After a sweet proposal in Palm Springs, California, Samantha Hammel and Sam Lawrence spent the next 12 months planning for their ultimate fall wedding celebration. The couple opted to host their nuptials in the town of Key West, Florida, as it’s where the bride and her family vacationed annually – and much to Samantha’s delight, her groom-to-be had also fallen in love with the locale. “Both of us were excited at the idea of bringing everyone we love to one of our favorite places in the world!” Samantha says.

The bride confirms that she had looked forward to planning her “I dos” for some time. “I have always been very interested in design, weddings, and fashion,” explains Samantha, who works as the art director for Emily Clarke Events. “However, when it came time to plan our wedding, I knew there were things that I would personally love, but had learned that most guests wouldn’t notice. It helped keep certain costs down!”

The sunset beach ceremony was understated yet stylish. “I didn’t want to take away from the gorgeous natural beauty of the palm trees and the ocean, so I kept the aisle décor minimal,” the bride illustrates of the wooden white chairs decorated with fresh greenery. 

Samantha and Sam felt it was essential to incorporate personal elements into the service. “The ceremony was the most important to me,” Sam shares. With that sentiment in mind, the groom’s brother got ordained so he could officiate, and two close friends of the couple recited readings: an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit and the poem, “I Carry Your Heart With Me” by E. E. Cummings.

Bridesmaids – wearing long gowns in soft blue – preceded the bride down the aisle, walking to the tunes of modern music favorites selected by the couple. Samantha appeared on the arm of her father; she wore a deep V-neck lace gown with a pretty floral pattern and carried a whimsical arrangement of dahlias, anenomes, ranunculuses, and brunia berries. “I absolutely loved the way my bouquet turned out!” she admits.

The couple desired a reception that felt warm and inviting, but wanted the décor to involve unexpected details. Samantha settled on a muted jewel-toned color scheme, gold accents, and long wooden farm tables mixed in with standard circular tables covered in dusty blue velvet linens. Natural elements were also used: sea-glass place cards and beautiful lush greenery draped across the head table.

In contrast to the timeless décor of the space was the colorful Funfetti®-style dessert table created by Samantha and her wedding consultant, Emily Clarke. “It was built around my love of Milk Bar’s 'Birthday Cake' cake. For the past three years, Sam has had Momofuku’s cake flown in on my birthday,” the bride explains. “We wanted to take that personal detail and expand on it, so we filled the table with different Funfetti® sweets, such as sprinkled cookies, Rice Krispies® treats, and a naked Funfetti® cake.

Samantha and Sam admit that they wouldn’t change a thing about their big day. “We had so much fun and couldn’t believe it was over so quickly,” confirms Sam. Their celebration represented their life and love together perfectly. They admit to achieve that, they relied heavily on Emily Clarke – and encourage others to invest in a seasoned professional as well. “My family, friends, Sam, and I were able to enjoy the day because of our amazing planners,” the bride affirms of their team. 

Another tip Samantha offers: “consider having a wedding in a destination that you and your groom love… it’s such an easy way to personalize your experience and spend quality time with your guests!”