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Is there anything more Southern than an authentic, down-home reception in a rural North Carolina barn?  Judging by these photos from Sean and Mel McLellan, we don’t think so!  The mint green and brown bow on the on the tin washtubs is an ultra-sweet detail and, yes, the newlyweds did have a real-life bonfire, perfect for marshmallow roasting.  The couple’s simple, three-tiered frosted pound cake from City Bakery was the perfecting ending to Tara + Andrew’s sweet Southern affair.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day?  My grandmother hosted my bridal brunch at the Grove Park Inn and did an absolutely amazing job!  She actually made a cake for me and used the wedding topper from her own wedding reception over 50 years ago.  It was so sweet and really meant a lot to me.
Funniest moment?
  Andrew is 6’4” and I’m only 5’1,” so when the pastor said “Look into Tara’s eyes and repeat after me,” Andrew ducked down so we were at eye level with one another for just a moment.  Everyone laughed!
Hardest decision you made in planning?  
Besides choosing a venue, we had the most trouble choosing musicians.  We knew we wanted live music for both the ceremony and the reception, but quickly grew frustrated with the search.  Some of the bands we liked were already booked and others that were available just weren’t our style.  Then, we remembered Carey Sims, a guy we had heard play one random night when we were out for pizza and beer in Charlotte.  Even though he wasn’t really a “wedding” band, we couldn’t help think that he’d be a great fit for us and our guests.  Luckily he was available and willing to play, so we hired him!  He did a fantastic job too!  Our guests complimented us a lot on the band, and my dad’s boss is even considering them for his daughter’s wedding now.  I was also very pleased with the ceremony musicians.  They are members of a local bluegrass band, so the music fit right in with our mountain wedding.  
Three adjectives that describe the day are:
  Fresh, fun and sweet.
Who was your most honored guest at the wedding?
  My Papa, my Italian grandfather!  He got sick about six months before the wedding, but he stayed strong through it all and was in great spirits on our wedding day day.  I love him so much, and am so honored that he and my grandmother were able to celebrate such a special day with me.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future?
  We are just excited to be on this journey through life together.  I think each of us are still working out exactly what it is we want to do in this world, but we share a passion for life and a faith that I know will carry us far.  We would love to be fortunate enough to travel, both stateside and overseas, and we’d eventually like to have children.

Congratulations, Tara + Andrew!  We wish you all the best!

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
6 Comments
  1. avatar Abbie reply

    Who was the bluegrass band? Beautiful pictures!

  2. avatar Tara reply

    Hehe this made me feel a little better. I’m 5’1" too but my fiance is a bit taller then yours…6’8"! We’re going to have a wedding step-stool for the ceremony. Beautiful wedding btw!!

  3. avatar Mandy reply

    I’d also love to know who the musicians were for your ceremony and reception?? I’m looking at adding a bluegrass flare to our wedding reception – and don’t even know where to start to find someone. We’re getting married in the Asheville area too!Beautiful wedding – congrats!

  4. avatar Emily @ Southern Weddings reply

    Hi Mandy and Abbie! I was just searching for a NC bluegrass band for one of our Bliss brides, and I had great luck with just Googling "Asheville, NC bluegrass bands." The prices are VERY reasonable, as well — around $400 for a reception seemed to be the norm, and that’s for a great band!

  5. avatar regina holder reply

    Hi, Mandy,I’m a photographer in the Asheville area. I HIGHLY recommend Balsam Range. http://www.balsamrange.com They are a great bluegrass band with the current #1 single on the bluegrass charts. Plus, they are super nice and fun!

  6. avatar Wedding Tuxedo reply

    Wow, that is a really beautiful wedding dress. Did you design it yourself? Also, the pics are really cool…it looks like you had a great atmosphere at your wedding. Congratulations!

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I love lace!  Love it!  And Tara’s fabulous Monique Lhuillier gown completely makes this wedding, photographed by Sean and Mel McLellan of McLellan Style.  While I’m still more than a little distracted by the bride’s dress, Emily’s already oohing and ahhing over the rustic, farm-inspired details of Claxton Farm in Weaverville, North Carolina.  The bridesmaids’ J.Crew frocks are the perfect shade of brown for such an organic wedding and, like Tara, we really like that the bouquets and flower arrangements from Kaylynne’s Briar Patch look freshly-picked and oh-so natural.  We have some amazing shots of the authentic barn reception we can’t wait to share with you, so be sure to check back soon for more of Tara + Andrew’s North Carolina shindig. 

Describe the proposal: Andrew actually brought up the subject of marriage pretty early on in our relationship, but it wasn’t until nearly a year later that he finally popped the question.  We had planned a trip to Sedona, AZ, so I had a feeling that he might use the opportunity to his advantage.  I was right!  The second day we were there, we got up early to hike to the base of one of the red rock formations called Cathedral Rock.  It is beautiful out there, very different from the green forests here on the East coast.  Just before we came to the river, he knelt down under a tree and pulled out the ring from his camera case.  I was thrilled, and, obviously, I said yes!   We have some amazing pictures from that trip!
A date we went on that we’ll always remember:
  Our first date is definitely the most memorable.  We jokingly call it the middle school date, even though we were both in our mid-twenties at the time.  We had spoken on the phone before, but had never met in person.  So, when we finally saw each other for the first time, it was exciting and awkward all at the same time.  He had just finished his third semester of graduate school and was visiting his parents for the holidays, near where I was living at the time.  We ended up playing a round of putt-putt, then going to his parents’ house to make a pizza and play wii.  I ended up meeting his mom, and she showed me a bunch of pictures of him when he was a kid.  It’s sort of embarrassing to admit, but it’s our story.
The weather on our wedding day was:
  Unusually hot for the mountains
What was the design inspiration for your wedding?
  We honestly didn’t have to design much, as the venue itself is inspiring.  The rustic barn opened out onto a grassy field and was surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian Mountains; it was such a picturesque backdrop.  We kept things simple, letting the beauty of the place shine through.  We did add some elements that we felt would make it a true Southern wedding though, like the mason drinking jars, jam favors and pies.
Favorite design element of your big day:
  The barn was really the best design element.  It’s a 100-year-old tobacco barn, so it’s very weathered, worn and imperfect, which is what I loved about it!  It really made us feel like we were on an actual, working farm and not just at an event space made to look like one.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress:
  I actually ended up changing my dress just two months before the wedding, and I’m so glad I did!  I had an idea of what I wanted when I was dress shopping (lace, slim silhouette, and not strapless) but couldn’t seem to find it in any of the bridal salons.  My mom and I ended up buying a dress at a sample sale that was close to what I thought I wanted, but after I took it home something just didn’t feel quite right about it.  So, silly me kept looking, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that there was one designer I kept coming back to.  The only problem was there was no way I could afford one of her gowns new.  Then, just a couple months before the wedding, I found a girl in my area who was selling her gorgeous pre-owned gown from this designer –in my size!  I wanted to try it on, but I still felt a little guilty about having already purchased a dress with my mom.  I actually remember telling Andrew that I was going to try on this gown, that it wouldn’t look good on me, and that I would finally be able to forget about all the dress insanity.  Well, he must know me better than I know myself because when I came back he said “It looked great, didn’t it?”  It did.  So, I bought it.  I was worried that my mom would be upset that I changed my mind, but it turned out that she never really liked the first dress either and was only pretending to like it for my sake.  She said the second dress was so much more me, and I had to agree.  It was perfect!
Describe your wedding flowers:
  I knew I wanted peonies in my bouquet, but I honestly didn’t know what types of flowers I wanted to use elsewhere.  All I knew was that I wanted everything to have a fresh and organic feel, as if they had just been picked from the garden.  I pretty much fed that exact line to my florist and told her to run with it.  I think they turned out just lovely.

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
2 Comments
  1. avatar Victoria Joanne reply

    what a pretty dress. Nice to see something that’s on the shoulders. getting pretty sick of all the strapless dresses… those designs are mega played out.

  2. avatar ohana photographers reply

    we love mel and sean!!!

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We really love beach weddings here at SW, but I think what I like best about Caroline + Cirian’s Florida nuptials from Belathee Photography is how the couple effortlessly turned a seaside ceremony into an effortlessly glamorous, glitzy affair.  The juxtaposition of the sand and sun at Islamorada, FL and luxe, pink details at their intimate reception at Pierre’s Restaurant is a refreshingly original spin on the ever-popular destination wedding.  While the bridesmaids inky-grey frocks from BCBG are deliciously sophisticated, I must confess the bride’s structured Romona Keveza gown has officially topped my all-time favorite dress list.  Sigh.  The hot pink bouquets and centerpieces courtesy of Floral Fantasy Weddings offer a sleek and modern touch but the fun, lounge-chair topped Key Lime cake from the Islamorda Restaurant and Bakery reminds us the couple is still celebrating with a laidback beachy wedding.  I’m definitely looking forward to the upcoming holiday season but these kind of weddings sure do make me miss summer!         

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.  Ciaran and I met in August of 2003 while traveling in Peru.  We had both signed up to hike the Inca Trail with a local tour group.  Since I was traveling alone, the tour operator told me that they would place me in a tent with another single woman.  They must have been confused by the Gaelic spelling of Ciaran’s name, because they assigned us to the same tent.  By the time we realized the sleeping arrangements, I had already spent the entire day getting to know him and his friends.  His group of friends was very gracious; one friend even offered to have his girlfriend exchange tents with Ciaran so that I would feel more comfortable, but I could tell that I was going to be comfortable with Ciaran.  We made a joke out of it and proceeded to be tent mates for three nights before arriving at Maccu Picchu. 

Describe the proposal: Ciaran proposed last December 21st, the night after his surprise 30th birthday party.  His sneaky sister knew about both the surprise party AND the proposal, and never let on to either of us what the other was planning!  Under the guise of an early Christmas gift, Ciaran took me to a little B&B we had always admired.  After settling in the room we went to our balcony to look at some horses and the coast line.  I didn’t know it at the time, but, right as he was about to propose, I scampered back into the room because, as is usually the case for me in his home country, I was chilly.  Ciaran followed me in and, again, right at the moment he was about to propose, I hugged him spontaneously to thank him for the great surprise.   Little did I know he was just about to ask me to marry him!   
What was the design inspiration for your wedding?
I wanted our wedding to be stylish and understated.  Ultimately, we chose to have a beach wedding, but I still wanted it to feel coordinated, contemporary and timeless.  In terms of colors, I drew inspiration from the landscaping and general environment at Pierre’s Restaurant in Islamorda, where the ceremony and reception were held.
Favorite design element of your big day: 
I really liked how we were all dressed.  I tried to focus on choosing clothes that were modern and stylish, but suitable for a beach wedding.  My gown was ivory silk shantung, an incredible fabric for a structured beach wedding dress.  Ciaran wore a gorgeous gray Armani suit we found on sale.  His tie was grey and white paisley, a clear but contemporary marker that he was the groom.  The three bridesmaids wore strapless blue-brown BCBG dresses and even went barefoot for the waterfront ceremony.  The guys wore blue button downs with a subtle embossed design, gray slacks, black belts and black leather beach sandals.   I felt the colors really brought in the colors of our outdoor environment and set the tone for a beach glam.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress:
My sisters and mother accompanied me for an insane three-day weekend of wedding dress shopping.  I knew I wanted them there when I found The Dress, so I made appointments everywhere, staggered about twenty minutes apart.  We were dashing into cabs, barely making it into subway doors… it was a little ridiculous.  We had a few really good contenders through the weekend but still hadn’t found the perfect dress.  In the end,  I chose the dress my mother was convinced was the perfect dress for me.  In the end of course, I am so glad she pushed me towards that one.   It definitely had that “wow” factor brides look for!
Describe your wedding flowers:  
I was pretty set on anemones because they have a dark brown-black center, and I wanted that extra bit of dark color in the bouquets.  My florist really came through because anemones are not seasonal in December and can be fragile in the heat.  The bridesmaids carried bouquets with hot purple anemones and calypso orchids, while my bouquet was made up of medium pink peonies (another December impossibility—Thanks Deb!) scattered with orangey-red anemones.
Describe your wedding cake:
 Our cake was a Key Lime and chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling and Key Lime butter cream frosting.  It was topped with two mini Adirondack chairs and scattered with orchids and a few mini peony heads.  We served it with Rum Raisin ice cream… Yum!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was:  I think the music really meant a lot to us.  We had a local girls’ choir perform a few songs.  They were so spectacular that I was peeking out during the processional as they performed the Ave Maria accompanied by acoustic guitar.  Music also allowed us to incorporate both of our heritages in a very memorable way.  (Ciaran is Irish and I am first-generation Colombian.)  We decided on contemporary Irish folk songs for the ceremony and Latin party for the reception.  I walked down the aisle to “The First Time” by Christy Moore, performed by a local Irish singer/guitarist, and the recessional was “Love You Till The End,” by The Pogues.
Were there any special family traditions you included in the wedding?   
The night before the wedding, Ciaran’s family presented us with a St. Brigid’s cross.  St. Brigid is the patron saint of Ireland and her cross is typically displayed in the home as a symbol of blessing and good fortune for the family who lives there.  Ciaran’s mother also gave me Ciaran’s baby bracelet as a special gift on the wedding morning.   That bracelet means a lot to me, and I know it must have been difficult to part with.  If we have a son, I would like to do that for my future daughter-in-law one day.

Congratulations, Caroline + Ciaran!  We wish you all the best as you start your new life together!
lara Written with love by Lara Casey
5 Comments
  1. avatar cara reply

    I have to admit, i usually skim the narrative part of these features, but the writing — and of course the photography + details, the colors, the dresses, the flowers, everything! — was just *so* beautiful! Congrats to the bride + groom again — loved the (visual AND the narrative) details!

  2. avatar Erica Brooks reply

    Love the attire and the bouquets. Very stylish and romantic.

  3. avatar weddings reply

    The is one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve seen. Love her dress! Love her bridesmaid dress and its gray color.Just beautiful, thanks for sharing!

  4. avatar jane g meyer reply

    Loved this story and spread. The photos are fabulous and I’m sure it was such a beautiful day for the bride and groom. I especially loved the detail about the groom’s family giving the St. Brigid’s cross to the couple. lovely…

  5. avatar Destin Weddings reply

    Love the wedding pictures, i had a Destin Beach Wedding in Florida that was also awsome

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