Friends! Welcome back to the Southern Weddings blog! We sincerely apologize for any downtime you might have experienced over the last few days, and thank you kindly for your support during these exciting changes. Speaking of exciting things, be sure to come back tomorrow, because we have an announcement you will NOT want to miss! Hint: It involves a certain magazine that is in the making :)
Now, onto today’s wedding. I don’t know if Robyn Van Dyke just happens to work with super-emotive couples, or if she’s extra-talented at bringing out emotion in her couples (I think it’s probably a little of both!), but I love how her photographs so clearly translate the emotion of a wedding day. And of course, as someone who married her own high school sweetheart, I have a soft spot for Tori + Will’s story.
Will and I met our senior year of high school at our youth group senior beach trip. Ironically, we had grown up in the same church and had never really spoken to each other! We hit it off immediately and started dating a month later. We dated for over four years before we tied the knot. It is so neat to be able to say that I married my high school sweetheart! While visiting Will’s grandparents and touring graduate schools in Florida, Will convinced me to get up early and have a sunrise photo shoot on the beach. While we were being photographed by his grandmother, we read from the Bible and Will shared his heart with me in the form of a letter. The last line of the letter read, “I have one more question to ask you, but you have to stand up first.” He then got down on one knee and the rest is history! Fortunately, we have some really awesome photographs of the whole thing.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided not to do a first look. In my opinion, there are only a few truly pure surprises in life and the moment when a groom first beholds his bride has always been one of those moments in my mind. I am so glad that we decided to be traditional and not do a first look. Seeing my groom at the end of the aisle was one of the most exciting and peaceful experiences of my life.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had my brother read 1 John 4:7-19 out of my grandfather’s Bible. Since he is no longer with us, we felt like this was the most perfect and meaningful way to honor his memory. We chose the verse because we wanted our wedding to be centered around our love for the Lord and how His love for us has changed our lives and brought us into a covenant with Him and with one another.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There were so many physical details that we loved about our wedding day, but our most favorite detail was the fact that our ceremony incorporated so many of our loved ones. Will’s brother, Chad, officiated the ceremony, and did such a wonderful job. My brother Josh read scripture and my sister-in-law Kelsey sang. All of our siblings were part of the wedding party and Will’s adorable nephews, Griffin and Caedmon, were our ring bearers. We were also so blessed to have our parents and members of the wedding party gather around us for a time of prayer during the ceremony. This was one of our favorite moments.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Most of the ceremony was traditional. I chose to walk down the aisle to the Bridal March and the wedding party entered to the ever-so-elegant Canon in D. My sister-in-law sang “Be Thou My Vision” during the ceremony and it was absolutely beautiful. We chose this song because the lyrics mean so much to us and because we want them to be representative of our marriage and our lives.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? Being from the South, all of these traditions were important to me because they honor the people from the past who have molded and shaped my family. There were too many options for me and in most cases, I doubled up! I borrowed something from both of my grandmothers. From my maternal grandmother, I borrowed her beautiful pearl cluster earrings and from my paternal grandmother, I borrowed her pearl bracelet. My something blue was my garter with blue ribbon. My something old was a cameo from my great grandmother that I carried on my bouquet and the penny that my mom wore in her shoe on her wedding day. For something new, my mom had a handkerchief embroidered with mine and Will’s names, in hopes that I could pass it down to our future children.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Well, first of all, we had an incredibly Southern venue! The beautiful, majestic Belmont Estate was a breathtaking backdrop to our ceremony and it captured the perfect Old South feel that we wanted. In my opinion, part of being Southern is honoring the past. We incorporated lots of antique milk glass in our centerpieces and old fashioned depression glass on our escort card table, some of which belonged to my great grandmother. And of course, you can’t forget the bow ties! Our Southern gentlemen wore their pink bow ties with such class.
We had a traditional wedding cake with sweet, Southern-style flavors. We had a layers of strawberry shortcake, pink lemonade, and tres leches. The cake had a ribbed texture and had a cascade of our wedding flowers. It was breathtaking and even more beautiful than I had ever imagined!
When did y’all get married? June 1, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 150
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my wedding dress at the very first bridal store my mom, my sister and I ever visited. The dress was on display and I stared at it for a little while before the consultant finally said “You want to try it on, don’t you?” The dress was not at all what I was picturing for myself at all, but once I had it on, I couldn’t imagine anything better or more beautiful for my big day.
Describe your wedding flowers. From the very beginning, I knew I had to have two flowers present at my wedding–peonies and ranunculus. Sure enough, these flowers made up my beautiful white bouquet and were woven into our centerpieces, bridesmaid bouquets, and boutonnieres. I could not have envisioned more beautiful flowers or floral details. Our florist, Just Priceless, completely captured the sweet, Southern elegance that we wanted.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The most challenging part of the wedding planning process was being apart. Will was still in Boone finishing up college in the months leading up to the wedding and I was living at home student teaching. Though it was challenging, being apart only solidified our relationship and made the reunions all the more sweet.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were blessed with some of the most phenomenal vendors! From the florist to the cake baker, each played a part in making our wedding day truly beautiful. We honestly do not have a single complaint about any of the vendors who shaped our day. However, we cannot express how much it means to have beautiful photographs from Robyn Van Dyke Photography. Having Robyn and Jordan with us on that day was wonderful, and now, we have the most stunning images to keep forever! They are phenomenal.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? There are so many moments that stand out from that day: Will’s face as he looked up at me for the first time, our behind-the-door gift exchange, and the countless connections with loved ones. However, I will honestly say that my favorite and most memorable moment from my wedding day was driving away from the reception with Will. The joy that we shared as we were on our way to starting our lives together was intensely sweet and we both just basked in memories from the day.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be sure to prepare for your marriage far more than you prepare for your wedding. Leading up to your big day, it is important that you spend time with one another in ways that don’t always revolve around wedding planning. Embrace the sacredness of this season of life and enjoy the excitement and anticipation!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Will and I look forward to pursuing our dream careers for awhile before we begin a family. I will be in my first year of teaching second grade and Will is beginning to explore graduate school options. Most of all, we just look forward to making a home together. We are already loving being able to come home to one another each day. It makes life so much sweeter to be able to do that!
Robyn Van Dyke is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!