It all started when I asked a kind of nosy question. A few years ago, I was sitting in my Amish friend’s kitchen having coffee with her and one of her daughters. It was late February and we were talking about the snow on the ground, the freezing temperatures, and how spring just couldn’t come soon enough.
Then I noticed how tan her daughter was.
I knew I shouldn’t ask why she was tan in February, but after a while I couldn’t help myself. With a smile, she told me that she’d just gotten back from a week’s vacation in Pinecraft.
I had never heard of it.
Right away, the conversation took a sharp turn. Soon, we were talking about Siesta Key and sugar-sand beaches. Riding bicycles instead of driving buggies. Smelling fresh flowers, eating strawberries, and playing volleyball and shuffle board.
It all sounded wonderful to me!
And it is. Pinecraft stole my heart last February when I visited. My husband and I walked on Siesta Key, visited Pinecraft Park, and stood in line at Yoder’s for slices of key lime pie. We had pizza with Amish friends and ice cream cones in the afternoon.
It was warm. It was beautiful. By the time we boarded the plane, I was already planning the Amish Brides of Pinecraft Series. It launches with The Promise of Palm Grove in February.
So, pour yourself a glass of iced tea, slip on a pair of flip flops, and get ready to be charmed by a lovely place located in the heart of Sarasota, Florida.
Maybe, like me, you’ll be anxious to return again and again.
With blessings to you,

The Latest from Shelley's Journal

Bride Blog: The Great Debate

Posted at Jun 12, 2015 4:42 am

Planning a wedding is quite a job!  Everyone has his or her opinion about how the event should look and feel.  Wedding budgets vary tremendously, and the size of the budget available often causes great debates between the bride and groom and the people footing the bill.  Do we splurge for fresh flowers or do we save money on flowers and spend the savings elsewhere (like on the dress)?  What are we going to do about music?  Do we hire a DJ or book a string quartet?

(This is Laurie).  There were only three hiccups that kept our wedding day from being perfect.  Three that I was made aware of, anyway.  By the time we started contacting florists, my husband and I had already confirmed many of the details for our wedding.  When I called the first florist, I discovered we had chosen to get married on Sweetest Day.  Ugh.  Thankfully I only had to make one or two more phone calls to find someone who welcomed our business.  During our consultation with the florist, I provided pictures of bouquets I had snipped from wedding magazines to help describe the desired look I wanted.  (I envisioned the bridesmaids’ bouquets looking very similar to the bouquet held by Jennifer Beckstrand’s daughter in the photo posted near her story below).  When the flowers were delivered to the church, I was initially devastated because the bridemaids’ bouquets were not what I pictured.  After the bridesmaids assured me the arrangement was beautiful, I decided I respected the florist’s artistic impression of the description I provided.  My bouquet was exactly what I wanted, and I couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle. IMG_2546The aisle…that brings me to the second hiccup of the day.  As I stood behind the door to the sanctuary, waiting to walk down the aisle with my dad, the organist suddenly stopped playing the music.  Nothing happened for what seemed like forever.  Later I would learn that at that moment, the Best Man was attempting to unroll the aisle runner.  Apparently the florist forgot to properly prepare the runner, and it would not budge.  It is quite humorous to watch the wedding video–you see the Best Man’s confusion…my brother steps in to help…they struggle for a few minutes…my husband’s aunt comes to the rescue…  But then a few steps down the aisle, there is an additional tangle…  Instead of bailing and tossing the runner to the side, my brother and the Best Man decide to kick the runner to unroll it the rest of the way down the aisle.  At this point, my dad and I were oblivious to what was happening on the other side of the door.  I remember feeling so relieved to hear the organist begin playing the processional.

After the ceremony, the photographer took some quick pictures of the bridal party.  Our guests made their way across the river to reception.  At the same time, our DJ was racing there to get set up before our arrival.  This was the third and final hiccup for the day.  When we originally spoke with him about our wedding reception, we were planning an evening affair.  Then we changed the time of the ceremony and reception so my childhood minister could officiate the ceremony.  The DJ approved the change, but I guess he accidentally forgot to update his calendar.  While the DJ got situated, the event staff piped music into the ballroom and began serving our guests hors d’oeuvres.  My husband and I waited outside in the sunshine with the bridal party, enjoying adult beverages that were poured for us by the policeman on street patrol.  I think the event staff feared they’d be dealing with Bridezilla under the circumstances.  But I was so happy to be married, I truly didn’t care. 

Love is in bloom, and the sound of love is in the air.   This month, your favorite Amish authors have shared some of their wedding experiences with us.

Kelly Irvin

Since Tim and I were on a tight budget, DJs and bands were out of the question for our wedding reception. We had a boom box sitting on the floor in the corner at the party house my mother-in-law rented. My good friend Shellee Bratton, who doubled as our videographer, was in charge of changing the cassette tapes (yes, it was the “olden” days before CDs or i-tunes.) My only memory of the music is when a song by Phil Collins came on. He was one of the favorite singers of a previous boyfriend who broke my heart. (Little did I know he did me a tremendous favor because the love of my life was still to come!) The only thing worse would’ve been ZZ Top, another of his favorites. I whispered in Shellee’s ear and asked her to change the music. She was taping at the time and on the video you can see our conversation, but not hear it. When Tim and I watched this wonderful video of our wedding and reception, he wanted to know what we were talking about. I smiled and said, “Nothing, honey!” Thinking of it now reminds me of how everything really does work out for the best. We’ve been happily married for almost 28 years now. God knew what He was doing!

Amy Lillard

This is one area where my wedding was amazing. I had a beautiful bouquet of real flowers for my nuptials thanks to my mother-in-law. Seriously. If it hadn’t been for her I wouldn’t have even thought about flowers. I just wanted to get to the courthouse and get it over with so I could get on with the rest of my day. I know…so romantic. But if I haven’t mentioned it before, I was a nervous wreck. The less time I spent thinking about the wedding, the fewer opportunities I had for a full blown panic attack. But she dragged me to Rheba’s House of Flowers and before I knew what hit me, I had a wedding bouquet. Of course, I wasn’t about to throw the beautiful arrangement to the one unmarried woman in our group of ten. So I kept it to myself. :) I recently, finally, threw the bouquet away. Well, what was left of it. Over the years and eighteen moves, it had suffered a bit at the hands of time. I suppose that’s the one down side of real flowers. They surely won’t keep as long as the silk.

The music for the reception was classic. Since we ate after the wedding at Pizza Hut (again, so romantic), the music was provided by the Wurlitzer that sat next to one of the exits. The actual reception was held a couple of days later in a fancy schmancy club called Cindy’s Beer Gardens. Well, you can only imagine the swank and once again Wurlitzer saved the day. I’m not sure of any songs that were actually played those two days, though if my husband had any say in it there was plenty of Van Halen. We didn’t have a first dance nor did I have a last dance with my father. But that’s all right with me. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jennifer Beckstrand

Jennifer June 3

I love real flowers. I love them so much that I put them on my cake. My three daughters also had real flowers at their weddings. They die quickly, but they are so beautiful while they last.  Here are pictures of flowers from my three daughters’  weddings.

Jennifer June 2
Jennifer June 4

Jennifer June 1

Be sure to check back in July.  In addition to the authors we’ve all enjoyed hearing from each month, Shelley has invited some ladies from Harper Collins to share wedding stories with us!


More Journal Posts »