Former schoolmates Jamie and Justin first reconnected through a love for rock climbing and travelling, so their super chill wedding was aptly set in Railay Beach in Krabi, Thailand, home to some of the most scale-able limestone cliffs in the world. In the spirit of adventure, they gifted guests – most having never been to Thailand before – with as many new experiences as possible, taking them to Bangkok and sending them on an excursion at Railay. The five-day vacay before the wedding brought everyone closer and more comfortable with each other, making their low-key cliffside solemnisation and al fresco reception dinner even more enjoyable.
Letting Railay's natural beauty remain in the foreground, decor was simple – foldable outdoor chairs were marked by leaves and a single bloom, and the couple exchanged vows in front of rustic bamboo-and-orchid columns. And instead of a traditional guestbook, well-wishers scribbled love notes onto a world globe. Jamie shares all about their whirlwind time below...
How they met:
Justin and I went to high school together. He was a year older than me – aside from the debate team, we ran in different circles. We were reunited a few years after college, when I had just moved back to the States from living in Japan. He saw a photo of me rock climbing on Railay Beach in Thailand, and sent me a message to see if I'd like to meet at a local climbing gym. After a couple of years dating, we began discussing marriage. I was pretty sure he was going to propose on Christmas Eve (I had put all of his presents under the tree, but he hadn't put mine there...). He opened my gifts first, and when it was time for mine, I excitedly sat back and waited for him to retrieve it from downstairs. I was, to be honest, a little let down when he came up carrying what looked like a giant painting wrapped in paper. He sat on the floor and helped me unwrap it. It was a large, beautiful, framed vintage map. He told me to read the back, so I leaned forward and read the message, which essentially stated that he couldn't wait to explore the world with me. We're travel junkies, so even though it wasn't a ring, it was still extremely touching and made me tear up. I sat back to look at him, and he was on his knee with the ring!
The bridal outfit:
I really wanted something simple, more on the casual side, and comfortable. I knew the heat would be something to consider, so I didn't want any unnatural fabrics that would irritate my skin. The dress I chose was the first and only dress I tried on – crazy! I was shopping for a dress for another friend's wedding and saw this off-white, beach-y maxi dress with a crocheted lace overlay. It looked exactly like what I was after, and I thought, what the heck, I'll just try it for fun. Justin was actually WITH me at the time – thank goodness he checks out and starts reading articles on his phone as soon as I step into a clothing store, so he didn't see it.
Hair and make-up:
Natural – something that wouldn't melt off my face in the heat. My good friend, who was also the MC, is incredibly gifted with makeup, so she helped. A little setting spray and that was it. My hair's another story – I'd grown it long for the day, and it reached down to about my waist. It's thick and heavy as well. The ladies at Rayavadee Spa asked for some photos I liked, and created a beautifully-soft, side-swept up-do. They put some orchids in it at the end.
The groom's outfit:
No suits! We wanted to stay far away from suits, jackets, ties and heavy fabric. So we went with linen pants, a linen shirt and sandals. We asked guests to dress similarly – we wanted them to be comfortable and enjoy the day without worrying about sweating.
The wedding party's style:
The groomsmen wore exactly the same thing as Justin, while the bridesmaids wore knife-pleated, flow-y pastel maxi dresses. I had some gold belts made for them and they picked their own jewellery. I loved that they wore three different colours – everything else was neutral, so they were the perfect accent to the entire event.
We loved Rayavadee's style on a normal day. Their daily decorations are gorgeous, and the backdrop of limestone cliffs and teal green waters were the perfect colour complements. We knew that if we gave them just a few guidelines on flowers, they would make it perfect. And they did. I can't stress how little direction we gave the – they did a fantastic job.
We had our own MC, my good friend, marry us. She knows us both and truly made the ceremony personal. She had asked all the married guests for a piece of marital advice in advance without our knowing, and read them out during the ceremony. It was very touching and made everyone feel a bit involved as well. We also wrote our own vows.
We wanted our guests to enjoy traditional Thai food, but also have some western options. When you travel a lot, you know that even the most adventurous eaters with stomachs of steel can get a little queasy after travelling for a week in a new country. Rayavadee offered a great buffet that had something for everyone. We had nothing but rave reviews about the food.
We didn't ask for this, but the last song the DJ played was Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You", and our guests serenaded us. You would have thought it was planned, but it wasn't. It was perfect.
The wedding favours:
We had bags made and filled them with various goodies, including aluminium water bottles, customised carabiners, sunscreen, lip balm, Tiger Balm, and Thai fisherman pants. They were things we'd have wanted, rather than glassware or heavy photo frames. We also paid for our guests to go on an excursion in Railay. We offered to take them rock-climbing of send them on a boat tour of the surrounding islands. It was just another experience we wanted them to enjoy.
Brian Ho is a photographer after my own heart (I studied photojournalism in school). He shoots only film, and in a very creative style. His photos have a certain type of grit to them that I love. He also shot mostly candid shots, which is what we wanted. His photos really complemented our videographer's work.
Adam Wisneski is an incredibly talented videographer based in Chicago. He was part of the video team for President Obama's 2012 campaign. We met in Journalism School at the University of Missouri. He joined our group in Bangkok and shot throughout the week, and put together a gorgeous video that summed up the entire time perfectly.
We had tons – the save-the-dates, invitations, favours and wedding programs.
We had an injury while at Railay – statistically speaking, we knew it would happen. One of our guests sliced his foot on the beach. Fortunately, a couple of our guests are doctors. They, along with our superhero wedding planner Nucharee (from Rayavadee), took him to the mainland hospital and took care of him. He was on crutches for the remainder of the trip, but he was such a trooper. You can see his crutch-assisted dance moves in the video!
Jamie's wedding advice for brides-to-be:
There's a delicate balance in planning a wedding – how much do you do for yourselves, and how much do you cater to family and friends who are attending? You should find that balance as quickly as possible, and you should know that not everyone will be happy, and that's okay because this is your day to celebrate you and your partner. So do what makes you happy – because your happiness will be infectious on the day – and the rest will fall into place.
Number of guests: 38
Budget: US$30,000 (including travel and hotel costs for the bride, groom, videographer and photographer)
Venue: The Grotto at Rayavadee, Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand
Bridal gown: BCBG
Jewellery: Kenneth Cole
Bridal shoes: Tommy Hilfiger gold beach sandals
Hair accessories: Local orchids
Groom's outfit: Linen pants and shirt from Zara
Groom's shoes: Sperry sandals
Bridesmaid's outfits: Moda
Groomsmen's outfits: Identical to the groom
Wedding planner: Natasha from Creative Events Asia and Nucharee from Rayavadee
Flowers and decor: Rayavadee
Food, drinks & cake: Rayavadee
Stationery: Invitations were DIY by the couple (fashioned after airline tickets), wedding programme illustrated by a designer friend
Wedding favours: DIY
Photographer: Brian Ho, thegaleria
Videographer: Adam Wisneski