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Bride Sonia’s joyful Kentucky wedding at the Winchester Opera House.

I am delighted to introduce y’all to today’s bride, Sonia! Though not a Southern gal by birth, her Winchester Opera House wedding to “Kentucky Nate” embodies all the aspects I think a good Southern wedding should have; including, but not limited to, being steeped in tradition, honoring family, and sharing Southern culture and hospitality. One of the sweetest details of their wedding is Sonia’s “something old!” Sonia chose to honor her family by wearing her paternal grandmother’s wedding gown (with a little redesign help from Donna Beth Creations!).

Another thing I can’t help but love? Their joyful ceremony! Sonia said, “Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.” That’s exactly what we wish for each one of our couples! Keep reading to learn about Nate’s nickname and how wedding planning inspired where they’ll raise their future babies.

Thanks to On A Whim Photography for sharing this lovely Kentucky wedding with us!

I had the honor of wearing my Granny Doris’s (my dad’s mom’s) wedding gown. She purchased the gown in 1954 when she married my PaPa in Virginia. My Aunt Lori, her daughter, wore the gown in 1976 for her Colorado wedding. It created such an amazing bond between the three of us ladies, and my dad was so proud. He fetched the gown from the cedar chest my Granny stored it in in her basement the day I first asked about it! I knew immediately that it was the dress for me. I had been searching for a way to bring my family into our Kentucky wedding and it was the perfect way to do so. In the foyer of the Opera House we had displayed photos of my Granny and Aunt Lori in the gown on their wedding days. It was so sweet to hear and see folks’ reaction when they realized it was the same one!

Nate’s father, Barry Bainum, was our officiant, and that was such an amazing experience. He is a Certified Lay Pastor in the Presbyterian Church and put so much thought and sincerity into our ceremony. It was very traditional, and we loved that it encouraged participation from our guests. He asked them, “Do you give your blessing to Nathan and Sonia and promise to do everything in your power to uphold them in their marriage?” It was so important to us that they knew they were invited for that reason: to help us, guide us, and love us in our marriage together. They were a part of it with us by being our witnesses. It was beautiful and joyful and we will never forget when Nate forgot “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” when saying his vows! Barry was happy to help him along through it. Our nephews who were at the wedding were our ring bearers. We had them carry a gold horseshoe for good luck! Nate’s nieces, Genna and Gabby (who helped with the proposal), walked Nate down the aisle to his spot to wait for me. My dad walked me down the aisle, of course! We had to walk down a flight of stairs to make it there! I was so nervous to do so in my heels, but he did the perfect job guiding me down. Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.

As mentioned before, Nate was born and raised in Kentucky. He grew up in a cabin built by his father on the land his grandparents owned in Fleming County. His upbringing was so unique and the reason he is the man he is today! We determined that our wedding was the best opportunity to share this amazing place that we both love with my family and the people closest to us. I researched every venue in Kentucky before we found The Winchester Opera House. The location was perfect – easy for folks to travel to from local airports and centralized for our wedding week activities. But more than that, it fit our vision perfectly. Southern, regal, and much more “derby” than “country.” After meeting with the venue owner, Vanessa Ziembroski, we were so impressed by her knowledge and experience. Her business offered so many services, and that was such a comfort to us since we were planning the wedding out of state.

Did you decide to do a first look? Yes, we did! At first, our reasoning was for logistics. We wanted to enjoy every moment of our reception with guests and thought it would be nice to get the pictures done during the day with good lighting. As our wedding planning progressed we were so grateful we had made that decision! We both looked forward to that moment of pause.

The ’61 Mercedes Benz in the photos (named Josephine) originally belonged to my Papa, who bought Josephine while he was in the Airforce. My Papa and Granny drove their four children all over Europe and the US in that car! In the 80s, my Papa gave the car to my dad who loved it just the same. He restored Josephine to her original blue color, white wall tires, and red interior. She looked like new! He drove her in a trailer to Kentucky all the way from Colorado just to have her as my “something blue.” I have so many great memories of that car, and this one tops them all.

Our vision for the decor was simple and elegant. We wanted greenery to be most prevalent in our flower arrangements to represent Kentucky’s beautiful green scenery. We chose to have garlands and wreaths of greenery throughout the decor to represent the culture of the horse races in the area. Nate’s custom tux jacket had “Kentucky Nate” embroidered in it. That is what his buddies call him. His vest had our wedding date embroidered in it.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We chose to have white garden chairs rather than gold chiavari and to have standard silverware rather than gold. We also chose not to have a videographer, and I learned to do the calligraphy on all of our personalized items: invitations, escort cards, table numbers, signs, etc. And Nate and I made all of the tassels on the 75+ champagne confetti poppers for the ceremony. Mostly me, but he helped ;)

We had a simple wedding cake, just two layers of white cake with white buttercream. In addition to this, we served carrot cake. While we wanted the tradition of cutting the cake, this wasn’t the most important thing to us. We wanted most of all for our guests to have a great seated dinner and an open bar. At the bar we served three signature drinks: The Winchester – Ale81 (Kentucky’s own soft drink) and bourbon, Le Petit Chou – named after our pug and Sonia’s preferred cocktail, vodka, sprite, and soda water with lemon, and The Augustus McCrae -named after our German Shorthair Pointer (who is named after the Lonesome Dove character, Gus) and Nate’s preferred cocktail, double Eagle Rare bourbon on the rocks.

As our guests arrived to the ceremony and when we walked back up the aisle, my brother-in-law played acoustic guitar. He played the tune from the movie Crazy Heart, “The Weary Kind.” Nate and I are big Ryan Bingham fans! The lyrics aren’t extremely romantic, but instrumentally it is so beautiful. We liked the imperfections in its story and thought it was fitting for us. Walking down the aisle, Jarrod played the instrumental version of our first dance. The song is “Diamonds and Gasoline” by the Turnpike Troubadours. I knew Nate would immediately recognize the tune and know I was on my way! Again, the lyrics weren’t typical for a wedding, but it was a song that we loved when we were discovering our love for each other. My dad picked out the song for our father-daughter dance, “I love you Because,” which is a duet between Lisa Marie Presley and her father, Elvis. My dad and I LOVE Elvis and he does the best impersonation. He sang to me in his Elvis voice while we danced. So many emotions! Nate chose to surprise his mom with the song for their mother-son dance, “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead. This song is loved by her whole family. It was played at both her parents’ funerals. It was such a sweet moment for all of the “Montana Hippies,” the DeWeese side of the family. My mom and I had a special dance together to “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard. She sings this song to me a little too often ;)

Tell us your love story in one sentence. You fall in love with the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time.
Tell us all about the proposal! Nate was born and raised in Kentucky, and I was born and raised in Colorado. In August 2015, Nate’s parents, sisters and nieces, Genna (10) and Gabby (6), visited us from Kentucky for a weekend of Colorado fun and celebration. My family hosted a barbecue for the families to meet on my 23rd birthday. The little girls made made me a special gift: a fairytale storybook, written by Genna and illustrated by Gabby. The story featured me as a princess and told of all those who traveled to see me on my birthday and how much they loved me. It then read, “One person loved her the most. His name was Nate. He had a very important question to ask her…” The story ended with Nate on one knee and me in shaky tears as he popped the big question!
When did y’all get married? October 8, 2016.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 84. It was the perfect number for us to feel connected to our guests and still have a full dance floor!
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? In lieu of a guestbook, we created bourbon cocktail-themed postcards. We asked our guests to write us a note, kind thought, or marriage advice during our wedding reception. Throughout the first year of our marriage, Nate’s mom has been sending us the postcards randomly. It has been the most amazing reminder of our love and the support they promised us! The postcards always seem to arrive at the perfect time and are so meaningful to us. We read them together every time we receive one.
What was Southern about your wedding? My dress! The lace sleeves, off-the-shoulder neckline, and the train! It was so Southern and so perfect. Also, having the wedding in Kentucky exuded the hospitality and celebration of the South. We so enjoyed sharing Kentucky’s charm with our guests. Nate’s parents and sisters hosted a welcome dinner on their farm the Wednesday before the wedding where we ate a traditional Kentucky meal with hot brown casserole, BBQ, and bourbon. On Thursday, our guests had lunch in the little town of Midway, KY before touring the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Distillery. On Friday, we attended the opening day of the Fall Horse Race Meet at Keeneland followed by our rehearsal dinner at the Jefferson Davis Inn. It was exactly what we had hoped for in sharing Nate’s home.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? The life planning that developed with our wedding planning was our favorite thing about it all. Dreaming of our wedding week spent in Kentucky and discussing the things we loved about it most brought it into a different perspective for us. Ultimately, it lead to our realization that Nate’s “Old Kentucky Home” was where we want to be and to raise our future family. We plan to move to his family farm this fall to plant our roots!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? Planning from afar! It was difficult to book vendors and trust their judgment and reliability from a different state. We were so blessed to find the Winchester Opera House – they offered so many services that it really reduced our workload.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? We both agree that our first look was the most memorable moment. Nate remembers the note and gift I had delivered to him just before. It referenced his grandparents and our goal to love the way they loved each other. And for me, I never felt more treasured by him. We cherished that moment of pause to embrace the impact of the day.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Have a day-of coordinator! We were so grateful for ours! It allowed us to truly enjoy the day. I didn’t worry about what the groomsmen were up to, and Nate knew they were right on schedule. The staff of the Winchester Opera House made the perfect environment for our wedding day, and that is so important!

Photographer: Brooke Bailey of On A Whim Photography | Planner: Vanessa Ziembroski and Natalie Johnson of The Winchester Opera House | Ceremony and Reception Venue, Caterer, Rentals, and Lighting: The Winchester Opera House | Florist: Neal Linville of The Winchester Opera House | Wedding Cake Baker: Stacey Maslin, The Cake Lady | DJ: DJ Kevin Croucher, Wed Laugh Love | Paper Products: Minted | Bride’s Gown: Vintage Redesign by Donna Beth Creations | Bride’s Veil: Donna Beth Creations | Jewelry: Kendra Scott Earrings | Hair Stylist: Erika Evans, Something Blu Lexington | Makeup Artist: Tamika Holifield, Something Blu Lexington | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade New York | Groom’s Attire: Custom Joseph Abboud | Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Champagne poppers: Oriental Trading Company | Garter: made by bride and sister | Handkerchief: embroidered by bride | Bride’s Rings: Tacori | Groom’s Ring: Sather’s Jewelers, Fort Collins, CO

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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Bride Ariana shares her paper flower-filled wedding at The Elms Mansion.

Whether it’s the first dress they try on or the venue they’ve been dreaming of for years, some brides know exactly what they want and the vision that they have in mind. And some are like me: completely indecisive. That’s why I’m excited to introduce y’all to today’s bride, Ariana. She’s a combination of both! While she and Mike might have looked into every possible wedding venue in New Orleans before deciding on The Elms Mansion, once they stood under the gigantic magnolia tree, Ariana finally knew. She remembers looking at the gazebo and thinking, “that’s where we’re going to get married.” Of course, said gazebo needed a touch of something special to make it perfect. Ariana, who just so happens to own a paper flower and décor company, Love & Paper, created a huge 8 foot by 8 foot paper flower wall backdrop for their vows (and for guests to snap photos in front of all night long!). Wondering where else Ariana snuck in her paper flower work? Keep reading to find out!

Big SW hugs to Arte de Vie for sharing this sweet wedding with us!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our parents all wanted to be involved in the planning process, which I know definitely made me closer with Mike’s parents and sister. I think it taught us all how to communicate with one another as a big family; there were times when one of us would get frustrated and the others quickly learned how to deal with that. If I ever needed help with something, I knew I always had at least six people who would probably jump on a plane for me. I love that my maid of honor was Mike’s sister, Lauren, and his best man was my brother, Erich. It’s a beautiful thing for my parents and in-laws to get along so well – we all spent this past Christmas together! From day one, marriage always meant the union of our two families, not just the two of us, and planning the wedding was a great exercise for that.

I was so in love with our wedding flowers. I had pages and pages of inspiration photos, and Diane from Fat Cat Flowers nailed it. The color palette was a mix of soft corals, pinks, peaches, light oranges, and yellows. When I first saw the gazebo at the Elms, I knew it had to have a floral chandelier, which turned out to be breathtaking. I love peonies and was somewhat heartbroken when I learned they wouldn’t be in season for the wedding. However, since I have a paper flower and decor business, Love & Paper, I just made my own peonies for my bouquet! I love that while the rest of the flowers wilted over time, I’ll always have the fluffy magenta peonies from my wedding bouquet on display in our home. I had paper flowers all throughout the wedding venue; some were out on display on the tables and other were hidden in with real bouquets.

I knew I wanted to wear a big ball gown, and I tried on so many beautiful dresses. There were a couple that I really liked a lot, but they didn’t give me that “feeling” you hear about. I eventually put on the Hayley Paige “Londyn” gown. The second I stepped out of the dressing room, my mom and I both looked at each other and teared up, knowing it was the one. I loved twirling in all that tulle!

We decided to do a first look because we wanted formal photos in the daylight, and it would be dark by the time the ceremony was over. It also allowed us to dive right into the party after the ceremony. We wanted to soak up every moment possible with our loved ones at our reception, which really does go by so quickly! The first look was such a special moment between the two of us, and gave us the opportunity to take each other in as bride and groom in a relaxed and private manner.

We knew we wanted to get married in New Orleans, since it was our home and where we both spent the majority of our adult lives. I think we looked into every possible wedding venue the city had to offer! Mike was actually the one who first wanted to look at The Elms Mansion, and it was one of the last venues we visited. After we walked through the beautiful historic mansion and lush gardens, we stood under the gigantic magnolia tree (one of the largest in the city), and I remember looking at the gazebo and thinking, “that’s where we’re going to get married.”

When I first started my paper flower business, I committed to making an 8 foot by 8 foot paper flower wall for people to rent for their events. When we got engaged, we knew we had to use it at our own wedding! So we planned on having it as the backdrop for our ceremony. On the morning of our wedding, Mike and his groomsmen skipped their hot shave to set it up with my mom in the gazebo, which was such an act of love. I was so nervous, because it had never even left our house before, let alone made it through an entire event, but it was so rewarding to see so many hours of hard work on display. And I’ve rented it out to two other brides since our wedding!

When I asked my godfather to do a reading, he replied, “no reading is good enough for you- can I write my own?” Seeing as he’s a professional speech writer, I knew he wouldn’t disappoint! He wrote the most beautiful speech for us celebrating our love and relationship. Another dear family friend read the “Blessing of the Hands” right before we exchanged rings, which was so special.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We really did have the absolute dream team of vendors, and I’m still so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such talented people. But if I had to pick one in particular to call out, I have to hand it to wedding coordinator, Belinda Belk (Blue Gardenia Events). I loved our meetings, during which we’d pour over inspiration pictures, specialty linens, florals, color palettes, etc. She helped add so many special details and elements that I wouldn’t have thought of myself. I literally cried when I walked into our venue on our wedding day and saw how perfect and beautiful everything was – exactly how I had pictured it all in my mind, except better. Belinda also just made things so much easier on us as the big day came near, and was extremely helpful with tasks and errands that weren’t even her responsibilities.

There were so many love-filled details of our wedding, it’s hard to choose a favorite. I spent countless hours making paper rose escort cards for our guests, which were pinned to gold frames of moss. The whole family was so helpful, and our little apartment felt and looked like a wedding decor factory. My mother-in-law also secretly made flip flops for our wedding guests, which were revealed at the wedding after our first dance. And they were a huge hit – not a single pair was left behind! Putting together the guests’ welcome bags was a huge collaborative effort. My mom made homemade “graNOLA” bars, a family friend of the Shlanskys made chapsticks, another family friend of theirs made the first aid kits (he even painted on the red crosses with help from Mike’s parents), my grandmother helped put on the personalized water bottle labels, Mike and his dad did shopping runs for Zapp’s potato chips and pralines from New Orleans School of Cooking, and everyone, including a helpful bridesmaid, helped to stuff and and deliver the bags. I think all of the work and love that went into putting those bags together makes them one of my very favorite details!

What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? After our ceremony, we led a second line up and down St. Charles Avenue. Once we got back to the Elms Mansion, I remember standing on the front steps and looking down at the 175 people we love most in the world cheering for and waving at us. That was such a surreal moment. We then went upstairs and signed the marriage papers, and people wanted to give us a few minutes alone to gather our thoughts and eat some dinner. But we spent most of that time peering out the window wanting to rush down to the party! We were so giddy and thinking, “Come on, can’t we do this later!? Let us down there!”

Our wedding cake was half white almond with amaretto buttercream and half devil’s food layered with dark chocolate mousse. The three tier cake was iced with white buttercream and had peachy coral brushstrokes on the top tier and mint brushstrokes on the bottom tier. I wanted a watercolor effect, and Melissa’s Fine Pastries did such a beautiful job with it. I made the paper flowers that cascaded down the cake. Mike has a major sweet tooth, so we also had a table of assorted pastries: fresh fruit tartlets, cayenne bourbon pecan tartlets, carrot cake squares, lemon poppy seed cupcakes, Banana’s Foster cheesecakes, and pecan pralines. Yum!

What was Southern about your wedding? We didn’t have to do much to make our wedding feel Southern, because there is so much Southern history in The Elms Mansion, and the food their chef prepares is very New Orleans. We also had a New Orleans second line after our ceremony, which was such a rush. We’ve participated in many second lines in all of our years in New Orleans, but it was so surreal knowing that this parade was in celebration of us! All of our guests were handed monogrammed handkerchiefs to wave in the air and sweet tea and vodka cocktails to sip as we danced down historic St. Charles Avenue. The umbrellas that Mike and I held were the ones his cousin and his cousin’s wife (who was also one of my bridesmaids) used at their own wedding a few years prior. As wedding favors, I put together little jars of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, complete with custom labels that I designed.

Tell us your love story. I had just moved into an apartment on Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans, and Lucy (my small dog), escaped from my yard. Thinking she had gone through a hole in the fence, I rang the next door neighbor’s doorbell asking if he had seen her. My neighbor told me that he saw a little dog in the middle of the (very busy) street furiously licking a hamburger wrapper as honking cars swerved around her. Thankfully, I got her back later that day. That same neighbor ended up coming over to my birthday party a couple months later, and we became good friends (as did Lucy and his dog, Cole). We remained “just friends” for a year before we decided to start dating, and my next door neighbor became my boyfriend, then my roommate, then my fiance!
Tell us all about the proposal! Over the summer of 2015, I had this feeling that he would propose. I don’t know why, and I definitely didn’t admit it to anyone (I barely admitted it to myself), but that feeling grew stronger and stronger as our annual summer vacation to Block Island, RI approached. When Mike didn’t propose on Saturday night, I thought to myself, “Eh, okay, I was just being silly and my imagination was in overdrive!” On Monday, we were rushing around packing because we had to make a ferry. We were cutting it pretty close (as always), and I had started off toward the car when I saw something written in chalk on the drive ahead of me. I stopped in my tracks and just stared, dumbfounded at what was in front of me: “Ariana, will you marry me?” surrounded by hearts. After what felt like seconds to me, but probably minutes to Mike, I slowly dropped my bags and turned around, only to see Mike on one knee holding a ring! It all felt so surreal that I’m not sure I’d remember all the details if it weren’t for his best friend Jason documenting the entire thing on his iPhone. I went to him and said, “of course!” but was suddenly hit with the reality that we were about to say goodbye to one another for a week. “But now we have to leave?” I asked, through tears. He answered, “Nope, we’re staying ’til Friday!” Apparently, it took a small army, the zipped lips of all four of our parents, PhotoShopped plane tickets to New Orleans and Boston, fake work obligations that had been in place for a month or so in advance, and very careful monitoring and deletion of any emails, texts, or pictures that might tip me off to pull off this very elaborately planned ruse. He said he knew that I might think he’d propose in Block Island, which is why he threw me off by “having to leave” and waiting until the very last minute to do it.
When did y’all get married? October 22nd, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, which I’ve loved ever since I learned how to play it on the piano when I was little. I really wanted a trumpet to play as my dad walked me down the aisle, and I can’t wait to hear and see it on the video, because I don’t remember it at all! I was too distracted by everyone and everything else around me. My father helped me choose the rest of the ceremony music, since he’s the family expert on classical music. Our first dance song was “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne, which Mike and I chose just a couple nights before the wedding. We only had to listen up to the first refrain to know it was perfect – upbeat, not too sappy, but with a sweet message that resonated with us. We did a combined father/daughter and mother/son dance to “Ain’t that Love” by Ray Charles. It was so lighthearted and sweet; I just love the photos from that moment.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a pearl bracelet from my mom that my dad gave to her when I was born. My something old was a “Magic Hankie” that was given to me at me as a baby and used as a bonnet at my Christening; I had it tucked into my dress to wipe away any happy tears! I had my toes painted light blue as my something blue, and my dress, veil, shoes, and earrings were all new.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Aside from our letterpress invitations, I did pretty much all of the design work using Photoshop and InDesign for our wedding materials. I designed the save the dates, the A&M monogram, the welcome bag brochures, the ceremony programs, the menu (with help from Belinda), the spice jar favor labels, and small signage. Not having to outsource any of those design jobs helped us save money, and I enjoyed doing it. Another small way I saved money was forgoing expensive designer shoes for a pair of cute, inexpensive flats. A bride will often splurge on a fabulous pair of Jimmy Choos or Christian Louboutins for her wedding day (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), but I personally didn’t see the point, as no one was going to see my shoes under my dress, and I wanted something comfortable as I knew I’d be on my feet all night.
What’s next for you as a couple? We actually just moved to Connecticut at the end of March! We miss New Orleans greatly, but are so excited to really start our life together up here. Mike got an amazing job offer, and we’ll be closer to our parents, which will be wonderful once we’re ready to start a family of our own in a year or two. I’m also really looking forward to bringing my business to a new market and expanding Love & Paper’s reach. We still have a lot of family and friends who live in New Orleans, so we’ll be back often for visits (especially during the snowy northeastern winters).

Photographer: Arte de Vie | Videographer: Dyle Films | Planner: Blue Gardenia Events | Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Elms Mansion | Florist: Fat Cat Flowers | Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Melissa’s Fine Pastries | Caterer: The Elms Mansion | Rentals: Event Rental | Lighting: Fat Cat Flowers and Blue Gardenia Events | Band or DJ: Bucktown Allstars | Paper Products: Scriptura | Bride’s Gown: “Londyn” by Hayley Paige | Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil/Jewelry: Toni Federici | Hair Stylist: Flawless Bride | Makeup Artist: Flawless Bride | Bride’s Shoes: Dessy | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale, Hayley Paige, Dessy | Groom’s Attire: Calvin Klein | Groomsmen Attire: Vera Wang Black | Paper Flowers: Love & Paper | Calligraphy: VCalligraphy | Ceremony musicians: New Orleans Classical and Jazz | Second Line Band: Young Pinstripe Brass Band | Linen: Nuage Designs

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Denis Lunyakin reply

    Divine photos! Thank you for your work!

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Bride Hayley’s blackberry-inspired wedding at The Oaks Plantation.

Y’all, I’m thrilled for you to meet today’s bride, Hayley! Though she and Dillon are both Auburn alum, they did get married at the same venue where my own sweet sister-in-law (who went to Alabama) did, so I can’t help but adore them! Of course, The Oaks Plantation is a perfectly Southern spot (I can attest to this myself!) with beauty hidden in every nook and cranny, but I extra adore Hayley and Dillon’s attentiveness to their guests. She says, “we wanted our family and friends to feel welcome and loved and to sense that we considered them during all of our planning!” Based strictly on the big smiles beaming from their bridal party, I think they accomplished that and then some. Be sure to keep reading because you don’t want to miss Hayley’s favorite wedding detail (hint: her daddy made them)!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something old was a monogrammed locket on my bouquet. My something new were my ExVoto Vintage earrings. My something borrowed was a handkerchief from my mother-in-law, and my something blue were the silk ribbons from Silk and Willow and Frou Frou Chic!

Describe your wedding flowers. My flowers were FABULOUS! They were created and designed by the amazing Lisa Thorne of Thorne and Thistle. She allowed me to travel with her to pick them out, and we focused on incorporating colors to complement the blackberry scheme I used. Our signature flower was a cafe au lait dahlia, such a breathtaking bloom. We incorporated some of the deep blackberry with fritillaria, freesia, and scabiosa, some lighter purple with lilac, and the blue with delphinium. I obsessed over the greenery involved as well and wanted a deep emerald green surrounding my colors.

Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. I thought that it was a myth that I would “just know” when I put on the right one. It’s actually SO TRUE! I found myself making excuses for each dress, thinking each one could work, but they weren’t perfect. Then I went to J. Andrews Bridal in Peachtree City, GA, and tried on so many dresses there as well. When I put on “my dress” toward the end of my appointment, I knew. It was, and still is, GORGEOUS! It fit like a glove, made me feel beautiful, and I wanted Dillon to see me wearing it right that second!

Each bouquet was tied off with a combination of Silk and Willow and Frou Frou Chic silk ribbon in the shades of the groomsmens’ suits and bridesmaids’ dresses.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I had a hard time choosing where to hold our wedding. The moment we arrived at The Oaks and saw the long, oak-lined drive, I just knew. It was perfect! I wanted the wedding to be at a beautiful, intimate place with both the ceremony and reception easily transitioning from one to the other.

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? Oh, there were so many! If I had to pick, I would say the ceremony benches my dad built by hand for the wedding are my favorite. We decided at the last minute that we wanted to have benches at the front of the aisle, and he was more than happy to help! I designed the look and helped him draw out the shapes of the sides, and then, while my dad was at work, my sisters and I painted them. It was such hard work, but we came together as a family to put them together and finish them. They looked absolutely stunning under the oak!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We put so much thought into our song choices. My (now) husband is an incredible musician and LOVES music. He picked the song I walked down the aisle to, and boy did he pick a good one! While a violin and guitar played “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” by Christy Nockels, a family friend sang. We timed the verses to where I would walk down the aisle to the “Alleluia” chorus.

I knew the day would be long, and I didn’t want to spend the entire day hidden away from our family and friends. We put our main focus on the comfort of everyone present, so we knew that doing a first look would make the atmosphere more carefree and take a lot of the pressure off! It was so great doing a first look – we were able to hang out as a huge wedding party ALL DAY and just talk, laugh, cry, and take so many fun, candid shots.

What was Southern about your wedding? Oh this is my favorite part! My husband and I have lived in the South our whole lives, and we wanted to make our wedding uniquely representative of us. Of course, living in the South, there are bound to be some Southern details that must be included. The color scheme centered around blackberries and the many colors they turn throughout their growth. The muted blue, green, marsala, and deep purple were all meant to reflect this. I grew up picking wild blackberries (my favorite!) down from my house in southern Alabama, making this a fun memory to incorporate.

Tell us your love story. I met my husband the first day of our junior year of high school. We really thought nothing of each other for a while; we only had one class together, and our paths crossed every now and then during our show choir performances. It wasn’t until we were selected to emcee a dinner theater together that we each developed secret crushes on each other. Three months later, we were dating and practically inseparable! We knew after 8 months together that we would get married as soon as we finished college, and that we did!

What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? The cakes were both made by Peggy McKinney of Montgomery, Alabama, and I designed them both! I knew the bride’s cake just HAD to have blackberry incorporated somehow, so I asked Mrs. McKinney to “paint” the cake with blackberry juice, to give it a watercolor look. She also added a blackberry cream cheese filling – it was divine! The groom’s cake is representative of Dillon, 100%. Mrs. McKinney is famous for her peanut butter chocolate cake, and, since Dillon LOVES peanut butter, we had to have that cake!

Tell us all about the proposal! Dillon happened to be living in Savannah, GA, at the time he decided to propose. I planned a trip to visit him with four of our good friends, and we were all spending time in the city while he was working (or so I thought!). As we walked through Forsyth Park downtown, my friends began acting so strangely, walking behind me, stealing my coffee, and just smiling at me in a weird way. I suspected nothing! I happened to spot Dillon up ahead, but of course I was the last one to do so. I excitedly ran to meet him, while everyone else stayed behind. I thought it was so strange that none of them wanted to go and say “hi!” Then, it hit me. “NO!” “WAIT, right now?” “Are you sure, right now?” I was so shocked, I didn’t know how to be a normal human in that moment. Dillon got down on one knee and said the most beautiful things to me, promising me forever. We cried and hugged and hugged our friends, then went to a surprise brunch with our families and friends who had driven to be there with us!
When did y’all get married? May 14, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 220
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Dillon and I attended pre-marital counseling with the pastor who would eventually marry us. We had a wonderful time learning more about each other, because, even after five years, there is always more to discover! We learned more about our individual weaknesses and how those will affect our marriage, as well as how to humble ourselves to work through them. It was an awesome experience: I highly recommend pre-marital counseling!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I really looked for pieces I wanted to incorporate into our wedding, waiting for the best opportunities. I bought my shoes from Anthropologie on Black Friday, which was an incredible deal! We also ended up buying other things during promotions and deals, which did cut some of the cost.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I actually had two I couldn’t have lived without! Our photographer, Taylor, was so kind and just FUN to work with! She also shot our engagement photos, and traveled all the way to Savannah, Georgia, just to shoot at the locations we wanted! Her style is gorgeous, exactly what we envisioned! She captured my style and the little details I worked so hard on perfectly. Also, our florist, Lisa, helped me from day one! She immediately picked up on my style and what I liked and began helping put together a gorgeous event! She is always full of unique, beautiful ideas, which was exactly what I needed! She also took full advantage of my talents and helped me to create beautiful paper goods, painted signage, and more for the wedding!
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? Dillon is a musician, but, since we’ve been in college for awhile, he hasn’t had the opportunity to perform in several years. Unbeknownst to many of the guests and a lot of our family, he planned several songs to perform with the band at the reception! He began by singing “The Way You Look Tonight” and “My Girl” to a roaring crowd, dancing and laughing the whole time! It made the day that much sweeter that he was able to do what he loves on such a special day. He closed the night with the band with “Piano Man,” one of his all-time favorites. Many of our friends had never heard him sing, since it was something he did more in high school, so it was so fun to see their reactions to his talent!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? START EARLY!!!!! Contact those you want on your vendor list the week you get engaged! It was so hard for me to figure out who I wanted to hire and then to actually hire them, simply because I had never planned a wedding before. Make sure you’re reaching out, even if you think that person whose style you’re in love with “might be booked or too expensive.” You never know! We also opened a separate credit card strictly for the wedding and connected it to a PayPal account. It made everything so easy!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are currently both still in graduate school at Auburn University. When we graduate in less than a year, (Dillon in mechanical engineering and me in speech-language pathology), we will be moving to the beautiful Savannah, Georgia! We can’t wait to start a home there and see where life takes us!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? YES! One of my favorite parts of the wedding was the tea party my bridesmaids and I had while getting ready! I am both a calligrapher and potter, and I made a custom tea set for the occasion. The tea tumblers used were part of the bridesmaids’ gifts, and I wanted us to be able to relax and enjoy some tea while spending some quality time together! I highly recommend incorporating a relaxing element to every wedding day!

Photographer: Taylor Dane Photography | Videographer: Collective Memories Video | Planner: Thorne and Thistle | Ceremony Venue: The Oaks Plantation | Reception Venue: The Oaks Plantation | Florist: Thorne and Thistle | Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Peggy McKinney Cakes | Caterer: Jennie Weller Catering | Rentals: Brendle Rentals | Band or DJ: Route 66 | Pottery: Redd Artistry | Guestbook: Velvet Raptor | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Silk: Silk and Willow and Frou Frou Chic | Paper Products: Redd Artistry | Logo: Laura McCarty | Bride’s Gown: Casablanca Bridal | Bride’s Earrings: ExVoto Vintage | Makeup Artist: the bride and bridesmaids! | Bride’s Shoes: Anthropologie | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Hayley Paige Occasions | Rompers: Old Navy | Groom’s and Groomsmen’s Attire: Belk | Getaway Carriage: Capitol City Carriages

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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