Weddings are always special and beautiful, but they are also so, so much more than that. They bring families together and begin new ones. They join two people who have chosen each other, over anyone else in the world. And in the midst of suffering, they are a much-needed source of happiness and comfort. Joan and Matt fell madly in love on their first date, and after months of Matt planning a proposal, there was an unexpected tragedy in Joan’s family. Her family urged him to go through with his plan anyway, and he asked Joan to marry him. As you can see in these beautiful pictures from their wedding, sure enough, their beautiful day was full of Georgia sunshine and the sweetest joy. We are so inspired by their love story!
Thanks so much to Soli Photography for sharing Joan and Matt’s wedding with us!
Matt and I met while working at a newspaper in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was a reporter and he came to the paper to help run the magazine division. He had seen me around the office and was trying to find a way to meet me. He later told me he thought I had one of the most beautiful smiles he’d ever seen. When we ended up in a meeting together, he fumbled around with what to say and acted awkward, but I liked him anyway. We had a lot in common, and I was taken by his vivacious personality and style. I asked him if he wanted to get coffee and he said he wanted to get drinks instead. We went to sushi and he told me his whole life story before the check came. We didn’t want the night to end. So, we went to a historic riverboat on the Tennessee River and drank Jack Daniels until we couldn’t see straight. We made friends at the bar with a blind guy and two Scottish bikers. We fell madly in love that night and we haven’t been apart since.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my wedding dress at Boutique Couture, a wonderful designer shop in downtown Chattanooga. It was love at first sight on one of my first trips shopping. All lace, fitted, with a heart shaped neckline and a glamorously long train. My mom told me I would be crazy not to get it, so I did.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We went traditional and I don’t really regret it. When Matt saw we walking down the aisle, he cried and cried. It was such genuine emotion, and it felt so special on our wedding day. Matt just loves surprises, so having see me for the first time at the altar felt like the ultimate in surprises.
We wrote our own vows, and it was what most people said was their favorite part of our wedding. We listened to our pastor, who said we should say what we wanted, but that we needed to remember the traditions, too. In Matt’s vows, he told a beautiful story of when he first realized I would be his wife. Before I read mine, I told him I was shocked he had written his so well. I thought I was supposed to be the writer in our family.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The barn and the farm were our favorite elements. Matt grew up on a dairy farm and my family raised cattle. It meant a lot to us to have the wedding near animals and on scenic land. I dreamed my whole life of dancing under string lights in an open barn with the hay bales stacked above.
Our wedding shouted the South from beginning to end. We had horses and goats in the fields. The party was inside a traditional old barn. We hung lace doilies that my mother in law made. We used old depression glass and milk glass to decorate. We ate BBQ and country pies and danced to my favorite country music. I wore boots under my beautiful wedding dress. And I tried to be the kind of Southern bride my grandmother would be proud of. I went to every table and thanked every guest for their attendance.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had a small wedding cake decorated with billy balls and succulents, as well as several country pies. The groom’s cake was chocolate peanut butter and comic themed. Our desserts were so popular that we didn’t even get a piece of anything.
Tell us all about the proposal! Matt had been planning the proposal for months when our family received tragic news: my sister Dalta had been killed in a car accident a week before Matt planned to ask me to marry him. He had just traveled to my home in Birmingham, Alabama to ask my sisters and parents for their permission. We were devastated, but he was my rock. My father told him to go through with his plan, despite the pain we were suffering. Just 11 days after my sister passed away, he got down on one knee in front of my entire family and a group of close friends. He had made signs to put along the road to lead me to him and had my family in on his plan. Each sign detailed a beautiful moment in our relationship. Then the last one said “The Most Beautiful Moment Ever” and the arrow pointed to him holding a sign saying “This Moment.” For the first time in days, I saw my parents smile again. It was bittersweet, but I was overjoyed that the man of my dreams was asking me for forever. I jumped on top of him when I saw the ring. It was huge!
When did y’all get married? April 13, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Over 200
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Music is important to me and Matt, so we wanted our selections to be songs that meant a lot to us. We love Peter Cetera because his songs are so dramatic and Matt loves “Karate Kid: Part Two.” Our first dance was to “Glory of Love.” We learned a ballroom dance to go with it. I also sang Garth Brooks’ “To Make You Feel My Love,” because I think it is one of the most wonderful expressions of true love.
Describe your wedding flowers. The flowers included garden roses and ranunculus in yellow, orange and light pink. The whole bouquets with greenery looked untamed, like they were just picked from a field.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The hardest thing about planning the wedding was trying to grieve the loss of my sister at the same time.
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? I am most thankful for our wedding planners, the girls at Homespun Weddings and Events, our photographer at Soli Photography, and our florist at The Daily Flower. They really brought our imagination to life and had fun in the process.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The best moment was standing beside Matt during the ceremony, seeing his excitement and joy, hearing his vows, and kissing him for the first time as his wife.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I would say go with your gut. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or thinking. Stay true to your vision as a couple. Don’t get too caught up in comparing your wedding to other weddings. Things won’t go perfectly, but it will be the imperfections that bring humor to you later. Soak in every minute, because the day will speed by so fast.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Everyone told Matt and I that the first year would be terrible, but we are loving every minute. Right now, we are thinking about our career futures and where we want to live next. I am trying to talk Matt into getting a beagle puppy.