Three years ago, Kelly was spending her St. Patrick’s day on the couch with her dog, Buford, when she got a notification that she had a new match on Tinder. It was Adrian. After a month of online conversations ranging from their deepest secrets to their favorite childhood memories, Kelly and Adrian met in person. From the moment they laid eyes on each other, they knew they were meant to be. Read on to learn more about their incredible destination wedding in Jamaica and how their viral first dance came to be.
First of all, let’s talk about your first dance! Your first dance video went viral on Love Stories TV. You and Adrian bust some serious moves on a super cool light-up dance floor. How did you and Adrian prepare for this epic moment?
We knew we wanted to have a memorable first dance that represented us, our story, and our quirks, which meant we wouldn’t be crushing the waltz. But neither one of us had any professional dance experience besides watching the occasional Dancing With The Stars episode, so that meant we needed to get to work ASAP. We had a music medley created that included six songs, which all have a memory or special meaning to us. At that time, we didn’t fully comprehend the physical challenge a six-minute dance could present. In July of 2017, we attended our first private dance lesson at the Hip Room, and fortunately, our creative and competitive sides showed up. It took us nine months of weekly lessons, awesome instruction by our teacher, and a lot of practice at home, but ultimately, we were able to debut our dream dance at our wedding. While we may not be the next Fred and Ginger, we had a blast learning how to dance. Plus, it really did bring us closer together. And even better, it exposed us to Pound (the dance with drumsticks we did to “Thunder”), and our next goal as a married couple is to become certified Pound instructors together.
I love the pops of color throughout your wedding. Everything from your bridesmaids’ dresses to your dance floor had a rainbow theme. What inspired your décor and and how did you bring your vision to life?
Well, first, thank you. 😉 I have always loved bright, bold colors (I mean I have an orange car and fuchsia luggage LOL.) While I am not a huge flower lover, I knew I wanted a tropical bouquet with all different types of flowers in it. When I got to the point of stalking bridesmaids dresses, I found a really cute one that was perfect for a beach wedding that came in like, 82 colors. From that moment on, I knew I wasn’t going to pick just one color, and the modified ROY-G-BIV became our color palette. You may have peeped that I am white and Adrian is black. While our bond has nothing to do with the shade of our epidermis, we are absolutely comfortable touting the obvious. We felt a crazy barrage of different colors meshing together was a truly beautiful representation of us. Not to mention, the theme of our wedding was “one love” and the spectrum of colors played so nicely with what that stands for. In terms of bringing our vision to life, that took about 15 color-coded tabs on an excel spreadsheet, a newfound passion for Etsy, and spending the better part of a year “projecting” for the tiniest of details for our big day. (I have a sick obsession with planning and details, so this entire experience was built for me.) However, I will say the biggest challenge in bringing our vision to life, was transporting it all to another country, without exceeding the baggage limitations.
Describe the moment from your wedding day that stands out to you the most.
It is hard to pinpoint just one moment from this experience, as the entire day felt so surreal. It became our real-life dream. Walking down the seashell sand aisle, seeing each other in our wedding gear for the first time, unveiling our “I dos” to each other, being pronounced hubs and wifey, and our first dance will always be etched in our minds. But if we had to isolate just one, about halfway through our reception, Adrian and I grabbed each other’s hands, walked off the dance floor, and stepped a few feet off to the side. It had been a whirlwind of a day, but we hit pause for a moment to breathe and follow our friend Zach’s advice. We stood there together in the sand, inhaled the ocean air, and gazed at what lay before us. While the décor was stunning, and the LED dance floor was lit, it was the beauty of seeing our closest family and friends, from all walks of life, mixing, mingling, and having the time of their lives together, all in honor of our happiness. We will never forget that moment.
How did you find your wedding dress? Who designed it and how did you know it was the one?
In February of 2017, my mom, one of my bridesmaids, and I headed to David’s Bridal. When it comes to fashion, I am absolutely not plugged in, but I am adamant on wearing something I like, and that feels like me. I tried to describe my perfect dress to the lady helping us: white, pouffy, and good for the beach. Unfortunately, she translated that to plain, white dresses with no flare or body. To her credit, she was very focused on trying to find something appropriate for the beach. Ultimately, I had to tell her that even if it is a pain in the rear to haul around heavy fabric for a beach wedding, I would suck it up for the day. Bingo. From that moment on, she got me, and she picked out five of the prettiest, pouffiest dresses I had ever seen. I lucked out as I found two dresses that I loved. I was initially worried I wouldn’t find the one, and now, I had two. I played musical dresses with those two for a while, and even sent out a quick text poll to my bridesmaids. While I was standing there in dress No. 2, my mom pointed out that I kept playing with the ruffles on it, just like I did with my skirts when I was little girl. And that sealed the deal for me. I said goodbye to dress No. 1, and proudly purchased dress number No. 2, the pouffy, sparkly, ruffly dress from David’s Bridal because it felt the most like me.
What made your wedding feel extra special to you and Adrian?
To have over 60 of our family and friends travel all the way to Jamaica for us was almost unfathomable. Heck, for some of our guests, this was the very first stamp on their passport, so we were determined to make sure everyone had an amazing adventure. We had planned fun activities for Thursday, Friday, and of course the main event on Saturday, which happened to be our three-year anniversary. By doing this, it allowed us to have almost three full days of celebration with everyone. It was a crazy feeling being in Jamaica at this magnificent resort — everywhere we turned we saw familiar faces who were all there because of us. Our group spanned over ten states, ranged from age 21 – 80, and was comprised of different races, religions, and perspective. The meeting of our families, the mixing of our friends, and the intermingling of everyone who was part of our Jamaican journey made our wedding experience beyond special.
How did you find your filmmaker and what made you choose them?
I was dead set on not having a videographer. We were happy on saving some money and just having some great pictures. Of course, like any bride, as the wedding planning progressed, I continued to immerse myself in all things wedding-related. I was part of a Facebook group for brides, which I pretty much stalked daily. One day, during a routine scroll-through, I became completely captivated by a new post. It was a wedding video, but it was crafted with an art and realness that made me feel like I knew the couple, their families, and their journey. Experiencing their video was an epiphany, and there was no doubt in my mind what had to happen. The only issue was it could not be just any videographer, it had to be the one that created the magical video. I spent the following Saturday drafting an email of our story and why we had to have Josh Nagel Productions. In less than 48 hours, Josh responded. We knew the outcome would be a kick-butt wedding film. Death is no stranger to Adrian or I, and with Adrian’s mom passing away when he was a teen, it was a constant reminder of why life should be cherished. Morbid or not, we both acknowledged the importance of having our loved ones captured on film for our magical day. No matter how many years pass or what life brings, we will forever be able to replay these moments with them. Josh Nagel gave us that gift. His work speaks for itself, but to boot, he is a genuinely good human who we will always be grateful for. While our initial wedding budget did not include videography, the dividends of this film are priceless.
What is your favorite moment from your wedding film?
I would say from the timestamp of 0:01 to 11:13. Just kidding ☺. The night we received our film, we literally watched it on repeat all night instead of our usual mindless Monday night programming. We feel like we uncover new memories and nuances every time we watch it, but if we had to pick just one, we are both in agreement that our fave is the look on Adrian’s face when he is standing at the bamboo altar and sees me for the first time as I am walking down the aisle. It may only be a two second clip, but the emotion he exuded with the blink of his eyes is etched in my mind forever. To have the love of my life look at me with that intensity and vulnerability minutes before we became husband and wife made me feel like a fairytale princess. That look defined us in our purest, rawest sense, and that moment will be with us until death do us part.
Why did you decide to have your wedding in Jamaica? What are some of your favorite activities from your time in Jamaica that you would recommend to other couples?
From the beginning of our relationship, I told Adrian I loved the Caribbean and after our first trip together to the Dominican Republic, he understood exactly why. Since that point in time, our island obsession became mutual and we were perpetually planning our next Caribbean vacation. While we had explored seven islands together, we knew the perfect location for our destination wedding was Jamaica. The first Sandals resort we stayed at together was Sandals Montego Bay and we fell in love with the staff, the resort, and the brand. We felt like royalty that entire vacation and we wanted our family and friends who were joining us in Jamaica to experience that firsthand. Not to mention, we had a familiarity with the resort which alleviated a lot of the stress that could come with planning a wedding thousands of miles away. We also knew that no matter what the cost was, we were going to take all our guests on a Catamaran cruise, as that is one of our absolute favorite things to do in Jamaica. Anyone who loves the open ocean and is fond of Margaritaville, waterslides, water-trampolines, rum punch, and dancing on a boat, is guaranteed to have a blast. Between waterfalls, cliffs, and beaches, Jamaica has endless amounts of natural beauty, but at the end of the day, the thing we love most about the country is the people. Our wedding guests were a true melting pot of people from all walks of life, and we knew the Jamaican people would welcome everyone with warm smiles and kind hearts. The island is truly about “one love.”
Finally, what are your best tips for couples who are looking to plan a destination wedding?
For anyone contemplating a destination wedding we say: do it. But keep in mind that throughout the planning process you cannot control everything remotely. I am a control freak, but I had to accept that some of the larger details could not be confirmed until we arrived in Jamaica. At first, I wanted to throw a fit that I wouldn’t know the shape of our tables, the exact location of our ceremony, or how the lightning and décor would look, but I reminded myself that we get to get married in our paradise, and ultimately that was more important.
Obviously, it is the biggest day of your life, so it can be stressful, but keeping everything organized in one place can really help. We didn’t use a travel agent, so I created a ridiculous binder with tabs that looked like a sixth grade science project, but it had everything I needed — everyone’s reservation details, food choices, playlist for the DJ, as well as invoices for every trinket we purchased.
Another tip I would share is that it is never too early to start planning or start packing. By nature, I like to do everything excessively early. While people may think it’s crazy, in the destination wedding realm, it truly pays off. We wanted to have ridiculous welcome bags for our guests since they were traveling so far and spending so much moola for our wedding. I started an excel document one year ahead of time with the ideal contents, links where I could buy them, and estimated costs. Each month we would buy a few items and highlight them on the list. We also created a list of every single item that we needed to bring with us, color-coded it by our suitcases, and started packing the items we didn’t need three months ahead of time. When it was all said and done, between the two of us, we had 10 pieces of luggage (carry-ons, dress bag, and suitcases). Make sure to do your research with your airline ahead of time so you know any luggage limitations and fees. (I called three times to triple-check.)
When you are traveling, embrace the fact that you are getting married. I had bride-and-groom sweats and tanks created for us that we wore through the airport, and ultimately, we got priority treatment and everyone was wishing us a wonderful wedding. Just because you are doing a destination wedding, doesn’t mean you cannot have all the normal wedding frills. Throughout the process so many people said to me, “I thought the point of a destination wedding was, so you don’t have to do all this work.” That can absolutely be true if that is your vision, but this was our one and only wedding so we were not going to skimp on something if it was important to us. With that in mind, destination weddings can get expensive so make sure you are opting for the extras that you really want.
Finally, don’t be afraid to invite people because you are worried about the cost they would incur to come. Attending a destination wedding is an expense and anyone who can afford to be there (and wants to be there) will make it happen. We thought we might only have 20 people and we ended up with over 60! And yes, there will be people who cannot come for whatever reason, but for all the people that make that journey with you, they will forever be thankful they were part of your amazing destination wedding experience.
See the full list of Kelly and Adrian’s wedding vendors here.