Wedding Weekend Info (written by the couple):
Hotel accommodations for guests: Hyatt-Regency Jacksonville Riverfront
Rehearsal Dinner Location: The Ortega Landing Marina’s Clubhouse (where our boat is)
Ceremony Location: Epping Forest Yacht Club – outside near the marina. We had almost settled on a local museum when we ended up making a last-minute appointment to see Epping Forest, a place unfamiliar to both of us. As soon as we walked out onto the back lawn, where the sun was setting over the marina on the St. Johns River, we knew this was THE place.
Reception Location: Epping Forest Yacht Club – lower level of the mansion and the lawn outside. Every aspect was simply perfect, thanks in no small part to the outstanding service provided by EFYC’s Mary Daoud. From our first meeting to our departure by boat at the end of the reception, Mary listened to every detail and helped make the wedding “ours.”
The food was exquisite (our guests are still talking about the menu); the setting was perfect; and the special touches they were able to accommodate made it the wedding of our dreams – from fire pits/s’mores bar to a Georgia Bulldogs-themed groom’s cake – to even stringing the white Christmas lights a few days early to make for an even more breathtaking view! I would recommend EFYC to any bride and groom. Your expectations will be exceeded tenfold.
Caterer: Epping Forest Yacht Club (EVERYONE loved the food)
Wedding Coordinator: Chris Hoffman – a personal friend who has done countless weddings and special events in her former life at TPC Sawgrass. Even though this isn’t her “real job” anymore, we wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to help us through the entire process. Her knowledge and connections saved us so much time and money; and her gentle way of making sure we didn’t skimp on the important things that made it the wedding of our dreams (even if sometimes we didn’t know exactly what our dreams were!).
Photographer: Tonya Beaver! I have to admit – at first, I wasn’t sure what all the fuss (and price) was about when we were selecting our photographer. It all seemed the same to me, so how does one decide? This is where we relied on our coordinator, and I’m so glad we did. Tonya was absolutely amazing, and I’m so happy to have gotten to know her over the past year. The engagement photos alone were fabulous (on our boat – a first for her!), and then the wedding photos were beyond our expectations. Tonya took the time to understand what we wanted (non-Pinterest), and I always felt like she was looking out for us and the smallest of details that would make for a memorable photo. I loved hearing from friends and family that they were so impressed with her professional-mixed-with-friendly approach. She put everyone at ease and it shows in every single photo.
Cake: Epping Forest Yacht Club (yep…people are still talking about it…)
Florist: Wilson’s Ltd. Just beautiful work. Classic.
Officiate: Joby Martin, lead pastor of Church of Eleven 22. We were so thrilled that Joby could be a part of our wedding, since COE22 has been such a huge part of our relationship. He did an amazing job personalizing the ceremony and incorporating the messages that have become center to our faith. We wrote a Family Covenant after a service in 2013, and Joby introduced our mothers, who took turns reading it. He also worked in the requisite “Go Dawgs” reference.
Hair: Grazyna Mercado. I can’t say enough about her talent. It’s amazing what this woman can do in 15 minutes with some hair spray and bobby pins. I knew I wanted a clean look, but not too severe. I showed her three photos as inspiration during our trial, and before I knew it, my hair was exactly what I wanted. The day of the wedding, it was even better, and aside from that – she made my bridesmaids and the moms look like princesses. Love her.
Make-up: Jackie Neal. No relation, but I wish! She was a blast to work with, and she listened to what I wanted (or didn’t want, actually) and made me feel beautiful and natural. All the girls loved her as well, and we all joke that we’ve never looked better and never will again unless Jackie comes back!
Entertainment: Bread & Butter. We were in a bit of a jam (pun intended?), as our initial choice kept waffling on a commitment. Our coordinator suggested we check out B&B when they were at Ragtime, and before the end of the night, Billy and I were dancing around the bar to just about every song. I can’t say enough about these guys. They learned at least four songs for us (rather random ones, I’ll admit), including our first and last dance and my dance with my father, and were so responsive with each and every request. The dance floor was hopping from start to finish, and I’ve received so many compliments on how great the band was. They also did an acoustic set for the ceremony and were perfect. Hire them!
Transportation: East Coast Transportation. Very professional, flexible and courteous. No issues – and that’s the absolute best compliment you can give when it comes to transportation, in my opinion.
Wedding Dress: White Magnolia. Loved!
Wedding Shoes: Zappo’s! I wanted simple, low-heeled shoes and found exactly what I was looking for online. Although we were all in Converse (my favorite) by the end of the night.
Bridesmaids Dresses: JCrew
Groom and Groomsmen Wear: Billy ordered his suit from Peter Millar thanks to a PGA TOUR connection. The guys all wore their own navy suits, and we gave them Vineyard Vines ties as groomsmen gifts.
Before the Wedding …
How did you two meet?
Billy and both work for the PGA TOUR and have known each other in passing since 2007. It wasn’t until 2012 when I was newly single that we connected as anything more than colleagues. I heard him talking in the hallway one day about Church of Eleven 22, and my ears perked up. I had just recently been to a few services, searching for meaning in a life that had been less than awesome. I joked with Billy, “You go there too? You’re not one of those weird people who sing the songs with their hands up in the air, are you?” And that’s basically how it started.
Some of our first dates were at COE22 services, and we were baptized together at the beach in June 2014. I have no doubt that God put Billy in my world to help bring me closer to Him. Billy and I often talk about the “fork in the road” and what wonderful things can come from taking a different path. I thank God every day for second chances.
How did he propose?
Billy proposed on the dock at his family’s lake house in Georgia, where he spent countless summers as a child. It was a total surprise to me, two days before Thanksgiving, but something Billy had been planning for weeks. While we were set to spend the holiday with his parents in Atlanta, Billy suggested an overnight stay at Lake Rabun to unwind before the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving.
It was no more than 25 degrees that day – and raining – and after checking into the Lake Rabun Hotel, Billy had a bit of a chore convincing me (I’m cold at 70 degrees) that it would be fun to take a walk to the lake house. But a homemade dirty martini (our favorite) was enough of a bribe to get me bundled up and out the door.
As Billy tells it, after scaling the gate (“Are we going to get arrested?”) and standing in the drizzling rain on the dock for a while, he started to wonder if the time was right or if perhaps he should wait until dinner back at the hotel. There was nothing to do but turn to God, so he said a silent prayer: Lord, if this is the right time and the right place, please give me a sign.
At that precise moment, it stopped raining.
Billy put the umbrella down and handed me a letter written on beautiful stationery. I didn’t realize until later that “The Schroders” was printed at the top (one of many clues I missed that day), but when it ended with “as husband and wife,” I couldn’t miss the meaning, as Billy dropped to one knee to ask if I would marry him.
Instead of a ring, Billy proposed with a diamond cross he had searched high and low for over the previous two months. It was our faith that brought us together, and the engagement necklace will be a constant reminder to keep God at the center of our relationship every day for the rest of our lives.
How did you decide on your color scheme, flowers, and cake?
Billy has been sailing since he was a kid, and I’m learning – thanks to his passion for being on the water and our sailboat, the Southern Cross. So we almost immediately went with a nautical feel for for everything. I love the clean, crisp look of navy and white, and we added a bright yellow to give a pop of color to everything.
Neither of us knows much about flowers, so we let Bill Wilson (Wilson’s, Ltd.) run with things. We knew we wanted hydrangeas, the flower that we are both fond of from our childhood (it grows like crazy on the banks of Lake Rabun; and I remember a huge hydrangea bush under my bedroom window growing up). Bill pretty much did the rest, and the arrangements were stunning.
As for the cake – I love to bake. I’m kind of a cupcake fanatic and have done cupcake displays for a few friends’ weddings. But after thinking about it, that seemed to obvious and we just went a traditional route. Very clean and simple lines with a nautical feel. We probably went a bit crazy with the flavor selections, a different one for each layer – red velvet on top; carrot cake in the middle; and key lime with strawberry filling on the bottom. But Epping Forest had so many amazing choices, we couldn’t make up our minds! The most popular, though, was Billy’s groom’s cake – a decadent chocolate-peanut-butter decorated to celebrate his alma mater (UGA). People are still talking about that cake.
How did you decide on your invitations, and who did you use?
Our wedding planner recommended Pineapple Post, and we were so pleased with the customer service and selection. It started as an overwhelming task, but once we looked back at our “favorites,” we noticed a pattern. Very clean and simple with a nautical feel. The envelopes were lined in navy and white stripes, and the invite itself was white with a double border of navy (back) and yellow (middle). I loved having the Southern Cross constellation on the invite itself to really make it personal for us.