Princess for a Day: Bridal Portraits

Well...I guess I actually got to be a princess for TWO days...but the first one was the day of my bridal portraits! My sister was the photographer, and the lovely Katie Ecord was my make up artist, train carrier, veil tosser, drink provider, basically the IT girl! Thanks to both of you (and mom!) for all your help in making these portraits successful.

We started out at the Jacksonville Public Library, where our reception would be held. The day of our wedding there was another wedding scheduled to take place, so we wouldn't be allowed to take pictures anywhere else in the building. So...we found a way to do it anyway! Here are a few of my favorites.

Just in case of rain on the big day...we wanted to make sure we got some good pictures outside at FBC since the chapel is so gorgeous. Thankfully, we were blessed on our wedding day to avoid the rain...but Kim still got some great shots!

And last but not least...we went up to the University Club. I was truly "on top of the world" as a bride!

And of course we got the photographer in action! Thanks Kim! :)


I just wanted to take a quick break from the recaps to write about THE DRESS!
I got my dress from Park Avenue Bridal (Thanks Natalie!)

My dress was made by Maggie Sottero...the fabulous Monalisa Royale!

It wasn't the first dress I tried on...I didn't know it was "the one" right away...but it was definitely something special. I had narrowed the search down to 2, but every time I thought about it, I just knew this was the one! I had tried on LOTS of dresses, but this one really made me feel like a princess.

Here's me at the store when I finally got to try it on in MY size!

And here are the pictures our photographers took on the wedding day...

Although it really "took my breath away" with that corset back...it fit me like a glove and I have never felt more beautiful! :)


The first day of the rest of our lives: Getting Ready--the guys

This post will be much shorter. The guys didn't have to arrive until 11 AM (the girls got started at 830 AM!) and they dont primp quite as much as we do. :) I do have lots of pictures of my handsome groom though.

First things first. The FOOD.

Then it was Gabe's turn to get ready for our "first look" and professional portraits.

My handsome groom getting ready...

Of course we can't forget the groomsmen.

Here's the story. As you probably know....I'm a very...organized person to say the least. So before the wedding, I sent all members of the wedding party and ceremony rather detailed lists of what to bring, what to do, when to be where, etc. Unfortunately, I left out one *small* detail on the groomsmen's list: PANTS. They all took note of this and decided not to wear pants when I saw them for the first time before our wedding party photos. Needless to say...I've learned my lesson and I definitely won't make that mistake again. :)

The first day of the rest of our lives: Getting Ready--the Girls!

The morning of August 15th seemed like any other day. As I got up and got ready (and dragged my sister out of bed--as she lovingly noted in her toast later on) it was hard to believe it was my wedding day. Definitely surreal.

It was a super busy morning as we got everything together, loaded 2 cars full of dresses and clothes and STUFF and headed downtown. We stopped by the reception site to see how everything was looking. While it wasn't quite together yet...we did what we could and headed to the church to GET READY for the big day!

Some of my beautiful bridesmaids lost in a sea of hairspray, powder, mascara and
everything in between...

My turn for hair and makeup! It was SO much fun getting to be a PRINCESS for a day! :)
Thanks to Linda Justavino with Expressions Salon for an incredible job on my hair! Not that I expected anything less.

Makeup by the one and only Katie Ecord. :)

I've heard brides say "I was so busy I forgot to eat on my wedding day!" Well...lets just say that was NOT the case with me! When I was tied up I even had a little assistance with my food intake. See below: Sara feeding me grapes. We couldn't find any palm fronds for her to fan me with though. ;)

And I love this one of me and my sister. Must be a crazy feeling to watch your "little sister" get married...but she was so supportive and an amazing MOH!

Then there was the dress. I took my final "normal" breath and sucked in for the next 8 hours. Thank you corset. My mom and sister took revenge on me for any way I've ever wronged them. Just kidding :P
It was definitely not lacking in the tightness department...but I have officially suffered for fashion!

And you can't forget the garter! ;)


The first of many...Wedding Recaps! <3

August 15, 2009 was one of the best days of my life. It's the day I married my best friend. The OnE God chose for me from before time to spend the rest of my life with.

We've been married for about 2 1/2 months now, so I want to go back in time and tell everyone all about the most AmAzInG day ever! I have over 1,800 pictures (thanks to Kara & Jeremy Pennington!) so I'll have to limit those of course. It's SO hard to pick just a few of our favorites. Kara & Jeremy did an incredible job and we are so thankful to have had them document our special day! :)

There were lots of showers and parties that led up to our wedding day, but I'll just start with the Rehearsal and Rehearsal dinner to save a little time! So here goes!

August 14, 2009--Rehearsal at FBC Jax

The monsoon came. We were afraid of this kind of weather and man did we get it on the 14th! Thankfully it stayed away for the actual wedding day though! We got a little delayed because of everyone trying to find their way in the pouring rain...but everything went very smoothly after that. Mrs. Makepeace organized the ceremony wonderfully as usual. She means business! :) I had my bow-quet in hand and my humongo practice train and the night was complete. We were mostly excited about DINNER!

Here's a pic of the bride and groom to be...

Me and *most* of my bridesmaids. Mal was caught in the storm and Katie E. was busy at the hospital becoming an AUNT to little Chandler that night!

The rehearsal...

After we faced the storm again...we arrived at the Rehearsal Dinner. Hosted by Gabe's parents, Al & Teri, we had an amazing barbeque dinner at the Winterbourne Inn. We wanted the style to be completely different from the actual wedding reception, so the menu was more casual and the location was just gorgeous! We were all blown away at how amazing the food was.

Tomi Brown helped Teri out with the southern-style decorations, centerpieces and awesome homemade place cards. Everything was candlelit and just gorgeous!

And of course we can't leave out these 2 cuties! Our nephew, Ethan, was the ring bearer... and his little girlfriend, Madolyn, was the flower girl. We bought them these cute little shirts and they were just adorable!

Besides the amazing food and decorations, we had such a wonderful time of fellowship with all our closest friends and family. At the end of the night the floor was opened for people to share their thoughts or wishes for us and I just LoVeD that! It was so sweet to hear stories of so many people that have watched us grow up, watched us fall in love, and are still supporting us on to our wedding day and the rest of our lives. It was such a blessing to see how we have made an impact on the lives of our loved ones too. We are SO loved and do not want to ever take that for granted.

I just remember telling everyone that it was so hard to believe that all this was actually for US! We've been to so many weddings it seemed like just another day...but this time was different and it was so hard to comprehend. All those people were actually there to celebrate OUR marriage! It was just a crazy feeling...but overall it was the perfect ending to my last night as a single woman!


Roses in the Drive Thru...

This is just to prove that I have the most amazing, sweet, thoughtful, WONDERFUL husband ever!

On Wednesday this week, I headed off to work around 8:15. I was busy doing my teller duties at the counter (facing AWAY from the drive thru window) and about 9:30 Gabe pulls up to the 2nd lane drive thru. I was completely oblivious to everything until I heard my coworker talking and Gabe's voice saying something about the "lovely teller in the back." I turned around and saw my sweet hubby there in his truck. I was completely surprised that he was there and just talked to him over the microphone for a minute or so. Then he told me to look in the deposit tube. He had put a single red rose into the plastic tube and sent it inside the bank!! It was SO adorable!! I was totally shocked and amazed by everything...and all the girls in the office were jealous to say the least!

One of the personal bankers is a real crafty lady...so she took the rose and added some palm leaves and a ribbon and turned it into a masterpiece!

I got to display it at my teller window and tell all my customers how sweet my husband is.
I am so blessed!! <3

P.S. Soon I'm going to start doing wedding recap posts so stay tuned!! :)


Mattresses Schmattresses!

Gabe and I both feel SO blessed to have good paying, full time jobs...but I just want to let Mattress Firm know that their retail hours are killing me! Gabe works 10-9 most days which = lots of alone time for Staci. It's a good thing I'm pretty independant, so I'm really not feeling too lonely...but I sure would love it if Gabe and I could spend more time together and NOT be working all the time!

So, Mattress Firm, how's about you let my hubby off work a little earlier for a change? We are tired of eating dinner at 9:30 PM and only seeing eachother for 3 hours a day.

Just thought you should know how I feel.

The Newlyweds


*Tribute to my favorite Sara Tolliver*

One of my dearest friends, Sara Tolliver, left the country today to move to Niger with the Peace Corps for the next two years.

In honor of her...I write this post.

Sara was assigned to me as a "random roommate" during my first semester of college at UF in May 2005. We immediately became close friends and have remained so for the last 4+ years.
We lived together again during our sophomore year of college and have shared so many amazing, FUN memories together over the years.
Sara is one of the most incredible people I know. She truly has the heart of a servant, and has accomplished so many awesome things since I have known her. Namely...last summer she spent 3 months riding a BICYCLE across the US (from Jacksonville to San Fransisco) with an organzation called Bike and Build. The team raises money to go...rides their bikes literally across the nation and stops every few days along the way to help build houses with Habitat for Humanity. I don't know how she survived that...but she's seriously such a trooper. She thrives on challenges and is a true winner in my book.

Now she's moving to Africa to work with the people of Niger in the animal husbandry field. I know she is going to accomplish great things....although I already miss her TONS!

Before she left...she came to Ft Myers to visit! Here's a few pics of our day together! :)

We LOVE you Sara and are so so so proud of you! Can't wait to see you again.
<3 barbarbar



Today was my first day without a trainer! I guess that means...I'm legit!
I am loving my job! I start "floating" next week to a new branch...so I'm excited to meet some more new people and learn even more.
I've been reading "The Fred Factor" by Mark Sanborn and am doing my best to be a "Fred." Basically...someone that goes above and beyond the call of duty, that shows genuine concern about everyone and strives for excellence in every aspect of their personal and work life. Whats even more exciting is that I have a reason to do those things beyond just "being a good person" and "making a difference"...I can point people to the author of love and kindess and goodness. I can make a difference for the kingdom of God.
So I'm just praying I'll be a pure vessel that HE can use...so that He can make a difference in someone's life.


Jobless no more!

Praise the Lord...I got a job!! :)
While the first month of marriage has been wonderful and I appreciated the free time to get the house set up and get used to the area...I was definitely ready to start working, making money and meeting new people.
I got the job offer last Thursday and started on Monday, September 28 as a "Client Services Specialist" with Florida Gulf Bank. Thats the fancy name for a teller. But no ordinary teller at that. I'm actually a "floating" teller, which means I will rotate around to all of the branches whenever I am needed. I am based out of the main office (where all the execs are!) but will be working in the other 7 branches as well. It will be really neat because I'll be able to network with everyone who works for the bank, not just be limited to one branch.
I just finished my first full week of training and am LOVING it. Its new, its challenging, and the people are fantastic. God has really blessed me with this one. I thought work couldn't get better than my last job at The Energy Authority, but I think this one might top it. Being a local bank, everyone (including the clients) at FGB are like family...so that makes work a lot of fun.
On top of that...I only work Monday - Friday (no Saturdays!) and get bank holidays too! yay!
Anyway...that's my update. Now we just gotta find a job for Gabe that will get him off work before 9 PM. This is killin me!

Visit from Mom & Dad

My parents were in Fort Myers this week! Dad had business at the Sanibel Harbor Resort & Spa...so I got to visit with both of them a lot. It was nice to see them and spend some time with them both.

Tuesday night I invited them over for dinner and made some chicken tetrazzini for them. At least they got one good home-cooked meal this week! :)

On Wednesday, Mom & I did some shopping and found an *awesome* restaurant at the Edison Mall called the Elephant Bar. Very unique and VERY good food!
Thursday night we were invited to a dinner cruise with FLIR...had yummy food and enjoyed the sunset from the boat. They also had lots of their thermal imaging cameras on board so everyone could see their capabilities. They even had a guy go swim in the water to prove that the cameras are sweeeet. We also had lots of fun looking at ourselves through the cameras. I wish I could have taken a picture, but lets just say that it was obvious i had NO body heat to make me show up on the camera. Only in a few places like my elbows and armpits were lit up. lol. good times.

This morning before they left to head home, we went to eat at Dennys. Might I just say...I was all excited because this is no regular Denny's (or so i thought). It looks like a 50s diner, and since the first time I saw it I said "I never thought I'd say this...but I really want to eat at Denny's!!" Unfortunately, the experience was nothing special. Slow service, cold grits, the works. Oh well. At least the place looked cute.