When Sarah Holding met Brandon Steiner at the tender age of four, little did she know he would one day become her husband. Sarah was taking swimming lessons at the MacArthur Family YMCA with her best friend, Kelly. Brandon just happened to be Kelly’s older brother. An interesting coincidence, indeed, made even more ironic by the fact that Sarah’s father used to be a lifeguard in Paramount, California, where he taught Brandon’s mother how to swim many years ago.
Needless to say, Sarah and Brandon shared a destiny—it just took them a few years to realize it. “When Kelly got married, I was one of her bridesmaids, and Brandon was a groomsman,” says Sarah. “It wasn’t until that event that we started dating. And it was only six months later that we became engaged. We knew each other quite well, and our families were close. It truly was our destiny.”
Brandon had two children from a previous marriage, and Sarah fell in love with them as she was falling in love with Brandon. “We had a lot of family dates together with Grant and Brielle,” she says. “We were also able to spend alone time together, and we love doing the same things—going to the beach, playing board games, and dancing!” The two became engaged on a sailboat in St. Augustine, and soon the couple was planning their wedding.
When Sarah and her mother, Lori Holding, visited Oyster Bay Yacht Club and met with event planners Terri Sanders and Ashton Hunter, there was no need to look any further for a venue. “We fell in love with Oyster Bay,” says Sarah. “It’s quaint and intimate, and the natural surroundings are the epitome of Southern coastal casual elegance.”
Sarah was living in Fernandina Beach with her parents at the time of her engagement, and Brandon lived in Orange Park. Their proximity to the area, and Lori’s enthusiasm for their wedding plans, made things easy for Sarah. “We really loved that Oyster Bay had indoor and outdoor facilities, so we had a ‘Plan B’ for rain,” says Lori. “But, as it turned out, the day couldn’t have been more perfect!”
The weekend wedding began with a Friday night rehearsal dinner at Cucina South, which featured a custom menu for their 40 guests. That evening, Sarah and her bridesmaids stayed at a cottage on the Oyster Bay property, where they were able to get ready for the Saturday wedding at a leisurely pace.
The wedding ceremony, held at 6 p.m., was perfectly timed for the sunset, with lots of photo opportunities. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Sarah and Brandon exchanged their vows. Sarah also wrote vows to Brandon’s children, presenting Brielle with a necklace and Grant with dog tags that read ‘Today I tell Daddy I do, and promise you forever, too.’
“This day is etched in my heart forever,” says Lori. “It was the most beautiful and expressive wedding I’ve ever attended, and I think all of our guests felt the same way.”
Oyster Bay provided a unique menu of “his and hers” food stations featuring the couple’s favorites—pizza, tacos, and sushi, along with a traditional carving station. Their cake, designed by 4 Rivers Smokehouse, was enjoyed by all, and with DJ Jason Garcia of Footloose Entertainment playing all their favorite tunes, Sarah, Brandon, and their 130 guests danced long into the night. “Brandon and I took dance lessons when we were dating,” says Sarah. “We had the best time dancing with our friends and families!”
One of the most touching moments of the wedding celebration was when Sarah entered the venue and saw a special table set up with photos of her grandparents on their wedding days.
“We called it ‘Weddings from the Past,’ says Sarah. “Three of my grandparents are deceased, and you can imagine how much I wish they could have been there at my wedding. It brought tears to my eyes seeing their photos. I felt they were there with me in spirit.”
After the wedding, Sarah and Brandon went on a 10-day honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, before heading back to their home together in Orange Park. At present, Brandon serves at Mayport Naval Station and Sarah is a first grade teacher. The two are expecting their first child this spring.