Joey and David’s Seaside Wedding in Japan

Photography by Thayer Allyson GowdyPhillip Nondorf

We love any chance we get to travel to Asia, and heading to Japan with Joey and David was no exception. Joey and David wanted to turn their wedding into an adventure, and took the opportunity to bring their family and friends to a place that is truly special to them. They invited their loved ones to Ise-Shima, a peninsula on the southern coast of Japan, to share the coastal region (and its famous fresh seafood!) in celebration of their wedding. The area is also home to Amanemu, a luxury onsen surrounded by thermal springs and some of the world’s most famous pearl diving locations.

The rehearsal dinner took place at the Pearl Museum, where the country’s famed female pearl divers prepared a simple and fresh meal of incredible seafood grilled in front of the guests.

The next day, the bride and groom wed in the hotel’s garden. Vibrant hydrangeas, dahlias and peonies were draped from the branches of a tree, and at the end of the ceremony, David and Joey toasted with sake before being whisked away on a cart adorned with bamboo cans.

Guests enjoyed cocktails as local drummers performed, then the group headed into the hotel for an indulgent four-course Japanese meal. 

The menu ranged from abalone shabu shabu and assorted sashimi to truffle soba, braised octopus, and beef sukiyaki. The tables were draped with pink, champagne, and purple linens, and peonies, roses, and hydrangeas in the same tones floated out of white ceramic vases.

As the night drew to a close, the couple wrapped up their wedding in true Japanese fashion: With hours of karaoke!

Planning & Design: Alison Events // Venue: Amanemu // Photography: Thayer Allyson Gowdy, Phillip Nondorf // Paper Goods: Seesawsed Studios // DJ: DJ Blue //Flowers, Rentals & Lighting: Pacific Diner Service // Favors: Yonder Design

Venue Spotlight: Be Tulum, Mexico

Alison Events has been fortunate enough to have done five weddings at Be Tulum (and five others in the Riviera Maya area). This small and quaint venue gives you the feeling like you’re staying at a friend’s house—one with amazing taste. The staff are friendly and personable and the location couldn’t be better. Hello white sand beach! When you’re dipping in and out of the water, the day beds make it even that much more relaxing. As for food and bev, try their margaritas or the delicious cactus Chaya smoothie (a fave of Alison’s).

For weddings, it’s great to keep the guest list under 55. This boutique hotel has 20 rooms, so that way you can fit everyone there toggether. Plus, an intimate gathering where you can dine and dance under the stars really can’t be beat.

Olivia and Pete went for a colorful yet understated celebration after getting hitched on the beach.




Katie and Chris also said “I Do” with their feet in the sand, and then followed that with a reception inspired by sand and sea.



And Ranjana and Tim’s wedding had tons of pop thanks to tropical hues and a total Mexican theme and even featured a 5K race that morning (quite a nod to the couple’s first meeting while running in a marathon)!




This area in Mexico boasts loads of activities to enjoy. Here’s a bunch of suggestions for a trip to the area:

TULUM RUINS: This archaeological site sits on a cliff overlooking the brilliant turquoise waters of the Caribbean. It’s just a quick 15 minute taxi ride or 30 minute bike ride from Be Tulum. Go early to avoid the crowds.

SIAN KA’AN BIOSPHERE: In the Mayan language, Sian Ka’an means “born from the sky”. This nature preserve is a magical place, characterized by its bio-diversity: jungle, marsh, mangrove lagoons, shallow bays, and an extraordinary coral reef. You can drive there on your own, but 4-wheel drive vehicles are highly reccomended because the road is not paved. It’s about a two hour drive to Punta Allen where you can hire a boat guide from the visitor center for a tour of the mangroves and some great snorkeling. There are also organized tours that start in Tulum itself. Definitely set aside a whole day for this adventure.

CENOTES: Characteristic of the Yucatan Peninsula, cenotes are natural freshwater sinkholes that form when the roof of a limestone cavern collapses. Swim around stalagmites and stalactites, which have formed for thousands of years. There are many public cenotes along the road to Tulum as well as on the way to Coba. Just follow the signs. Most charge a small entrance fee.  There are also a couple of cenotes in Tulum, but they are top secret:-)

COBA RUINS: Coba dates back to the Classic Period, 600 to 900 AD, after which it was abandoned for unknown reasons. At its height Coba supported up to 45,000 inhabitants. The city is thought to have been an important trading post and a commercial link between the cities on the coast and those inland. Less than one hour from Tulum, it is different from the other big sites in the Yucatan. It’s situated between four natural lakes, which is a rare sight in the Yucatan. These lakes are believed to have given the city its name, which means “Waters stirred by wind”. Furthermore, it is not as excavated or reconstructed as Chichen Itza or Tulum. The majority of Coba is still covered by the growth of the jungle, making it a wild place that truly triggers your imagination. Test your bravery and climb the large pyramid onsite. The views from the top are breathtaking but the journey down is not for the faint of heart.DIVING: Enjoy the spectacular underwater world. There are dozens of dive shops both in town and on the beach. Check out the Cenote Dive Center or Aquatic Tulum for reef and cave diving.

And our top pics of where to eat and drink…

HARTWOOD: fresh local food, good looking staff, relaxed vibe, and a wood-fired oven. Located on the jungle side of the road. Chef hails from Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn. Great spot for an informal small rehearsal or family dinner. Get there early or be prepared to wait upwards of an hour for a table. No big deal though, your on mexico time so you can go across the street for a glass of wine and watch the sunset or sit at their bar and have the watermelon tequila concoction.

MATEO’S: Yummy tacos with fresh salsa & guacamole and the best margharita’s in town. Great day time spot. They also rent beach bikes and have a smoothie bar:-)

CASA JAGUAR: Caribbean ingredients prepared with Southeast Asian inspired flavors. Delicious ceviche. Terrific cocktails. Romantic setting so better at night.

LA ZEBRA: Located directly on the beach, La Zebra is the best choice for families with kids. Enjoy your ceviche on the lounge bed and the freshly caught main dish on the table by the beach. They also have a great salsa night on Sunday’s…

POSADA MARGARITA: If you love people-watching, this is the place to be.  Many photo shoots happen at this place…Organic handmade bread and pasta dishes both made daily. A great wine menu and the best gelato. Get the chocolate and coconut!

ZAMAS: Beachside bar and restaurant overlooking a small bay on the north end of the Tulum strip. Known for the colorful chairs and tables and simple mexican cuisine. A great anytime spot. Sometimes they have live music at night…. Be sure to leave your high heels at home as drinks in the sand feels better barefoot. Many photo shoots have been filmed here, so don’t be surprised if there are girls in bikini’s walking around.

PEPENERO: A little place in town (not on the beach) with live music and DJs on weekends. Popular with tourists and locals alike. Cab it from the beach, about a ten minute ride.

COQUI COQUI: This hotel located just across from Hartwood is a hot spot to grab a drink and watch the sunset before heading to dinner. An added bonus is that they make their own perfume, so it’s definitely worth checking out their little boutique.

AGUACHILES: Looking for a local dive? This place is in town (or “the pueblo” to the locals) and has the best, and the cheapest, tacos by far.

PAPAYA PLAYA: Wanna dance? Swing by this hotel/restaurant on a Saturday night. That’s when the locals hit the floor to electronic music.

HOTEL MEZZANINE: Here’s another night spot to consider. On Thursday nights the club is transformed in the style of 1940’s Cuba.

EL TABANO: Another great restaurant and destination for a rehearsal dinner for 50 and under. Dine under the palapa with the jungle as your view. Check out pics below from Olivia and Pete’s rehearsal dinner that took place here.


Photos by Thayer Allyson Gowdy // Mel Barlow // Jesse Leake.


AE Destination Wedding: Jodi + Michael

Last month one of our all time favorite weddings, Jodi + Michael was featured on and we couldn’t wait to share more! This awesome couple planned the adventure of a lifetime for 60 of their closest friends and family at the incredible Escenia boutique hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. No detail was left without a personal touch! Thank you Jodi + Michael for letting us be apart of your special day!



Dream team:

Photography: Thayer Allyson Gowdy Weddings 

Floral and Event Design: Brown Paper Design

Stationery: Olive Route Design & Letterpress

Entertainment: DJ Blue 

2013 Dream Venues


Seeing as we specialize in (and LOVE) destination weddings, we get calls all the time about the most popular areas and venues for weddings around the world.  This year, we’re particularly crazy about cool lodges and resorts that are comfortable and not too pretentious, yet still elegant and refined.   But then we’re also super obsessed with iconic old European stone buildings that are much fancier and stunningly beautiful.  We’ve put together a list here of the top venues we’re crushing on right now, some we’ve worked at and some we haven’t.  In the next few weeks we’ll post more pics of a few of these gorgeous places and hope you stay tuned to see them. Oh, and definitely give us a call if you’re interested in booking any of these epic spots!   Photo above of Babington House in Somerset by Leo Patrone.

Read More…

Book Feature: The Repurposed Library

This adorable craft book features over thirty different ways to repurpose old books into useful household items or clever decor. If you have a stash of your favorite books that are being stored in a dusty box somewhere, it’s time to turn them into stylish bookshelves, lamp stands, frames, vases, ornaments,  and more! Written by the talented artist, Lisa Occhipinti, with photos by one of our favorite photographer’s, Thayer Allyson Gowdy, this well-designed, hard cover book may end up as one of the listed projects somewhere down the road!

Book Feature: Kelly Wilkinson and Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Weekend Handmade, by Kelly Wilkinson with photos by Thayer Allyson Gowdy, gives those who love to craft, but don’t have the time, a reason to celebrate! It’s basically a collection of fun and easy to make projects that you can complete in a couple hours or over the course of the weekend. Thayer’s photos give readers a gorgeous idea of what they’re final product should look like, and Kelly’s crafts are both unique and totally useful. You can pick up a copy of the book here, and if you’re still yearning for more check out Kelly’s awesome blog.

Real AE Wedding: Ravello, Italy

I’m dreaming of a European vacation today, so thought I’d share some snippets of our most recent wedding in Italy.  This gorgeous event was held in Ravello, which is situated right along the Amalfi Coast.  There are some highlights in the most recent issue of Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine, but I love all the scenery and detail shots and thought you’d enjoy a look at them as well.  Major props to Thayer Allyson Gowdy for the gorgeous photos and Brown Paper Design for the stunning floral design.  Olive-Route did the beautiful paper goodies too.