When Travis McKenzie met Gabriela Castro in 2016, he was instantly smitten. He was working at Marsh Landing in Ponte Vedra Beach, and Gabriela was a wine rep for Breakthru Beverage, pouring wines at the club. He was a little shy about asking her on a date, so he requested that some of the club members put in a good word for him.
“I couldn’t figure out why everyone at Marsh Landing was singing the praises of this guy named Travis,” laughs Gabriela. “But then three weeks later, we got to know each other better, and he finally had the courage to ask me on a date.”
Travis took Gabriela to the Aqua Grill in Ponte Vedra Beach, plying her with gourmet food and exceptional wines. “We had so much fun, and we had many things in common,” says Gabriela. “We were right for each other on so many levels – we both love food, wine, gardening, fishing, animals, and the outdoors!”
Travis proposed to Gabriela in January 2017 at Elevage Restaurant in Tampa, with her entire family present, but not before asking permission for her hand in marriage from Gabriela’s uncles, Tip Fisher and Brett Carter of Amelia Island. Gabriela had become very close to Tip and Brett when she spent three summers working at Brett’s Waterway Cafe in Fernandina Beach, the iconic restaurant owned by Brett and Tip at the downtown harbor marina.
With Brett and Tip’s multitude of innovative businesses, including restaurants, catering, interior design, and finance, it was obvious they would plan and execute the wedding of Travis and Gabriela. “It was tough for Travis to hand over all the responsibility to Brett and Tip, but it was also very exciting to see what they would come up with,” says Gabriela. “We knew we wanted to hold the wedding and reception at Walkers Landing, but we literally had no idea what to expect when we walked through the doors.”
A welcoming rehearsal dinner was held at Brett’s Waterway Cafe on Friday evening for close friends and family. For the wedding on Saturday, Gabriela and Travis were wowed by the transformation at Walkers Landing. “Brett and Tip set the atmosphere with elaborate candelabras, and a motif that was reminiscent of a French wine cellar. It was rustic, modern, French, elegant, new, and timeless, and something people had never seen before,” says Gabriela. “The candelabras made the evening so intimate, romantic, and set the mood for the venue. It was everything we wanted and more, and our photographer, Dan Harris Photoart, captured the moment perfectly!”
The wedding ceremony was held outdoors and officiated by James M. Tippins, Lead Chaplin at Baptist Medical Center Nassau. The couple chose not to have a wedding party, and instead, Travis walked his mother down the aisle, followed by Gabriela’s mother, and then Gabriela and her father. “We did an affirmation during the ceremony, in which our parents stood up and agreed in accordance to our union,” said Gabriela. “Then the rest of our guests stood up and also did an affirmation.”
Their reception included a seated dinner with cheese and charcuterie platters, all catered by Brett’s Waterway Cafe, complete with table linens, decorations, and flowers all personally designed by Brett. “The flowers were country-chic French,” says Gabriela. “Almost wild-like, but very elegant. Each table had different types of flowers and the bouquets were different.”
Music and dancing was provided by DJ Philip Hart, Music and Photo Booths of Jacksonville, including the first dance number, “Colgando en tus Manos,” a popular Spanish love song. Their guests came from all over to attend the couple’s destination wedding, including from Redding, California, New Jersey, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York, El Salvador, South Florida, and Jacksonville. They stayed at The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island, the Residence Inn Amelia Island, and other locations.
A goodbye brunch on Sunday morning at Brett’s gave the couple a special send off on their honeymoon destination to Saint Lucia in the West Indies. Today, Gabriela and Travis are enjoying their married life on Jacksonville’s Southside, where they enjoy entertaining, fishing, and visiting their favorite uncles, Tip and Brett, on Amelia Island.