Mark and Kendall fell deeply in love with the breathtaking views of St. John and after getting engaged on the island, they knew they wanted to share their love for St. John by hosting their destination wedding there. They wanted their guests to appreciate the historical aspect of St. John, so they hosted their wedding at an old sugar mill ruin owned by a local family at Susannaberg.
When I asked Kendall about their vision she said: “We were going for a more romantic look rather than the typical beach/tropical look that you often see at destination weddings. The main colors were white and blush pink, with grey as a main accent and navy as a subtle accent. We wanted each table to have different arrangements with flowers and candles in varying heights and sizes. Lighting was important at the reception to enhance the romantic feel – we had candles, string lighting, and a lighting curtain. At the ceremony venue, we wanted the view to be the focus so we didn’t use an arbor or decorations behind us.” And after seeing these beautiful photos captured by Savannah Loftus Photography, I think you’ll agree that they nailed that vision! Keep scrolling to read more about this wedding and the couple’s advice for couples planning a destination wedding in St. John.
Q&A with the Couple
How did you meet?
We met through work, both working for the U.S. Army.
What is your proposal story?
We were down in St. John, USVI staying at a villa we rented. Mark worked with a designer in St. Thomas to have the ring made and a good friend of ours picked it up for us (who lived in St. John) so that Kendall would not see it while packing. One evening, while Kendall was getting ready, Mark set up champagne on the balcony overlooking the water. When Kendall joined him for pre-dinner drinks, Mark surprised her with the proposal.
Tell us about your attire choices.
Kendall’s dress was Justin Alexander and chosen for it’s “day to night” appeal. The flow of the layered bottom fabric with the train was perfect for the outdoor ceremony while the top beading of the dress was perfect for the night reception/venue.
What was most important to the two of you while planning?
Open bar was important for us as we wanted to do that for our guests since they traveled all the way to St. John for us. Also, the flowers were a big budget item but very important to us to accomplish the look we were going for. Our escort cards were little bottles with a flower in each. Lastly, our invitations. I know they mostly get thrown away, but we felt it set the tone for our wedding.
What were your favorite parts of the day?
Our first look was a special time where we felt like we had time alone to enjoy together. Our nieces and nephews were our bridal party (no adult bridal party) and having them involved was a highlight.
What did you do for favors?
We treated guests throughout the week with welcome bags, lunch at the beach, and breakfast for our USVI boat day in lieu of wedding favors.
Please describe any DIY, handmade, or personal details.
We purchased metal M & K letters that were meant to hold wine corks, spray painted them white and filled them with fresh flowers for decoration at the ceremony. Our guest book was a custom wooden piece with the island of St. John on it and “Kendall & Mark, 06.29.2018” written on it. It was worth lugging down to the wedding as it’s now a decoration in our home. We had menus printed for the reception and we also wrote our own wedding ceremony script.
Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?
We had pictures of all our grandparents at the reception and mentioned them in our ceremony.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their destination weddings now?
Stick to what you want, a destination wedding to some family members was frowned upon but go into it knowing that those who love you most will be there no matter what. And you don’t have to do every traditional wedding thing. We skipped an adult bridal party and had our nieces/nephews which also meant no speeches other than the father of the bride’s welcome toast. I also didn’t have a bachelorette party or big bridal shower to help cut down on the extra costs since traveling to St. John was a big ask.
What was the biggest challenge when planning your destination wedding?
The biggest challenge we faced were the hurricanes and the uncertainty of not knowing if we would be able to still have our wedding as planned. We stayed committed and had to make a few sacrifices to our original plans but everything still turned out great. The island still wasn’t as “green” as it typically is but we wouldn’t have wanted our wedding anywhere else!
What was the best part of having a destination wedding?
The best part was being able to have our wedding in a place that is so special to us. Seeing our 60 guests enjoy the island as much as we love it, was really great. It allowed us to have time with our guests leading up to the wedding so that we could be more relaxed at the reception (and actually eat our meals) because we’ve already welcomed everyone throughout the week. We also enjoyed having 6+ days of activities and enjoying a week of celebration. It all goes by so fast, so it not just being two nights was amazing.
Photography: Savannah Loftus Photography | Ceremony Venue: Susannaberg, St. John, USVI | Reception Venue: Ocean Grill Restaurant | Event Planning: Island Style Weddings | Floral: Roses Too Flowers | Stationery: Etsy | Wedding Cake: Sam and Jacks | Hair & Makeup: Sugar and Spice Salon | Wedding Dress: Justin Alexander | Groom’s Attire: ASOS | Bride’s Shoes: Steve Madden | Groomsmen Attire: Calvin Klein