Says Allison, “Besides the fact that Boca Grande is fun mini-destination from Tampa/St. Pete, we’ve had quite a few special moments there so we thought it was a perfect location. We wanted a classic, outdoor wedding, and despite being in a tiny beach town, didn’t want a “beach” wedding. Our Lady of Mercy is a stunning, Spanish-style church and it’s where Brant’s grandparents renewed their vows on their 50th anniversary. The Gasparilla Inn is a beautiful historic hotel and we loved the idea of the reception on the croquet lawn overlooking the golf course.
Because the venue was outside, I wanted to keep things simple. I am admittedly pretty clueless when it comes to flowers, but I knew I wanted neutral colors and an unstructured look. Thank goodness for our florist, who was able to take my hodge-podge of pictures and make it exactly what I wanted!Allison and Brant’s Love Story: We met on orientation day for law school at the University of Florida. We became really good friends that first year, and eventually started dating by the summer. We’ve celebrated every Fourth of July we’ve been together down in Boca Grande, where Brant’s grandmother has a home. Fourth of July is actually our dating anniversary, too! So, that Fourth of July weekend, we headed down there with our friends and Brant’s family, as usual, to celebrate. After we said hi to everyone, Brant suggested we take the golf cart down to the end of the island to watch the sunset to escape the craziness of a full house for a few minutes. We walked down by the lighthouse and while I didn’t notice he was nervous, he must have been because his knee hit the ground as soon as we got to the sand. What I had thought was another couple also watching the sunset was actually a photographer he had hired to capture the moment! When we headed back to the house, the first people I saw were my parents and sister, who Brant planned to have down to surprise me. It was a great night and weekend celebrating our engagement with our family and close friends!
Tell us about your attire. I always wanted a classic-style, lace dress and loved the boatneck and A-line on mine. As I wanted to embrace the outdoor venue and the greenery, I went with more neutral-colored bridesmaids dresses, so the attire would blend well. Brant wore a classic tuxedo, but decided to wear a turkey-feather bow tie to add a little something different.
We wanted to remember our family who were no longer with us. Along with a table with photos, we also made cookies for the welcome bags, using my grandmother’s amazing recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Brant’s grandfather was in the cigar business, so we had cigars as favors and displayed them in a cigar box that has his face carved on the inside. Favorite memories? When we were doing our pictures, a lady walked up to us and said she lived a few houses down and just had a garden party at her house a few days ago. She then said that we were more than welcome to go to her backyard for some pictures next if we wanted. We immediately said yes and walked through her back gate a few minutes later. Her backyard was stunning and had the most beautiful giant Banyan tree that made the perfect backdrop for our photos. It was such a nice, unexpected trip in the middle of the day! My other favorite moment was walking out to our cocktail hour. It was right a sunset and walking out to the deck overlooking the croquet lawn and seeing everyone there to celebrate us was so special. We just stood there for a few minutes soaking it all in. The first thing my wedding planner said when we booked our weddding was that the Inn had the best cake, so we were pretty excited. We did a spice cake with cream cheese frosting for some layers and as a homage to a Florida wedding, did an orange cake with dark chocolate for the other layers. Due to Hurricane Irma ten months after our wedding, we lost power for a few days. But it was the perfect excuse to eat our top-tier of the cake a few months early!
While planning a wedding certainly has its stressful moments, at the end of the day, we tried to remind ourselves that our marriage was more important than one wedding day. We just wanted to celebrate with all of our family and friends and have fun! Since the island is pretty small, it can shut down early, so our best splurge was that we decided to keep the band and the bar open for one extra hour after the standard wedding-ending time. Luckily, our friends came ready to party, and kept the dance floor packed until the last song! That extra hour gave us time to mingle with all of our guests, but also dance the night away with our best friends. Advice? Planning a wedding takes a lot of time and it’s easy to get stuck in worrying about silly details. As long as there’s an officiant to marry you, then you have a wedding. Everything else is just icing on the cake! Credits: Photography: Stephanie A Smith Photography | Ceremony Venue: Our Lady of Mercy | Reception Venue: Gasparilla Inn | Event Planning: Ideal Design Events | Floral: Ideal Design Events | Stationery: Checkerboard | Wedding Cake: Gasparilla Inn | Rentals: Ideal Design Events | Linens: Ideal Design Events | Hair: Femme Akoi | Makeup: Femme Akoi | Tent: Sperry Tents Naples | Wedding Dress: Mikaella | Groom’s Attire: Hart Schaffner Marx | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaid Dresses: Hayley Paige Occasions | Veil: Magali | Earrings: Sara Gabriel | Bridesmaid Dresses: Donna Morgan | Entertainment: Josh Walter & The Phase5 Band | Escort Cards: Wini Smart | Engagement Ring: Mavilo Fine Jewelry | Ties: Brackish Bow Ties | Bridal Salon: The White Magnolia Bridal Collection | Groomsmen Attire: Jos A Bank | Submitted via: Matchology