College is a time of intensive self-discovery: for Sarah Israel and Jordan Levey, their time in graduate school at The University of Alabama also lead to the discovery of one another. “On the first day of class, I noticed Jordan right away – he looked intimidatingly handsome, so I sat at the opposite side of the room,” Sarah laughs. “He approached me after class and we formed a close friendship, which just naturally fell into a relationship.” Five years later, Jordan plucked up the courage to ask his other half to be his wife while on vacation at the Israel family’s lake house – one of Sarah’s favorite places in the world. While on an early morning hike with their dog, the pair came across a lake with a small peninsula. “Jordan walked me to the end of the point, holding my hand while telling me how much he loved me,” she recalls. “Once we reached the [end,] he got down on one knee and asked for my hand in marriage. It was so exciting to get engaged while surrounded by nature in a place that I love!”
Coordinating a wedding less than a year away, Sarah admits that she felt anxious about her impending nuptials. “I found myself letting the stress of planning completely overwhelm me when I should have been focusing on my husband-to-be,” she says. “Early on, one of my bridesmaids gave me some advice; ‘Remember to prepare for the marriage while planning. Your wedding is one day but your [relationship] will last a lifetime.’” To control the chaos, the bride and groom hired a wedding planner, which turned out to be immeasurably helpful. 10 months after the couple was affianced, the sweethearts were fully prepared to ascend the aisle.
Though the pair resided in Alabama, they chose to host their event in Northern Florida – a place near and dear to their hearts. “I knew I wanted to get married in South Walton,” Sarah reveals. “We would spend our summers there while I was growing up, and Jordan and I had made many special memories in the area when we first started dating. It is where we first fell in love.” Sporting a glimmering, champagne-hued gown with countless gem embellishments and an illusion neckline, Sarah floated through their alfresco ceremony space with ethereal grace. She walked passed guests seated in simple wooden chairs bedecked with rustic arrangements of ivory blooms and foliage tied with white ribbons following directly behind her bridesmaids, clothed in mismatched metallic gowns in pastel shades, and joined her groom at the altar.
Once they’d been officially joined in matrimony, the festivities picked up in the reception area not far off from the vow exchange. “I was very inspired by the idea of an oyster when planning my wedding, which served as a figurative theme for the entire concept,” Sarah tells. “We [definitely displayed] the oyster theme in the décor, using natural elements with a nod to the nautical, coastal feel. We used several table linen colors at the reception, for example: gunmetal grey, silver, light grey woven cloth, and brown and natural linens.” The seaside reception included a mixture of tablescapes, including cocktail and dining tables featuring silver lanterns and driftwood, as well as coffee tables presenting low clusters of beachy florals and verdure that served as the center points for the lounge settings. “We wanted the celebration to feel magical, with a sense of coastal glamour. I wanted the décor and lounge areas to appear editorial,” explains the bride.
Friends and family enjoyed a variety of seaside fare, including a station that served three different kinds of oysters and a whimsical blue wedding cake, while dancing the night away in the open-air site. “We both enjoy hosting parties at our home, so I think it was only natural that we wanted our friends and family to have a lot of fun celebrating with us!” the bride muses. “As we walked onto the dance floor together, the lights above us twinkling, it all hit me – we are actually married!”