Beaches are lovely to look at in any angle and our featured couple’s wedding had the best of both worlds. The ceremony was held on the beach front where the soothing sounds of the waves can be heard while the reception was held from a venue high above where an expanse view of the coast could be seen. It’s every beach lovers dream. What’s impressive about this wedding too is that our bride, Joi, did all of the planning without hiring a planner and without ever having an ocular inspection of the place prior to the wedding. She didn’t deny that it gave her additional anxiety but it was all worth it in the end because the wedding was spectacular. And on top of everything, her choice of the color palette coral and silver was very fitting to the blue and beige of the sea and sand, pleasing to the eye indeed!
Shelby and I were introduced by mutual friends. Shelby attended pharmacy school in Washington, DC at Howard University with one of my closest friends, Linda. Linda’s fiance, Kevin, was Shelby’s roommate in school and is one of his closest friends. Kevin suggested that we meet. He thought that our personalities we would be a great fit, and he was right. Since Shelby was living in Illinois and I was in New Jersey, neither of us thought that we would end up married two years later, but we really hit it off.
Our first meeting was a virtual introduction on the phone. We spoke and had a great conversation. I hung up thinking, if nothing else this would be a guy that would be cool to know, but didn’t think more of it. Then later that same night, Shelby called me back to tell me that his daughter had lost her first tooth and he was so excited that he wanted to tell someone. From that moment I knew that any man that was that devoted to his daughter and excited about a child losing a tooth, was someone that I definitely wanted to get to know more.
From that day forward we talked, texted, skyped, and facetimed for hours everyday for about a month, and then we finally met in person at Linda and Kevin’s housewarming, and that sealed the deal. Since that first conversation, Shelby and I have grown together to become not only Husband and Wife but best friends. On our best days and our worst days, we are grateful to have found a bond that is fueled by passion and rooted in friendship.
Shelby and I are a perfect match because we share a similar sense of humor, core family values and goals. Shelby is very patient and is just an amazing overall person. As cliche as it sounds, Shelby and I are accepting and loving of each other and our faults, recognizing that no one is perfect. We have 2 mottos in our house and marriage:
Love is all you need
We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
We really try to live everyday in our lives and our union by these words.
The best advice that I received was stop trying to please everyone. It sounds selfish at first, but when I was deep in the planning process, trying to accommodate everyone else’s wants and needs, I was becoming more and more stressed. I finally decided that this day was about me and Shelby and what we wanted and the memories that we wanted to create. The moment I switched the focus to us, the planning process became so much more pleasant!
What tips & tricks (can we use “hacks”?) can you share future brides that you yourself have learned during and after your wedding?
When I received the first quote for flowers and decor I was shocked, I just couldn’t believe how expensive it was, so I started searching the internet for designs that fit the style that I wanted, but were less expensive. Instead of hydrangeas and roses, the two most expensive flowers, the florist used coral calalillies, which are also my favorite flowers. Additionally, I substituted baby’s breath for some of the guest table centerpieces. The baby’s breath were placed in long, elegant glass vases and were just the look that I wanted, at more than half the price.
We were engaged in December and married in July, so we didn’t have a lot of time, and because I was new in my position, I also didn’t have a lot of vacation time to spare to take a trip to Puerto Rico to meet vendors and see locations, so I planned the entire wedding from Illinois, I didn’t go to San Juan one time during the planning process. I relied on photos, research and referrals. Thankfully everything worked out and was amazing, but if I could do it all over again, I would have gone at least once for in person meetings, just because it would have cut down on a lot of anxiety and pre nervous jitters.
I love the ocean, so when we were choosing the location it was very important for me to have my love for water incorporated in the wedding location and decor. Our wedding ceremony took place at sunset over looking the beach. The cocktail hour was on the 12th floor terrace overlooking the ocean on one side and the city of San Juan on the other, so it was a beautiful setting and a great background for photos. The room for the reception had floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean, so at night it was beautiful. Our colors were coral and silver. I didn’t want too much color, so that in 10 or 20 years when we look at the photos with our children, it looks dated.I wanted pictures that were timeless and classic. My vision was understated elegance, and with the combination of silk silver tablecloths, coral napkins wrapped with a silver bow and the beautiful long glass vase centerpieces with the mood lighting it all came together perfectly.
The wedding budget was $30,000.
Where did you save the most money?
I saved the most money by planning the wedding by myself, and not hiring a wedding planner. It seemed a daunting task at first, but my mom and friends were super supportive and I actually enjoyed the planning process, and would do it all over again!
We invited 90 people and our final count was 60 people.
How did you narrow down your list?
Narrowing down the guest list for me was easy, but more difficult for Shelby because he comes from a large family and he is an active member in a pharmaceutical fraternity. Out of the 90 people that we invited about 60, were guests of Shelby, his list was originally over 100 people.
Processional: So High by John Legend
Bride’s Entrance: Make Me Whole by Amel Larrieux
Recessional: For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder
We had a destination wedding in San Juan, Puerto Rico so we were able to take a mini honeymoon and take a few days after to just relax. However we are planning a trip to Europe for our real honeymoon, deciding between Greece or Croatia in the summer of 2015.
Shelby and I are excited to start a family together, but also just looking forward to just everyday life activities together, talking in bed before we go to sleep and when we wake up, watching movies, cooking together and experiencing new things together.
Negotiate on prices as much as possible! Follow your gut, if you don’t have a good feeling about a vendor, keep looking. Be nice to the people/staff that are helping you plan at the hotel/location and to your vendors. It makes a huge difference. So many of the vendors and staff went out of their way to make the day memorable, work with us on budget concerns etc., and they said it was because we were so pleasant to work with during the planning process and just treated people with respect.
My dress was an Allure Couture gown that was the third dress that I tried on the first day that we went dress shopping. iI fell in love with it! We added the belt just to give it some extra “bling” as my mom says. I wore a traditional mid length veil accented with crystals, more “bling”. I wanted the men to be timeless, so we chose a slim fit classic black tuxedo with bow ties. As for my bridesmaids, everyone has a different body type, so I knew that I wanted them to all have different dresses, that best flattered their bodies, but in the same color. I chose three different style dress from j. crew in grey and gave each lady the option to choose which style they wanted to wear. My maid of honor wore a coral chiffon dress from j. crew, which was the perfect pop of color among the grey dresses.
My favorite part of the day was the reception, the DJ was awesome, and everyone, all ages danced the whole night. We even danced during the cake cutting! When I look back at the pictures and videos, everyone enjoyed themselves, and that was what was most important, that it was a party that no one will ever forget!
What were the highlights from the ceremony & reception?
Prior to the wedding, Shelby kept saying that he was not going to cry, because he doesn’t cry when things make him happy. When I walked down and saw Shelby shedding tears watching me walk down the aisle, it is a moment that I will never forget.Also seeing my mom and grandmother dancing and laughing, and partying with Shelby and all of our closest friends and family, made all of the planning worth it. At one point, one of Shelby’s grandmothers, grandma Pearl, even got up, took the mic and was dancing to “jump jump” by Kris Kross…unforgettable!
Event Venue: La Concha San Juan Resort
Cake: Diana Jimenez D’Lights Cakes
Florist & Decor: Patricia Lorraine Torres
DJ: DJ Rock Hand
Transportation: First Class Destination Solutions