Francesca Nicoloso was about to remove her profile from an online dating site when Joseph Santa Maria spied it, and thought they might make a good match. The couple began chatting online and eventually agreed to meet in person in December 2014.
“We went ice skating at Adventure Island at Jacksonville Landing, and I was so bad at it,” laughs Francesca. “But it was fun!” The fun never stopped for the two of them as they continued to date, and eventually they became engaged on Valentine’s Day in 2016. “We definitely consider ourselves a fun couple,” she says. “We have such a great time together!”
Francesca and Joe bought a house in Jacksonville Beach, and Joe proposed as they were moving in. “Joe asked me to go upstairs because he had a surprise for me,” says Francesca. “He made a beautiful dinner, and there were flowers on the table, and next to the flowers was a ring.” Their year-long engagement was busy, and fun, as they settled into their new home and planned their Florida wedding. “We both love this area, and when we visited Oyster Bay Yacht Club, we knew it was the perfect place to get married.”
Francesca was especially drawn to the club’s veranda and pool, with panoramic views of the Intracoastal Waterway and live oak trees covered with Spanish moss, in addition to Oyster Bay’s proficient event planning experts. “Francesca and Joe were such a pleasure to work with,” said Ashton Hunter, Oyster Bay’s event planner. “They are so much fun, a truly adorable couple.”
Francesca and Joe’s April wedding weekend began with a rehearsal dinner at Bar Zin with the wedding party, followed by drinks with their out-of-town guests. Their wedding ceremony was held on Saturday evening, so the bride and bridesmaids enjoyed a hair and makeup session at Oyster Bay’s onsite 3-story villa, hosted by Nicki Davis from Frangipani Hair Salon of Jacksonville Beach, while the groom and groomsmen relaxed in another room, aptly named the “man cave.”
Amelia Island Trolleys transported their guests to Oyster Bay from the historic harborfront Hampton Inn & Suites for their 5 p.m. ceremony held beneath the cover of live oak trees. Officiated by their close friend Drew Vaughan, the ceremony featured a special wine box, in which bride, groom, and their parents placed letters to be read on their five and ten year anniversaries, along with two bottles of wine. Dottie B’s provided colorful flowers, especially designed to “pop” against the rustic, natural setting that Oyster Bay is famous for. But the real star of the wedding may have been the couple’s dog, Hugo, who was a member of the wedding party, and one of their very favorite “people.”
The reception began with a gourmet buffet dinner featuring a carving station and shrimp and grits, which was a big hit with the guests. After photos were taken, DJ Will Deaton provided music, and the dancing went on until 11 p.m. “In addition to our first dance, mother/son dance, and father/daughter dance, we also had a last dance together,” says Francesca. “This was a nice way to wind down the evening and prepare our guests for their trolley ride back to the hotel.”
Throughout the weekend, guests treated themselves to shopping, fine dining, and exploring the area. “It was great having everyone downtown. Our guests were able to walk everywhere, and we were able to meet up with our friends,” says Francesca. The couple stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites on their wedding night, and went on a cruise to Mexico a month later for their honeymoon. Today, Francesca and Joe are still having fun working and playing in Jacksonville Beach, where Joe works as a materials engineer and Francesca works as a physician assistant.