Katie Firestone and Erick Swinson

When Katie Firestone met Erick Swinson in October 2009, she was sporting a blinking light pin at an Oktoberfest celebration with girlfriends. Erick approached her and suggested she remove the obnoxious accessory.

“Instead of being offended by his critique, I appreciated his honesty and we struck up a conversation,” Katie says. They started dating shortly thereafter, and Katie knew he was the one after a successful trip to Pittsburgh to meet her family.

On February 14, 2011, Katie thought Erick would take her to dinner at their typical Valentine’s Day restaurant. But Erick drove in a different direction and pulled up to a restaurant in Clearwater Beach, a half-hour away from their home in Tampa. Erick, too anxious during dinner, popped the question immediately after the meal.

When it came to the wedding, one thing was certain: Katie wanted a garden theme. “My mom is an avid gardener,” she says, “and I was always her sidekick, carrying the watering can for her.”

Though Tampa offered a number of garden clubs, the couple wasn’t impressed by any. When they visited the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, however, it was love at first sight.

Katie threw herself into wedding planning. Having taken a leave from her job as a first-grade teacher, she devoted time to DIY projects and planning everything to perfection. “I don’t think I ever realized how much of a control freak I was until I started wedding planning,” she says.

Photography: Justin DeMutiis Photography

Venue: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Planner: Barbie Tilman of Bumblebee Weddings

Cake: Pastries by Design

Floral and decor: FH Weddings

Catering: Fete Catering

Gown: Maggie Sottero from Olga’s Bridal Boutique

Hair and makeup: Hair by Tammy Gamsco, makeup by the bride

Invitations: KT Janes

Menus: Bride

Entertainment:  DJ Josh Walther of Inspire Entertainment

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