Nicole Mackowiak and Jeff Casey had been dating for only nine months before they decided to move to Jacksonville, Florida from Michigan when Jeff was offered a lucrative job transfer. But the two had known each other since junior high school, living only one mile apart. “My best friend, Shannon, had a brother named Jeff,” says Nicole. “And he had a best friend named Jeff Casey. That’s how we knew each other. But we didn’t start dating until after I graduated from Central Michigan University. Shannon and Jeff gave a party, and that’s how Jeff Casey and I reconnected!”
Nicole and Jeff had many things in common, partially from their similar upbringing, but mostly because they both love the outdoors. “We love walks, running, kayaking, anything outdoorsy,” says Nicole. “But we also love going out to restaurants, trying new foods, and having drinks with friends. Mostly, we just love being together.”
Nicole and Jeff became engaged on March 1, 2014, during a surprise horseback riding trip on Amelia Island. “Halfway though our ride, Jeff asked if we could go for a walk on the beach, and that’s when he proposed,” shares Nicole. “He even hired a photographer to capture the moment! I was very surprised.”
Nicole began looking for places to have their wedding, and Oyster Bay Yacht Club is the venue that spoke to her. The live oak trees, Spanish moss, and spectacular water views were exactly what she was looking for, but it was event planner Terrie Sanders who sealed the deal. “I felt so comfortable with Terrie,” says Nicole. “I trusted her from the start. She was warm and welcoming.”
Terrie Sanders is as enamored with Oyster Bay as all of her clients are. “Oyster Bay Yacht Club has a very warm, Southern, coastal ambiance, and I always recommend to every couple that they personalize the space and make it their own,” says Terrie. “What I was most impressed with on Nicole and Jeff’s big day was the genuine love and support of all the friends and family that surrounded them. It was truly a celebration of not only two people becoming one, but two families becoming one.”
Nicole and Jeff’s 90 guests all stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Fernandina Beach. Their rehearsal dinner was held at Café Karibo on Friday night. “It was great having everyone staying downtown,” remembers Nicole. “Our guests could walk to restaurants and shops throughout the weekend. For the wedding on Saturday, Amelia Island Trolleys transported all the guests safely to and from the reception at Oyster Bay.”
“One of my favorite moments is escorting the bride and bridesmaids to take a quick look at the venue prior to the ceremony to make sure that everything is absolutely perfect and as she envisioned it to be,” says Terrie. “Nicole was absolutely stunning, and the look on her face when she saw everything in place was priceless. It was then time to meet her groom and exchange their vows of love for each other. It was quite a celebration, and so rewarding to see the newlyweds live their dream and dance the night away with their friends and family!”
The wedding ceremony was held under the live oak trees, officiated by Ann Eastwick. Their ceremony consisted of a special “wine box time capsule,” where a bottle of wine was placed in the box, along with love letters that Jeff and Nicole wrote. They both pounded a nail into the box, which will then be opened on their fifth wedding anniversary. Their reception was held indoors, with a gourmet buffet dinner, and music was provided by DJ Jason Garcia from Jacksonville.
Flower arrangements were created by Emily Burton, a Georgia floral designer, and Nicole’s grandfather made wooden boxes to hold the arrangements. Sweets by Holly provided a charming cupcake display. “I wanted the ambience to be rustic, but romantic, and soft, and that’s just how it turned out,” says Nicole. “Oyster Bay is the perfect place to hold a wedding like this. It’s full of Southern charm. There were balls of baby’s breath hanging from the trees, along with gold votives. Blush gold, and greenery all added to the effect.”
After the wedding, the Nicole and Jeff headed to St. Lucia for their honeymoon. The couple currently lives in Jacksonville, where Nicole works as a third grade teacher, and Jeff is an electronics technician for an oil company. Their wine box time capsule now sits in a special place in their hallway, in anticipation for their fifth wedding anniversary in 2020.