According to Kelly Wallace, she and Blake Santos met as high school seniors in 2008, but Blake remembers it differently. “As juniors, we worked on a project together in history class—in a group of three people,” he explains. “Clearly I made an impression!” However it happened, the two were inseparable by graduation. And after eight years of dating, Blake knew he had to make their engagement really count. “We’d been together for so long, so I felt that the best way to mask the real surprise would be with another surprise,” he says. Blake arranged for both of their families to visit the couple in Washington, D.C., and he brought Kelly to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial under the pretense of a “work function.” “As we walked toward the Memorial, Blake suddenly turned left, and I saw a huge group of people huddled together,” Kelly remembers. “They suddenly turned around and yelled, ‘Surprise!’ and I realized it was our families.” At that moment, Blake got down on one knee.
Kelly’s family is from Jamaica, so choosing to head to the island for their wedding was easy. “We were going to have people traveling for our wedding no matter what, so why not have them join us somewhere beautiful?” Kelly says. The pair spent 11 months planning their wedding, then headed to Montego Bay to exchange vows. “We booked the venue sight unseen but loved that planning was so easy because the Hyatt took care of everything,” Kelly says. And, finally, on December 18, 2016, they filled the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall with the people they love most, invited photographer Bonnie Sen to capture the action, and officially tied the knot.
Keep reading to see this tropical destination wedding. It’s sure to inspire you!
With views like this, it’s no surprise that Blake and Kelly booked their wedding venue based on pictures alone. Says Kelly, “We were able to spend a weekend at the hotel a few months before the wedding, finalizing all the logistics, which was really lovely.”
The couple worked with Ribbon & Ink in Washington, D.C., to create custom branding for the event, and they welcomed guests with the cutest inflatable drink floaties!
Kelly’s modern Sarah Janks wedding gown was light enough for a beachfront celebration, while lending a sophisticated touch to the event. Silver glitter Jimmy Choo sandals were the perfect “something borrowed” to bring it all together; the bride borrowed them from her sister-in-law!
Kelly’s tropical bouquet combined orchids, pink and white anthurium, and ginger flowers with palm leaves.
A wrap-style dress with a fluttering neckline was a beautiful choice for Kelly’s three bridesmaids, who wore the Jenny Yoo gown in a pale blush.
Kelly’s uncle served as the officiant. “We didn’t write our own vows but used the ones my uncle and his wife recited 25 years ago,” says the bride.
Kelly’s brother-in-law and Blake’s cousin played the music for the ceremony, performing “Better Together” by Jack Johnson as the newlyweds made their way back up the aisle.
A steel-drum band played Jamaican tunes during cocktail hour, and Blake’s uncle even joined in to perform!
The reception took place in the sand, with all-white linens topped with garlands of greenery and surrounded by natural wood chairs. “We didn’t want to take away from the beauty of the setting,” says Kelly.
After a dinner of Jamaican beef patties, jerk chicken and shrimp, and rice and peas, Blake and Kelly served their guests red-velvet wedding cake, as well as traditional Jamaican rum Christmas cake. At the end of the night, the DJ played “One Love” by Bob Marley, which holds special meaning for Kelly’s family. “Both of my siblings were married in 2016 as well, and the song was played at their weddings too,” she says. “Once the DJ was done, our guests stayed on the dance floor and kept singing!”