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    Thursday, 18 September 2014

    Anna Maria Island Wedding Experts

    There’s no question that Anna Maria Island is known all over the world as one of the most beautiful places to get married. But the popularity of weddings isn’t just influenced by the gorgeous, historic feel of the sleepy seaside town, or even by the stunning vacation rentals that serve as a built-in honeymoon suite.

    Anna Maria is also home to fantastic florists, restaurants, photographers, bakers, and every other kind of wedding vendor imaginable. But how do you pick and choose what elements go into your wedding, especially if you live far away? Why, you simply consult one of the Island Experts!

    Anna Maria Island wedding festival

    Our first Wedding Expert is Chris Tollette. Chris has been involved in the wedding and events industry since the early 1980’s when she started her own production company. She produced commercials, but also used her industrial-grade video camera to film weddings in Appleton, Wisconsin.

    Over the next four or five years, she really fell in love with videoing weddings. In fact, the wedding industry became a bit of a family business - at the time her two young daughters modeled flower girl dresses in local bridal shows and expos.

    Chris retired to Tampa in 1992, but quickly realized she’d need a hobby to keep herself entertained. She became involved with a local charity, where she learned all of the finer details about pulling together a huge fundraising gala. It was that experience (along with her background in videography) that got her involved in establishing the Anna Maria Island Wedding Festival in 2007 after she relocated to Anna Maria.

    Anna Maria Island Wedding Festival
    Anna Maria Island Annual Wedding Festival

    Lately, Chris has discovered that her favorite role at a wedding is as officiant. She became certified as a notary public about four years ago, and has begun to perform more and more ceremonies.

    “Officiating is the most nerve-wracking because it’s so special and sacred, but I really love it,” she says. “You get to be involved in the happiest moment of people’s lives. I still get a little teary every time. I’ve had a lot of jobs, but this is the best by far – in fact, I don’t even really think of it as a job.”

    But officiant isn’t the only hat Chris wears. She often gives vendor recommendations to brides and grooms before they arrive in town, but more importantly, she considers it her personal responsibility to make sure that all aspects of the wedding day run as smoothly as possible.

    She is the coordinator, the point person, the one who takes care of all the hundreds of details and issues that can crop up on wedding days.

    She tells her brides, “I’m going to be your mom today, but without all the baggage. If you need something taken care of, let me know and I’ll handle it.” Her calm, cool, collected personality serves her well, helping her to remain unruffled even on one particularly memorable occasion when the intoxicated best man kept making passes at her throughout the day, even as she officiated the ceremony!

    Anna Maria wedding advice

    Chris is eminently practical when it comes to her advice for soon-to-be newlyweds. Her first piece of advice is to find a place to stay. Tourism is up 13% in Manatee County over last year, which means the most desirable rental properties could get snatched up quickly. She says before anything else, pick a date and book your vacation rental, then figure out what your priorities are (music, flower, photography, etc.).  Pick what’s most important to you, start there and everything else can be worked around that.

    She also urges people to be prepared for whatever they can start working on ahead of time. For instance, couples from out of state can go to the courthouse, fill out paperwork and get married that same day: however, she recommends people fill out the forms online ahead of time to expedite the process. She also firmly suggests that if you plan to write your own vows, you do it in advance of the wedding, and certainly not thirty minutes before the ceremony starts.

    Finally, perhaps her most specifically practical advice: men wearing linen shirts should be sure to wear a lightweight boutonniere, as a more traditional one will tug on your shirt and warp it.

    If you want to get in touch with Chris about a potential event you are planning on Anna Maria, you can contact her through the Weddings by Christina website, or you can also call her directly on (941) 812-0699

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