Will Daniels will not allow a drunken groomsman or flickering bulb to ruin a bride’s big day.


The Jacksonville Public Library employee spends little time shushing patrons, but a good deal of time arranging centerpieces and table settings.

During the day, he paces through Jacksonville Public Library’s downtown branch, his shoes tapping as he walks by rows of patrons typing on computers. He speaks softly, a smidge below his normal baritone speaking voice, as he leads brides-to-be through the five-floor library.

He challenges them to imagine the space not as a modest space for reading, but as a glamorous ballroom once it’s transformed with flowers and spotlights.

Jacksonville Public Library’s downtown branch is becoming a popular location to get hitched in style.

Library spokeswoman Kathy Lussier said there were 33 weddings in 2013 and about 40 weddings so far this year. She even has bookings for 2016.

Daniels, 51, is one of three event coordinators at the library, but he’s the go-to guy for weddings.

Some days, Daniels preps a room for a company banquet, and other days he ties bows on the grand staircase for a ceremony.

His attention to detail doesn’t stop when the weddings are over. He comes to work in sharply pressed suits and wears a platinum wedding band, a line of diamonds running down the center. After he wakes up in the morning, he knows his daily schedule from the moment he steps out the door.

In Daniels’ world, timing is everything. He plans out every moment of a wedding from the moment a bride arrives at the library to the moment she steps up the altar.

He knows when extra details — like a full moon, scheduled fireworks from a Jacksonville Suns game or the lighted Main Street bridge — might fit into a perfectly constructed day.

“I always say my mind is a little different than other people because I can walk into an empty room, and I’m immediately mapping out the space,” he said.

He isn’t the bride’s coordinator — she still needs to select someone for that role — but Daniels still holds a level of responsibility. At the end of the day, a couple goes home and shows off their wedding photos and raves — or rants — about their venue.

His job is to make sure the library gets raves and that the bride and groom enjoy the biggest day of their lives.

Daniels got his start in event management at Hilton hotels after attending Florida State University’s hospitality management program. He started organizing events at the Hilton, leaving after about a decade to start his own catering company.

He returned to Jacksonville with his son in 1999, a change prompted by his father’s death. He stayed and was running his catering business part time when he saw an opportunity to volunteer for the library.

After a few months, library staff had him organizing events, and he managed the library’s first weddings. Soon, they hired him as an events specialist.

He didn’t join the wedding industry to look for love.

Whether he wanted to or not, he found it one day in the middle of a ceremony.

His future bride was matron of honor at a wedding he’d coordinated. They dated, fell in love and wed earlier this month. At the library, of course.

When Daniels plans a wedding, he guides engaged couples through the library, hitting all the potential venues. At the main staircase, he shows them photos of that staircase decorated for different weddings.

Don’t use white on the staircase, Daniels says, looking at a bride-to-be on a recent tour from the rim of his glasses.

Dark or bright colors are best since they won’t get lost in the beige backdrop.

In the hours before a wedding, Daniels scurries from room to room, checking each detail. On a recent weekend, he handled two Saturday weddings, and he said that wasn’t even his busiest weekend that month.

Are the centerpieces in place? Check.

Does each table have clips for the tablecloths? Check.

Are the bows on the stairs fluffed properly? Check.

Sometimes, he’s able to attend the ceremonies. Even when he isn’t, he said, he isn’t worried.

As long as the group follows his itinerary, everything will go smoothly.

“At the end of the night, when I have the mom, the dad, the groom and the bride coming over to hug me, that’s the end result I’m looking for,” Daniels said. “I love the smiling people.”


Meredith Rutland: (904) 359-4161