Ellie Crisp met Robert Zachary Hicks in South Carolina at a bonfire in 2013, and they instantly became best friends. Coincidently, they bonded over their love for the outdoors, particularly fishing and hunting. “My father is an avid fisherman and diver,” says Ellie. “It runs in our family, so you can imagine that when I introduced Zach to my family, he fit right in!”
Ellie and Zach dated for a year before becoming engaged in the Florida Keys at the Crisp family’s annual family lobster dive. Ellie was completely surprised by the proposal.
“We all went to the Keys for lobster diving,” remembers Ellie. “Zach had invited my best friend to be there when he asked me to marry him, but I didn’t know she was coming. The whole family was in on the surprise! Of course, I said yes! Zach was destined to be part of our family, and it was the best family trip ever.”
When it was time to plan the wedding, Ellie wanted to get married where she grew up, in Fernandina Beach, which is still home to a lot of family and friends. “We are members of First Presbyterian Church,” says Ellie. “My church means a great deal to me. I wanted an evening spring wedding, with traditional vows and hymns. We have a long family history here in Fernandina Beach, so much so that Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop, where we purchased our wedding cakes, is located in the house that my paternal grandmother was born in.”
On Friday evening, the couple held their rehearsal dinner at the Florida House Inn. On the day of the wedding, the bridesmaids enjoyed a luncheon at the Summer Beach Pool Club, while the groomsmen took part in a skeet-shooting tournament, all with plenty of time to spare before their church wedding at 7 p.m.
“The wedding ceremony was so beautiful. It was officiated by Pastor Wain Wesberry, and it couldn’t have been more perfect,” says Ellie. However, there was a bittersweet note to the ceremony, too. Ellie’s grandmother Martha had passed away suddenly on the night of Ellie’s and Zach’s engagement, so Ellie dedicated a portion of the service to her grandmother, including the singing of her favorite hymn, “In the Garden.”
Since Ellie and Zach invited 150 guests, they decided that the Golf Club of Amelia Island was the perfect size to accommodate their large group, and it offered the amenities the couple was looking for.
“It was an amazing reception,” says Ellie. “While Zach and I and our wedding party were having photos taken at the church after the ceremony, our guests came to the Golf Club for cocktail hour.” They met their guests there later, and enjoyed an extravagant meal with various food stations located throughout the club. “The food was phenomenal,” says Ellie. “Chef Ed Bennett did a great job!”
“Something I really love about the Golf Club is their back patio, the fire pits, and the twinkling lights,” says Ellie. “It was so pretty. Amber Marvin designed the flowers, and the look paired well with our ‘hunter’ theme!” Yes, the outdoorsy couple decided on a hunting theme for their wedding, complete with deer antlers, pinecones, turkey feathers, and even a duck hunter groom’s cake. “The Bay Kings Band provided the music, and we danced way into the night,” remembers Ellie.
After the wedding reception, some of the guests went over to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, for an after-party, and that’s where Ellie and Zach spent their first night as husband and wife. The young couple knew they would be tired after all the festivities, so they spent Sunday resting at the beach and pool, before heading to their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic the next day.
Today, Ellie and Zach live in Columbia, South Carolina, where Ellie is a pharmaceutical chemist and Zach is a field engineer. They love their jobs and their new life together, but their hearts belong to Amelia Island.
“No matter what,” says Ellie, “we’ll be moving back to Amelia someday. That’s the place that we call home.”