This Couple's Tropical Wedding Will Have You Yearning for the Sand & Surf

July 7, 2015, was a big day for Kristy Morgan Sands: It was her birthday, it was the day her beloved dog, Lucy, was attacked by a porcupine, and it was the day she got engaged. While it was a furry friend that initially threw off Patrick’s proposal plan (after a trip to the vet, Lucy was just fine!), animals also played a part in making the experience super special. He popped the question on a cliff overlooking his ranch and just as Kristy accepted, a hummingbird and butterfly landed on the tree right next to them! The moment seemed like the stuff of fairytales, and the cast of characters from the animal kingdom wound up serving as inspiration for some wedding day details.

The future bride and groom got straight to work planning their wedding, and flew out to the British Virgin Islands to see a wedding venue the very next day. After all, when your last name is Sands, seaside nuptials are the only way to go! They got there, loved it, and booked on the spot. Unfortunately, it was a case of "too good to be true." Five months before the big day, the venue canceled on them due to renovations, forcing Kristy and Patrick to start all over—with save the dates already in the mail, no less. Thankfully, there was a second venue that held special meaning for the pair: Oil Nut Bay, the spot where they spent their first vacation together. After many phone calls and much planning, the property was able to step up to the plate and help plan an enviable destination wedding.

Unfortunately, with the change in venue came new transportation issues, and in an effort to include those who would no longer be able to attend, Kristy and Patrick also planned a small church wedding in Texas, with a brunch hosted by the groom’s mother. For those keeping track, the addition of this intimate ceremony means the couple essentially planned not one, not two, but three weddings! With so much practice, it’s no wonder that their June 25, 2016, party turned out to be so perfect, as seen through Joshua Aull Photography's snaps. From unique fashion to unexpected details, this beach wedding has us all yearning for the tropics. Take a look and see for yourself!

With a wedding surrounded by clear blue waters, watercolor invitations were a no-brainer. But what made this suite even more meaningful was the inclusion of a custom seal inspired by all the animals present on the day Patrick proposed. Lucy, the hummingbird, the butterfly, and even the pesky porcupine all had a place on the day’s signage, making for a gorgeous display and a built-in conversation starter for guests.

Animals also played a role during the rehearsal dinner, the theme of which was “carribbean ranch.” On the aptly named Moskito Island, guests found their seats with illustrated table cards that displayed actual animals found on the groom’s exotic game ranch.

Having been such an (unintentionally) big part of the engagement, it should come as no surprise that Lucy had a vested interest in Kristy’s wedding dress. As if to say, “I’m not budging on this one,” Lucy sat down right on the train of one gown the bride-to-be tried on—a move she didn’t make for any of the other dresses! Luckily, Kristy’s pup has good taste, and the dress the two both loved was a Tara LaTour strapless gown with a flowing tulle overlay.

The soft, ethereal look was perfect for an island wedding, but there was one detail holding Kristy back: The overlay was pink. With her heart set on one unified color scheme, Kristy and the shop owner FaceTimed the designer on the spot to see if they could change the color. Their question was met with a resounding "Yes." Heels with butterfly wings completed her whimsical look and allowed the bride to give creatures both large and small a role on the big day. For the ceremony on the sand, this wise bride traded her heels for beaded sandals.

Since she was wearing a serene blue hue, the bride wanted to put her attendants in complementary rose quartz. As soon as she saw Donna Morgan’s dresses, Kristy knew they would work. "My mother’s name is Donna Morgan, so it was fate!” she says. The bridesmaids each chose their own style and accessorized with the bride’s own jewelry designs. Made from rose quartz, pearls, aquamarine, and druzy, the necklaces and earrings were gorgeous and personalized for each attendant. The flower girls, too, got some of Kristy’s designs to match their long white dresses and topped things off with flower crowns and wands for good measure.

For his part, the groom wore a custom bright blue suit to match his betrothed, and a watch with a blue face to match the scenic ocean background. The groomsmen also wore blue suits, but theirs were a softer sky blue, the perfect look for a hot summer day.

The bride and groom exchanged vows on the bay's sandy beach. White chairs were set up in the sand facing the ocean, and driftwood from three different islands bordered the aisle. The two stood beneath an arbor handcrafted at Oil Nut Bay, which was wrapped with peonies and spotted with pieces of rose quartz. Since it's known as the crystal of unconditional love, Kristy and Patrick included a reading about rose quarts during the ceremony, educating guests on the important of it’s presence throughout the day.

After declaring their love for one another surrounded by friends and family, there was only one thing left to do: Party!

Guests were led to the reception area through a stone footpath lined with hanging jars filled with peonies and tied with a white ribbons. During cocktail hour, guests enjoyed a variety of Caribbean-inspired treats, like jerk spiced tuna bites and conch fritters.

For the main course, tables were arranged around a lagoon-esque pool and were topped with ocean blue linens. Sparkling tea-lights spotted each table, while string lights were hung between palm trees adding a festive vibe to the perfectly beachy scene. Each table was finished with a few strands of rose quartz and silver vases of pink peonies.

With the Tony Suraci band at the helm (a non-negotiable part of the day for Kristy and Patrick who heard the group at a friends wedding and flew them down for the event), guests danced the night away under the stars. The bride even changed into a custom skirt to ensure her moves wouldn’t be impeded! But it was the Mocko Jumbie dancers who brought the party to new heights. The stilt dancers are a cultural icon on the Virgin Islands, and their infectious energy was a highlight of the day.

When it comes to cake, Kristy said the three sweetest words any wedding guest can hear: “We had two.” Of the cakes, she says, "One was made by our chef from the ranch with our crest on top and sugar geodes. LSL Bakery from Virgin Gorda made the other, a beautiful turquoise agate design to match the décor.”

As the night drew to a close, fireworks erupted over the ocean marking the end of a gorgeous day. With the wisdom only someone who planned three weddings could have, Kristy’s advice for future brides reminds us what’s really important: “Hire a planner and let the professionals do their job, no matter what the size of the wedding so you can really enjoy the moment with your partner, family, and friends.”

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