Ok, now that the wedding is over and I don't need to worry about random walk up guests let me share all of the wedding details with you! I'm writing most of this post in September, well before the wedding. Any after photos will be posted after the actual wedding!
The wedding was in St. Augustine Florida. I had never been there in my life until after I was engaged and had sent a $200 deposit check for the ceremony location. I make decisions like that. All of the sudden I know something is right and I jump in with both feet. It all started the day I went wedding dress shopping with my mom. I told her I wanted something small/intimate that would take amazing pictures. Like a small stone chapel. I began my search and found the place of my dreams.
Unfortunately it was in Arkansas. The possibility of bad weather leaving Chicago in the winter and driving into the mountains of Arkansas... And people asking me over and over again "WHY ARKANSAS?" led me to do some re-thinking. So, while my mom was driving, I was googling and brought up castles. Maybe I could find a cool stone castle. I found lots. Then it was a matter of something that wasn't too renaissance fairish (no offense to any of you fair goers... or people of Arkansas. Both are just a little not Erin). As we were pulling into the dress place I found IT. And it was in Florida within 2 hours of 3 major airports. Warm and accessible won me over.
I was immediately sold and my wedding at The Castle Otttis was booked.
Choosing the castle determined the outcome for my entire wedding, it would turn out. The owner Rusty built this literally in his back yard and owns it. Because of insurance reasons, and other things he is incredibly particular with what happens inside of it. He would allow a max of 50 people inside including Chris, me, the photographers, etc. I had always wanted a small destination wedding and 50 people seemed like a ton of people, so I quickly agreed to all of his stipulations.
My mom and I quickly planned a trip to St. Augustine to check it all out and do some major planning. Here are a few shots I took of the castle.
It had a holy feeling as soon as we were inside. We both knew this was the place. The owner took us on an amazing tour!
Then we set off for a reception site. I'm a terrible terrible dancer. Somehow I married one too. Neither of us cared if we had much dancing. I wanted to find a way to have a bonfire on the beach with a movie projector to watch our favorite movie, but it doesn't seem like that's been done before. We looked at beach houses and doing a reception there, and I booked appointments at some of the most popular. My favorite was The Reef. It was in our budget, the food was great, it was ON the beach, and just seemed laid back. It smelled a little old and wasn't super upscale but that was ok with me.
We met a local down there that suggested we check out The Casa Monica Hotel. That looked far out of our budget just from the street but we made the walk over and checked it out:
It was stunning. And it all worked out. We had our reception in the Flagler Ballroom. It doesn't feel ballroom-like and was intimate enough to feel like the great dinner party that I wanted.
Once I got home and we started really looking at our guest list reality set in. Me, Chris, our parents, and siblings alone were 11 people. Then we had to add in spouses and partners, then grandparents, then aunts and uncles, then remember the photographers, the pastor, the musician all counted toward 50 people. Some people had bigger plans for the wedding than I did and wanted more people. It was a challenge in some ways because my where happened to fall on an incredibly inconvenient date that required everyone traveling on the busiest travel day of the year across the country, it meant that none of us could invite everyone we truly wanted to invite, and the ceremony site didn't even have a bathroom!
With that being said it was perfect. It was exactly the way it should've been with the people that should've been there. So that, ladies and gentleman is the where.