Tara Clements and Samuel Edwards were attending the University of Florida when they met at an evening homecoming event in St. Augustine. Before their bus departed for Gainesville, Tara and Sam decided to make a quick visit to the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the United States. Running in the dark, Tara accidently fell into one of its moats, emptying the contents of her purse. Sam quickly came to her aid, declaring, “Everything will be alright. I’ve got your Altoids!”
“That’s the moment we fell in love,” laughs Tara. “We were inseparable from then on.” Six years later, the couple went back to the Castillo de San Marcos, and Sam proposed to Tara with an engagement ring inside of an Altoids box. Tara said “yes!” and together they began planning their Amelia Island wedding.
Tara and Sam are native Floridians. Sam grew up on Amelia Island with his parents, Taylor and Beth Edwards, and Patricia and Craig Hood, and Tara, daughter of Jeff and JoEllen Clements, grew up in Port Orange. Having a wedding that reflected Southern coastal elegance was important to them. They found the perfect venue for their ceremony and reception for 150 guests at the Oyster Bay Yacht Club. “Terrie Sanders and her crew did everything imaginable to help us achieve our wedding vision,” says Tara.
Guests began arriving on Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day, at the downtown Hampton Inn & Suites, and then immediately set out to do some celebrating in Fernandina Beach. The next morning, a bridal luncheon was given by Tara’s aunts at Café Karibo, while the groomsmen enjoyed a golf outing at Amelia River Golf Club. That evening, a rehearsal dinner, hosted by the groom’s parents, was held at Walker’s Landing for their out-of-town guests, featuring shrimp and grits, pulled pork, and fried chicken provided by Chef Brian McCarthy, with dancing and live music.
On the day of the wedding, Amelia River Cruises transported guests by water to Oyster Bay. A guitarist and violinist played pre-ceremony and ceremony music under a white tent on the front lawn. At the end of a rose petal aisle sat a handcrafted altar that Amber Marvin from Island Flower and Garden had created from a picture that Tara loved.
Some reception tables were decorated with lanterns and others with coral pieces, picked out by Tara and her mother, and combined with eucalyptus, succulents, white flowers, and anemones. Tara created signature place cards—oyster shells with guest names on them for their table seatings—along with ceremony pamphlets, signs, and other handmade pieces.
Tara and Sam shared an intimate moment together before their ceremony. Being careful not to see each other before the ceremony, Tara, in her lace Mikaella gown with pearl belt, met Sam with eyes closed at the top of a staircase at Oyster Bay to hold hands and pray together. They were then married by Fr. Michael Bowhay, who had also officiated at the wedding of Sam’s parents, Taylor and Beth.
After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour which included a lovely fruit and cheese display, stuffed mushrooms, shrimp, and oysters Rockefeller. A dinner buffet was served which included beef tenderloin, fresh crab-encrusted grouper, and citrus chicken piccata. Guests then danced the night away, under the stars, to the great music selections provided by Justin Henshaw of Island Sound.
After a sparkler sendoff, Tara and Sam spent the night at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The couple spent Sunday morning saying goodbye to family and friends before heading off on their honeymoon to Antigua. The couple lives in Tampa, where Tara is a first grade teacher and Sam works as a structural engineer.