Courtney & Matthew
This big day held a special surprise at the end of an emerald aisle.
For Matt and Courtney, the person they were meant to be with was, quite literally, in front of them from the very beginning. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the two walked the halls of the same high school and knew of one another, but their lives never had a reason to intertwine.
It wasn’t until one Thanksgiving break, away from the stress of college finals that Matt and his friends ended up at the same local bar as Courtney. As a steady stream of high school friends poured in, Matt and Courtney navigated through a sea of familiar faces until gravity — fate, if you will — won out. After hours of laughter, the two realized they hadn’t parted ways the entire night!
Matt asked Courtney out shortly after, marking the start of their relationship. Looking back now, they still wonder why their paths hadn’t crossed before.
“We realized our childhood homes were just minutes away from each other and we even stood next to each other in our fifth-grade concert performance!” recalled Courtney.
As fate would have it, the friendship-turned-romance unfolded with ease, and on July 22, 2017, Matt and Courtney vowed yes to forever in Great Exuma, The Bahamas.
When dreaming up their ideal wedding destination, they wanted the location to be full of breathtaking scenery and offer a laid-back vibe that made their guests feel at home. With its pops of emerald foliage and contrasting ocean blues, Matt and Courtney knew that Sandals Emerald Bay was the perfect fit.
Surrounded by 50 family members and friends, Matt and Courtney created a full schedule of welcome activities and island exploration. To kick off the trip, Courtney treated her mom, Maid of Honor and future mother-in-law to a morning of Caribbean-inspired spa treatments and tropical cocktails, while the guys teed up at the Greg Norman-designed golf course for some friendly competition.
The following evening called for a tropical-themed rehearsal dinner complete with local fare to immerse guests in the island lifestyle. Woven bark vases, filled with birds-of-paradise, ginger lilies and pink King Protea, set the scene as guests sipped on drinks blended with citrus-infused vodka and Appleton® Estate Rum.
Waking up to bright sunlight, a gentle Caribbean breeze and her real-life fairytale the morning of, Courtney slipped into her dress before sharing a heartfelt first look with her father. It was a memorable moment for both as they celebrated the close bond they’ve always shared.
To get to the ceremony, guests rode golf carts across the resort to the breathtaking, championship golf course. Upon arrival, there was no denying that a bit of magic was definitely stirring in the air.
“Prior to walking down the aisle, we had the opportunity to scope out which hole we wanted to say ‘I do’ on,” explained Courtney. “We all came to the conclusion that the fourteenth hole was our favorite, which was fate for me!”
Being her father’s retired National Hockey League number, lucky 14 has never wavered in their household. As soon as they saw the sweeping ocean views and expansive green space, there was no question that Courtney and Matt would be married on the fourteenth fairway.
As the sun slipped away into the ocean, the sounds of the island began to emerge. For their reception, Matt and Courtney wanted to be as close to the ocean as possible. After hearing their saltwater vision, their Sandals Wedding Planner had a clear-top tent, illuminated by paper lanterns and string lights, assembled right on the sand.
The happy couple opted for a barefoot dress code to complement the natural scenery. Blooms of ivory phalaenopsis orchids and baby pink roses made up the floral arrangements, which played well against the emerging golden hour.
Classic ivory and muted blush blooms played well against the emerging golden hour.
Eventually, dusk faded away and the stars emerged to reveal a dreamy scene. The crowd whistled and clinked champagne flutes, while the newlyweds shared their first dance to “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton.
From the breathtaking scenery to every moment of laughter shared, Matt and Courtney look back on their destination wedding weekend as a dream come true.
“I remember sitting at the reception, looking around at the amazing location, my husband, friends and family,” explained Courtney, reflecting on her favorite memory. “I dug my feet into the sand and really took a moment to take it all in.”