Our Favorite Weddings of 2017

At most wedding publications, they end the year by rounding up their favorite wedding details. Which is not really our style. There is nothing wrong with the twenty best bouquets of 2017 (and if you want to see that, there are plenty of places to find it), but that’s not really our jam. So instead, we like to end the year with some of most amazing reader weddings of the year. And our trick to finding these amazing reader weddings is to reach out to our ultra-talented pool of vendors and ask them to send in their favorite APW weddings.

And as always, y’alls weddings are amazing AF. As Nadiya Nacorda at Imani Fine Art Photography put it:

APW readers are unafraid to do what has never been done before. To be original, honest, and maybe a little crazy. I love that magic and that passion to just be true to oneself. It’s not only incredibly wonderful as a photographer and storyteller, but as a person as well. It’s literally the best.

Remember how girls were doing whatever the fuck they wanted in 2017? Well, come hell or high water (and tragically, 2017 contained way too much of both of those), y’all did just that. So while we’re all pretty ready to be done with the dumpster fire that was 2017 in politics, these weddings remind us of all the good that happened this year, and how y’all know how to tie the knot in style.

1. Who: JENN AND CLARENCE / Where: palm springs, CA / Photographer: Rad in love

Jenn and Clarence had a once in a lifetime mid-century modern tiki dinner party with a ceremony before appetizers. To see more of this wedding check out the wedding here.

The half case of Veuve Cliquot for the toast was a generous gift from our friend and officiant. That arch? Totally a garden fixture from Lowe’s assembled the day before (and put up for free on Craigslist the next morning while we ate leftover cake). The macramé was DIYed the month before on the floor while healing up from a back injury, and it was surprisingly therapeutic to complete! We borrowed a friend’s Costco speaker with a mic, connected a phone with a Spotify account, and called it a day. We’re not winning any awards with our playlists, but we’re also not not winning. Clarence’s wedding band was bought on Amazon, and Jenn’s was bought vintage from the same jeweler who refurbished a vintage setting for the engagement ring.

2. Who: gloria and jason / Where: SOnoma, CA / Photographer: LUCILLE LAWRENCE

A dash of whimsy, a splash of color, a little DIY, and a whole lot of love made Gloria and Jason’s day simply sweet. To see more of this wedding click here.

Working with Gloria and Jason was one of the year’s highlights because they were both loose and carefree but totally thoughtful and intentional about their wedding. They put together a dynamite team to work alongside, including Mack Floral, Gold & Gumption, and Heart of Gold DJs, and we all just bounced off one another throughout the day. From the hand-painted golden animal place settings to the simple elegance of the venue, complemented by the fresh springtime Sonoma air, it all came together so effortlessly. We’d had a wonderful engagement session around San Francisco and that also helped with the magic of the day; we all felt comfortable and goofy around each other, and it made for lots of spontaneity and trust. I just love these kids.

3. Who: CASEY AND ALEX / Where: Lynchburg, VA / Photographer: A lovely photo

By trusting their vision and instinct, Casey and Alex had a beautiful bohemian wedding filled unexpected splurges and fun details. To see more of this DIY Virginia wedding click here.

Casey and Alex put so much personal flair into their celebration, and I couldn’t stop smiling the entire day. Casey’s dress was incredible (she made it partly from vintage curtains—WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?!), and Alex’s burgundy suit was so perfectly Alex. There was even a break in the middle of the day to take a quick nap and prepare for the evening, because these two seriously know how to throw a kick-ass party.

4. Who: MERAV AND ADAM / Where: New York, NY / Photographer: Studio A Images

Merav and Adam’s wedding was good vibes central. Forget all those “timeless,” “meaningful,” and “serious” words that bog you down during wedding planning. They went with “FUN.” And Adena of Studio A Images captured all the laughter and smiles beautifully. See the rest on Studio A Images’ blog.

Merav and Adam don’t take themselves too seriously. At all. This is a couple who enjoys having a good time and randomly breaks into dance. There was a basketball game before formal portraits were taken, and their friends played with an inflatable unicorn. They also traded traditional floral centerpieces on their tables for board games, complete with a hidden winning golden envelope per table. The winner got to take home the table’s game.

5.  Who: Brooke and Colton / Where: Washington, D.C. / Photographer: Pop! Wed Co.

Nature, dogs, and the cutest couple. Need we say more? And the dinosaurs as cake toppers deserve their special mention.

Brooke and Colton’s elopement was basically magic. They were married in D.C., in the middle of what looks like a gorgeous forest (D.C. parks for the win!) with their three dogs. Our photographer, Barbara, took them on an epic adventure to find the perfect spot for the ceremony, which made their wedding even more special—the hunt for the perfect place to say vows is an important part of an adventure elopement!

6. Who: Zoe and Sam / Where: San Francisco, CA / Photographer: Manali Anne Photography

Zoe and Sam evoked some serious magic in the redwood forest. And let’s be real, that dress is epic. Says Manali:

Zoe and Sam are my dancing darlings! They looove to dance, ballroom dancing in particular. Zoe chose a fabulous green dress that swished all around as she and Sam danced. I loved this moment when they broke out dancing in the middle of our portrait session in the redwoods.

7. Who: DEBBIE AND KENNY / Where: newport beach, CA / Photographer: Evangeline lane

When choosing her wedding dress, Debbie had a thought in mind: “White dresses are nice, but a red gown makes you feel like the flamenco dancer emoji!” Continuing the line of “our wedding, our tradition” thinking, also even enlisted their adorable pup Riley as the maid of honor! Click here for more images from this intimate brunch wedding, red dress included.

If there was the term “APW couple” in the dictionary, then I imagine a photo of Debbie and Kenny (with their rescue pup Riley) would be right next to it. I mean, they did things THEIR way with a killer brunch wedding with stuffed French toast and a Bloody Mary bar. Debbie wore a badass red dress, and best of all they recognized that while it wasn’t the most perfect day, it was the BEST day.

couple in wedding attire stand on small paved path in a wooded park

8. Who: AMY and BEN / Where: Cape Cod, MA / Photographer: Kelly Benvenuto Photography

The thought of Cape Cod conjures images of beaches with rolling dunes, lighthouses, and overall summer goodness. It’s also known as “the perfect location for Amy’s and Ben’s wedding.” (Spoiler alert: There were lobster rolls. We are jealous.) See more images from Amy and Ben’s backyard wedding here.

Amy, a West Coast girl, and Ben, an East Coast boy, met in college and discovered a shared zest for international adventure. But for their wedding, they chose someplace close to their hearts and closer to home—Ben’s family’s summer place on Cape Cod. After nine years together, they planned their intimate wedding in just two months. They welcomed their thirty-something friends and family as they arrived for the ceremony. Guests sipped French 75s and Sidecars in the open air of a not-quite-sunny June day, and enjoyed lobster rolls, tacos, and falafel from a food truck. They rounded out the night with dancing, fireworks, and a fire on the beach. The whole day felt true to them, and Amy and Ben’s openness, warmth, and the genuine delight they took in each other, made their wedding a delight to photograph.

A woman embraces her husband and kisses his cheek

9. Who: LYVONNE AND BRANDON / Where: OAKLAND, CA / Photographer: ANDRIA LO

Lyvonne and Brandon jumped the broom at their cool and intimate wedding at the Oakland winery. Glam, personal, and thoughtful traditions peppered their celebration with close family and friends. Check out the rest of images from Lyvonne and Brandon’s winery celebration here.

We were enamored with the farm family-style table. Seeing our friends and family become friends and family during dinner was exciting and oh-so satisfying.

My parents are from the West Indies and Brandon’s parents are African-American, so we wanted to honor our heritage by engaging in a ritual that many of our ancestors did. Enslaved Africans were not allowed to legally marry, but enamored couples found a way to signify their eternal bond by, quite literally, jumping over a broom. A dear friend decorated a broom in our wedding colors (merlot and gold) and we jumped the broom in honor of this tradition!

Lastly, friends showered us with love during a money dance (also known as a “money spray”). This Nigerian tradition is commonly performed by those from the Yoruba and Igbo tribes and is a way for the family and friends to dance and celebrate the new couple while wishing them financial wealth and prosperity. We had to dance for those dollars!

10.  Who: ARIELLE and DAVID / Where: Seattle, WA / Photographer: Jonas Seaman Photography

Now here’s a wedding with a plot twist made for the movies. We’ll let Jonas tell the story of Arielle and David’s “wedding in the dark.” Click here for more magical images from Arielle and David’s wedding.

It was five minutes before the ceremony when a loud sound was heard outside the venue. A truck driving by had crashed into an electric pole. The wedding venue named “secret gardens” was a lush landscape of trees and fairy lights. All of the lights went out. The sound system went down. The power was gone. No music for the entrance? No working microphones for the vows? No power? How would the caterer prepare dinner? How would people see in the dark? Yes, this was my favorite wedding of the year. Watching Arielle and David roll with the punches on their wedding day was an inspiration. They didn’t sweat the small stuff. In the end, all that mattered was making their commitments to each other and sharing the day with their closest friends and family. Every hurdle was somehow overcome. An iPhone provided processional music. They spoke up so everyone could hear during the ceremony. Most of the lights would remain off, but a generator was found for the caterer. There were candles, and guests used their phones to see in the dark. No one complained. In fact, everyone was clearly having the time of their lives. There was so much laughter and love. From a photographer’s perspective, it was a gold mine of images. At the end of the night, I watched Arielle and David drive off from the venue. The minute they disappeared around the corner, the streetlights turned back on. The power had returned to the city block. Arielle messaged me later on Facebook, “Who knew magical things could happen even in the dark?”

11. Who: Jaime and Will / Where: Big Sur, CA / Photographer: Hayley Anne Photography

The Santa Lucia Mountains and a rugged coastline set the scene for Jaime and Will’s commitment ceremony. Hayley was on-hand to document their union amongst the stunning wilderness that is Big Sur.

Jaime and Will came up from Los Angeles to Big Sur. Jaime, a self-described “dirty hippie,” had an intimate commitment ceremony with Will while standing in the Big Sur River. With sunlight streaming through the trees and water drifting around their feet, it was gorgeous and a perfect representation of new beginnings. Together we adventured through the wild and wind to document their true souls, which I think was quite fitting.

12.  Who: Lisa and Ben / Where: Richmond, VA / Photographer: Ash Carr Photo

Toasting with family and friends in a picturesque home were the main ingredients for the stylish duo’s wedding. Says their photographer, Ash:

Lisa and Ben wanted a low-key fabulous wedding with a focus on their family. They rented a gorgeous Airbnb and got married in the backyard with just a handful of their nearest and dearest and their sweet dogs. Also, Lisa’s cape veil and crown combo was straight killer.

13.  Who: A AND O / Where: Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park, CA / Photographer: Vivian Chen Photography

Yes we do appreciate a couple who will hike through the desert brush in their formalwear (and those metallic pumps slay). More images from this intimate desert wedding on Vivian Chen’s blog.

A and O are just one of those easy going couples where spending the day with them felt like hanging out with friends rather than work. After multiple wedding plans fell through, they decided to keep it simple and elope with their moms and four close friends to their favorite place in the world, Joshua Tree National Park. While the ceremony and reception was held at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, we spent the afternoon road tripping through Joshua Tree, stopping for photos along the way. Having a couple who is just as up for the adventure and flexible with whatever planning glitches come their way reinforces what’s truly important about weddings: spending time with loved ones and celebrating what makes their relationship unique. (Also, I love a bride who isn’t afraid to get their dress dirty on their wedding day!)

couple in wedding attire holding hands on a country road

14.  Who: Katie and Jeremiah / Where: California / Photographer: Evangeline Lane

People talk about the small details, but why not focus on big ones… like a steam train. Katie and Jeremiah did just that.

Major APW magic happens when a gal who works in the coffee business meets a boy who brews beer and they get married on a California farm with a steam engine train. From the moment Katie first contacted me, we just clicked. She emphasized how they wanted their wedding to be super chill with really great home-brewed beer. It couldn’t have ended up any sweeter. I loved all the personal details that made their wedding extra special. Katie’s father is a steam train lover so having the train there was an homage to him and Jeremiah was surprised with his grandfather’s wedding band during the ceremony—that moment was so special! The chemistry between these two is electric, and the love from their community was invigorating.

15.  Who: KRISTIN AND DELILAH / Where: Wimberley, TX / Photographer: Diana Ascarrunz

Sorry what? We got distracted by the dog in a bow tie. But also, the beauty and love of Kristin and Delilah’s union are so evident in Diana’s photos. Full gallery of this sweet Texas wedding here.

One of my favorite couples of the year is Kristin and Delilah. Almost as soon as met them I was #TeamKristinandDelilah, which is probably what most people feel when they meet these two awesome ladies. They are both social workers and really care about the people in their lives. Their wedding took place at Delilah’s old professor’s live oak–filled property out in Wimberley, Texas. One of my favorite things is that they included their dog, Noodle, in the ceremony.

16. Who: LAURA AND KEVIN / Where: key west, fl / Photographer: Imani Fine Art Photography

Halfway through their wedding planning, Laura and Kevin decided to elope. The dynamic couple opted to say their “I dos” on a sailboat in the Keys. How’s that for excitement? View the full gallery, sailboat images included, over on the Imani Fine Art Photography blog.

Laura and Kevin are incredible. They are, in my mind the epitome of what makes APW couples so dope. They are an interracial couple in Boston that met in college. They reached out to me, and we totally hit it off, even just as people. I am in an interracial relationship as well, and Laura and I ended up being from the same hometown outside of Detroit. They booked me for an engagement session and a small wedding in Newport, Rhode Island. But after a few months, they decided to elope! They were totally overwhelmed with the prices in an expensive area like Newport. They felt that as they kept moving forward into the logistics, the further they got away from the core of what they wanted and what they were about. The next thing I knew,  I was spending the day with them in the Keys, and they were getting married in the middle of the ocean. It was so incredible and beautiful. Ultimately, it was SO them.

Woman in purple top and long skirt with silver belt and silver and turquoise accessories in a desert under an empty tree branch

17. Who: FARRAH and raimond / Where: northern arizona / Photographer: LEAHANDMARK & CO.

Last year, Mark shot a gorgeous Navajo wedding, and this year he got to go back to the reservation for another family celebration:

Farrah and Raimond’s wedding was especially amazing because it brought me back to the Navajo Indian reservation in Northern Arizona. I photographed Farrah’s sister’s wedding two years earlier, so they all treated me like family, and it was great to spend time with them again. Raimond and his groomsmen rode in from over a mile away on horseback.

couple in wedding attire (one in a floral dress) stand with officiant under twig and branch arches

18. Who: LILLIE AND DAN / Where: Chickamauga, ga / APW Sponsor: sarah gormley

How is this for romance? When photographer Sarah Gormley met the couple for the first time, Dan described Lillie as “a bright spot on this earth.” Obviously, we can say the same about their wedding. More on this romantic Georgia wedding here.

In the weeks since Lillie and Dan’s nuptials, I’ve been trying to put into words what was so very special about this backyard wedding in the mountains of North Georgia, just outside the small town of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It might have been the quaint and quirky family home where Lillie and Dan greeted guests and held their “reception.” It might have been that their reception looked much more like a joy-filled family and friend reunion than a traditional wedding celebration. It might be the vintage floral dress that Lillie wore, or the fact that they were wed on a lake in the spot where Dan’s father’s ashes had been scattered years before.

But really, all of you who got married this year had the best weddings of the year. So it’s that time. Share your pictures in the comments!

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