I would love to write about how perfect the wedding was and how everything went off without a hitch…but that’s just not the case. Do you remember a few weekend’s past when the huge nor’easter blew through? Well Holly and David were planning to have their beautiful ceremony outdoors overlooking the lake. It’s a gorgeous spot, and it was all set up and ready to go with fingers crossed that it would just be cloudy skies and crazy wind. Holly and the girls arrived to get ready. Everything (and I mean everything) was running behind that day. Flowers arrangements weren’t done, we couldn’t start the girl’s formals b/c bouquets weren’t ready, and everyone is just in overdrive and there’s chaos. We get Holly dressed, and she opens the blinds to see that it’s not only raining…but it’s STORMING. (and I’m starting to cry here). I take my job so serious…not just as a photographer but as someone who sincerely cares about my couples. I’ve sat for hours with Holly and David talking about their plans and expectations. So to see the look on Holly’s face as she realizes things will not go according to plan literally broke my heart. (that along with a few other things we couldn’t help) We walked out to the reception roo so she could look at the room with Carmella and decide which way we would be setting it up for the indoor ceremony backup plan. Once she okay’d it, we all headed back to the bridal room where she did break down and start to cry (and you have to understand…a bride in tears BREAKS my heart) All her girls joined around her for comfort, and tried to encourage her. It was heartbreaking. But we got her all pulled back together, and everyone was good to go. One thing Holly said is for someone to grab David out of his holding room to make sure the new plan was okay with him. So he was out in the reception room looking around and said it was fine of course. I told him that Holly was a little upset, and I asked if he would like to send her a little message. He without a moment’s pause said (in his calm, low voice), “Tell her I don’t care…I don’t care if it’s storming or what the weather’s like or where we have to do this thing…all I care about is her and being her husband in an hour”. Of course that made me teary! I mean how sweet is that? So I get back to Holly and she sees me with tears in my eyes and says, “Oh my gosh, why are YOU crying now!!!” LOL
They did have a beautiful ceremony…indoors…with their urns…with rose petals on the floor. =) It was absolutely so adorable and full of love. The rain did eventually stop so we were able to get some outdoor photos. Okay let’s be straight, we had to go in and out about 5 times b/c it kept raining again! But that was a-okay. It wouldn’t be near as good a story had everything turned out to be so easy. Right guys? =)
Holly and David, I hope you know how much I adore you two. It’s evident that the love between you is so strong and that far outweighs getting to have a perfect wedding day. But I know you enjoyed it, and it was SO much fun and full of love and laughter (okay and maybe some stress and tears! ).
xoxo Love you guys
And and PS, a HUGE thank you to Sarah Carter (my second shooter). She really had my back all day long!
I’m forwarning all brides. If your bussle gets put up for some reason, I’m takin’ it down! =)
Because you need it for shots like these!
Before the Wedding …
How did you two meet? David & I met at work originally. We grew closer after we both experienced some major difficulties in our lives and found that we could only depend on one another. Shortly after our friendship became stronger I got a new job. We remained close and started dating about a year later. David was the first to drop the “I Love You” while we were working out in the gym… with as sweaty as I was he must have been telling the truth lol. Shortly after the shock set in, I couldn’t help but find myself saying “I Love You Too”….and we both meant it with all our hearts. We have everything in common which has made for the most amazing connection and most fun either of us have ever had. Nether one of us can ask for more. We have been each other’s sole support from day one and look forward to that for the rest of our lives. We have been inseparable ever since.
How did he propose? We are both avid Disney World fans because the happiness and enjoyment we get there is outstanding and we love to soak it in and escape from life for a while into our own little fairy tale. I had never been to Disney World before we started dating so David made it a point to start taking me regularly. We eventually became season pass holders because we loved it so much. Years later, I had just had a second surgery on my right knee. We didn’t want to miss one of the major events at Epcot that year so we went down, knee in stitches and wrapped and all. As we made our way through all the Epcot countries (our FAVORITE part of Disney World), we stopped in “France”. Both David & I have a history with loving French Culture and taking years of French language courses. Me, being the picture fanatic I am, David suggested having one of the professionals that are stationed around the park take our picture in “France”. We posed for the picture and before I knew it David got down on one knee in the middle of the courtyard, everyone watching, and said “Tu es l’amour de ma vie. Veux-tu m’epouser?” …… “You are the love of my life. Will you marry me?” And of course, I said yes.
How did you decide on your color scheme, flowers, and cake? This was easy for David and I both. We wanted something timeless, classic, and elegant; something that would stand the test of time and be beautiful in pictures and memory no matter how many years pass by. COLORS: We decided on a champagne and ivory color scheme. Many people were skeptical when we chose those colors; worried about the champagne color being too light to blend with the bride’s dress, or not complementary on all skin tones for the bridal party, or the most popular… there are too many shades of champagne so it’s hard to work with. If I can give any advice to a bride it would be to ensure you and your groom have a clear vision of your colors and DON’T back down if you can see it working beautifully in your heads. David and I both spent the majority of the first 6 months of planning researching all the shades of champagne, all the styles of dresses and tuxes for our bridal party, and the color scheme throughout the reception space we wanted to come across. We purchased different swatches of champagne colors, textures, and fabrics; we played with lighter versus darker shades. Eventually we came to the conclusion on a rich antique champagne color that was absolutely stunning. It wouldn’t wash anyone’s skin tone out and it would look so elegant in the event we were trying to pull off. I decided, because if was a formal affair, the bridesmaids would wear a floor length gown. It was fitted to the body, a light silk and chiffon fabric, with minimal rousing around the bust, and went only over one shoulder with the smallest amount of diamond stones at the top of the strap. Every one of my brides maids were a vision. They looked absolutely breathtaking (and they all liked their dress… this was a SUPER important factor me because I did not want any one to feel uncomfortable or less beautiful that evening). David was very strong minded on his tux and his groomsmen’s tuxes. Once again because it was a formal affair, David chose bow ties for everyone. All the groomsmen wore champagne bowties that complimented the bridesmaids’ dresses beautifully. For himself, David strongly felt he should wear a white bow tie to compliment my white wedding gown. I don’t think David & I could have picked any more perfectly for our tastes. We were so happy with our choices and none of our choices will go out of fashion, or loose its elegance over time. FLOWERS: Because we were looking for a timeless look throughout the entire wedding, our flower choices were no different. Though vibrant colored flowers are beautiful, they wouldn’t communicate the softness we wanted for our special day. We stuck with all white and ivory flowers of all kinds. Lots of beautiful greenery was also included to help accentuate the ivory colors in the flowers. Roses, Calla Lily’s, Hydrangea, Wax Flower, Lily’s, all extremely large, and so many more varieties of flowers were used in the arrangements and bouquets. The room for our reception had very tall ceilings so it was important to us to use the space between the ceiling and the tables and bring it all in for the ambiance of the room. This is why we chose to do tall centerpieces with our flowers. The vases were thin, cylindrical, glass vases about 2 feet tall and the flowers on top added another foot at least of height once placed on top. We didn’t want any guest to be inconvenienced by a large, thick centerpiece blocking their view of anything, so we chose the glass for the transparent-ness and made sure they were thin enough to assist with the same issue. Flowers also adorned the mantelpieces in the reception space. We planned for a flower petal isle with the ceremony outside, large grape vine sticks adorned with white flowers on the stair railings down the isle, and simple banana leaves wrapped inside stout vases with floating candles on the cocktail table’s for cocktail hour. Unfortunately we didn’t get to do any of that because the weather blew in a small monsoon before the wedding started. But it would have been beautiful none the less. Most of these ideas were created by David and I… we kind of think we have a knack for planning and elegance ;). A candle light ambiance was VERY important to us as well, so among all the flowers were several votive candles to offer a glow to each of the tables, and along the bar, mantle pieces, and sporadically placed around the room were lit candles to enhance the glow of the evening. CAKE: We spent a long time deciding on the cake actually. With as easy as everything else came to us, we were surprised how much consideration went in to planning the look and taste of the cake. We played with all ideas: fondant, no fondant, Butter Cream, artsy, simple, antique, champagne shimmer, designs, square, circle, how many tiers, columns or not, big, small, sugar flowers or designs, etc, etc, etc. So many choices! After debating on so many cake designs we decided the best way to go was a simple ivory color, with the traditional 3 tier, circular cake. It also had some very simple paisley/swirl patters on the tiers, but not enough to over take the simplicity of the cake. We also decided on butter cream because as much as fondant looks amazing on all cakes, it’s not an enjoyable eat. The reason why we went with a simple design is because we knew we wanted fresh flower to decorate the majority of our cake as the topper and trickle all fresh flowers down the cake. If we went with an intricate cake we wouldn’t put the flowers on it because it would hide the design of the cake which would have ruined the point of it. So because the flowers were an important elegant factor in our cake design, we chose simple and soft as the ultimate look for us. We also like our choices, so we had 3 different flavors: white cake with vanilla custard and fresh strawberries, lemon cake with lemon filling, and chocolate cake with chocolate gnash. The wedding cake was the vanilla and the lemon; we had a separate sheet cake (which saved us money) in the back of the chocolate. This allowed us to pay for a less expensive cake because it was a little smaller in size and the flowers on it gave it more girth and height so it looked larger anyway. All 3 of the flavors were delicious!
Wedding Day Details!
Rehearsal Dinner Location: The rehearsal dinner was at Maggiano’s Italian restaurant. It was a perfect place for us. We had 30 people attend our dinner. Maggiano’s was very accommodating and communicated promptly so it was so easy to work with them. They also had comparable & competitive pricing compared to other venues we looked at. Their rooms set the perfect feel for the night: lots of dark rich woods, crisp white table clothes, spacious rooms, beautiful personal bar in the room, tall ceilings, personal service for your event, and good music for an evening of fun and conversation. The mood was just right. It was also perfect because our Honeymoon was set for Italy and the Italian restaurant helped pay a little homage to our travels. It was also my grandmother’s 80th birthday so the staff was very helpful in lighting some candles on a cake for us to surprise her and have the family there to sing for her. Their personal touches helped make the evening great. Not to mention the food was fabulous. http://www.maggianos.com.
Ceremony Location: Deerwood Country Club: Deerwood has a very elegant feel to it. It’s very spacious and well laid out. The grand room is beautiful with the entire back wall of windows facing the golf course and pond. There is a beautiful, very large, covered, stone patio out the back of the club with doors that lead in and out of the grand room as well. It really sets a moon for elegance and sophistication. It’s well lit and well staffed. There are very beautiful large fire places with large mantles that are great for the look and feel of a classy event. After an extremely thorough search through multiple venues, we found this venue was the most reasonable in pricing as well as one of the nicer venues we toured. They offer basic packages, but they also offer an a la carte option (which we chose because it saved us thousands of dollars). This club has a great coordinator, however, they are very black and white on their policies so you may have to adjust certain expectations depending on what the club will allow you to do in and with the club. As long as you are a strong and organized bride and groom, you will have no problems getting what you want.
Carmella Michon, email@example.com
Reception Location: Deerwood Country Club: If you are looking for a venue that provides all your needs, Deerwood also provides ceremonies. They have a beautiful lawn on the greens in the back of the club over looking the golf course and pond. Inside ceremonies are also accommodated (I know because our ceremony was supposed to be outside, but the weather decided to poor down rain the whole day of our wedding, but we had a beautiful ceremony non the less).
Caterer: Deerwood Country Club: They have their own personal chefs and professional cake/pastry baker on staff. The meal was amazing. Our food was perfect from start to finish and we received many compliments on our menu.
Wedding Coordinator: Technically we did our own coordinating. It was very important to both of us to plan our day together instead of letting someone else do it for us. Extra help is a blessing though, so if you have it, take it! But each detail was carefully coordinated by use, the bride and groom. The most rewarding part of that is that all our details were noticed and complimented the evening of our wedding and it makes you feel so accomplished and satisfied with your choices and hard work. But, to each there own. Carmella Michon was Deerwood Country Club’s events coordinator so we did a lot of communicating with her to ensure we asked as many questions as possible, took several tours, made many meetings, and discussed hundreds of possibilities for the set up and flow of our special day. She was best reached via email. Carmella Michon, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photographer: Tonya Beaver. AMAZING. We made a list at the begining of our wedding planning on items that we refused to settle on or compromise on (everything changes during the planning process, so knowing ahead of time what is concrete was very helpful). The photographer was one of them. I say this with full confidence: There was no better choice than Tonya out there! Her work is breathtaking and her talent is phenomenal. She is a true professional and will not rest until your pictures are stunning. Her work speaks for itself if you see any of it. But Tonya was SO much more than just a vendor on our list. She always reached out to see how we were doing, she helped us in times of MAJOR distress when things were falling apart at the seams before the wedding, and she always looks you in the eye and tells you the positives about what you are going through. She asked for all our vendors’ numbers so she could call them or assist on the wedding day at any moment. She helped with the set up of the reception room and the flowers. She takes the time to know about your family dynamics to make sure she plays a roll in keeping a tactful eye on things for you so you don’t have to worry about any family or people you may have been worried about. So she was more than a photographer for us, she was an absolute friend, and we appreciate her not only for her work, but for the outstanding person she is. www.tonyabeaverphotography.com.
Cake: Publix Bakery: They did an amazing job. It looked great, it was delivered on time, and it was a very reasonable cost. We are so glad we chose Publix. Their quality never fails.
Florist: Mother – if you have a family member with a specific trade that wants to help in the wedding, take advantage of it for budget purposes. However, I strongly recommend finding reasonable vendors because family members that play a vendor role in your wedding almost always cause an outstanding issue. And with all the stress you WILL encounter, it’s more worth it to pay a couple extra dollars for a vendor that to feud with family before your celebration. Cut the tension out whenever possible!
Officiant: Bland Cologne. He is a special family friend and ordained minister. It was so important to us to have him perform the ceremony because we will forever have these pictures and having someone bless our marriage that knows us personally was something unique and close to our hearts. It was important to us to have a person like that in our memories rather than another vendor hired for the event… especially for ceremony above all others.
Hair: Jamie Foreman (formerly Jamie Bennett). Jamie has a unique talent for hair. She does all styles beautifully, but her up-do’s are fabulous. I have never seen better up-do’s. All of my bridesmaid had their hair completely up, all of them completely different, and all of them so stunning and unique to them. She was easy to work with, communicated promptly, and was very personable. Anyone can book an appointment or consultation with her at the Ulta Salon at the St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville, FL. Her email is email@example.com.
Make-up: Carrie Wilson (Formerly Carrie Hammock). Carrie was remarkable. Her make-up talents were flawless. She focuses on natural beauty so you never feel or look like you are wearing a lot of make-up. It looks fresh and natural through your whole event. She helps make you skin flawless looking. Her consultation for me was free, which was a BIG bonus because most make-up consultations cost money. I did 2 different consultations and paid for them just to see my options and still went with Carrie because her work was just what I was looking for. She uses Bobby Brown products which are also focused on the natural feel and look of make-up. Carrie was so much fun, so bubbly, very honest, and also very helpful without being pushy about things to consider when deciding on your look for the big day. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entertainment: We decided on a DJ because we wanted friends and family to be able to requests songs. It was also important for us to keep the flow of the evening going for all generations to have fun in. Footloose Entertainment was our DJ vendor. They are very large company so they are familiar with multiple venues which is a positive because they already know the policies, where they can set up, and how their sound systems should work in the space you are providing. They are a little commercialized because of the large company setting, so make sure you are VERY specific on your expectations of your evening when you have your face to face meeting. Try to think of all scenarios, music being obnoxiously too loud, inappropriate songs being plaid when kids and grandparents may be there, songs that are requested should be played close to the request time rather than losing their luster and being played an hour later, specific songs you MUST have played during the evening, etc. They have a big convenience factor of putting al of your preferred information into their on line profile for your wedding as well as a payment center online that you can pay them at versus writing checks or meeting face to face for a payment.
Transportation: Getting into a car that is just the two of us, was one of many great moments. It was quiet and still, and only the two of you get to drive away from the crazy evening you just had. David (my husband) drove us away from the club. A limo or Royce would have been beautiful, but for budgetary purposes, it wasn’t important for us. We would have much rather put that money into the reception where you spend 95% of your evening.
Wedding Dress: I got my gown at a small family owned bridal boutique called Bridals & More. They are not a commercialized company so they have so many more eclectic choices and designs of dresses. I would STRONGLY recommend boutiques from large, mass produced companies to find more stunning gowns. This particular boutique was very helpful to me. The first time I went in, I didn’t have an appointment, but they still took me by the hand and helped me try on at least 15 dresses. They are very positive and helpful in helping you visualize because they do all of the alterations as well so they can pull, tuck, tug, move, the gown in ways to help you see your vision better. I liked the smaller boutique feel because you are not treated as an appointment time, you don’t have a wait, and you never get overlooked. It’s a much more personable experience, and that’s what shopping for your wedding gown should be. www.bridalsandmore.net.
Bridesmaids Dresses: It’s hard to find a bridesmaid dress that the bride loves and the bridesmaids love wearing. It was my mission to find this dress for my girls. No one will out stage the bride on the wedding day…you are in white, in a large gown, and the center of attention all night. So why not let your girls feel as beautiful as they can?! I personally tried on every bridesmaid dress I was considering for my girls to make sure the cost, the fit, the style, the color, and the comfort were acceptable. An average bridesmaid dress no-a-days ranged from $100-$200. As long as you stay in the average range, don’t feel guilty about the price. They are so happy to do it for you! I worried non stop about the price, and it was never in questions for my girls. They are here for support. The best selection, I found, was on line. The positives to this: its easy and convenient for your girls to look up the exact style, cut, number, and designer of the dress, and even better, it gives them the ability to shop around at multiple wedding stores/boutiques that carry that particular style of dress for the best price. Some of my girls found them for $50 less than what was quoted at another store. A lot of places will tell you to order all the dresses from one store at the same time because they “die lot” that the fabric comes from isn’t always the same and if you want all the shades and colors to be identical you should do this. This is partially true, but rarely every happens. No die lot is ever too far off that you can make out a color difference. Each one of my 4 bridesmaids bought their gown from a different place, and they all looked unbelievably stunning. I used www.jasminebridal.com to find tons of fabulous choices. This website also links you to all the stores in your area that may carry the styles you are considering. The dresses we chose were the Jasmine Belsoie Collection Style # L4022 in Latte (which was actually a beautiful champagne color).
Groom and Groomsmen Wear: Men’s Wearhouse. Out of all the places we looked into, Men’s Wearhouse had outstanding customer service, and that was what it was all about for us. David (my husband) was very much opinionated about his look for the wedding as well ad his groomsmen. It’s so wonderful to have your groom fully involved and excited about the planning and details too. Your experience together is always better that way. He wanted a very formal look and they chose bow ties and Calvin Kline black suits. They looked so polished. The groomsmen wore a champagne bow tie to compliment the bridesmaids’ dresses, and Dvaid chose to wear a white bow tie to compliment my dress. He made some excellent choices that we were both thrilled about, and our wedding party looked flawless. Men’s Wearhouse also keeps a data base of your wedding information so your groomsmen can go anywhere in the country to order, get fitted, and pay for their rentals. If your groomsmen are getting fitted in one state but the wedding is in another, Men’s Wearhouse will send your fitted tux to the location of your choice for your pick up right before the wedding. They made it for a very pleasurable experience. www.menswearhouse.com.
After the Wedding …
Where did you go for your honeymoon? Rome, Italy…. Perfect….amazing….time has never been better spent.
If you could give yourself any advice prior to the wedding, what would it be? Hind site is always 20/20. You will always look back and say you should have done something differently. Make sure you and your groom are both 100% involved and that you both care about each other’s opinions during the planning process, and always stand up and push for what BOTH of your visions are, and any problems that may arise (which they will) will seem less important because of the support you both have in each other. When this is all over, all that’s left is the two of you, so never lose focus that this is what it’s about. If you keep the two of you at the center of it all, it will not fail you.
Planning a wedding is fun, it is a once in a lifetime process, and it is filled with good things. But all brides to be need to be prepared to deal with things that they never in their right mind would have imagined. You will enjoy, and hate, many things about the planning. Try to enjoy more if you can. Do not let others sway you. It will cause you a lot of distress if you worry about how to please others rather than how to please yourself. There is always a small disaster, there is always a plan gone wrong, and there is always a family or friend argument, BUT, the actual day of your wedding, you will see that it all INSTANTLY disappears because they all take a step back to let you have one perfect day regardless of anything else in the world.
Take care of yourself. I know this sounds self explanatory, but a lot of people don’t know what I mean by this. I don’t mean wash your face, or get your nails done, or take your vitamins. When I say take care of yourself I mean your mind, body, and spirit. There will be A LOT of people asking you to take care of them during your wedding planning. A lot of people asking you questions and making demands on your time, giving their preferences and opinions, and unwarranted criticisms. A lot of people telling you, not asking you. A lot of people that will weigh down on you quite a bit and make you ask yourself “isn’t this supposed to be our wedding?!” You will inevitably run into the people who make your wedding sound like an inconvenience, or that you should feel grateful they are able to make it. All of these things take a toll on your mind, body, and spirit. Find time for quiet; find time for just the two of you at least once a week; always find the time to find the positives because through all the trials to be faced, no matter what you go through, I promise it will be worth it that day; find time for music…it’s a great outlet; treat yourself every now and then even if you are scraping for pennies to save for the wedding because you will feel suffocated due to budgeting if you don’t reward yourself every now and again and FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT. And don’t procrastinate. One of my biggest pieces of advice to any bride or groom is plan ahead, do things way ahead of time, check things off your list that “shouldn’t be done for months”… this will relieve an ENORMOUS amount of stress and is the most beneficial tool you can have on your side.
The most important thing, to me anyway, that got me through everything, that made it an amazing experience, and that made me so happy through the extremely exciting things to the harder decisions was that my husband was with me every step of the way. We talked about every detail together, he cared about every candle, every flower, and every element of the wedding. He never said “whatever you want is fine with me”, he always had an honest opinion and was always positive about everything. We both respected each others’ ideas and creative passion for our design of the day. This was not “my day”… this was “OUR DAY”. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? You are becoming a “we” an “our” a “couple” a “two-some”…. This day is as much about his commitment to my life as my commitment to his. It was never one sided. The love and support we created for one another was a highlight of our engagement and planning. You have to have that to make it through the planning, and you have to have that to make a marriage.