Mary Crit & Eric

This couple's destination wedding would not be hampered by a looming "new normal".

It was the weekend this spring when Florida was entering its coronavirus shutdown “new normal” that Mary Crit Smith and Eric Bracy introduced their own new normal as Mr. and Mrs. Eric Bracy. It was a forever dream-come-true for the bride to say “I do” on Amelia Island, and the couple enjoyed a wedding celebration weekend here that they will always cherish.

“I grew up coming to Amelia Island on vacations,” smiles Mary Crit. “At The Ritz-Carlton or Amelia Island Plantation, we enjoyed time as a family, and I knew that I’d one day have my wedding where I made these memories.” When Mary Crit said “yes” to Eric in December 2018, the planning commenced with John Gandy Events, and the team did an extraordinary job of treating guests to the best of Amelia Island.

The couple welcomed loved ones to town beginning Thursday of the wedding weekend with a party at the bride’s aunt and uncle’s oceanfront home. The crowd fell in love with Amelia Island’s beaches and quaint downtown while enjoying their stays at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and Hampton Inn & Suites Harbor Front in downtown Fernandina Beach. Following the kickoff party, the couple and their parents enjoyed dinner at David’s Restaurant and Lounge.

On Friday, the ladies shared a bridal luncheon at Bar Zin Bistro & Wine Bar, while the gentleman took advantage of Amelia Island’s excellent golf courses. When evening rolled around, the wedding party gathered at POGO’s Kitchen for a private dinner that included the bride’s favorite – local Fernandina Beach shrimp.

“We had a big guest list and we were searching for venues to make the most of our moments,” says Mary Crit. When the duo found POGO’s Kitchen and their accommodating staff, they knew they’d met their match. “We wanted to be with our family and friends, and the team at POGO’s offered every opportunity to make this a reality.”

“After the rehearsal dinner, the rest of the wedding guests joined the bride and groom for a welcome party,” explains POGO’s general manager Brooke Kirkpatrick. “The Bracys wanted the venue for themselves, so we adjusted our hours and made that happen. We take pride in being able to meet almost any customization customers request from party equipment, food, beverage, and more.”

For this party, POGO’s transformed itself with string lights, firepits for s’mores, and tall tables to enjoy tuna tacos, buffalo eggrolls, and cocktails. “POGO’s said ‘yes’ to anything we asked,” Mary Crit remembers. “They even accommodated our wedding video and customized playlist.”

On the wedding day, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island offered exemplary service in the his-and-hers bridal suites with breakfast and champagne. “Anything we asked for, the staff was willing to deliver,” says Mary Crit. Kylene & Ryan Studios captured the first look in photos before the party boarded trolleys bound for St. Michael Catholic Church in historic downtown Fernandina Beach for a full wedding Mass with 250 guests and two adorable, toddler flower girls. Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour and reception on The Ritz-Carlton’s oceanfront lawn and continued the celebration into the night.

“We were thrilled with every detail,” the couple describes. “The cocktail hour was followed by a dinner with Caprese salad, lobster ravioli, filet, and, of course, wedding cake, and everything was more than perfect.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island took care of every detail, allowing Mary Crit and Eric to relax and enjoy the celebration, including when the couple, both huge University of Florida fans, welcomed some actual baby gators to the party to surprise their guests. Later, entertainment by the Atlanta-based Creativity Band kept the crowd dancing well into the night. Following the reception, nobody wanted to stop, so the party overflowed into the lobby bar, where the couple laughed with their friends until the bartender stopped pouring and the band stopped playing.

With COVID-19 looming, the couple opted to postpone their planned honeymoon, and instead stayed a few extra days together at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island before returning home to Miami. “Being newlyweds during quarantine has made us stronger! Twenty-four/seven in a 900-square-foot apartment helped us to get to know each other in new ways, especially being able to see each other working from home. But we are ready to get back to the beach, and we’ll be headed back to Amelia Island this summer!”