From the moment Farrell laid eyes on Epping Forest Yacht Club, a Jacksonville wedding venue, she knew it was where she wanted to marry the love of her life, Brian Wilkerson. This historic mansion, settled beside the beautiful St. Johns River, is the picture of romance with its exquisite architecture and lush green gardens. To further heighten the wedding day enchantment, a musical duet of violin and guitar was used for the ceremony. Soft pastel decorations adorned the reception tables, and colorful parasols swayed delicately overhead. Breathe in the magic of this real life fairytale with these photos by St. Augustine wedding photographer Dana Goodson Photography.
Tell us how you met…
Brian and I are polar opposites, but that’s what works for us. It wasn’t “love at first sight.” In fact, it wasn’t even really “like at first sight.” We will both tell you that we had the worst first date in the history of first dates. Something, though-a force greater than the two of us if you will-made us go on a second date with each other. Maybe it was because we both realized that we had met our match and we were both intrigued by a challenge. Maybe it was just fate pushing us together. We fell in love with eachother and the rest is history.
Now for the proposal… details!
Brian had planned on proposing to me at Rock City, a gnome-village tourist trap at the top of Lookout Mountain. We went there once after Bonnaroo and it kind of became a mini-tradition for us. He didn’t get to propose to me there because another opportunity came up and, on a whim, he took it. We were in New Orleans on a long weekend for our four year anniversary, which also happens to fall on April Fools Day. We were in the French Quarter celebrating our anniversary and it slipped out that he had bought me a ring. I thought he was joking, so I didn’t think anything of it. It was, after all, April Fools. The next day we were walking around the Garden District, nowhere special in particular, and he turned to me and asked me to marry him. I was in shock, and I think he was in shock too. It must have been weighing on his mind that whole day. Of course I said yes!
We want to know about all the wedding details, was it small and intimate or big and traditional?
It was medium and traditional.
Tell us about your wedding gown and what your bridal party wore.
I love my wedding gown. I am not a fan of strapless gowns, so I knew that that was off the plate before I even began looking for dresses. Happily, this narrowed down my choices by about 75%. My gown was mermaid-shaped and sleeveless with lace at the top and a medium-length train down the back. My bridesmaids wore pretty grayish-blue dresses, and they were able to choose the cut and style that they felt most comfortable in. The men wore classic black tuxes.
Can you give us an overview of the event?
Our ceremony took place in the gardens of Epping Forest Yacht Club on a beautiful fall evening. After the ceremony, guests were invited to cocktail hour at the mansion. The reception was held on the first floor of the mansion with round tables inside and long banquet-style tables outside on the patio. We had a seated dinner and then followed it with drinks and dancing.
Was there a specific theme or style?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that there was a definite “theme” or “style” to the wedding. I just wanted the wedding to reflect Brian and I’s love for eachother and for our guests to be able to feel that love when they spent time with us celebrating our special day.
What inspired the theme or style?
The venue inspired the “style” of the wedding. Everything about Epping Forest screams romance: the gardens, the beautiful and comfortable wood detailing inside the mansion, the serenity of the river in the background. I knew that that would be the place I would get married as soon as I saw it. I played up the romance with pastel colors, my dress, and the music. We had a guitar and violin duo play the music for us and it was perfect.
What were your playful twists that made the event unique?
I added a lot of “playful twists” throughout the wedding that were intended to allow the guests to get to know us a little bit better. One of my favorites, though, was the silhouette artist. I am really into the arts, and I thought this would be a cute way to show it. Guests were able to have their silhouettes cut and the artist would put the silhouettes in a “guest book” that guests could sign. They also got to take one home for themselves. It was kind of a win-win for favors and a guest book, though we had others as well. Brian and I had so much fun looking through the book and trying to guess who the person in the image was.
Did you DIY any of the details?
Unfortunately. Planning a wedding is a lot of work, and adding the stress of creating things yourself does not make it any better. I created a few small things, like the guest book, signs, programs, the place cards and table numbers. There is a ridiculous amount of information online about how to create things for yourself. You could practically DIY your whole wedding with Pinterest, but I never really got into that. My favorite DIY project was the guestbook. I drew a silhouette vignette of Brian trying to hold an umbrella over me while I was in a wedding dress. Guests “showered us with love” by printing their thumbprints onto the canvas and by signing next to it. It turned out really cute!
What was the most memorable moment?
The most memorable moment for me was seeing Brian’s eyes light up when he saw me for the first time walking down the aisle and holding his hand as we said our vows.
Tell us about the food and desserts.
I was at a disadvantage when it came to selecting food for the guests because I am a vegetarian. While the wedding certainly had more than enough vegetarian food to keep any vegetarian happy (most of the displays and hors d’oeurve were veggie-friendly), I had to rely on others’ tastes when it came to selecting most of the food at the wedding. I did, however, have a wonderful time picking the cakes and desserts. The wedding cake and Brian’s surfboard groom’s cake were absolutely fantastic. I would have eaten the whole thing if I could have! I definitely made it a point to get a piece of both.
What kind of energy did your entertainment give the guests?
Our DJ was perfect. He played mellow songs during dinner and started to play livelier songs to encourage dancing when guests wrapped up with dinner. He really played an integral part in keeping the timeline moving seamlessly throughout the night. Guests that weren’t into dancing could entertain themselves with the silhouette artist, who ended up being a delight.
If there was one thing you could change, what would it be?
I wish that I had had more time to go around and talk with everyone. Everything was such a blur and moved so fast that it made this seemingly simple task very difficult.
What was the best wedding advice you received?
People will only remember three things about your wedding: the food, the music, and the dress. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Venue: Epping Forest Yacht Club | Photographer: Dana Goodson Photography | Invitations: Things Very Special Stationers | Ceremony Music: Wehner Weddings | Flowers & Event Design: Aime Peterson | Makeup: Paulina Perez Professional Hair & Makeup | DJ: Wes Reed | Silhouette Artist: Kathryn Flocken