A Florida destination wedding // Whitney and Terry

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If you like Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain…then you should consider a Florida destination wedding. No, seriously! Although we didn’t get caught in any rain on our trip to Clearwater, we did find it pretty easy to track down a Piña Colada; and when it’s sunny, 95 degrees, and you have a few hours of free time…that’s a no-brainer.

This was our first wedding in Florida and my first time to the Gulf Coast since I was a kid, so we were even more excited than usual to be shooting somewhere completely new to us. Especially so because we were catching back up with two incredible people whom we couldn’t wait to photograph. Our clients are a lot smarter than I am but fortunately, most are quite camera reticent so it helps level the playing field a bit. With an acceptance rate of just 14%, Cornell University is not an easy school to get into; it’s discerning of the intelligence and the character of its student body. Fortunately, Whitney and Terry made the cut, because during their time there, through intersecting paths and mutual friends, the spark had ignited. Although the two weren’t exactly “friends” during their time at Cornell, Whitney left an impression that Terry couldn’t put in the rear-view. So…when Terry caught word from a mutual friend that Whitney was moving to the (New York) city, he asked her out before she even had a chance to unpack her boxes. She delayed for a while – wanting to be a single woman in the city – but a few months later, they had their first date and…well now we’re all in Florida to celebrate their big day!

Whitney describes the time leading up to their wedding day as “such an easy, breezy relationship filled with so much laughter and goofing off. Were really perfect for each other.”

Their wedding was held at the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, not far from where Whitney grew up. The preparations, ceremony, and reception were all held onsite and the beachside ceremony was officiated by Whitney’s brother Scott. We met Scott in 2011 when we photographed his wedding at the Hermitage Inn in Vermont, and got our first taste of the Valins family and their incredible shows of affection for each other. They’re a colorful family and we couldn’t wait to be there for the families final, wedding-day “mazel-tov!” as their youngest was about to marry her perfect partner. Alongside the couple, under the chuppah were their parents and siblings. Terry’s brother was the best man, and Scott’s wife Robyn was Whitney’s maid of honor. The ceremony incorporated both Jewish and Filipino traditions.

I’m certain that every tear duct in the crowd was ready to spill over by the time Terry and Whitney reached the exchange of vows. In front of 250 friends and family members, they spoke to each other from the heart as if they were the last two patrons in the back of an all-night coffee house in Tribeca, promising to look after each other and thanking each other for choosing to be there with them at that moment, and for the rest of their life together. I can’t remember exactly what was said but this will be the pinnacle of emotion in their wedding film for sure, and Jaime was in tears.

We just love these two completely and couldn’t be happier to see them begin their life together. They took a moment as the sun went down to walk the beach together and breathe in the last of the day’s sea breeze before heading into their crazy reception. And by crazy, I mean awesome. Between the speeches, the hora, the dancing, the band, more dancing, and the stolen moments between Whitney and Terry throughout the night, it was everything a wedding should be.

We like to pass on wisdom from a new bride to a future one, so on the topic of advice for couples still at the planning stage, this is what Whitney had to say:

As everyone says – do not sweat the small stuff; it either goes wrong anyway, doesn’t matter, or isn’t noticed. And it’s still perfect!

Well said, Whitney. We love you guys…

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