Brooke and Eric | Bowing Oaks Plantation Wedding | Jacksonville, FL

Wedding Weekend Info (written by the couple):

Hotel accommodations for guests: Courtyard Jacksonville Flagler Center and Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa

Rehearsal Dinner Location:  Maggiano’s

Ceremony and Reception Location: Bowing Oaks Plantation, which featured the perfect balance of country ambiance and modern elegance for my wedding.

Caterer: Mai Oui Gourmet – Our contact was Ruth Simpson with whom my Mom fell in love.  She did not know the word “No” and was recommended by my florist.

Wedding Coordinator: I was going to have only a “Day Of” Coordinator since I am an Event Manager.  Whitney Pollard, one of my bridesmaids, best friend, and former colleague stepped in without even being asked and did a remarkable job.  I had a detailed, minute-by-minute timeline, and she followed it explicitly. Everyone admired and trusted her judgment and looked to her for immediate advice.  She worked well with my Mom and all parties involved.

Photographer: “The one & only Tonya Beaver!” (That’s what the previous bride said, and I concur.)  Having worked with Tonya at events at the Sawgrass Marriott, she was my first and only choice for a wedding photographer.  Those assisting Tonya were also amazing.  All of them were organized and captured every moment but at the same time were unassuming.  They did not bark orders, and everyone was happy to be where she wanted them to be (except my Mom who pushed her bouquet on the Pastor, rushed to go get his officiant gift and delayed her picture with the Bride and Groom).

After the wedding, my Mom, Tonya and Amber (Tonya’s Assistant) became best buds.  From the Engagement Pictures to the end of the Reception, Tonya was the consummate wedding photographer!  She also delivered a touching Wedding Slideshow quickly after the wedding and shortly thereafter, over 2,000 pictures were placed on a cute thumb drive embossed with our wedding picture.  Tonya even offered a sale for prints just in time for the holidays.  One thing that comes to mind is her snacking on appetizers meant for me, and I ate right after her—totally sisters.  We shared food, thoughts and feelings.  She also truly captured the love shown between Eric and me, and I will cherish these memories always because of her.

Special kudos go out to Eric’s Mom, Pam with Pamela Hnyla Photography who spent countless hours snapping shots of us while visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC; and also at Friendship Fountain and Memorial Park in Jacksonville, where Eric and I spent quality time on our first date.  These special photos were displayed in our custom-made Guest Book and on our Wedding Website.

Videographer: Visual Power Cinema – Our contacts were John and Angel Powers.  John attended a walk-through I held for any vendors wishing to do so.  He became familiar with my needs and gave good advice.  The day of the wedding, he put us all at ease and was so inconspicuous, we could say or do anything around him (makes you wonder what he did capture).  I can’t wait to see his video to see what I missed at our wedding.

Cake:  Dolce Bakery – Jenessa Mobley is the owner and operator of her own bakery and was recommended by a co-worker.  She was wonderful with whom to work and even came to my home for the tasting.  The cake and desserts were made by her and received many compliments.

Florist: Rose of Sharon Florist – Having worked with Lynette Self on numerous occasions at events with my job, there was no question she would be my florist.  Her son, Paul, actually designed and serviced all of the arrangements.  His talent is exemplary!  My favorite picture of Eric and me is of the suspended wreath over the dance floor with the chandelier, draping, and table linens which were all incorporated in this grand room that we created.

Officiant: Rev. Dr. Tom Walker, Pastor and Head of Staff of Palms Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville Beach, FL – Tom has been my pastor for many years.  Eric and I met with him on several occasions to prepare for our nuptials.

Hair: Jessica Walter and Lisa Sedlevicius, both independent stylists – Jess has been my personal hairstylist for some time and made me feel like a Queen on my wedding day.  She and I did a practice session with my veil a few days before, and this proved very beneficial.   Together she and Lisa designed updos from 9:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. for five Bridesmaids, three Flower Girls, Mother of the Groom, and me.

Make-up: Jill Stonier, Professional Makeup Artist  – Jill was recommended by a co-worker.  We became acquainted with each other during a practice run, and I knew she was perfect for me and my wedding party.  She was at Bowing Oaks at 8:00 a.m. when I arrived and did not leave till 3:30 p.m.

Jill applied makeup to give a classic, natural look to all the above ladies as well as touch up for my Mom.  We all felt beautiful from her artistry.

Entertainment: Noel Friedline Quartet – While listening to them on CDs during the planning of our wedding, we thought, “Why not?”  Eric was really excited about this choice because he and his Mom had a memorable history with this group.  Formed in 1992, the Noel Friedline Quartet has performed at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival on numerous occasions, and Eric and Pam were there for most of them.  During a torrential downpour in 1993, sitting in lawn chairs and dressed in plastic bags, they witnessed a riveting performance.  This concert was the first time Pam and 15-year-old Eric really took notice of Noel and his group. People were in pretty high spirits due to the unusual circumstances, and NFQ absolutely set the crowd on fire.  One year Eric went alone, sat up front and cheered so loudly that Noel joked that he was his brother.  After that time, Noel remembered Eric whenever he saw him at a concert.

Darren Frantz with D’Land Entertainment  – After working professionally with Darrin for over 8 years, I knew that he was the only choice for my DJ.  We had several conversations with him about the music we wanted, and he worked around our busy schedules, especially with Eric’s working out of state, to accomplish an amazing event.  The processionals for the Groom and Groomsmen as well as the Bride were unique, and he did a great job pulling it all together.

Transportation: Rolls Royce from A A Susie’s Limousine, Inc. (http://www.susieslimo.com/) –  Took Eric and me from Bowing Oaks Plantation to the Beachcomber Cottages in Vilano Beach.

Wedding Dress: Minerva’s Bridal (http://www.minervasbridal.com/) – Jill was my salesperson, and she was just perfect!  I found my wedding gown online, researched the internet to see where I could find it locally and ended up at Minerva’s.  The rich taffeta gown was Style 9155 from Allure Bridals.

Wedding Shoes: I wanted an $800 pair of shoes from London; however, I selected two pair of comfortable, yet beautiful Navy shoes which I purchased online from Amazon.com.  I wore one during the ceremony and the other at the reception.

Bridesmaids Dresses: Love Bridal Boutique– We researched online dresses and tried on several at more than one location but selected Love Bridal Boutique because of the customer service.  The dress we selected was Sorella Vita-8462 in Navy.  Choosing a Bridesmaid dress was much more difficult than my Wedding Gown.  The problem was not the differences in the bridesmaids’ figures as much as the dress did not look the same on as in the picture.

Groom and Groomsmen Wear:  Eric had shopped at Men’s Warehouse for clothing in the past, so this was the first and only place we considered.  Black tuxedos were selected with a white vest for Eric and navy vests for the Groomsmen, his Dad, my brother, and his three nephews, acting as Ushers and Ring Bearer.

 

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How did you two meet?

 

With a swipe to the right, our love story began . . .

On Friday, June 27, (2015), Eric posted on Facebook: “1 year ago today, as I was getting ready to go out with my best friend, David Roberson, to have a few beers, shoot some pool and kick his a** in that foolish punching bag game, I get a message on tinder . . .”

(Brooke)  We talked on Tinder for two days to get to know each other. I was sad because my brother and his wife were relocating to Alabama, and he was so sympathetic. After Sunday’s farewell dinner with my brother and his friends, I called Eric around 10 p.m.  It was our first time hearing each other’s voices, and we talked till 4:00 a.m.  We both had to go to work in a few short hours.

Monday night, I met him at Casbah for our first date. Even though we had seen pictures of each other, we were both very happy with what we saw. We discussed places in the area that we had visited, and I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered what I said when he took me to Memorial Park and Friendship Fountain.

As our date ended, I invited him to my house on Wednesday for a home-cooked meal (something I had not felt comfortable in doing with previous dates).

After determining that our favorite comfort meal was meat loaf and mashed potatoes, I showed him my culinary skills and romantic décor. He posted on Facebook a picture of the customized menu, meal and ambiance.

Two days later, I left on vacation to Vermont with my Mother, and Eric and I talked via cell phone when there was service, on landlines with purchased long distance calling cards, and Skype several times a day—every day. When I returned a week later, we were inseparable.

How did he propose?

We celebrated Valentine’s Day on February 21, 2015. The evening began with dinner and a show at the Alhambra.  Afterwards, we started aimlessly driving (which we like to do) and ended up at Friendship Fountain. We found “our” bench where we had our first date and talked a long time about our feelings.  All of a sudden, Eric went down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I already had tears in my eyes from his sweet sentiments and was sobbing after his proposal.  When we hugged, I saw a shooting star over his shoulder.

How did you decide on your color scheme, flowers, and cake?

4.Color Scheme:  I knew I wanted the Bridesmaids to wear Navy because I love the traditional, classic hue.  I matched it in the groomsmen’s vests, then showcased the same motif starting with the wedding invitations and carrying through to the reception with corresponding tablecloths and cocktail napkins.  Flower girls wore pearl necklaces tied with Navy ribbons, and touches were dispersed throughout the venue.

Flowers:  Flowers were discussed between my friend and very capable florist and me at some length over glasses of champagne.  Her wise counsel led me to Free Spirit Roses, Coral and White Roses, and Raspberry and White Calla Lilies in bouquets and boutonnieres.   Curly Willow, accented with White Snapdragons and White Larkspur, was placed on each side of the 25’ wall at the Altar as well as in 6’ cylinder vases as aisle markers.  Flowers were placed everywhere people would gather, outside for the cocktail hour and inside on every surface.  Most outstanding were hanging wreaths of flowers created with coral, white, ivory, dark pink and raspberry color flowers and accented with dark green foliage over six tables, and the others were adorned with low arrangements.   A long dazzling arrangement created with complimenting flowers was suspended over the center of the dance floor.  This was the florist’s first attempt with suspended flowers, and from the numerous compliments, it should not be her last.

Cake:  A bride whom I helped with her wedding at the Sawgrass Marriott had a monogrammed pearl cake topper, and I loved it.  After looking at wedding cake pictures, I decided on a three-tiered cake with clean and classic lines.  The top two tiers were faux cakes, and sheet cakes were made to serve to the guests.  The bottom tier that we cut was vanilla sponge, salted caramel filling with fresh strawberries, finished with white chocolate ganache.  The other flavor was chocolate mud cake with a Swiss meringue vanilla buttercream and fresh strawberries, finished with milk chocolate ganache.

 

How did you decide on your invitations, and who did you use?  

My Mom and I headed out to two places to look for invitations—Pineapple Post at the beach and The Write Touch in San Marco.  First we stopped at Pineapple Post and fell in love with Gail who asked the right questions and led us to the perfect books for us through which to look.

Numerous invitations were viewed because we really didn’t have a preconceived idea of what we wanted.   Typical of us though, we knew when we saw the right one, it would “pop”.  We steered away from square shapes, knowing from mailing our Save the Date notices, that extra postage is required.  When we laid eyes on the one we chose, we both knew it was “the one”—square, heavy and beautiful.  We knew it would be expensive to mail both the invitation and postage for the (square) response card, but we had to have it.

 

After the Wedding …

Where did you go for your honeymoon? 

The official honeymoon will be in late May to several countries in Europe.  After the wedding, we stayed three nights at The Royal Palm, a Beachcomber Cottage in Vilano Beach.

If you could give yourself any advice prior to the wedding, what would it be?

Elope . . .

Besides that, organize; research online and call before shopping to save time and energy; get friends’ and colleagues’ advice, but pay attention only to what interests you; keep a written budget (Excel) and list everything; at the end, you’ll be surprised at how much was spent.  Most important, take care of yourself—eat well, exercise and get enough sleep.

 

 

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