After Brittany Elizabeth Blum and John Cain Sargent went on their first date, both admit they didn’t want the night to end. “My cheeks hurt so badly from smiling so much, and I remember wondering if it could be my last first date ever,” confides the groom. After telling Brittany that he loved her for the first time on the Greek island of Santorini, John began working with a jeweler to design a sapphire engagement ring – “Brittany’s blue eyes made me think of a sapphire,” he shares – framed by two diamonds from his mother’s heirloom ring.

Nine months to the day of their first date, John – a wedding photographer based in Dallas, Texas – surprised Brittany with a dream proposal. As all of their friends and family gathered for the opening of his photography studio, the groom-to-be treated his beloved to a day of pampering. When she arrived to the event, she found a smiling John waiting for her in a room filled with candles and ivory blooms in blue-and-white patterned vessels before getting down on one knee and presenting her with the custom ring. Once she said yes, Brittany and John were welcomed with celebratory cheers from loved ones as they entered the studio opening event turned surprise engagement party.

With the help of a team of esteemed event professionals, John and Brittany were able to plan their wedding in just six months. Though the couple resides in Texas, they selected a seaside setting in Florida for the location of their nuptials. “Three generations of my family have grown up vacationing [on Sanibel Island] every summer. [It] has long since been a very special place to me since my mom would show me her mother’s seashell collection,” reveals Brittany of their choice to plan a destination fête for 130 guests on the Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

On the afternoon of the alfresco vow exchange, attendees were transported to the oceanfront site in sky blue trolleys. As they found their seats – on white chairs dotting a perfectly manicured lawn – to the sounds of a string quartet, guests were offered parasols to provide shade. A cross made of seashells from the three-generation collection of the bride’s family made by the mother of the bride was placed at the entrance to the ceremony. A watercolor sketch of the cross was used on programs, which were placed atop each person’s seat along with sunglasses.

As Brittany made her way down the aisle in an ivory sheath gown with a lace bodice, she clutched a bouquet of alabaster peonies and roses tied with the same ribbon used by her grandmother on her own wedding day. Bridesmaids dressed in light blue gowns inspired by the iconic trolleys of the island carried soft compilations of garden roses in shades of ivory, cream, and champagne bound in monogrammed ribbons. Once the bride met her groom, who was attired in an eggshell tuxedo jacket with ebony lapels and a pocket square embroidered with his initials, they exchanged vows between two pearl pillars topped with blue-and-white vases brimming with vanilla hydrangeas. “Closing my eyes and listening to our pastor, the waves, birds, and music while holding Britt’s hand made the ceremony the most memorable part of the day,” admits John. After they were pronounced husband and wife, confetti erupted in celebration and Champagne was offered to guests.

Friends and family members then enjoyed an outdoor cocktail hour overlooking the bay. Attendees found their seating assignments suspended from a tree on wooden escort cards carved in the shapes of various seashells collected from the island. As loved ones entered the reception, they discovered a residential-inspired space complete with a fireplace showcasing décor guided by the couple’s love of Southern interiors.

Tablescapes were designed in a color scheme reminiscent of the beach destination – neutral ivories and off-whites mimicked soft sand while pale blues and greens represented the nearby ocean. “Jackson Durham curated the most beautiful and elegant centerpieces,” confirms Brittany of the lush floral compilations housed in blue-and-white Chinese compotes surrounded by collections of pillar candles. Adds the bride, “We both love blue and white!” The 24-foot-long head table featured a dramatic floral runner down the center composed primarily of vanilla roses, sapphire hydrangeas, and tropical greens.

A four-course elevated brunch menu was served for dinner, including a plated fruit carpaccio, blackened jumbo shrimp, and crème fraîche eggs with flat iron steak. Following the sit-down dinner service, an eight-piece band, selected by the father of the bride, performed hits that kept loved ones on the dance floor throughout the evening. Following Southern tradition, the couple had two wedding confections: The bride’s featured four ivory tiers adorned with fresh flowers, and the groom’s cake showcased three layers of decadent chocolate cake with salted caramel pretzel buttercream topped with dripping ganache and strawberries.

“One of the most memorable moments from our wedding occurred [while] looking around the room at dinner with all of our closest family and friends, and realizing they were all here in Sanibel, this special place that has been near and dear to me since I was a little girl,” says the bride. At the end of the evening, Brittany and John were sent off by loved ones with a joyous sparkler exit to start their new life as husband and wife.