Amanda Jones met Kevin Vaughan in Italy during the summer of 2010. They were both college athletes—she played lacrosse at Duke, he at Harvard—so neither was able to study abroad for a whole semester during the school year. They both decided that doing a one-month program before the beginning of their junior year was the perfect solve. Her first night in Italy, Amanda and her roommates hosted a party that Kevin and his friends attended. “While sparks certainly flew, we definitely were not riding mopeds into the sunset and splitting bottles of wine,” Amanda, who is now the influencer marketing manager at Net-a-Porter, remembers.

They remained friends post-Italy and kept crossing paths throughout college. “There were plenty of ‘Florence reunion dinners’ over holidays that ended up just being the two of us,” Amanda says. Her parents and friends joked that she referred to Kevin as “my friend Kevin” for so long and so frequently that it was obvious to just about everyone that things were more than just platonic.

“Amanda often says that she went all the way to Italy to meet an Irish-Catholic boy from Jersey,” Kevin laughs. “I would like to point out that a small percentage of Italian heritage does exist! That said, I do believe the first night we met we went to a karaoke bar, and I chose Bruce Springsteen, so that doesn’t help my case.”

From the beginning, Kevin had a hard time playing it cool. “We graduated, and I was originally working in Boston and would drive down to New York and back on a weeknight to take Amanda out on a date. After about the third 8-hour road trip, the facts were kind of hard to deny.” He soon found a job in hotel investment in New York, and they became official shortly thereafter.

Six years later, the holiday season had just started when Amanda headed home after a long day at work ready for a night of Netflix at home. “Kevin mentioned that he got a gift for the apartment,” Amanda remembers. “We had just moved into a new place in Chelsea. Whether we needed a new bath mat, a paper towel holder, or an ice tray, we’d write it off as a gift for the apartment. So needless to say, my highest expectations for the evening were maybe a new Swiffer and some Chinese food.”

She was aimlessly scrolling through Seamless when Kevin handed her an envelope. “I thought maybe it was concert tickets or a gift card,” she admits. “Not until I read the first line saying: To Amanda Marie Jones on the day of our engagement did I even come close to understanding what was going on! He wrote a beautiful letter that took me triple the normal time to read because I kept having to reread lines as my head spun and vision became blurry. He kept going to pull the ring out of his pocket, but I kept needing an extra second to read.”

After the proposal, Amanda did a few sprints around the apartment. Once she’d calmed down, Kevin explained the rest of his plans for the evening, which involved dinner at their favorite Soho spot, the tried-and-true downtown staple Raoul’s. Then they went uptown to the piano bar at the New York Athletic Club—the same place where Kevin had asked Mr. and Mrs. Jones for their blessing to marry Amanda. There, they were greeted by a rowdy group of friends and family. “We closed down the bar and headed into a week of celebrating and Thanksgiving feasting!” Kevin adds.

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Once wedding planning began, they knew immediately that they wanted to get married at the Ocean Reef Club. Located at the tip of Key Largo, Florida, the club has been a special place for Amanda’s family over the years. “There’s an unpretentious sophistication to the Reef that makes you fall in love with all that it has to offer,” she says. “It’s big enough that you’re never bored, and there are endless amounts of activities and fun to get into, but at the same time everyone knows your name, and golf cart—preferably barefoot—is the best mode of transportation.”

Inspired by the relaxed yet glamorous aesthetic of the club, they aimed to create a wedding weekend that would encourage guests to truly unwind and have some fun with four days of festivities—including a rehearsal dinner, bridal beach yoga, round robin golf, a “Bloodies and Backhands” mixed doubles tennis tournament, fishing trips, and plenty of lounging by the pool.

The Jones and Vaughan families are big and, according to Amanda and Kevin, no strangers to throwing a good party. “We both have very large extended families,” Amanda says. “Kevin’s dad is the oldest of eight and his mother is the oldest of five, while my mom is one of seven and I’m one of six. We have over 80 first cousins between the two of us! And while my parents, Kevin, and I took on a lot of the creative and personal planning aspects, we knew we would need someone to help make the large destination wedding run smoothly the day of. Andi Dyal of Anjé Soirees was the perfect supplement, handling all of the logistical details while ensuring my design plans were executed to perfection.”

Amanda is also the first to admit that the only thing she loves more than a good, well-executed party is a good party dress. “Or at least my idea of one!” she jokes. “That said, I never had one specific vision in mind for a wedding dress. I could have been in a ’90s slip dress or a ballgown with a bird on my head! And while I’ve never shied away from doing things a little differently, I also knew I wanted something I would look back on in 50 years and still love. I wanted a dress that was equal parts classic and unexpected.”

A fashion industry veteran, she showed up to dress appointments armed with a multi-page deck of inspiration for the wedding weekend. “I thought it would help me explain my aesthetic better than saying a silhouette or referencing a fabric, but I think it definitely scared a few saleswomen in the process!”

Despite the beachy wedding setting, Amanda was more interested in curating a glamorous dress code that would still lend itself to a good time. Her choice of designer reflected that balance.“I have long admired Lela Rose not only for her beautiful bridal and ready-to-wear designs but also how well she can throw a good party!” Amanda says. “I’ve always liked her presentations and how she makes them feel like one big celebration. Drinks are flowing, music is playing, and everyone is having a ball. The Windsor dress was the second one she tried on. “I was originally interested mostly because I had seen the epic pearl choker online and just had to try it on—already picturing myself wearing it with everything from a slip dress to a T-shirt and jeans. I was taken totally off guard; however, when I put on the full look and everything just clicked. I loved how the pearls personified uptown elegance but at the same time had a subtle nod to the beach with its ties to the ocean.”

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Amanda and her mom continued with the rest of their appointments, but no other dress had the same effect on her. Ultimately, they went back to Mark Ingram a week later and purchased the dress on March 9, 2018—a year to the day from the wedding. “The team at Mark Ingram was instrumental in bringing everything together, completing several rounds of alterations to make the silhouette more form-fitting and adding buttons in order to make the dress strapless so I could let loose for the reception,” Amanda adds. A custom pearl veil from Toni Federici, classic yet cool earrings from Jennifer Behr, and Aquazzura metallic mid-heels completed the look.

The Thursday night rehearsal dinner called for a cape moment. “Alexandra Grecco’s hand-embroidered pearl robe stopped me in my tracks,” Amanda admits. “I found an old floor sample at Lovely Bride NYC that I was able to snag.” Pairing it with white would have been the obvious move, but Amanda felt like she could have a little more fun, opting for a silk-satin light blue slip dress by The Row and blue lucite earrings by Nicole Fichera—the perfect modern complement to balance out the drama of the robe. “The look felt very Marella Agnelli/Slim Aarons, and I love how it tied into the pearl theme.”

For Friday’s church ceremony, Amanda wanted to evoke an old-school “going to the chapel” look with a two-piece embroidered linen set from Zimmermann that felt feminine yet sophisticated. She paired this with pearl hoop earrings, simple pointed pumps, Staud’s mini box tote, and an oversize hat she found on ASOS. The final touch? A bouquet of 37 yellow roses that she carried to represent the number of years both her parents and Kevin’s parents have been married, as well as a nod to her father’s tradition of buying her mother yellow roses once a month, every month.

At 4:30 p.m. the next day, Amanda walked down the aisle, adorned with flowers, lemon trees, and potted ferns, to a moving rendition of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Amber Run. “I knew right away that this was the song to walk down the aisle to as it spoke to the two men that lifted me the highest as I walked with one toward the other. Having my sister-in-law Megan Jones perform it was an incredible gift as well.”

Amanda wanted the members of her bridal party to embrace their own personalities. “I asked my girlfriends to wear bright blues, greens, and yellow in both solids or prints, and I welcomed statement sleeves, embellishments, accessories, the works!” The goal was for everyone to feel comfortable, festive, and like themselves. “Understanding that some girls would enjoy the task and others not so much, I created a mood board as well as an excel sheet that compiled current options at all price points.” The final choices saw styles from Gul Hurgel, Rixo, Stine Goya, Lisa Marie Fernandez, Needle & Thread, Dannijo, Saloni, Alexis, Tanya Taylor, and Caroline Constas. Kevin’s groomsmen kept with the eclectic theme and wore tuxedo jackets in shades of blues and greens paired with black tuxedo pants, shoes, and bow-ties. Amanda’s mother decided on a yellow embroidered Oscar de la Renta gown for the ceremony. With its bright color and playful pockets, it perfectly personified “black tie beach.” She paired it with a layered pearl necklace to keep on theme, and delivered major Jackie O vibes in the process.

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The Florida Keys are known for a sun shower or two, and almost right on cue, a light rain started just as everyone took their seats. “With the sun still shining—and no one’s hair or ensembles overly jeopardized—it was a magical moment that made everyone laugh,” Amanda recalls. “And it brought out an air of intimacy over the 320-plus guests.”

Family members were involved throughout the ceremony to add personal touches. “I was incredibly honored to have so many people prepare and perform so well,” Kevin says. “The ceremony was my favorite part of the weekend. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed but when Amanda turned the corner [to walk down the aisle], she saw me, smiled, and said, ‘Hi Kev.’ It was magic and so utterly her. It made everything melt away and yet come into focus at the same time.”

Post-ceremony, guests were surprised at the cocktail hour with a Motown a cappella group that sang everything from “This Old Heart of Mine” to “My Girl.” “Our first stop was having a dirty martini with Father Leo—his drink of choice,” Amanda says. “One of my dear friends from high school, Ashley Begley of Ashley D Studio, hand-painted over 200 mosaic tiles that were used as escort cards—a nod to our meeting in Italy, which are apparently already being used as coasters by many of our guests at home.”

“My parents are enthusiastic yet effortless hosts and we wanted the reception to feel like one big dinner party in our backyard,” Amanda explains. “The kind where you’re grabbing whatever you can find for the centerpiece, you squeeze an extra chair in for an unexpected guest, and you almost always end up dancing on the kitchen counter.”

To create this homey feel, Amanda and her mother curated collections of black and white photography of Kevin’s grandparents celebrating New Year’s in the Bahamas; her dad with his lifeguard buddies on the beach; and their parents decked out and heading to parties; all mixed with more traditional wedding shots and a few actual Slim Aarons photos and other vintage prints. “My mom and I also ended up shipping dozens of coffee table books to be added to the shelves, many of which we pulled inspiration from for the wedding. The finished product was worth every inch of effort—and shipping costs!”

During dinner toasts were given: “With Amanda’s permission, I had grabbed the letter I had written her on the day of our engagement and read it to all of our guests, along with some other brief words,” Kevin says. “My letter ended quoting a lyric from an Amos Lee song stating: ‘I’m in love with a girl who’s in love with the world, though I can’t help but follow.’ You only have to know Amanda for a hot second to feel her warmth, experience her energy, and see her love of life and for those she holds dear. Her happiness and compassion is contagious, and while I am lucky enough to stand witness to, and follow her every day—it was surreal and special to have everyone in the room filled with and following in Amanda’s dancing and happy footsteps all weekend long as well.”

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After the toasts had wrapped up, and everyone had wiped away their happy tears, the 13-piece band, the Headliners, had everyone dancing until the very end. “Toward the end of the reception, I saw a guest decked out in his tuxedo, sipping a dirty martini in bare feet en route to the dance floor—and this was exactly what I had in mind when I envisioned what the reception would be like,” Amanda says.

By then, Amanda had slipped into her final look of the night: a champagne-color sequin midi-dress from the 1980s from Happy Isles Salon. She and Kevin hopped in their golf cart and headed to the after-party at the Burgee Bar. “It’s the only gig in town, but also the only gig you need!” she says. In an unexpected turn of events, Kid Rock and country star Jake Owen happened to be in town for a fishing tournament and were posted up at the Burgee Bar that night. “While we didn’t want to bother them, I think a few persistent aunts couldn’t hold back, and right before last call, they both got up on stage and played for over an hour. It was incredibly surreal to look around as Kid Rock and Jake Owen belted out ‘Friends in Low Places,’ ” Amanda remembers. “Our friends were hopping up on tables and chairs to dance, and the bar was passing out buckets of beer on the house, and Kevin and I were the center of it all. Daylight savings was that night, so the wake up the next day was not pretty, but full of plenty of good stories.”