This Island “I Do” checks off a lot of firsts for me. It’s the first of hopefully many Grand Bahama weddings to be featured on The 700 Experience, the first submission from Chelsea Erwin Photography, and the first wedding to highlight the work of Marva Munroe from Chic Bahamas Weddings. And while these alone are reason enough for this wedding to capture my heart, I most love that the ethereal bride, Natalia and her adventure seeking husband, Robby saw the true beauty in island life and therefore chose not to distract from it, but enhance it on their special day in history.

Wedding Photography: Chelsea Erwin Photography | Wedding Dress: BCBG | Event Planning + Design: Chic Bahamas Weddings | Wedding Invitations: Greenvelope | Wedding Florists: Katybel Taylor | Wedding DJ: Earl “Steelie” Neely | Wedding Cake: Chef Lyssan Delancy | Hotel Accommodations: Grand Lucayan Resort

From the Bride and Groom…When choosing our location and wedding planner, I would say it was just amazing luck. Robby and I decided to take a day trip to Freeport, Grand Bahamas using the Balearia Bahama Express. During the day trip we would meet with Marva Munroe, from Chic Bahamas Weddings, and look at a few venues she recommended for my beach wedding. She is a wedding planner I found with some basic online searching that had great reviews. Unfortunately, the trip went a little sour when I experienced some sea sickness. I refused to get back on the boat the same day since the seas were a little rough, so we decided to stay the night at the Grand Lucayan Hotel and truly enjoy the island and what it has to offer. The Grand Lucayan Hotel that day took care of me and made me feel so comfortable. So naturally we knew this was were our guests would need to stay.

It is absolutely nerve wrecking to rely on someone you have never met to help you create your dream wedding on an island you have never been to. From the first conversation I had with Marva, I felt she was the perfect fit. She understood my ideas and was just as excited about them as I was. The venues she showed me on Freeport were all beautiful, but one stood out from the rest…Banana Bay Restaurant. It was a little Bahamian beach shack located on a beautiful beach which becomes a sand bar at low tide. Their wood deck stands over the sand, and has the most perfect view of the sunset.

I was hooked.

After seeing the island and venue, and experiencing the Bahamian lifestyle, the inspiration for my wedding just came naturally. I wanted a backyard feel to my wedding with a natural elegance. I didn’t want to take away from the natural beauty of the island, but instead enhance it. The ocean was our backdrop to everything. Driftwood and starfish were used on the altar, while palm fronds created my aisle. Though flowers can really play an important part in decorating your wedding, I chose not to have any, other than my bouquet. Instead I used the greenery of the island. Small palm fronds were used as table runners on the picnic tables, and there were leaves swirled along the inside of the pillars holding the floating candles.  We also included conch and starfish to decorate the tables. For romantic lighting we used rustic lanterns to decorate our tables and dance floor, and created a canopy of string lights that set over the tables and swirled around the columns of the deck. A wonderful extra touch the owner of Banana Bay had to offer was a bonfire right on the beach. Our guests took a break from dancing and eating, and were able to either enjoy putting their toes in the sand while the fire roared, or take a nice walk into the ocean’s sandbar and see the many stars sparkling that night.

Weddings can cost a pretty penny, so I decided to take my artistic abilities into action. I did a few DIY projects. The first were the escort cards. I got a wooden tag, painted it green and dipped it into sand. I hand picked shells to tie and stick onto the tags and placed the couple’s names and table numbers on them. These tags were placed in a wooden box with sand, so as the guest pulled them out it looked like the sand got stuck on them.  I also created the menus cards with cut shells. I wanted to really show my guest our appreciation so we included a special note to them on the first page of the menu card.

Robby and I come from a very international family. As a matter of fact, our guests came from all over the world including, Amsterdam, Argentina, Spain, Panama, Colombia, England, Ecuador, etc. We wanted our culture to also reflect in our wedding. The first international item were the shell roses in my bouquet. My mother bought these roses many years ago from Peru. I thought it would be so unique to include them with green flowers and plants in my bouquet. The three roses in my hair are also made of shells, just like the ones in my bouquet but on a smaller scale. The second item were the wedding favors. My father just so happened to be traveling to Quito, Ecuador a few months before my wedding. In Ecuador you can find the most beautiful handmade products for a great price. Since our wedding was in November on the beach we thought a great favor would be pashminas. I rolled each colorful pashmina and tied them with a cork ribbon and placed them in a basket. Our guest loved them and some even used them that night. The last unique item we brought was our guest book. Instead of the typical signing book, we used a beautiful picture book of the island Curacao. Robby lived their once and his mother and brother still live there. This island is like a second home to us. But what made it very personal was the house he lived in while living on the island was featured in the book.

I truly cannot come up with a single complaint. Like I said we lucked out. Not being familiar with the island, food, or hotel, there could have been many hiccups. The Grand Lucayan Hotel were extremely accommodating and generous. The food at the venue was DELICIOUS!!! Our wedding planner was calm, organized, and creative. This island is so incredible that we hope to be back every year to celebrate our anniversary. I will plan a renewal, just to experience it all over again.

From Marva Munroe of Chic Bahamas Weddings…It was such a pleasure to work with Natalia and Robby to plan their Grand Bahama wedding. Natalia knew her exact vision and style … she wanted family and friends to enjoy a relaxed beach ceremony and reception. We scouted during her pre-wedding site visit and found the perfect spot … the lovely Banana Beach and Restaurant. Very artistic, Natalia made the most charming escort cards, thank you notes and brought colorful scarves from Ecuador as gifts for guests. This is definitely one of my favorite weddings. Simple beauty and naught else.

Thank you Natalia and Robby for being a part of The Experience.

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