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Jessi and Joseph's Love Story

jessi and joseph - cook images engagement session - pensacola wedding planner_0259

jessi and joseph - cook images engagement session - pensacola wedding planner_0259

These two.  Seriously, Jessi is one of the sweetest, kindest, most excited and organized brides that I've worked with to plan a wedding day.  I have only met Joseph once, so have primarily been planning with Jessi and her mom to create one gorgeous wedding day that you will not want to miss.   These two have such a cute history together and I know they're so excited to be husband and wife.  Instead of me continuing on, read below to learn more about this cute couple and their wedding day that will be here before we know it.  Thanks also to Jeremy with Cook Images for sharing their engagement pictures, I can't wait to work with you again on their wedding day. How did you two meet?  Joseph and I met in high school. Joseph was a senior and I was a junior. We had several mutual friends, but hadn't ever met each other. One night we both attended a school play, I was sitting at a table in front of Joseph, and in the middle of the play he started throwing paper balls at me... We chatted after the play and began talking more and more after that, and the rest is history!

Jessi, when did you know that HE was the one for you?  It's hard to pinpoint the exact time. It was more of a gradual progression of things. It started to become second nature that he was always there, and when I couldn't imagine my future without him being in it, I just knew that he was the one.

Joseph, when did you know she was the one? I agree with her, it was just that comfortable feeling where everything flowed together so well. We never fight, and I reached the point where there was no other person I could see myself with. When i thought about the future, she was in it, and I just knew. When i told her i loved her for the first time, I kind of already knew that she was who I would spend the rest of my life with.

jessi and joseph - cook images engagement session - pensacola wedding planner_0260

jessi and joseph - cook images engagement session - pensacola wedding planner_0260

How did he pop the question?  Joseph's birthday is October 8, so the weekend of October 10 I came home from college and Joseph said we were going to go out to the beach to have a birthday dinner with some of his friends at a nice restaurant. I didn't think anything of it honestly. We drove out to the beach and were meeting his friends at their condo at Portofino. We got to their condo and they said they were almost ready, for us to just wait out on the balcony. We walked outside and the sun was setting, and I was trying to take a picture of how pretty it was over the water. Joseph had walked to the ledge of the balcony and told me to come over there and to look down (we were at least 15 stories up). I looked down, and there was a huge sign that said "Marry me?" I turned around and Joseph was on one knee, pulled out the most beautiful ring I'd ever seen, and asked me to marry him! It was perfect and I was so surprised! He put so much thought into planning it and that made it even more special!

Share a few favorite things about your wedding day! We are getting married at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Pensacola, FL. I grew up in that church, so it's a very special place for me and where I have always imagined getting married. Our reception will be at 5eleven Palafox in downtown Pensacola. We chose that venue because we loved the rustic look of it and the history the building had. We are getting married in the beginning of August. To be totally honest, we picked that time of the year because we wanted to get married before football season started. Joseph and I both went to The University of Alabama, so getting married on a Saturday that conflicts with any SEC football game just wasn't an option! ;)

Describe your wedding in three words: Sweet, rustic, fun! Our colors are mint, gold, and shades of pink. We are incorporating lots of soft floral designs. We will have some vintage aspects, as well as some rustic themes.

Out of everything, what is the most important to the two of you on your wedding day (other than becoming husband and wife!)?  I just want Joseph and I, as well as our guests, to have a really relaxed and fun time!

jessi and joseph - cook images engagement session - pensacola wedding planner_0258

jessi and joseph - cook images engagement session - pensacola wedding planner_0258

What have you loved most about planning your wedding?  I loved that I have gotten to really express myself through my wedding decor and knowing that at the end of this Joseph and I will be married!

What has been the most difficult part? Deciding on colors to use was definitely the hardest part of the process for me.

Have you always dreamed about your wedding day?  Or, was the day you got engaged when you first started thinking about it?  Yes, I have always dreamed of it! I didn't have everything planned out, but I knew the style of wedding and reception I wanted.

Where are you headed for your honeymoon?We are heading to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica! Neither of us have ever been out of the country, so we are really excited about that aspect. We wanted to go somewhere relaxing and tropical where we wouldn't have to worry about anything at all that week.

What makes you most excited about being Joseph’s wife?  I'm really excited to spend everyday with him. I'm looking forward to all the little things like having a lazy day around the house as well as the big things like starting a family with him. We have been dating for close to five years now, so it will be great to take this step in our relationship.

Joseph, what makes you excited about being Jessi’s husband?  Just starting the next step of our lives together. We've known for so long that we were going to be together that it's just a relief to be able to live together and be married.

When it comes to marriage and your life together, what are the two of you looking forward to the most? I think just getting to experience all of life's adventures together.

Picture your lives five years from now.  Where do you see yourselves, what do you see happening in your lives together? We hope to still be in Pensacola, living in a home we love and have made "ours", and making plans for a family together.

jessi and joseph - cook images engagement session - pensacola wedding planner_0262

jessi and joseph - cook images engagement session - pensacola wedding planner_0262

Do you have any advice for newly engaged brides, or those in the middle of planning? My advice is to get everything done as far in advance as possible. That way vendors have openings, and you don't have to settle for something you'll be unhappy with. It's been great to be able to enjoy the last few months of our engagement without having to stress over those things. Another thing I highly recommend is hiring Kristin as your wedding planner! As soon as I met her, I could tell she just "got" me and what we wanted our wedding to encompass, which was such a huge relief and something I had been struggling with! I have no doubt she will make our wedding day as stress-free and as perfect as possible!


Jessi and Joseph, oh my goodness, I know that your guests are going to love everything that you have put together for them on your wedding day, and I am so glad to be a part of it!  Enjoy the next few weeks together before you officially become each other's Mr. and Mrs.!

{ Kayley and Brian } Pensacola Old Christ Church and Museum of Commerce Wedding

{ Kayley and Brian } Pensacola Old Christ Church and Museum of Commerce Wedding

I am so excited to be sharing this wedding with you today.  Kayley and Brian were married last summer at Old Christ Church with their reception at the Museum of Commerce, and I have been waiting until this week to post it for a few different reasons.  Brian is in the Marines, and the majority of their guests who attended their wedding were also in the military, and wore their dress blues.  It was an incredible sight to see and amazing to be a part of.

To All Who Serve in our Military, Thank You.

kiyomi photography - virginia beach photographer

Living in Pensacola, Florida, we are surrounded by people in the military.  With active Navy, Marines, and Air Force bases around us, it is very common for us to see people in uniform daily, to pray with friends through deployments, celebrate homecomings, and read about the good times and the struggles.  I remember a couple of years after I moved here, I was on a plane flight returning to Pensacola from a Minnesota visit, and when I walked onto the plane, I was surrounded by people in uniform.  And it instantly made me think "I'm heading home", as it is something I have grown accustomed to as well as love seeing around me.  My dad was in the Air Force and my brother-in-law was in the Marines, and so it has been a part of my own family's life as well.  I have friends whose husbands, brothers, sisters, and children have been deployed, and all that I can think to say on this day are these two simple words.

Thank you.

Thank you for all you have done for our country.  For your sacrifices.  For your bravery.  For so many things that we aren't even aware of as civilians, for having the courage to stand up for this country of ours and fight for our freedoms.  And to those of you who have someone in the military in your life, for the wives and girlfriends who miss special holidays together, the mamas who are having babies and raising children alone at times when their daddies are deployed, and for everyone else who has someone special who has contributed time in their lives to the military, thank you.  The military wives that I have had the pleasure of getting to know, you are some of the strongest women I have met.  And so on this day, thank you too, for everything you have sacrificed as well.

The first photo in this post is of my friend Christina and her husband, captured by Kiyomi Photography when her husband returned from a deployment.  I remember seeing this photo the day that she posted it, I immediately felt the emotion of that moment, and I completely feel that this is the way that homecomings are so many times.  These are the emotions that grasp so many people in our country now, as they wait for the day that their loved ones will come home.

I have had the privilege of planning a few weddings with military couples, and so wanted to take this day to highlight these incredible men and women, and just say thank you, putting faces to a few of the brave and wonderful people who are serving in our military to help keep our country great.


Thank you, Meredith and Eric, for both being as amazing as you are.  To learn when we were planning your wedding that one of you were actually in the Pentagon on 9/11 was heart-wrenching and I was so happy to be a part of your wedding day.  You both are such wonderful individuals and your commitment to each other and the military is incredible to me.

mer and eric - sandestin beach wedding


To Meg and Alex - how in the world you managed to plan your wedding completely while based in Japan, only to arrive here six weeks before your wedding still amazes me to this day.  And the helicopter flyover right after your ceremony?  That was a surprise I'm sure not any of us will forget.

meg and alex - landshark landing wedding


To Ayanna and Milton - whose wedding we planned in 10 days due to an unexpected moved up much-sooner-than-later deployment?  Knowing that you two were so committed to each other and having an intimate wedding celebration to share your love with your families, you will always have a piece of my heart.

ayanna and milton - pensacola wedding


To Leigh and Anthony, your charisma and calm on your wedding day was beautiful.  Especially knowing that you were moving across country to a new base the week after your wedding, and seeing the calm you exuded throughout showed me your strength as a couple.

leigh and anthony - 5 eleven pensacola wedding


To Amanda and Nick - to Nick, who I didn't get to meet until rehearsal due to being stationed elsewhere, and to Amanda for having the strength to plan your wedding with me while he was away, your day was amazing and so many people loved every bit of it.

amanda and nick - old christ church and crowne plaza wedding


And to Kayley and Brian, and all of the other gentlemen who came to the wedding representing the Marines, the Navy, and the Air Force, I still remember your wedding day as one of the happiest crowds at a reception that my fellow wedding vendors and I have ever seen (and the most adventurous sword cake cutting I have ever witnessed! ;) ).

kayley and brian - museum of commerce and old christ church pensacola wedding


Thank you to all of you.  Enjoy this day today and know how grateful so many of us are for all of you.  If you are reading this post, whether it is today, on Veteran's Day, or even if it is any other day that you see someone who is in the military, please take the time to thank them.  If you have a friend who has a family member in the military, even sending them a quick text asking them to thank them for their service may just make their day.  For everyone that has served our country, know how much you are all appreciated.  Happy Veteran's Day.

This. This is Love.

kayley and brian - this is love - grace and serendipity

I happened to be scrolling through the photos I recently received from Cook Images to do a highlights post from Kayley and Brian's wedding day at Old Christ Church and the Museum of Commerce  this past summer, and this one photo literally took my breath away.

This.  This is love.  This was right after their ceremony, amidst 150 people, right after they walked through the sword arch, right before heading off to take photos with their Bridal Party. But even with all of the people surrounding them, they still had such an amazing love for each other that everyone around could feel it, they only had eyes for each other, and they were just so happy to be married.  THIS is why I love my job.  This right here.  And the way that Jeremy with Cook Images captured the whole day ... wow.  THAT is why you hire a professional photographer for your wedding day.  There are so many beauties just like this.  I can't wait to share them!!!

Congratulations again Kayley and Brian!


What Wedding Planners Do ...

what wedding planners really do - grace and serendipity

Many times, I am asked what my job really entails.  Yes, it is picking pretty flowers and linens to make a wedding beautiful, but that is such a small part of a planner's job in the overall scheme of everything.   This post may sound like a "hire me" read, but that is not my intention at all ... almost everyone that reads my blog is planning or looking for wedding advice, so that's what this post is for.  I want to just give you advice as to why hiring a wedding planner is important.

When you get engaged, you spend the first hours in total excitement, calling family, friends, and dreaming of what the day may be like, gushing over the new sparkly ring on your left finger, and feeling like you're floating on a cloud.  Then, the next thoughts pour in ... the date, the place, the people, the style, etcetera.  When you decide to actually start planning, you probably either pick up every wedding magazine you can find, tearing out pages and ooh-ing and aah-ing over everything you love, buy a "all things wedding planning" binder, or start to pin, pin, pin, pin all...the...time.  As those things are fun and make you feel giddy about the fact you're getting married, when you start to look at the lists of everything you need to do, you realize just how much work a wedding can really be, and it can quickly become overwhelming.

Don't think of it as an "I have to plan this wedding!", it would be great to think of it as "I get to plan my wedding!" It is the only time in your life that you will get to do this, so you might as well enjoy it as you go along, right?

Unfortunately, a lot of times, a planner is not in a bride's initial budget.  I have had quite a few brides contact me and say "a planner isn't in our budget, but we want to see if you possibly could be."  I want to explain to you a few reasons why a planner should definitely be in your initial budget, and why it can be really hard and stressful for you not to have one.

Offer insight, suggestions, andadvice.  I plan weddings.  It is my only job, which I do full-time.  I know what it takes to plan an amazing wedding, can recommend fabulous local vendors, and I know what is happening in the wedding world.  Why would you put it on yourself to plan a wedding, which requires so many little things, when you can have someone by your side to guide you along the way with a lot of experience?  I give professional recommendations and services based on the weddings I have planned and have learned over the years.

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Vendors, Contracts, and Management.  I know a lot of local wedding vendors, that have personalities that will blend well with yours, and are within your budget.  A budget is one of the first things you want to set when you are planning a wedding - if you spend more than 75% of your budget on catering alone, that doesn't leave much for everything else.  I can work with you to find the vendors that you'll love based on your personalities and vision you have of your day.  That alone can save a lot of time and stress - rather than going to meeting after meeting with vendors before you find the right one, your planner may know *just* the right one for you from the beginning.  Also, many have different payment times - I can keep track of that for you and remind you when your next payments are due, to help you stay on top of things.

One thing I want to add to that - I recommend vendors that I work with that are amazing and professional, that I would recommend based on those factors.  I am not paid by vendors to recommend them, and if I do have a relationship with them that gives a discount, I send that discount right on to my brides.

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Your wedding weekend should be the best weekend of your life.  NOT stressful.  I tend to not sugar coat things, and be honest and realistic with you rather than tell you everything always goes perfect.  Unfortunately, sometimes (not always!) things do go wrong leading up to the wedding day or on it.  You need two extra linens, a vendor is late, or the box with your cake and knife server, favors, and cake topper is missing.  You have a lot on your plate on your wedding day already, and you don't want to think about those things.  I can sometimes handle things without you even knowing - I can call a vendor that carries linens in-house, have my assistant go and purchase your missing accessories, and worry about the late vendor for you.  You don't have to do any of that.  Sometimes things happen that no one can control - the weather, traffic, and human honest mistakes (yes, we all make them), but a planner can help with all of those things and sometimes you don't even need to know I'm fixing them until after the day if you ask and really want to know.

Mediation.  This is a big one!  Grandma wants you to wear her veil, your mom wants you to use lilies, and everyone has their opinions on what they think you should do.  This can be a lot to take in to try to make everyone happy.  And sometimes, although their intentions are good, you want to please everyone which can cause a lot of stress for you.  I can help work with you on those pieces so that your relationships stay great.  If you are lucky enough to have your mom or another close friend or family member here with you when you're planning, you want to keep that relationship beautiful, and planning your wedding shouldn't cause it to become a strain.

I am here to work for you. On your wedding day, I am there to work.  I will mix and mingle with your friends and family, but my primary goal is to make sure that your wedding day goes smoothly, and any issues that may come up are handled quickly, quietly, and that you and your guests have a great time.  You don't want your mom, or friend, or anyone else there as a guest to have to do that.  They want to enjoy you getting married - not have to work.  This comes back to my own wedding day - I, sadly, didn't have a planner (and the day I returned from my honeymoon, this business was born) and my mother-in-law was setting up on the day of the wedding.  She barely got to enjoy the time before our ceremony - because she was working on centerpieces - and that is one of my biggest, biggest regrets from our wedding day.  It breaks my heart now when I have to hear a bride wants to put that on their mama that day.  Just as this is your only wedding day, this is the only day that they get to see you get married.  Let them enjoy it. Let me do the work.

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Setup, timelines, and breakdown.  What time will the cake arrive?  When can you get into the venue on the wedding day?  Who will run the rehearsal? A wedding planner can help you with all of those things.  There are certain venues where they have chairs and tables for you to use, but you need to set them up.  On the day of the wedding.  When there are 200 ceremony chairs, 200 reception chairs, and 16 tables to set up, do you want to have to do it?  And then after the wedding take everything back down?  Probably not.  Also, it is a fine art to balance a timeline, from what time you need to get your hair and makeup done so that your getting ready photos are done in time for the photographer to take those of your bridal party before the ceremony, to determininig the time for the caterer to arrive, and florist, and decor designer to make sure that everything goes smoothly and one vendor isn't waiting on another to do their part.  On wedding days, we all work together as a team to make sure that everything flows.  While you're sitting back, drinking champagne and getting pampered, I'm setting up tables, steaming linens, placing chargers, arranging placecards and putting out favors.  And then at the end of the night, I'm working with those vendors again to clean everything up, so that you can go on to your after-party or go and relax.  Who wants to clean up after enjoying a party, the night that it took place?  Probably not most people.  That is what I'm here for.

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And finally, I love what I do. I did not start out my career as a wedding planner.  I was a teacher for five years, until I had my own wedding (that's me with my husband in the photo above on our wedding day!).  Once I discovered this world, it has become such a passion of mine that I do not feel like I go to work everyday.  I get to do this job, and I have such a big love for weddings it's crazy.  I love working on wedding designs, new ideas, and figuring out just how to incorporate your family traditions into your wedding.  I get to be a part of the most important day of people's lives, seeing their love and happiness for each other on their wedding days, and working with them to create the wedding that has their personality all over it.  I love getting to know my brides and grooms, and think of them as my friends.  And you only want the best for your friends. When you meet with vendors, ask them simply why they do what they do - and hopefully it's something like that above.

It's incredibly important for you to find a wedding planner that you can picture yourselves as "friends in real life" with during your initial meeting.  They'll be the one you go to with happy, excited ideas, or sometimes teary bride-to-be moments.  You want to be able to trust them and know you're in good hands.  With me, I want you to know that you are always in good hands.  Again, I know that not every bride that reads this will hire me, and that's okay!  On the same spectrum, I know that not every bride that contacts me will click with me.  We have to be a good fit.  There has to be a level of trust you have for your wedding planner.  So whoever you hire, make sure they love what they do, you can have a great relationship, and you love them for it!

With Love,



The photos shown above were with weddings we planned with now married and amazing couples. The first photo shown is by Cook Images, and all other photographer credit is below each photo.