Sponsored

Three Beautiful Weddings: Which is Your Style?

Stephanie and Joe's wedding

Ah, wedding planning. These two words are enough to make your head spin (did somebody say checklist?), but designing your celebration can also be a lot of fun. Inspired by Zola, the beloved registry service that now offers free wedding websites, we talked to three beautiful brides — with very different aesthetics — about how they prepped for the big day…

ERIN & PHILIP
Orcas Island, Washington

Orcas Island Wedding

“My husband and I both have an attachment to Orcas Island, together and as individuals,” Erin explained. “We spent a lot of time there when we first started dating, and actually moved there together! There is so much wildness in the landscape, and the people are really kind. It reflects a lot of the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.”

Orcas Island Wedding

“I wanted our one-year-old daughter to be part of the ceremony, but children can be pretty unpredictable. My plan was for my husband to carry her in, because I had a huge bouquet of flowers. As we were getting ready to walk up the hill for the ceremony, my daughter had a meltdown and needed me to carry her. My husband carried the bouquet. It was disappointing and also beautiful, which is kind of how life is. It’s safe to say she was the highlight of the show.”

Wedding Dress

“Until three weeks before our wedding, I had another dress, but it wasn’t quite right. When I went for my final fitting, I saw this dress on a mannequin and was immediately taken with it. My dad had just passed away, and I was trying to open myself up to signs or help that he might be offering. I equate my finding this dress with him, which is part of why it’s so special to me.”

Three designs for a wedding that celebrates the outdoors: Galata, Camden, Tillage

Zola Wedding Websites

STEPHANIE & JOE
Atlanta, Georgia

Steph and Joe Atlanta wedding

“Joe and I talked about the dress code we wanted and settled on ‘summertime fly,'” Stephanie explained. “We wanted a theme with personality and character, something very bold and bright. I assumed there might be questions from older guests who’d be like, ‘Fly? What does that mean?’ As it turned out, no one knew what it meant. Ultimately, that was fun because I got to send people inspiration photos and share my vision with them. It was so much fun to see people’s renditions of ‘summertime fly.’ If I had to do it all again, I would do the same thing.”

Gold Bridesmaid Dresses

“I chose gold as my color, because I wanted my women to be my goddesses instead of my bridesmaids. Gold is so illuminating. I wanted to let each woman choose something different and fabulous that made them feel like their best selves.”

Steph and Joe

“I wasn’t one of those little girls who grew up dreaming of my wedding, so when it came to choosing my dress, I had no idea what I wanted. I looked at lots of gowns, and eventually it came down to two. I had my mom and best friends vote, and they picked this one. I was really happy with it.”

Three designs for a wedding with a sparkly, glamorous vibe: Franklin, Milky Way, Heaven

Zola Glam Wedding

JULIA & TOM
Brooklyn, New York

Julia and Tom

“We wanted to get married in our neighborhood,” Julia explains. “It was important to us to support local vendors and choose a venue that was part of our community. I was also born and raised in NYC, so this rooftop — with its view of the skyline — felt like getting married at home.”

“The minute I tried on this dress, I knew it was the right one. I could move around easily, and it was a long white dress that wasn’t necessary bridal.”

Brooklyn Rooftop Wedding

“Climbing the water tower was pretty epic. There wasn’t a railing, which was scary, but we did it anyway. Before the wedding, we had planned to take a minute at one point during the reception to step back and take in the scene with all our loved ones. Thankfully, we remembered to do that, and it was my favorite part of the wedding.”

Three designs for a wedding with a laid-back aesthetic: Hume, Willowdale, Freeway

Zola Wedding Websites

If you’re currently planning a wedding (or hope to be in the future), Zola wedding websites are a great option. They let you integrate your registry and your RSVP list, so guests can reply and shop directly from your site. Your guests can also RSVP to multiple events, like welcome drinks or a morning-after brunch.

With over 100 free designs to choose from, there’s something for every style — modern, vintage, rustic, glam — plus all websites have the option of being password protected. Last but not least, Zola’s customer service is ALWAYS available to help couples (and their guests) get the information they need. (Unless your theme is “summer fly”… then you’re on your own. :)

Are you planning a wedding, or attending any weddings this summer? Have you come across any fun themes or special details? We’d love to hear…

(Stephanie’s wedding photos by Our Labor of Love, Erin’s wedding photos by Belathée, and Julia’s wedding photos by Tory Williams. This post is sponsored by Zola, a service we love. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep Cup of Jo running.)

  1. Erin & Philip – my favourite wedding. Soooo romantic and beautiful bridal dress.

  2. J says...

    My husband’s sister (my now sister-in-law :) ) officiated our wedding and it was the best! I was a nervous wreck in the days leading up to the wedding and having her up there with us, walking us through it, made all the difference… plus the “it’s not every day you get to ‘marry’ your brother” jokes never got old.

  3. Libby says...

    BEST WEDDING PLANNING ADVICE:
    Keep a notebook of all the details and ideas. Schedule wedding planning dates with your fiancee and make action items to accomplish before the next date. Then don’t talk about your wedding again until that next date. We realized we were constantly talking about wedding everything and the fatigue started to set in and then our friend told us that advice. We followed it and were extremely grateful that we did. My husband tells all of his friends that same piece of advice!

  4. Alexis says...

    My coworker went to a wedding this weekend in which all the (able bodied) guests hiked to the ceremony site. Such a fun and offbeat way to bring everyone together!
    I am partnered and babied up and don’t really have any big wedding plans. But we would like to do the Vegas thing, only planned. I have never been and I think getting married would be a fun occasion to finally do it. And then we can see all the Cirque du Soleil shows, which I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid.

  5. Liv says...

    Oh man, Stephanie and Joe all the way- gorgeous!!! I love that it feels so cool and relaxed but elegant at the same time- and her dress!!

  6. Erica says...

    Oh, I adore the vibe of Stephanie and Joe’s wedding! Strangely enough, I think I went to college with one of the bridesmaids in the photo – small world!

  7. Kelly says...

    I know this is about the websites, but seriously, zola’s Wedding registry is a game changer! We’ve lived together for four years, so we had all the basics, some quite nice hand me downs, and were willing to upgrade some things but not others. Not sure if anyone else has overly involved in-laws, but mine really cared about decisions down to what plates we should get and what sheets. She doesn’t know what Brooklinen is, so she was convinced it was cheap. I registered for the ones she suggested, then exchanged within the app for the organic ones I actually wanted to sleep on! Plus, I got to add some really unique items from Food52 and other smaller vendors. We got exactly what we wanted, no unnecessary stuff. And the first things to be purchased were the cash gifts! I made a few $25 options to “buy us a round of cocktails,” thinking of my broke college friends, but it was a huge hit with the older crowd as an add on to the main gift since I didn’t have a wedding shower. Plus, getting to track thank you notes was so easy. We had a crate and barrel registry too at my mother in law’s insistence, and Zola was a million times easier, and it felt cuter and more personal.

  8. Katherine says...

    I picked out two different dresses and loved how it came out! One was navy blue and the other was teal with stripes. They chose between two different necklaces and I let them pick out their own TOMS wedges! They all picked different colors [I also got a pair of pink ones!] and it was fun to see the patterns and colors come together! It helped as well since my sister in law was 7 months pregnant with twins and it gave her freedom to find a dress and shoes that she was comfortable in!

  9. Terri says...

    “Our Baby Girl Stephanie” is beautiful in thought and spirit!! Blessed with a loving handsome sweet husband Joe. So happy and so beautiful.

    All the couples are stunning!

  10. Oh my goodness all of these! But truly everything about your wedding Julia! I’m nowhere close to getting married but the vibe, colors, flowers, venue, and more are simply amazing. Anything else you an share about it ;)? Thanks!

  11. Rachel says...

    Miss Manners would say your bridesmaids are your friends, not pageant contestants :) There’s no reason they have to all look alike, even within a certain “color scheme”!

  12. I love both Stephanie and Julia’s dresses! Any idea where they’re from?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we’ll ask!

    • Stephanie says...

      Hi Angie, my dress is from BHLDN :)

  13. Betsie says...

    My wedding was almost three years ago and the only thing my husband and I think we should have done differently is order more donuts! We served Maine potato donuts (Holy Donut ftw) instead of cake and people went crazy for them. We should have ordered twice as many.

    My dress was very far down on my priority list for our wedding. I bought mine from David’s on clearance for $99. No regrets.

  14. Sarah says...

    I love this! I just got married last month north of the Bay Area, and our wedding vibe was “dinner party in the garden”. My bridesmaids’ dresses were a deep botanical green, which I had ordered online, and I was anxious all the until wedding day for not having picked light colors for a summer wedding. We got the pictures back two days ago and I am so happy with how they turned out! Lesson learned: do your own damn thing! Second lesson: finding a dress at Nordstrom was a million times easier than going through a boutique. Plus a better return policy :)

  15. Rachel says...

    Orcas Island!! I grew up spending summers on the island and now my parents live there full time. Such a lovely surprise! What a beautiful place to get married!

  16. Sydni Jackson says...

    For years after graduation my husband and I were invited to and attending around 8 weddings a year. In the past few years there has been only a couple. So glad it’s wound down, because though weddings are fun they eat up other vacation time. Though I miss having a great occasion to see lots of friends & family.

  17. Lucy says...

    “I chose gold as my color, because I wanted my women to be my goddesses instead of my bridesmaids.”

    This is amazing.

  18. Sara says...

    My Mom lived int he San Juans for a bit, on Lummi Island, and when we came to visit we were all just absolutely captivated by Orcas Island. It feels spiritual and lovely and what a great place to call home, Erin!!

  19. Liza says...

    I would love to know where Julia got her dress! Love it!

    • Darcy says...

      Ditto.

  20. Inês says...

    Right?

  21. Christina M says...

    I love this! I got married almost 5 years ago on the absolute hottest day in July on Long Island. My vision for my wedding was “summer joyous colorful fun” And it was – it was one of the best days of my life and I wouldn’t change anything. (although I wish I was cool enough to think of ‘summertime fly’ like Stephanie; )

    And Erin’s dress – took my breath away.

    • Emily L says...

      Mine was also the hottest day of the year in July in Central Pennsylvania! Our theme was “garden party” which was cute but still casual. However, it got so hot that multiple guests changed into shorts after the ceremony!

  22. Emily says...

    Zola seems like a great option for a registry. I’m disappointed it doesn’t work for Canadian weddings! Does anyone have a Canadian registry option where you can select items from all over the internet?

    • BD says...

      Hi! Fellow Canadian here!
      There are a lot of great US sites but had to do some research on this for our Canadian registry.
      I ended up using myregistry.com (it’s free).
      On recommendation from a friend, I had considered thankfulregistry.com (there’s a one-time fee of US$30 but the interface is really nice).

  23. Lauren says...

    We got married almost 3 years ago and used the Knot for our website which was fine (this looks nicer!) but it did also allow for online RSVPs which I highly recommend! We sent out a simple one page invitation that we made on Minted and had guests RSVP online for both the rehearsal dinner and wedding – they could also select meal choices. It was super easy to export a spreadsheet and have all of the details organized!

    • Marissa says...

      I’m getting married in a couple months and we are also doing online RSVPs. At first I was hesitant because typically I lean pretty traditional, but once I realized how much easier it would make our (my) lives (and cheaper given you’re not paying for return postage), I was sold. We’re both 31, have lived together for some time and are currently planning a move overseas, so the last thing we needed was more stuff! Ultimately we opted for a charity donation registry – throwing tradition out the door right and left!

  24. Lea says...

    Very curious what the Brooklyn rooftop is??

  25. Hannah says...

    I love Stephanie’s mismatched bridesmaids! Any brides that have done this and let your girls choose their own dress – do you regret it? I often wonder if it’d be more stress to have them find their own!

    • Christa says...

      I gave my bridesmaids a color (dove grey) and let each of them choose their own dress. They looked gorgeous and everyone felt confident, which made them even more gorgeous! We had a cocktail/fashion show party and everyone showed off their dress- it was so much fun – I would absolutely do it again!

    • CB says...

      I did this for my wedding and I found it to be much less stressful than having to find one dress that would fit a variety of body types and would be affordable for all of my bridesmaids. I have them three color options (lavender, beige, and light pink) and sent them pictures of what the colors should look like and what they *shouldn’t* look like. I think this was helpful, and they ended up looking amazing together!

    • Cooper says...

      I just chose the color (yellow) and I absolutely loved how it turned out! (Although it turned out that yellow wasn’t particularly trendy that year so it was a little challenging for some of the girls to find dresses.) I gave everyone shoes, so there was a little unifying element. I think it was important to be totally relaxed about it and trust my bridesmaids – if I’d had to “approve” every dress/accessory before purchase, it would have been really stressful. As it turned out, one bridesmaid made her own dress, one re-wore a previous bridesmaid dress, some added belts or cardigans, and everyone looked like the best version of herself.

    • Karla H says...

      I gave my bridesmaids a color scheme and let them choose their own color and style. I loved it and they did, too, because they were able to get dresses that fit their style, budget and preferences.

    • Claire says...

      I did the same. Summer afternoon wedding, outside, on the casual side. I requested they wear black dresses and black shoes. It worked out very well.

    • Meredith says...

      Hahaha I started with that idea and told them light blue – but after getting a few options from one girl that were absolutely not going to work, I decided it would be easier for all involved if I picked one style. I’m just not laid back enough, and I got tired of saying, “oh…that’s cute…but no…” If my wedding colors were more neutral (I love the gold idea! And using black or silver works too!) then maybe it could have worked!

    • Beth says...

      The J.Crew wedding line was still around when I got married nearly five years ago. It was great because I chose the fabric and color, and each girl chose her style. We also had a party where I had ordered sizes and styles that everyone was interested in trying, and we ate food, drank champagne, and tried on dresses from the comfort of my apartment. That line was great for wedding guests too! Wish they would bring it back!

    • Susannah says...

      I did this with my bridesmaids and it was awesome and easy (and cheap for them! or not! being a bridesmaid can be expensive! This is also a nice way to respect any differences in where your circle is in their lives financially… for some people it’s no big deal to drop $400 on a dress, for others that’s half the rent). Mine were pale pink or beige, ivory or gold (I think I sent them an email with a picture from this blog: http://bleubirdblog.com/2012/02/our-wedding-part-two/) … Everyone looked like their own self and could DEFINITELY wear the dresses again (which every bride who makes their bridesmaids buy matching dresses always says but I think in this case is actually true because they got to pick them). Though Meredith below hit the nail on the head… if you want a little more control and are going to want to be approving everyone’s dresses then this going this way will be stressful and might even highlight some secret judgment you didn’t even know you had on your friends personal style/choices.

    • Kate says...

      I gave my bridesmaids a color scheme (dusty rose, mauve, something along those lines) and let them pick their own. My sister-in-law loved it and had no trouble finding one (she’s a fashion designer). The other 3 bridesmaids struggled a bit and 2 of them ended up buying the exact same dress from David’s Bridal. The third found a really cute one at Anthropologie. I think it just depends on your bridesmaids personalities, to be honest. I’m very laid back and didn’t really want everyone to match but 1 of my bridesmaids preferred more direct instructions and the other one just didn’t like to shop so she just bought what the other one bought, haha. It worked out fine though, and everyone looked beautiful! And at the end of the day, I felt good knowing that I didn’t ask anyone to buy a dress they didn’t like or couldn’t afford.

    • Erin says...

      I did this. I got married in a Japanese garden, so sent my bridesmaids a range of green swatches/pictures (bottle green, bamboo, jade, celery, etc.) to choose from and left the rest up to them. Three chose solid greens and the other two chose prints (one paisley and one vintage floral) so I alternated solid and print and it ended up being really adorable looking! And everyone either already owned their dress or was able to get a dress that they liked that fit their style and personality. :)

    • Rachel says...

      Miss Manners would say your bridesmaids are your friends, not pageant contestants :) There’s no reason they have to all look alike, even within a certain “color scheme”!

    • Laura says...

      I got married outside a few years ago. I asked my 3 bridesmaids to wear solid navy dresses that they liked. I didn’t see any of the dresses until we were all getting ready (couldn’t have cared less) and it turned out great!

  26. Shaunessy says...

    I LOVE weddings! I am currently planning my own wedding for this December 28th in Philadelphia. My maids are wearing all different beaded, plum dresses and my brother is my Man of Honor. :) Our little flower girls have gold gowns. I cannot wait!

  27. I love this! My wedding day was my most favorite day. It really reflected my husband’s and my style. We love to dance, so we had a big band, and we love to celebrate with people. The dance floor was packed all night, just the way we like it.

  28. Katie says...

    I’m a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding in late September. Thankfully she letting us pick our dresses as long as they are gold. Now I’m having such a hard time finding a short, gold bridesmaid dress. I love the off the shoulder one here. Anyone know where it’s from or have other suggestions for a pear shaped lady? Please help!

  29. Rian says...

    They are all so beautiful! Would it be possible to find out what brand Stephanie’s dress is? Currently looking for one and that one is gorgeous!

    • Stephanie says...

      Hi Rian,

      Thank you :) My dress is from BHLDN which I liked because it was relatively inexpensive and they delivered it to me in under 2 months!

  30. Sandhya says...

    This is such a fun feature! I got married (for the second time) ten years ago, and it was so liberating to be able to do exactly what I wanted. I found a wedding dress from J Crew and had no attendants — just friends who came and offered words of love during the ceremony. All that said, I would be thrilled to know where all these three dresses came from. I have no earthly reason to need to know, but I am just insanely curious. Especially that gorgeous floral dress!

  31. Kate says...

    I would love the opportunity to dress “summertime fly” for a wedding! What a fun challenge :)

  32. Emily says...

    Julia would you mind sharing where your dress is from if you’re reading these comments? It’s beautiful!

    • Julia says...

      Rebecca Schoneveld!

    • Emily says...

      Thank you Julia!!

  33. Zoe says...

    I really want to see how the guest interpreted summertime fly! I was sad to see there wasn’t a photo of that. Although I love what she said about the gold dresses too.

    • A says...

      ^yes! This sounds so cool, I’m dying to see how it looked!

    • B says...

      me too, I was looking for that as well!

  34. Amanda says...

    I am such a big fan of weddings that let the personalities of the bride and groom shine bright and strong. My husband and I got married last month and had so much fun tailoring our wedding to suit us and our friends. We ate barbecue and wedding pie, drank Colorado beer, played yard games, had dogs running amok, and made a low-key indie playlist that saw everyone through to marshmallows around the campfire. It left me utterly exhausted, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way!

  35. That floral dress… all the heart eyes.

    • Alison says...

      agree! would love to know where Erin bought it.

  36. Katie says...

    I love all of these! Everyone looks so happy. I’m approaching my one-year anniversary and summing up our wedding in three words, I’d say:

    Non-traditional in that we had a private ceremony with immediate family followed by brunch and later a party on our roof with friends.

    Classic in that my dress was similar to Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s. He was in a navy suit. Our flowers were an array of pink roses, different types and shades.

    City-inspired in that our private ceremony was held on the terrace of a city landmark overlooking Lake Michigan. Our rooftop party had skyline views. Food, cake and kegs were local. Yes. We had a keg party! And people still came dressed up!

    It was perfect. And it was us.

  37. Meredith says...

    whaaaattt! I’m so curious which water tower Julia climbed?! can I get some intel?

    • Julia says...

      The Brooklyn Grange in the Navy Yards! Truly magical venue!

    • Mollie says...

      We got married at Brooklyn Grange too! Climbing the water tower was undoubtedly the most special part of the day <3

  38. Lo says...

    I got married last month, and we used Zola for our registry and website. Just wanted to give them a shout-out for great customer service!

    We opted to just make our own playlists on Spotify, rather than hire a band or DJ. Spending hours with my now-husband (!!) debating the best drunken sing-along tunes, talking about the music we grew up with, and listening to the songs we fell in love to was the absolute best part of planning our wedding. We weren’t anticipating a first dance or an epic dance party (including the bartenders getting down on the dance floor), but the playlists ended up working perfectly for both — and now we have these beautiful, meaningful soundtracks we can pull up whenever we want.

    • Sheila says...

      My husband and I have been married for almost 14 years and we still play our playlist we made to play on our iPod at the time. It’s the best. We labored over every single song and we both, still, LOVE every single song.

  39. Hani says...

    That floral wedding dress completely took my breath away! Oh heavens! If I were ever to have another wedding, BAM.

  40. Lesley says...

    All of these weddings are beautiful! Is that caroline in one of Stephanie’s photos?

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Hahaha, it is! Good eye. Steph was my college roommate and is one of my best friends. :)

    • Haley says...

      Yes! I thought the same! Caroline, I LOVE the dress – any tips on where you got it?

    • Such a beautiful bridal party. I love the mixture of dresses. You look gorgeous in your gold dress Caroline!

  41. Sarah F. says...

    Since last year my fiance and I have been invited to 16 weddings (plus an Ordination) in 15 months. And that’s not including our own wedding coming up next month! We’ve been lucky enough to be able to attend most of them; it’s been so fun to see everyone’s personalities shine through the different events. Even the most traditional weddings have fun personal elements to them. I’m loving the “summertime fly” dress code – ours is “summer festive”!