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If it’s one thing we know about weather in the South, it’s that Mother Nature is unpredictable. We’re basking in the warmth of our 80 degree weather this week, when just a few days ago it was sleeting! That’s why we absolutely understand why Melissa + Corey’s biggest challenge for their November wedding was the weather. Just a week before their “I do’s,” their wedding site was covered in snow! As these sunny images from Katelyn James show us, their dream wedding weather came to fruition, allowing the couple and their friends and family to celebrate outdoors, with the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains in the background. We’re all positively loving Melissa’s big, joyful smile and the little ways she and Corey symbolized their bond in marriage.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Four days after we got engaged, I helped Corey move to New York. That weekend I was totally excited yet also totally bummed to have just said goodbye to my fiancé until I would move to New York with him after the wedding. As a way of getting my mind off missing him, my mom suggested we try on dresses. I thought I would want to shop around more, but the first boutique and the fifth dress in, I knew I had found the one. Not to mention — it was on sale. All of its perfect, ivory, laciness.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Corey and I did decide to do a first look and could not have been happier with the decision. I was influenced to have a first look by our photographer, Katelyn James. Katelyn was my roommate in college and I had been stalking her blog since the beginning of her business. I had seen the special, intimate moments she was able to capture in such spectacular images, and I knew I wanted that moment too. Now, five months after our wedding, that is one of the clearest moments of the day — those few moments to pause and take in each other and what would lie before us in the hours to come.

Describe your wedding flowers. My wedding flowers contained many fall colors that I used as my “pops” of color since the bridal party suits and dresses were all neutral tones. There was deep yellow from the sunflowers, burnt orange in cockscomb and amber red from dahlias. Some of my favorite texture pieces were green tric and hypericum berries.

Oh, y’all! I just love the look the father of the bride and the groom are sharing below!

Did you write your own vows? We did write our own vows and my favorite line Corey said to me was, “I promise to talk to you, to draw you into my life and vision, and to wash you with my words of praise, affirmation and gratitude, that you might live securely in my love.” My favorite that I said to him was, “I promise to talk openly to you, to confide in you first, before all others. I promise to be your best friend.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? During our ceremony, we had Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 which explains that a cord of three strands, including me, Corey and the Lord, shall not be broken. We then braided three strands of rope together to signify our unity together through Jesus.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. To honor my mom, I walked down the aisle to Pachabel’s “Canon in D.” My bridesmaids entered to “Ashokan Farewell” from a Civil War soundtrack by Evan Stover, Jay Ungar, Matt Glasser, Molly Mason, Russ Barenberg. One of my bridesmaids sang “Lead me to the Cross” by Hillsong while we took communion. And we exited to “Lover of the Light” by Mumford and Sons. We entered our reception to “D Bag Rag” by the Avett Brothers and our first dance was Matt Hires’ “You Are the One” sung and played by a bridesmaid and her husband.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail of the wedding was the location at Khimaira Farm in Luray, Virginia. Our ceremony had the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains and then our reception was in the event barn on the same property. We loved that our guests did not have to travel between sites and had the beautiful scenery to compliment the perfect warmth inside the barn and cool November evening as the sun set outside.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. My wedding cake was beautifully crafted by a family friend. It had a simple ivory white cream cheese frosting with hand crafted icing flowers and was set on a wooden base. We also had authentic, homemade Amish pies made by another family friend.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Corey and I met as Ropes Interns at a Young Life camp in New York the summer of 2010. We spent the summer operating high ropes courses, zip lines, rock climbing walls, and giant swings and became great friends. I would swear that I did not have feelings beyond friendship for him throughout the summer (although he did for me!), but by the end of the summer, I was a smitten kitten. We are both originally from Virginia, however, he had to return to college at ASU in North Carolina and I had to return to CNU near Virginia Beach. We dated long distance for two years until we both began working and living in Richmond, VA.
Describe the proposal. While living in Richmond, Corey was offered a full time position on staff at the camp we met at in New York. The opportunity to manage the Ropes and Mountain Bike Department there was a dream come true for him and I fully supported it, but his acceptance of the job further pressed the question in my mind: “When is he going to propose?!” We only had two weeks from his acceptance to his moving to New York, and he had planned EVERY minute of every day for us to say goodbye to friends and family before he moved. I was so mad. I wondered when I was going to get time with him?! But, he had the whole thing planned. On our way to our goodbye day with his parents, Corey surprised me by taking me on a hike to one of our favorite spots. I honestly had no clue — I was just elated to get time alone with him! But once we reached the top (and once the lingering Boy Scouts left) Corey pulled his laptop out of his backpack. He played a video of him asking my father’s permission, and then got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Between the tears and squeals I managed to get out a “Yes!” but then he had me quickly moving back down the mountain. When we reached the trail head, both of our families and closest friends were waiting to celebrate with us!
In what month did you get married? November
How many guests attended your wedding? 200
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? One of my favorite Southern details of our wedding was that it was outside in a field. We didn’t need elaborate decorations, we just trusted nature to give us the perfect backdrop. We also incorporated Southern tradition as my bridesmaids and I wore cowgirl boots. I let all of my girls use their own boots they already owned and let them select their own neutral toned dresses to give a soft, more casual, Southern look. The guys did not wear jackets over their vests to achieve the same look. We also kept with the Southern tradition by serving sweet tea, smoked barbeque, and a variety of pies.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was not having control over the weather for our outdoor, November wedding in the mountains. Two weeks before our wedding, the site was covered in snow, so I knew our rain plan would be fine — but I desperately wanted the dream outdoor wedding. We needn’t have worried. Our whole wedding day was in the 70s!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Our ceremony and reception site really was our biggest splurge and I am SO happy that we picked it! It was the first place we visited and I knew from the first moment I got out of the car that it was the place for us.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My most memorable moment was during our first look and then at the reception when Corey and I got a moment to step away alone. Both times we made each other pause and take mental snapshots of the day, made each other soak it all in. The whole day goes so fast — but both of those times were truly memorable and helped us to capture the feeling of both before and after we were Mr. and Mrs.!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy the process. Wedding planning can go by almost as quickly as the wedding day itself, but there is no need to rush through it. One thing that helped me to do this was to invite friends or family along for whatever I needed to do. It was way more fun and so much less stressful than doing it by myself! I also think being willing to ask for help and involving those people who you care so much about makes the whole experience that much sweeter too. Lastly, be deeply thankful. We were blown away by the love and generosity of all our friends and family throughout the process and still don’t think we could thank everyone enough.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? As a couple, we are looking forward to our present future on Young Life staff in New York and seeing where else God may lead us from here.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Kat reply

    I just love all the country, rustic details of this wedding & the lush autumn colors! Their ceremony backdrop takes my breath away and I love the advice she gives to other bride-to-be’s: be deeply thankful. And of course it doesn’t hurt that her amazing photographer will be taking the pictures at my big day too :)

  2. avatar Lauren reply

    That burlap wreath is so perfect. I really love the group picture in the field. What a beautiful celebration of their love :)

  3. avatar Laura reply

    Beautiful wedding! I love all of the rustic details.

  4. avatar Inspired by This Blog reply

    Loving this rustic wedding! :] How the bright flowers pop against the neutral dresses and suits is just beautiful. And what a stunning location!!

  5. avatar Carrie Logan reply

    LOVE this wedding!!!! my favorite wedding of katelyn’s ever. so many sweet details and moments captured so very beautifully :)

  6. avatar Ben reply

    Such natural ease and laughter in their portraits = awesomeness. Beautiful tones and details, well done and congrats to the couple!

  7. avatar Ashley reply

    Gorgeous Wedding! In all the information I read, I could not find any info on the Bridesmaids & flower girls dresses. I am hoping you can help me out and tell, where can I find them?!? Thank you in advance for you help!!! :-)

  8. avatar Lauren reply

    Love everything here! Especially the cardi’s over the bridesmaid dresses – great idea!

    Any idea who the brides dress is made by? Thanks!


  9. avatar haley reply

    I NEED to know!! Who made that dress?!?! its gorgeous!!!

  10. avatar Cristina reply

    Hi dear!
    That is a lovely album and I have fallen in love with the bride’s dress. Can you please let me know which brand is it? Have been browsing Bella Rossa’s site but couldn’t find it. Do you think I could find it in Barcelona??

  11. avatar 10 Barn Wedding Decor ideas | Rustic Folk Weddings reply

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  12. avatar Katie reply

    Beautiful wedding. Could you tell me where you got the groomsmen suits from?

  13. avatar Southern Newlywed: At Home with Katelyn James – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] team, and as well as shooting pretty weddings (see a few of our favorites here, here, and here!), they also love decorating their home in Richmond, Virginia, where they live with their […]

  14. avatar kayla sebastian reply

    i love what she dressed the guys in.. i have looked and looked and can’t find this color.. is there a way to find out where the guys got their suits from?

  15. avatar Cheyenne reply

    Hi Melissa!

    Where did the guys get their vests from? We have been looking all over & haven’t been able to find them anywhere.



  16. avatar How to have a chic fall wedding: decor, flowers & more! – Wedding Party reply

    […] Katelyn James via Southern Weddings […]

  17. avatar Kelly reply

    I also would like to know who made that dress and where I would be able to purchase it!

  18. avatar Elsa reply

    I love everything about this wedding. I would also like to know where this beautiful dress could be purchased. Thank you!

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    […] Can you imagine serving this up as a favor or during cocktail hour? Photo by Katelyn James on Southern Weddings via […]

  22. avatar Linda Campbell reply

    We were so happy to host the special day at Khimaira Farm! ‘Dream clients’ !!

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I mentioned last week how much I hate pollen and the icky yellow color it turns everything. That’s why I’m very happy to share Beverly + Craig’s wedding with y’all. The yellow and gray scheme are so bright and modern! When Emily and I first saw Katelyn James’ photos from this wedding, we just raved about the bright yellow pashminas, unique bouquets and two of my favorite things, the sweet bow ties and tempting candy bar!

The thing we love most about this wedding (and well, all the weddings we feature) is how Beverly described the Southern charm that filled this celebration. “One Southern tradition we included in the wedding was good ol’ home cooking. Our menu consisted of family recipes that we grew up eating. Another Southern piece of the day was the deep Southern love that makes you feel like family. We both feel we have been blessed with some of the most remarkable friendships that have become family to us.” Can’t you feel the love? Read on to see just how amazing B + C’s guests were!

Describe your wedding flowers: I never did see my arrangement of my bouquet or my bridesmaid’s bouquets until the wedding day. I found one of the most well-known florists in Fredericksburg, Virginia and put complete trust in her talent with the flowers. I gave her my color scheme and feel for the wedding and she blew me away with the most full, vibrant, and beautiful flowers! My bridesmaids loved their bouquets and could not believe how full they were.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I wanted to stick to my roots in fashion, which I believe to be bold, yet classic. I knew I wanted a dress that was cut low in the back because I think this is one of the sexiest parts of a woman’s body and I also knew I wanted some sort of strap. I ended up getting the last dress I tried on! I only went to two stores, and knew I could leave that day with something I loved — and I did! However, I did make some alterations to the dress. I added a strap and changed the neckline to a sweetheart.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes! We decided to do a first look to share the realism with each other that this day was our wedding day. We wanted to be present in every moment and this allowed us to take in what we were about to do.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we did! My favorite phrases said, “God prepared me for you and so I will ever strengthen, help, comfort, and encourage you. Therefore throughout life, no matter what may be ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as a faithful and loyal wife.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. I have absolutely zero musical talent and so I’m told by many that my taste in music is horrific. Craig, on the other hand, enjoys music and is talented. One of my brothers is also very talented with music and we wanted to incorporate his gift of playing music into the wedding. Mark played hymns on his acoustic guitar as the guests arrived to the church. For the processional, Craig came up with a compilation of “Amazing Grace” and “Stand on Grace” by Jimmy Needham. There was such a sweet spirit in the room as three of our friends from college sang the processional. Our friends also lead a time of worship singing “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” and “Your Great Name.” At the reception, we had two other great friends of ours sing our first dance, “Mercy” by Drew and Ellie Holcomb.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We loved every moment of our wedding day! However, we would both say the ceremony was the most memorable moment for us! As both sets of parents greeted the guests at the front of the church, they began to find their seats. The sanctuary began to get fuller and fuller with the people we loved the most. The room was filled with an inexpressible joy from our families and friends as they, too, have been waiting for this day. There was such an intimate feeling as we worshipped together and shared our vows in front of the people we hold most dear to our hearts. Before our preacher could even announce us as husband and wife, our guests began cheering, hollering, and clapping for us!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Craig and I met his freshman year and my junior year at Christopher Newport University. It was late November in 2006 that we both attended an Intervarsity conference where a mutual friend of ours introduced us. Christopher Newport University is a school where, if you don’t know someone, you at least recognize them from being on campus. It happened that I had never seen Craig and was quite struck by his good looks and his confidence. I never asked him what year he was because he looked older. However, once I got home and did my “research” on him on Facebook, I soon realized he was a FRESHMAN!! Being a junior, I quickly became prideful, and said to myself, “That’s sweet. Too bad he’s younger. I’ll never talk to him again.” As the days passed, our circle of friends in college became the same ones.
Describe the proposal. It was Easter weekend of 2010 that I came home to visit Craig. Craig and I had been doing the long distance relationship thing for the past year, so our visits were always special. After lunch, Craig took me to a park where his parents would take him and his brother during their childhood. Craig started to slow down and got really serious on me. That past summer, Craig had interned at Saranac Village, a Young Life camp. At this point in our relationship, Craig and I never had told each other we loved each other. It was something that we both talked about before dating that we didn’t way to say unless we knew we would be marrying each other. While Craig was at camp for that summer, the Lord laid it on my heart to write Craig a letter to express to him that I did love him. Craig began his proposal by reminding me of the letter and then for the first time, told me he loved me. My heart filled with joy as I smiled and told him that I loved him too. He got down on one knee and shared with me how much he loved me, respected me, and cared for me. His smile beamed as his eyes looked deep into mine and he asked me to be his wife. He put the beautiful ring on my finger and I began to scream!! My spirit was overflowing with joy because one of the Lord’s promises unfolded before me.
In what month did you get married? November
How many guests attended your wedding? 200
What was the biggest’ challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Learning how to dance was one of the biggest challenges we had to overcome! In fact, I don’t think we overcame this! Our first dance involved us laughing at each other and Craig moving me around like I was a rag doll because I could not get my feet in step. Thankfully, a long wedding dress hides your feet and we didn’t look like complete fools!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-25,0000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Photography
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? When the planning starts to become a job, take a break. I got too caught up in what my wedding was going to look like on my photographer’s blog that it took away the joy of my planning. I started to compare my wedding with others and thinking that it wasn’t going to be as good. This was a lie! Each wedding is uniquely different and special in its own way. Remember you and your soon-to-be spouse have a story. Don’t compare yourself. Have freedom in planning by being focused on the major detail: you are marrying your best friend!

Photographer: Katelyn James Photography // Planner: Anna Burke Events // Ceremony venue: Cobham Park Baptist Church // Reception venue: St. Margaret’s School // Florist:Jan Williams Florist // Caterer: St. Margaret’s School // Rentals: Clements Tent Rentals // Paper Products: Handmade by bride // Bride’s Dress: Jasmine Bridal // Veil: Handmade by bride // Bride’s Shoes: Tory Burch // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bari Jay in shadow // Ties: Southern Ties

We think you’ll love these weddings, too!
Alaina + Ryan’s cotton-filled wedding here
Marilisa + Taylor’s gingham and yellow wedding here and here
Tara + Chris’ California ranch wedding here and here

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar molly reply

    EEEEK! i literally SQUEALED when i saw this come across my RSS feed (Nerd, i know). I LOOOOOOOOVE this wedding so much, i love this couple, and i (obvi) love katelyn james (cause she photographed my wedding!). GAH! gorgeous. love love love!

  2. avatar Alysha reply

    I agree with Molly! This wedding is absolutely gorgeous! The dress, the brides hair, the flowers, the yellow and grey. Beautiful!

  3. avatar Guys in Bow Ties! | Truly Engaging Wedding Blog reply

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  4. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    I have such a soft spot for a yellow and gray wedding, and this is no different! I love how everything is put together! :) Gorgeous!

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  6. avatar Karina reply

    great pictures! I love the yellow accents!

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Photographer and educator Katelyn James is a very dear friend to Southern Weddings, and one of the sweetest gals we know. When she recently mentioned that she and her husband Michael have been working with a marriage counselor almost since they said “I do,” we were intrigued. It’s a topic that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but one we think deserves more love! We asked her to share a bit more about their experience today. Take it away, Katelyn! – Emily

When Emily asked me to share about our experience with a life coach/marriage counselor, I was excited… but then I had a split second of feeling a little uneasy about sharing this part of our life, because there are so many stigmas surrounding the idea of counseling, coaching, and therapy! Then I realized that that is the very reason why I SHOULD be sharing! Just last night we had friends over for dinner, and the fact that we meet with a life coach every two weeks came up. The first thing out of the wife’s mouth was, “Oh, he would never do that! He’s so against counseling of any kind!” I get it. It seems like only those who have super SERIOUS issues go to counseling or have a coach. Well, Michael and I have found that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Michael and I started meeting with our life coach (who is really more like a marriage counselor) over three years ago. At first, we weren’t convinced that it was a necessity. I mean, isn’t it normal to have marital tension, and use tones with one another, and feel conflicted about the balance of working together? Isn’t it totally understandable that we came from different family dynamics and that affects the way we show up emotionally with one another? Isn’t is normal to have weeks of not feeling like we’re on the same team?

I think those things ARE normal… but they don’t have to be. I actually think that the most damaging thing a couple can do in a relationship is just accept the unhealthy parts of their marriage and never dive deeper into the reason they are happening in the first place.

My dad is a pastor, and he always talks about how so many marriages have unhealthy tendencies that get masked by the “children” phase of life. Kids come, and life becomes all about them. It’s exciting and new and fun, but what happens when they are off to college and it’s back to just you and your spouse at home again? When it’s just the two of you and those struggles that you had before kids? They’re going to be waiting for you, which is why you see so many divorces happening when kids reach the end of high school and begin college. The little things matter, and they add up!

Michael and I knew deep down that we wanted to have a third party speak into our life. We love our parents, our siblings, our best friends… but there is something so powerful about having someone meet with us that isn’t biased towards us in any way. Our life coach lives in California, and we live in Virginia. We don’t meet in person, and we don’t even meet face to face. We commit to a simple one hour phone call every two weeks.

The actual commitment of the calls isn’t hard… it’s doing the HEART SEARCHING that’s hard. It’s being honest with how you’re showing up in your marriage that’s hard! Michael and I have grown so much in the last three years. The conversations that we are having with our life coach are the type of conversations that we would have never experienced without someone helping us dig deeper. No one enjoys digging deeper into the mess of their life, but it’s necessary in order to create a new vision for your marriage!

It’s hard to explain what we’ve gained from meeting with our coach in just one paragraph. To put it simply, it has been life changing. Michael and I have a greater understanding of why we are the way we are. The beautiful thing about our coaching sessions is that we have learned to recognize and see more clearly what is truth, and what we make up to be true about what another.

For example, assuming that Michael is mad, frustrated, or annoyed with me based off of his interactions with me totally discredits what could be going on in his world. A lot of tension and tone stems from outside stress. Choosing to respond to Michael based on what I KNOW to be true about him (that he loves me, cares for me, and wants the best for me) instead of the immediate circumstances has been a game changer.

Life coaching or marriage counseling isn’t just for those that are heading down a path of destruction… it’s for healthy marriages! As a photographer, I’ve spent a lot of money on education to improve my craft. My marriage is so much more important than my business, and so it only makes sense that we would invest in our relationship, as well.

If you’re considering hiring a life coach or marriage counselor, I recommend gently bringing it up to your spouse. This is something that you both need to be willing to do. Don’t be frustrated if it takes a few conversations to get on the same page! Sometimes I look forward to our calls, and other times I dread them… but no matter what, I always end our calls knowing that we’re fighting for our marriage together and there’s nothing else that is more important! We are learning how to love each other in a healthier way and even though we’re far from perfect, we know that God is doing amazing transformation in our relationship!

Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Katelyn! For those interested in learning more about Katelyn’s specific coach, you can visit Julia’s site.

All photos by Jillian Michelle Photography

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Amber Stapp reply

    I love this! What a powerful article with such an important message for all couples! I’m inspired by this wonderful couple and their commitment to creating the best most God honoring marriage they can. Blessings to them both. And their baby is gorgeous!!!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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