It’s hard to believe my not-so-little brother married his best friend and love of five years almost two weeks ago. The wedding weekend was nothing short of incredible and I’m grateful to have taken part in such a special event.
For the rehearsal, the bridal party drove out to Cocoa Beach to practice walking down the dock to the Indian River Queen. The plan was for the guests to arrive and stake out a spot on the triple decked Louisiana-style paddle boat with the ceremony on the dock below. To be perfectly honest, I was a little wary about the logistics working despite practicing a dry run through. Fortunately, this wasn’t the first time the owner had put on a wedding and she had everything under control.
The Indian River Queen
The guest’s view of the ceremony
The incredible thing about the wedding, besides the obvious boat part, was the package included everything. This means the venue, cake, flowers, caterer, DJ, photographer, open bar, etc. For some people this set up wouldn’t work because they wouldn’t want to be restricted to specific vendors that may or may not be able to pull off their specific vision of the big day. Rachael and Clay simply wanted the wedding to be meaningful and for everybody to enjoy themselves. Rachael worked with the individual vendors on the little details and seemed very happy about the entire process. Seeing the minimal stress she appeared to experience and the finished product, I’m half tempted do the same thing in the future for my wedding. Clay’s input for the wedding consisted of the rehearsal dinner taking place at my parent’s house with food catered from a local favorite BBQ restaurant and the bridal party walking down the aisle to “The Final Countdown” by Europe. Yes, that actually happened.
My mom did a great job organizing a fun BBQ themed night at my parent’s house with picnic table covers, chalkboard painted decorations, burlap, and carnations. The day before she made her delicious Key Lime Pies I have yet to replicate (meringue is finicky stuff). Over 60 people came and enjoyed some amazing food.
Most of the guests
Rachael put together the greatest gifts for the bridal party. There was a beach mat, adorable beach bag, Kino sandals to wear for the wedding, a cardigan for the windy boat ride, Tervis tumbler with our initial, a cute frame, and Swedish Fish. They were thoughtful and functional. Kinos are a handmade leather sandal from a factory in Key West. They come in all different colors and even started making different styles. They are a staple in my wardrobe and were an EXCELLENT choice for the wedding.
Afterwards, we headed back to Cocoa Beach and enjoyed the night with some of Rachael’s family and friends. The next morning, I ran 5 miles a little after sunrise and couldn’t believe the gorgeous weather. Most of the guests stayed at the same hotel so it was good to visit with family at breakfast before heading out to the beach for a few hours. Rachael’s friends and sister, Alison, were so much fun to hang out with throughout the weekend. We simply enjoyed each other’s company and were excited for Rachael and Clay to get married. They truly are a great couple.
After almost five hours of showering, eating, hair, make-up, talking and listening to the Spice Girls Pandora station, we were ready to celebrate. I have to say, we all looked fabulous and Rachael was stunning. Have I mentioned how excited I am to have her as my sister-in-law? She’s a beautiful woman inside and out and she makes my brother happy.
Here’s the bridesmaids after the ceremony in our rainbow of ocean blues and Kinos
Groomsmen in tan linen suits (Clay is the tall blonde up front and my youngest brother, Carson, is behind and to the right)
It was touching watching Rachael get anxious about marrying Clay. The night before she described the feeling “like Christmas only so much better”. There was a bad Florida thunderstorm with black skies and fierce wind two hours before the ceremony but fortunately it blew over as most Florida storms do. The day was coming together and the bridesmaids waited in the Captain’s room while all the guests arrived.
Rachael told us to just have fun walking down the dock, so we all decided to stop and dance for a few seconds at a pre-designated boat marker. There was a ripple of laughter from the guests after the first couple broke out and danced.
Walking with my youngest brother
When Rachael appeared with her dad, the sun shone just a little brighter.
The ceremony was simple and touching. I couldn’t help but tear up because it was such a happy tender moment to witness.
These are a few pictures captured by guests on the boat
Caught on camera crying…
After the ceremony, we went upstairs to the top deck for some photos and proceeded to enjoy the next few hours at sea. The boat looked fabulous lit up at night decorated with gorgeous flowers. Everything was incredibly well done, including the music (strict instructions to not play “Shout”, “YMCA”, or the “Chicken Dance”), food, service, and cake. I’d recommend the Indian River Queen to anybody…even just for a fun dinner night.
We danced…and danced…and danced…
The boat docked 4 hours later and the night ended with one of the Groomsmen singing an impressive rendition of “Night Moves” by Bob Segar. We continued the night at the hotel in a reception room reserved for the after party. I didn’t get to bed until 4:30 AM and somehow managed to lose my voice. A few short hours later, Clay and Rachael left for the Bahamas. The weekend was everything I had anticipated and couldn’t be happier for the newlyweds. Rachael is welcomed with open arms by our family and I’m excited to be a part of her family as well.