By Rebecca Padgett Frett
Photography by Robert Young | Forever Young Images
On her wedding day, Claire Partin looked down the aisle towards the best view she has witnessed in her life: the faces of her smiling friends and family, her husband’s tears of joy and the scenery of emerald waves and a stunning sunset.
Years before our cover couple’s beachside wedding at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, Claire and Jake met in college at the birthday party of a mutual friend. Claire enjoyed right away that Jake was interested in getting to know her, asking insightful questions no other man had asked her before. By the end of the night, they exchanged numbers.
“There was something about him that drew me and made me want to know more,” said Claire. “As we continued to go on dates, I got to see how big his heart was, which made me fall in love with him.”
As self-proclaimed beach lovers, they have visited Florida’s beaches for yearly vacations from their home in Louisiana. They frequent Northwest Florida beaches in particular.
“I’m happiest at the beach, and I’m truly at ease,” said Claire. “If I could move tomorrow, I would move to Florida in a heartbeat.”
Going to the beach for a family vacation was not unexpected, but Jake on one knee in the sugar sand was a surprise. One evening, the family decided to do a photo shoot on the beach. Something felt different, and when Jake’s mother told them to take photos together first, Claire began to get butterflies. As they walked towards the waterline, Jake stopped her and asked to spend their lives together.
When Jake proposed, they knew they would marry with a beachside backdrop, continuing their love of the ocean and the memories it has given them.
The couple visited many beachside venues and resorts throughout Florida, but after visiting Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, they agreed it was the one. With an inclusive wedding package, a highly accommodating planner and a large breathtaking deck that overlooked the ocean, their decision was an easy one.
The couple liked that the deck was a platform that provided views of the coast, making stepping in the sand optional for guests. After the ceremony, the couple headed to the beach for stunning sunset shots.
Throughout the planning process, Claire found herself grateful for two women — her planner, Angela, and her mother, Mollie. Both women had the couple’s best interests in mind, coordinated the details and made it a stress-free and enjoyable process as they helped shape Claire’s special day.
“Angela, our planner, was awesome and completely focused on giving us our dream wedding,” said Claire. “I barely had to lift a finger and stress was minimal because they coordinated everything from the vendors to the timeline.”
Residing in Louisiana, the couple found themselves grateful many times for the all-inclusive wedding package that they selected, which included catering, décor, music, photography, florals, a cake, room blocks and more.
Claire’s mother was by her side for every step of the planning process, from the venue to the selection of florals. Her mom and sisters even helped her make DIY fans and other décor for the wedding.
“My mom was there for the good, the bad and the ugly and was my rock through the entre planning process,” said Claire. “My wedding wouldn’t have been nearly as amazing without her constant support. Through wedding planning, we became even closer than just mother and daughter.”
The Partins’ dream wedding came to fruition in a style best described as tropical elegance and coastal glam. The ceremony and reception space were adorned with white lilies and orchids.
“We wanted an elegant ambience that was also fun,” said Claire. “It was glamourous, but not over the top. Overall, there was a relaxing vibe that truly made everyone feel like they were on vacation at this beautiful resort.”
Claire wore a dress of intricate lace with dazzling jewelry, and her long hair was fashioned in loose waves. Jake was dashing in a tailored navy-blue suit.
Among the many special moments of the day, Claire most often reflects on the dance she shared with her father, an unplanned first look with her brother, and the moment she joined Jake at the altar.
“My mind went blank, and everything was in slow motion, until I saw Jake crying at the end of the aisle,” said Claire. “One of the moments I will always remember is seeing how much love he had for me in his eyes.”
Through tears, the couple exchanged handwritten vows expressing why they loved one another, and they made promises they find themselves reflecting upon daily in their marriage. Their vows are now framed and hanging in the home they share. Between the ceremony and reception, their planner arranged for them to enjoy alone time on the beach as a married couple for the first time.
Claire’s advice to couples planning a wedding is to find a planner that puts your wants and needs first, to enlist the help of family and friends for DIY projects, don’t get too hung up on perfection — and enjoy every moment.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of the ceremony or the fun of the celebration, but at its core, our wedding day was about coming together as one with God behind us and our family in front of us,” said Claire. “It was the most meaningful day of our lives because it reflected he’s the one for me and I’m the one for him.”