Hillary and CJ infused their classically elegant wedding day with an incredible sense of family love—a love that runs deep and trumps a pretty detail any day. But lucky us, we don’t have to choose one or the other, because these captures from Jacqui Cole Photography are graced with both. From Dad officiating their ceremony to those sweet and sparkly ‘maids, this gallery is cause for a happy, happy dance.
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From Jacqui Cole Photography…Hillary and CJ were such a joy to photograph and I feel beyond blessed to have captured these memories for them. Every single aspect of Hillary and CJ’s day was perfectly planned. From the beautiful getting ready details in the bridesmaids’ Pretty Plum Sugar pj’s to the gorgeous florals by Carrollwood Florals. My favorite moment of their day was the moment the new Mr + Mrs turned around from their first kiss to walk up the aisle as husband and wife. The sheer elation and joy in their face as they looked at each other was so memorable!
From the Bride… CJ and I met at the University of Florida during our junior year (Go Gators!). We were both from Tampa, but our paths never crossed until college. We dated our entire senior year and after graduation CJ had to move cross-country to Phoenix, AZ for a new job. I was finishing up nursing school in Gainesville while we dated long-distance. We saw each other every six weeks, either in Tampa or in Phoenix. A week before our two-year anniversary, on his latest trip to Tampa, he proposed at the end of Davis Island overlooking beautiful Tampa Bay. His 16-year-old sister, and budding photographer, hid in the grass, catching the proposal while the sailboats passed behind us. We spent the rest of the day celebrating with our families. The next day, we drove up to Gainesville where all of our friends threw an engagement party for us. It was the most amazing weekend of celebrating with the people we love.
I finished nursing school in August, so we knew it would be perfect to have the wedding in the fall. We had three dates to match up vendors with, all of them revolving around Gator football. We ended up choosing October 18th, Florida’s Homecoming game. Needless to say, all of our guests were fortunate enough to miss the debacle that was the Missouri/Florida game.
During our venue search, we wanted to find something with character and meaning in the Tampa Bay area. CJ’s dad, Steve, has been the Senior Pastor at Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church for 16 years. We were so blessed and honored to have him officiate and marry us in the church he leads each Sunday. The neighborhood I grew up in, Avila, has this gorgeous “old-world” Spanish architecture that complimented the church and the historical charm that I love. The most attractive feature of the club was the expansive atrium; perfect for all the dancing we knew would go down.
Since our venues elevated the wedding to a more formal mood, I wanted to throw in some laid-back, organic features. My theme became bohemian glamour. My dress looked fancy, but was as comfortable as a nightgown. It had two layers, a champagne silk gown with a beaded lace overlay. It fit me perfectly with flats, so all I had to do was bustle it! The bridesmaids’ dresses were nude with silver beading. They looked like champagne from far away, but were shorter for a more casual look. Everything at the reception was mercury glass, a natural shimmer in candlelight. The groomsmen matched the groom, with modern tuxedos and suspenders, for a more relaxed approach. I met with my florist, Jaclyn, who is also a friend from high school, numerous times during the six-month engagement to get the flowers just right. We came up with the word whimsical to describe the arrangements. I wanted the flowers to almost sparkle against the bridesmaids’ dresses with their light natural colors and textures.
We had the most beautiful ceremony with the music lead by the team from our church in Gainesville. My dad walked me down the aisle to “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, sung by my good friend Brittany. Both my dad and my grandpa gave me away. On my right wrist was my grandma’s tennis bracelet, alongside my great-grandma’s coral and pearl ring. The bridal party recessed to “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”, a beautiful yet upbeat song that got us all dancing down the aisle and into the back of the church. It was such an amazing feeling to see the gospel on display in front of our family and friends and to be married at the same time. I was feeling nervous all morning, but I’ve never been so happy and affirmed at the commitment CJ and I had just made. When I hear that song today, it brings back so much joy.
The pictures of the bridal party were taken in my backyard. I loved snapping one with my groom under the bougainvillea arch where I had taken countless family and prom pictures before. It was such a special day, centered around two families coming together as one in the presence of God. At the reception, I had two goals: to eat and to have fun. It was hands down the most amazing party I’ve ever experienced. Isabel, our wedding coordinator prepared us to-go boxes of filet, chicken and the leftover cake, and we exited to our friends holding sparklers and wishing us well.
We stayed at the Le Meridian in downtown Tampa before heading to Jamaica for our 11 days of tropical paradise. Following the honeymoon, we headed straight to Arizona, my new home. We currently live in the Phoenix area, and I just accepted my first job as a Labor and Delivery nurse. We have a great group of friends and a church that we’re growing to love. I definitely miss the southeast and our friends and family, but love the opportunity to explore and enjoy the west!
Bridal Gown: Allure Bridals | Bridal Store: CC's Bridal | Bridesmaid Dresses: Lord & Taylor | Bridesmaid PJs: Pretty Plum Sugar | Cake: Publix Bakery | Country Club: Avila Golf And Country Club | DJ: Grainger Entertainment | Floral Design: Carrollwood Florist | Hair And Makeup: Destiny And Light | Photography: Jacqui Cole Photography