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Southern Weddings

Author: Marissa

With school starting in the coming weeks, it’s inevitable that fall is right around the corner. I am all for pumpkin-everything, but Kristen and Rick’s wedding has me hanging onto sweet summer days for just a bit longer. With the help of A Fox Event, Kristen and Rick planned an intimate summer soirée at the Legare Waring House that allowed them to spend a bit of extra time with each guest (and stretch their budget a bit further!). With personal details weaved throughout, like Japanese Aralia leaves from her mother’s garden, and fun pineapple decor sprinkled into their classic design, I can see why Kristin’s joyful smile went from ear-to-ear!

Big SW hugs to Jennings King for capturing Kristin and Rick’s wedding day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew I wanted a full skirt and I sure did not compromise! I expected to choose a very simple, classic style, but instead, I fell in love with the rich lace bodice on my dress as soon as I tried it on. It was a very special moment that I was lucky enough to share with my mom, sisters, mother-in-law, and cousins.

I wanted a wild-looking, white, summery bouquet full of variety and greenery. Fox Events made me a gorgeous bouquet of peonies, astilbe, tulips, and a variety of garden roses, plus peach Juliet garden roses for a small pop of color. The greens included seeded eucalyptus, Italian ruscus, and smilax, and we added a Japanese Aralia leaf from my mom’s garden!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? I felt very strongly about Rick seeing me for the first time as I made my way down the aisle, and he felt the same way, so we opted to keep it traditional. Because we had plenty of evening sunlight to work with in June, we did not have to worry about having our photos done before the ceremony. I absolutely loved seeing him tear up!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I strove to contract all local businesses and tried to find vendors who used local products. For example, Salthouse Catering’s menu was farm-to-table and seasonal, and ICEBOX offered local beer and liquor companies such as Palmetto Brewery and Striped Pig. The groom and groomsmen’s bowties were handmade in Mount Pleasant, and the maids gifts came from Spartina 449 of Daufuskie Island. Also Southern was our married monogram featured in different places, such as above the porch door, on the cocktail napkins, and on our champagne flutes (I also wore my maiden monogram as I got ready for the day). We had a classic coconut cake which is “very Charleston” and so delicious. The night before the wedding, we cut Japanese Aralia leaves from my mom’s garden. We used one in my bouquet and put one on each place setting. It was a really simple way to make my bouquet and the tablescapes more dramatic and personally significant (I carried a bit of my mom down the aisle with me!). And of course, the symbol of hospitality–the pineapple–was placed throughout the venue decor.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We married on a Friday evening and saved an enormous amount! I also had my envelopes hand-lettered by Whitlock Design (on Etsy) instead of calligraphed, and I ordered my veil through Etsy. I also replaced some florals with lanterns (and pineapples, of course!). Lastly, instead of renting a dance floor, we arranged the tables so that there was enough space to dance on the venue’s existing patio.

By far, our favorite detail of the wedding was the beautiful cafe lighting over our reception. The weather worked in our favor and we were lucky enough to forgo a tent, which allowed for the historic home at our venue to serve as a gorgeous backdrop. The openness of the patio space complete with the cafe lighting gave the reception a very romantic, summery feel. My favorite personal detail of the wedding was incorporating my beloved grandmothers, who have both passed away, into the ceremony. I wore pink wedding shoes in honor of my mom’s mom, and my paternal grandmother’s chaplain married us. I also tied both late grandmothers’ wedding rings to my bouquet, and my sisters wore them the rest of the night following the ceremony.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We first met at Stratton Mountain in Vermont as teenagers. Rick was competing in a snowboarding event and I was there with a close friend of mine. Rick and I realized that we hit the slopes at the same home mountain, and over the next few years, we unexpectedly ran into each other time after time. In the spring of my senior year of high school, we reconnected when Rick suggested we meet for coffee. We began dating shortly after I began my freshman year of college, and despite several intervals of living a great distance from each other, we’ve been together ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! Rick had my ring hidden under our bed for almost six months prior to proposing. There were many nights when it almost came out early, but he had made arrangements to fly us home to celebrate with friends and family just a few days after the proposal, so he held off. Rick had made a reservation at a historic brunch spot nestled in a canyon of the Santa Monica Mountains (we currently live in California). After a beautiful drive up oceanside cliffs, we entered the tranquility of the inner canyon, golden with the season of fall. Under a giant California oak, Rick went down on one knee. We reveled in our brunch, knowing the exciting secret we were keeping from those around us. A few days later, we flew to Charleston to celebrate with family and friends.
When did y’all get married? June 10, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 95
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My cousin recited Romans 12:9-16. It will always remind us to grow our love sincerely by putting each other first, and ourselves second.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Rick and I had a classical guitarist play traditional music for the ceremony; I walked down the aisle with my dad to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Our first dance was to “Forever and Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis. We are big classic country fans and just love this song! Rick and I traveled to Austin last year and learned to two-step, which was super fun. I love to slow dance, so I chose “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton for our last dance. It was so romantic and one of my very favorite memories of the night.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We discussed in detail how and when to merge our finances and invest in our future together. We spent a lot of time setting financial and personal goals as a couple.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? You may feel rushed in the beginning of planning to secure your vendors, but I think it is really important to consider your desired guest count first. Holding a more intimate wedding allowed us to have more time with each guest, which was priceless. It also allowed our budget to go further and include extra personal details and a few splurges.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Rick and I are finally enjoying post-wedding and post-graduate school tranquility! We are working hard to save for a home and relocate back to the South. We look forward to spending time with each other and our families, and perhaps starting a family of our own down the road.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? It was important to us that guests treated our ceremony as a worship, despite it being outside of a church. We also wanted to see guests’ faces instead of cameras and phones as we walked up the aisle for the first time as newlyweds. We were inspired by Southern Weddings’ “Unplugged Wedding” post and wrote our own notecards, which we affixed to the back of every seat. It was a huge success!

Photographer: Jennings King Photography | Planner and Florist: Fox Events | Venue: Legare Waring House | Cake Baker: Mirabelle Bakery | Caterer: Salthouse Catering | Rentals: Eventhaus Rentals, Ooh! Events, and Polished! | Linens: Connie Duglin | Lighting: Innovative Event Services | DJ: Rob Duren Productions | Wooden Monogram: Jasmine Wood Crafts | Paper Products: Paperwhites | Bride’s Gown: Augusta Jones | Bridal Salon: Gown Boutique of Charleston | Bride’s Hair Comb: Bridal House of Charleston | Bride’s Veil: Blanca Veils | Bride’s Earrings: Julie Vos | Hair and Makeup: Paper Dolls | Bride’s Shoes: “Thora” by Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan | Menswear: The Black Tux | Bow Ties and Pocket Squares: Barry Beaux | Bartenders: Icebox | Transportation: Lowcountry Valet & Shuttle Co. | Envelope Lettering: WhitlockDesign | Guitarist: Nikolai Svishev | Officiant: Charleston Wedding Officiant

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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When I hear the word “heirloom,” it’s hard not to imagine a very classic and traditional aesthetic. However, Dacie and Dennis’ bright and citrus-inspired wedding is anything but! It’s fun and youthful, but it’s also filled with family heirlooms and community treasures. Getting married in her parents’ backyard meant Dacie and Dennis got to tap into one of the best parts of the South: community. When her parents’ vines hadn’t quite grown enough to cover their ceremony arch, Dacie’s mom’s friends stepped in to supplement the vines with all sorts of greenery and flowers. Even her grandmother brought cosmos from her own garden! My favorite part of the decor, though? Dacie and Dennis’ table was layered with planks of wood from when her parent’ home was built, table runners sewn by her paternal grandmother, and topped with vases and candlesticks from her family’s collection. I can’t help but mention how fitting it is that Dacie found her beautiful dress at The Sentimentalist!

Thanks for sharing, Sarah & Ben!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The dress was perfect! My sister has worked at wedding dress salons, so she is the family expert. She planned a weekend full of dress hunting in Atlanta–we had 5+ appointments scheduled. But, of course, I fell in love with the first store we went to (The Sentimentalist) and the first dress I tried on. I tried on a few more, but we all knew that the first one was exactly what I was looking for. Gabi at The Sentimentalist perfectly understood what I was looking for, and delivered just that! I had been afraid that dress shopping would be a stressful or uncomfortable experience, but instead, it was absolutely wonderful! I left feeling beautiful and even more excited to get married!

We got married in the backyard of my parents’ house. I grew up there and had dreamed of getting married on the river, where I had spent countless days kayaking and exploring. Dennis has also fallen in love with Palmetto and my parents’ house over many trips to Florida.

We were married under an arch that was full of the most beautiful flowers. My parents had planted some jasmine, bougainvillea, honeysuckle, and Florida vines to cover the arch for the wedding, but it had not filled in all the way, so my mom called on her friends to supplement the vines with all sorts of greenery and flowers. My grandmother brought cosmos from her garden, and someone clipped ground lilies from my neighbor’s yard. It was a community effort that resulted in the most amazing backdrop for the most perfect ceremony! I was thrilled when I walked out and saw the arch!!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our recession after the ceremony was an unexpectedly perfect moment. The ceremony had been perfect–emotional, happy, romantic, everything. As we walked back down the aisle after the ceremony, we were elated. Before we could turn the corner and get out of sight, we had to embrace and celebrate. I had mostly held it together during the wedding, so I burst into tears at that point, beyond overjoyed to be married to Dennis. We were quickly surrounded by our families and bridal party as it sunk in that we were finally married!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We tried to focus on things that would make us happier on the wedding day. If it wasn’t going to affect how we felt on the day of the wedding, we tried not to worry about it (for example, we realized we wouldn’t care, or even notice, what the napkins looked like, so we just popped over to Party City a few days before the wedding and picked up some yellow paper napkins). That kept us from wasting time and stressing ourselves out unnecessarily.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We purchased all of the vases, glasses, and plates for the wedding. We were excited to have an eclectic collection of vintage plates with all sorts of designs, wine glasses for people to drink citrus water, wine, cocktails, etc. out of, and candlesticks and vases to make the table arrangements interesting and unique. In addition to the fun look of it all, each item was less expensive than if we had rented it. My mom set a strict budget for each plate/ glass/etc. so we wouldn’t spend more than it would have cost to rent. The effect was great, cost-effective, and it gave us dishes to hold on to as a fond memory!

The flowers were happy and colorful, just as we had dreamed of. We wanted bright flowers, citrus, and lots of greenery. We cut the ferns from my parents’ yard for the florist to incorporate into the bouquets and arrangements, which turned out beautifully! The table arrangements had several layers. There were table runners that my paternal grandmother had generously sewed for us. On top of those were planks of wood from when my parents’ house was built in 1948. On top of the planks were hundreds of crystal vases and candlesticks–some were family heirlooms, while others my mom and maternal grandmother collected from thrift stores for the wedding. Each vase had beautiful flowers from the florist and from the cutting garden that my mom had grown with some of my favorite flowers for the wedding, including gerbera daisies, zinnias, cosmos, glads, snapdragons, nasturtiums, and more.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The most Southern element of our wedding was the food. The food was primarily prepared by friends and family, and it was a major highlight of the wedding. My parents host a 4th of July party each year, and some of my dad’s friends always bring a fryer to make fried fish and hush puppies. They were generous enough to agree to fry fish, shrimp, and hush puppies for the wedding. The fish and shrimp came from a local fish market that I have always loved eating at. We also offered cheese grits that my mom’s friend cooked. Her secret recipe is unbelievable, and she created the best cheese grits that anyone had ever tasted! We also had a corn on the cob bar. We had grilled corn with a ton of toppings (like cheese, butter, spices, and sriracha) that people could add to their corn as they desired. It was a total hit!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. It was the first week of college, and there were so many new names and faces, I accidentally stopped listening when people would tell me their names. Then “get to know your neighbor” turned into “introduce your neighbor to the entire group” without warning. Of course, I had forgotten (or never listened to) my neighbor (Dennis)’s name, so I found myself introducing my “new friend from Delaware who has a brother who went to Yale” to the group. I felt so absolutely horrible, so I tried to become Dennis’ friend, always saying hello and remembering his name. As it turned out, we got along pretty well, so we quickly became the best of friends! We spent late evenings chatting in my dorm room, and we shared many many meals in the Davenport dining hall. Over the next four years, our friendship blossomed and became all the more important to each of us. He met my family and even came to Palmetto for spring break a couple of times. (He might have fallen in love with Palmetto before he fell in love with me. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t find love at first sight with Palmetto?) By the time senior year rolled around, Dennis and I both began realizing that we really didn’t want to be without one another (at least in spirit, since we were already committed to be in different states). After long talks and Dennis’ realization that “we’re probably going to get married,” we decided to give it a go. Before we knew it, we graduated and spent the summer traveling before we landed in Durham and Boston.
Tell us all about the proposal! From Dennis: After asking for Dacie’s parents’ blessing, I found a beautiful spot at the National Arboretum (just outside of DC) where I wanted to propose. I developed a plan with one of Dacie’s best friends, Chelsea, for her to casually suggest it as a fun weekend activity when all three of us were out at dinner together. I would find a last-minute excuse to bail, and then I would surprise them at the arboretum. But when Chelsea brought it up, I apparently agreed “too enthusiastically” because the next morning, Dacie woke up in tears saying “I didn’t want to, but I think I accidentally figured out when you’re going to propose!” To throw her off, I came up with an excuse that would put me out of town on the day that I was “supposed to” propose. I even created a fake email address posing as one of my company’s investors and sent myself an email insisting that I come to New York that weekend. I had a fake email conversation with myself and everything…I showed these email to Dacie, and she totally bought it. This time. the conversation was, “You’re really not proposing this weekend? This was the only possible weekend before August! I have to wait at least another five weeks?” So here I am, the night before I’m about to propose, denying that I’m proposing tomorrow, while simultaneously telling her that we’ll be engaged before she knows it. I’m glad I never have to try pulling that off again. At 6 A.M. the next morning, I left the apartment to catch my fake train to NYC for my fake meeting. I sat at a coffee shop for five hours before heading to the National Arboretum, accompanied by my friends, who had agreed to take photos of the occasion. We found our spot and just waited for Dacie and Chelsea to get there. The entire time, I was getting texts from Dacie, asking how my meeting went. When Dacie turned a corner and saw me in front of her, she was totally speechless. (Crushed it!) I immediately forgot everything that I had planned to say, and just babbled for a bit before getting down on one knee and asking her to marry me. She was so emotional and so happy–it was the best moment of my life. We then explored the Arboretum for a couple hours and drove back into the city for dinner at a restaurant called Marcel’s. At the end of the night, I had one final surprise: both of our families and a few close friends waiting at our apartment to celebrate the occasion with us. The day couldn’t have gone any better.
When did y’all get married? May 7, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 220
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to Canon in D. Early on in our engagement, Dennis and I were walking through the Duke Gardens with a wedding going on nearby, and this song began to play. I totally lost it and began sobbing, overwhelmed by joy and excitement that we would be married soon. From that point on, every time I heard that song, I was overcome with happy tears, so Dennis was excited to see me walk down the aisle to it. When he was younger, Dennis was hired to play the violin at weddings pretty often, so he had some favorite songs that he wanted the string quartet to play during the other parts of the wedding. Our first dance song was to “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat. When we were freshmen in college, Dennis and I went to a Jason Mraz concert with two of our friends, so we have always enjoyed listening to him together. When we started dating after three and a half years of being best friends, this song feels like the anthem of our relationship.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! For my something old, my mom had some old jewelry melted down and turned into bangles for my sister, herself, and me. One piece of jewelry was a ring that my dad got her for Mother’s Day when she was pregnant with me. My mom surprised me with the bangles as I was getting dressed for the wedding! For something new, we wrapped the scraps from my new wedding dress around my bouquet. I had not really thought through something blue, but my bridesmaids had my back. When they realized I did not have anything blue, they gave me several options. I opted for the understated blue bobby pin that I wore in my hair. A friend of mine who was recently married had purchased an extra garter set, so I borrowed that from her. I actually forgot to wear it on the day of the wedding, but I think it still counts!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are so happy to be married. The week after the wedding, I graduated from law school and we moved to a new city. We are just excited to settle into our new lives and apartment together! Many adventures await!

Photographer: Sarah & Ben | Planner: Jennifer Sayko | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Kings Wholesale Florist | Cake Baker: Matt & Dom’s | Rentals: All Event Rentals | Band: Strings Attached | DJ: Luke Stultz | Bride’s Gown: “Mademoiselle” by Sarah Seven | Bridal Salon: The Sentimentalist | Hair and Makeup: Salon Linnea | Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Ann Taylor Loft | Groom’s Attire: Blank Label and Gap | Groomsmen Attire: Gap

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Linda reply

    what a stunning wedding ! best wishes to this couple

  2. avatar Jess reply

    This wedding makes me oh so happy!!

  3. avatar 10 Gorgeous doors that say ''Welcome'' – Daily Dream Decor reply

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If I’m not even halfway through a bride’s interview and have already snapped lines of it to the gals in the office with the caption “preach!” it’s safe to say I’m going to love the wedding based purely on the bride’s outlook. But, there is so much more to adore than Caroline’s sweet personality! Caroline and Austin were married on her parents’ 60-acre farm in Alabama surrounded by 450 guests, including a few cows. The couple wanted their guests to feel “true Southern values and hospitality,” so everything about their wedding was filled with sweet sentimental details and personal family touches. In addition to celebrating their marriage at Caroline’s parent’s modern farmhouse, their cakes were made by Austin’s great-aunt and her sister-in-law Abby did all the calligraphy and paper goods. (You might recognize Abby and her lettering from her own wedding to Alex that was featured in Volume 7 and from our Southern Newlywed column. We’re big fans of The Bowlins — and now the Kidds, too — around here!)

Hugs to Lexie Bush for sharing Caroline and Austin’s wedding with us!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our wedding planning process started very differently than most when I posed the idea of getting married on my parents’ 60-acre cattle farm. My sentimental heart wanted to feel deeply connected to our wedding venue and I knew I wanted to be outdoors. I loved the idea of getting married at my family home, surrounded by the people we love most, within the sweetness of the long acres of land. Sounds easy, right? My brother proposed to his wife underneath a patch of trees in our pasture, and I envisioned our ceremony being in the exact same spot. This task started early in the winter with my up for anything-National Guard-pull up your boot straps Daddy working from daylight to dark, attempting to turn a former dairy barn into his daughter’s Southern/trendy/boho dream reception venue. Living in two different cities, my parents and I communicated via Pinterest and Instagram, constantly sending each other pictures and whimsical ideas that my mother vowed would come to life. The love and dedication my parents put into this wedding is nothing short of the most humbling emotion my heart has ever felt.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Well, every good Southern woman does, right? I will start with borrowed. I have been blessed to live 24 years with two wonderful grandmothers who love me so well. My Bibi insisted that I wear her opal ring that I have admired for years and have struggled to take off since. My something blue was my garter that came handmade by Ms. Bernice, a family friend. It was detailed with a blue ribbon and lace from her wedding dress. The kindest touch, and of course, so sentimental. My something old came from my wedding ring. The two diamonds on the sides are my Mimi’s. Her diamonds are such a special touch to something I will wear everyday. My something new was my BHLDN earrings. I knew I wanted something with a little bling but not too much sass. Ordering online made me a little nervous, but I couldn’t have found a more perfect pair!

When shopping began for my wedding dress, I honestly had no idea what I was looking for. I knew I wanted to feel comfortable and select a gown that I would love for years to come. My taste is simplistic with an artistic spin, and I would live in Free People and Anthropologie at all times if my teacher salary allowed it. I decided to make an appointment at Ivory and White after having jogged past their storefront for years. The minute we walked in, we were greeted by their more than friendly staff and bridal stylists. Sloan chose each dress for me after I described my personal style. I immediately loved my Sarah Seven gown, with its simple lace and romantic detailing. Molly made my gown custom to my taste by taking extra fabric from the bustle and adding a small belt around my waist. I am madly in love with my dress and felt like it matched the entire day perfectly. I highly recommend Ivory and White to every searching bride!

Describe your wedding flowers. Okay, now you’ve got me talking. Never in my wildest, beyond wildest dreams did I believe I would love my flowers the way that I did. I cried when we first met eyes! My florist, Benny Campbell, and I communicated by email multiple times a month, as I would send him countless pictures of bouquets I had fallen in love with in magazines. I wanted full but not too full, pink but not too pink, and eucalyptus but not too much eucalyptus. Every time I would describe this fictional picture to Benny, he would say, “Say no more, I got it.” I am so confident in my florist’s work and how seamless our interactions were. The bouquets perfectly matched the Show Me Your Mumu bridesmaid dresses and tied together my entire vision.

We had no plans of doing a first look when we started wedding planning because of the timeless idea of not seeing each other before the ceremony. Because we had such a large wedding party though, we were advised to have a first look between the two of us for time and sunlight. Austin gave me a necklace with the coordinates of the cross we would be married under during our first look, and my photographers were able to capture moments of true joy and anticipation. Some of the most genuine images from the entire day came from the 15 minutes we shared together. Now, after the wedding has long passed, I highly recommend a first look to all planning couples. You will get beautiful moments shared on camera without the rush of an anticipated reception.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows and we were married by my uncle, who is a Southern Baptist pastor. He means the world to me, and also baptized me as a child, so having him as the minister for our ceremony was very meaningful. My favorite part of our ceremony was walking down the aisle to hear my uncle say, “The groom would like to share a few words.” For the next few minutes, the congregation, as well as myself, listened in awe of a man who humbly realized the meaning of marriage, and felt bold enough to share his convictions. As we exchanged our vows I could not have been prouder to call that same man my husband.

Everything about our wedding was sentimental. There was not one detail that was not thought of by our families and mulled over for weeks at a time. The morning of my wedding, I looked out of the window to see my mom, dad, and countless other family members and friends working on our front yard. It truly took me back to books I have read about the Deep South back in the day. Every person that worked for the “venue” was a family member or friend who dedicated their time to make this wedding special. For the last couple of weeks of planning, I moved back in with my parents, and it could not have been a better decision. My family adopted all of our venders and our wedding planner into the Bowlin family for this sweet season.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. If I could attend a carnival every day of my life, I would. In the short amount of time we have been married, my husband has been fascinated to learn that I consider a bag of M&Ms and a Diet Coke to be a full meal. Our first few months of wedding planning, we had a full dessert menu and had planned to skip the “real food” for the night. After much discussion, the men in my life demanded some kind of sustenance be served for the evening…vibe killers. My cake was a traditional bride’s cake with a twist. Detailing the sides and edges with flowers and a whipped icing technique made it match our eclectic vision for the barn. By request, Austin had a German chocolate cake and coffee cake balls at his groom’s corner. His favorite part was having TNKR labs from Chattanooga there making pourover coffee by request. Austin is a coffee nut to the core, so this was his prized detail to the reception. We also had Frios popsicles that were more of my touch. Who doesn’t love a popsicle on a hot summer night?

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Bless–what wasn’t? I would describe my wedding to others and some would say “Caroline, I had no idea you were so country?” I would stop them and say, “No, no, this isn’t country, this is Southern. There is a very clear difference.” When meeting with my wedding planner, that was my biggest criteria–I wanted people to feel true Southern values and hospitality, minus the “Hoedown Throwdown.” My parents’ home is a modern farmhouse that was built to model the 2012 Southern Living Dream House. My mother is one to attack any antique store at a moment’s notice, and can smell out oil paintings from a mile away, so her home is filled with her findings from over the years. I loved that while getting ready, I was in my own room and my friends were right in the middle of my family’s community. Our home is a true cattle farm, so you never know when you’ll hear a “moooooo” coming up behind you. Some of my favorite pictures are the ones with the cows behind us. Y’all should come on down to Bowlin Farm one afternoon!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Austin and I met in middle school. I am a year and 10 months older than him and noticed his good looks before it was reality TV to be a “Cougar.” Austin has always been adorable, athletic, and smart, even as a 13-year-old. I, on the other hand, rocked braces, glasses, and awkwardness like it was my occupation until maybe…last year. Austin and I continued to go to school together through high school and later to the same college in Birmingham, Alabama. Because we are deeply Southern, even though we barely knew each other, we always exchanged kind “how are yous” when we passed each other on campus. In the spring of my senior year, I was reminded that I had one more sorority formal before I crossed the stage at graduation. One evening, a friend recommended I ask that cute guy from high school. After many typed and re-typed text messages, I finally found the courage to press send, and sighed with relief when he replied, “Absolutely…but don’t wear heels. I’m a shorty.” That evening was the start of a beautiful friendship between us. The following summer, we exchanged books, laughter, and letters while we both traveled to different countries. Austin became my dearest friend, and later my boyfriend, and we were engaged on November 8, 2015.
Tell us all about the proposal! During college, I interned at Big Oak Ranch for Girls, which is a children’s home for girls in Springville, Alabama. It is a beautiful property with so much character, any soul searcher could find a wonderful purpose. My summer there was invaluable in shaping my character and humbling my heart. The week of my engagement, I received a message from their childcare director asking if I would say a few words at their volunteers banquet the following Sunday. I happily agreed and was so excited to show Austin the beautiful property and the heart behind it. That Sunday, we met and traveled to the ranch together. We drove up on the most perfect scene–gorgeous flowers and candles covered the outdoor chapel overlooking the lake. I remember thinking that this would be the most breathtaking banquet. Austin quickly told me that no one else would be coming and that it would be just us. He proposed in the most thoughtful way imaginable. After I said yes, he showed me countless letters from my family and friends, much like the many letters he had written while pursuing me. I have never felt more loved!
When did y’all get married? June 4, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 450
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? I am pretty sure the day we got engaged, my Amazon Prime account was pumped. “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller was beneficial to both of us. We shared the same copy, so it was exciting to see which sentences Austin underlined each time I went to read. We also went through the book with our home group from our church. It was three couples–one that had been married for 10 years, one for less than a year, and then us. I grew so much just listening to others talk about their struggles and strengths in marriage. One of our favorite authors, Donald Miller, created “Meaningful Relationships” for engaged couples not living in the same city. It is a series of videos and questions aimed at understanding your partner’s story. It brings up topics you wouldn’t typically discuss in counseling, and we both found it awesome in helping us understand each other better. We would talk for hours after watching the videos!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? The Bowlins are rather social people, so it was amazing to see how others wanted to donate their time and resources. Our wedding cakes were made by Austin’s great-aunt and they were the bomb.com. That was such a wonderful gift to us; the sweetest for sure. My sister-in-law, Abby Bowlin (a former Southern Weddings bride!), did all my calligraphy and invitations, including the most perfect watercolor map, all while expecting her first child. Abby is the truest creative I know and was so gracious to offer her services in exchange for the promise of free babysitting nights. My parents made it clear early on that we wanted to have a nice wedding while still being good stewards of the money we were spending. Many things we would could have hired out for, we just did ourselves. I was hiding paint on my hands during the bridesmaid luncheon!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Value your friendship. At the end of this journey, you two are going to drive away and the wedding will be over. All of the pictures will never be able to capture the story that is happening between the two of you. Communicate openly, and share fears and excitement. Dedicate yourselves to prayer over your marriage, and hold each other to the standard of grace, not perfection. Let the little things like forks slide, and if the napkins don’t have a monogram, ain’t nobody goin’ care (or that’s what I’m telling myself).
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Austin has learned in the first month of marriage some simple life lessons. You must never actually dry your hands on a monogrammed towel, cuteness over functionality, and you must never speak ill of Elle Woods or Rory Gilmore. The boy just didn’t know?! We are having fun trying to establish a routine and YouTubing how to use our kitchen supplies. I am a school counselor finishing up my master’s degree, and Austin works as a youth pastor and plans to start seminary in the next year or two. We are so excited about what life has in store for us, we sometimes squeal about it (okay, right, that’s me).

Photographer: Lexie Bush | Videographer: Channing Brodie | Planner: Shalon Steed | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Benny Campbell | Cake Baker: Jan Gilmer | Caterer: Local Joe’s Catering | Rentals: Top Notch | Band: Brother to Brother | Special Details: TKNL Labs | Paper Products: Abby Bowlin | Bridal Salon: Ivory and White | Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN | Hair Stylist: Brooke Ledbetter | Makeup Artist: Lauren Thomas Findley and Brittany Elkins | Bride’s Shoes: TOMS | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Show Me Your Mumu | Menswear: Belk

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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