Courtney & George
A winter wedding in Bradenton, FL.
About the Wedding
Please, tell us your engagement story!
A true millennial love story, George and I met on Tinder in college while we were both home for summer break. I was a junior at the University of Florida, and he was a senior at Gardner Webb University. We dated for 6 years before we got engaged... and I was starting to think it was never going to happen, but I already had our entire wedding planned in my head. We go on an annual beach vacation to Sanibel Island, Florida with all our closest friends and family, and I had an inkling that he was planning to propose while we were on the trip. The first day we were there, it was supposed to rain all afternoon, so I figured he would wait until the next day, if it all. We decided to meet our group by the pool bar before dinner, and on our way there we came across the sweetest little set up. Next thing I knew, he was dropping down on one knee–but don't ask me what he said, because I was so excited I practically blacked out. He had planned the most perfect proposal with the help of my sister, mom, and friends. My sister and her friend even hid in the bushes to take pictures of the moment. It was so special to be able to spend the rest of our vacation celebrating with the people we love the most, and I'm so grateful for the love and care that he (and everyone else) put into the moment. I will always cherish that weekend.
What made you choose your venue and theme?
We chose the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature as our venue for several reasons: we had always wanted an outdoor venue, it was so perfectly located and in my hometown (which is so special to me), and it just fit the overall vibe we wanted to accomplish. It's a truly beautiful and unique space–what other wedding venue has a manatee exhibit?! We really didn't have a specific theme for the wedding, we just wanted it to be fun and a big celebration. We didn't want a super-traditional white-and-green country club wedding. Those are beautiful but just not what we wanted our wedding to be. I wanted the décor to be a reflection and extension of the space–we wanted it to feel warm and organic. We had the greatest team of vendors that helped us navigate leaving some tradition behind to start our own and implement our vision for the day. Everything was so beautiful and perfect, we couldn't have asked for anything better.
We'd love to know more about your experience in working with SuitShop!
We found SuitShop pretty early in our wedding planning process. I think I had gotten an ad on Instagram and showed George. He's a little bit of a suit snob and wanted to find suits that were high quality and that his groomsmen could keep and have tailored for a perfect fit–he absolutely did not want rentals. I was on the hunt for a dusty light blue color when I found our suits. It was almost impossible to find suits in the right color that George liked, would fit everyone's wide range of sizes, look good, and still be affordable for everyone. I was especially excited to see that we could get matching suits for our ring bearers, as I hadn't seen anything close to the color I wanted in kids' sizes before. When I found SuitShop, I knew we had hit the jackpot. Everything during the ordering process was so smooth. Being a very anxious bride, I loved that I could see when our groomsmen had ordered their suits and send the stragglers reminders to make sure no one forgot. And shipping was so quick and easy! Two weeks before the wedding, we discovered that George had lost weight and his suit was too big. I was stressing, but SuitShop had a new size to us in 2 or 3 days. Everyone looked so good in their suits, especially our dog Tater! My mom bought a child's suit in our color and took it apart to adapt to him so that he could match the boys perfectly. And my suit snob husband loved his suit so much that he's since purchased it in 2 other colors to wear to upcoming weddings and events!
Do you have any advice for couples who want to include their pets in their wedding celebrations?
If you have dogs and want them to be in your wedding celebrations... DO IT!! Don't hesitate or let people tell you it'll be too much of a hassle. Our dogs, Riley and Tater, are everything to us and we knew they had to be a part of our day. It just wouldn't have been the same without them. Dress them up, love on them, take alllllll the pictures. All of our guests loved it, and the pictures we have with them will be our favorites forever. We did, however, hire a pet-sitting company that specializes in including pets in weddings to help us on the wedding day, and there is no way it would have been so smooth without them. They picked up Tater and Riley from the AirBnB where I was getting ready and took them to the venue ahead of time to go for a long walk and play so they would be calm when we got there for pictures. After the ceremony, they took the dogs home and fed them dinner and stayed with them until my sweet cousin came home from the wedding to watch them overnight for us. They took amazing care of our babies and ensured that their day was stress-free and fun so that ours could be, too. I would highly recommend doing something similar!
Any other advice for marriers to be?
The biggest thing is just to DO YOU. It's your day, and you can make it anything you want it to be. You may want to do things that make people roll their eyes or that even make them upset. But as long as you make decisions that make you happy as a couple, none of that matters. We sang my college fight song during our ceremony and had our guests sign a shot-ski instead of a more traditional guest book. We sat at a HUGE long table with all of our bridesmaids and groomsmen instead of at a sweetheart table. Our wedding cake (and surprise groom's cake), which I made myself, was just for us to cut the morning of our wedding while we were getting ready, and instead of serving cake at the reception, we had late night pizza and served ice cream and Italian ice from two of our favorite local spots out of the cutest trailer.
Oh, and try to let things roll off your shoulders and not get too stressed out on the big day. George and I had the best day, even if things didn't go perfectly. I bought a custom neon sign for our wedding that I was SO excited about and *needed.* When we arrived at the venue, we discovered that when we packed our décor for our wedding planner, we had lost the power cord for the light and ended up not being able to use it. I think our wedding planner expected me to be bummed and really upset–but there was nothing we could do about it at that point! It wasn't worth ruining my whole day over, and it ended up not mattering in the end. Oh, and we totally forgot to pack the sparklers for the big exit so we didn't do that either. I was such a type-A bride during the entire planning process. I had binders full of spreadsheets, schedules and every last little detail, and even still things got left behind. I think it helped in the end to be able to say that I had done everything in my power to make sure it went as perfectly as it could, and that allowed me to just let go and move on quickly when things got a little messy on the day of–because things WILL get messy on the big day. I think that's the beautiful part, though. Not everything went according to plan, but it was still the perfect day. I married the love of my life and my best friend, and we had the BEST night celebrating with everyone we loved. No one even knew anything was missing. Focus on the good stuff and I promise the rest of it won't matter!!
When I found SuitShop, I knew we had hit the jackpot. Everything during the ordering process was so smooth.
— Courtney, SuitShop Bride
PlannerAlexa Kritis Events
PhotographerAshley Izquierdo Photography
FloristMary Nell Chadsey Florals
Wedding DressCalvet Couture Boutique
Bridesmaid DressesJenny Yoo