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Southern Weddings

Author: Lisa

When I first read Koli‘s interview, I couldn’t stop thinking about a line from our Sweet Tea Society manifesto: “We believe that there is nothing on this earth more important than family.” From Koli’s lifelong dream of wearing her mother’s wedding dress, to the reception held at the barn her older brother built, Koli and Dylan’s wedding was a family affair in every way. The celebration and value of family is one of my absolute favorite things about the South (and I’m sure yours too!), and seeing all of Koli’s family’s gifts and talents come together to create this beautiful country wedding just warms my heart!

Big hugs to Leah Savage Photography for sharing Koli and Dylan’s day with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. My best friend told me about this guy that he had been hanging out with that he thought I would really like. One night, we were having a bonfire in the pasture at my house and my best friend invited him. That was the first time we had saw each other. We never spoke that night, but we definitely noticed each other. The next time we saw each other and the first time we spoke was at my high school graduation, when he came to watch my best friend graduate. He didn’t ask for my number then, but later got it from my best friend, who was one of his best friends now too. He texted me that night and the rest is history.

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to wear my mother’s dress, but unfortunately, it was too small for me. I looked in boutique after boutique and never found anything that I liked or hadn’t seen a hundred times. Because I am a thrift store junkie, I knew I could find something there that I could make my own. I already had three dresses I was planning to take apart and make into a new one when my mom brought home this gorgeous Givenchy dress she found at the thrift store for $30. It fit PERFECTLY! I wanted to incorporate my mom’s dress somehow, so we decided we would take the lace off of her dress and attach it to the thrift store Givenchy. We started taking the lace off of her dress when she insisted that I try it on one last time before we ripped it apart, so I did. It zipped right up. I had been exercising and eating healthy, but it fitting was a big surprise to me. I was so excited and we immediately stopped taking it apart. The only thing I wanted to change were the sleeves in her dress, so I took them out and my grandmother sewed the sleeve holes up. We had it cleaned and it was absolutely perfect.

Because my mother was a photographer and I had helped her with countless weddings, I knew that I didn’t want to make all of our guests wait for us to do photos after the ceremony. Instead of having the first look at the ceremony, my great photographer, Leah Savage, suggested that we do a private first look before the ceremony. That turned out to be the best and most stress-free option for us.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I think the most memorable moment was when the ceremony had just ended. Dylan and I were finally married, and we got to kiss and talk to each other as husband and wife.

I love this sweet picture of Koli with her parents. It captures their close relationship so perfectly!

The wedding cake was a simple tiered cake with “messy” icing, as I call it. It had different flowers cascading down the front. I didn’t want my cake to be fancy and smooth, but rather, I wanted something that was simple, beautiful, and delicious, and our cake was definitely all three. For dessert, we had my mother’s from-scratch bread pudding that she had made that morning, four of my grandmother’s delicious homemade red velvet cakes, and my famous chocolate chip cookies I made from scratch the day before. We also had pies from Twix-n-Tween in Centreville, AL, as well as Dylan’s favorite Lemon Pie from the Downtowner Restaurant in Selma, AL. I think more love was poured into the desert table than any other detail.

Tell us all about the proposal! I had the feeling that it was coming soon, but I wasn’t sure exactly when it was going to happen. On January 31, I had just gone to get my hair done when he called me to stop by his house for a second. I got there and found a note on the door that sent me somewhere else. After the fourth note, he sent me to where he was waiting with the ring. Needless to say, I was so excited! After calling all of our families and getting all the excitement out, I went home and immediately painted my nails because I knew I would be showing the gorgeous ring to EVERYONE in the upcoming days.
When did y’all get married? June 22, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our preacher, who is also Dylan’s grandfather, read a few verses of 1st Corinthians.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. My mom always was a fan of Van Morrison and I grew to love his music as well, so for a long time, I knew that I wanted “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison to be my wedding song. Dylan left that decision up to me.
Describe your wedding flowers. My wedding flowers were a complete surprise to me. Before the pictures were taken, my mom showed me the two options. One was a more woodsy looking bouquet with hydrangeas and greenery and the other was a solid peony bouquet. I immediately fell in love with them both, but the peonies were so sweet and simple, I chose that one. As far as the flowers we decorated with goes, we used beautiful hydrangeas my sister-in-law cut out of her mother’s garden a few days before the wedding.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It is so hard to pick only one detail, but I think the thing that made the night so fun was the band, Over the Mountain. They were so good and everyone, especially the kids, had fun dancing to their music. The whole reception area was fit around the stage and it gave the reception such a laid-back, fun vibe.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had the wedding on my family’s farm at my oldest brother’s barn he built, with the cattle grazing in the pasture that we used as the ceremony background. We had bread pudding made from my mothers from scratch biscuits. The band played country, bluegrass, folk and oldies music. My second oldest brother made the bench seating, as well as the arbor we stood in front of. There were also touches of the South all throughout the decor. It definitely had southern charm.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Less than $10,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Every single one of the vendors we used was absolutely perfect, from the photographer to the caterer, band, and, of course, my personal decorator, my mother. It all worked together perfectly to make the day a special one that Dylan and I will never forget.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t get so caught up in planning that you don’t have fun.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Right now, we are just enjoying each other. After I graduate college and become a Home Ec. teacher, we plan on starting a family.

Photographer: Leah Savage Photography | Planner: Mother of the Bride | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Brother of the Bride’s barn | Florist: Tina Sibley | Wedding Cake Baker & Caterer: Labbe’s Cakes and Catering | Rentals: ABZ Rental & Beauty Mark | Band: Over the Mountain | Bride’s Gown & Veil: Mother of the Bride’s | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Hair Stylist & Makeup Artist: Bride | Groom’s Attire: Thrift Store Finds

lisa Written with love by Lisa
6 Comments
  1. avatar La Jolla Wedding reply

    Stunning venue!

  2. avatar Madi Reid Sanders reply

    Love love love the sweetness in this post!
    Koli- If you’re reading this 1) Best wishes to you and your groom! You were a stunning bride!!!! 2) I’m such a nerd and I have to ask where the sheep skin rug in one of the first few photos is from!

  3. avatar Ashley @ Details Nashville reply

    I really love these photos! What a simple and elegant southern wedding. My two favorite aspects is her train on her dress and the invitations (black, with pink roses). Looks like it was a great event!

  4. avatar Dana reply

    love the wedding cake and her engagement ring! it is perfect!

  5. avatar Koli Nichols reply

    Madi, thank you so much!!!! The rug came from Costco! I think it was around $100…

    Thank you everyone for your kind words!

  6. avatar Taylor reply

    Koli if your family ever decides to rent the barn out for a wedding I would be very interested! It is gorgeous! Get in touch with me if it is even a remote possibility.. thattaylorchick12@hotmail.com

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Hi y’all! As Nicole mentioned last week, I’ll be taking over Weekly Round-Ups from now on. We have had some seriously gorgeous weddings, a few tear-jerking stories, and lots of great advice on the blog this week, so let’s dive right in!

Kristin shared her heart through a list of 10(+1) hints for a happy marriage. Married friends, we’d love to hear your advice as well!

Our resident etiquette expert/my deskmate, Emily, addressed the tricky question of how to reschedule a wedding.

Ryan Ray is shooting something amazing for V6 next week, and we’re still in need of a few more bridesmaid models! If you’re available on July 26 in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area, check out our model call post for more information.

Oh, how I loved this week’s Real Weddings!

Brittany and Matt’s first look pictures are some of our all-time favorites! See their classic turquoise wedding here.

Claire and Michael’s wedding was overflowing with fabulous Southern details. Since their wedding was my first post on the blog, I’m always going to have a soft spot for their gorgeous day! See it here.

Rachel and Daniel’s sweet proposal story brought me to tears, and y’all fell hard for the dreamy Vera Wang she wore in their wedding! See it here.

Speaking of stories that brought on a few tears, the story of how Mariana chose her lace dress had both Marissa and me reaching for tissues. Mariana and Jacob also had the most fabulous dessert selection at their beautiful wedding! See it here.

A few fun things!

Be sure to check out our Facebook Friday for an engagement shoot by Revival Photography!

One of our delightful BRV members, George Street Photo & Video, is hosting a giveaway next week for four mini chevron bags by Ooh Baby Designs! Enter on their Facebook page between July 22-29.

Have a wonderful weekend!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Ginnie Reed reply

    Hey Lisa! You’ve done a great job at SW so far! Congrats on such an amazing opportunity! On another note, I live in North Texas and would LOVE to be a model (or honestly just help out with the shoot) next week! I sent an email but haven’t heard back from anyone. I’ll even promise to bring homemade baked goods if I need to bribe my way in! Thanks, Ginnie

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Hi Ginnie! Thank you so much for your kind words! I believe we already have all of our models for this shoot. Thank you so much for applying though, and hopefully we can work with you on something in the future! :)

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I first discovered fine art wedding photography almost four years ago, when a friend of mine left a Facebook comment on someone’s wedding pictures. Being the wedding picture-stalker I tend to be, I checked out the wedding album and was floored by how gorgeous and cinematic the photography was. Their photographer? None other than Tim Willoughby of Tim Will, who photographed today’s real wedding! Since Tim could be credited with the start of my love for amazing wedding photography, I’m especially honored to be sharing Rachel and Daniel’s beautiful Chattanooga wedding today. Their wedding is overflowing with Southern elegance, and you won’t want to miss their adorable proposal story—I definitely got tears in my eyes when I read it!

Tell us all about the proposal! Daniel and I have an affinity for bluegrass music. I just listen to it, but he plays the mandolin and guitar, and suffers from a banjo addiction. The song that we have always considered “ours” is “Ocean of Diamonds” by Jimmy Martin. One Sunday night last June, I returned to Charleston from out of town. Daniel had cooked dinner since I had been traveling all day. He told me he heard a great new band that I just had to hear. I was exhausted and stuffing my face when he started playing it. It took about five seconds for me to realize that it was him singing and playing guitar, mandolin and banjo. He had recorded it for me on Garage Band. Still not convinced he was proposing, we started dancing in the kitchen, and with our chests together I could feel his heart racing… that’s when I knew what was up! He got down on one knee and I was crying so hard, I can barely remember what he said. I said yes, and he gave me his grandmother’s diamond filigree ring.

The flowers were romantic and ethereal. The pale soft roses and peonies contrasted so well with the sharp blue thistle and dark blue anemone centers. My florist also wrapped some gold wire around my bouquet and the boys’ boutonnieres. It added a fairytale whimsy to the pastels!

Cami, my bridesmaid and best friend, sang “Be Thou My Vision,” a Gaelic hymn, right before I walked down the aisle. It is so hauntingly beautiful and her voice is so angelic, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the building. It meant so much to have her sing at my wedding. She has been in my life since the beginning!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had a few. My favorite was Song of Solomon 8:6-7. It speaks of an unquenchable love. That’s exactly how I feel about my groom.

Tim Willoughby is a photographer I found in Charleston. His ability to capture timeless, breathtaking images sold me immediately. Having him in Chattanooga for the weekend made me so calm. I didn’t have to worry if he was getting all of the right images because I knew he was. He was able to see all of the things I couldn’t. Over time, memories fade, and it gave me peace of mind knowing I would have his photos to look at forever.

Seriously, y’all, I could look at pictures of Rachel’s dreamy Vera Wang gown all day. If it looks familiar to you, it might be because our very own Emily tried it on during one of her dress shopping trips almost two years ago, at the same salon where Rachel bought her dress!

One of the most Southern things about our wedding was my dad’s bluegrass band playing for our cocktail hour. They also played our first dance, which happened to be “Ocean of Diamonds,” the song Daniel proposed to me with! I think the juxtaposition of the bluegrass band in a modern art museum was such a funky twist on what “Southern” can be. Who says Southern has to be at a plantation or in a barn?

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. My cake had a subtle floral pattern inset into the buttercream icing. The roses and blue thistle floral accents really stood out against the simple design. Daniel’s cake was a real work of art. I mentioned his banjo addiction right? Well his cake was a chocolate, to scale model of a Gibson banjo. It was insanely realistic…and delicious.

You know how much we love a gentleman in seersucker! This adorable duo is actually Daniel’s grandmother and her twin brother. Aren’t they the cutest?

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Gosh, how can I pick one moment? I guess the most memorable would be the dance floor, because I spent the majority of the night there. The dance floor was packed from start to finish. Everyone was dancing like maniacs! I am a super awkward dancer, but being with old and new friends, my family and Daniel’s family all together was kind of mind blowing. I kept looking over and seeing two people from two completely separate parts of my life breaking it down together like fools. It was a once in a lifetime thing.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Daniel and I met at a football game during our junior year of high school in 2005. We dated all through the rest of high school. When college came, I was going to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and he was headed to join the crew team at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. We thought it was over from the horror stories people told us about long-distance relationships. Over those four LONG years of dating 650 miles away, we realized that no matter how hard a long-distance relationship was, it wouldn’t even be close to the pain that would come from not being in each others’ lives. Luckily we survived, and I was able to move to Charleston, SC after graduation to be with him when he started medical school.
When did y’all get married? May 25, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 325, give or take.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mom, two sisters and future mother-in-law came to Charleston one August weekend for a day of dress shopping. We started in the morning at Maddison Row in downtown Charleston. My dress was the third one I tried on, and I just knew. I tried on a few others, but kept going back to the Vera Wang Emmeline. I told them when I first walked in that I loved tulle, and this dress has TONS of tulle. I ended up buying it that morning and canceling my other dress appointments that day. My mom was disappointed that the shopping ended so quickly!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. Since I was a little girl, I have been looking forward to having my church doors swing open and my groom seeing me with the rest of my guests.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No way! I can’t write to save my life. Daniel and I wrote each other letters before the wedding. My words are best kept on a private piece of paper.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Something borrowed was a hair barrette my mother had gotten as a gift from her parents when they vacationed in Mexico. My something blue was a blue stone bracelet of my mother’s. New was a delicate lace handkerchief wrapped around my bouquet that a family friend wove on her loom! For my something old, I had my late grandmother’s costume turtle brooch peeking out of my bouquet.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge for me was narrowing down my ideas. Between reading wedding magazines and being on Pinterest all day, it is so hard to decide which direction you want to go! There are so many amazing ideas out there. Eventually I had to just close my eyes and imagine my ideal wedding. Things started to fall into place.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy it. Your engagement is a time to savor. It only lasts a short while! Don’t stress the little things. It’s easy to get wrapped up in planning a “dream wedding” and to forget that you are marrying the man of your dreams.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Daniel and I are settling into our new house in Charleston. He is continuing medical school, and I have an awesome interior design job. We just got a sweet new doggy, and we’re enjoying everyday life as a happy little family.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
20 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Love these beautiful pictures! Chattanooga holds a special place in my heart so I loved that they incorporated some of the city’s best known landmarks into the photos.

  2. avatar Emily reply

    I ADORE her gown! Tulle perfection!!

  3. avatar Wedding 101 Greenville reply

    Everything about this wedding is stunning! Beautiful photography, insanely gorgeous gown, and the texture of the flowers = to die for!!! Love this one!

  4. avatar Kat reply

    Every time I see that gown I die just a little!!!! LOVE it!

  5. avatar Kristin reply

    Transportation via bright yellow school bus AND a dress that is something straight from a fairytale? Yes, please!! Love!!

  6. avatar Lauren reply

    The pictures are gorgeous and those cookies? Amazing!

  7. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    What a beautiful dress and bride! I love the groom’s cake! Just pinned it on our Western Wedding Board.

  8. avatar Christina reply

    Love, love, love this wedding!! Does anyone know who she used for the koozies? Random, I know. But every Southern wedding needs koozies! ;)

    • avatar Rachel reply

      Christina and Jay:
      Hi from the Bride! I used Totally Koozies. My friend Emily illustrated that logo and uploaded the image in their custom section

  9. avatar Carey reply

    As a wedding guest and mother of one of the bridesmaids, I can say that this was the most beautiful and meaningful weddings I have ever attended. I have known Rachel since she was a child and Daniel since they began dating. This wedding was a celebration of two beautiful people that love each other and two special families that bring together many people who love them and who were honored to celebrate, with abandon, this special day with them. It was not only a celebration of the couple, but of their amazing love of family and our love for them and their families! We love you, Rachel & Daniel!

  10. avatar Jay reply

    Lovely wedding!! Where are the zoozies from!?

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  12. avatar Taylor reply

    LOVE this! Where are the personalized drink stirrers from? I am obsessed with those!

  13. avatar Emily reply

    That dress!!!! And all of these pictures are AMAZING. I love the one of them on the dance floor with their heads together, totally perfect.

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