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Southern Weddings

Author: Marissa

Though Catherine and Will did give a lot of thought to eloping, they ultimately decided they wanted to celebrate their marriage with their friends and family, so a wedding weekend it was! After a whirlwind search that ended with lots of great venues but none that felt exactly right, they found themselves on a tour of Blue Ribbon Vendor RT Lodge. The peaceful atmosphere and opportunity to have the property all to themselves for the weekend sealed the deal!

String lights, bales of hay covered in family quilts, and s’mores by the fire helped create the magical, “grown-up summer camp” feel Catherine and Will were hoping for. And judging from the joy in these photos, I’m thinking they’re pretty glad they didn’t decide to elope!

Thanks to Cody Myers for sharing their sweet Tennessee day with us!

The wedding dress wasn’t a detail of planning that I was especially excited about, so I put off looking until a ways into our engagement. Because we were on a tight timeline, I knew we needed to find something that day. After trying on a few dresses that were definitely not the one at different shops, we went to The Sentimentalist. The dress I ended up going with was flowy and relaxed with great lines. It had the perfect feel for our wedding, and I couldn’t have been happier!

I was very against the idea of not seeing Will until I walked down the aisle, so we both had breakfast at the lodge with our bridesmaids and groomsmen. Seeing him that morning was so nice, and it set a great tone for the day. If it was supposed to be one of the most important days of our life, it didn’t seem right not to spend most of it together! After breakfast, we went our separate ways to get ready with our friends, and then we had a first look in our wedding clothes in the woods at the Lodge.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? We gave a lot of thought to eloping, but once we decided to have a wedding weekend, we decided to get married in the mountains in North Carolina. After a whirlwind search, we decided to go look at RT Lodge in Tennessee. It isn’t what I thought we were looking for, but as we toured the property under umbrellas, the peaceful atmosphere pulled us in! It really felt like grown-up summer camp in the woods.

We used traditional Presbyterian vows, and we loved the simplicity and significance of those words that have been said time and again…”in plenty and in want; in joy and in sorrow; in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.” And it was so meaningful to use the words “husband” and “wife” for the first time!

The only readings we had at the ceremony were two Bible verses. One of our officiants read Romans 12:1-2, 9-18, and our other officiant read Colossians 3:12-17. We wanted our ceremony to be simple, meaningful, and very centered on God.

We wanted our ceremony music to be traditional, but walking down the aisle made me nervous, and listening to traditional processional songs made me even more nervous, so we decided to go with a more contemporary song for that part! One of our officiants suggested at an early meeting that we have everyone sing a hymn during the ceremony, and we chose one of our favorites (“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”). We chose to have the hymn be played right after communion, so we were still sitting down in the seats with everyone, which was so sweet.

Will and I danced to Blake Shelton’s “Mine Would Be You” for our first dance. Our bluegrass band played a shortened version of it and it was really fun! My dad and I danced to Elvis’s “Sweet Caroline,” a song he would sing to me when I was a baby.

Our cocktail hour site was a grassy area just behind the ceremony site that had strung lights from trees Alex had planted and hay bales covered in family quilts around a fire. One other really sweet detail we loved was that after our rehearsal dinner, everyone hung out by the fire making s’mores and relaxing. It was the perfect ending to a really great day.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Will and I met on my first day of work at the Tennessee governor’s office (I give him a hard time because he doesn’t remember meeting me!). We slowly became office friends, and after a while, things began to shift into the possibility of becoming more. Will finally asked me out on an October Friday to go watch a Braves playoff game after work. After a somewhat bumpy first date (I was really nervous and didn’t even have my ID!), the rest of our story has been an amazing adventure!
Tell us all about the proposal! As soon as our busiest season of work ended, Will planned a trip to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville for a weekend getaway. On Saturday, we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway to find a place to hike. After a lot of discussion with locals about where to go, we ended up at the summit of the Craggy Gardens Pinnacle trail with 360-degree views. After enjoying the view for a few minutes and taking some pictures, Will began saying some amazing things, and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! We were able to enjoy the rest of the day up on the mountain, and then we celebrated with a perfect dinner in downtown Asheville. We didn’t tell anyone the news that day (except for every stranger I encountered!), so on Sunday, we spent the drive home calling friends, and even stopped in Knoxville to tell my mom on Mother’s Day (my dad already knew).
When did y’all get married? October 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 105
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: For me, the paper aspect of the wedding were something I was very excited about! I was able to create the save the dates and I painted the fireplace at the lodge and did the calligraphy, and we had Chelsea Petaja create the most wonderful invitation suite. I loved working with her and I couldn’t have been happier with the way everything turned out. I love vintage stationery and stamps, so I started collecting old stamps as soon as we got engaged. Each envelope had six or seven vintage stamps on it! One of our favorite details of the actual wedding was the ceremony and cocktail hour sites–Alex (our coordinator) made those blank canvases come to life!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Making sure I was wearing each category was one of the details that ended up not happening in the chaos of the weekend, so I only had a borrowed veil and new dress/shoes. BUT, there was a lot of “old” strung throughout the wedding, like the old (and blue!) Chevy truck, the cake topper, the film photography, the Super 8 video, my paternal grandparents’ wedding guest book that we used as our guest book. We laugh that our wedding was straight out of the 50s!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? Will had a special bourbon bar during the reception, which was made up of a selection of bourbon from Southern distilleries. For our rehearsal dinner (which took place on the front lawn of RT), we ate barbecue, drank Cokes in glass bottles, and had banana pudding served in the sweetest Spode Woodland bunny bowls. Most of our food had a Southern base, from fried chicken at my bridal luncheon Friday to collards at the reception!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We tried to be very intentional about the fact that the wedding was only one day in the scope of our entire marriage, so we went to a marriage seminar, had counseling with our minister, and read a lot of books together like Tim Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage.”
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We had Campbell Brewer film our wedding in Super 8 video. The nostalgic feel of our video is incredible, and all of our details fit perfectly with that medium. He edited amazing videos for us. Because we had an amazing film photographer (Cody Myers) shoot the weeding, the video truly feels like our photos came to life! I loved using the wedding as an excuse to hire really talented people I know. My friend, artist James Worsham, created our altar–it was so perfect! He really set the scene with the wood altar, the fabric draped over, and the copper flower stands he made! Also, I had an artist I know from high school, Adele Yonchak, paint small canvases for my bridesmaids; they turned out so perfectly, and I loved being able to give them to my closest friends.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It was really important to us that the day be centered around the ceremony. Communion was served during our ceremony, and being able to experience that sacred moment with our closest family and friends while rain lightly fell was so special.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? Will loves old trucks, and I was able to borrow an amazing 1960s Chevy pickup truck from a couple I know in Knoxville. There was a road next to our ceremony site, so Will drove us away from the ceremony in that! Our videographers got amazing Super 8 footage from the bed of the truck, and even running alongside while we were driving.

Photographer: Cody Myers | Videographer: Campbell Brewer of Clark Brewer Photography | Planner, Venue, Catering, Rentals, and Lighting: RT Lodge | Florist: Lisa Foster Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Cheryl McMillan Cake Design | Cake Topper: The Delightful Crow | Ceremony Music: Tim West and Adam Cromer | Band: Sweetwater Road Band | Paper Products: Chelsea Petaja | Save the Dates: 23Postcards | Printing: Midtown Printing and For Your Party | Invitation Stamps: Bride and Verde Studio | Bride’s Gown: “Kerry” by Theia | Bridal Salon: The Sentimentalist | Hair Stylist: Eric Patterson and Elisabetta Proietto of Twisted Scissors | Makeup Artist: Patty Watson | Bride’s Shoes: Tali Grand Waterproof Bow Wedge in Canyon Rose by Cole Haan | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” in Shadow Grey, Mist Grey, and Blush by BHLDN | Groom’s Attire: Brooks Brothers | Groomsmen’s Ties: The Tie Bar | Welcome Bags: Bradley’s | Transportation: Big Love Bus | Altar: Handy Dandy Productions | Bridesmaids’ Gifts: Adele Yonchak

RT Lodge is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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When it comes to bridal style, I tend to fall into the more classic category. For example, I wore white satin d’orsay heels with a big ol’ bow to my own wedding! However, I sure do love when a bride includes fun fashion statements to make their look uniquely their own. When a reader reached out to us asking for non-bridal wedding day shoe ideas, I was happy to oblige! From super comfortable flats to pretty floral heels, here are a few of our favorite options for an alternative to the classic white wedding shoe.

1. Monogrammed Jack Rogers 2. Classic Jack Rogers 3. Just Married Flip Flop 4. Just Married Flip Flop 5. Bow Flip Flop

1. Metalic tennis shoes 2. Perforated slides 3. Glittery sneakers 4. Lace espadrilles 5. Lace espadrilles 6. Gold ballet flats

1. Pink block heels 2. Floral detail flats 3. Liberty floral heels 4. Ankle strap heels 5. Nude floral heels 6. Blue ankle strap heels

1. Suede sandals 2. Glittery sneakers 3. Gingham sneakers 4. Bow heels 5. Blue heels with bow 6. Ornate heels

1. Matisse boots 2. Durango boots 3. Short boot 4. Ivory boots

Which pair is your favorite? I can’t help but love those sparkly blue sneakers! They’re way too much fun!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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I am quite an indecisive person, and even tend to overthink my decisions once they’re made (my husband would say that is a major understatement!), so I can completely empathize with Marlo when she says that the biggest challenge of planning their wedding for her and Greg was “avoiding decision fatigue.” With so many choices to make, from major decisions to small details, it can become overwhelming quickly. But, I love how Marlo and Greg reminded themselves to keep the purpose of their wedding front and center, and focus on creating a wedding day that celebrated their unique union. From there, decisions were made and details were created with intentionality and heart. One of my favorite details was their dinner–they wanted their reception meal to feel “homey,” so they opted for braised short ribs and Lebanese sides dishes that were passed around at each table. A little bit messy, and a lot like a big family affair!

Thanks to Ely Fair for capturing Marlo and Greg’s beautiful day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Just as I was warned, I fell for a wedding dress that didn’t look anything like the one I had pictured. I imagined myself in a flowy, romantic, beaded number, but ended up loving a fitted floral jacquard gown with a flared hem. My mom, sister, and bridesmaid gave it two thumbs up and I loved the unique fabric.

Our wedding flowers were creamy whites with bright pops of green and sage. I loved that the bridesmaids’ bouquets felt structural and whimsical, while the bridal bouquet was more traditional. We kept the farm tables low-key with eucalyptus runners with bright white accents.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were married at Philbrook Museum in the heart of midtown Tulsa, where Marlo was raised. Having an outdoor wedding at an art museum felt really special. Philbrook’s breathtaking gardens were the perfect backdrop for the day.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It’s impossible to choose! We’ll never forget dancing with everyone to Lebanese dabke drummers. Most people had never heard dabke before, so they just winged it! It felt spontaneous and unforgettable. We decided to string lights in both the dinner hall and outside where the band played. That made the whole atmosphere more casual, yet magical. We used a big coffee table book about art from Marfa, where we got engaged, in lieu of a traditional guest book. It’s fun to page through it and find notes from our loved ones. Plus, it looks great sitting out in our living room! Our wedding planner, Allison Craig, was a total lifesaver for coordinating details and executing our vision. Our table numbers were marble tiles hand-lettered with gold paint–we wanted to include a nod to our shared love of geology without being too overt. We wanted the meal to feel homey and welcoming, and braised short rib fit the bill perfectly! It felt special but not too fussy–you can’t eat short rib without getting a little messy. We included Lebanese side dishes to pass around the tables as well, which helped everything feel like a big family affair.

We had a dessert bar by Heirloom Bakery which included cream puffs, lemon bars, and peanut butter cups. We had a small cake for us to cut, which was strawberry cake with cardamom frosting, inspired by an amazing riff on strawberry shortcake from our favorite Indian restaurant in Houston.

Our first dance was to “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke. It was a surprisingly easy choice we made early on and we never thought twice about it. Our band did a great cover, and the vocalist, Aaron Brave, blew us away. My father and I grooved to “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King. The cheerful beat was perfect for our spontaneous dance. Greg and his mother danced to “Love You Like a Rock” by Paul Simon. He’s a geologist, after all! My dad also surprised us with an a capella group in the middle of dinner! They kicked it off with “One Fine Day,” and at the end, everyone broke out into “Oklahoma!”

Tell us all about the proposal! We were on road trip to Marfa, an artists’ oasis in the West Texas desert. We planned to sleep in a teepee, hike in a state park, poke around museums, and star gaze at the McDonald Observatory. Greg proposed on the foothills of the Davis Mountains just outside of town. We celebrated with hamburgers and live music at the Lost Horse Saloon.
When did y’all get married? May 7, 2016
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We saved the suspense for the big moment and opted out of a first look. We’re so glad we did–it was magical.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? An excerpt from “Letters to a Young Poet #7” (Rainer Maria Rilke), an excerpt from “Les Miserables” (Victor Hugo), and “Pathways” (Rainer Maria Rilke).
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My shoes were canary blue and my sister and I wore matching vintage gold bracelets my parents gave us.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge in planning a wedding is avoiding decision fatigue. You make so many choices along the way, from major decisions like the date and venue to the most minor details like the color Sharpie for the guest book. Making so many choices can be overwhelming. We had to remind ourselves to keep the purpose of the day front and center, which takes the pressure off all the extra stuff.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We wanted the look of candles on the tables, but couldn’t have open flames in the museum. Most of the flameless candles we found weren’t convincing, so my mom poured her own pillar candles for us to use! They were large enough to put a flameless tea light inside and looked perfect.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We booked our photographer, Ely Fair, and videographer, Anchor Heart Films, as soon as we settled on a date. We lucked out. They are both so talented but also kind and easygoing, and made us feel really comfortable on the day of the wedding. You end up spending a lot of time with your photographer and videographer, so it is crucial that you have a good rapport. The results were beautiful and authentic.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? In the middle of the reception while everyone was dancing, we snuck up to a walkway that overlooked the dance floor. It was incredible to take a quiet moment to witness all of our loved ones celebrating together.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Remember that the purpose of the wedding is to celebrate your unique union. Keep that in mind and let go of any details or traditions that don’t feel authentic to you.

Photographer: Ely Fair Photography | Videographer: Anchor Heart Films | Planner: Allison Craig | Venue and Caterer: Philbrook Museum | Florist: Lyla Sawyer | Dessert Baker: Heirloom Baking Co. | Rentals: Party Pro and Kahoy Studios | Lighting: LionsRoad Studios | Band: Full Flava Kings | Guitarist: Sean Al-Jibouri | Paper Products: Brown Linen | Bride’s Gown: “Aida” by Amsale | Bride’s Veil: Mia Bridal Couture | Hair and Makeup: Primp Hair and Makeup Studio | Bride’s Shoes: J. Crew | Groom’s Attire: Suit Supply | Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Invitation Calligraphy and Table Numbers: Kristara

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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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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