A Grand Wedding on the Grand Lawn
October 10, 2020, in Destin, Florida
When Keighley Alexa McConnell and Eric Michael Woodard met in Washington, D.C., about four years ago, it was at a mutual friend’s Fourth of July cookout. “Sarah, our friend, decided it was a good idea to introduce us right as I was taking a bite of a burger—I later found out Keighley is a vegetarian,” Eric laughs. “We soon found out that was about the only thing we didn’t have in common, and we got along well from the start by talking about dogs and football.”
Keighley, who had moved to D.C. from Nashville before meeting Eric, says they were friends for about a year before she “finally decided to give him a chance after my little brother convinced me I’d be stupid not to date him!” She laughs too. “Looking back, he may have just wanted to lock Eric in long term as a golf partner.”
The pair became inseparable, and VIE was thrilled to learn of their recent nuptials at the beautiful Henderson Beach Resort & Spa in Destin, Florida. We caught up with the newlyweds to hear more of their story and toast to their continued happiness!
VIE: Tell us your love story. How did you know you had found the one?
Eric: I knew I wanted to propose to Keighley on our second anniversary (although it didn’t take me nearly that long to realize I wanted to marry her) but had no idea Keighley would end up planning the entire proposal on accident! She suggested we watch the sunset from the Lincoln Memorial, get dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Georgetown, and then go to a vineyard that weekend.
Keighley: Eric planned an amazing proposal, and I had no idea what was going on until he basically ran away from me to get things ready when we got to the Lincoln Memorial! He planned the perfect weekend, and we had so much fun celebrating with our family and friends, who all flew in for it. After that weekend, we knew that if our wedding weekend was anything like it, everyone would have an absolute blast.
Eric planned an amazing proposal, and I had no idea what was going on until he basically ran away from me to get things ready when we got to the Lincoln Memorial!
VIE: How did you choose the venue for your wedding? Did you explore a lot of options, or was it love at first “site”?
Keighley: I have always wanted to get married along the beaches of 30-A, and when my parents moved there permanently, I knew it would happen! We looked at two venues but ultimately decided on The Henderson because we loved that all events could occur in one location and our guests could stay at the resort. A dog-friendly wedding location was an absolute must for us—we had to have Cooper as the Most Valuable Pup during the ceremony. We fell in love with the resort and the idea of a weekend-long celebration. My parents hosted a welcome party on the Thursday before the wedding at their home in Seagrove. On Friday, guests golfed with the groomsmen at Regatta Bay, and the bridesmaids’ luncheon was on the roof at The Henderson. We had a cocktail hour there before the rehearsal dinner and then moved down to the Sunset Terrace for dinner.
Eric: I told Keighley before we decided on a venue that the most important thing to me is that we had a place where everyone could hang out together all weekend. The Henderson did not disappoint!
VIE: What was the process of wedding planning like for you as a couple?
Keighley: I would absolutely plan another wedding—I had so much fun. My Mom and I have very similar tastes, so we had fun bouncing ideas off each other and working together. We worked closely with Sherri from Destin To Wed, Jillian from The Henderson, and Cass from Florals by the Sea to make our dreams come to life. Eric and I had a similar vision for what our wedding would look like, so when it came to the small details, he just let me run with it!
Eric: We got engaged in May 2019, so we had plenty of time to plan. My contribution was picking out the band and tasting the food and alcohol! It was great having a longer engagement to make sure we got all of the things we wanted.
VIE: Describe your wedding day. What were some of your most favorite moments?
Eric: On the day of the wedding, I loved getting to sit around the pool bar watching football with my family and friends. It helped keep me relaxed! I was the most nervous for the first look because I couldn’t wait to see Keighley. Leading up to the wedding, she always wanted me to guess what her dress would look like; I had an idea in my head, but I was completely blown away when I first saw her.
During the wedding reception, the band provided a really fun atmosphere all night and got everyone on the dance floor. Keighley and I always said we didn’t want the night to end after our walkout, so we turned right around and went back to the bar with our friends and family. The most important thing to both of us was that everyone had a blast all weekend long, and the night of the wedding was no exception!
My favorite colors are white and blue, and I knew I wanted orchids and garden roses to fill the room—I wanted to drape the ballroom, which completely transformed the place!
Keighley: I was nervous all week because Hurricane Delta was headed our way! Fortunately, the rain held off, and we even got a beautiful rainbow during our pictures on the beach at sunset. I knew I wanted our wedding vibe to be fun but also very elegant with personal touches. I am so happy with how our wedding invitation suite turned out and that we could incorporate our wedding crest into the whole weekend.
We had the ceremony on the Grand Lawn at The Henderson. My favorite colors are white and blue, and I knew I wanted orchids and garden roses to fill the room—I wanted to drape the ballroom, which completely transformed the place! We were able to have our first look in the ballroom before our guests, and we were utterly blown away. A bagpiper led my Dad and me down the grand staircase, and one of our best friends officiated the wedding, making it even more special.
Our signature cocktails were named after our golden retriever, Cooper—the Coopertini and In Cooper Fashion. My favorite food is sushi, and the sushi and raw bar were definitely guest favorites! Toward the end of the night, we had oversize foam party hats and leis for all our guests on the dance floor. Everything went by so quickly—we wish we could do it all over again!
VIE: How about the honeymoon?
Keighley: We worked with Anna Gilbert from Travel 6 Degrees, and she ended up planning three different honeymoons for us! We originally planned to go to Italy, then switched to Anguilla and Saint Barts, but ultimately decided on San José Del Cabo. We have postponed our honeymoon until early 2021.
Eric: We also still plan to go on the other trips she planned for us one day! We love the Cabo area and can’t wait to finally go on the honeymoon. Keighley and I both love to relax on the beach, so a week in Cabo is our ideal vacation.
— V —
Planners: Sherri Kuhn of Destin To Wed, Jillian McCarthy from The Henderson
Photographer: Dear Wesleyann
Wedding dress: Ines di Santo from Carine’s Bridal Atelier
Hair and makeup: Destin Mobile Makeup Box
Wedding shoes: Sophia Webster and Aquazzura
Tux: The Black Tux
Florals/design: Cass Stevens from Florals by the Sea
Wedding suite: Emily Mayne Studio
Save the dates: Wendy Nooney
Rings: American Jewelry
Food: The Henderson
Band: Musical Fantasy Band
Wedding cake: Sweet for Sirten
Videographer: Michael K Photography
Dance floor and rentals: 850 Events
Draping: Wedding Walls
Groom’s cake and cookies: Sugar & Heart Bakery
Party hats: Foam Party Hats