Shannon and David’s Aquatic Wedding at Newport Aquarium

Captured & submitted by Dugan Studios


Whoever at Knot reads this: Feel free to change tense, edit, reword, or remove words. This is just an example.

David and Shannon’s love story began at a restaurant in Cincinnati’s incline district, where they had their first date while enjoying a panoramic view of the city. Over time, Shannon gained an interest in one of David’s favorite hobbies, bourbon. When she least expected it, on a private distillery tour with their friends, David got down on one knee and asked Shannon to be his wife.

The couple spent the first months of their engagement binge-watching wedding shows on TV. They learned a lot about each other and what they each wanted for their dream wedding. Finding a venue that would make their guests’ experience unforgettable was essential for David and Shannon to achieve their goal. Hiring a team with great expertise in photography and videography was important to capture the memories and cherish them for a lifetime. It was also essential to have professionals who knew how to deal with the complex situations of photographing in various light conditions. Both agreed, there must be a nice selection of bourbon! To top it all off, Shannon wished for a dress that would make everyone’s jaws drop!

The day both Shannon and David had been planning finally arrived! Meeting under a gazebo for a first look provided an intimate setting for this special moment. Bellevue Beach Park sits alongside the Ohio River, providing a beautiful backdrop for their photos. The party bus was ready to take the wedding party to New Riff Distillery, the location of the proposal. The staff graciously allowed the wedding party, and photography team, a rare behind the scenes photo opportunity and a special bourbon toast.

The next location providing picturesque views of both the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky skylines was the Purple People Bridge. The state boundary line painted on the bridge connects Ohio, David’s home state, and Kentucky, Shannon’s home state, over the Ohio River. As they made their way across the bridge, anticipation and excitement filled the air as the moment they had been waiting for was about to begin at the Newport Aquarium.

Shannon suffers from chronic migraines that can be triggered by a sensitivity to chemical or fragrances. The Newport Aquarium staff went above and beyond to accommodate her request to have a fragrance-free wedding. On the wedding day, the staff did not use any cologne or perfume. The bathrooms were stocked with soap and sanitizers provided by Shannon and David. The wedding invitation kindly requested that guests refrain from using perfume, colognes, or hairspray, and suggested the use of low-scented products for other items. Each guest received individually packaged alcohol wipes when they arrived in case they needed to remove any scents. “I did not get a migraine or even a headache, so our plan worked!” Shannon exclaims joyfully.

Before the ceremony, with the venue to themselves, the wedding party had the opportunity to take photos in the aquarium’s water tunnels, surrounded by aquatic life. The jellyfish tank provided just enough light for Shannon and David to capture their silhouettes in front of the tank. As the guests began to arrive, the wedding party went to the staging rooms and everyone else enjoyed the coral reefs, exotic sea life, and interactive exhibits. The Newport Aquarium offered an unforgettable atmosphere and a unique experience for everyone in attendance! The venue was not only a spectacular location but a portion of the wedding cost would help to fund the aquarium’s conservation efforts.

Saying “I do” in front of a stunning aquarium tank was an enchanting experience! Shannon’s custom gown sparkled in the lights as she walked down the aisle to meet her future husband. David smiled ear-to-ear as she seemed to float towards him. The couple wrote a heartfelt ceremony script that reflected their love and values, which was read by a close friend who officiated the ceremony. As the officiant read the vows the couple responded in unison, “We do”, to each statement.

At the conclusion of the vows, the officiant gave an unexpected request, “Bring out the bourbon!”, drawing laughter from the audience. Shannon and David performed a distinctive unity ceremony by blending two bourbons into a custom bourbon barrel. The blending was a symbolic way to represent the two coming together in a united partnership that, like bourbon, would only get better with age.

Shannon and David concluded the ceremony with their first kiss, as a married couple, and happily walked hand-in-hand down the aisle to James Brown’s “I Feel Good” song. As an added bonus, Shannon had secretly prepared a video for everyone, including her new husband, showcasing her reusable wedding dress that she designed. “The top beaded layer is completely removable. I can put any color dress under it and re-wear it to another event, except someone else’s wedding of course!” Shannon laughed.

Friends and family were free to enjoy the open bar, all the exhibits, and photos with our special guest, Green Bean, the party penguin! Green Bean waddled around in his box, wearing his “tuxedo”, delighting people with his adorable antics and posing for pictures.

Shannon enjoys wearing dresses, most days. After thorough research of white vs. colored dresses, and a lot of quality bonding time with her mother and soon-to-be mother-in-law, she came to the conclusion…she needed more than one dress. The A-line reusable ceremony dress was meant to reflect her elegant, romantic, and creative sides. Shannon’s other side wanted a dramatic, bold, opulent, eye-catching blue ball gown. The reception dress, nicknamed “The Queen Dress”, was a glamorous ball gown meant to make the wearer feel like royalty. Our friends and family were awestruck when Shannon entered the reception room in her new dress. The couple made their way to the dance floor through a paparazzi-style light show.

Everyone enjoyed thoughtful speeches from the wedding party, mouth-watering food, and a cake so beautiful you almost didn’t want to cut it. As it grew darker outside, the guests made their way on the riverwalk to enjoy a free, “Fireworks Friday” show from Rozzi and the Cincinnati Reds.

Immediately following the show, Shannon performed her final outfit change, into her “fireworks” dress. It was a night of dancing and photo-taking. The guests posed at the photo booth and with our custom Barbie and Ken box frames. At one point, the doll box frames ended up on the dance floor! Waving glow sticks in their hands, the guests formed a line along the stairway to bid the newlyweds farewell as they left in their vehicle at the end of the night. The unforgettable aquarium wedding continues to be a topic of conversation to this day.

Months later, Shannon and David would pour out the blended bourbon, from our unity ceremony, into one of the original bottles so they could drink it on the many anniversaries to come!


Event Venue:The Newport Aquarium//Invitation Designer: Vista Print//Tuxedo and Mens Attire:Men’s Wearhouse//Event Venue: New Riff Distillery//Floral Designer: Adrian Durban Florist//Transportation:Motortoys Limousine Service//Cake Designer: Maribelle Cakery//Dress Store: Wendy’s Bridal//Photographer: Dugan Studios//

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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