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Real wedding - Elise and Justin in Tampa, Florida

Justin, a computer programmer, and Elise, a high-school teacher, first met seven years ago through a friend of Elise's, who also happens to be Justin's cousin. "We were both seeing other people at the time," says Elise - but when they met again several years later, both single, Justin asked for Elise's number and they began dating that same weekend.

Justin's proposal story? He asked Elise's best friend's advice when picking the ring, and wrapped it up in a TV set box under the Christmas tree! "It was there for over a week inside the box... the disguise turned out to be a little too effective," says Justin, "because I had to convince Elise she should open the box before we went to her parents'. She really had no idea."

Elise styled the event herself, "with some help from Pinterest and various wedding blogs". And guess what? She loved the planning process. "Designing the décor, printing and pinning inspiration photos and planning the menu and cake were the highlights! Hunting down the best deals and discovering new DIY projects became a full-time obsession. I never thought I'd say this, but I kind of miss it!"

There must be something she didn't enjoy, though! "The most challenging part was definitely the guest list and seating chart - I laid awake at night imagining how many ways I could upset family members or burn valuable bridges! It turns out, people are far more understanding than I gave them credit for. In the end everyone was simply happy for us."

Elise has some words of advice for brides to be. "The one thing you're losing the most sleep over could easily end up being the best part of your wedding!" she says - so don't sweat the small stuff. "Doing extensive research before selecting your vendors will save more money and stress than you could imagine. Lastly, it is possible to plan your own wedding while working full-time and sticking to a budget. Recruit loads of friends and loved ones to help turn your vision into reality."

Check out the results of Elise's vision - and many hours of hard labor!

Check out Justin's best man - his cousin, and Elise's good friend, who introduced them - crying his whole way through the ceremony! Have you ever seen anything sweeter?

Photographs: Marie Still | Flowers: Eve's Florist | Venue: Davis Islands Garden Club | Cake: Sandy Cakes | Catering: Catering by the FamilyBridal Gown: Wtoo by Watters | Hair and makeup: Eyes On You Salon & Spa | Bridesmaids' dresses: Dillards | Groom and Groomsmen: The Black Tux | DJ: Kevin Kramer | Stationery: DIY by the bride and groom!


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