Southern brides marry in a lush, tropical outdoor decorated in hot pink and black

Photography by Alternative Life Photography and Design


Jessica: Brooke and I knew of each other while we were both living in Augusta, Ga., playing softball for two different colleges back in 2005-2007. We lived in the same town for 3 years, but never interacted with each other. It wasn’t until January 18, 2011 that we actually met each other through mutual friends in Atlanta. As soon as we made eye contact, we both felt a connection to each other. Brooke reached out to me a couple days later, and we went on our first date and began to get to know one another. I knew something was special about Brooke, and our relationship began to become stronger each moment we spent together. We decided to start our lives together and moved to Panama City, Florida in April of 2011. We were engaged in December 2011, but decided to wait a while before we got married.

We went back and forth on what type of wedding and style we both wanted. Since we both are fairly simple and down to earth, we finally decided we wanted something small and intimate for our closest friends and family to attend. We married on February 17, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hotel in Orlando, Florida.

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Brooke and I had separate bridal suites to get ready in since we were going to do a “first look” before our ceremony. We both were able to see the sun rise over Orlando from our suites, which was absolutely gorgeous to watch as we were getting our hair and makeup done. Our mothers helped us get into our dresses, which for the both of us was a special moment because our mothers have always been our rocks growing up.

The first look took place in the hallway of the hotel in front of the glass windows overlooking Orlando. I was placed at one end of the hallway facing the opposite direction where Brooke would come from. I remember being so nervous, and it felt like it was an eternity waiting for her. As soon as Brooke reached me, I turned around and we both immediately broke into tears. Brooke was stunningly beautiful! We were able to have our moment with each other, and I loved how our photographers were able to capture this moment for us to be able to remember for the rest of our lives.

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Since it was so cold outside, our wedding planner (Just Marry) held our guests inside as long as possible to keep everyone warm. Our bridal party walked out separately, and our flower girl (my niece) and ring bearer (Brooke’s cousin) walked out together with each other. Our fathers walked us down the aisle individually to Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years.” My father and I went first and waited with the officiant for Brooke and her father to walk down the aisle. Our ceremony was perfect for us.




Our wedding officiant had us fill out questionnaires separately about each other, but we couldn’t know each other’s answers until our wedding day. She incorporated our answers from the questionnaire into our ceremony and vows, which was really neat because it truly made our ceremony unique and personable. Brooke’s grandfather read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 from the Bible to us that was very touching and heartfelt. During our sand ceremony, Brooke’s younger brother played “My Hero” by The Foo Fighters on his guitar, because he once dedicated that song to her a couple years ago; so we found it fitting for him to perform at our wedding and reception. Our officiant created a marriage covenant for Brooke and I to sign at the end of our ceremony, and our maids of honor witnessed with their signature for us to frame and hang up in our home.

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Our wedding colors were black and pink, which were incorporated throughout the wedding and reception. Since we tried to keep our planning and ceremony simple as possible, we created our own centerpieces, along with our bridesmaids’ bouquets. Our reception was a brunch and cocktail style reception inside one of the hotel ballrooms that overlooked the resort. As soon as we entered into our reception, we immediately went into our first dance. We danced to one of our favorite songs, Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.” We then went into our father/daughter dance that was performed by Brooke’s brother. He played “Daughters” by John Mayer on his guitar. Our father/daughter dance was very special because not only are we both “Daddy’s girls,” but both fathers took the time to dance with each one of us during the song.


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Brooke and I love board games, so what better way to have a guest book made from Jenga pieces? We had our guests add a special message to us on a Jenga piece, so whenever we have game night, we will always remember our guests who made our wedding day so special for us. We designed black koozies with pink lettering with our names and wedding date for our party favors for our entire guest to take home with them so they will forever remember the great time they had at our wedding. We ended our ceremony with Brooke’s brother playing his guitar to his favorite tunes while drinking and dancing the afternoon away.


Our love for each other is more than any two people could ever dream or wish for. We both can’t imagine life without each other, and we feel so blessed to have all the support from our family and friends who made our wedding possible. Being able to call each other “wife” is truly a dream that is now OUR reality.


VENUE: Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Orlando, Florida PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alternative Life Photography and Design