Hotel Accommodations for guests: room blocks at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and the Residence Inn Amelia Island
Rehearsal Dinner Location: Ocean Club of Amelia
Ceremony Location: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Amelia Island
Reception: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island Plaza Ballroom (cocktail hour was slated to be held on the Courtyard Lawn, but the rain changed that)
Wedding Coordinator: Christina Saldana, Meetings and Special Events Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Photographer: Tonya Beaver (and Stephanie)…two best photographers IN THE WORLD!!! 🙂
Hair: Laura Gamel (Jacksonville Beach) Laura came onsite to the hotel the day of the wedding to do my hair and my sister-in-law’s
Make-up: Keri Merkle (She does have her own business, but unfortunately, I can’t find her business card…she works with another girl)
Entertainment: Scott Thompson Entertainment (DJ)
Transportation: Private car for Caitie/Dad and then Caitie/Justin: Richard Gray, Amelia Classic Motorcar…1952 Mk VI Bentley “Maryann”
Sprinter for bridal party: Amelia Airport Shuttle & Transportation, owner (and driver) Vic Garvin
Wedding Dress: Debra’s Bridal (Mori Lee)
Alterations: “Victoria” Alterations, Zula Khramov
Bridesmaid dresses: Azazie.com
Shoes: Bella Belle (website)
Groom and Groomsmen Wear: Jos. A Bank (rentals)
I spent the night before our wedding at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, where our reception would be held later in the day. I awoke early the day of the wedding and spent some time alone thinking about Justin and our life ahead. My mom joined me a bit later, and we had some time to share alone, which was important to me. She reassured me that I had planned everything so well, that it was time for me to enjoy every minute of the day ahead…she hoped this would be the day of my dreams, and I knew it would be. My mom has always been my main source of support and guidance, so it meant a lot to us both to begin this dream-come-true day together.
A little later in the morning, I met my mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law in one of the hotel’s restaurants for breakfast, which was a great way to start the day…my brother (my Man of Honor) has a fabulous sense of humor, and he delivered, as always, and kept the mood light and bright, as I think he could see that I was starting to get a bit nervous. After breakfast, the men departed and my mom, sister-in-law and I began the preparation for the day…hair and makeup. It was my wish to get ready and dressed with just my mom and sister-in-law with me, and then the bridesmaids and my flower girl would join me when I was ready. It was also my wish to have my brother and then my dad see me before anyone else once I was dressed. My dad was guided out to the hotel bridal suite balcony by my mom, and when he saw me, he bawled like a baby. I didn’t expect him to get so emotional; it was such a touching and special moment for us both. It was also so poignant to have our photographer, Tonya, and her second shooter, Stephanie, with me from early on in the day. They just went above and beyond to make me feel so special, and they couldn’t have done more to help Justin and I feel more relaxed as the day progressed.
All went as planned timing wise, and we left for the church, with storm clouds looming…the bridal party in a sprinter and me and my dad in a 1952 Bentley. We were lucky enough to get into the church, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (Fernandina Beach), before the skies opened up!!
Seeing Justin at the altar once the church doors were opened was absolutely a high point of the day for me. Justin and I both agree that the ceremony was the best part of the day. And, I think that says it all. Our vows were the most important part of the day for us…to exchange our promises in front of the people who love us and support us, to give each other our rings, and become man and wife…that was what meant everything to us.
There is a custom at the church for the bride and groom to ring the church bell after the ceremony. The bell is located in the church’s sacristy on the side of the church. We quickly ran outside in the pouring rain to the sacristy, and we laughed the whole way there. While we were ringing the bell, there was a giant clap of thunder and a huge bolt of lightning; hopefully that was good luck! Since the priest who performed our ceremony had commented at our rehearsal that rain on your wedding day is good luck because a wet knot is harder to break, I’m pretty sure we have tons of good luck in our future!!
The 1952 Bentley we rode in from the church back to the hotel for the reception was a surprise for Justin, and he loved our trip in this classic, vintage car. Justin hit it off with the chauffeur (the owner of the car), who, like Justin, is an ex-military officer. The rain continued to pour down, but we didn’t seem to notice. As I look back, the advice my sister-in-law gave me, to soak in every moment and not stress over things you can’t control, was the best advice ever. I don’t think Justin and I can remember a single second where we weren’t smiling.
Once we arrived back at the hotel, we met with our families and bridal party to take the formal pictures, which went so well and so quickly, thanks to Tonya and Stephanie. Justin and I then had a few minutes of down time before we headed into the reception. We couldn’t help but continue to smile from ear to ear. Our reception was incredible…the food, dancing, family, friends…the absolute best party ever…a night we didn’t want to end. We received many comments and compliments about our donation card in lieu of wedding favors. It was Justin’s wish to give back, and he chose the charity Folds of Honor, as our charity of choice. And, I had worked with the hotel’s pastry chef to design a groom’s cake which recognized Justin’s college years at FSU and his military service as a U.S. Army officer with the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, along with his hobbies of golf, kayaking, and fishing. The cake was a grand slam, especially with Justin. We exited the reception with a sparkler departure and then continued the night at an after party at the hotel’s lobby bar…a night to be remembered by many!
Having our family and friends (many of whom traveled a great distance to be with us) with us was so special, and Justin and I talk about how perfect everything was and that memories were made that will last for a lifetime. It was the most magical day, so perfect in every way.