Michelle and Kirk always thought they would have their dream wedding on the beach, but thinking about it further, they decided that they wanted to have a church wedding instead. However, they still wanted to have that “beach-formal” vibe. “Since Sarasota has so much to offer visitors,” the groom shares, “we wanted to try to bring some of those elements into our wedding weekend as well.” The Longboat Key Club and Resort was the perfect venue to hold their reception.
“We chose Sarasota for our wedding because Michelle’s parents live there,” the groom continues, “we love the pastor at St. Armands Key Lutheran Church, and we wanted to have a wedding in a location where our guests could come, relax and spend a few days with us at the beach if they wanted.”
What they got was so much more. From being able to incorporate their passion for preserving the oceans, to adding some Disney-inspired touches, they were able to make their wedding truly their own. They included a “Hidden Mickey” game for all to enjoy, and the groom’s signature cocktail, the “Dirty Groom-a” was available for all to enjoy.
“We felt that our personalities and love for every one of our guests really came through,” the bride shares. “We weren’t really going for ‘unique’, but rather just a fun event where we were surrounded by those we love and love us.”
After dating for a few years, I always thought Kirk would ask me to marry him during one of our yearly vacations to Maine. I pictured us hiking up a mountain in Acadia, and him doing something silly like proposing at the top while I was trying to catch my breath! But when the vacation came and went without a proposal in 2010, I thought that Kirk was just not ready.
However, a few weeks later, we had the opportunity to go to Hawaii for a few days as part of the pre-opening activities for Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa, [since] I work for Disney. On the last night of our trip, we were sitting and talking on the rocks at the end of the lagoon. Looking off into the Pacific Ocean at sunset, suddenly I turned my head and found Kirk on one knee, on the rocks, where he asked me, “Will you marry me?” I was stunned [and] speechless at first, because I was not expecting it, but of course, said ‘Yes!!!’
[We choose to go with] purples, gold, and silver – Purple is one of my niece’s favorite colors and when I asked her what color she would like to wear when she was in our wedding, she definitively said, “Purple!” We added to gold and silver at the recommendation of Kim Frazer and it gave us exactly the look we wanted!
We chose to add a lot of little touches that represented who we are and the things we are passionate about. For example, because we strongly support the research efforts of Mote and are passionate about preserving our oceans, we brought in the Mote Mobile unit from Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium during our cocktail hour so that our guests to learn a little more about Mote, the ocean and sea life.
We even had a touch-tank with live sea life, an aquarium in the 18-wheeler and all kinds of shells and items to touch and learn about directly from Mote volunteers!
We also had a discreet “Hidden Mickey” game at the reception for the kids and kids-at-heart, since Michelle works for Disney. The overall decor was sophisticated, but not stuffy.
We also included some of our favorite foods and drinks into the menu:
- Grilled cheese because this was the first “meal” Kirk cooked for Michelle and it was the “best grilled cheese she ever had.” Kirk made it with 5 different cheeses and she and her family are crazy for cheese!
- Lobster BLTs because it is one of Michelle’s favorite foods and we make sure to eat it together every year when we visit Maine in the summer.
- Lamb since it is one of Kirk’s favorite foods and his mother used to cook it for him every year on his birthday, and now Michelle does.
- The “Dirty Groom-a” Cocktail, which represented as Kirk’s signature drink. Normally called a “Dirty Puma”, [it is] named after a pair of dirty sneakers that were on the ground the first time someone asked him what he was drinking.
- The “Frequent Flier Sugar Momma,” a cocktail [named such] because Michelle earned LOTS of frequent flier miles over the time we have known each other so that we could have an amazing honeymoon using miles to fly First Class around the world!
Most Memorable Moments
Our first kiss, putting the rings on and getting them stuck on his knuckle! When Michelle walked into the church and saw everyone’s faces looking at her with tears in their eyes.
THE most memorable moment — our last dance. Our amazing DJ played “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by Elton John and asked everyone to surround us in a circle. As we danced we looked in the eyes of all of our guests and felt nothing but love for both of us — we were so touched. That is a feeling that will stay with us forever.
We really just wanted all of our guests to have a really good time, enjoy good food and drinks, and have fun! We truly had the most amazing vendors to help us to make our wedding day, and weekend, an absolute success. It takes a village to pull off a great wedding, and we truly had the right team of people to help us make it FANTASTIC!
Choosing the BEST Wedding Photographer
Castorina Photography and Films were extremely creative, and we thought they would be very compatible with our personalities. We would recommend them highly, as they are extremely creative, very easy to get along with and are definitely good collaborators. Their composition of photos with natural backgrounds and lighting is excellent! Creativity and compatibility [were most important to us] – and we got that in spades!!!
Venues: St. Armands Key Lutheran Church, Resort at Longboat Key Club | Photographer: Castorina Photography & Films | Videographer: Castorina Photography & Films | Coordinator/Planner: Kim Frazer at The Perfect Setting | Florist: The Perfect Setting | Linens: US Tent Rental | Dishes: The Chair Affair | Drapery & Lighting: Palacios Events Draping | Place Card Favors: Farm Stand Soaps | Guitarist: Marc Mannino | Transportation: Town & Country Limousine of Southwest Florida | Cake: Cakes By Ron | DJ: Jay Edwards at Liquid Entertainment | Officiant: Pastor Mark Bernthal | Invitations: Papyrus @ The Mall of Millenia, Orlando, FL | Wedding Dress: Calvet Couture Bridal – Dress by Hailey Paige (“Star”) | Bridesmaid Dress: David’s Bridal | Groomsmen Attire: The Tuxedo Shop at Macy’s | Wedding Hair & Makeup: Kelly Anne McGraw / Brides by KellyAnne | Entertainment: Mote Marine Laboratory / Mote Mobile Unit
Tampa, St Petersburg, Sarasota, Orlando wedding photography and cinematic wedding video:
Castorina Photography and Films is a St. Petersburg based, on location studio. Our wedding photography and cinematography clients enjoy a relaxed environment where they can be themselves as we do our best to relieve any stress from the wedding day. We have serviced clients in Cancun Mexico, Venice, Rome, Tuscany and other areas of Italy, Tampa, Orlando, Sarasota and many other locations in the United States.
Castorina Photography and Films offers on location photography and cinematic wedding films for wedding, portrait, family, engagement, and Bridal sessions.