Sara Gillianne co-created the Pensacola Blockparty Wedding over a glass of wine.
“It was Fat Tuesday in 2010,” Gillianne recalled.
Eight short months later Nicole and Chad Parker were the first couple to win the Pensacola Blockparty Wedding and were lucky enough to exchange vows on Palafox in front of thousands on Gallery Night.
“I’m not very patient when it comes to ideas,” Gillianne said with a laugh. “The next day after we came up with the idea we started moving.”
Now, the Pensacola Blockparty Wedding continues to grow in vendors, audience and couples.
“I’m freaking out a little bit,” Gillianne said with a laugh. “I just had this crazy idea.”
Surprisingly enough, it didn’t take much convincing for Gillianne to get vendors and sponsors on board.
“I was so nervous to ask people,” she said. “How do you say, ‘We have this crazy idea, can you come on board?’ Each year it’s a little easier, the vendors want to be involved. We’ve have vendors that continue every year. That’s how they give back.”
Chloe Lawry, florist and owner of Supposey, couldn’t wait to be a part of the blockparty wedding. She used to work for the 2011 floral vendor. When she started her own business, she was excited to provide her services in 2012.
“Nobody gets to be married on Palafox, nobody,” she said. “It’s a huge opportunity to be a part of this wedding. This is such a huge thing—it launched my business.”
Not only is the wedding out in the open on Palafox, but being held on Gallery Night gives the bridal party and vendors an extra-large audience.
“Last year, there were 20,000 people,” Gillianne said. “When we’re setting up the wedding, people come early to watch. It’s a great behind-the-scenes look for people. It shows them that it takes a lot of work to put the ceremony together.”
“It is a lot of pressure, but it’s good pressure,” Lawry said. “And it’s fun to have creative freedom.”
For vendors like Lawry to donate their time and talents means a lot to Gillianne.
“It really makes me proud,” she said. “I’m extremely humbled that people want to be involved. The vendors we have are the best of the best. It’s amazing how it’s grown from just an itty bitty seed.”
Last year, votes for the final couples came in by the thousands. It’s no easy task to pick through the couples, but Gillianne and the vendors know they want to be able to make a real impact on the bride and groom-to-be.
“This is not a popularity contest,” she said. “I want to make a difference. The motto is ‘Changing lives one wedding at a time.’ This event is great advertising for vendors, but that’s not what this is all about.”
Aislinn Kate, of Aislinn Kate Photography, is a new Pensacola Blockparty Wedding vendor. Being a part of changing a young couples’ life was what made her volunteer her services.
“It’s a great opportunity to give something back,” she said. “I’m excited about working with a fun team of vendors and taking care of clients who really deserve it. Some of these couples may not be able to afford a wedding.”
Like Lawry, she’s looking forward to putting forth her creative efforts in a one-of-a-kind event.
“It’s always fun to capture what makes Pensacola, Pensacola,” Kate said. “It’s such a unique event. I’m really looking forward to it.”
To narrow down the search Gillianne and vendors will try to engage the couples throughout the voting process, with a meet and greet before the top 10 are picked. Obvious rules are that couples need to be aged 21 and up and live within 50 miles of Pensacola.
“We want to know if the couples are currently in the wedding planning process, if money was no object, what would their dream wedding and dream vendors be, color palettes, themes,” she said. “We want to get to know the couples at the meet and greets. We want them to get creative—make t-shirts, posters, sing a song, do a skit—stand out.”
After the top 10 are chosen, they’ll be narrowed down to five and announced at a Blue Wahoos game.
“The wedding is meant for everyone to be a part of,” Lawry said. “The possibilities are endless.”
Beyond the pretty flowers and romantic love stories, Gillianne and her devoted team of sponsors and vendors just want to give back.
“There’s such a great community of people that I work with,” she said. “We want it to be known that we care and we want it to grow every year. This core group of people feels the same way. We’re all on the same page.”
Important PBW Dates:
Registration is now open to all couples hoping to win the Pensacola Blockparty Wedding and will close June 10.
For more information, visit pensacolabw.com.