While I know the state of Alabama is quite large, I always feel a kindred spirit to our sweet Alabama couples. I can especially relate to Rachel + Carl with their long distance relationship stints. While planning from afar can be a challenge, they chose to focus on sweet and meaningful details that truly reflected the importance of family and community. I love how they chose the same cake maker Rachel’s parent used at their wedding. While I could go on over Rachel + Carl carefully planned details, Rachel’s advice to future brides is so wise. She said “It amazingly all works out. As your wedding gets closer and closer, you realize that what is most important is getting married to the love of your life and being surrounded by family and friends as you do so.” Isn’t that the truth?!
Big thanks to White Rabbit Studios for capturing this lovely day!
Our venue was a beautiful Southern plantation in the middle of cotton fields, which set the perfect mood for a vintage, Southern wedding. The use of decorations like peaches and milk glass brought some of the Southern charm, while the community was filled with Southern hospitality and warmth.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my wedding dress was quite an adventure. On our first trip shopping, I took my mom, my maid of honor, and my matron of honor. We went through about four different stores and tons of dresses. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. After looking back over pictures later, one dress seemed to stand out to everyone, except for my mom. She wasn’t willing to commit and wasn’t going to be satisfied until we tried on every dress we could find. I found myself constantly comparing every dress to the one I found the first day. Finally, my mom agreed to let me go try on the original dress again, and I brought along another bridesmaid this time. Once I slipped on the dress and stepped out for everyone to see, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was the one. My mom ended up being obsessed with the dress and will admit she doesn’t understand why she didn’t like it at first.
Seeing couples opt out of a “first look” for a moment of prayer still remains one of my favorite moments in a wedding day!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Carl and I debated over this many times. We ended up deciding to not do a “first look” and have the first time he saw me to be walking down the aisle. We felt like there was something sweet and special about that moment. We were also used to not seeing each other very often, so waiting didn’t seem like a huge deal. We did decide to pray with each other before the ceremony began, though. Our photographer and videographer led the two of us to a tree near our ceremony site with our eyes closed. They placed us on two different sides of the tree and made us face forward. We were able to hold hands and spend some time in prayer together. It was a perfect moment. It was nice to know what was going on in his head and finally be able to praise the Lord together for all his goodness. I just remember being overwhelmed with how good the Lord is. He had taken care of everything that day: the weather, the silly little details, and he had brought me the most amazing husband. I’m so glad we got that little bit of time to share together.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did write our own vows. We wanted them to truly reflect the metaphor of how Christ loves his church and how that drives our relationship. One of my favorite parts was that we both ended up using the same phrase: “Knowing that God’s glory comes before all else.” I think if we can both really live by that phrase, knowing our relationship is not about ourselves, but about the glory of God, we can make it through any stage of life that comes our way.What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We did not have readings at our ceremony. Instead of readings or a special song, we invited our wedding party and parents to surround us in prayer. They all gathered around and prayed, as one groomsmen and one bridesmaid led a prayer aloud. Our community is something that is extremely important to us, and to know they were supporting us was a really meaningful portion of our ceremony.
Wedding flowers were an adventure for us. My mom had expressed interest in trying to do flowers ourselves because of the price, and I guess for fun. This made me really nervous. Where were we going to get the flowers, how do you make a bouquet, how do you keep flowers? So many questions made me worried. However, by doing it ourselves, they were able to be exactly how I had pictured them. We were able to get the flowers I desired, like peonies, and even at cheaper prices. The arrangements were filled with beautiful peachy, pinky flowers that really created the soft, romantic look I was aiming for. A family friend who had experience being a florist created all of the arrangements and boutonnieres. The morning of the wedding, the bridesmaids and I met with another family friend, who helped us create our own bouquets. I think the girls were really nervous about it at first, but they seemed like they really enjoyed doing it themselves, and the bouquets turned out beautifully.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was actually made by the same person who made my parents’ wedding cake. We decided to go with a classic white cake, but had it mimic the milk glass that was a large part of our decorations. We had originally decided we would just have it plain with no flowers, but about two weeks before the wedding, we realized having sugar flowers would make it so pretty. We had found a picture for inspiration, but our cake decorator did not think she would be able to make them. My mom found a Youtube video of how to go about making sugar flowers and showed it to a friend. With no cake decorating experience, our friend created stunning sugar flowers to add to the cake. I’m so glad she did, because I think it’s what really made the cake!
I didn’t work super hard to make sure it would happen, but kind of hoped it would just come together. My something borrowed was my mom’s garter that her grandmother had made her for her wedding day. My something blue was the one I realized I didn’t have anything for the night before, so I ended up deciding to wear blue panties the day of so it would all be complete. My something old was my uncle’s vintage MG that we used for our getaway car. It was a car he and my grandfather had bought and worked on. It was also really special because my mom and dad left in another MG that my uncle and grandfather had worked on as their getaway car at their wedding. My something new were these beautiful opal earrings my parents gave me for graduation. I have always loved opals, especially since my grandfather gave me a pair when I was a little girl. Unfortunately that exact pair was nowhere to be found, so a new pair worked just as well.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Carl and I met in high school while on a mission trip to Honduras with our youth group, where it was easy to see each other’s true selves and hearts. We were both extremely involved in our church and had a strong passion for the Lord and others. Not long after we started dating, Carl began college at Auburn University. For two years, we navigated the ups and downs of a long distance relationship, getting by with many letters and four-hour drives. Eventually, I joined Carl at Auburn. We were finally able to enjoy the presence of each other and a true community of common friends. After graduating in psychology and interning for a year, Carl received a job in North Carolina as a youth pastor. We were obviously excited for the Lord’s blessing, but once again found ourselves in a long distance relationship.
Tell us all about the proposal! One weekend when we returned to Madison, Carl surprised me with a special date. On the hour drive there, I struggled with an internal battle over whether or not the proposal was happening. When we finally arrived I was excited to discover that we were at a county fair. I love the rides, atmosphere, and sweet charm of fairs. He knows me very well. My suspicion still snuck up as he offered to go all out on fair food, and even ride the dizzy rides that make him sick. However, I once again convinced myself it was not happening, because it would be too dangerous to have a ring in your pocket on those rides. Little did I know, the surprise was waiting for me at home. When we got back to my house, after forcing me to stay awake, he proposed at the same spot where he had once asked me to be his girlfriend over five years before.
When did y’all get married? May 26, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 250-275
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our ceremony and reception music was one of our favorite parts of the wedding. For our ceremony music, we decided to do all Christian worship songs by artists like Bethel, Hillsong United, and United Pursuit Band. We used “Like Incense/Sometimes By Step” by Hillsong United for the bridal party and I to walk down the aisle. The way the song builds made a perfect, dramatic, and worshipful entrance. For leaving back down the aisle, we picked a more upbeat song called “This is What You Do” by Bethel. It was a perfect song to joyfully walk down the aisle to as husband and wife, and even caused my mom to dance back down the aisle. Our first dance and father-daughter dance were very special to us as well. Our bridal party included three of our friends who we had really wanted to sing, but knew it would be complicated for them to do so in the ceremony. We decided we would have them sing those first two songs instead. It was very sweet to not only be dancing with loved ones, but have loved ones singing, as well. For our first dance, we used an acoustic version of “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson, which was one of my favorite songs as a kid. Our father-daughter dance was an acoustic version of “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, which was the perfect song for my dad and I to shag dance to.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It’s really hard to pick a favorite detail because overall, everything came together so perfectly. Although it was out of our control, we were so thankful and excited about the weather. It wasn’t raining, which was a huge plus, but it was also just the right temperature and lighting. Out of the details we could control, I think it would be a tough battle to choose between the flowers and the music. They both played such a vital role in creating the atmosphere that we desired.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? One of the biggest challenges for me was Carl and I being long distance while trying to plan the wedding. It was hard to make decisions together, since he could not be there to view the venue or the cake or other decorations. A lot of the decisions, I had to make on my own. I really wanted the wedding to be a good representation of the two of us, so I was worried it wouldn’t all come together. However, I think he probably enjoyed not having to be quite so involved.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were extremely happy with our photographer and videographer, White Rabbit Studios. They were a dream to work with. Not only were they pleasant to be with all day, but the photos capture the day exactly how I remember it to be. We had such a wide variety of photos, from the decorative details to the candid emotions of the day.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I think one of the most memorable parts of our wedding day was going through the Burger King drive-through for icees with one of my maids of honor and the best man after leaving the reception. It was nice to finally sit down and enjoy a semi-normal moment with our best friends right before we headed off to the honeymoon.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? It amazingly all works out. As your wedding gets closer and closer, you realize that what is most important is getting married to the love of your life and being surrounded by family and friends as you do so. Many details I fretted over before, I didn’t even notice or think about come the day of the wedding. Enjoy the day being surrounded by those you love and those who love you.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? After our honeymoon, I joined Carl in North Carolina, where we have really enjoyed just getting to be together and enjoy one life together instead of two lives apart. I have been working on starting a wedding invitation line, while Carl has continued to work in youth ministry. I think one of the things we are most enjoying in our marriage is doing ministry together. This summer, I’ve been able to help Carl out with his youth group through retreats, fun trips, and bible studies. It’s really neat to partner together in that and truly serve each other while serving the youth. We can’t wait to see what adventures come our way!
Photographer: Ashley Vaughn from White Rabbit Studios | Videographer: Dustin Timbrook from White Rabbit Studios | Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Cedars 1859 | Kathy Grissom, Family Friend | Wedding Cake: Connie’s Creations | Caterer: Endless Catering | Rentals: All Needz Rentals | Band: The Purple Ravens | Bride’s Gown: Bella Couture, Allure Gown | Paper Products: Rachel Botts Design | Bride’s Earrings: Kohls | Bride’s Veil: Renaissance Consignment | Hair Stylist: Bridesmaid Ivy Tidwell | Makeup Artist: Bridesmaid Stephanie Kearns | Bride’s Shoes: Seychelles I Do Pump | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan Donna Dress from Weddington Way | Groom’s and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Hand Painted Signs and Cake Topper: Emily Edwards | Guestbook: First Snowfall | Robes: Just Cottons