Emily and James in St. Augustine, Florida

Real Weddings
florida military wedding

Photo: Brooke Images

High schools sweethearts Emily and James went their separate ways after graduation day: Emily headed to Boston University to study special education, while James attended West Point and became an Army helicopter pilot. Yet the couple couldn't keep apart, spending evenings on the phone and weekends together as friends. "Each trip was better and better," Emily says. "We laughed, cried and just had so much fun together. This is when we realized that we still had something special. We couldn't deny it any longer. We were meant for each other."

Outdoor Wedding Portrait By Tree

Photo: Brooke Images

Two years after James proposed, the couple wed in an elegant July affair in front of 90 guests. Their St. Augustine, Florida wedding was "classic with a Spanish touch," the bride says, with a navy and gold color palette.

Lace Strap Wedding Gown

Photo: Brooke Images

While the bride loved her Augusta Jones gown, she couldn't resist making its sweetheart neckline even more unique. "I bought extra lace and had the top made by a wonderful seamstress," she says. The result: Thick lace straps that revealed a half-moon cutout on the back.

Blue Bridal Heels

Photos: Brooke Images

The bride's deep blue DSW heels were cinched in the center with a beaded crystal brooch.

White and Green Bouquet

Photo: Brooke Images

Emily accented her upswept hairdo with a faux-flower hairpiece she purchased on Etsy. Her all-white bouquet—a mix of hydrangea and roses—was framed with fresh seeded eucalyptus. Each bridesmaid carried a smaller version of the bride's larger bouquet.

Military Uniform For Wedding

Photo: Brooke Images

James donned his decorated military uniform for the big day, adding a black bow tie to its collar.

blue bridesmaid dresses beach wedding

Photo: Brooke Images

When it came to her bridesmaids' dresses, Emily considered how to make them comfortable for the hot summer day. Their short J. Crew chiffon dresses were "light and flowy, which was perfect," she says. Servicemen on the groom's side wore their military uniforms, while the civilians dressed in cream-colored suits from Michael Kors.

Catholic Wedding Ceremony

Photo: Brooke Images

"You couldn't ask for a more historic and breathtaking church to be married in," says Emily of The Cathedral Basilica St. Augustine, where the Catholic-raised couple wed in a traditional service. "It is the oldest parish in the United States," the bride says.

Traditional Catholic Wedding Ceremony

Photo: Brooke Images

Exchanging vows inside The Cathedral Basilica St. Augustine was a dream come true—literally—for the bride, who as a child "used to visit the cathedral and secretly dreamed of one day getting married there," she says.

White Purple and Gold Reception

Photo: Brooke Images

Crisp lines and natural lighting led Emily and James to The River House, where they hosted their elegant evening reception. "The River House was unlike any other venue in St. Augustine," Emily says.

White and Purple Wedding Decor

Photo: Brooke Images

Rather than fight the dark navy hues of the groomsmen's military uniforms, Emily and James incorporated the rich shade into their reception color palette, which also included pops of gold.

White Centerpiece With Candles>

Photo: Brooke Images

A florist topped six handcrafted Spanish candle holders—their rich blue and yellow patterns resembling mosaic art. "We lit each table with a variety of candles that looked beautiful when the sun went down," the bride recalls.

White and Purple Centerpiece

Photo: Brooke Images

Six of the centerpieces were glass topiary vases filled with white hydrangea, roses and ferns.

Bite Size Appetizers

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Guests noshed on peppered beef sliders, stuffed potatoes, shrimp cocktail and black bean cakes before digging into dinner—beef covered in a rosemary demi-glaze, Mediterranean chicken and stuffed Portobello mushrooms.

White and Gold Wedding Cake

Photo: Brooke Images

The couple's four-tier round wedding cake included three different flavors: a white cake filled with key lime cream, red velvet cake with coconut filling and vanilla cake with chocolate mousse. Each tier was wrapped in gold ribbon and piped with pearls.

first dance photo emily james

Photo: Brooke Images

With the end of Emily and James' wedding came the beginning of a new relationship, the bride reveals. "We are happy to share that there is a potential wedding in the works for two of our close friends, who met for the first time at our wedding," she says. "After meeting at our wedding, they have been dating ever since and are going strong!"

—Jillian Kramer

Ceremony Venue: The Cathedral Basilica St. Augustine || Reception Venue: The River House || Bride's Wedding Dress: Augusta Jones || Bride's Shoes: DSW || Bride's Accessories: Etsy || Bride's Wedding Ring: Long's Fine Jewelers || Groom's Tux: Military uniform || Groom's Wedding Ring: Long's Fine Jewelers || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J. Crew || Groomsmen Attire: Michael Kors || Florist: Flower Works || Caterer: Designed Events || Stationery: Birchcraft Studios || Cake Baker: Sweet Weddings || Entertainment: DJ Jacob Towe || Photography: Brooke Images

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