When guests arrived to Julie Wilson and Donovan Shire’s destination wedding in Scottsdale, Arizona, they were immediately served classic margaritas. It set the mood for the informal, fun-loving celebration that was about to begin.
With elevated comfort foods, pink-hued florals, bold balloon art installations, and a two-piece gown for Julie, the couple was all about the unexpected, including the venue. Julie, co-owner of Local Barre Fitness, and Donovan, a dentistry student, live in Canada—and no one on their intimate guest list of 65 friends and family lived in Arizona. But the destination felt right. Julie grew up with a second home in the Southwestern city, and it quickly became one of Donovan’s favorite places as well.
Let’s see the details of these unexpected pink-hued destination wedding!
“We wanted it to feel special enough to make traveling all the way from Canada worth it,” Julie says of choosing the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia with views of the famed Camelback Mountain.
The couple wasn’t afraid to be entirely themselves, either, which Julie says could be challenging at times to plan, especially from afar. But working with a floral designer who “really nailed the vision,” for one, was refreshing and inspiring, and made her feel so much more confident about pulling off their dream day. “The whole day screamed us,” Julie says. “The music, the style of the décor, the intimate size—honestly it just ended up being one big party [and] a day we will never forget.”
Julie’s favorite color combination is pink and red, which inspired plenty of the day’s details. One such moment? Her bridesmaids’ dresses: cherry red Ulla Johnson gowns she found on sale.
Julie knew from the start she wanted a two-piece look for her wedding day. After extensive searching, she stumbled upon her dream set at LOHO Bride in Los Angeles while visiting the area. It featured a full wrap skirt with a slit and a crop top. (Fun fact: The top and bottom were from different sets, so Julie mixed and matched!) She accented the dress with a necklace she wears every day (“to feel like me”), her mother’s wedding band, and collection of vintage gold rings. She also wore blue Aquazurra heels and her engagement ring from Grace Lee Design, who she calls her favorite designer.
Julie and Donovan grew up in the same small city in Canada, but didn’t feel like they actually met until they were 21. “The rest, as they say, is history,” the bride adds. They spent close to a year and a half planning, but admit that, despite crazy work and school schedules, “the day was so important to both of us [that] were happy we put the extra planning in.”
On their wedding day, Donovan donned a navy double-breasted suit from Suit Supply with a European twist: he skipped socks and tie. “It was more significant what he didn’t wear,” Julie says, noting his look fit into the easy-going vibe of the wedding.
The couple opted for non-traditional floral arrangements, including pink ranunculus boutonnieres and a bridal bouquet of baby’s breath spray painted various shades of pink.
“The view was better than any décor we ever could have dreamed up.”
The pair exchanged personalized vows on the lawn outside the resort’s presidential suite. Views of Camelback Mountain made for a dramatic backdrop as bursts of pink baby’s breath and ranunculus lined the aisle. “The view was better than any décor we ever could have dreamed up,” Julie says.
The couple’s florist, 1209 Creative, put a twist on traditional flowers. By spray painting the baby’s breath pink, the ceremony space took on an airy, fantastical feel that emphasized the couple’s playful, laid-back approach to the wedding. “It was the perfect combination of dreamy with a flair,” the bride adds.
Julie is no stranger to loving balloons (biodegradable, of course) and used them at various points throughout the day. During the ceremony, they were tied to the back of every ghost chair. They would pop up again (no pun intended) in the ballroom for dancing.
Julie’s brother served as the officiant, and further personalized the ceremony with plenty of laughs about the couple. It calmed their nerves, says Julie, and stuck with the style they wanted for the ceremony. Julie’s father escorted her down the aisle to an instrumental cover of “My Girl” by The Temptations.
“There was a moment when the ceremony was done and everyone released the balloons into the sky into a perfect Arizona sunset overlooking Camelback Mountain,” Julie recalls. “Life doesn’t get much better.”
The reception took place under bistro lights on the lawn with the same magnificent views of Camelback Mountain. Subtle landscaping lights were added to the pink floral arrangements as well, casting a romantic glow on the outdoor area.
Pink glassware and gold cutlery greeted each guest’s place setting for dinner, which included quite the menu. The couple collaborated with Omni’s chef to prepare four food truck-inspired stations featuring make-your-own guacamole, gourmet tacos, Southern-fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and takeout Chinese like lo mien.
The collection of wood tables featured a mix of vessels filled with pink sand, small vases filled with pink baby’s breath, and Arizona cacti spray-painted that same hue.
The party then moved to the ballroom, where massive white balloon installations provided the perfect backdrop for photos and dancing with a live band. The couple even included glow sticks on the high-top tables and served afterparty fare from In n’ Out.
“We thought about our wedding as one of our very few opportunities to be around the people that meant the most to us in the world,” Julie says. “We wanted to honor that.”