We love every bride we have the pleasure of featuring on Southern Weddings, but today’s bride is particularly special — because we know her personally! And y’all do, too! Or at least our long time readers do. Some of you may recognize Caroline’s pretty face from V3’s hot air balloon shoot. We loved Miss Caroline so much we asked her back for a V4 shoot, and this time, her boyfriend Lionel came along, too. While we were hoping Lionel would propose at the shoot (no luck), we did hear that he had popped the question a few weeks later, and we’ve been waiting to see their wedding photos ever since!
The photos are in, and now we get to share them with you! From Caroline’s relaxed waves and adorable braid-halo to the absolutely stunning light in Melissa Schollaert’s beautiful photographs, I love the organic and fresh feeling of Caroline + Lionel’s jewel-tone nuptials. Aside from each and every pretty detail you can see on this page, I can’t pass up mentioning how fun and unique C + L’s music was! Caroline said they chose music from their favorite movies, including Legends of the Fall, Father of the Bride, The Cider House Rules, and Braveheart. Such a fun way to incorporate their personalities into the fabric of their big day!
WOAH, nelly! Can we please stop and stare at Caroline’s grandmother’s to-die-for ring she rocked on her big day?
Okay, moving on!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I knew I wanted to find something classic and fitted with some lace and also something that would look good in the fall outdoors. I went with my sister just to look at a store that was closing in the area (Priscilla’s of Boston) and I ended up purchasing a brand new dress on sale. I knew it was the one because I looked and felt like a bride! (I’m actually selling it here.)
Describe your wedding flowers: My aunt did the flowers and we went with a lot of white (roses, ranunculus, hydrangeas, lilies), touches of purples (calla lilies), and some greenery (baby’s breath). They were all so beautiful! I think my aunt has a new career!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. The music was very unique throughout the wedding. We played a lot of music from our favorite movies (Legends of the Fall, Father of the Bride, The Cider House Rules, and Braveheart). Growing up and listening to the Legends of the Fall soundtrack, I knew one day I would walk down the aisle to it. My sister did it too. We also had a musician perform our favorite praise and worship song, “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” by Matt Redman during the ceremony.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes, I love taking pictures and I wanted to make sure we could get as many in as possible! Lionel was thrilled too! Those were some of my favorite pictures of the entire wedding and such a special moment to watch on the wedding video. We also got to spend more time at the cocktail hour with our friends and family.
Did you write your own vows? We didn’t state the traditional wedding vows, but we put together ones that fit us better personally. “I Caroline take you Lionel to be my best friend, my faithful partner, and my one true love.” They were more intimate because they were really geared toward us as a couple.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My little sister read Colossians 3:12-17 and my grandmother read Deuteronomy 6:5-9. It was so sweet to hear both of them speak during the ceremony, and for them to read some of my favorite verses on marriage and love. My grandparents have been married 62 years and counting. They are so special to me!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: For me, it was the ceremony. It couldn’t have been more perfect — the setting on the lake, the cross, the weather, the breeze, the music and of course, marrying Lionel! Tyler, my brother-in law who introduced us, was the officiant. He did an awesome job lightening the mood with his humor. I remember his first line: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to witness my debut as a wedding officiant!” We also loved how the tent turned out. The lighting was so beautiful along with the farm tables and mahogany chairs! We brought the ballroom outside!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: It was the best cake I ever tasted and it was very pretty too! I wanted something simple but tasty and it was perfection! We had three layers with different flavors: White chocolate with Nutella filling, chocolate pistachio with milk chocolate mocha buttercream and Italian cream with Nutella filling. We couldn’t even wait until our one year anniversary to eat our saved toped layer! It lasted about a week.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food! Cheese grits and short ribs for dinner, fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls and crab cakes for appetizers. The décor was also Southern. We had hay bales, vintage window panels for seating assignments and the outdoor venue. Also, we played country music at the reception. We also had a Southern-themed rehearsal dinner the night before with hay seating, a low country boil, sunflowers, and sweet tea in mason jars.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We meet through my brother in-law, Tyler, who was trying to play matchmaker. Tyler and Lionel had a mutual friend in the Army and would often hang out together. Both of my sisters had already met Lionel and approved so I was less hesitant. Lionel, however, thought the safest way to communicate with me was on my birthday through Facebook, a week before his deployment to Afghanistan. In Lionel’s words, “Upon Caroline accepting my friend request and looking at her pictures, I immediately regretted waiting so long to communicate with her, Tyler had obviously done a poor job describing her.” Lionel arrived in Afghanistan and was excited to have email connections so he could communicate with me. Long story short, Lionel decided to write me an email hoping for a response, and we ended up writing each other every day throughout his three-month deployment! The first weekend he got back, we met for the first time and the rest was history!
Describe the proposal. I’m an avid golfer so the first weekend we met, I insisted that we play golf. We made a bet that if I won, then he owed me a date in Charleston where I didn’t have to make any decisions. Well I won the golf match and almost a year later I got my surprise weekend date in Charleston where Lionel proposed on the beach. It’s kind of cool to think the bet we made on our first date ended with me wining a proposal!
In what month did you get married? October
How many guests attended your wedding? 100
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I did all the planning throughout the entire engagement. There are so many details and tasks to accomplish right before the wedding that can become stressful. We did hire a coordinator/planner for the day of so that was helpful for me!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The lighting, tables and chairs, videographer, and photographer!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Make a list of what’s most important for both the bride and groom. For me, it was the pictures, ambiance and food. For Lionel, it was the atmosphere, wine and the food. Also, take pictures from magazines and Pinterest to every vendor appointment so everyone is on the same page. When the caterer asks you how you want your napkins folded, you already have thought of it and have a picture!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to Lionel graduating in May with his MBA. We will be moving to Houston, TX where Lionel will start work. I continue to travel a lot with my modeling career. We are seeing a house full of kids happening in a few years once we get settled.
Melissa Schollaert is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!