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Surprise Jacksonville Wedding from Alex Michele Photography

I love surprises… and I happen to consider myself a master at keeping said surprises secret.  But, a surprise wedding?  That’s a whole new level of secret keeping.  One that these two Jacksonville sweeties managed to pull off with flying colors, and the help of some behind-the-scenes friends and family.  The result?  A day that was chock-full of pretty (see: beautiful blooms from Shea Hopely Flowers + a plethora of gorgeous images from Alex Michele Photography) and one shocked face after another.  Oh, and did I mention that even their engagement was a secret?  Awesome.  Join me in the gallery for more.


From the Bride… My inspiration for our wedding came from our relationship – we have always been a very romantic “lovey-dovey,” but yet private couple and I wanted our wedding to reflect that. So, we decided to have a “surprise” wedding. The only people who knew were my mom and Adam’s brother (who officiated), so unlike most brides I didn’t have a lot of people to rely on. But since our wedding was also very small, it was actually really easy to plan. The hardest part was choosing the details because there are so many options since the invention of Pinterest. Our small group of (behind the scenes) helpers and vendors were amazing though. The night before the wedding we were all working on the final details together, and it was so much fun seeing it come together with them. Although having a surprise wedding is unconventional to most, we ended up doing it because we didn’t want the fuss and stress that usually comes along with planning a traditional wedding. And we got just that!

We decided to get married in our brand new home we just purchased together. The front yard was absolutely perfect! It has this GORGEOUS, classic Florida old oak tree with sweeping branches. How much more romantic could you be? We even incorporated that into our “thumb print guest book” as the artist painted our tree exactly how it was. The flowers were my favorite expression of that romantic feeling. Shea Hopely Florals has amazing taste and made the most beautiful arrangements I’ve ever seen. She really understood the “modern romantic” feeling that I wanted to convey and she executed it perfectly. We also decided to include our precious puppies in the pictures. They are like our kids and we knew we wanted them to be as much a part of the day as our guests were! Adam and I opted for doing a first look, so that all of our pictures were finished before our special guests arrive. The ceremony set-up was in our home so when our “guests” arrived they really had no idea until they actually saw us! In fact, no one even knew we were engaged! I hadn’t worn my ring this entire time. When our “guests” arrived, they thought they were coming for a housewarming party and to witness Adam’s proposal to me. Everyone was so happy though when they opened the door seeing us in our bridal gear – they all knew we would do something unique and totally unconventional like this. It ended up working out great! Our photographer was on point capturing all the candid moments, as that was so important to us, since after all it was so different that a usual wedding.

My favorite part of our wedding was getting to marry the love of my life! As far as the details are concerned, having only 20 guests who were our closest family was very warm and intimate, and it made the whole day so enjoyable and fun. I couldn’t imagine any other way to get married – it was perfect for us. And the best part was that it was executed perfectly without stress and strict timelines.

My advice for brides is to do what makes you happy. Your wedding day is not about pleasing your guests or throwing the best party in the world – it’s about celebrating your relationship and the love you have for each other. If your wedding is a reflection of that then it will be perfect.

Wedding Photography: Alex Michele Photography | Wedding Venue: Family Home in Jacksonville, Florida | Floral Design: Shea Hopely Flowers | Officiant: Groom’s Brother | Catering: Catering by Liz | Wedding Cake + Dessert: Publix | Wedding Dress: Modern Trousseau via The White Magnolia | Bride’s Shoes: Nine West | Groom’s Attire: Banana Republic | Groom’s Shoes: Rockport | Hair: Hair by Christian

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Rooftop Dinner Shoot from Jennifer Blair Photography

After the big day comes lots and lots of anniversaries with your sweetie and what better way to celebrate than with some sweet rooftop feting? Jennifer Blair Photography teamed up with Perfectly Taylor’d and Flowers by Shirley Page for a gorgeous skyline dinner built for two. Technically this is inspiration for a wedding but we thought it perfect for an anniversary shindig, maybe an uber romantic date night or incorporating friends and having an intimate dinner party under the stars. The blush colored sparkle mixed with succulents and just the right amount of twinkle lights; it makes for a party done so, so right. Catch it all right here.

From Jennifer Blair PhotographyThis session was birthed from my life-long love affair with my hometown, Jacksonville. The beautiful St. Johns River runs right through downtown and frames the blue skyline so well. For this session, I wanted to take advantage of my gorgeous city by creating a chic rooftop affair. I loved the idea of creating a soft, romantic feel in such an urban environment. Once I found the Badgley Mischka gown, I knew we were headed in the right direction. The fabulous, gold, sparkling gown was contrasted with green succulents, whites and soft tones. For the table, we incorporated neutrals, gold accents and simple floral designs to give a romantic feel. Over the table for two we built a canopy of hanging lights and flowing tulle. What could be more romantic than a dinner under string lights on a rooftop? (It is definitely a look that can be recreated by DIY-savvy brides! Plus, I was able to build it by myself.) As the sun began to drop, our couple danced the night away under the city lights. That beautiful dress sparkled even more as the sun began to fade. 

Photography: Jennifer Blair Photography / Photo Shoot Venue: Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, Florida / Floral Design: Flowers by Shirley Page / Event Design: Perfectly Taylor’d / Event Planning: Jennifer Blair / Cake: Christine Andreae / Invitations: Create Like Crazy Design Studio / Dress: Badgley Mischka / Hair: Kim of Salon 210 / Models: Jordan + Chris Brantley

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Amelia Island Wedding from Julie Paisley Photography

You may want to take a deep breath because this wedding is about to knock your socks off with its gorgeous detail and creativity! And the images by Julie Paisley Photography? I could literally stare at them It took some serious discipline to not show you each and every image from this insanely gorgeous gallery. My absolute favorite part of this pretty day has to be the dessert spread of homemade cookies and milk. Beyond adorable. See that and so much more right here in the full gallery.

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From Julie Paisley PhotographyKaitlyn and her mom put their heart and soul into planning this wedding. All the decor and flowers were handmade and crafted with love. Even several family members contributed to making their favorite cookies for the milk and cookie bar. Another cute and different aspect was that  Kaitlyn hates high heels so she had special made Keds for her and her bridesmaids. I never once heard anyone complain about their feet hurting that night! Kaitlyn and Justin are very strong in their faith, and her father, who is a minister, married them. So many heart-touching moments occurred during this wedding — I must admit, I cried a lot! The wedding took place on beautiful Amelia Island, Florida, at Walker’s Landing at The Omni Plantation. Beautiful couple and it was joy to photograph.

Wedding Photography: Julie Paisley Photography / Wedding Venue: Walker’s Landing at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Amelia Island, Florida / Wedding Decor: DIY / Cupcakes: Bliss Cupcakery & More / Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal / Bride’s Shoes: Keds

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Fort George Island Wedding by Szarmack Photography

This blue and white wedding is so fresh and pretty, I could stare at it I love how it’s traditional yet playful, and there’s just a hint of whimsy, which, in my opinion, every wedding totally needs. Szarmack Photography captured all the lovely details down to the fun striped ribbon on the bride’s bouquet. Want to see more? I don’t blame you one bit! Click right here.

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From the Bride… Alex and I got engaged in May 2011. Having met in law school in Tallahassee, Florida, we knew we wanted to be married in northern Florida. The Ribault Club was an easy choice as it was my dream wedding venue. I love the plantation feel and also liked that we were able to get married in a state park and historical destination. We also chose Fort George Island because of its proximity to Jacksonville. I have a lot of out-of-town family and friends, and we wanted it to be easy for them to travel to the wedding. Additionally, Alex is from Atlantic Beach and his family (and grandparents) lives there, so it was nice to have people familiar with the city during the planning process.

Alex was the best groom a girl could ask for and was helpful and involved in every decision. He even thought up a very special and unique idea for our table numbers. During our first year of dating (about a year before we got engaged), we traveled to Germany and Poland together. We both adore traveling, and Alex came up with the idea of taking a “proposal photo” in every city we visited together as a fun memory from our travels. I collected various white frames to hold the photos, and we named each table after the city in the photo. Some of the cities were: Nashville, Gainesville, Krakow, Berlin, Seaside, and Vail. It was actually hard to narrow it down to 11 photos because we had so many more from our travels!

I have always dreamed of planning my wedding day, and knew I wanted to be highly involved in the design and decision-making, so we hired a day-of coordinator at our venue to run the show and make sure everything went smoothly. We were really happy with this decision because while we still felt in charge of the look of our wedding, we didn’t have to worry about a thing on the big day! Since we were on a budget, I did a lot of DIY projects for decorations and recruited my wonderful friends and bridesmaids for help! We made sure that all of our details were the same color scheme and style to stay cohesive. We worked really hard to choose vendors that we felt were talented and fit our style, but were affordable because we had to stay on our budget. One way we saved money was by working with the florist to come up with creative options to reuse flowers from the ceremony to the reception. I also found lanterns that I filled and surrounded with candles for some of the table centerpieces. Another way we saved money was by purchasing all of our invitations online, rather than at a stationery shop. We also found our band at a bar in Jacksonville Beach on my birthday. By not hiring a “wedding band” we saved thousands of dollars and had an incredible band that our guests loved.

Finding the looks for ourselves and the wedding party was a cinch! We knew we wanted the groomsmen to wear navy blue and the bridesmaids to wear seersucker dresses in the classic seersucker blue color. I found two lines of bridesmaid dresses that could be made in seersucker and chose the one my bridesmaids liked best. I let them choose the neckline and skirt of the dresses so they’d feel comfortable. We then found a perfectly matching seersucker pattern at The Tie Bar and bought all the bow ties, pocket squares, and ties for our dads and grandfather. Alex also found complementary-colored argyle socks for his groomsmen, while I had my bridesmaids accessorize with pearls to look similar to me.

Wedding Photography: Adam Szarmack of Szarmack Photography / Wedding Venue: The Ribault Club in Fort George Island, Florida / Floral Design: Lynette Self of Rose of Sharon / Wedding Day Coordination: Lorna Meehan + Chrissy Sladek of The Ribault Club / Officiant: Rev. Gabe Goodman / Wedding Cinematography: Pure Life Videos / Catering: Rachel Deremer of The Perfect Pear Catering Co. / Wedding Cake: Angie Roberts of Angie’s Cakes / Groom’s Cake: Mindy Stover of Stover’s Custom Cakes / Ceremony Music: Jordan Mixson + Brittany Maroney / Reception Music: Cloud Nine / Mr. and Mr. Signs, “Eat Cake and Be Married” Bunting, Moss Monogram, Programs, Cocktail & Bathroom Napkin Embossing, Thank You Photo + Outside Table Decor: DIY / Dance Floor + Cake Stand: Beachview Event Rentals & Design / Lighting: Wayne McCoy / Transportation: Tommy Entenza / Wedding Dress: Christos via CC’s Boutique / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: LulaKate via Bella Bridesmaid / Groomsmen’s Tuxedos: Black Tie Formals / Men’s Ties, Bow Ties + Pocket Squares: The Tie Bar

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Jacksonville Wedding by Jamie Fender Photography

I’m a serious lover of all things rustic chic – and when you throw a fabulous barn into the mix, I’ve been known to go a little crazy.  So, when I first spotted this drop dead gorgeous Jacksonville wedding, well… I fell head over heels in 5 seconds flat.  The glorious DIY details, stunning Monique Lhuillier and pretty blue hues are all kinds of fabulous… and the beautiful images snapped up by Jamie Fender Photography? Swoon, swoon, swoon.  See so much more of the day right here.

From the Bride… Our ceremony and reception took place at The Keeler Property in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the very first (and last) venue we visited, and I knew within the first few minutes that it would be the perfect place for a wedding full of rustic elegance. I come from a crafty family who loves DIY projects, so we added as many handmade personal touches as we could. Some of my favorites: my mom and I jarred our homemade strawberry jam while a wonderful family friend made and jarred his famous blueberry BBQ sauce, which we offered as wedding favors. My Dad hand-crafted planters for foliage that were dispersed throughout the property, as well as cake and pie stands for the dessert table. We even brewed our very own beer for the wedding. The brewing sessions were an engagement gift from a group of close friends and family members. The process of brewing, bottling and labeling was one of the highlights of the planning process leading up to the wedding.

A very dear, long-time family friend helped us exchange vows on the covered bridge where fresh herbs and mason jars lined the window frames. White blossoms and crisp greenery truly complemented the natural beauty of the day. The different shades of blue were gorgeous on the girls, and the boys looked dapper in their khaki linen suits. The cool colors and the flowing fabrics fit our laid-back lifestyle, as well as the rustic outdoorsy setting. After the ceremony, a short stroll across the bridge led to the barn, the band kicked off the party, and the guests had their first chance to sample our home brew and feast on a buffet of mouthwatering BBQ. It was the perfect night, and we truly could not have asked for anything more.

Wedding Photography: Jamie Fender Photography / Wedding Venue: The Keeler Property in Jacksonville, Florida / Floral Design: Floriade Florist / Catering: Blue Water Bay / Wedding Cake: Publix / Band: Freudian Slip / Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier / Hair + Makeup: Heather Linero + Vanessa Bennett / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale / Groom’s Suit: Calvin Klein

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Amelia Island Wedding by JulieCate Photography

Well, if this isn’t the prettiest little wedding I’ve seen all day! Cheery sunflowers, mix-matched bridesmaids in tones of grey and a bride and groom so utterly in love make for one simply gorgeous event as seen through the lens of JulieCate Photography.  Be sure to read this adorable bride’s heartfelt wedding day story after you’ve taken a good long stroll through the full gallery!

From the Bride… A little after 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 28th, the love of my life married me. In front of our family and friends, we cried, laughed, prayed, said some words that are now our vows, and BEST of all — kissed. It was the best day of my life. The day started with me and my gals getting ready and joking about funny memories over a few cocktails. On the other side of town, there was a group of men who stumbled into an Irish bar and after awhile, one of the me, decided it was time for him to get married. One trolley ride later, that man was waiting inside a church wondering where a certain girl was and what she was doing. Me, the certain girl, was doing the finishing touches of my makeup and hugging my dad, awaiting my walk down the aisle. Finally, I made it down the aisle and stood next to my fiance. Twenty three minutes later, I was standing next to my husband. Then, the church bell rang, and then the fun really began! Our guests took a ride in a trolley while listening to an amazing fiddle player, and then they arrived at The Florida House Inn. The night was followed with A LOT of dancing, good food and great drinks. At one point in the night, I was standing on the stage, while our band’s fiddler played “Devil Went Down to Georgia” with his fiddle in between my legs.  If this sounds crazy to you — you had to be there! At the end of the night, my husband and I left the reception with all of our friends and family cheering as we drove away. The rest of our life then began — which of course started with us eating everything in sight — because we were, by that time, completely starving. All the advice we received before the wedding about taking time to eat at our reception was clearly a fail. Honestly, I don’t even remember being hungry that day — until I finally sat down in our hotel. Anyway, at the end of everything, I wouldn’t have changed a thing — my wedding really was my fairytale that came true. And everyday since continues to be the best day of my life. :)

Wedding Photography: JulieCate Photography / Ceremony: First Presbyterian Church in Fernandina Beach, Florida / Reception + Floral Design: The Florida House Inn in Fernandina Beach, Florida / Transportation: Amelia Island Trolleys / Wedding Dress: Romona Keveza / Bride’s Shoes: Elehandmade / Hair: Anjeza Durollari / Makeup: Simply Makeup Artists / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale

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