By Hannah Burke
An intimate gathering of 70 people came together at the Henderson Resort & Spa for Northwest Florida Weddings Magazine’s pop-up party, an occasion that brought to life the kind of wedding reception that figures in dreams.
Immersed in the amorous atmosphere of the 5 o’clock golden hour, attendees headed for the Henderson’s Crystal Ballroom, whose entrance was marked by a whimsical arch of blushing-bride pink balloons from Mingle 30A.
Augmented by alluring, aromatic rose bouquets and greenery by Sunquest, a swank lounge area by John Gandy Events and non-stop grooves from DJ 30A, the venue was transformed into a fully live reception space.
Upon receiving a complimentary flute of the Salamander Spa’s lavender champagne, guests mingled and meandered to various sponsor stations.
Like moths to a flame, most were mesmerized by McCaskill & Company Fine Jewelry’s dazzling display of diamonds.
“Tonight, we’re showing off a bridal gallery that features engagement and wedding rings and an assortment of remounts,” said Carolyn Brigman, McCaskill’s vice president. “Oval diamonds have been a particularly popular trend, as well as some of the more uniquely shaped stones from our talented designers.”
Square-cut or pear-shaped, McCaskill’s rocks don’t lose their shape, and indeed proved to be the best friend of every girl who stopped to try one on for size.
More exotic designs, such as multi-banded rings and striking, gemstone-encrusted bands, were listed among 2019’s top 10 wedding trends by Northwest Florida Weddings Magazine.
Another trend: Passable foods, of which there was no shortage between trips to the bar. Courtesy of the Henderson’s Primrose restaurant, guests made multiple stops at the sushi station, which supplied succulent urumaki rolls, freshly pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi for the spice-inclined.
Bite-sized confections, including chocolate and strawberry “shooter” parfaits, Key lime bars, blackberry-lemon tarts, passionfruit cupcakes and slices of New York cheesecake ensured that no sweet tooth was left wanting for more.
In addition to cocktails and canapés, guests were saying “yes” to a dress or two at the Margaret Ellen Bridal display.
“Today, I’m featuring three designs from Martina Liana, Hayley Paige and Anne Barge,” said Maggie Matthews, owner of Margaret Ellen Bridal. “You’ll see that the dresses are similar in silhouette, but showcase very different styles: Fit ’n’ flare, A-lines and mermaid dresses have sold very well for us this year.”
Mannequins modeled options including a heavily beaded and embroidered ensemble that offers elegance to the bride with a flair for the dramatic.
A fitted, lace gown exuded countryside class. But, among the partygoers, a clean and contemporary mermaid dress — complete with an exaggerated, textured skirt — seems to have taken the (wedding) cake.
Beyond the glitz and glam of material things, Aislinn Kate Photography’s heartwarming portraiture of brides and grooms on their special day reminded guests of the magic sparked by saying, “I do.”
Many stopped to admire a sepia-tone shot of a new Mr. and Mrs. dancing in a sparkling shower of water droplets, and flipped through a “lookbook” of romantic stories.
Thanks to Epic Photo Co., guests were not without their own memories of the evening. Accessorized by goofy glasses, whacky caps and props galore, groups posed in front of a pink-sequin screen for a snapshot.
For Melanie Pompey, winner of Northwest Florida Wedding Magazine’s Honeymoon Giveaway, the evening was just a taste of the romantic retreat in store for her and her groom at the Henderson Resort & Spa.
Resort General Manager (and former wedding DJ) David Mars, stressed that he understands and values the importance of crafting memorable celebrations for couples — precisely the kind of experiences that the Henderson provides.
The pop-up party’s coordinator, Mackenzie Little of Rowland Publishing, was pleased that the evening went off without a hitch.
“As our first pop-up party celebrating Northwest Florida Weddings Magazine, it was an honor and joy to plan,” said Little, a newlywed herself.
“With our incredible vendors throughout Northwest Florida and a beautiful magazine cover to share with the community, I am thrilled with the overall event and I am already looking forward to 2020!”
Photos by Aislinn Kate Photography