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Southern Weddings

Author: Jess Metcalf

A few weeks ago, the SW gals gathered for a favorite Southern Weddings’ tradition–our annual Gingerbread Barn Building Competition. This was the sixth year inviting our friends to join us for a night of barn-building and hot cocoa-drinking at the Carolina Inn!

Big thanks to Ally and Bobby for spending the evening with us and capturing these wonderful images you see below!

If you can’t tell from above, Christmas at the Carolina Inn is simply magical! So magical, in fact, that our very own Kristin couldn’t miss out on a second Gingerbread Barn Building event in a row! She surprised us with her lovely face and ooh and ahh at the Christmas decor alongside us!

We are grateful for our dear friend and Blue Ribbon Vendor, Randi of Sugar Euphoria, for providing the icing everyone used on their barns! This stuff was barn building gold, and it made for some of the tallest and most structurally-sound barns we’ve seen yet (three story structures!)

Each team dove right in when the competition began, and you could feel the excitement in the room as we strolled around to see plans, blueprints and designs begin to unfold! I must say, being a judge certainly takes some of the pressure off!

I wouldn’t be a true UNC alum if I didn’t mention the lovely replica of the UNC bell tower. Between KNW and myself, we must’ve taken three dozen photos to send to our beaus who are fellow UNC grads. If you look closely enough, there was even a Ramses made out of marshmallows. Be still my heart!

This group may have been some of the most creative builders we’ve seen yet! Herringbone pathways, pretzel chandeliers, and beautiful hand-letting covered in sprinkles–the ideas seem to get better each year!

We loved hearing the story behind our Honorable Mention Best Story winner’s barn below! Each tiny home was created by a different member of their team, and had a matching story to go with it!

Each creation we saw was not only beautifully executed, but had a darling story to match it! After much deliberation, we handed out the grand prize award to a sweet group of ladies who created the beautiful snow-covered creation you see below, complete with a sweater-wearing reindeer!

We also passed our four Honorable Mentions–Most Festive, Most Architecturally Creative, Most Creative Story, and Most Structurally Sound–to other builders! Y’all certainly didn’t make deliberations easy this year!

Thank you so much to all our friends who joined us at this year’s competition, and to The Carolina Inn for hosting us all–we can’t wait to see what y’all come up with next year! Happy holidays!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
1 Comment
  1. avatar Bri A reply

    These are so beautiful! I think I need to up my gingerbread game. And the marshmallow Ramses — consider this UNC alum in love!

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The SW ladies are big fans of Southern traditions, and we love hearing how real couples incorporate them into their big day! Liz and Scott buried a bottle of bourbon before their ceremony to keep the rain away, but the weather had a different plan! When they had to use a tent her outdoor ceremony at the last minute, Liz’s mother and her friends were able to turn the rain plan into a work of art using trees, plants and flowers from her parents’ mountain home. It may not have been part of the original plan, but I think we can all agree when you scroll down that it was the perfect backdrop for Liz and Scott’s “I Do’s.”

No amount of flowers, however, could take away from how effortlessly beautiful Liz looked in her lace applique gown and matching veil. Liz, not only were you a beautiful bride, but you were a beautiful birthday girl as well!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Julia Wade for sharing this sweet day with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met freshman year of college at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, eleven years before we would finally become girlfriend and boyfriend. During our freshman year, we grew to be great friends and were frequently each other’s date to events like cocktails and formals, but we never formally “dated.” We remained friends through college and afterwards, and there was always a lingering “what if” question. When Scott graduated from business school, he moved to NYC, where I was living. After more than a handful of fateful run-ins on the street, subway platforms, etc…we decided to grab a drink together. We’ve been inseparable since then!
Tell us all about the proposal! After work on Thursday, August 20, we went for a bike ride on the West Side Highway in New York. We decided to take a break at one of the piers; it was there that Scott pulled out the ring and started to propose, only to be interrupted by an unaware lady who was cleaning the area! With headphones in and music blaring, she had no idea that she had just interrupted him mid-proposal. When she finally walked away, we burst out laughing and he finished asking. It was a perfect New York moment.
When did y’all get married? May 21, 2016 (my birthday!)
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 260
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I searched high and low for a wedding dress in New York, but unfortunately, never found anything. My sister, who lives in Oregon, was also engaged at the time, so my mom and I flew out to Portland to spend a weekend wedding planning and dress shopping with her. At her first appointment, she found her dress, so she encouraged me to use the remaining time at her appointment to look for mine. I ended up finding the one there as well! It was a pretty surreal experience to be standing in a store in Portland next to my sister in our future wedding dresses!
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. We wanted the first moment we saw each other to be captured in front of our friends and family at the ceremony.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We knew we wanted to get married in North Carolina and loved the idea of getting married at a place filled with activities for our guests, so the mountains were a natural fit. People enjoyed golf, hiking, fishing, etc. throughout the weekend. It also helped that my parents have a home at Grandfather Mountain and Scott grew up only a few hours away in Charlotte.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings at the wedding. The first, Song of Solomon 2:10-13, was from the Bible and was read by one of my oldest childhood friends, Tim Rees. The second was a poem called “Wedding Song” by John G. C. Brainard–we found it in a wedding book that was given to the my maternal great-grandmother on her wedding day in 1915–101 years earlier!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Scott’s a music lover, so we spent a lot of time thinking about the music for our wedding. We wanted to keep things pretty classic and traditional, but we did spice things up a little bit too. Our recessional was to Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” We wanted our first dance to be romantic and slow, as well as something that our band could knock out of the park, so we picked Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Dream a Little Dream.” It was perfect with our big band full of horns! My favorite, though, may have been the father/daughter dance. My dad and I love to dance together and wanted to do something fun, so we danced to the Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”–it was a total hit. The crowd loved it, and we were smiling and laughing and catching our breath from the fast pace!
Describe your wedding flowers. Our wedding flowers were gorgeous! My mother is a fantastic gardener with an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and flowers, so I really leaned on her to help! We wanted them to be a little whimsical and natural, and not too polished. We used a mix of white peonies, ivory garden roses, green and white parrot tulips, berries, delphinium, anemone, thistle, and even lavender. Our ceremony was supposed to be outside, but due to weather, we had to use a tent. Luckily, with the help of my mom and her friends, we were able to turn a traditional, last-minute white tent into a thing of beauty. My parents were just about to re-landscape their entire yard at their mountain house, so we used the trees, plants, and flowers they had intended to use as decor. We had FULL trees and rhododendron plants inside the tent! It was gorgeous and so special to know that their yard is now filled with the plants that were used to decorate our ceremony. The rose petals used by the flower girl and thrown by friends and family during the recessional were all collected from my mother’s garden in Chapel Hill.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We ended up having three cake options! Our wedding cake was chocolate with a buttercream frosting. Our second cake was a funfetti birthday cake with sparkler candles for me! The third option was carrot cake pops.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I was able to knock out my borrowed, blue, and old in one go. My godmother lent me a family ring that has been in her family for generations. It’s a beautiful art deco sapphire and diamond cocktail ring. My shoes, dress, and everything else were new!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We buried a bottle of bourbon about six months before our wedding. I can’t believe we were actually able to find it on our wedding day, but it definitely worked! The weather report was calling for five inches of rain, but we only experienced a few little showers in the morning, with gorgeous sunshine the rest of the afternoon and evening.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved all of our vendors. We used local vendors for absolutely everything, from cake, to flowers, to catering, to makeup and hair. I loved supporting the people in the town where we were married. Besides, locals know best! My favorite vendor was P.S. Plum Social, which is owned and operated by Clarence Mills. She created all of our paper goods, from invites to menu cards, ceremony programs, our wedding logo, our welcome packets, and much, much more. She hand-paints everything and does incredible custom designs!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our ceremony. We spent a lot of time planning the actual ceremony and it was beyond what I could ever have imagined.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Relax and don’t regret or second guess the decisions you make. It will be beautiful no matter what!

Photographer: Julia Wade Photography | Planner: Events by Elizabeth Ashley | Venue and Caterer: Camp Yonahnoka at the Eseeola Lodge | Florist: Callista Designs | Wedding Cake: Christina Banner Cakes | Band: Big Blast and the Party Masters via East Coast Entertainment | Special Details: The British Taxi | Paper Products: P.S. Plum Social | Bride’s Gown: Liancarlo | Hair and Makeup: Beautiful Bride on Location | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J.Crew | Groom’s Attire: Freemans Sporting Club

Julia Wade and East Coast Entertainment are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
1 Comment
  1. avatar Liz & Scott's Eeseola Lodge Wedding – Julia Wade Photography reply

    […] Eeseola Lodge Wedding featured in Southern Weddings here. […]

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This week marks one year that my boyfriend and I have been dating long-distance, so Brent and Graham’s story is extra special to me today! While I love reliving each real wedding we post through the pictures, the stories from the couple make the photos even more meaningful! Brent and Graham have the sweetest dating story, so be sure to read the story of how they met and how long they dated long-distance below. (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot longer than a year!) I’m positive I could learn a thing or two from this sweet couple on how to thrive in a long-distance relationship.

No amount of rain or chilly September air could hide the joy on their faces or the celebration in the air as you scroll through the photos below! I love how in the years ahead, the couple will be able to go back to Brent’s family’s home and relive their big day as their family grows!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for these images!

We went to Charlotte Latin School together from 5th grade onward, but hardly interacted until junior year of high school. We became good friends at the start of senior year and went on our first date the month before graduating. Because we like to make our lives *so* simple and easy, we began dating right after high school graduation – just days before he left for his summer internship in D.C. and the summer before we both headed off to separate colleges in separate states. Four years later, after racking up hundreds of Southwest Airlines miles to see each other on weekends, spending three summers in separate cities, and two study abroad semesters that resulted in us not seeing each other for six months, we both moved to New York City. Seven years and two months after we first began dating, Graham popped the question!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We recited standard vows during the ceremony; however, I made sure to write him all of my vows, both serious and not so serious, in the letter that I had delivered to him the morning of our wedding.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two! We asked Graham’s mentor and good friend to read an excerpt from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. My “other father”, the father of my best friend and maid of honor, followed with a reading from I John 4:7-8, 12. Our minister also gave a brief homily.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It’s so hard to choose! I’ll never forget the moment my dad and I had together right before we walked down the aisle. We were both teary, emotional, shaking, and overwhelmingly happy. To share in such an intimate moment together was so special. He kept whispering in my ear “this is so surreal!” as we walked down the aisle.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? From day one, we both knew we didn’t want to do a first look and I’m so glad we didn’t. The anticipation of seeing his face as the church doors opened and watching him as he watched me and my dad walk down the aisle was a moment I wasn’t willing to forfeit. It’s still one of the many decisions that I have absolutely no regrets about, and it’s a moment I’ll remember so vividly for the rest of my life.

I grew up in the North Carolina countryside with my parents’ house sitting on 344 acres of land, centered around a steeplechase course. It’s my home and such a beautiful and unique setting – there was no question that that’s where we would get married. We debated having the ceremony on the property as well versus in our church, but deep down I’d always wanted to be married in our church – Christ Church of Charlotte – which just so happens to be where Graham and I were both confirmed together in 8th grade.

Honestly, everything about the weekend was just so “us”. The flowers stood out to us as really bringing the venue to life and making it feel like the most magical place on a rainy, chilly evening in September. We also made an effort to add touches of our personalities everywhere, from “Please Don’t Take My Drink, I’m Dancing!” napkins that were distributed at the bars once the band started (there’s nothing worse than putting your drink down only to find an efficient waiter has removed it two minutes later!), to a map of our food stations so people knew where to go for what, to a lawn jockey hand-painted with our wedding logo on it to welcome our guests as they entered the reception.

All southerners know the importance of good (fried) food, so we incorporated Southern twists into our food stations. A few of our favorites were Deep South BBQ Eggrolls with Carolina BBQ inside and the Southern Pimento Mac n Cheese. We had Fried Chicken and Waffle Skewers as our passed late-night snack since a good southern hostess never lets her guests go home hungry.

My sweet tooth is unmatched, though I sadly can’t say the same about Graham’s. We knew we wanted a more traditional cake, and Kathy Allen is the woman to go to in Charlotte for elegant cakes with a twist. Ours was five tiers with alternating layers of Spice Cake and Almond Cake. At the end of the night, I gave each of my bridesmaids a sugar flower from the cake in a glass dome to remember the weekend by. We now have a few of the flowers displayed around our house and every time I walk by them, it makes me smile. I’m counting down the days until our first anniversary and I can tear open our top layer in the freezer!

Tell us all about the proposal! It was almost the proposal that didn’t happen! I was determined to get my haircut that afternoon but just two days prior, Graham called and said his parents wanted to do a family dinner that same evening to celebrate my birthday, which was a few days away. Not unusual or suspicious in the least but something I tried to get out of in order to make my desperately-needed haircut. On the day of the proposal, my lovely coworkers threw me a surprise birthday celebration late that afternoon, complete with massive ice cream sandwiches. Never one to say no to sweets, I happily partook, but was left feeling less than stellar. I called Graham once again and tried to get out of the dinner, this time claiming I really didn’t feel well and dinner was the last thing I could stomach (pardon the pun). He once again convinced me I had to come, so we agreed we would meet up and cab to Central Park together since the restaurant, The Loeb Boathouse, was in the middle of the park. The taxi dropped us off at the edge and we wandered in along the pathways until we came to the Conservatory Pond, one of our favorite spots in Central Park. Before I knew it, Graham was telling me how much I meant to him and I immediately blacked out. I got so caught up in the moment that I had to ask him later on if I had even told him “yes.” (I had!) After we soaked in the moment together, we continued on through the park to meet his family for dinner as I frantically tried to call my parents who, of course, weren’t picking up the one time I needed them to. When we got to the restaurant, not only were his parents and two brothers there waiting with champagne, but my parents had surprised me and flown up for the occasion as well!
When did y’all get married? September 26, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 284
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Walking down the aisle, back up the aisle, first dance, etc. In my piano-playing days, one of my favorite songs I played year after year was Canon in D by Pachelbel. Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed about walking down the aisle to that song. Our processional songs were Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and Trumpet Tune in D by Purcell. We walked back up the aisle to Hornpipe from Water Music by Handel – it’s so joyful and uplifting, perfect for the occasion! We both love Van Morrison so our First Dance was to “Into the Mystic”. I danced with my dad to “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor, which was fitting both because my dad shared with me his love for James Taylor from early on in my childhood, and because although I’d been a New Yorker for nearly five years, Carolina will always have my heart. Graham’s first dance with his mom was to Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. My mom and I also shared a dance toward the end of the night to The Tams’ “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I found it helpful to make a dream “wishlist” of things, from special foods to flowers to specific materials you want to incorporate into the weekend, and see it all listed out in one place. From there, it’s easier to figure out what you can afford to let go of and what’s an absolute must-have. The vendors are experts so if there’s something you don’t want to compromise on but you don’t have the budget for, they likely have another idea on how to get the same point across for less money.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I think there’s a big misconception that as the bride, you’re supposed to be glowing, happy and reveling in every minute of the planning process from start to finish. It’s OK to feel stressed and to dread certain parts of the planning (I’m lookin’ at you, list making!). Do your best to take it all in stride, and don’t be afraid to confide in and vent to your loved ones, especially the ones that have been through the process. Also, don’t take the timelines you see in all of the wedding books so literally. We found that many vendors we thought we had time with actually booked up much sooner than we would’ve thought, so be aware and start your research early!

Photographer: Anna Routh Barzin | Planner: Dina Berg Blazek Events | Ceremony Venue: Christ Church Charlotte | Reception Venue: Brooklandwood | Florist: The Place For Flowers | Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Kathy Allen Cakes | Caterer: Queen City Catering | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Lighting: Classic Party Rentals | Band or DJ: Black & Blue Entertainment through East Coast Entertainment | Invitation: Arzbergers | Save the Date: Lee Ann Clark Calligraphy | Bride’s Gown: Leanne Marshall | Hair Stylist: Jami Svay | Makeup Artist: Jami Svay | Bride’s Shoes: BHLDN | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale Bridesmaids Chiffon G787C in French Blue | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Loro Piana for J.Crew

Anna Routh and East Coast Entertainment are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
3 Comments
  1. avatar Sarah Elizabeth reply

    I love everything about this wedding! Especially that save the date & adorable picture of the flower girl & ring bearer!

  2. avatar Rhiannon reply

    This looks like the church sweet Em Thomas got married in. What a stunningly classic soiree!

  3. avatar Mary Kay reply

    What a beautiful wedding! I also appreciate Brent’s honest advice!

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