When Jake Quellman proposed to Lauren Kaiser during a hike to Zion in November 2019—almost two years after they met—two things were certain: That she would say yes and the duo would not be your typical wedding couple. “As a self-proclaimed anti-bride, I did not have a vision of what the big day would look like,” she says. “The world was my oyster, [but] that wasn’t necessarily a great thing.” However, the couple knew they wanted a unique experience that was preferably outside and packed with personal touches.
After touring multiple wedding venues to no avail, Lauren had the “Father of the Bride-style” idea of having the ceremony at parents’ home on Treasure Island, Florida—all she had to do was find somewhere to host a reception for her 75 guests.
“Somehow, my mom found Sacred Lands, a family-owned historic site that does the occasional wedding a few times a year, that was right across the canal,” Lauren shares. “It’s the ultimate rustic bohemian space that I knew would feel exotic, sexy, and mysterious.”
Since Lauren and Jake’s wedding was no traditional fête, the bride looked to films and culture for inspiration. (In fact, she even made a style guide for vendors to keep those “authentic, cinematic, and funky” vibes strong.) “[I wanted the ceremony to have] the warm feelings of Father of the Bride combined with the glory days of Miami in the 1960s and the poolside leisure of Slim Aarons,” she shares. “For the reception, I wanted our guests to feel like they’ve washed ashore at Blue Lagoon.”
From the lively, cinematic feel that continued throughout the day to the cocktail hour on a boat, Lauren and Jake’s wedding was everything they hoped it would be. “Not everything was picture perfect, but it was ‘us,’” the bride shares. Read for an intimate look at the day, coordinated by Jennifer Matteo and photographed by Liron Erel & Co.
Since water played a major role in their special day, Lauren wanted her ensemble to pay homage to the ocean. To do so, she customized her veil from Alice & Mae to feature “peals on a perfect grid.” “[It] felt more modern and chic,” Lauren shares.
As for the dress? The bride stunned in a silk, sleek gown from Alena Leena, complete with a bustier that reminded her of seashells. “I didn’t have tears of joy trying on this dress or a Say Yes to the Dress moment with my crew,” she recalls. “But, I gave a walk around the store, felt super comfortable, and had the gut feeling that this felt right.” Lauren finished the look with Loeffler Randall heels and pearl earrings from Mounser.
Florist Arms of Persephone delivered with an all-white bridal bouquet that was packed with texture. “My florist surprised me with some orchids stashed in,” Lauren gushes. “After the wedding, I gave my bouquet to my grandma, who held onto it for weeks as her prized centerpiece.”
Meanwhile, Jake looked sharp in a navy tuxedo from Suitsupply. To lean into the chill, outdoor vibes, he added flower cufflinks and left his shirt unbuttoned to “feel less stiff.”
“We planned our first look and photos pretty early in the day since our cocktail hour was going to be on the boats. There were only so many shots we could do in my parent’s backyard,” Lauren shares. “In hindsight, this was a great move and we had a total blast bopping around the neighborhood with our photographer, Liron.”
The bride’s parents surprised the couple during the photo-op by borrowing a Mercedes Benz convertible from their neighbors. “My ‘something borrowed’ ended up being a Mercedes,” Lauren laughs. “Go big or go home, right?” The soon-to-be weds sped off in their ride to snap photos around the neighborhood.
“We snuck into this killer mid-century house that I’ve had my eye on for years,” she adds. “It had just gone on the market and I knew the owners weren’t living there anymore. We took some of our best photos there. We also had time to head to an old mid-century motel that was in the middle of being renovated. We were both so happy and relaxed at that moment!”
Guests arrived at the ceremony in style with Star Trolley’s old-school shuttles.
“I knew from the beginning that I wanted an arch on the dock as my show-stopping moment and was willing to sacrifice other frills to make this happen,” the bride shares. Lauren and her brother built the arch from scratch, while the couple’s florist peppered the structure with breezy white blooms.
Thirsty? Guests could grab a fresh coconut filled with golden rum at a waterfront bar. “I was very inspired by the Miami Palihouse poolside bar and found a bar [online] for ridiculously cheap that needed a facelift,” the bride recalls. “I removed the 1980s tile with the heavy grout lines, sanded and stained the wood underneath, painted the whole thing green, and voilà!”
The bride glided down the aisle to Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” “My mom wanted to be a part of the walk, but it was too narrow of a staircase to fit all three of us,” Lauren explains. “As a compromise, she took me down the stairs and my dad was waiting at the bottom of the staircase to walk me the rest of the way.”
Writing my own [vows] gave me more confidence and felt more authentic.
True to their vision, the couple’s ceremony was packed with personal touches. Not only did Jake’s cousin officiate the nuptials, but the couple also wrote their own vows.
“Leading up to the wedding, I was very nervous about the prospect of reading vows would turn me into a puddle of tears, but writing my own gave me more confidence and felt more authentic,” she explains. “I created a template for both of us to fill out independently, and then I asked my brother to read both to make sure we were on the same page with tone.”
The couple swapped wedding bands—which were custom-made by Shahla Karimi—and sealed their lasting love with a kiss.
After the ceremony, Lauren and Jake surprised their guests with a cocktail hour on a boat, courtesy of Hubbards Marina. “Seeing everyone’s faces light up as the boats pulled up was one of those moments that is now embedded in my memories,” the bride says. “Having that hour on the ocean was a wonderful decompression from the high emotions during the ceremony and just a nice time to spend catching up with friends.”
Once the boat reached the reception venue, guests were immediately transported to a moody, mysterious oasis. “I was inspired by the church scene in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, and knew that candles would be a core element to pull together the romantic shipwreck vibes,” Lauren shares. “My fantastic planners lit up luminary bags along the walkways right as guests disembarked from the boats.”
Since Sacred Lands is a naturally lush backdrop, the couple kept decor simple with white table linens, wooden chairs, and modern dinnerware. “For place cards, I had oyster shells created with [each] guest’s name, which were then fun tokens for people to take home,” Lauren adds.
The newlyweds shared a sweet first dance to “I Only Have Eyes for You” by the Flamingos.
“We switched up the standard catering menu and designed a Jamaican-inspired menu: Coconut poached mahi mahi, jerk chicken with a kale slaw, and jerk roasted veggies for vegetarians,” Lauren says when describing the night’s menu, which was executed by Tableseide Catering. “Each table had a side of fries and hot sauce to keep things fun.”
To pay homage to the Florida locale, the couple enlisted Wandering Whisk Bakeshop to create a key lime-inspired pie. “Several people commented the next day on how delicious it was, so I’m glad that the flavors showed through,” Lauren says.
For Lauren and Jake, it was integral to have a great playlist free of traditional wedding songs or anything too mainstream. Fortunately, Manu Mate kept the party going all night long. “He brought Burning Man vibes, mixing classics that we knew would be crowd-pleasers like ‘Riders on the Storm’ and ‘Good Vibrations,’” Lauren shares. “He over-delivered beyond our expectations and it was so, so fun. We had brought a Brooklyn rave to a little sleepy seaside venue.”
Whether you consider yourself a traditional couple or are opting for the unconventional like Lauren and Jake did, one thing’s for sure: Your wedding day is about you. “There is so much inspiration out there, which is awesome. But, a wedding that reflects who you both are is so much more interesting,” Lauren says. “Break some rules and have some fun.”