Our Beachy Wedding Weekend: Day 1

Steven and I got married this past December and I’m excited to share all the details with you!

Our jam-packed wedding weekend was everything I could have hoped for, but it also was overwhelming. Things went wrong. At moments, I was a cranky bride wanting ten minutes alone with Steven to cry in peace. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that our wedding was beautiful! Everyone had a blast and while some things didn’t work out, 95% of our day did turn out as planned. Most importantly, we exchanged vows in front of our closest family and friends and had one hell of a party afterward!

Now I’m sharing all the details of our wedding weekend with you: the good, the bad, the ugly crying, and the funny moments!

DAY 1 - Three Days Before We Said "I do"!

I started the weekend heading to St. Augustine, where our wedding took place. We live about 40 minutes away in Jacksonville, but most of our guests were from out of town since neither of us is originally from Florida. The entire bridal party was from out of state!

While Steven was doing airport pick-ups, I was getting a mani/pedi with my sister-in-law before heading to Castlegate – the beach house Steven, me, and the bridal party stayed at for the weekend. Castlegate also doubled as our wedding venue, which we booked through Sun & Sea Beach Weddings. Aside from the house, the property also features a courtyard and carriage house where the cocktail hour and wedding reception took place. The reason the venue is called Castlegate is that it’s located right next door to Castle Otttis, which, for us, was part of the location’s appeal.

The beach house is gorgeous! Picture three floors of coastal vibes and a rooftop deck that overlooks the ocean. My goal when I got to the beach house was to organize our wedding items as much as possible before everyone arrived. Honestly, that was my goal for the 10 months leading up to the wedding – to do as much as possible beforehand so that once everyone came to town, all that was left to do was party!

Look inside Castlegate - which served as our hotel, bridal shower location, and bridal suite with the wedding taking place in the carriage house and courtyard on the property! 👇

I mostly succeeded. Let’s face it, no matter how much you plan and organize, there are some things you can’t do ahead of time or plan for. My mind and body wouldn’t let me fully relax. I worried about everything. There was our first dance, which Steven and I had slacked on rehearsing for, and needed to cram some time in before the wedding. Then there was the fact of needing/wanting to minimize how many people hung out at the house throughout the weekend. This was not only one of the company’s policies, but something I wanted to keep under control to create some alone time for the bridal party to bond and to also give Steven and me a chance to get our bearings and decompress between events.

The issue with my plan was that with everyone invited being our closest friends and family, some of whom rarely get to see each other and us, it was hard telling people to get out and send them back to their hotels. I felt like the bad guy or a control freak half the time and maybe I was, but if there was one thing I learned throughout this process is that weddings wind up being a lot less about the couple getting married, and a lot more about other people. It was not hard to try to please everyone and make them feel included. Ironically, my goal was to make everything as easy as possible for everyone and somehow that seemed to backfire because some people felt guilty for not helping more or felt bad about not having a “role” of some sort.

What no one seemed to understand was that I didn’t want a lot of hands in the pot. This was the first time I got to plan events for myself the way I wanted to. Steven and I got to pick every detail and planning brought me so much joy! In the past, I had been part of many bridal parties where too many people gave their opinions and all it did was pressure the bride or cause arguments. I wanted none of that.

Also, if I’m totally honest, the one person I would have wanted to plan our wedding with us would have been my mother. I’m sure we would have butted heads every step of the way, but she would have been the only one I would have tolerated that from. I can’t tell you how many times I sobbed over missing my mother during the wedding planning process. I grieved her death more this past year almost as much as I did when she first passed away 16 years ago. If I couldn’t plan with my mom, I didn’t want to plan with anyone else.

Custom sign from Etsy for my Mom's seat at the wedding ceremony. Throwaway bouquet also from Etsy.

Besides, I thought everyone would love to be in a wedding where they didn’t have to do much but have fun, but I guess I was wrong, haha. Anyway… back to the order of events…

That first night was filled with greeting some family and friends and making grocery store runs to make sure we had everything we needed at the house. Overall, it was a pretty laid-back night catching up with everyone and giving them a tour of the gorgeous space we were staying in. I was able to relax and enjoy my best friends and meet Steven’s best friends in person for the first time as well.

Continue reading about our Wedding Weekend!
Day 2: Bridal Shower / Bachelorette/Bachelor Party... a fun day/night filled with mermaids and pirates!🧜‍♀️🏴‍☠️
Day 3: The Rehearsal Lunch, First Dance Practice, an almost missing veil, and signs from Mom!


  • Sandy Lo

    Sandy Lo’s personal story is inspiring. She started, StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Recently, she has been seeing some tremendous momentum in book sales on Kindle. She has been included on the “50 Writers You Should Be Reading” list by The Authors Show, and “Dream Catchers”, “Breaking The Moon” and “Indigo Waters” reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon’s Kindle Store. What makes this even more unique, is that Sandy relocated from NY to Nashville in order to write “The Watch Dog,” which is set in a fictional town outside of Music City. “The Watch Dog” reached the Top 10 Ghost Stories on Amazon. Aside from her writing projects, Sandy is also a freelance digital strategist.