I love a classic Southern bride! Lauren (who happens to be one of our Southern Bride Bloggers, y’all!) and her beau, Aaron arranged photos in the Raleigh Rose Garden before marrying inside a church. The photos the resulted from Vesic Photography are simply stunning and their moody blue and green surroundings remind me of our V4 cover, but with a life of its own. Lauren actually took inspiration from Southern Weddings to come up with the readings with Aaron, collecting quotes from other couples to craft the perfect ceremony. I love the idea of incorporating the words that strike your heart in addition to the traditional vows and think Lauren’s tactic of slowing curating her favorite words often works best.
For forever, I dreamed of wearing a lace mermaid wedding dress. I had a modest budget so I found myself going to many stores to find the perfect dress. I tried on about 30 dresses in total. I finally found the dress while shopping with my mom and aunt at Bridalmart in Burlington. Bridalmart is this huge store and they have hundreds of dresses at many price points, but you have to pull them yourself. It can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you want! My aunt pulled and showed me the dress, but I was hesitant because I wanted a strapless dress and the fit was more trumpet than mermaid. I tried it on anyways and it was so beautiful. I was still skeptical, but my mom snapped many pictures. Looking at the pictures the days after our visit, I knew this was my dress!
Describe your wedding flowers. I wanted a color palette of cream, pink and peach. We used four types of garden roses, hydrangeas, ranunculus, spray roses, limonium and seeded eucalyptus. I think the funniest part was visiting my parent’s house the day after the wedding and seeing it packed with flowers.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? We did! I am so happy we did. Our photographer had us stand back to back and we exchanged a few words before turning around. We hugged and kissed and I was so happy. Like many people say, it was our only time alone that day. Also, it was our only opportunity for outdoor photos. We shot ours at the Raleigh Rose Garden, which was minutes away from the church. I have a large family and after the ceremony, we spent time taking the traditional family photos inside the church.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? I actually used Southern Weddings for readings inspiration. I would copy and save readings onto my computer that I liked! We ended up choosing Philippians 2:1-5. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”
We had very traditional songs during our ceremony because as a little girl I had always dreamed of getting married to these songs. Pachelbel’s Canon in D was the bridal processional, the recessional was Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. During the ceremony, we had two songstresses. Emily, who introduced us, sang Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and the Lord’s Prayer. Andrea, my good college friend, sang “Center of My Joy” by Richard Smallwood. We loved having our friends take part in our wedding ceremony. At the reception, Aaron and I danced to “I Was Made to Love You” by Gerald Levert. We were nervous about the turns in our dance so we whispered to each other before every turn to make sure we were on the same page! My dad picked “I’ll Write A Song for You” by Earth Wind & Fire for our daddy-daughter dance. If you read the lyrics, you’ll want to cry because it’s so sweet. Lastly, Aaron and his mother danced to “Stand by Me” by Ben King.
My grandmother loved collecting glassware, so I used her LE Smith Moon & Stars glasses and her milk glasses for centerpieces. I used her doilies and lace handkerchiefs for decor as well. Our hors d’ouervres were macaroni and cheese and “redneck martinis,” which are pulled pork in a martini glass with a hush puppy on top. However, I think the most Southern thing about my wedding was how much my family helped. My aunt was the coordinator, my godmother handwrote all of my place cards and my mother was responsible for everything else I needed! My dad also let Aaron drive his classic ‘55 Chevy for our transportation to the reception and as the getaway car.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert.
We did mini cupcakes for our wedding cake! It was fun because you could try multiple flavors. We had pumpkin, lemon, chocolate and vanilla. We had a mini-cake on top to cut that was pumpkin as well. After the cake was cut, we passed chocolate shot glasses filled with Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: All of the dancing. I wanted the wedding to turn into a huge party at the end and it did! We played Motown music during dinner and afterward transitioned to more current music. The dance floor was packed. Everyone was showing off their best dance moves, including some break dancing, a split and Aaron did the worm.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. In 2009, I returned home to Raleigh after graduating from college at Hampton University. I complained to one of my close friends, Emily, that I was bored and would like to meet someone. Emily told me that she worked with a guy who may be a good fit for me. She arranged a double date between herself, her boyfriend, Aaron and myself. Emily and her boyfriend ended up arriving over an hour late to the date so the first hour was just the two of us, complete strangers! We hit it off and the night ended with Aaron buying me Krispy Kreme donuts. The rest is history and Emily sang at our wedding!
Tell us all about the proposal! I love Zumba and my dad and I often go together at the YMCA. I would always encourage Aaron to come too, but he’d always decline. Finally on December 30, 2011 he agreed to come to a class with us. Usually it’s hard to find one man in a Zumba class so I had a lot of fun bringing two! After class, Aaron said he would like to continue working out with my dad. I headed home. (I lived with my parents at the time.) Later, Aaron surprised me by showing up at my door. Little did I know, but he had actually stayed at the gym to ask my dad for my hand in marriage! He asked in the locker room, which still think is funny. At my house, Aaron suggested we go for a walk and I agreed. I was so confused, and he was acting slightly different and had brought me huge bouquet of flowers. We sat down in my mother’s garden. Then Aaron got down on one knee and proposed. I was surprised and happy, I said yes! It was a few days after Christmas so my entire family was at home to share the good news with.
When did y’all get married? April 13, 2013
How many friends, family, and loved ones attended your wedding? 270
Did you write your own vows? We didn’t! I knew I could never eloquently put my feelings into words so we said the traditional words.
Did you have something borrowed, something blue, and something new? I borrowed my mother’s pearl bracelet (and I still have it, oops). My undergarments were blue and said “Bride” in rhinestones! And my dress was new!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our budget and the guest list, which go hand in hand. We ended up having a huge guest list and going over budget, but it was definitely worth it. Even with 270 people, I felt like I was surrounded by my closest friends and family.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I love flowers, so I loved picking out the flowers with Dawn McCreary and collecting the centerpieces. The bouquets turned our beautifully and while I felt silly at first asking for a flower crown for the flower girl, it was gorgeous!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We have so many memories. My favorite is standing back-to-back with Aaron in the Rose Garden, followed by being surrounded by all of our family and friends on the dance floor.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? If you can afford a day-of coordinator, consider it. My aunt and mom were wonderful and did all the work, but it would have been nice to have hired someone so they could relax and enjoy the day a little more. Besides that, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. As I said earlier, my godmother wrote my place cards. I had a party to assemble the invitations. A friend from church addressed all of my invitations as a gift. Now that I know how much work goes into a wedding, I will definitely be ready to help my friends when it’s their turn.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We just moved in together, so I’ve been working on blending our possessions and decorating the house. We’re both focused on our relationship and our careers right now. I’ll be starting work as a resident physician in psychiatry at a local hospital in a few weeks and Aaron’s busy as an IT manager at software company.