Are you ready to go under the sea? That’s where Kari and Drew’s wedding today takes us, to the exquisite Seascape Ballroom inside Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium. Small wedding ceremonies have been possible in the aquarium for a while, but recently a reception space has been made available, as well. Not only do the venue (and couple) look stunning, the theme chosen fits their destination wedding so well!
Choosing to build off the travel theme, Kari and Drew’s reception featured vintage travel props that brought everything together perfectly. Add in an amazing venue reveal, lots of dancing and delicious desserts — this is one of the reasons Las Vegas weddings are the best. (Then again, I’m biased.)
WHY DREW + KARI CHOSE LAS VEGAS
My husband and I have been to our fair share of boring weddings, and from the first day of the wedding planning process, we knew that our wedding had to be over-the-top, unique and most of all: FUN! Planning a destination wedding has its pros and cons, but overall, it really depends on the type of couple you are and what type of wedding you want. For us, having a vintage travel themed wedding made it easy to decide that we needed a out of town, worth-the-travel type of venue for our reception!
Originally, we were looking into having our ceremony at the Valley of the Falls at Mandalay Bay, however we decided to take the bulk of our wedding funds and use them in a better reception. After all, the ceremony is only 15-20 minutes long. Valley of the Falls is pretty, but the upgrade fee was pretty high, I wanted to avoid the heat and making our guests walk a longer way to our reception. So with the pros and cons, we decided to stick to a basic, beautiful chapel that was air conditioned, had a pianist and would be comfortable for everyone. During our original venue search in Vegas, my husband and I agreed immediately that Mandalay Bay has the nicest chapels and reception areas on the strip! We were impressed by how nice everything was and that it was affordable!
After searching high and low, on and off The Strip, we stumbled upon a brand new venue, the Seascape Ballroom, located in the Shark Reef of Mandalay Bay. It was gorgeous, unique and breathtaking. And the venue was so new we were actually the first wedding reception to have a DJ in the space. The good news is that the sharks loved our music!
All of our guests were escorted through the Shark Reef to the ballroom right after the ceremony. The space had curtains covering the glass to the aquariums, so it looked like there were plain walls. During our first dance to “Octopus’s Garden” by The Beatles, the curtains were slowly raised to reveal the hidden windows looking into the sunken ship inside the Shark Reef.
In addition to the room, we also had a patio, where we had the buffet line, bar and photo booth. We kept the desserts, cookie station and DJ inside and there was plenty of room for all 45 of us. We had a milk and cookie station with a chef baking fresh cookies for our guests — the room smelt like cookie heaven!
Being that this was a destination wedding, I tried to keep my DIYs to a minimum because traveling in the heat with breakables and bedazzled items just doesn’t work. You can see some more details about my projects here. To fit our vintage travel theme I made passport style programs, message in a bottle escort cards and 3D table letters with photos of us decoupaged on the edges. We rented vintage suitcases and cameras from Nostalgia Resources to complete the theme — Veronica was great to work with!
Our Grand Entrance/First Dance was absolutely one of the BEST parts of our entire day! We planned it our strategically with our wedding planner and I love how it was executed! For our Bridal Party, the DJ started by playing the theme song to Jaws to help draw the crowd’s attention to the doors. Everyone was laughing so hard! After everyone was introduced, it was our turn and we did our first dance to the version of “Octopus’s Garden” by The Beatles used in the Cirque du Soleil LOVE production. The song was perfect because in this version, they slow down Ringo’s voice and add some bells which was perfect for raising the curtains to. I can cry just thinking about it; everyone was shouting out things like, “WOW!!! LOOK AT THAT!! OMG!!” I looked at my husband and both of us were beaming from ear to ear. We knew we did this right. After about a minute, we invited all guest to come dance with us.
LAS VEGAS WEDDING TIPS FROM KARI + DREW:
Before the wedding, we decided to do a first look. I would absolutely recommend this to couples that are okay with going outside of traditional wedding rules and want to calm their nerves a bit before the wedding. With our first look, we pulled some strings and were let into the beautiful Swan Court at the elegant Auerole restaurant at Mandalay Bay.
We also did a first look to reduce our cocktail hour. We did not want our guest waiting 1-2 hours for our reception to get rocking, so we did all our photos in the morning. Highly recommended! We had the energy still to walk around the Mandalay Bay property, my makeup was fresh, it wasn’t hot yet, tourist were still sleeping (no photo bombers!) and we got many intimate moments photographed that we wouldn’t have otherwise.
VENDOR + VENUE DETAILS :
PHOTOGRAPHER . Cashman Photo
CEREMONY VENUE . THEWedding Chapel at Mandalay Bay
RECEPTION VENUE . Seascape Ballroom at Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
FLORAL . Mandalay Bay / CATERING . Mandalay Bay / CAKE . Mandalay Bay / BRIDAL FASHION . dress – David’s Bridal WG9821, shoes – Payless Comfort Plus with DIY bling, jewelry – Charming Charlie / HAIR + MAKEUP . Perfect Hair and Makeup / BRIDESMAIDS . David’s Bridal F14865 in Coral Reef / GROOMSWEAR . Vera Wang Collection from Men’s Wearhouse / VINTAGE RENTALS . suitcases, centerpieces, vintage props + cameras – Nostalgia Resources / LINENS . Creative Coverings / PHOTOBOOTH . Party Pix of LV