With Anne working over 80 hours a week as a surgical resident and John living in a neighboring state, you would think the odds were against the pair finding each other. However, a blind date a little over five years ago brought the two together. ”We had little time to spend with each other during the week, and so our relationship grew on the phone and we made up for lost time on the weekends,” Anne explained.
The couple survived the long distance hurdle as John proposed on Memorial Day of last year and then relocated with Anne to Fairbanks, Alaska just a few months later.
Since they had family all over the country, the couple decided to hold a Tampa destination wedding. “The city offered activities and sights outside our wedding, and my in-laws lived in the area,” Anne said.
The bride wanted a unique Tampa wedding venue and had started her search before John had even popped the question. “I came up with the idea of an Aquarium fairly early on. John grew up near the ocean and loves marine wildlife; it is a huge part of who he is. I love the ocean nearly as much,” Anne shared. “I was so excited when I found the Florida Aquarium. I loved the fact our reception would be held in a room with the fish, the beer selection was good (my husband is a beer nerd), and the prices were not only in our budget, but what I wanted to spend.”
The catering was provided in-house. Guests dined on penne primavera pasta salad, herb-crusted top round of beef and boursin mashed potatoes. “My husband and I consider ourselves foodies, and I was a bit worried since it wasn’t attached to a restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised with the options and variety. They were able to incorporate kids meals, vegetarian meals, and gluten free meals without a problem. A higher end venue would not had the kids option. I thought the food was very good.” Anne said.
Anne and John incorporated their wedding guests by gathering pictures of their family and friends on their own wedding days and putting their wedding dates on their escort cards. “It was fun to watch people try to figure out who was who. In particular watching John’s grandparents look for their own wedding photo. His grandfather let out a great chuckle,” Anne reminisced.
The penguins have turned into the theme from our wedding, and we have been getting a lot of penguin themed gifts lately. – The Bride
Anne and John were treated to a fireworks show in celebration of Gasparilla weekend.
What advice would you give to other Tampa Bay Brides who are holding an wedding at the Florida Aquarium?
The best room in the house is the Coral Room. It works great for a small, intimate wedding. We ended up with 70 guests and could fit all in the Coral Room. It was the perfect amount of people for that room. It was full and intimate, yet not over crowded. I can’t imagine not having that room for the reception, it was so beautiful.
Take advantage of the coordinators at the Aquarium. We hired a weekend of coordinator so that things would run smooth. Frankly having Natalie at the Aquarium do such a good job, we may not have needed a separate one. I also loved that John and I could drop off our “goodies” the Wednesday before and the staff set them up. That included table runners, knit hats, kiddo gift bags, and the photos that themed our tables.
And don’t be afraid of the buffet! Things went really fast and the bride and groom each get their own “attendants” so they are not getting food from the buffet in their nice clothes. It truly was the little things that counted!
Tampa Wedding Ceremony Venue: Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Tampa Wedding Reception Venue: The Florida Aquarium
Tampa Wedding Photographer: Aaron Bornfleth
Tampa Wedding Planner: Relax Call Holly
Tampa Wedding Florist: La Vie En Rose
Tampa Wedding Linens: Connie Duglin Linen
Tampa Wedding Cake: A Piece of Cake
Tampa Wedding DJ & Uplighting: Inspire Entertainment
Tampa Wedding Makeup: Makeup Pro – Hollie
Tampa Wedding Invitations: Not From a Box
Tampa Wedding Dress: Paloma Blanca
Tampa Wedding Shoes: Vera Wang Lavender
Tampa Wedding Party Hotels: Hilton Garden Inn – Ybor City, Hampton Inn – Ybor City
Wedding Organist: Jeffery Thompson, MD – East Aurora, NY
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.