Kerri and Mike’s wedding day…where oh where to begin. Well, their wedding fell in the weekend of the big noreaster that blew through J-ville. It literally lasted for days upon days. On Saturday the rain kept starting and stopping so there was hope to still have the wedding outdoors which is what Kerri really wanted. The staff at Epping literally worked harder than any other staff in all of my career in weddings. I’ve been in this weather situation many times before and watched the venue coordinator say “sorry, there’s nothing we can do to change it…the seats are set up so that’s where we’re leaving them.”. But Mary, the coordinator there, genuinely wanted their day to be PERFECT for them and did anything possible to make them happy. I saw the flowers for the ceremony go out, back in, back out =) Once everyone was ready, we did formal photos inside the building, and before the ceremony, it had started to rain yet again. I saw Kerri turn her back to everyone and just take a moment to tear up. She turned back around and said, “I want to get married outside. I don’t care if it’s raining”. She’s my hero. I said, “Do you want me to have an umbrella nearby on standby just in case it starts to really downpour?” She replied sure of her answer, “Nope…I’m good to go”. So we all got into places, and the ceremony started. And those two got married in the pouring rain. The ceremony was so genuine and sweet.
Once back inside we did quick formals and started their reception. From there it was just waterworks all night. Their families are SO sweet and tender. I think we all cried all night even just watching them =) You can tell from all the dances, speeches, and random hug photos…these families are really tight. It was just a full day of seeing nothing but raw emotion, and it was just moving to experience it all. So many times we see people get caught up in a moment, a day, an experience…but this day was getting down to the basics when everything outside was literally going wrong, nothing mattered to this couple or family except what we were all there for…Kerri and Mike getting married. Period.
There are so many highlights of the day and night, but one super fun moment was when Kerri’s grandad surprised her with a dance. He took the microphone and told a speech about them talking years ago about how he needed to dance with her on her wedding day. So they began to slow dance, and the music changed, he tore off his jacket and busted out with some incredible dance moves. It was SO fun.
Right before the end of the night, Kerri and Mike slipped out back with us to get some night time photos in the rain. I LOVED having fun out in the rain with them, and as far as formal photos were concerned that day I think it was the best move we ever made. I just loved how they turned out so romantic and told the story of the rainy day but in a really beautiful, creative shot.
Kerri and Mike, thank you SO much for letting me be a part of your special day. I know I always say it’s an honor to be a part of weddings…but it really is. Rainy day weddings are just always different though because you either get to see a bride throw a temper tantrum all day and be mad about her “perfect” day getting ruined OR you get to see the true love between a couple that supersedes any circumstance that comes up. I know the situation of the day probably wasn’t what you had always dreamed of for your big day, but I have peace in my heart that knows that you two are perfectly happy how everything ended up. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for letting me walk through it all with you and tell the beautiful story in photos.
And a HUGE thank you to Renzo for helping and being okay with your gear getting wet. You are a true, amazing photographer.
Wedding Weekend Info:
Hotel accommodations for guests: Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront – Due to the fact that our wedding was a “destination” wedding for all of our guest we were looking for a few key factors; reasonable price, close to the interstate, pet friendly, and a view. Not only did the Hyatt end up being a perfect fit; the staff was top notch and was able to accommodate our every need.
Rehearsal Dinner Location: Bistro Aix (San Marco) – Michael and I first fell in love with Bistro Aix on our third anniversary and knew it was a perfect fit for our rehearsal dinner. We loved the feel of San Marco and the food at Bistro Aix is to die for. The ability to customize our menu, private dining room, and five star staff made Bistro Aix one of the easiest and best choices in the planning process.
Ceremony & Reception Location: Epping Forest Yacht Club – Words can’t describe why we chose EFYC, scroll up to see Tonya’s photos or Google it!
Caterer: Epping Forest Yacht Club – So now that you have seen the beauty and charm of EFYC another reason we went with this location was the on-site catering. Epping took care of every detail from the bacon wrapped granny smith apples during cocktail hour, perfectly cooked prime rib for dinner to the late night, butler passed Chick-fil-a, Krystal’s, and Krispy Kreme donuts. After the wedding, most brides continue to hear from their guest how beautiful they looked and what a great time they had at the wedding, while those compliments didn’t fall on deaf ears, everyone I talked to had extremely high praise to the staff and food at Epping!
Wedding Coordinator: Mary Daoud, Special Events Coordinator at Epping Forest Yacht Club – Mary was another reason why we choose EFYC. Upon first meeting Mary she put any and all concerns at ease and answered all questions we had. She was able to recommend florists, entertainment, etc. but was willing to work with anyone we wanted. Ironically it was raining when we met Mary for the tasting, we discussed “Plan B” and she had all of the I’s dotted and T’s crossed in case Mother Nature wasn’t going to cooperate with us on the big day. Fast forward to May 4th and it seemed like Mother Nature had reverted to a two year old flipping the rain switch, on and off, on and off… Like most brides hours before they walk down the aisle, emotions are high and rationale, for the most part, is out the window. Mary and staff had both ceremony options ready and were prepared for anything, but this bride was dead set on getting married outside. Umbrellas in hand and smiles on their faces, Mary and staff made it happen! In the rain, with friends and family by my side, I married my best friend!
Photographer: Tonya Beaver Photography – Although the photo’s speak for themselves, I don’t know what I would have done without Tonya. Tonya could probably sense what the wedding would be like after our engagement session, which involved many opinions and tequila shots, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for what was actually in store. Tonya was there from the minute I arrived to the second I left and was my rock for the day. Minutes before the ceremony started; after the flower arrangements have been moved in and outside multiple times, while contemplating the ‘right’ decision, and on the verge of waterworks, Tonya’s professional opinion and friendly demeanor talked me off the edge. She and Renzo were focused, flexible and wouldn’t have selected any other photographer and friend.
Videographer: Chip and Jennifer Alyea, Flip Book Creations (Orlando, FL) – My budget didn’t allow for a videographer and wedding favors so I took one of Mary’s suggestions, Flip Books. Flip Books combine a photo booth type favor with a video theme. Each group recorded a 10 second video with fun props and Chip and Jennifer printed them out in Flip Book form as favors for the guests. A compilation of all guest videos is then created for the newlyweds to enjoy. Our guests, young and old, are still talking about their flip books and would highly recommend if you are looking for something different than the standard photo booth!
Cake: Chef Paul at Epping Forest Yacht Club – We all have seen the baking shows on TV and wondered do they taste as good as they look, well Chef Paul’s does! The wedding cake was a vanilla cake with chocolate icing and fresh strawberries and the grooms cake was a Georgia Bulldog made of red velvet cake.
Florist: A Fantasy in Flowers, Susan Kass – Because Epping has so much charm and character I didn’t feel I needed to go overboard with flower arrangements. With only having corresponded via email, Susan and the Fantasy staff nailed it. The arrangements were just enough and beautiful!
Officiate: Reverend Rick Turner (Cairo, GA) – Growing up in Moultrie, GA, Michael was a member of The First United Methodist Church where he first met Reverend Rick at the age of thirteen. When it came time to select someone to marry us, there was no question we wanted Reverend Rick. When he learned of our upcoming nuptials he agreed to make the trek from Cairo, GA to Jacksonville to be a part of the first day of the rest of our lives. In the rain, damp bible in hand, Reverend Rick blessed our marriage and we will forever be thankful.
Hair: Donna Rowe (Stuart, FL) – Donna has been my friend and hairdresser since I was twelve years old. She was there for the homecomings and proms and I couldn’t imagine anyone else on my wedding day.
Make-up: Amanda Hopcraft (St. Augustine, FL) – I didn’t know where to start when it came to selecting a makeup artist so I came here to Tonya’s blog and searched through tons of posts and tons of pictures looking at makeup on Brides, Mother of the Brides, and Bridesmaids. I found a bride that looked elegant but natural and scrolled down to see that Amanda was to credit. I did a trial run before the big day to get to know Amanda and play with our options. She was great to be around the morning of and did an amazing job!
Entertainment: Hector, Y? Entertainment – Michael and I had three requirements when looking for a DJ; fun for all ages, memorable, and not corny (didn’t want the Chicken Dance, YMCA, etc.). Needless to say our initial search did not go well at all and dampened our outlook on the search. That is until I spoke to David, owner of Y? Entertainment, who guaranteed our three requirements would be met. Not only did he meet our requirements but he paired us with Professional DJ, Hector. Not only were we able to create a playlist online but Hector insisted on a meeting to get to know us and what we wanted. We Wobbled and Got Jiggy With It thanks to Hector and Y? Entertainment!
Transportation: 1956 Chevrolet
Wedding Dress: Love – Liza was GREAT! She helped me find the perfect dress and a talent when it came to alterations, Nicole Lee.
Wedding Shoes: Zappos! – Thirty bucks and no blisters!
Bridesmaids Dresses: Bella Bridesmaid’s – We actually found the Mother of the Bride and Maid of Honor dress with Ashley’s help at Bella. There were tons of options at great prices!
Groom and Groomsmen Wear: Michael’s Formalwear
And if you REALLY want to cry, check out their slideshow here: http://proofs.tonyabeaverphotography.com/p975947243
How did you two meet?
After college, careers in finance brought both Michael and I to Jacksonville. It wasn’t until October 2009 that our paths crossed at a local restaurant, Timeout Bar & Grill, where only introductory pleasantries were exchanged. The following Saturday, after the Georgia/Florida game the party was moved from Downtown Jacksonville to the Jacksonville Beaches where secondary introductions led to conversation, a dance, and my phone number, the rest is history!
How did he propose?
May 4th, 2012, exactly two and a half years after our first date over birthday cake and cinnamon ice cream, Michael planned a romantic dinner followed by ice cream and the easiest question I have ever been asked.
How did you decide on your color scheme, flowers, and cake?
During my engagement, like most soon-to-be brides, everyone wanted to share advice, opinions, and the details of their wedding. While looking through my parent’s, aunt’s, and friend’s wedding albums the thought, “what were they thinking” crossed my mind multiple times. So, when it came time to decide on a color scheme I wanted to avoid that thought on our 50th Anniversary or hearing my daughter repeat those four infamous words – white and ivory it is! I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a three tier ivory butter crème vanilla cake and a combination of in-season white and ivory flowers.
How did you decide on your invitations, and who did you use?
I knew I wanted classic invitations; no pockets or ribbon, just quality paper with the traditional wording. After flipping through a handful of books I realized my options were endless. Unable to make up our minds, I enlisted my mom’s help one weekend while I was home visiting. We went to Quill & Press in Stuart, Florida; a family owned and operated stationary store where my mom has been buying Christmas cards for years. The owner, Tina, was able to answer all of our questions and help us pin point our ideal invitations within budget.
Where did you go for your honeymoon? Hawaii – We were fortunate enough to enjoy nine amazing days on three different islands. Out of O’hau, The Big Island, or Maui we would recommend The Big Island, Hawaii. Here we got lei’d, toured Kona Brewing Company and explored the largest active volcano in the world, Mauna Loa.
If you could give yourself any advice prior to the wedding, what would it be? Relinquish control and expect the unexpected. You cannot be 100% prepared for everything and chose vendors you trust so that you feel comfortable to relinquish some control. In the end all of your guests are there for one reason, to celebrate YOU; they won’t care if the centerpieces have tulips instead of roses or if you have favors or not. Step back, keep perspective, and ENJOY!