A bride whose nickname growing up was Miss Scarlett, who has her wedding at an antebellum plantation, serves beignets, and puts “Roll Tide” in her interview? I think I might have found a new BFF (sorry KNW!)! Jessica and Thomas are absolutely my kind of folk! Southerners through and through, these two planned their wedding day with a “Gone With the Wind-meets-modern-elegance feeling” that I think turned out divinely! From their Alabama-inspired welcome baskets to mama-made praline favors, each detail was not only a nod to the South, but to their families and the traditions they had grown up with.
Big thanks to Ms. Leslie Hollingsworth for the gorgeous photos of their lovely day!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Our wedding was definitely full of DIYs! My mom made the delicious praline wedding favors, and we had a very sweet family friend who designed the adorable stickers for the praline bags. My best friend/maid of honor/official matchmaker did the calligraphy for our save the dates and designed our wedding koozies. My mother-in-law and mom made most of the delicious goodies in our welcome bags. My mom and dad went above and beyond the “DIY call-of-duty” by re-covering lounge furniture and pillows so that I could have the lounge seating area I had always wanted!
As soon as we had our wedding venue booked, I knew I wanted to find my wedding dress. I am the most indecisive person on the planet, so I wanted to give myself plenty of time to make the decision! I made two appointments in Birmingham one Saturday with my mom, future mother-in-law, maid of honor, and my bridesmaid. At the first salon, I was so convinced that I had found the one, we almost didn’t go to the second appointment! We decided to go anyway, just to make sure. I am so glad we did because the last dress I put on absolutely took my breath away. I, along with the rest of my group, was in tears, and I didn’t want to take it off! I still loved the first dress, but there was definitely something very special about this second dress.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did decide to do a first look. As we started planning, we both realized that we were probably going to be nervous wrecks on the day of the wedding! We decided that it would help us relax to see each other beforehand, and I am so glad we did. It was such a special moment that we got to share alone during the craziness of the day, and seeing his face as I walked down the aisle was still one of the most wonderful moments of my life.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Thomas and I are Southerners through and through, so I knew our wedding had to be as Southern as possible! From day one, I knew I wanted to get married outside at an antebellum plantation under live oak trees, and have a reception in a beautiful white tent. Nottoway Plantation had everything on my wish list! One of our favorite parts about Nottoway was the fact that our ceremony, reception, and guest accommodations were all in the same place. This took so much stress away from us and our guests! Nottoway is also very close to New Orleans, one of our favorite places. We decided to make the whole weekend a getaway for our family and friends, starting with the rehearsal dinner in New Orleans that Friday night.
Describe your wedding flowers. I did not have a specific vision for flowers, but I knew I wanted them to be neutral with hints of blush. Kali at The Plantation Florist did such a wonderful job turning my vague vision into a beautiful reality! She used mostly white, ivory, and blush pink flowers with hints of greenery and dusty miller. My bouquet was mostly ivory and blush peonies. I cried the first time I saw it because it was so beautiful! We incorporated succulents into the reception flowers to add a little something different to the arrangements, and we wrapped all of the bouquets in gorgeous ivory and blush French silk ribbon from Frou Frou Chic.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Thomas and I are two of the biggest sweets lovers you will ever meet (and so are both of our families), so the wedding cakes were extremely important to us! After two different tastings, I finally chose a sour cream pound cake with layers of cream and fresh strawberries in between the layers, covered in a traditional buttercream frosting. Thomas chose a chocolate cake with chocolate icing covered in chocolate ganache, and needless to say, there wasn’t much left of it afterwards! As a nod to his love for hunting, he topped his cake with a fondant wood duck next to a sign that read, “The Hunt is Over.”
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It is a close tie between our wedding cakes and the photo booth. Our cakes were unbelievably delicious, and I definitely had more than one slice of each! We ended up adding the photo booth at the last minute, and I am so glad we did. It has been so much fun to look back at the pictures of our friends and families having fun at our reception, and seeing some of our guests in a much different light than usual!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? What wasn’t Southern about our wedding?! A spring outdoor wedding at a beautiful antebellum home outside of New Orleans with a traditional ceremony is about as Southern as it gets! My nickname growing up was Miss Scarlett, so I knew I wanted the wedding to have a Gone With the Wind-meets-modern-elegance feeling. From my lace off-the-shoulder gown to our traditional Second Line dance at the end of the reception, everything about the wedding was quintessentially Southern. One of the most important parts of the wedding to us was having food with a Southern vibe, because we did not want our guests to leave hungry! We began the weekend with welcome bags full of mini king cakes, cheese straws, and elephant candy (ROLL TIDE!), all handmade by my mother and mother-in-law. For the reception, we served some personal favorites, like shrimp and grits and red beans and rice. We also had a sandwich station where guests could make their own barbecue sandwiches, topped with goodies like fried green tomatoes. We ended the night with mini corn dogs, sweet potato fries, and fresh beignets! As wedding favors, we passed out my personal Southern favorite: pralines handmade by my wonderful mother.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Thomas and I were introduced during our freshman year of college by our mutual best friend, Mary Meigs (my maid of honor!). Thomas began his college career at Auburn University while I was at the University of Alabama, but he came back home to Tuscaloosa to visit his friends regularly. Mary Meigs casually staged a “run-in” between us one weekend–little did I know that Mary Meigs and our other mutual friend Catherine (another future bridesmaid!) had been talking me up to Thomas via Facebook! We ended up going our separate ways shortly after we met, but I never forgot about him. He returned to Tuscaloosa for good that summer and began his quest to win my heart over (again). After over a year and a half, I finally agreed to go on a first date with him (again), and we have never looked back after over five years together!
Tell us all about the proposal! I spent the majority of last summer studying for the Alabama bar exam, while Thomas spent the majority of last summer trying to cheer me up while I was studying! When I got back from taking the bar, Thomas (still trying to cheer me up) suggested that we head up to Birmingham that Saturday to have a celebratory dinner and do some shopping. Deep down, I wondered if he was planning to propose, but I put it out of my mind because he seemed WAY too calm to be planning anything sneaky, and my mom was out of town that weekend and would have killed him if she wasn’t there for our proposal. As I was getting ready, his mom invited us to meet her and Thomas’ niece and nephew by the Black Warrior River for some yogurt on our way out of town–they knew I couldn’t resist ice cream and babies. When we got there, Thomas suggested we walk down to the river to wait for them, since they were running late. Well, instead of getting ice cream, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife! His wonderful sister-in-law captured the whole thing on camera, and when we headed back to his parents’ house for some champagne, he surprised me again by having my parents there waiting for us. It was absolutely perfect!
When did y’all get married? March 29, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 110
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We had a traditional Episcopalian ceremony, which we think is one of the most beautifully written ceremonies. Since we were not married in a church, it was very important to us to have a traditional Christian ceremony to keep God as an integral part of our wedding. Tradition is very important to us, and reciting vows that have been in our church for hundreds of years held a very important significance for us.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose three traditional scriptures for our ceremony and had each of our sisters-in-law to read them: Song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8:6-7; Colossians 3:12-17; and John 15:9-12.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to Trumpet Voluntary–my heart swells every time I hear it, and I have always dreamed of walking down the aisle to it! Our first dance was “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” by James Taylor. Thomas told me the day after we got engaged that he always thought of us when he heard that song, so it was a no-brainer for our first dance. I chose “The Way You Look Tonight” for my first dance with my dad. It is one of my favorite wedding songs, and the Frank Sinatra version was a perfect fit for my dad and me.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Of course! My something new was a beautiful cross necklace that Thomas gave to me the night before our wedding. For my something borrowed, I pinned the pearl drop that my dad gave to my mom on their wedding day on my bouquet. I wore a lace garter with blue ribbon for my something blue, and the ribbons for my bustle were also blue. For my something old, I carried my great-great-grandmother’s handkerchief and a dime in my shoe. The dime belonged to Thomas’s maternal grandmother and has been worn by his mom and both of his sisters-in-law on their wedding days!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? It definitely wasn’t easy planning a wedding in Louisiana while I lived in Tuscaloosa and my mom lived in Mississippi. Thankfully, we were able to do so much over the phone and through email, and only had to make a few trips to Louisiana during the planning process. Thomas did not see our venue in the daylight until two weeks before the wedding! My mom and dad also live relatively close to New Orleans and Nottoway, and they were so sweet to take a few trips over there for us when we couldn’t get away!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? This is an absolute no-brainer: Leslie Hollingsworth! Leslie went above and beyond her job as photographer the entire weekend, and we were so lucky to have snagged her. There were definitely some tense and stressful moments that day, but Leslie was always there to calm me down and cheer me up. She made me feel like a rock star all day! Our pictures could not be more gorgeous and they perfectly captured the happiness and joy that Thomas and I felt on our wedding day. Brides, if you are in need of a photographer, book Leslie immediately before someone else does!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy every minute! I was very fortunate to have two families and a wonderful fiancé who enjoyed helping me plan, so the whole process was a lot of fun for us. Soak up every precious moment because it is such an exciting time in your life, and it passes by way too quickly!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We bought a house in Tuscaloosa and are having so much fun decorating and making it our own. And our dog, Scarlett, is enjoying having her mom and dad under the same roof finally!
Photographer: Leslie Hollingsworth / Videographer: One Louder Productions / Venue and Catering: Nottoway Plantation / Florist: The Plantation Florist / Cake Baker: Sweet Impressions Bakery / Band: Rewind / Bouquet Ribbon: FrouFrou Chic / Bride’s Gown: Martina Liana / Bridal Salon and Veil: Ivory & White / Paper Products: Kyle Fine Stationery / Hair and Makeup: The Salon at Nottoway / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: After Six / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Sash Bridesmaid Boutique / Groom’s Attire: Jos A. Bank
Leslie Hollingsworth is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!