kaitlynn + mason | intimate sunrise wedding on the beach | captiva island, fl.

I think it’s fair to say I become a bit of a broken record when it comes to talking about how wedding days can truly be whatever you want them to be, but I mention it a lot for two reasons: 1. I spend my days photographing, editing, and talking about weddings via email and phone calls and in person meetings, so it’s safe to say at this point that these celebrations are a big part of my life and 2. I recognize that weddings are not a big part of day-to-day life for most people, and it feels a bit like my own little version of a public service announcement to share the wealth with couples who are planning a wedding of their own. It’s easy to get caught up in it all – to go through the motions, and do all the things, and adhere to all the traditions, and to let wedding planning take over your life until it becomes a thing that makes you say “we’re just ready for it to be over” with a half-hearted laugh when people ask how it’s all going. Because of this sometimes being the case, I’m always thrilled to see a couple doing things in a way better suited to the two of them, and that’s exactly what Kaitlynn and Mason did.

When Kaitlynn and Mason were in their early years of dating, they took their first trip together to Sanibel in Florida. They fell in love with the island – the beach and the beautiful lushness and the community and the cute restaurants, and it soon became “their place”. After vacationing there together for many years after, they decided it was the perfect place for the two of them to get married. They rented a home in Captiva, just north of Sanibel, and invited their immediate family and a few friends to stay in the home with them. They had their ceremony at sunrise, which meant that they all started getting ready for the day when it was still dark outside. The living room of the rental home was full of people doing hair and makeup, and friends popping champagne and pouring mimosas, and sleepy-eyed kiddos being helped into their flower girl and ring bearer duds.

Their family and friends walked out to the beach from the home as the sky began to lighten, and Mason and Tre’ waited patiently together for their girl to make her appearance. Kaitlynn’s brother then married the two of them right there on the beach, surrounded by their loved ones. After taking some family photos, they all then made their way to a local spot for a celebratory brunch, followed by heading back to the house for some pool time and lounging. The day felt calm and easy – they eventually changed out of their wedding clothes and into their swimsuits, and had some drinks and a few people took midday naps, and the kids swam and they all simply relaxed together. Later that afternoon, they prepared for the backyard reception, and Kaitlynn and Mason’s village came together to help make it all happen. There were people doing dishes and other people setting the table and lighting candles, and Carlie was setting up décor while Kaitlynn’s friend Christine prepared the taco bar. I love moments like this – an event feeling bigger and different than just decorations and Pinterest boards, instead being little bits of love put together by some of the most important loves in your life.

Kaitlynn and Mason made a last minute plan change to wait and do photos of the two of them the next day so that they could focus on dinner and dances and this time with their people, and it truly made for the best evening. They all held hands and prayed together in the living room, then dished up their tacos and made their way to the backyard. Kaitlynn’s dad gave a beautiful toast, and after doing a few dances post-dinner, Kaitlynn and Mason cut their cake. A sopping wet Tre’ hopped out of the pool to come up and stand next to them (and maybe sneak a cookie) as they did so, and they laughed and I realized there’s something so perfect about crafting a wedding day that allows your son to be in the pool one minute and joining in on your cake cutting the next. The night ended with kids being put into their jammies and goodnight kisses and Kaitlynn and Mason holding each other as they looked at the kitchen full of their loved ones, and I thought about Mason’s toast during the reception dinner. He had told them all that he felt like he and Kaitlynn and Tre’ couldn’t be more blessed that these were the people their wagons were hitched to, and as I saw them smiling as they observed their loved ones getting ready for bed, I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect ending to their day.

Ceremony: Private Beach, Captiva
Brunch: RC Otter’s
Backyard Reception: Private Rental Home, Captiva
Taco Bar: Kaitlynn’s friend, Christine
Bride’s Dress: Cloud Nine Bridal Boutique
Hair + Makeup: ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort and Spa
Videography: Joseph Hardin Wedding Films
Reception Tables: Beauty From Ashes Creative Design

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Chicago, IL


Weddings + Engagements + Life

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