Breath of Fresh Art Fundraiser

Weddings aren’t all we do around here! I was happy to serve on the planning committee for the Breath of Fresh Art fundraiser last night. The event benefited Wish 2 Breathe, a National Foundation for Transplants’ campaign in support of Jacksonville resident Lindsey Miller. The campaign’s goal is to help raise money for expenses related to Lindsey’s double lung transplant and the lifelong care she will need as a result.

The fundraiser was held at one of Jacksonville’s newest event venues – The Fountain View Room. Several area restaurants and caterers donated food stations for the event, including Nippers Beach Grille, Davoli’s Catering, Renna’s Pizza, Red Elephant, Flippin’ Good Cookies, and Edgewood Bakery. PRP Wine International also offered wine tastings to the events’ guests.

The event also featured a silent auction (with some heated bidding at the end!) as well as an art exhibition by two local artists –  Mobarick Abdullah III and Adam Brett. It was a fun night for a great cause!








Personalizing Your Wedding Ceremony

Personalizing Your Wedding Ceremony

We see a lot of short and simple, get-the-job-done wedding ceremonies. In all honesty, it takes about 10 minutes to actually “get married.” But what if you want to incorporate some personality or pizzazz to your wedding?

We’ve had several ceremonies recently where the bride and groom traveled to Ponte Vedra Beach for their weddings.  But rather than hiring a local minister, they brought theirs with them! When an officiant has a personal connection with the couple, the ceremony is so much more meaningful. They can offer little anecdotes, and put the bride and groom more at ease during one of the more serious parts of the wedding day.

Lots of couples chose to include a unity candle or sand ceremony into their wedding. But there are also other options – rose ceremonies, handfasting, seashell/stone blessings, wine ceremonies, to name a few. Ask your officiant if they have suggestions. Also look to your religion or culture for ideas. Even if you aren’t have a “religious” ceremony, there may be little nods to your heritage that you can include.

Of course, the best way to personalize your ceremony is to write your own vows! If you decide to do so, be sure to give yourself plenty of time! This isn’t something to be rushed. Also, discuss the tone of your vows with your significant other. You don’t want to make yours funny while his are super serious. You may also want to ask a close friend or family member to read both sets of vows (if you plan don’t plan to read them to each other before the wedding) to be sure they match in tone and length.

However you chose to personalize your wedding ceremony, remember that you are promising to love, honor and cherish your fiance til death do you part. Make it a special and meaningful time for the two of you!

Selecting The Perfect Church For Your Wedding

StAugustineWedding117One would think choosing a church for one’s ceremony would be simple, but I found it to be a bit more complicated than expected. It was very important to me to have our wedding in my hometown, Orlando, FL. Picking our reception location was easy; my godparents live on a beautiful property in the Gotha area of Orlando. They have seven and a half acres on a lake, and I knew it would make for an ideal tented, rustic/chic reception location.

I grew up Methodist, and still belong to a Methodist church in Orlando, but Charles was brought up Catholic, and we both decided that we wanted our ceremony to be Catholic. I had to basically start from scratch when it came to selecting our Catholic ceremony location.

I started by looking up all the Catholic churches that were near my godparents’ house. The closest church to their home was a very large and well known Catholic church in the Orlando area. My mother and I attended the Christmas Eve mass to examine the size, look and feel of the church. It was very voluminous and grand, and all of the people who were there seemed to truly love their church. I thought “This could very well be the church!” After Christmas settled down, I emailed the church to gather all the information for having a ceremony there, and what the pricing situation was. I’d always assumed that a church rental for a ceremony wouldn’t be more than a couple hundred dollars; this church started at $1,200.00 for non-members. There was also a complication in booking the church. For a Catholic ceremony, you have to take pre-marital classes that last 6-8 months, and this church wasn’t going to allow me to reserve my date until after my classes were complete. I didn’t want to take the gamble of someone else stealing my date, so I decided that church just would not do.

After researching a few more Catholic church options, I stumbled upon a charming little Catholic church that I often passed when I lived in Orlando. The church is also close my reception location, but I overlooked it at first because it was a Maronite Catholic Church, as opposed to a Roman Catholic Church. I did my homework and found that there are many types of Catholic Churches, and that they’re all recognized by the Pope as equal. My fiancé, mother and I attended a mass one Sunday and absolutely fell in love with the people, charm, and most importantly the priest. Everyone in the congregation made us feel at home. We all knew right away that we’d found our church.

Finding the all-important perfect church location for your ceremony can be overwhelming, but just remember to do your research early, attend a service before-hand, and get on the church calendar/marriage class roster as soon as your decision is made.  Once these steps are underway, you can feel excited that you are well on your way toward your perfect church wedding!

Fun To Do This Weekend: One Spark

One Spark 2014

Looking for something fun (and FREE!) to do with your sweetie this weekend? Head to downtown Jacksonville for One Spark!

One Spark is the World’s Crowdfunding Festival, and it takes place right here in Jacksonville. Over 600 creators are on hand to showcase their ideas in the fields of art, innovation, science, technology and music. Held over 20 square blocks, you can also enjoy the food village and beer village, plus tons of live bands. And where else can you see a giant Goldfish (known as “Colonel Crackers”) floating in the Hemming Plaza fountain?!

The 5-day festival started on Wednesday with an estimate 40,000 people attending the first day. Free parking is available at the convention center parking lot, and then you can take the free Skyway (did you know Jacksonville has a Skyway? A lot of people don’t!). Or, you can park at EverBank Field and take the free shuttle bus.

You’re probably asking, what exactly is crowdfunding? Well, the concept is that great ideas can be found everywhere. But not everyone has the resources to find large-scale investments. So crowdfunding take little donations or investments ($5/$10/$50 etc.) and pools them together to make big things happen.

When you visit One Spark, you can vote for your favorite projects (known as “creators”), and the creators that get the most votes win a share of over $300,000 in prize money. Or, if you see a project you are passionate about, you can even contribute right on the spot.

One Spark is FREE to attend, so why not check it out? Plus, it’s a good chance to see how awesome Jacksonville is, in case you might forget. Visit for everything you need know!

The Most Important Day Of Your Life (And Why Your Wedding Day Isn’t It)

I’m about to type something that many people will find controversial.

wedding day

I know – I spend my days surround by all things wedding. How can I possibly say this?! Because it’s the truth. I’ve had some wedding reality shows playing in the office lately as I’ve been stuffing envelopes and assembling welcome gifts for some of our spring/summer weddings. I normally don’t watch them, and now I know why. They insist on perpetuating this mantra that “your wedding day is the best day of your life” and creating the hype that everything must be perfect. So much emphasis is put on the party that the marriage part tends to get overlooked.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a gorgeous wedding, but don’t forget that there are many more “best” days to come.

The day you close on your first house.
The days your children are born.
The day  your spouse returns home safely from a military deployment.
The day you beat cancer.
The day you get that big promotion you’ve worked so hard for.
The day you save someone’s life.
The day you win the lottery. (we can all dream, right?)

Hopefully, your wedding day means marrying your best friend, surrounded by friends and family that mean the world to you. Anything beyond that is just gravy.