconventional “Under the Sea” theme, I kept the shark tooth as my something “old” (and kind of “borrowed”)! My something’s “new” and “blue”, were pretty much covered by all of our DIY projects and the Aquarium decor.
..Be creative, crafty and think outside the box! Some of our favorite elements were so successful because they were personal. Just make sure that if you plan to do a lot yourself that you get started early – long lists and little details can certainly sneak up on you especially during the hectic “final stretch”!
Also consider alternative options – not only are they unique but they can really help your budget, freeing up funds for something fun that you might not have considered – like a Photobooth. For example the site fee at the Aquarium was much lower than other venues we visited (plus proceeds went toward a good cause), and our cakes were from Cold Stone Creamery which gave us the opportunity to have multiple flavors of ice cream cake for less than a regular vanilla cake and they were a hit with our guests!” – Gabby, the bride
photography: Carrie Wildes Photography // venue: The Florida Aquarium // dress: Watters – Norma Gown, purchased from Solutions Bridal // bridesmaids: Mori Lee – style 671, purchased from Bridal Suite // hair + makeup: Michelle Renee Hair & Makeup Group // men’s attire: Vera Wang Collection from Men’s Wearhouse // invitations: One of a Kind Design via Etsy // photobooth: Shutterbooth // cake: Cold Stone Creamery // custom lure from wedding ring picture: C & T Custom Lures via Etsy