Ellie and Nick met in a fraternity house in college, and while their love story might not have started in the most romantic way, their wedding is another story! Ellie and Nick worked with their florist, Botanica, to take the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts from a monochromatic museum into a romantic reception full of lush blooms, and of course, lots of Southern details! During their wedding planning, they not only focused on planning for their marriage, but on being hospitable and throwing a party guests would enjoy just as much as they did. I can’t help but love that they included a generational blessing given by their fathers and grandfathers. Such a sweet way to not only honor their family, but also to include them in their celebration.
So wonderful of Kristen Weaver to share this lovely day with us!
Tell us all about the proposal! During September 2013, I was in my last year of law school at the University of Chicago and Nick had just started his first year of medical school at the University of Florida. I made a trip to Gainesville for the weekend to see Nick and attend the UF-UT football game. On Friday, Nick suggested that we visit Paynes Prairie, a state park just south of Gainesville. We had the prairie all to ourselves and enjoyed seeing the wildlife and hiking the trails. Toward the end of our trip, we climbed to the top of a three-story watch tower and relaxed on the porch swing. Before heading back down, he got down on one knee to propose. After his very sweet speech, he reached into his pocket to pull out the ring, but accidentally pulled out the car keys instead! He had taken the ring out of the ring box so he could stealthily fit it into his athletic shorts pocket, but it had gotten caught up in the keychain. After a good laugh, I said yes!
I’ll admit, finding my wedding dress was harder than I anticipated. I bought a dress at the first boutique I went to–my mom, grandmother, and my three best friends were all there, and I foolishly let the excitement get to my head. Afterwards, I had some regrets, but assured myself that I would be happy when the dress arrived and I could try it on again. Well, it turned out that the boutique ordered it two sizes too small and then told me I must have gained weight (in fact, I had lost weight). I left in tears and tried to avoid talking about wedding dresses for as long as I could. Thankfully, my mom sensed my anguish and booked a trip to visit me in Chicago so we could go shopping for THE dress. We went to a few places, but we knew the search was over when I tried on the Esther dress at Vera Wang. We all cried (even our sweet bridal consultant!) and then celebrated with champagne and mini cupcakes. It was total redemption from our first experience and one of my favorite memories from wedding planning.
Describe your wedding flowers. We worked with Ian and Zoe at Botanica and they totally nailed it. I brought in pictures of loose, cascading bouquets and arrangements, but only had a vague idea of what colors I wanted. It was Ian’s idea to use more neutral tones for the ceremony and then pump up the color for the floral arrangements at the reception, which was in a rather monochromatic room.
We chose to have a first look. Those few minutes when it was just the two of us were the most peaceful moments of the whole day and a feeling I’ll remember forever. Even though we saw each other beforehand, nothing could have taken away the thrill of seeing him at the end of the aisle. It was the best of both worlds! Plus, we were much more relaxed in our pictures before the ceremony–after the ceremony, we were itching to get in there and celebrate with our friends and family!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We found out a few months before the wedding that there would be a huge evening festival in the same park where we were going to hold our ceremony. Thankfully, the music wouldn’t start until an hour after the ceremony, and the wonderful people at Botanica assured us that they could create a wall of greenery to stand between us and the event. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the wall created so much privacy that the ceremony felt much more intimate than it would have otherwise, festival or not!
To begin the ceremony, my cousin sang the praise and worship song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman. Nick and I love the song and thought that it would set the ceremony off on the right foot. I chose “Dawn” from Pride and Prejudice to walk down the aisle to. I’ve always loved the book and the movie, and I thought it was a beautiful arrangement. Nick and I walked back up to aisle to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” We wanted something fun to let everyone know that the party had started!
We chose the Museum of Fine Arts with our guests in mind. Most of our guests were coming from out of town, so we wanted them to be able to enjoy their weekend without worrying about the logistics of driving, parking, and all that good stuff. The museum fit the bill of being close to a major airport, within walking distance of a ton of great restaurant and hotel options, and large enough to hold 180 people.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? To me, being Southern is all about family and hospitality. To honor our families, we featured pictures of our parents and grandparents at the ceremony and cocktail hour, we chose my uncle to officiate our ceremony, he read out of a Bible that has been passed down from my great-grandmother, and we had our fathers and my grandfather come up during the ceremony to give a generational blessing. We got to keep the handwritten notes from my grandfather’s blessing, and they are among our greatest treasures. In all of the wedding plans, we tried to focus on being hospitable and throwing a party our guests would enjoy just as much as we did. We had custom corn hole boards set up during the cocktail hour and on the patio during the reception. We made sure all of the children felt welcome and entertained by including a box at their seats with a coloring book, an I Spy game, and some other fun goodies. And of course, the food was Southern! Our cocktail hour appetizers included blackened alligator, fried green tomatoes, and game sausage. Dinner began with a basket of cornbread at every table and included a shrimp and grits station. Our late-night snack was BBQ pulled pork sliders on sweet potato biscuits. We made sure our guests went home with full bellies!
We had a wedding cake (lemon cream cake with raspberry filing and simple buttercream frosting) and a late-night dessert bar of fried Oreos, Twinkies, and Snickers with raspberry sauce!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Our love story didn’t start in a very romantic way–we met at his fraternity house during our sophomore year at the University of Florida. My friend had just finished an exam and was planning a low-key night in with her friend, Michael, and she invited me to tag along. Turns out, Michael was Nick’s best friend and fraternity brother (he even ended up being the best man at our wedding). Nick wandered into Michael’s room at some point during the night, we started talking, and we hit it off right away. We exchanged numbers and kept talking, even when I moved to Italy for a summer abroad. He asked me to be “official” from 5,117 miles away over Skype.
When did y’all get married? November 22, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 180
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Nick and I tried to keep in mind that the real event was committing ourselves to each other in front of God, our friends, and our family. All of the other stuff was just icing on the cake. With that in mind, we tried to be conscious of how we dealt with each other during the process, because we knew we were setting the foundation for our marriage.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We got really lucky with an incredible team of vendors, but I will say that we just adored Bryan and Tracey from Lucky Lemon Films. They really took the time before the wedding to get to know us as people, not just as a generic bride and groom, and to let us get to know them. Nick and I are both camera shy, but they made us feel so at ease. Their work is incredible and we really felt like they captured who we are in the wedding film they created. We can’t stop watching it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are enjoying settling into our first home together in Gainesville with our dogs. 2014 was a hugely busy year for us, so we are taking it easy and cherishing our first year of marriage!
Photographer: Kristen Weaver / Videographer: Lucky Lemon Films / Planner: Nancy Cotto / Venue: St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts / Florist: Botanica / Cake Baker and Caterer: Olympia Catering / Rentals: Botanica / Lighting: Encore Lighting / Band: Brett Foreman Band / Paper Products: Invitation Consultants / Bride’s Gown: “Esther” by Vera Wang / Bride’s Accessories: BHLDN / Hair and Makeup: Rachel Reumann / Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nordstrom / Groom’s Attire: J. Crew / Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Dog Sketch: DM Creative Studios