By Megan McDonald
Christine Cusack and Kevin Carlson
October 20, 2012
The Oaks Club
Christine Cusack Carlson and her husband, Kevin Carlson, have a special connection to Sarasota: Both their parents have homes here, and when planning the wedding, Christine loved the idea of having it in beautiful October weather and the fact that her guests could have a relaxing getaway weekend. And the Chicago-based couple were already familiar with The Oaks Club, where the ceremony and reception were held, so it seemed like a natural fit. Read on to get all the dish on Christine and Kevin's glamorous big day.
How did you and your husband meet?
Kevin and I met in December 2005 during Christmas break of our senior year of college. My girlfriends from school invited me to an ugly Christmas sweater party that some of their childhood friends were throwing, and one of the hosts was Kevin. He was fresh off a study abroad trip in Hawaii (it's questionable that he did any schoolwork!), and and from afar I saw this perfectly bronzed guy with his hair slicked back, wearing a fitted turtleneck underneath a women's sweater vest. I couldn’t decide whether it was his boyish charm or that heinous outfit that drew me to him, but we were at each other’s sides the rest of the night.
Days passed, and we spent much of the Christmas break together before I went back to Miami [Ohio] to finish my senior year. We then went our separate ways for a bit to enjoy the last months of college life, but still kept in touch every so often.
About six months after college graduation, it became clear that something was missing for both of us, and we were ready to give our relationship a real shot. Six incredible years later, eight combined apartments, a dog and a proposal, we are finally married after the wedding of our dreams.
What attracted you to Kevin the most?
Kevin is one of the easiest people to be around. He’s laid back, calm, kind and patient--me, not so patient! He also has this “coolness” about him that I love. For instance, he is a phenomenal sailor, he can wakeboard and ski like a pro, and he isn’t afraid to laugh at himself. He just wants to be happy and live life in a positive way. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes.
How did you decide on a Sarasota wedding?
My parents moved to Sarasota three years ago and, coincidentally, Kevin’s parents have a house on Casey Key, so with our connection to the area we figured it was the perfect place to get married. People put so much time and energy into planning a wedding, and I wanted it to be a weekend event where people could relax, enjoy the beautiful weather and just hang out for a few days. Sarasota is such a great city that a lot of our friends and family were not familiar with, so it allowed us to introduce it to them.
What was planning a destination wedding like?
Planning the wedding from Chicago wasn’t too bad because my mom lives in Sarasota and was able to do a ton of the hands-on stuff for me. She's such a great planner, and I always jokingly call her Martha Stewart because of her creative knack. We made a good team because I handled a lot of the little things like personalized gifts, Excel spreadsheets and emailing vendors, while she was more focused on the presentation and the design element of the wedding. Fortunately, Kevin and I were able to make a few trips down to Sarasota to decide on invitations, pick our flower arrangements, do the tasting and explain our overall vision.
Why did you choose The Oaks Club?
Kevin and I had no doubt that if we were going to get married in Sarasota, we wanted it to be at The Oaks. When you drive into The Oaks, the Spanish moss hangs down on the driveway and the view of the club from afar, over the pond and 18th hole, is breathtaking. Both of our parents are members, and whenever we come to Florida for a long weekend or holiday, we spend time golfing at The Oaks, playing tennis and getting both of our families together. I always imagined getting married in a warm, sunny climate and couldn’t shake the idea of having a tented wedding. The croquet lawn at The Oaks provided the perfect spot to do just that, and we were the first to host an event of that size on their lawn. Everything was flawless. My mom worked extremely hard with the staff to make sure they were prepared for all the people and had the right equipment, and she put her interior decorator skills to use with the details. Now that we paved the way with their first big wedding, The Oaks is getting a bunch of inquiries about weddings for next year!
What were your favorite details from the day?
There were a few details from the wedding day that I loved. When I woke up I gave my mom and dad separate gifts as a thank you for all of the hard work they put into making this possible for Kevin and me. It was really special to have that moment to let them know how amazing they are. Another special moment was the “first look” with Kevin before the ceremony. We were able to have some time to ourselves to take everything in before the madness started. It was emotional, nerve-wracking and calming all at the same time. The last two moments I loved about the wedding were seeing the tent for the first time, which really was a dream come true, and then dancing non-stop the entire night with all of our friends and family.
What will you remember most about your wedding day?
My dad’s speech. My dad is outgoing, loud and a total goofball, but what no one really knows is that he is terrified of public speaking. I told him before the wedding that he was not allowed to read from a piece of paper because this was his one opportunity to give the father of the bride speech, and I wanted him to speak from the heart. When the time came, he got up in front of everyone and gave the most amazing speech I have ever heard. It was absolutely perfect, from the laughs to the sentimentality to the Gaelic he spoke near the end. Just when I thought it was over, he ended the speech with a line that was something like, “May your future be bright with hope--let the brightness begin and the sky light up.” All of a sudden, fireworks shot up over our clear tent to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” I was in complete and utter shock--I was crying, laughing and overwhelmed by what was going on. My parents had planned this amazing fireworks show and managed to keep it a surprise from everyone, including me. There were even heart-shaped fireworks! The show kept going on and on to amazing music, and my husband and I truly felt like the luckiest people alive. When my parents came over, I couldn’t find words to explain how amazing it was. That moment will stick with me for the rest of my life!