Joanne and Kieran threw a festive destination wedding in Sarasota, Florida. With family coming in from all over the globe, they chose a festive, celebratory theme to make the day fun and flirty! We adore the design by One Love by Erica with all those pops of green, pink, and their flamingo motif! Cat Pennenga Photography captured all these super fun images and we know you’ll love!
What made the wedding special and unique?
Wow. I think what made it most special was that it was a destination for almost all guests. Joanne is from Chicago and Kieran is from Ireland, but Joanne’s mom lives in Siesta Key. We had spent many wonderful vacations in the area and it just felt right for our wedding day. We even decided this while still in Verona – as soon as we got back to Dublin, Joanne booked a trip to Sarasota with her sisters to start looking at venues.
Even though having a destination wedding meant that not all of our guests could come in the end, it meant that we had an entire week with our best friends in the world. People flew in from Bujumbura, Burundi, and Melbourne, Australia, as well as Chicago and Ireland, and it really was the most special week of our lives. We wouldn’t change a thing!
Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!
I bought the gown at La Mariee in Sarasota. I was visiting with my mom and sister and was just beginning the process of looking at dresses. I really wasn’t planning on buying one at the time, but after trying on this one I couldn’t stop thinking about it. About an hour before I had to leave for my flight back to Dublin I went back to the store, tried it on one last time, and then knew for sure it was it!
About four or five months later an amazing surprise happened with the dress – when it arrived into the shop it was in two pieces, but in a good way! Little did I (or the bridal boutique) know that the bottom half of the dress unbuttoned from underneath and it became a short dress for later on – perfect for dancing in the Florida heat!
What were some touches added to make it personal?
I really spent a lot of time when we got engaged thinking about how I wanted the wedding to feel. I knew I wanted it to be an inclusive, casual, yet formal, event – a laid back attitude with a classic vibe. One of the key things to this was our tablescape – it was important to me that everyone felt part of the day and the event, so we had double-long tables and no head table in a U-shape around the dance floor. Combined with family-style food (not buffet, but passed platters) it really felt like a big family get together.
We also had a really unique ceremony. Because it was a non-church ceremony, it meant we had TONS of flexibility in what happened in our ceremony. Our wonderful friend, Andrew Hoyt, officiated and provided the most personal, loving ceremony. We had seven friends do readings, including some written by the groom himself. The whole event was super personal, super loving, and super us. We wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Finally, just the colors were so special – I wanted everything to be vibrant and fun and really reflect the botanical gardens. Hot pinks and oranges up against that green – stunning! I loved it. Plus, how can you go wrong with an unofficial flamingo theme?!
What was the most memorable part of the day?
The first moments after the ceremony but before the cocktail hour were just magical. We had come through this totally amazing, personal ceremony, with lots of laughs and lots of tears, and just felt like a whooshing rush of love afterwards. We actually couldn’t stop laughing because we were so darn happy! It was the best moment of the entire day to look at each other and feel, “That’s it. We did it!” Pure magic. There is actually a photo that captures this where we’re both laughing and so, so happy.
Tell us how you met and became engaged.
We met in 2003 while Masters students in the Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin. When Joanne moved to Dublin to do her masters and she distinctly remembers telling her mother that “she wouldn’t date anyone because she’d be studying too hard.” Little did she know that about three weeks later she’d be going on her first date with Kieran…he took her to an Asian fusion restaurant in Dublin and the rest is history!
About four months in to dating, Joanne had a little medical scare and wound up in St. Vincent’s Hospital for a few nights. Kieran was there by her side for every possible minute (bringing her chips and grapes and all sorts of treats!) and for both it really was a defining time in the relationship. It took a while, though, to get from there to popping the question…ten short years!
Joanne took Kieran to Verona, Italy, for his birthday in April 2013, but little did she know he was actually planning on proposing on that trip!
It was a rainy evening in Verona, about the third night there. After probably the least exciting dinner of the trip, they were walking back towards the hotel when Kieran turned towards Joanne and swiftly got down on one knee. Joanne didn’t really know what was happening when he asked, and kept responding with, “is this for real? Is this for real?” Finally, happy reality settled in and Joanne said yes! They crossed the street and celebrated with prosecco and phone calls to friends and family back home.
Vendors: Photography: Cat Pennenga Photography // Second Shooter: Kathryn Brass // Planning & Decor: One Love by Erica // Ceremony & Reception Venue: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens // Caterer: Michael’s on East | Cake: Cakes By Ron // Flowers: Davidson-Cassell // Music: Kettle of Fish, Laura Jenson-Jennings, Caladesi Steel Band // Dress: La Mariee // Hair & Makeup: Kathryn Sutton @ Spa Hollywood & Laura Murphy @ L’ural Spa// Officiant: Andrew Hoyt // Stationary: Green Quince // Calligraphy: Calligraphia by Melissa // Lighting: Affairs in the Air // Transportation: Siesta Trolley