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Southern Weddings

Author: Marissa

I’m a classic wedding gal through and through! When I saw the very first photo of Grace and Ben’s beautiful day I knew I was going to love it. I mean, the cathedral length lace veil and monogram button down combo?! But, after reading their sweet interview, I am even more smitten. For these high school sweethearts, sticking with tradition, classic design, and beautiful florals was not just to create a stunning wedding day, but to honor their family and their own love story. Custom corn hole boards are fun, but for Grace and Ben it was not only a nod to the amazing tailgates we have as Southerners, but Ben’s time as a collegiate football player at Appalachian State. My favorite reason for a decision, however, is why they chose not to have a first look. Ben’s father (also his best man) told him: “One of the greatest feelings you’ll ever have in your entire life is when your bride walks down the aisle towards you for the first time; you feel like your chest is going to explode.” Oh, Southern gents, y’all break the mold!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Virgil Bunao for capturing this romantic day planned by fellow BRV member A Charleston Bride.

I found my wedding dress the week after we got engaged! At an appointment with my mom, I tried on about five dresses I liked, and then she pulled one from the rack that she thought I should try on. I did, not really sure if I would like it, and LOVED it as soon as I put it on, so much so that I decided I didn’t want to try on any more dresses and knew that it was the one! The only issue was that it was strapless, and I had always wanted sleeves. The amazing ladies at Joan Pillow worked with me over a period of about six months to create a custom designed bolero from coordinating Carolina Herrera lace to match my veil. I had a vision for it and they made it happen so beautifully!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ben and I met at Charlotte Latin School. He played football and had a devastating knee injury his senior year. The injury resulted in multiple surgeries, causing him to miss so much school that he ended up choosing to repeat his senior year to get to play a complete season of football and re-earn his athletic scholarships to colleges. The doctors told him he might never walk again, and he ended up being an all-American college football player at Appalachian State as a tight end. Also, if he hadn’t had to repeat his senior year, we never would have met! I waved at him from my art class for a few weeks while he was playing foursquare outside for a physical education class. He asked one of my friends who I was, my friend gave Ben my number, and the rest is history!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? I grew up going to Kiawah Island with my family and have so many happy memories there, so as soon as we got engaged I had a feeling I wanted to get married there. Ben also loves it and has joined my family on lots of trips there. Whenever I was at Kiawah with my family, we attended Holy Spirit Catholic church and I thought it was beautiful. Plus, the people there are so kind and warm.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We used the traditional vows at the church. Reciting the traditional vows that my parents and their parents before them promised to each other before God is something that was very special for me.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Old Testament: Genesis 2:18-24, New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a, Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-29 (My husband’s favorite scripture verses!)

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We chose “God Who Created Hearts to Love” as the song to walk back up the aisle to once we were married because it completely sums up our belief about marriage — that we were created by God to love Him through loving each other. Our first dance was “All of Me” by John Legend; my husband specifically picked it out because the lyrics sum up what we are about. Neither of us are perfect, and we love that about each other. My dad picked our first dance song, “Lullaby: Goodnight, My Angel,” and we both cried. I loved that it was not a very common father-daughter dance song, and it brought back so many memories of my dad singing it to me when I was a little girl.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? We had custom corn hole boards set up off the back porch to entertain our guests during the cocktail hour. My husband played college football in the South and it was a great nod to the amazing tailgates we have as Southerners! We had chicken and waffles as a passed appetizer, with the waffle as a waffle cone and a piece of fried chicken with syrup inside of it– easy to eat and delicious! Along with Southern deviled eggs and macaroni and cheese balls, we also had a raw bar with local oysters and shrimp. One of our three entree options was shrimp and grits. Other than the food, the overall atmosphere of the event was very Southern in regards to the hospitality. As we planned the wedding, the main thought I always came back to was trying to make everything comfortable and welcoming for our guests. The staff at the River Course went above and beyond to make sure every one of our guests had what they needed at all times. Another way that idea was executed was in having lounge furniture right off the dance floor. The gorgeous upholstered sofas and chairs summed up what being Southern means to me – welcoming, comfortable, and relaxed elegance.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We chose to incorporate two flavors into the three tiers. The top and bottom were white chocolate cake with chocolate hazelnut filling, and the middle tier was sour cream pound cake with strawberry filling. In terms of the design, I wanted to keep it simple and have it be a part of the overall design of the event. The middle tier said, “And they lived happily ever after,” in gold, as well. I really wanted to incorporate our love of Disney and our engagement in a subtle way.

Tell us all about the proposal! We both love Disney World, and our dating anniversary was January 1st. On New Year’s Eve, we decided to go to the Magic Kingdom together to celebrate seven years of dating. We spent the day there together and found a great spot to watch the fireworks starting at midnight, the start of our seven year celebration! We were right in front of Cinderella’s castle, and after the countdown to the New Year, as the fireworks were just beginning, Ben got down on one knee and whipped a ring out of his pocket and proposed! I was shocked and so unbelievably happy!
When did y’all get married? January 17, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 140
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided to not do one. Ben’s father (also his best man) has always told him: “One of the greatest feelings you’ll ever have in your entire life is when your bride walks down the aisle towards you for the first time; you feel like your chest is going to explode” We definitely wanted to share that moment of seeing each other for the first time that day as I walked down the aisle in the church and I’m so happy we did it that way. It was so incredible and Ben says he will remember that feeling for the rest of his life.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail was our custom logo designed by Studio R. It was our initials intertwined inside of a hand-drawn floral wreath. I loved it so much that we used it on our invitations, envelopes, cocktail napkins, corn hole boards, thank you cards, and most excitingly for me: our ice sculpture. I love ice sculptures, and knew I wanted one at our wedding. Our wedding planner suggested carving our custom logo on it. We placed shrimp and oysters on it, making it a raw bar set up in front of the huge bay windows. As the sun set, it illuminated and shone through the sculpture. It was beautiful and a custom touch I will always remember and cherish. It was also one of the first things our guests saw when they walked into the space for cocktail hour, and I believe it set the tone for the rest of the event.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! Borrowed: I had two! I first asked the florist to wrap my bouquet in my mom’s white rosary that she got in Italy. Secondly, I borrowed my mom’s gorgeous pearl earrings with diamond jackets. They are classic and elegant, just like my mom. I felt so special wearing them. Blue: Betty, the wonderful seamstress at Joan Pillow Bridal Salon, surprised me at our last fitting by embroidering the inside of my dress right over my heart with a blue GJ (my new initials), and our wedding date. After spending months designing my custom bolero with her, we became really close and it was very meaningful for me that she did that. Old: I also had the florist wrap my bouquet in a strip of lace from my mother’s dress. I loved having a piece of her dress as a part of my outfit as I walked down the aisle, and along with her rosary, I cherished holding onto it.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? It was a lot of fun to work with Haley and the ladies of A Charleston Bride to plan our beautiful wedding, but for the year we were engaged, Ben and I were most focused and excited about preparing for our marriage and life together. After being together for over seven years at that point, we were so ready to commit to spending the rest of our lives together in front of God and our family and friends. We met with my local priest for premarital counseling and attended a weekend getaway with engaged couples where there were speakers on issues ranging from financial planning to spiritual development.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? There were so many images I had seen on Pinterest and in magazines that I loved, but they were all very different from each other! It was hard for me to focus on what, exactly, I wanted our wedding to look like. It was overwhelming!! After my first meeting with Haley, all of my issues were totally gone, as she instantly was able to look into my head and know exactly what I wanted, but couldn’t articulate. She was able to read my taste completely, and helped me more than I can say with creating a vision. She is incredible.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My most memorable moment was when the church doors opened for the first time, I stood with my dad, and looked out and saw the man I love more than anything in the world who was about to become my husband.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My advice would be to stress out as little as possible about it. At the end of the day, the most important thing is your marriage; the rest of it is just beautiful extras. However beautiful you believe your wedding will be, I promise it will be even more incredible than you imagined. Relax, soak it in, and enjoy it. It will be gorgeous and perfect no matter what little things go wrong.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Ben and I recently brought a new member into our family, our puppy English Bulldog named Brutus! We plan to continue settling into our first home together, tackling very very small home improvement projects as neither of us are handy, and enjoying this time together.

Photographer: Virgil Bunao Photography | Videographer: Jim Jorden Productions | Planner:
Haley with A Charleston Bride | Ceremony Venue: Holy Spirit Catholic Church | Reception Venue and Caterer: The River Course Clubhouse at the Kiawah Island Club | Florist: A Charleston Bride | Wedding Cake: Ashley Bakery | Band: The Maxx from East Coast Entertainment | Paper Products: Studio R |
Bride’s Gown and Veil: Carolina Herrera “Alice” | Bridal Salon and Custom Bolero: Joan Pillow | Hair Stylist: Victora Melton | Makeup Artist: Moore Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Tadashi Shoji from purchased at Nordstrom | Groom’s Attire: Charleston Tuxedo

A Charleston Bride, Virgil Bunao, East Coast Entertainment, and Studio R are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Victoria reply

    Obsessed with this sweet couple and their story! Consider this comment a formal request for y’all to feature them for Southern Newlywed- with style like this I bet their home is adorable! XO

  2. avatar Jim reply

    What a sweet article Marissa! Here’s a link to: Grace & Ben Forever, Their Love Story

    https://vimeo.com/126622727

    Password – jordens (all lower case)

  3. avatar Jehnel Oboza-Davison reply

    I second that request, Victoria! We were so happy to have Grace and Ben make their way towards for their photos. When I found out their home was also adorable, I immediately told Grace to try her hand at applying for Southern Newlywed. I really hope she does! (=

  4. avatar Lover.ly reply

    Wow what an elegant event. We especially love the flowers around the fireplace & on the backs of the chairs and that cake is so pretty!

  5. avatar Abbey Angelle reply

    Would love to know where the mother of the bride dress came from? Designer? I love it.

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There is just something about good ol’ Southern food – am I right, y’all? It can take you back to being a kid again, remind you of your grandmother, or make you feel at home. Shona and Charles are no strangers to different cultures and travel. In fact, they both grew up in Europe and met as a flight attendant and pilot! But, when it came to showing their guests sweet Southern hospitality, only Southern food would do! They served shrimp and grits and peach BBQ chicken in little mason jars, and even sent their guests home with peach jam homemade by Shona’s mama. And that’s just to start us off with all the tasty and thoughtful details from their celebration.

We’re so glad Blue Ribbon Vendor Melissa Schollart was on hand to capture all the beauty planned by fellow BRV member Simply Charming Socials!

My mom, sister Sarah, mother-in-law, and close family friend, Carol, went to Bridals by Lori in Sandy Springs. I tried on soooo many dresses, and fell in love with a drop waist ball gown. I wanted to feel “bridal” on my wedding day, and this dress was beyond-my-dreams beautiful. I knew it was the dress for me when the tears fell. After finding my perfect dress, we had a memorable girls’ lunch at the St. Regis.

My wedding flowers were very romantic, with lots of cream and pops of peach. We included anemones in the bouquets in honor of my late Nana.

We had a violinist at our wedding ceremony because Charles played the violin–in fact, he went to college on a scholarship for violin. For our first dance, we played “Heart of the World” by Lady Antebellum. We love Lady A and have seen them in concert many times, so this seemed like a perfect song to start our life together.

We decided on the Wimbish House for our reception for many reasons–it was close to our church, and was a beautiful, intimate venue that didn’t feel like a banquet hall. It is very traditional and fit the overall romantic, traditional feel of our wedding.

We are not big cake people, so we had a very simple Publix cake that was turtle cake with buttercream frosting. We also had a dessert table with mini pies, creme brûlée, and cookies. They were out of this world amazing, and so pretty!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We served great Southern food, including shrimp and grits in little mason jars, peach BBQ chicken served in mason jars, and peach jam my mom homemade for favors.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. When we met, Charles was a pilot and I was a flight attendant. Our first date was at a Mexican restaurant in Buckhead, Atlanta. We became fast friends with so many things in common–Charles is an Air Force pilot like my dad was, we are both close to our families, we’re Catholic, and we both lived in Europe as kids.
Tell us all about the proposal! Charles proposed after a romantic picnic in Piedmont Park on the gazebo overlooking the city.
When did y’all get married? September 27, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 85
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, and at first, we were hesitant to do a first look because we wanted a traditional wedding. However, we are so happy we decided to do one. It was my favorite part of the whole wedding. Seeing Charles was so special, and it gave us some alone time before the day began.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic Church, so we attended classes, met with our priest, and worked with a mentor 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? Get a wedding planner!!!! Kristine made our wedding better than I could have ever dreamed. She kept us on track in regards to timeline and money and led us to amazing vendors.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Charles is continuing to fly for the Air Force Reserves and an airline, and I am a fourth grade teacher. We are looking forward to starting a family and sharing our lives together. We can’t wait to do some traveling in Europe this summer, enjoy more picnics in Piedmont Park with our dog Herc, and create beautiful memories together.

Photographer: Melissa Schollaert / Planner: Kristine Cholakian of Simply Charming Socials / Ceremony Venue: Cathedral of Christ the King / Reception Venue: The Wimbish House / Florist: Lindsay Coletta / Cake Baker: Publix / Caterer: Bold American / DJ: Lethal Rhythms / Save the Dates and Programs: Minted / Invitations: Ashley Buzzy / Bride’s Gown: “Couture Collection Style 4300″ by Eve of Milady / Bridal Salon and Veil: Bridals by Lori / Bride’s Hair Accessories: The Sentimentalist / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style D461″ in Midnight by Alfred Sung / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Cocktail Hour Pianist: Blue Sky Atlanta

Melissa Schollaert and Simply Charming Socials are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Heidi reply

    Ooh, lots of soft pretty here! So tastefully executed with such attention to detail … like those adorable little single-stem ranunculus displays. Best wishes!

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Southern weddings can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, from big ballroom weddings to kisses on the courthouse steps. It’s not the details that make a wedding Southern, but the people: their hospitality and their hearts. Throughout their wedding planning, Weldon and Dickie constantly reminded themselves that their wedding day was, most importantly, about their marriage. They chose a family friend’s beautiful navy barn to say their vows, and then forwent the traditional reception to celebrate their love with a BBQ dinner with their family and friends instead. To help keep costs down, they also enlisted friends and family to help with decor, borrowing plates and chairs after scouring yard sales and thrift shops. I’m sure what started as a money-saving idea turned into a sweet way to honor those around them!

Thanks to Love Be Photography for sharing this pretty day with us!

We got engaged on a very cold day in February. We went on the zip lining course at Red Mountain Park and were the only ones in the whole park (probably because of the frigid temperature!). On the last leg of the course, as I was in mid-air, I saw him on one knee and thought to myself, “Why are our guides going to make us get down on a knee?” Once I realized what was ACTUALLY happening, I was a little in shock (and a little numb from the cold), but of course, I said yes!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did. I was the one who wanted to see him before the ceremony, mainly because I knew I wouldn’t be able to go that long without seeing him on such an exciting day!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We chose to have our ceremony at a family friend’s barn. They have been friends of ours forever and were so gracious to open up their home to us. Their navy barn was an ideal venue for our ceremony and dinner.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I chose a variety of songs for our ceremony to represent what we like and to honor my family. I walked down the aisle to “Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac. Some other artists that made their way into the ceremony were Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, and Mumford and Sons.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Of course! Since we decided to only have a maid of honor and best man, I wanted to honor another dear friend of mine in some way, so I asked her to bring me something of hers to borrow. I ended up wearing one of her necklaces. My something blue was a heart sewn into my dress from a shirt of my husband’s sweet grandfather, who passed away a year before we got married. My something old was a penny I wore in my shoe that all brides in my family have walked down the aisle with. My something new was my super fancy Frye boots!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I had so many images and ideas of what I wanted our wedding to look like, and I knew I had to communicate them clearly to my mom because she is SUPER thrifty. I wanted a collection of old chairs and plates at dinner, so we used what we had, asked friends, and searched yard sales and thrift stores! Saving money can be easy–you just have to get a little creative.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Dickie and I worked together at an Italian restaurant in Opelika. He was a kitchen manager and I was a hostess. We were celebrating a friend’s birthday one night and there happened to be karaoke. I sang some Backstreet Boys song with a group of girls and the rest is history.
When did y’all get married? September 21, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 40
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my perfect dress at Bustle in Homewood. Meredith Carter consigns designer wedding gowns and helped me find a dress I typically would have turned my nose up to. My dress was a blush-colored tulle gown by Ivy and Aster.
Describe your wedding flowers. Perfect! The flowers were in the hands of my mom and maid of honor–I sent them a few pictures, and they created arrangements that were everything I had dreamed of.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our cake was from Edgar’s Bakery. We went with strawberry AND red velvet cakes–we couldn’t decide, so we chose both!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We didn’t have a traditional reception. Instead, we decided to celebrate with a BBQ dinner with our family and friends.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We did premarital counseling with a couple who is very near and dear to our hearts for a couple of months prior to the wedding day. We also constantly prayed for one another and our marriage.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Reminding myself that while a wedding can be so beautiful, it is all about the marriage. I constantly had to remind myself of that while planning (especially when Dickie didn’t agree with me on details). Everything comes together!
If you are comfortable responding, 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? PEWS! They were SO easy to work with and the pews were absolutely beautiful. They helped tie everything together.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Marrying the sweetest man and having the best people in the world there with us celebrating.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t forget that it is your husband’s day too. He gets an opinion and it counts just as much as yours.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Growing together. Every single day, we learn something new about each other.

Photographer: Love Be Photography / Cake Baker: Edgar’s Bakery / Band: Cooper Trent / Pews: P.E.W.S. / Bride’s Gown: Ivy and Aster / Bridal Salon: Bustle / Bride’s Accessories: Shalla Wista Studio / Hair and Makeup Artist: Kerri Bunn / Bride’s Shoes: Frye

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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