Our Beachy Wedding Weekend: Day 4: The Ceremony

Our wedding weekend took place in St. Augustine, Florida. If you missed the first 3 parts of this series, you can read them here. Otherwise read on for our getting ready experience, first look, and the wedding ceremony!

Getting Ready to Say "I Do!"

The first thing I noticed the morning of our wedding was the weather. Was it going to rain? It’s Florida, so of course it was going to rain! But how much or how little was the question. My coordinator told me I had until 1pm (2 hours before the ceremony) to pull the plug on the beach. Again, that gut instinct returned – the beach wasn’t meant to be, but after speaking with Steven, we agreed to hold off on changing locations to see what happens.

The girls and I were immediately thrown into hair & makeup. The air conditioning was not our friend that morning. I honestly didn’t notice quite as much as everyone else did. I was too preoccupied with constant phone calls, answering questions via text, and from various people inside the house.

Not to mention, once the videographer arrived, I was posing and also answering his questions. I loved our videographer, all of our vendors (except one but I’ll get to that later), and all our friends/family, but to say I was on edge that morning was an understatement.

I’m not a very angry/aggressive person so I’m not sure my irritability was even noticeable to others. At least that’s what people told me, maybe they were just being nice, haha. There were moments I could feel the steam coming out my ears, and not just because the AC wasn’t working lol…

I was tired of being told to smile. I was tired of pretending to laugh for photos and video. And I was tired of people asking if they could hang out at the house before the wedding when I had made it very clear that no one but the bridal party and a few select family members were allowed inside the house before the wedding. It was policy for Sun & Sea, who own the property and who was coordinating the wedding. Plus, it was for my own sanity as well.

@authorsandylo It’s been a minute, huh? 2023 was a whirlwind. I turned 40, got engaged, started a new job, got married, went on a honeymoon, and struggled through the holidays and another birthday. It’s weird to say I struggled through holidays and a birthday because usually I look forward to them so much, but with all of the excitement of the wedding weekend and planning it all — I have been left feeling completely depleted. I still am to an extent, but I’m snapping out of it. I’m trying to tap back into my creative side and all of my projects I had put on hold while wedding planning. So I’m back and have been working on my blog on https://sandylo.com. I would love for you to check it out and leave a comment or two! I will have plenty of content for you guys from entertainment to recipes to mental health and relationship stuff. There will be a lot of wedding content coming up as well… some that will go into more detail what I was feeling during the filming of this video on my wedding day while my videographer kept asking me and the bridesmaids to fake laugh and pose a million ways. I was over photos and video before they even begun that day and I also can’t be serious for two seconds especially when my best friends are with me. 🤣 Just a little tidbit I wanted to share from my special day haha. More to come! 💜 #sandylo #allsfairinlovenwriting #weddingday #weddingbloopers #weddingbts #grwm #sillybride #bride #wedding #mentalhealth #bridezilla #stressedbride #overit #blogger #weddingblog #weddingblogger ♬ original sound - Sandy Lo

1pm came around and it was drizzling on and off. That combined with the giant sand dune issue finalized the decision I already knew I’d wind up making – we moved the ceremony from the beach to the courtyard of Castlegate. Now, I had to get that information out to 50 guests and the shuttle driver.

At that point, I was practically alone upstairs with the hair & makeup artist since it was so hot and the bridesmaids were sweating. Plus, one of my bridesmaids, Kindell Buchanan, was pulling double duty taking our getting ready and first look photos. So, she was up and down taking shots of us getting ready upstairs and the guys getting ready downstairs.

A good portion of the time that my hair and makeup was being done, I was on the phone trying to instruct people and talk to the coordinator.

My hair & makeup person did a good job, but she does not have the most professional etiquette or calming capabilities. For that reason alone, I did not recommend her to a friend when she asked who did my hair and makeup. 

By the time I was getting into my gown, I was concerned about running late. Everyone kept telling me that I was the bride and therefore, I was allowed to be late. But as someone who hates being late, I wanted to be on time and people weren’t seeming to get that, haha.

Custom cufflinks with our bunny, Zuko's face on them.

Photos by Kindell Buchanan

The First Look

It wasn’t until I was on the rooftop deck for the First Look that I was finally able to breathe and enjoy the moment. Seeing Steven in his groom’s suit and knowing we were about to get married made me so happy. All I wanted to do was kiss him, but we didn’t want to ruin my makeup so we tried not to kiss too much, haha.

Photos by Kindell Buchanan

Family First Look

Next, we had a First Look with our families: Steven’s parents and my three siblings. It was something special we wanted to do with them before everyone else got to see us. It was a hard decision for me not to have my sisters in my bridal party so it was important to me and them that they knew how important it was for me to have them there and part of our day.

After that was done with, I was more eager and excited to get married! I no longer had to worry about staying away from Steven or anyone else in the house. All that was left was to do the damn thing we came here to do and then party!

Photos by Kindell Buchanan

The Ceremony

The ceremony was running slightly late. The shuttle had to pick everyone up at the beach and bring them a mile down the road to Castlegate. We also were waiting on the flowers to arrive which were absolutely gorgeous. We chose galaxy orchids because of the beautiful blue-purple colors that fit right in with our scheme of sapphire blue, purple, and spa/turquoise/teal. We weren’t too strict on the shades since color matching can be hard. Plus, my favorite colors are purple and teal with all of the shade variations in between. As for Steven, he loves blue and wasn’t picky about the shade either.

Side story: A couple of weeks before the wedding, I had a dream about my mom and she told me she didn’t like flowers until my brother gave her white roses. Then the dream flashed to our wedding day and there was a white orchid on the empty seat reserved for her. A week later, my coordinator called me asking out of nowhere, “do you want a flower for your mom’s seat? Like a rose or an orchid?” It felt like a sign my mom is definitely apart of our wedding and would be with me that day.

After what felt like forever, Steven and the groomsmen went out to the courtyard so the ceremony could begin. As my brother and I waited for our big entrance, I was feeling a little nervous—not about marriage or saying “I Do” in front of everyone, but that everything was going smoothly and that our wedding would be perfect. I don’t remember what I said, but my brother told me, “I think you’re making the right decision.” I realized he meant my decision to marry Steven and I laughed. “I’m not worried about that at all. I know I’m making the right decision. I just hope everything goes as according to plan for the reception.”

As “Canon in D” played, Steven’s parents walked down the aisle first followed by my nephew holding a framed photo of my mother that he placed on the seat reserved for her. My two bridesmaids (two of my best friends from different stages of my life) walked down the aisle next and then my maid of honor (my childhood best friend) went last. My niece/goddaughter served as flower girl. I was surprised that at 15, she wanted the role so when she had asked to be, I couldn’t refuse her.

Photos by Keith Snow / Edited by Cole LoCurto

Finally, it was mine and my brother’s turn to head down the aisle just as a beautiful rendition of The Little Mermaid’s “Kiss The Girl” by Brent Morgan played. I smiled at Steven the entire way down the aisle, only catching glimpses of our guests as I passed them.

With a firm squeeze of my arm, my brother kissed my cheek, shook Steven’s hand, and walked to his seat. Steven took my hands in his as we faced each other and listened to the officiant begin the ceremony. He continuously rubbed the tops of my hands with his thumbs as we stared into each other’s eyes fully appreciating the moment.

All of the stress I was feeling earlier rolled away because this right here was what the day was all about. We exchanged rings and traditional vows – shocking, I know. As a writer, everyone assumed I would be penning my own vows, but Steven knew he would be nervous enough saying vows written for him, let alone something he had written. When I thought about it, I knew I’d be choked up enough reciting those words, and writing my own would in fact make it worse. There was something sweet about saying traditional vows that you’ve heard in movies and at many weddings before. It felt super real in that moment.

Photos by Keith Snow / Edited by Cole LoCurto

After our vows, the officiant held out a braided rope that we had specially made. It was in our colors and featured Claddagh charms on the ends to honor both of our Celtic heritage. Our maid of honor and best man wrapped the rope around mine and Steven’s joined hands as the officiant read a “Blessing of the Hands” for the handfasting portion of the ceremony.

Steven had the idea of doing some type of physical tying the knot at our wedding and I researched different types of ceremonies, with the Celtic handfasting tradition being the one that resonated with us the most.

Once the rope was tied loosely over our hands, we anxiously waited for the “you may kiss the bride” part. As we neared closer to it, the rain started to fall in sporadic drops that made the moment seem to slow down so I could take it all in. It felt as if my mother was right there behind Steven and the droplets of rain were her doing. She was letting us know she was there.

Finally, we kissed and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” played as everyone applauded. At that moment, I felt so many emotions: relief that the ceremony went smoothly, excitement for the reception, and I was full of so much love. Love for our close family and friends, and of course, a ridiculous amount of love for Steven.

Photos by Keith Snow / Edited by Cole LoCurto

Check back later in the week for The Reception! Until then, catch up on past wedding blogs below!
Day 1: The Beach House and everyone comes to town!
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.