Winners of the Judges' Choice Award
Lakeland's Christmas Parade, 2022
"I now pronounce you Husband and Wife!"
It is with these very recognizable words that a couple literally -- in this very moment, transform from single individuals to a married couple.
In this tender, romantic, present moment -- the wedding ceremony, their past as single individuals ceases. Their future begins.
They embark on this new adventure called "Marriage" united as one, forever.
December 1st, 2022, somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 Wedding Guests lined the streets to witness the largest wedding in Lakeland’s history!. . . and to shout “CONGRATULATIONS”! to our happy couple.
Our couple, Joy and Eric, said real “I do’s” and real vows in this real marriage ceremony performed by a real minister.
This unforgettable wedding experience was a gift to the contest winning couple from Polk County Wedding and Event Pros -- a local non-profit network of dedicated, professional and generous local wedding and event business owners.
Following the parade, Joy, Eric, and their children joined family and friends for a reception, dance and celebration at the lovely Springhill Suites by Marriott -- all provided by Polk County Wedding and Event Pros.
We all send our hopes and wishes that just like our beautiful Lakeland swans, this pairing is forever.
We would love to hear what you saw at the parade!
AND . . . if you are interested in being the 2023 couple married in Lakeland's Largest Wedding!
YES! It was a Real Couple!
Meet Our 2022 Winning Couple!
Joy and Eric!
Once Upon a Time . . .
Eric was just about to give up on on-line dating. He'd even been catfished a couple of times . . . but then . . . he came across a profile photo that caught his attention and set his heart racing!
He did a very quick "swipe right", and they soon began to chat.
Joy was very new to dating, let alone on-line dating. Married for 10 years to a loving husband and father to their two children, she found herself a young widow.
(Love Story Continued Below!)
Meet the Team
President of PCWEP: Under One Tent
Planning & Design by: Perfect Day Productions
Flowers by: The Twisted Tulip, Florida
Catering by: Terrie Lobb Catering
Videography by: Storybook Weddings
Photography by: Chris Gillyard Photography
Hair and Makeup by: Sara Ray
DJ, Cool Sparklers and "cloud" by: DJ Mini C
Ceremony & Officiant by: Ceremony by Crystal
Cake and Desserts by: Got Desserts
Balloon and banner decor by: Party People Events
Rentals by: Any Event Linen & Chair Rental
Venue by: Springhill Suites by Marriott
Furniture & Dance Floor Rentals: Premier Parties
Joy and Eric's Story Continued
Eric asked Joy if she would like to meet for dinner. That is a big step from texting and they each were quite nervous!
Joy agreed, and they chose Grillsmith, at Lakeside Village for their first date.
A nervous and excited Eric made sure he was at the restaurant early. Joy sent a text that she had arrived.
As he scanned the lobby he spotted a woman sitting alone. Let's just be kind and say she looked nothing like the lovely photos Eric had seen of Joy. His heart sunk and he was about to approach her when . . . Joy walked up the sidewalk.
OH! The relief and thrill that filled his heart! He was not being catfished! She was even more lovely than her photos and something sparked in his heart. He just knew this was something special. The more he got to know her, the more that was confirmed!
Their second date, Joy had not been feeling well, so Eric offered to bring dinner to her house. He pulled out all the stops! Chicken wings, wine, and a lovely bouquet of flowers. How could she resist? So their first kiss was inevitable!
It did not take them long to fall in love -- they checked each other's boxes. They shared the same values and interests. It was just a good match, and soon they were ready to talk about marriage.
The proposal was sweet and private. Even though Eric, in all his nervousness, put the ring on Joy's "wrong finger" . . . she still said, "Yes!"
Plans B & C
I do. Do you?
Disappointing factors and scheduling conflicts interfered with "Plan A" for their wedding. They had wanted to get married in the scenic mountains of North Carolina.
"Plan B" soon began to develop. They reasoned, "Let's take the stress out of planning a big destination wedding and elope right here in our hometown of Lakeland, Florida. Something private, sweet and simple suits us perfectly."
On November 8 (T minus 23 days until the parade) they Googled "Wedding Officiant Lakeland" . . . and had no idea what was about to happen when they contacted "Ceremony by Crystal"!
Pastor Crystal responded right away asking if they had a moment for a question that very evening.
Happily they did, and that phone call changed everything!
Pastor Crystal asked a few questions about their love story and listened to their vision for the day.
"That is something we most certainly can make happen, and I know some lovely locations for elopements." Crystal said. "However . . . I do have another option for you to think about. Are you sitting down? It is an opportunity of a lifetime, and you do not have to answer right away."
Pastor Crystal presented the option of them entering a competition to win a free wedding! A $20,000 value! She described some of what that would entail -- a planner, coordinator, flowers, the romantic decor and detail . . . the free photos and videos, the hair, make-up, catering . . .
There was just one little catch . . . The wedding ceremony was to be held December 1st, in the Lakeland Christmas Parade . . . on a float! . . . in front of about 40,000 guests!
The couple grew rather quiet as she began to unfold all the details . . .
"Well, we said we wanted a memorable wedding." Eric suggested.
Though typically very shy and private, Joy agreed to this crazy idea.
They submitted an application and were chosen to be the first ever couple to get married on a float in Lakeland's Largest Wedding!
It was an easy choice for the Polk County Wedding and Event Pros board, since it was decided early on to select a deserving couple serving in the military, education, or first responders, health care . . .
Joy, an RN, Eric a former deputy and currently a middle school teacher . . . it was a quick vote!
It's been a whirlwind ever since!
Getting a license, giving input on the cake, food, hair, makeup, flowers, song list for the DJ . . . buying a dress and tux, customizing a ceremony, inviting guests . . .
While there were many decisions to make in such a short time, Polk County Wedding and Event Professionals happily walked our couple through each step.
What an unforgettable wedding!
Joy and Eric get their Marriage License, November 18, 2022
All services donated 100% by the small business owners of . . .
Joy & Eric’s Wedding Ceremony, On the Float
What was included?
One of central Florida’s top wedding planners and her team to guide them through the entire process, coordinate the day and execute the vision so that they can relax and focus on each other and on celebrating!
A beautifully designed and decorated float venue with an elegant Victorian Christmas theme
Hair and make-up for the bride (including a trial appointment) as well as hair and makeup for the couples' daughters,
Fresh florals on the float railings
A one of a kind wedding bouquet and a boutonniere for the groom
Boutonnieres and wrist corsages for the couple's children/ float wedding guests
Seating on the float for four guests
A white dance floor
A custom and personalized wedding ceremony & professional Officiant
Handling of the marriage license
A seven layer custom cake, with a cake cutting moment
A first dance
“Just Married” sign and tin cans trailing behind the float
"First Look" photos and video
Photo and video shoot to capture the romance and the memories forever
A bridal dressing & hair and make-up room at Springhill Suites by Marriott
banquet hall, with caterer access to the kitchen, at the lovely Springhill Suites by Marriott
An acrylic Welcome sign on an easel, with decorative Victorian lamps
Romantic decor and elegant linens
Beautiful table setting, candles, gold chargers
Wrist corsages for the couple’s parents
An abbreviated wedding ceremony (for the parents' sake)
Portrait photos of couple and family
A catered tapas meal for 40 of their closest family and friends
Delicious custom cake, a cake cutting and additional desserts
A variety of non-alcoholic drinks
DJ and dancing
Fog machine for first dance at reception
Photo booth with lovely backdrop
TOTAL VALUE: over $20,000