Hotel accommodations for guests: Casa Marina with overflow at the Marriott and Fairfield Inn. A lot of guests used AirBnB as well
Rehearsal Dinner Location: Flask and Cannon / V Pizza
Ceremony Location: Casa Marina
Reception Location: Casa Marina
Caterer: Casa Marina
Wedding Coordinator: Becky at Casa Marina was our day-of coordinator
Photographer: Tonya Beaver
Videographer: Lee @ Jax Video
Cake: Alley Cakes
Florist: ordered succulents from Etsy and flowers/fillers from Costco. My sister, Kiera Howard put the arrangements together
Officiate: Kevin Colcord (uncle)
Hair: Savanna and Melody @ Hair Peace
Make-up: Destiny @ Makeup by Paulina Perez
Entertainment: DJ Ed @ DJs to go
Wedding Dress: Country Bride and Gent
Wedding Shoes: David’s Bridal
Bridesmaids Dresses: Country Bride and Gent
Groom and Groomsmen Wear: Jos A Bank
How did you two meet?
We actually went to middle and high school together. We became really close friends senior year and ended up dating after several months of Aleem putting in some serious work. We dated for the summer and broke up when I left for college on the other side of the state. Fast forward 4 years to our younger siblings’ senior year of high school. They were paired together for Homecoming Court and graduated together so we kept bumping into each other at all of their senior events. Aleem was always the one that got away from me, so I decided to send him a text asking if he wanted to get together so our random run-ins would stop being so awkward. I stared at my phone for a solid 15 minutes before hitting send, and immediately thought I was going to throw up after doing so. Then he answered with the classic “who’s this?” For a second I thought about throwing my phone out the window and moving to another country, but I responded with my name and luckily he said he’d love to catch up. We met for dinner and sparks were immediately flying and have been ever since.
How did he propose?
We had dinner planned down in St. Augustine in November. We had only lived here for a few months at this time so I had no idea about the Night of Lights during Christmas time. He told me we were going to OC Whites and that they didn’t take reservations but he’d like to be there by 6. So I took that as a suggestion and was in no rush to get myself ready. I had an “everything looks stupid” moment, so we left about 30 minutes later than we had planned. On our way down, there was SO MUCH TRAFFIC. We got to the restaurant an hour after we had planned and I wasn’t understanding why Aleem was so uptight about it. The lights were beautiful, there was a live band out on the patio, and a horse and carriage rode by. I then voiced my opinion about disliking them because I feel bad for the horses. We’re finally seated and eat dinner, which was incredibly delicious, but I noticed Aleem continuously getting up and going to the bathroom. When I asked him what was going on, he told me we were an hour late for our …. horse and carriage ride he had planned to surprise me with. Oops. When we went to put our food in the car, and grab the blanket and wine he so thoughtfully hid in there, the lot attendant stopped us and told us we couldn’t keep our car there since we were no longer dining. This was the opening weekend of Nights of Lights. Upon driving around for 20 minutes or so with no luck in finding a spot, Aleem said nevermind and we started to just head home. At that time, I became extremely irritated. Obviously he didn’t plan on proposing if he gave up that easily, and why in the world would you plan this romantic night if you didn’t plan to propose?!?! On our way out, we found a few spots about a half mile away from the carriage rides so we parked there and walked. I was in heels, stomping angrily on cobblestone streets, 10 feet in front of my boyfriend who still has yet to propose to me. We got on the horse and carriage, finally, and while we were through the most beautiful part of the town, surrounded by trees and buildings covered in lights, my very romantic boyfriend asked me if I would spend the rest of my life with him as his wife. If it weren’t for everything going wrong on the date, I wouldn’t have been so surprised and shocked and in awe of the man sitting next to me. Of course I said yes!
How did you decide on your color scheme, flowers, and cake?
I already had a Pinterest board, so it was a game of narrowing down ideas with what Aleem liked and didn’t like. I wanted paler colors, and to be as minimalistic as possible. Keep it simple and as inexpensive as possible was the goal. I love succulents and how they could give our decor a pop of color here and there, so we incorporated them in just about everything.
How did you decide on your invitations, and who did you use?
A bridesmaid of mine, Erica, is a graphic artist and had volunteered to do them. It was awesome to be able to work together and have something completely original. We wanted to continue keeping the look simple, so she came up with doing watercolor succulents to keep the themes going.
What was the most fun part of wedding planning?
Honestly, my fiance and I working together. We would order a pizza, grab some wine and beer, and just hang out and plan out the details together. We laughed a lot and made both easy and difficult decisions together. The dessert tasting was a close second though!
Which part did you not like as much?
Booking the vendors was completely stressful for me. We had a tight budget and no planner. Having to come to terms with wanting the best and being able to afford the best wasn’t fun. Luckily I’m pretty good with budgets, so we were able to figure it out.
What are the biggest pieces of advice you wish you would have known before the wedding day.
Work together to come up with a plan of attack. We both would have burned out working or planning every single day, so we would get the planning done after work. It allowed us to keep our weekends to do things we love to do together and not stress about the planning. Be organized, use checklists and timelines, and it will all come together.
In your words, can you give a storyline of your wedding day?
The day was everything I thought it’d be, but flew by. Since all of our friends live up north, we made the most of every second we had with them. So we all went out the night before. Most of us actually woke up a little hungover in the morning so we had a pretty slow start. My mom gave me this incredible book she’s been saving my entire life that she and my Nana started when I was a baby. It described their relationship with each other and my relationship with my mother. My bridesmaids started showing up in the morning, hair and makeup arrived, and we started getting ready. I have to say, everyone was pretty on point with making sure I stayed in the room if Aleem was in the building. I was so calm and relaxed that I’m pretty sure everyone was waiting for me to have a meltdown. Once we were all ready and my dress was on, I went into a serious-mode. It was storming all day and we had such limited time to get photos taken during the break in the rain that I stopped having fun. While taking pictures, my photographer, Tonya, actually asked me if I was okay, which made me take a step back and realize I need to stop being so serious and have fun. From that point on, everything was amazing, regardless of the fact that I had to call it inside and we would lose our ocean view. The ceremony was so different being the one up there. Neither of us remember anything our officiant said, we were just so caught up in each other. It poured during our cocktail hour, but that didn’t stop us from taking pictures outside. We came into the reception soaked and so excited to see how amazing the pictures were going to turn out. No one tells you to try out sitting in your dress before your wedding. I swear I almost ripped it, and could not move my legs under the table. Despite our food being delicious, I was too excited to eat. The rest of the night was filled with dancing and singing and so much fun. At the end of the night, at least half of our wedding guests, the party, and Aleem and I went out to a bar down the street that had a live band. Our Maitre d’ even joined us for a little! The entire day flew by in a flash.
What was the high point of your wedding day that you hope to remember forever?
I hope to never forget how everything made me feel. I don’t have words to describe how I felt when we first saw each other from the aisle, and I hope to never forget that feeling. The pure joy and happiness from having everyone we love in one place having the greatest time. The sadness when our DJ announced we only had one hour left. My emotions were all over the charts that day and I hope to never forget them.