Unless your beau was raised in the South, he might not know how to tie a bow tie. And, to be honest, not even all born and bred Southern men know how. Crazy, right?! But, it’s true. When we created the Southern Weddings for High Cotton bow tie collection, we knew we had to create a fun and simple tutorial for you, your soon-to-be husband, and his gents to go along with it, and who better to help us with this than our friend James from High Cotton? Enjoy!
Y’all, as I was reading through Abigail and Ben’s interview, I kept nodding my head and thinking “Yes! That’s it right there!” Everything about their wedding day was filled with intention and joy, from their venue choice (inspired by Abigail’s upbringing on a plantation surrounded by oak trees) to their advice for couples currently planning a wedding. They not only prepared for their wedding day, but prepared their hearts well for their marriage–Abigail said, “We wanted to be intentional with every detail, giving it great meaning to who we are together, but also who we are in Jesus.” From the looks of it, I’m sure guests would agree that they did an brilliant job!
Gracious, we’re thankful Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography was on hand to capture their sweet day!
Believe it or not, my dress was the first dress I ever tried on. I wasn’t certain what style I wanted, but I knew I wanted my dress to be timeless and elegant. I met my mom and grandmother in Raleigh to begin our search. At our first appointment, at Lana Addison Bridal in Cary, I showed the consultant a few different pictures of what I thought I may like. She brought me four different dresses. I tried the first dress on and could not stop smiling and twirling around. I looked at my mom and grandmother and said, “I think this is it.” They encouraged me to try the others on just to be sure. I tried them all, but didn’t feel like they were me. I tried on the first dress again and still loved it, but I began to second guess myself and ended up going to our second appointment. I tried on three other beautiful dresses there and got a bit overwhelmed. We decided to call it a day, and as soon as we walked out of the store, I looked at my mom and said, “We have to go back to Lana Addison, it has my dress.” I fell in love with it all over again–from the high neck line, to the combination of the soft lace and tulle, to the beaded waistline, it was perfect. I made the decision that I was only going to let my mom and grandmother see my dress. It made finding my dress and sharing that experience with two of the most special women in my life even sweeter, and I didn’t want to be swayed by the opinions of others. I wanted the first time my family, closest friends, and guests would see my dress to be when I was walking down the aisle to my groom.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Ben and I decided not to do a first look. We both wanted the first time we saw each other to be when I was walking down the aisle to marry him. We did, however, find a time before the ceremony to grab hands and pray with one another.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had one of our closest friends read 1 John 4:18-19. We chose this verse because it centered the entire day around Christ and we believe that without Christ loving us first, we would not be able to love one another. Another verse that is very important to us, Philippians 1:9-10, was on our dinner cards. We asked that our guest pray this verse over us and with us as we entered into marriage together.
We both liked the traditional vows, but also wanted to make them more personal and meaningful to us. We promised the same things to each other: “In the presence of God and according to his will I, Ben, take you, Abigail, to be my wife. I promise to love you, I promise to serve you, I promise to cherish you, as a testament to Jesus and his death on the cross, I give you my love.” We also wanted to affirm together the vows of having a Christian home. We were given this idea by our pastor and we loved it. “Depending upon God for strength and wisdom, do you both solemnly pledge yourselves to the establishment of a Christian home? Will you together, constantly seek God’s will and honor Christ in your marriage?”
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I knew I wanted to be married in my hometown, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and I knew I wanted it outside. I grew up on a plantation that is surrounded by the most beautiful oak trees and I always envisioned them in my wedding someday. When I told Darlene (a dear friend and my wedding planner) what I had envisioned for my day, she said she knew just the place, and told me about the Rose Hill Mansion. I looked it up and fell in love immediately. It had the oak trees with the beautiful hanging moss, enough space to create what we wanted from scratch, and we could have the reception there. I knew it was where I wanted to marry Ben and I booked it without even having seen it myself in person.
Our venue has a rich Southern history. It is an old cotton plantation and the mansion on the property has many antique artifacts to peruse inside. You can actually tour the mansion with the onsite staff and learn a lot about the history of the property and the people that lived there. It is an incredibly unique spot.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Flowers and decorations for sure! Jana Qualey and Bridget Short, who are dear friends to me, have their own side business called Little Vase Events, and let me tell you, they are the best of the best! We repurposed bridesmaids flowers and went out and collected all the oyster shells that we used on the tables. Our gold and white stripped napkins were made by Bridget and Jana themselves!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Keep things in perspective. Your wedding is one day, your marriage is for the rest of your life. When you get overwhelmed, step away and do something fun. Don’t lose your joy in what is such a sweet time of your life, or your sight on what is most important. I started journaling during our engagement, writing down my thoughts and feelings, memories, and all the reasons I love Ben and wanted to marry him. I gave it to him the week of our wedding and I love looking back at it and reliving those days and seeing him read those pages for the first time.
Don’t miss Abigail and Ben’s wedding film by Heart Stone Films below!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ben would joke and say it was somewhat of an arranged marriage. Our brothers and Ben’s younger sister, who is also my best friend, had been trying to get the two of us together for years. Although I knew Ben’s whole family, it wasn’t until our sophomore year of college that we met for the first time at a mutual friend’s wedding. We crossed paths again a year later at Ben’s older brother Will’s wedding. This was the night Ben asked me to dance. I tease him now because he never called me after that night! Last year, I got a call from my friend to come visit with her in Greenville for a long weekend. I was living on Hilton Head Island at the time and I jumped at the chance to go and see her. I was unaware that only a few weeks before, Ben had moved to Greenville. I spent the whole weekend with them, and finally, Ben asked me out. When I had to head back home, Ben asked if he could still pursue me. I said yes, and we continued to talk and get to know each other. Soon after, I got a job in Greenville and made the move. Ben and I continued to grow closer to each other and the Lord, and now the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! My family has a house in the outer banks of North Carolina that has been in our family since before I was born, and it is one of my favorite places. My family typically goes there over the 4th of July, so this time was no different, except Ben would be there. Every morning I woke up while we were there, I had a letter slipped under my door. I didn’t think much of this, only because of how thoughtful Ben always is. On July 4th, Ben asked if I would take a walk out to the dock with him. We sat down at the end and talked for awhile. When we got up, Ben grabbed both my hands with the biggest smile. I knew what was happening and said to him, “Is this really it?!” After saying many sweet words, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. And I said YES! As soon as he was up and we were hugging, my brother ran down the dock with his phone (he was FaceTiming with Ben’s brother and his wife) to celebrate with us. My sister-in-law was snapping pictures and the rest of my family, who had been watching from the house, came out to hug us. Ben planned breakfast for dinner that night, my favorite. We made our way back to Greenville the next day and Ben told me there was one more surprise. When we got back home, we went to his brother’s house, where all our closest friends and family were waiting to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? November 14, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Ben and I decided soon into our engagement that we wanted to prepare more for our marriage than our wedding. The most important thing for us while planning our wedding was to create a beautiful and meaningful event that glorified the Lord and reflected who we are. We wanted to be intentional with every detail, giving it great meaning to who we are together, but also who we are in Jesus.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? My day would not have been the same without Callie Davis with Nancy Ray Photography. I can not sing their praises enough. Having Callie and Olivia there to capture our day honestly added even more joy to an incredibly joyful day. They took the time through the whole process to pour into me and make sure that everything was perfect and ready to go for my wedding day. I gained two sweet friendships.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Well, we’re getting a puppy in two months and can’t wait to have a furry friend in our family. We look forward to lots of adventures, learning new things about each other, and just getting to do life with each other. Ultimately, having children and raising them together excites us the most about our future. We aren’t ready yet, but our biggest dreams usually involve a house full of children.
Photographer: Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography | Videographer: Heart Stone Films | Planner: Darlene Cranston | Venue: Rose Hill Mansion | Florist: Little Vase Events | Cake Baker: Ronnie’s Bakery & Cakes by Lou | Caterer: Downtown Catering Company | Rentals and Lighting: Amazing Event Rentals | DJ: Will Krause | Paper Products: Swoozies | Bride’s Gown: Theia | Bride’s Accessories: The Poinsett Bride | Hair Stylist: Amber White at Kaleidoscope Salon | Makeup Artist: Bride’s Side Beauty | Bride’s Shoes: Sam Edelman | Menswear: Jos A. Bank
Nancy Ray Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!
Having attended services at the Seaside Interfaith Chapel myself, I can personally attest to how absolutely dreamy it is. I can only imagine it was even more dreamy for Victoria to walk down the aisle to her future husband, especially since they were in the very same chapel where he had proposed exactly one year prior. After saying “yes,” she and Spencer planned a fabulously fun and colorful wedding in that special chapel Victoria had always dreamed of getting married in. From save the dates to lawn decor, their flamingo theme was woven throughout their big day, and while they may have said their vows in the Sunshine State, they also paid homage to their Louisiana roots with a crawfish pot groom’s cake, and a second line-inspired trumpet player who escorted the guests to the reception!
Big SW hugs to Pure 7 Studios for sending us Victoria and Spencer’s lovely day!
My wedding dress shopping began at Pearl’s Place, right outside of New Orleans. I knew I wanted something different, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was–I just knew I didn’t want to look like the traditional bride. We walked into Pearl’s Place, and there was a mannequin wearing a dress that I liked. Miss Ruth, who was helping us, pulled out two other gorgeous dresses that looked great on, but just weren’t me. I asked to try on the dress from the mannequin, and I loved it. Even in the size 12 sample size, it just looked like me. But I couldn’t say yes to the first dress I ever saw! I tried on beautiful gowns and even met with a gown designer, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the first dress. And just as it began, my wedding dress shopping ended at Pearl’s Place in Metairie. My mom and I drove there the next weekend and I said yes to the very first dress.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I have always loved Seaside. My family and I would vacation there almost every summer and it has always held a special place in my heart. I was never the little girl that planned her fairy tale wedding, but I knew one thing: that if I ever did get married, I wanted to get married in Seaside. Spencer proposed to me in the chapel in Seaside on April 2, 2015, and we were married there exactly one year later.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Standing outside of my dream chapel, the sun shining, my arm linked in my daddy’s arm. And then they opened the doors. I saw all of my closest friends and family and I knew that this was the best day of my life.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For wedding musicians, we hired a violinist and cellist from Gulf Talent Services. I have always been a big fan of Elvis, so I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.” During the ceremony, we recognized our parents by presenting each of our mothers with a flower. During this time, they played Debussy’s “Claire de Lune,” one of my favorite pieces to play as a classical pianist. Leaving the chapel, we played the most logical song I could think of: an instrumental version of Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode.” Entering the next episode of our lives, as well as the next episode of the day, the reception, it was the only song that seemed truly fitting for the occasion.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! My something borrowed was actually the hardest to find. I kind of forgot about it until we were already in Seaside, so all of my friends and family were scrambling to find something I could borrow for the day. I tried on bracelets from my mom and a few friends, but I have tiny wrists, so nothing fit. Our flower girl, my nine-year-old niece Mary-Claire, saved the day when she offered me the pearl bracelet she had planned to wear that day! She has since told me that I can keep it to remember our special day anytime I wear it. For something blue, I had my nails painted a super fun, glittery light blue. The new was my dress. The old was a Mikimoto pearl necklace that my grandmother passed down to me before she passed away.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was the flamingo theme. From the save the dates to the pink yard flamingos decorating the Lyceum Lawn and reception, everything went along with our theme. We made sure that everything that was sent out had a flamingo on it. Spencer’s mom even made flamingo cookies and lollipops to give as goodies at our Friday night welcome party.
All of our wedding flower arrangements were mixes of tropical flowers. The two arrangements behind the altar included birds of paradise, hot pink peony tulips, orange pincushion proteas, bridal veil protea, tropical greenery, and curly willow. The flower I carried down the aisle was a single, large king protea. My two bridesmaids carried bouquets of cafe au lait dahlias accented with seeded eucalyptus. Our junior bridesmaid carried a pint-sized version of the bridesmaids’ flowers and our flower girl wore a crown of white ranunculus blooms, bridal veil protea, and seeded eucalyptus. My two bridesmen and Spencer’s groomsmen all wore boutonnieres of small succulents with a touch of seeded eucalyptus.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We included our most favorite Southern tradition, the crawfish boil, into our reception. The groom’s cake was a crawfish pot filled with fondant crawfish, corn, potatoes, and even two cups of crawfish dip made of fondant. We also paid homage to our Louisiana roots by having the trumpet player from our band escort the guests to the reception while we took our family pictures. Guests said they felt like the were down home in a New Orleans second line, not a few hundred yards from the beach.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Spencer and I first met in 2004 through our mutual friend, Charlotte. At the time, I was 17 and still in high school and Spencer was 24 and a college graduate. Not exactly appropriate to ask me out back then! For the next ten years, we were acquaintances and would say hello to each other in passing, neither of us knowing what was to come. Spencer mentioned to Charlotte and her husband that he wanted to ask me out, but being the protective friends and neighbors that they are, they gave him a firm no. Finally, Spencer decided that if he wanted to ask me out, he would just have to do it and not let anyone know. He sent a Facebook message asking me to dinner and I agreed to go. He made plans to go to a local restaurant, but nature threw a wrench into his plan when the skies opened up and started pouring rain on our drive to dinner. Being the gentleman that he is, Spencer made a quick decision to change our venue to a restaurant with a covered valet so I wouldn’t have to get wet. Walking in with no reservations, there were few open spots left in the restaurant, and they seated us in the very back corner where we could only see each other. This could have been very awkward had the date not gone well, but the date was perfect! Spencer still says to this day that they gave him the best view in the house. (I agree!)
Tell us all about the proposal! Thirteen months after our perfect first date, we planned a trip to Watercolor with his family to stay at their fabulous new beach house for Easter. He was so nervous before the trip, making sure he had everything he needed and worrying about not being prepared. We woke up Thursday morning and were waiting for other family members to arrive for a 50th birthday lunch celebration for his Aunt Monique…or so I thought. We had a wonderful lunch by the beach with his family. I mentioned that I loved the chapel in Seaside and would like to stop there for a visit while we were walking around that afternoon. Silence. Crickets. No response from anyone. I guess that should have been my first clue, but I didn’t catch on! As we got closer to the chapel, I mentioned to Spencer that if one day we did decide to get married, the chapel would be my dream location. I immediately started crying when we walked in, just dreaming of one day walking down the aisle there with Spencer. I still had no clue that my dream was about to come true. I told him how much I loved him and how special it was for me to share this place with him. He asked me if I noticed that my favorite song was playing…I hadn’t. He got down on one knee and it wasn’t until that moment that I FINALLY realized what was going on. I imagine he said some of the sweetest things he’s ever said to me, none of which I remember. I just burst into tears, told him I was going to pass out when he opened the ring box, and shook my head yes so he would have some sort of response in case I did fall to the floor. I made it out alive, we toasted with a glass of Veuve, and I immediately started adding wedding dress ideas to my new Pinterest board!
When did y’all get married? April 2, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. We thought it would be more special to see each other for the first time in the chapel, and it was. Even though I’m crying in every picture of my walk down the aisle!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We met with a local counselor to discuss some of the tough issues we might face–how we felt about children, careers, goals, etc. Even though it wasn’t always coming up roses, I think it really helped us to get to know each other even more than we did already. Counseling is a place where you can say whatever you feel with no judgment, and work through any issues before they even arise.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We made some pretty major cuts to the floral and decorations budget. We decided that we didn’t really need a $50 floral arrangement on each table during the reception or aisle markers in the chapel. Most people remember the food, the band, and the open bar at weddings, so we spent a little extra in those areas to be able to scale back a bit on the decor. And everything still looked amazing! Marja from Florals by the Sea was so fun to work with, and even with cutting a few corners here and there, she made that tent look like the modern reception venue of my dreams!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Elope! But if you decide not to elope, I think in any wedding planning situation, pleasing all parties involved has to be one of the biggest challenges. With people trying to come together from different backgrounds and lifestyles, everyone has their own opinion on the way things should be done. But I think it’s really important for the bride and groom to ultimately do what means the most to them as a couple. If there are areas where you are willing to bend a little and give in to make your lives easier, go for it. And on bigger issues, you may just have to put your (very respectful) foot down and let other people know that it is your wedding and you will decide how it goes.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Our next adventure as newlyweds is our upcoming honeymoon to The Viceroy Anguilla. Being gone for almost a week for our wedding in Seaside, we decided to wait a few weeks before embarking on our honeymoon. But we are so ready for a week filled with sand, sun, island hopping, and cocktails! We both love to travel and we have an ongoing list on my iPhone of all of the places we want to go, things we want to see, and food we want to try. I am currently making a major pull for Miami over the 4th of July to see Justin Bieber in concert!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? My niece, Mary-Claire, was our flower girl. She wore the same dress that I wore when I was the flower girl in her mom (my sister)’s wedding!
Photographer and Videographer: Pure7 Studios | Planner: Mary-Katherine Owen of Cottage Rental Agency | Ceremony Venue: Seaside Interfaith Chapel | Reception Venue: The Lyceum Lawn at The Seaside Neighborhood School | Florist and Lighting: Florals by the Sea | Bride’s Cake Baker: Sweet Henrietta’s | Groom’s Cake Baker: Bake My Day | Caterer: Bud & Alley’s | Rentals: Big Day Rentals | Band: Super T Revue | Paper Products: Elise Constantin | Bride’s Gown: Style 7059B by Watters | Bride’s Veil: Toni Federici | Hair Stylist: Michelle Hogan of Rolland’s Beauty Bar | Makeup Artist: Kaitlyn Brown of Rolland’s Beauty Bar | Bride’s Shoes: Valentino | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Custom by Nelly Asmar of Nelly’s Tailor Shop, Lafayette LA | Groom’s Attire: Custom by Holland & Sherry London | Groomsmen Attire: Hilton Club