“The first time we met was basically the honeymoon before the first date. We went jet skiing, parasailing, [and] did fun tours. I fell in love from the moment we met,” Ashley Alexiss remembers of the first time she met Travis Yohe on a work trip. While vacationing in the Maldives a few years later, Travis surprised Ashley with a stunning pear-cut engagement ring while “Marry You” by Bruno Mars played in the background.

The lovebirds dedicated nearly two years to planning their New Jersey nuptials. “My family is from Boston and Travis’ family is from Allentown, so we decided to try and do something semi-halfway between the two, so travel wouldn’t be too tough on our families,” the bride explains. Once the day finally came, 175 loved ones witnessed the couple recite their own vows as Ashley donned a regal tiara and drop-waist ball gown. “We knew we wanted a fairy-tale wedding and were going to make sure we had all the components to achieve that,” she affirms. The pair pursued a color palette of blush, white, grey, and silver. “We chose this based off of each of our favorite colors,” the bride explains. The sophisticated hues were showcased in their grand floral centerpieces, which incorporated roses, hydrangeas, and cascading orchids. “I’m still so in love with our floral arrangements,” Ashley smiles.

In honor of the bride’s favorite animal, the couple invited penguins from a rehabilitation and education program to their cocktail hour, where guests took sweet photos with the Antarctic creatures. “[They] learned about how they can help save penguins from endangerment,” Ashley explains of the activity. “Penguins are known for monogamy, and once they find their mate, that’s their mate for life, so it was definitely symbolic.” Penguins – this time a motif – also appeared in the couple’s cake topper and favors, which were silver matchboxes guests used during the sparkler send-off.

“The best advice I received was to remember I wasn’t going to please everyone and that this day is solely about me and my future husband,” the bride reflects of the planning process. “You can definitely get caught up in trying to make the night memorable for everyone involved, but you have to remember to make sure you and your fiancé are happy.”