PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMBER GRAY, GRAY IMAGES
Cindy Sheffield and Blake Southerland knew they were meant for each other from the day they met. Cindy dreamed of a romantic wedding with a touch of elegance and her dreams came true on a beautiful day in May when she held hands with Blake beneath a beautiful arbor that overlooked a pond in a festive country setting. “We met in high school while attending Emerald Coast Fellowships youth group,” Blake remembers. He was 15 and she was 17. “We were introduced because of the friendship I had with one of her sisters. We had an instant chemistry and fell in love. It was as if we had known each other our whole lives. Between her infectious smile and my jokes, somehow we both kept coming back for more.”
They had been together for six years. “They say, when you know you know. That’s exactly how it was for us.” Their love lasted and increased over the years. “Because of the age difference there came a time of distance that was tough for the both of us. Cindy was headed off to Tallahassee to complete her bachelor’s degree and then soon after onto Jacksonville for graduate school.” Blake remember thinking that he had to seal the Deal. “I had to make her completely mine, which led to our sunset beach proposal a few days before she moved off to Jacksonville.” After their marriage, they have both moved to Tallahassee were Blake is attending graduate school at FAMU to become an occupational therapist.
They had been together for six years. “They say, when you know you know…
“She is the most beautiful girl I have ever met, and to this day she still takes my breath away.”
“Cindy is loving, caring, and one of the hardest workers you will ever meet,” he says. “Her compassion and love for others is what drives her in her job as a Speech Pathologist and she has the ability to leave a sweet everlasting first impression. It is what instantly attracted me to her. She is the most beautiful girl I have ever met, and to this day she still takes my breath away.” Cindy always refers to Blake as her better half. “I thank God every day for placing Blake in my life. I fall more and more in love with him each day that passes. Blake is by far the most selfless person I’ve ever met. His heart radiates kindness and love. Not to mention his ability to make you laugh and smile just when you need to. Blake may be younger in age, but I look up to him in so many ways.
With the passing of his grandfather Steve Southerland, Sr. earlier in the year, Blake took the opportunity to share the legacy and impact his grandfather made not only on himself but the entire community. Through this tough time, I saw how strong Blake could be because of the rootedness in his faith, part of the legacy his grandfather instilled in him.” With a marriage that is built on the foundation of strong beliefs in the Christian faith, they try to base their relationship on Christian principles. “I think that is a testament to how long our relationship has lasted.” With differing personalities, they feel that they have found the perfect balance in one another.
“If we could give newlyweds any piece of advice it would be to keep God at the forefront of your marriage. Seek guidance in his word when times get tough. This has provided us not only with answers we’ve sought, but also comfort in hard times. Praying daily with one another has helped us to remain strong in our faith.” Their plans for the future involve having kids and moving back to Panama City once Blake graduates with his master’s degree. Blake and Cindy remember their wedding as a fairytale event. “We like to thank our families who contributed to the best day of our life. Without their love and support,we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
GROOMSMAN: Tim Southerland, Best Man Jimmy Haney Johnny Way Scott Nguyen Chris Nguyen George Michael Pettis Sage Mount Trevor Cook Marshall McKinney Easton McKinney
BRIDESMAIDS: Ashley Sheffield, Maid of Honor Brandi Sheffield, Maid of Honor Alaina Courtney Carlee Rosie Emily Speakman Kayla Cook Ashley Birgenheier Lindsey Ivey
FLOWER GIRLS: Tinsley Smallwood Ashton McKinney
OFFICIANT: Dr. Steve Taylor
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