When Niki and Kipp decided on a December 2011 destination wedding here in the Tampa Bay Area, they wanted to bring a part of their Indiana, North Florida, and Atlanta life experiences with them.
It seemed natural to find a seaside location that could provide a "natural, rustic" backdrop for their wedding. They fell in love with Tampa Bay Watch in Tierra Verde just north of Ft. DeSoto Park. Since the venue is dedicated to the preservation of estuaries of Tampa Bay, Niki and Kipp knew they had found a place that matched their love of nature.
Ocala-based Erin Blakely Photography captured not only many sweet moments of the couple, but many breath-taking shots of the outdoors on an exceptionally warm, sunny afternoon Dec. 4, 2011.
Niki stayed constantly in touch with me from Atlanta through the eight-month planning process. She and Kipp made several scheduled trips here that also served as scouting sessions for a new job, specialized nursing program, and residence in Central Florida. They made every trip productive with meetings with us and other vendors.
The end result was a stress-free casusal approach to their wedding day. From their "pot luck" picnic rehearsal dinner at Ft. DeSoto to their full day of wedding activities, Niki and Kipp stayed true to their genuine personalities.
Here's a combination of Erin's pro pics, some Facebook entries, and my "snaps."
Niki and Kipp spent a great deal of time making certain their family and friends who attended felt welcomed and very much a part of the celebration. Niki made up welcome bags for each family with information on the area. Instead of a stuffy formal rehearsal dinner, the couple chose to have a cookout in one of the pavilions at Ft. DeSoto Park.
Because they wanted a natural feel to their ceremony, we designed a dark wood Chuppah draped in swaying chiffon fabrics with varying shades of fiber sticks latched to each front pole with rope. Designed By Bradley Dempsey.
The sprawling back lawn of Tampa Bay Watch provided a true sunset celebration for Niki and Kipp. Simple live guitar music played in the background. Since the ceremony itself was very short, the couple decided on simple white samsonite folding chairs.
Florist Carmen Gonzalez filled small glass bulbs with Niki's favorite multi-colored pastel daisies. They were hung with twine on shepherd's hooks along the main aisle.
A bonus for Niki and Kipp's decor was the in-house natural wood chairs. Guest tables were simply accessorized with cornflower blue runners and napkins.
The couple was able to find an Atlanta artisan who custom cut birch tree pieces for the centers of their tables. They acquired birch candleholders from another with the tallest having their initials carved on the side. Niki took the responsibility for glueing twine to several votive candle holders. We suggested that she scatter assorted potpourri in between. We alternated our glass cylinders with natural rock and flating candles with cylinders that held attendant bouquets.
We had a lot fun designing the buffet. We dusted off some "woodsy" buckets we had had in storage for some time. We also were able to use our tall triangular topiaries. We brought in the hanging bulbs to accent the display.
We kept the cornflower blue as a base cloth (all in-house) for most of the accent tables. We utilized a burlap piece on the sign-in/gift table where many candid photos were intermingled among rustic elements the couple provided.
A simple sweetheart table was set right in front of the main picture window so everyone could view the beautiful sunset that became Niki and Kipp's backdrop
We were delighted to find out that Tampa Bay Watch has added high top tables to its inventory. They were perfect for the cocktail hour on the deck.
Instead of traditional favors, this good-natured couple chose to make contributions to Niki's former hospital program unit for pediatrics. Pictures of one of her patients she nursed back to health was placed in front of each client.
ON A SIDE NOTE: this youngster was thrilled to be able to attend the wedding as Niki's guest!
A combination of a tulle canopy and burlap graced the cake table. We had this wood cake plateau in our inventory. Camen draped daisies on the delicious cake designed by Sweetopia Bakery.
The calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico reflected the orange sheen of the sunset in the west. A picture perfect setting for Niki and Kipp on the TBW dock.
Photographer, Erin, continued to capture many beautiful moments for the bride and groom the following day. The "trash the dress" session on the beach was frolicky and sweet at the same time.
Event Planning, Design & Catering: Catering By Robert / Event Concepts . FL
Kent Billiter, designer
Photography: Erin Blakely Photography
Fresh Flowers: Carmen's Flowers, Tampa
DJ Services : Randy Markum, Celebrations of Tampa Bay
Wedding Cake: Sweetopia Bakery, Tampa