Like Sophie + Brian’s wedding yesterday, today’s is perfectly appropriate for this week. Vanessa + Jonathan met at a horse race in 2007. When the time came to plan for their big day, only a Derby-inspired fete would do! In true Southern fashion, the bride and groom kindly asked their guests to don hats and bow ties for the big day, and then offered some true Southern hospitality in the form of mint juleps and bourbon after the ceremony! We couldn’t be more in love with the couple’s style and about shed a tear when we read about their handfasting ceremony!
Big thanks to Landon Jacob — these images are to die for!
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met at a horse race, which was the inspiration for the wedding. We were at a mutual friend’s tailgate at Steeple Chase, in March of 2007. I followed him around like a puppy, smitten at first look, and he was too busy catching up with friends to notice me! Later at a party that night, he noticed me because I picked up Guitar Hero, played a song on expert and beat it.
After dating for 5 years we knew that the proposal was coming. On Thanksgiving in 2011, my female relatives and I decided to go looking at dresses for fun! I was given one rule: I had to try every dress the girls pulled for me. After nearly 40 dresses ranging from princess ball gowns to sheath gowns, my sister pulled my dress. It was stunning and everyone was speechless. I knew that was the one because I didn’t want to leave without it! We bought the dress that day, and thank goodness Jonathan proposed 4 months later!
We did a first look because we wanted to have a special moment to ourselves before the wedding. It was a good decision because we were able to appreciate each other and the importance of the day before everyone else was fighting for our attention. We also got a lot of great shots of the two of us before the ceremony!
Describe the proposal. We had plans set for a romantic weekend after Valentines day in 2012. Jonathan planned to propose at a restaurant that I was excited to try. We had a crazy night Friday and didn’t end up in bed until early Saturday morning, so I cancelled all of our plans! Jonathan panicked and decided to act on the spot. While I was getting a bath ready for our dog, Zoey, he got the ring and the dog. When I turned around, he had Zoey in his arms, and the box in Zoey’s paws. He asked me to marry him and I was so thrilled I almost flooded the bathroom!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had one reading used in tandem with a special ceremony called Handfasting. Jonathan’s family roots are Irish, so we used this celtic ritual before saying our vows as a nod to his family heritage. Our minister used a cord that Jonathan and I made to bind our hands while he read, “These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.” We didn’t let go of each others hands until after the pronouncement of marriage.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Choosing what to do with our tables! I was afraid the estate tables looked old and not timeless, but the round tables didn’t fit well in the space and made us question the table design. Going with the estate tables was the best idea for the venue space and the table design was perfect. We scattered rose petals across all the tables, mixed in with lanterns and candles and mirrors.
Our whole wedding was Southern-inspired! We met at a horse race so we asked guests to wear hats and bow ties! We used horseshoes to attach escort cards to and served mint juleps during the cocktail hour. Our dinner was fried chicken, shrimp and grits, BBQ sliders and sweet tea — the quintessential Southern menu!
In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? 150
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. We used “Give Me Jesus” for the walk of the grandmothers and mothers, Air on G String for the entrance of the bridal party, and Cannon in D as I entered. During the ceremony, we had an Irish jig, a butterfly jig, play during the handfasting ceremony. We recessed to the Irish jig again.
Describe your wedding flowers. My flowers were beautiful! The bouquets were white and all different textures. We used roses, hydrangeas and peonies.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our cake was so delicious! It was a three-tiered round cake with cream-colored fondant and pearls on each layer, and a bunch of sugar roses that were dyed the same color as the bridesmaids’ dresses. Each tier was a different flavor of strawberry cream cheese marble pound cake, lemon citrus cake, and white chocolate cake!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The handfasting ceremony, it has so much meaning to us and it meant so much to us that Jonathan’s father was able to be our minister and marry us.
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 venue. The wedding would not have been the same if we had a different venue. It set the perfect tone and was formal enough inside the house that we didn’t have to spend a lot of money to decorate it.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Walking out of the balcony for my entrance and looking down to see Jonathan and all of our close family and friends there for our wedding day. I will never forget how special that moment was for me!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? There is no such thing as planning too far in advance! Get as much done as soon as you can, I thought I kept up with the plans and suddenly two weeks before the wedding I was running around feeling so unprepared that I could barely appreciate the rehearsal and the people.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to buying a house this year! We have to save for a few months, but we are so excited to buy a house we can grow our family in.