After booking their venue without seeing it, this couple relied on resident vendors to create a one-of-a-kind experience with local food, flowers, and entertainment.
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Chuck Dietrich and Elizabeth Lockhart got each other's phone numbers before they ever met in person: After a trainer at Chuck's gym introduced them over text. Their first date came a few weeks later, and within the year they were buying a house together—or at least, they were trying to, but the closing date kept getting pushed back. Elizabeth was frustrated with the process, but the delays were even more stressful for Chuck, who planned to propose at their new home after they signed the papers. After yet another reschedule, Chuck decided he couldn't wait any longer. "I came home from a day out to a note tied to my now late corgi Roxy June's collar," says Elizabeth. The note instructed her to go upstairs (and bring Roxy along). "I walked up the stairs to find Chuck standing at the top holding flowers and already crying. Chuck might have had to change his entire plan, but it ended up just the way it was meant to be!"
Elizabeth, owner of online clothing boutique Southern Hippie and Austin acai café Blenders and Bowls, knew she wanted to get married on the beach, and while waiting in the airport on their engagement trip, she found a listing for The Ocean View Club on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. She booked it immediately—without visiting, and without regrets. "Looking back, I can't believe I chose a place so flippantly, but it all worked out more perfectly than I ever imagined," she says.
About 60 guests joined the couple for their wedding on February 16, 2019, which incorporated a collection of island touches—including locally-sourced food, native foliage in the floral arrangements, and a resident musical duo providing entertainment at a bonfire on the beach after dinner. The mood, says Elizabeth, was "simple, natural, understated, and welcoming," which was exactly what she and Chuck wanted. "The wedding-planning process becomes stressful when you start trying to take in everyone else's requests, hopes, and dreams," she says. "We had to remind ourselves to plan the wedding of our dreams—not everyone else's."
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Elizabeth and Chuck lucked out with dreamy weather for their big day—78 degrees, abundant sunshine, and only a slight breeze—which showed off the magic of Harbour Island. "I chose this location sight unseen—I had never visited the island," says Elizabeth. "However, I knew I wanted to get married somewhere that no one I know had gotten married (and it had to be on the beach, [with] turquoise water), somewhere people would visit and remember for a lifetime."
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Dressed (and Stressed)
After trying on "close to 20 wedding dresses" without finding the one, Elizabeth decided to have a gown custom-made by Dallas dressmaker Nardos Design. But at her last fitting—just days before boarding the plane to the Bahamas—the nearly-finished gown was "completely wrong," she says, and required a full redesign. In the end, her flowing, off-the-shoulder gown with a floral design worked for her—but not without some stressful moments. "My wedding dress brought me a lot of tears and looking back it is the one thing I would change," she says. "I could have worn white silk pajamas and been just as happy—maybe even happier! Contrary to belief, a wedding is about so much more than the dress."
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Sneakers for the Beach
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Elizabeth's bouquet from Little Island Design included an assortment of locally-sourced ferns, leaves, and tiny white flowers, all hand-tied with natural fibers. "We didn't fly in any flowers and instead opted for local greenery for all bouquets, cake, and table décor," says Elizabeth. "It was perfect."
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The duo saved their first glimpse of each other for her walk down the aisle, instead taking pre-ceremony portraits with their family. "I chose to do a first look with my dad," says Elizabeth. "On the way to the Bahamas, my dad had a grand mal seizure on the airplane. I truly thought that my dad wasn't going to make it as I watched him get carried off the plane by paramedics." She and her mother stayed with him in a hospital in Fort Lauderdale until he was well enough to travel to the wedding, where, during a quiet moment together at the reception, Elizabeth's father told her that being able to give her the wedding she dreamed of "was the proudest moment of his life."
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Sun, Sand, and Ceremony
As guests arrived for the ceremony, each received a refreshing Aperol spritz to sip while they waited for the festivities to begin. White benches and cushions let the blue water and green floral accents take center stage.
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Father and Daughter
Elizabeth and her father walked down the aisle together to "Brown Eyed Girl," in what she says was her favorite moment of the day. "Holding my dad's arm while walking down the aisle is a moment I will cherish for a lifetime," she says. "Walking down the aisle with my dad toward a man I know will be an amazing life partner—all my dreams came true in that one moment."
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He Said, She Said
Chuck's best friend officiated the couple's beach service, which followed a Christian format but with some personal touches: "We wrote our own vows, which was the most special part of the ceremony," says Elizabeth.
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I Now Pronounce You
After exchanging vows, the newlyweds shared their first kiss as husband and wife as guests clapped and cheered.
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The cocktail hour, complete with a covered bar, unfolded on the beach before guests headed up to the terrace for a seated dinner.
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Cocktail Hour Eats
Guests were treated to an array of passed canapés that included conch salad shooters, rum-barbecue baby back ribs, and mixed bruschetta.
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Like the rest of the event's décor, the cocktail hour featured plenty of native greenery, including branches filled with coconuts.
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So Happy Together
A brief portrait session after the ceremony gave Elizabeth and Chuck a few minutes to appreciate the result of all the work they put into planning their destination wedding. "In the end, it is about planning a special day for the two of you," she says. "A moment where time stands still and you soak in how loved you are by the people that showed up to celebrate the love you share with one another."
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Elizabeth and Chuck decided not to have a formal bridal party, instead treating each of their guests as an important part of the day. As guests checked into their hotels, they were given locally-made straw beach bags containing beach towels, Sands Caribbean beer, Tortuga rum cakes, and Sugarfina gummy bears. "Our wedding was small, inclusive, intimate, and so full of love," says Elizabeth.
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A Memorable Meal
With a guest list of just 60, the reception space on the Ocean View Club terrace fit the entire party at two long tables. "While planning the wedding, my two most important requests were beautifully decorated tables and a super delicious gluten-free dinner," says Elizabeth. The Ocean View Club delivered with a crab claw starter and a meal that included filet mignon, fresh grouper, lemon asparagus risotto, grilled vegetables, and salad with pomegranate dressing, followed by coconut cake with buttercream.
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Locally-sourced foliage, taper candles in rustic holders, and floating candles in tall hurricane vessels created refined centerpiece arrangements that ran the length of the two tables.
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Under the Stars
After dinner, the guests moved back to the beach for a bonfire, dessert, and music from local duo Rocky & Ersley. Passed sweets included marble cheesecake with fresh berries, followed by a late-night snack of sliders and fries. Elizabeth and Chuck chose Sturgil Simpson's "All Around You" for their first dance, and after the sun set, guests released a cluster of floating lanterns into the night sky. "The moon, stars, and weather truly showed off for our special day," says Elizabeth.
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Photography, Ana Lui Photography
Location and catering, The Ocean View Club
Event planning, Alice Spitalny, Little Island Group
Flowers and rentals, Little Island Designs
Calligraphy, Mary Annis
Music, Rocky and Ersley
Bride's gown, Nardos Design
Makeup, Sarsha Lepeche
Flower Girl dress, JJ's House
Groom's suit and accessories, Knot Standard
Ring Bearer suit, Chasing Fireflies