Wedding Wednesday | Avalon Beach and Yacht Club Wedding | Katie Messina + Brandon Hanna

Avalon, New Jersey was the perfect scene for Katie and Brandon’s engagement session. Their wedding day was even more amazing at the same beach and the local yacht club. The weather was a little iffy, but it cleared out and the newlyweds got some incredible photos to remember their day with!

A Little Backstory

When one of the first thoughts that springs to mind when you meet your future spouse is, “Dammnnnnn, who is that girl?”, you know you’re off to a good start. That’s exactly what Brandon thought when he first laid eyes on Katie. They met while rowing at St. Joe’s University, and found that they both worked in Avalon over the summer. Katie decided to show her interest by stopping by Brandon’s job. After ordering chicken fingers at a seafood restaurant – she hates seafood – Brandon included his number on the takeout box and they began dating shortly after.

Getting Ready in Avalon, New Jersey

You never can tell what beach traffic will be like, so we went down ahead of time and had lunch at a charming diner called the Pudgy Pelican. After eating a hearty lunch, we dipped our toes in the ocean and then split up to begin the getting ready photos for both Katie and Brandon.

Brandon was getting ready in his parents gorgeous – like holy wow gorgeous – beach house just a block away from the beach. The amazing windows let in oodles of natural light and the beautiful blue color set off the guys as they got dressed. Brandon was in high spirits as he made sure he was super spiffy for his big day. How to tie a bowtie tutorials were playing on loop as several of the more ambitious ones attempted the real thing instead of the clip on. But through it all, there was an air of relaxation. The wedding day was here and everyone was in a good mood.

Meanwhile, Katie and her girls were enjoying a day of fun and lots of pampering. Katie was a vision in her Amsale gown which boasted a stunning lace back and pockets! It was the perfect dress for her. Her bridesmaids were all in navy blue and each had a unique back to their dresses. All the hustle and bustle of the morning culminated in almost a dozen lovely ladies ready to walk down the aisle to watch their friend and sister marry her best friend.

The Ceremony at Maris Stella Church

We love when our brides and grooms plan surprises for each other. And Katie got Brandon SO good. You see, Brandon loves bagpipes. We’re sure there’s a story there, but we didn’t get the full scoop. But suffice it say, he LOVES bagpipes. So Katie devised a plan to have a secret bagpiper arrive and play to herald her walk down the aisle. The moment those pipes fired up, Brandon’s eye lit up. After a few moments he double over laughing, and then the tears sprang up. His almost wife knew that the only thing that would make their wedding day better for him than it already was, would be bagpipes. What an expression of love.

When Katie reached the end of the aisle, they exchanged vows, rings, and a kiss. They were besides themselves with joy to finally be husband and wife. The bagpipes rang out again and the new Mr and Mrs followed him out of the church.

Portraits on Avalon Beach and the Avalon Yacht Club

A light rain sprang up when we reached the beach, so we quickly busted out some bridal party photos and sent them back to the trolley. Almost as soon as they left, the rain died off and we were able to keep Katie and Brandon for some incredible portraits. Once we’d had enough of the wind, and some scary dark clouds looming on the horizon, we made our way to the Yacht Club for a few more bridal party portraits and some cocktail hour fun.

The Reception at Avalon Yacht Club

The final hours of the wedding were spent having a blast at the beautiful Avalon Yacht Club. The food and drinks were plentiful and the guests were having an amazing time. There were custom corn hole games set up outside, and the night was shaping up to be one to remember. After dinner and the customer formalities, we whisked Brandon and Katie outside for a few more portraits. The sunset was brilliant and we took every moment we could.

When we rejoined the party, Brandon pulled out his surprise to Katie. The Saint Joe’s hawk! The hawk buzzed into the room and Katie freaked out. The fight song broke out, and every person flocked to get their picture taken with the beloved mascot. In all the whirl and hubbub, the band kicked up and dancing began. And after a blitz of photos of the dance floor, it was time to make the journey home.

Congratulations, Katie + Brandon! We love your zest for life and your love of surprising those who mean the most to you! We hope you had a lovely honeymoon and wish you many years of love and laughter together!

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