Although Courtney and James attended high school together, it wasn’t until college that the pair began a friendship.
“A mutual friend invited both of us to a Miami Dolphins football game. I decided to reach out to James via Facebook to get to know him so it wouldn’t be so awkward when we met for the first time. We talked several times over the next few weeks often late into the evening about everything…music, sports, our shared faith and religion also finding out we had both moved to South Florida for college and were only about 30 minutes from each other,” Courtney shared. “After a while I finally got the guts to ask James if he wanted to go to a Florida Panthers hockey game knowing he couldn’t turn me down since he loved sports, and it was for the season opener. We immediately hit it off and for the next few months we dated casually meeting up for dinner and watching movies in his dorm room.”
Three months into their relationship they became exclusive and four years later they had moved in together.
“Our first night together in our new place, James took me on a trip to the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, followed by a beautiful dinner. When we returned home, rose petals greeted me at the front door leading me into our living where he dropped to one knee,” Courtney reminisced.
Purple Peacock Florida Aquarium Wedding
The Vero Beach couple didn’t want a beach wedding, so they started looking at unique Tampa wedding venues.
Since James is avid fisherman, the Aquarium seemed like a fitting choice.
“I said something along the lines of ‘wanna get married in a fish tank?’ Courtney joked.
The couple soon found themselves making the two and half hour drive to the Tampa wedding venue.
“We met the coordinators to show us around and fell in love!” Courtney gushed. “It was so different and unexpected I knew our guests would be totally excited, and it would be something we’d never forget. It tied in his love for fishing and my dream of an unforgettable event, it couldn’t’ have been more ‘us.’”
The bride chose rich purples, teals and silvers to create a romantic, cozy atmosphere.
“I started playing around with a few things and found myself using a lot of peacock inspired items, thus landing on peacock as our theme! I used my colors mostly as my jumping off point and tying in feathers where ever I could without over doing it,” Courtney explained.
Courtney wanted not only the look of the room to be memorable, but also the atmosphere.
“The element that was most important to us was music selection which was provided by Inspired DJ, they did an AMAZING job. Our DJ, Josh, did an awesome job of reading the crowd and playing a good mix of music, I think the entire room was up dancing the whole time!
To fuel their wedding guests for a fun-filled night, the couple relied on the Aquarium’s catering chef and staff.
“The food quality and the service were amazing,” Courtney said. “The wait staff couldn’t have been more courteous to us and our guests always smiling, eager to please. The food was delicious everyone really seemed to enjoyed it.”
The most memorable moment of the wedding for me had to of been when our song came on and my dad led me to the start of the aisle as soon as I turned that corner our eyes met everything disappeared except for him and I. The smile on his face hit me like a ton of bricks and I was lost in the moment. - The Bride
Our favorite part has to be the uniqueness of the venue, it is like nothing us or our guests had ever experienced. The atmosphere was fun and the mood was light which I am sure is pretty much a standard at every wedding but just the feeling in the room was unforgettable people who had never even met and that were from hundreds of miles apart were connecting and dancing the night away. It was like literally being under the sea we felt like we were in a totally different world. -The Bride
What advice do you have for Florida Aquarium brides?
Trust in the coordinators they will be your life savers. When I handed my entire two years of work over to Natalie the night before it was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders knowing she had it under control. To walk into the venue and see that she had put together what was in my head for so long was amazing everything was more than I could have even imagined.
Tampa Wedding Ceremony & Reception Venue: The Florida Aquarium
Tampa Wedding Photographer: Weber Photography by Wes and Liz
Tampa Wedding Invitations: The Bride
Tampa Wedding Cake: A Piece of Cake
Tampa Wedding DJ & Uplighting: Inspire Entertainment
Tampa Wedding Makeup: Destiny and Light Hair & Makeup
Tampa Wedding Dress: Alfred Angelo
Anna Coats is a wedding blogger from Marry Me Tampa Bay which showcases local weddings in the Tampa Bay area. Her 11-11-11 St. Petersburg, FL wedding was featured on USA Today.