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Southern Weddings Magazine

Category: Real Southern Weddings

One of our favorite pieces of wedding advice is to choose vendors based not only on how much you love their work, but also on how much you like them as people! Your photographer, planner, and a handful of other folks will be with you during some of the most important moments of your life, and if they feel more like friends than just people you hired, it will make your wedding that much sweeter. I can imagine that this was certainly the case for Jenny and Justin, who worked with some of the nicest people below the Mason-Dixon, including our friends and Blue Ribbon Vendors, Landon and Jordan of Landon Jacob Photography and the team at RiverOaks Charleston. With their help, Jenny and Justin took four short months to plan their beautiful South Carolina wedding, complete with nods to Justin’s Hawaiian heritage and a few delightful surprises for one another!

Describe your wedding flowers. Absolute perfection. I sent one photo to the RiverOaks team and the florist made arrangements that were even more beautiful than I had pictured. When I entered the bridal suite, I stared at the arrangements for at least five minutes…my breath was taken away. My bouquet was a light, cascading bouquet filled with a mixtures of peonies, roses, and other delicate-looking flowers. There was also a pop of anemones (white with navy center) to coordinate with the navy bridesmaid dresses.

In honor of Justin’s Hawaiian heritage, he had handcrafted leis delivered from Hawaii for the ceremony. Justin, his groomsmen, the ring bearers, and the flower girls wore the leis during the ceremony. He placed one around my neck after we said our vows, and he presented four very special women in his life with their own leis as well.

While spending Christmas at my parents’ house in Tennessee, we discussed potential songs for the ceremony. Justin played Highland Cathedral and told me a story about how much he loved that song. I thought it would be fun to surprise him, so with that in mind, I told him I didn’t like the sound of bagpipes, so we’d probably have to choose another song for the processional. We actually never discussed ceremony song selection after that day, so it was easy, with the help of my ingenious wedding planner, to surprise Justin with a bagpiper playing Highland Cathedral as I came down the aisle. This took some great skill from the RiverOaks team because the bagpiper had to warm up off of the premises, but be back at the venue on time. They handled it flawlessly!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Everything about the ceremony! How fast my heart was beating as I watched the wedding party walk down the aisle, then a feeling of total peace as I heard the bagpiper begin to play the processional, knowing it was my time to walk down the aisle towards the love of my life. Walking through 150 of our closest loved ones and seeing Justin’s face as I walked towards him. The most beautiful homily I’ve ever heard by our officiant, who even teared up while speaking. Our first communion together, intently saying our vows, awaiting that kiss, and being introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Justin Clark. A lot of brides say their wedding day was a blur for them, but our ceremony still remains so clear…everything after that was a blur though!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The venue’s backdrop of deep water and beautiful oak trees covered in Spanish moss is about as Southern as it gets. Our signature cocktail was Firefly and Lemonade with a mint garnish. Some of the menu items included chicken and waffles and fried green tomato and pimento cheese bites. We had a traditional joggling board. The groom and his groomsmen wore seersucker with palmetto bow ties. Instead of a traditional guest book, we had our guests sign Michael Trouche’s Charleston: Yesterday & Today so that we could have the perfect coffee table book to remember our day by.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? It was everything that I wanted and more–an outdoor venue on the water, under live oaks with Spanish moss, where I could have sparklers, wish lanterns, and a big exit by boat. It was one of the first places Justin took me when I moved to Charleston and I remember walking around and thinking “This would be the most perfect place to get married.” We are so grateful that RiverOaks was able to make that a reality for us, and they offered us even more than we imagined.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Justin and I met while working at the opening of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in California. We went our separate ways, not knowing that a year later, we would begin to develop a wonderful friendship. We shared interests in music and snowboarding, and despite being 2,500 miles away from each other, we were able to make each other laugh every day. About six months later, we were finally able to spend time together in person, and the rest is history!! We dated long distance for almost two years.
Tell us all about the proposal! On Saturday, December 21, 2013, some mutual friends asked me to help with a youth group scavenger hunt around Charleston. A group of us would be blind-folded, allowing the kids to walk us around Waterfront Park underneath the Ravenel Bridge as part of a “trust and compassion” exercise. As I was on my way to the park, I messaged Justin, telling him that I was sad I was going to “our spot” without him. It was always the last place we would visit before I took Justin to the airport during our long distance relationship. The girls and I arrived and were told that the youth group would be there shortly, so we should go ahead and sit on the bench to be blind-folded. I sat on the end bench facing the water and my eyes were covered up with a scarf. Immediately, the other girls took for the bushes to hide and photograph the big moment. As I was sitting on the bench blind-folded, waiting for tons of yelling teens to run up and grab me, someone began to unfold the scarf around my eyes. It startled me because that wasn’t part of the plan. I looked up and Justin was standing in front of me. I was totally shocked because he wasn’t supposed to arrive in Charleston from California until the next day. He got down on one knee, and after a beautiful speech, he asked me to marry him. We had a wonderful dinner with some of our closest friends, celebrating the sweet news with them. The next day, we went to Biltmore in Asheville and spent Christmas with my family in Knoxville. It was the perfect proposal and celebration.
When did y’all get married? April 27, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 150
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Justin’s favorite cake is yellow with chocolate frosting, so as a surprise for him, I had the caterer do a yellow cake with chocolate filling, covered with white fondant. The cake topper was our new initials monogrammed in a gold script that I had ordered on Etsy.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We had a short engagement, allowing time for only what was necessary. I made a list of my non-negotiables and realized that if something didn’t make that list or fit into the budget, it was okay to live without.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Just breathe and remember what this ceremony represents. Spend just as much time preparing your hearts for the lifetime of marriage ahead of you as you do on the details of your wedding day.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are looking forward to finally being on the same side of the country!! We are currently living in California, where Justin’s job has taken him, and are excited to walk this path together as husband and wife.

Photographer: Landon Jacob Photography / Venue, Planning Styling: RiverOaks Charleston / Florals: Deborah Gibson Design / Catering and Cake: Michelle Sturgeon with LadyChef / Bar: Squeeze On Site / Rentals: Event Works, Polished, Event Kitchens, Event DRS / DJ: Beaman DJ Productions / Bride’s Gown: “7T9612″ by David’s Bridal / Invitations: Brian Carroll with Marine Marketing and Programs / Makeup Artist: Micheala Murtaugh of Stella Nova / Bride’s Shoes: Blue by Betsey Johnson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Maxi Convertible Dress” in Navy by Sakura / Men’s Attire: “Seersucker Suit” by Jos A. Bank / Bow Ties: Palmetto Moon

RiverOaks and Landon Jacob are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Marianne reply

    What a day to see a couple dating long distance…..bi-coastal no less …..become ONE. Charleston is so special to them and it was such a great reward to carry out their day at RiverOaks. The sentimental yet elegant touch of Hawaii was beautiful and heartfelt. Thank you Southern Weddings for sharing this labor of love day!

  2. avatar Cathy reply

    What an awesome story and beautiful wedding. Georgeous bride and venue.

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For these two self-proclaimed sentimentalists, weaving details of their own story, their families, and their friends into their wedding day was second nature. I’ve heard of using one’s mother’s or grandmother’s dress pieces before, but I absolutely adore how Blaine and Brian wove pieces of the dress she wore on their very first date into their wedding fabrics! Pieces were sewn inside her wedding dress, into his suit, and even into the fabric flowers that were given to each guest! They called it “a symbol of beginnings” and gracious alive, I love that! I also love the way they incorporated their family’s antique tractors, good ol’ moonshine, and cowbells into their wedding day–they did tie the knot at a cow farm, after all!

SW hugs and thanks to Abby Caldwell for sharing this adorably Southern day with us!

I asked the two strongest, bravest, and most honest women in my life, my mother and mother-in-law, to meet me in DC for the weekend to check out a few boutiques suggested by some girlfriends. I had always imagined I would fall in love with a fitted lace gown with a beautiful neckline and back, and we found just that at our last stop. It was gorgeous…but I could not bring myself to buy it. I had purchased tickets to a Brides Against Breast Cancer event months before and had planned our weekend trip so that we could end the dress shopping day there. The dresses were all arranged by size and roped off at one side of the room. We were instructed that once the whistle blew, we were allowed to grab as many dresses as we could hold. Having scoped out the scene during cocktail hour, we knew exactly where the dresses in my size were. One dress caught my eye, and when the whistle blew, a faster bride who I did not even see standing next to me grabbed it. I asked one of the ladies working the event to follow her, and if she took it off, to grab it. She did take it off, I got it, and it fit like a glove. It was absolutely nothing like the dress I was going to buy, but something about it was special and I bought it on the spot. The best part is that the proceeds from the event go to programs to help support breast cancer patients and their families. This was the icing on the cake, as Brian’s mother is a breast cancer survivor.

Describe your wedding flowers. Rosemary took the lead in our florals because it is the herb of remembrance, Brian’s grandmother’s name, and our favorite cooking herb, so we wanted the wedding to be flooded with the scent. Scent is one of the strongest memory triggers–forever, something as simple as cooking dinner will remind us of our special day. We incorporated rosemary into my bouquet, Brian’s boutonniere, our mothers’ nosegays, and our fathers’ boutonnieres. It also lined the aisles at the church and was spread throughout the floral arrangements at the farm.

I convinced Brian that burying the bourbon was totally going to work and that if it did not, then at least we would have an extra bottle of booze at the wedding if it rained. Well it did not rain…in fact, it was gorgeous and unseasonably warm. We dug up the bottle during cocktail hour with the help of my Uncle Frank. The three of us shared the first sips, and then our lovely wedding party passed it around. It was gone by dinner and the bottle is being framed for us as a keepsake. Other details included our custom monogram with design inspiration from the first ring Brian gave me, hay, mason jars, cowbells (we were at a cow farm, after all), our family’s antique tractors and cars, moonshine, sweet tea, barbecue pulled pork sliders, mini chicken and waffles, baskets of Southern breads at dinner, country music, and more.

Family, friends, tradition, and hospitality are very important to Brian and I. We are both super sentimental, so our wedding was packed with details that weaved pieces of our story, our families, and our friends into our day. Our favorite detail was the fact that there are probably only a couple of times in our lives when all of the most important people to us are gathered together. It was truly the best day ever because they were there to share it with us.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Brian and I are not big sweets people, but we know desserts are a huge fan favorite at weddings. Therefore, we had simple cutting cake made with layers of pistachio cake and pistachio icing, that we cut with the cake cutter used at Brian’s parents’ wedding. We also served a variety of cupcakes and pies, mini caramel apples, black forest doughnuts, chocolate-covered strawberries, and vanilla ice cream from our local dairy farm.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Brian: We met at the Liberty Tavern in Arlington, Virginia in the spring of 2007. It was the hip new place in Arlington, and Blaine was working as a bartender/cocktail waitress. It took me a little while, but after several chats at the bar, some casual flirting, and some help from my best friend’s wife, I worked up the guts to ask her out and she said yes. Our first “real” date was at Old Ebbitt’s Grille in Washington D.C. The dress she wore on that date was woven into different fabrics at our wedding (her wedding dress, handkerchiefs for her wedding party, my suit, pocket squares for the groomsmen, the fabric flowers for each guest). It was a symbol of beginnings.
Tell us all about the proposal! From Brian: We go for a morning run every Saturday as a way of letting the week go and feeling good before we splurge on food/drinks/fun activities for the rest of the day. On April 7, 2012, I carefully placed the ring inside the pedometer pouch velcroed through my laces before we set out for our jog. The last mile took us out to the jetty, where my idea of a romantic setting for a proposal was immediately interrupted by 30 mph winds, crashing waves, jagged rocks, disgruntled fishermen, and kids screaming about the sand blowing in their eyes…not to mention, my sweaty, stinky body and lack of breath. Perfection, I’ve learned, is not without humor. I guided us to the flattest rocks we could find to sit on and stretch out our legs, and admittedly, began behaving awkwardly. As we were sitting, I must have said “Well, take it all in” four times before I finally added, “…because things are about to change.” Before she could get a word in, I continued by saying that today was about taking something ordinary, like our Saturday morning runs, and making it extraordinary. With tears in her eyes, Blaine asked if I was about to make her cry, and I pulled out the ring and asked her to marry me. She said, “Yes, but don’t get down on one knee out here!” We laughed, hugged, and kissed…then we got off the rocks and I dropped to one knee on the sand for good measure.
When did y’all get married? October 12, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our reception was hosted on the Lane Farm, which has been in Blaine’s family for three generations.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The church has a magnificent organ, so we wanted to highlight that with the selection of our ceremony music. The bridal party entered to “Canon in D” by Pachelbel. My father and I walked in to “Rondeau” by Mouret, and the recessional music was “La Rejouisannce” by Handel. The dancing was kicked off by Brian’s parents dancing to “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole, since it was their 39th wedding anniversary. My father and I danced to Faith Hill’s “There You’ll Be,” sung by Abby Caldwell, our photographer and childhood friend. That was the only time during the day when my father cried. He looked at me and said, “Your grandmother would be so proud of the man you’re marrying.” For our first dance, we selected “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers, performed by our band, the Alex White Band. Our guests circled the dance floor and helped sing the lyrics. It was fantastic!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The best moment was sneaking away from the party to take a truck ride up the hill through a herd of cows. It was funny, a little goofy, and perfect. We stood on top of the hill looking down over the party and saw everyone from all the corners of our lives, smiling and celebrating together. It was exactly what we wanted our day to be. That image will stay with us forever.

Photographer: Abby Caldwell Photography / Videographer: Birdhouse Productions / Planner: Stefanie Hansen of BlueShoe Events / Ceremony Venue: Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption / Reception Venue: Private residence / Florist: Rose Bredl / Cupcakes: KC Cupcakes (Cousin of the Bride) / Pies: Linda Canfield (Aunt of the Bride) / Caterer: Frank Lane (Owner of Lane Farm and Uncle of the Bride) and Creative Cuisine / Band: Alex White & Friends / Custom Ties and Pocket Squares: Fox & Brie / Bride’s Gown: “Nadine” by Amsale / Paper Products: Designed by the Bride and Groom / Printing: Paper Source / Hair Stylist: Carrie D Creamer / Makeup Artist: Michael Phillip Zamora / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Groom’s Attire: Hickey Freeman / Dance Floor and Table Rentals: McGuffey Tents / Chairs: D & R Rental Service / Portable Restrooms: ABC Restroom / Transportation: Creative Coach Company (Fun Bus)

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Nicole reply

    I LOVE that they used the dress Blaine wore on their first date throughout the wedding! What a sweet way to work in precious memories :)

  2. avatar Abby Caldwell reply

    This is amazing. I love it. More than you know, this has made my day so special! Not only is SW a fav of mine, but I am such a hometown girl. Seeing MY town on this blog. Wow. And to top it off, I love seeing the smiling face of a happy childhood friend.

  3. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] Blaine and Brian (literally) wove sentimental details into their West Virginia farm wedding. We love the sweet nod to the groom’s Hawaiian heritage in Jenny and Justin‘s South Carolina wedding. Katie and Michael‘s New Orleans wedding was inspired by their beautiful French Quarter venue. Have a wonderful weekend, and big congratulations to anyone getting married this weekend, including Southern Bride Blogger Kellie, Emily‘s sister-in-law, Natalie! […]

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My number one favorite part of my job is hearing amazing love stories, and then having the opportunity to share them with y’all. Sarah and Andy’s story is one for the SW history books–they are a true gem of a couple and their love story is a beautiful testament to friendship, family, and faith. We are SO grateful that they shared their memories and advice with us, and we hope it warms your heart as much as it has ours!

Thank you so much to Aaron Nicholas Photography for sharing this very special wedding with us!

Andy was born in Belfast, Ireland and moved to Canada when he was six years old. He is the youngest of 13 children. He and his first wife, Joan, met in elementary school in Canada and were married after his Canadian navy tour. They had five children. I am a Charleston native and married my first husband, a Citadel grad, Tom Hemingway, who served as a career Marine and then went into Christian work. We had four kids.

Andy and I met in 1989. My husband was speaking at a conference Andy attended. Andy was impressed and asked Tom to speak at his company’s annual convention in Dallas. From that meeting came a wonderful friendship between Andy and his wife and Tom and me. In 2000, my Tom died very suddenly, and Andy and Joan drew in closer and stayed in my life, even though they were in Dallas. We called each other, wrote letters, and visited. They created a major award in their company in memory of my Tom and flew me to Dallas every year to present it at their national convention. Such generous friends! In December 2010, Joan died suddenly, and I was able to stay close to their family and encourage Andy in his grief.

In May 2012, Andy and his daughter came to visit me in Charleston, and I loved introducing them to the area. We laughed and talked and enjoyed our time together. During the next year, he called “to check on me” a little more often, and gradually, the phone calls became more frequent. We both love to laugh and we both love the Lord, so being together has always been very easy. By the next May, when he and his daughter returned for another visit, there was definitely a new dynamic in our friendship. I think we both realized there was something very special happening. We laugh and say that we went from “Nah! That would never happen!” to “Nah, probably not” to “Well, maybe?” to “Okay, we’re in love!!!!!”

This past November, we went with a group on a mission trip to Argentina. By the time I returned home, we realized that being together was God’s plan for us. In January, Andy came to Charleston and we decided to marry. At our ages, we didn’t want to waste any more time apart. We set the date for March 15 and then proceeded to surprise a lot of people who had no idea we’d even been seeing each other! It was hilarious!

What was your most memorable moment on your wedding day? There was so much joy and laughter. Andy kept thinking the pastor had forgotten to say “You can kiss the bride,” so twice, he reminded the pastor in a whisper. The pastor finally replied (over the mike), “Andy, I’ll tell you when you can kiss her. I haven’t forgotten.” Everyone burst out laughing! The other very special memory was when everyone joined in singing, “To God be the glory, great things he has done.” At our stage in life, we never expected this surprise. It was a wonderful moment!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Remember that it is the marriage that’s important, not the wedding details. Invite the Lord into your relationship and your marriage, and remember that your relationship with each other is much more important that what the caterer serves or if the flowers don’t match. It’s a sacred time, not a show. Love one another. Breathe. The rest will fall into place.
What are you most looking forward to about married life? Sharing life together. Laughing and loving, praying and planning, holding hands, eating ice cream, making a difference in people’s lives, and enjoying all that God has for us.

Photography: Aaron Nicholas Photography / Ceremony Venue: Redeemer Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue: Private residence / Floral Design: Branch Design Studio

lisa Written with love by Lisa
18 Comments
  1. avatar Kaitlin Holland reply

    Oh my goodness – this is beautiful!! This brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing story!

  2. avatar Andrea reply

    Adorable!!! I love this!

  3. avatar Kate reply

    Such a beautiful story!

  4. avatar Kristin reply

    OH MY GRACIOUS!! What a love story. Happiest tears for this sweet bride and groom. I love their advice and especially love what they are looking forward to: holding hands, eating ice cream and making a difference in people’s lives? I wish I could sit down with them and soak up all their wisdom.

  5. avatar Lisa Parker Lott reply

    I’ve followed this blog for so long — and this story just may top the rest! I got chills and teary-eyed while reading this amazing story!

  6. avatar Abby reply

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST! Her bouquet is stunning also!

  7. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    Oh my goodness!! What a beautiful, touching, meaningful, and beautiful love story! I have tears streaming down my face. THIS is what love/marriage/weddings is ALL about! This couple radiates joy & love, and thank you for sharing this wedding. (PS: Her bouquet is beyond stunning, too!)

  8. avatar Jessica reply

    What a precious couple and a sweet, sweet testament to love and marriage! Love this!

  9. avatar Kelly reply

    Southern Bride of the YEAR.

  10. avatar Nita reply

    As a bride, I appreciated her thoughtful advice. It has been so easy for met to get caught up in the stress of wedding planning over the past few months, but a wedding certainly is a sacred time and not a show.

  11. avatar sarah wetzel reply

    Sweet photographs, a lovely couple, a very inspiring story! Thank you, Southern Wedding, for sharing this with the public. And thank you, God, for writing this beautiful love story.

  12. avatar Sara Velordi reply

    I have goosebumps. This is awesome!

  13. avatar Breanna reply

    A beautiful love story and a gorgeous family. Sarah and Andy are an inspiration to all! Their story just goes to show how good people invite good things into their lives with their kindness and love. Their advice to couples planning a wedding is so perfect. Such a beautiful couple inside and out.

  14. avatar Aaron & Jillian reply

    We’re so happy y’all featured Sarah and Andy’s story and their wedding photos! The moment I met Sarah for our first photography consult, I was in love! Her story is one for the books and Aaron and I felt SUPER honored to witness their ceremony and to document such a momentous day in their lives! They really are THE GREATEST and both certainly “made a difference” in our lives after spending one single day with them!

  15. avatar Sally reply

    What a tear-jerker! God writes the most beautiful love stories. Her bouquet is divine!

  16. avatar Katie Minnick reply

    This is literally the most precious thing I’ve ever read. To God be the Glory!

  17. avatar Robin reply

    Wow, what a beautiful story and a beautiful wedding to go with it. God is good!

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After reading about how these two met at a college football tailgate and then got engaged at an Atlanta Braves game (be sure to read about this special nod to Keely’s late father), I knew Keely and Hill’s wedding would be sweet, Southern, and full of personal details. And, y’all, they did not disappoint! Together with their planner, The Graceful Host, Keely and Hill created a romantic wedding with blush pink and monogrammed details that any Southerner would be proud of. Keely said “Who we are and where we come from is something us Southerners take pride in,” and I couldn’t agree more!

Big hugs to Lauren Friday for sharing this lovely day with us!

My something blue was the blue monogram of my father’s tie that was sewn into the back of my dress with his initials and our wedding date. My something new was my Valentino peep toe shoes. My something old was my father’s tie, which happens to be the only “blush” tie in his tie box. My something borrowed was the cameo that belonged to my great-grandmother, which was worn by my grandmother and mother on their wedding days. I had it tied and wrapped up into my bouquet.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our wedding party! That’s a detail right?! I had ten of the most beautiful, giving, and carefree group of girls, while Hill had ten guys that were as dapper as they were funny. Together, they all made our whole entire wedding weekend so much fun.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided to keep it traditional. After the 1,000 decisions that we had to make, this was by far the easiest. While I was walking down the aisle, it was as if all of our guests had disappeared and the only thing that we could both focus on was each other! Even with 200 pairs of eyes on us, it still felt so intimate.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We both feel like there is nothing more romantic and beautiful than the sounds of Webber, Pachelbel, Wagner, and Handel coming from a live string quartet. Hill and I are fans of Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, and very seldom hear some of those pieces without shedding a tear! I kept it a secret from Hill that my first processional song would be “Music of the Night” by Webber. As I walked from the house down to the start of the ceremony chairs, it then transitioned into a more traditional sound, “Bridal Chorus” by Wagner. We choose “Hornpipe in D” by Handel in honor of Hill’s parents, who used it for their wedding recessional 48 years ago.

We treated our guests to a shrimp and grits bar, loaded potato bar, fried macaroni and cheese pops, and even served late night snacks of milk and cookies and mini pizzas in our signature monogrammed pizza boxes! Our monogram was EVERYWHERE. Who we are and where we come from is something us Southerners take pride in, so Deb at Olive Paper created a signature “H” monogram that was used on everything from our save The dates all the way to our custom koozies and pillows on the rocking chairs. Hill had actually gifted me my new monogram on a Moon and Lola gold necklace earlier that day, which I switched to wearing after we said our I do’s! Even Hill had his own special monogram–his late grandfather had left him his gold monogrammed cufflinks, and in his honor, Hill carried a buckeye, which you could always count on his grandfather having in his pocket every time you saw him!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Hill and I were introduced in 2011 by mutual friends at an Appalachian State University football tailgate. Immediately, there was a mutual attraction, but the timing with our ten-year age difference made it a little complicated at first! We lived two hours apart, and as you can imagine, our worlds were very different at the time! Our lives continued to go in different directions, but we remained in touch. During that period of time, I decided to pack my bags to live and work in Germany for a year. After countless emails from 4,558 miles away and many Skype calls, one thing was certain: we didn’t want to be without each other. In January 2012, Hill decided to take his first flight overseas to meet me in Vienna, Austria. We spent the most magical New Year’s Eve together and explored what would be the first of many European cities together! After my year in Germany ended, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to finally be close to Hill.
Tell us all about the proposal! In June 2013, Hill decided to plan a surprise trip, which is nothing out of the ordinary–I hit the romance jackpot with this guy. He had planned a quick weekend trip down to Atlanta. Growing up, it was my dad’s “thing” to spend quality time as a family at Atlanta Braves games. For as long as I can remember, Atlanta has always held a special place in my heart for this reason, even after my father passed away when I was 13. After Hill and I enjoyed a Braves game, we headed back to get ready for dinner. As we walked out of the hotel room, Hill said “Wait a minute, I have something for you to wear tonight.” He went over to a box and pulled out a candy ring pop. I had always told him I didn’t care about a ring, and when the time was right, that a ring pop would do just fine. Bright, shiny, and cherry it was! He placed the ring pop on my finger and smiled. Before I could even speak, he laughed and said “Oh, that’s the wrong one.” He then dropped to his knee and pulled out the most gorgeous cushion-cut diamond I have ever seen. My jaw dropped as Hill asked me to be his bride, and somehow between the laughing and crying, I managed to get a yes in there! Later, I found out that Hill had asked my mother and my brother’s permission for my hand in marriage earlier that week, just like a true Southern gentleman should! It still gives me goosebumps to think about how much thought Hill put into making our proposal so special, and, most importantly, connecting it to my father.
When did y’all get married? May 31, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Aside from actually committing my love to Hill in front of our friends and family, finding my wedding dress was one of my favorite moments of our wedding process! My sister-in-law had purchased her gown from Monica at Bellissima of Salisbury a few years ago, and from the moment I walked into the store, I knew that I would be coming back for my dress someday! My first time trying on dresses was overwhelming because I fell in love with so many different dresses. I left that day knowing my dress would come to me; I just need some good ol’ fashioned “sleep on it” advice from my momma! During that time, Monica contacted me and asked me if I would be her model for a photo shoot she was doing for her Southern Weddings magazine ad! ;) Of course, I was honored and humbled! During that shoot, I started to gain a better understanding of what I liked, and Monica told me I would love the Kelly Faetanini gowns she had coming in soon. I had my eye on “Emmy” from browsing her gowns online, and the day that I went to try on the collection, I saved the best for last and knew “Emmy” was my girl!
Did you write your own vows? We like to stick to tradition! There is something to be said about saying the same vows our grandparents and parents used!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Hiring our wedding planner, Ashley of The Graceful Host. Having a wedding planner helped us put our money where it was most important to us!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Hire a wedding planner and don’t get caught up in the fluff of things. At the end the day, you are going to be married and that is the most IMPORTANT thing. Also, don’t skip the videographer just because you have the pictures covered! Hiring Shamus Coney, our videographer, was one of the best decisions we made throughout this process! You will not be sorry when you get those videos back! See ours here.

Photographer: Lauren Friday Photography / Videographer: Shamus Coney Films / Planner: Ashley Cash of The Graceful Host / Venue: Boxwood Estate / Florist: North Carolina New Creations Flower Company / Wedding Cake: Wow Factor Cakes / Caterer: Something Classic / Rentals and Lighting: Party Reflections / Band: Loose Chain / Bride’s Gown: “Emmy” by Kelly Faetanini / Bridal Salon and Veil: Bellissima of Salisbury / Paper Products: Olive Paper / Bride’s Jewelry: Kelly Faetanini at Nordstrom / Hair Stylist: Sara Mardis & Lisa Freeze / Makeup Artist: Sara Mardis / Bride’s Shoes: Valentino / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Monique Lhuillier at Bellissima of Salisbury / Men’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank / Koozies, Monogrammed Pillow, Cocktail Napkins: Mom and Pop’s Print Shop / Ceremony Music: Elegant Ensembles

marissa Written with love by Marissa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Charmaine reply

    These photos are beautiful love that wedding cake!

  2. avatar Ashley reply

    Thank y’all so, so much for featuring this sweet couple today! We absolutely adored working with Keely and Hill, and I’m so excited that the readers of SW Mag got to learn more about their beautiful love story … and to catch a glimpse of their gorgeous wedding day! XO

  3. avatar Lisa reply

    Keely is a gal after my own heart–peonies, Valentino bows pumps, and long curls? Bridal perfection in my book!

  4. avatar Breanna reply

    Those photographs are absolutely gorgeous! And I love what Keely said about not missing out on videography just because you have photos covered. That is such a tempting thing to cut when eying the budget, but there is something special about having that video too. The way Keely and Hill incorporated so many traditions and kept their parents weddings in mind when planning their own was so sweet! So much class and so much romance all wrapped up in this fabulous wedding.

  5. avatar 14 wedding themes and ideas | Rustic Folk Weddings reply

    […] Southern Weddings photography by Lauren Friday […]

  6. avatar Boxwood Estate Wedding – Keely & Hill – Featured on Southern Weddings » Lauren Friday Photography reply

    […] feature and read more about the details of their day (coordinated by the fabulous Graceful Host), click here!  How gorgeous and stylish is this […]

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After their first meeting played out more like a classic teen movie than a romantic comedy, Danielle and Chris’ relationship matured and grew into something special over nine years of dating, and their wedding was a true reflection of just that. With the help of their wedding planner, Amy Kristina Weddings, and their family and friends, these two created a wedding that was filled with meaningful details for their guests, as well as for each other. Y’all, the photos that Sam Stroud captured of them opening their wedding day gifts makes my heart skip a beat–be sure to read the story behind Danielle’s gift to Chris–and bring a tissue!

Such happy smiles!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I searched for dresses throughout Virginia and North Carolina, but I was having trouble finding a dress with the unique look I was craving. A friend told me about a non-profit shop called Church Street Bridal in Lynchburg, Virginia that sells donated designer gowns from bridal boutiques in NYC. I decided to check it out on a whim one day while my sister was in town. As soon as we arrived, we were shocked at the selection of beautiful gowns! We immediately called my mom, and within an hour or so, I said “YES” to the dress!! All of the proceeds earned at Church Street Bridal go to the local YWCA of Central Virginia, whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women.

Our favorite detail of the day was the gift that I surprised Chris with before the ceremony. Sadly, Chris’ grandfather passed away eight months before our wedding. After that, Chris casually began searching for a vintage, Belgian-made Browning shotgun, like the one that his grandfather had willed to his father. With a little help from a couple of Chris’ friends and a few of our family members, I was able to track one down in Tennessee two weeks before the wedding. It was in perfect condition and I was so excited that I could barely keep the secret! When Chris opened his gift before the ceremony, he immediately knew the gun’s significance and was overcome with emotion. Luckily for me, I got to re-live this special moment when watching our wedding video!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Of course! I borrowed my grandmother’s engagement ring to wear for the day and my something blue was a monogrammed patch that my mother-in-law made, which was sewn into my dress. An old cameo that belonged to my great-grandmother was pinned to my bouquet, and my Kate Spade shoes were brand new!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose phrases we wanted to recite in our vows to each other. My favorite was “to value your opinions and grow with you.” Relationships inevitably evolve over time, and your willingness to grow with each other is crucial to the success of any marriage.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our first dance was one of the most meaningful moments of the night. We danced to “Hungry for Your Love,” originally by Van Morrison, but Chris and I love the mandolin-filled Sam Bush version. We had a local bluegrass band play for our ceremony and cocktail hour, and they also agreed to learn and play our first dance song. One of my favorite verses from the song states “You’re part of me now,” which I had engraved in Chris’ wedding band along with our wedding date.

During cocktail hour, our guests sipped moonshine out of monogrammed mason jars, sampled mini chicken n’ waffle hors d’oeuvres, and enjoyed a live bluegrass band, all while sitting on grandma’s antique furniture. Does it get any more Southern than that?

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. It was your classic teen movie plot: I was a freshman in high school and he was the senior I had a major crush on. On my way to class one day, I tripped and dropped my books in the stairwell. Luckily (or unfortunately), my handsome knight in shining armor was there to help me up and retrieve my books. I was mortified! He didn’t even know my name. A few years later, we were formally introduced by mutual friends and sparks flew immediately. Funny how things work out! After nine years of dating, we finally decided to tie the knot.
Tell us all about the proposal! Last June, we planned an adventurous road trip tour of California. We visited San Francisco, Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, destinations along Route 1, and Napa Valley. Four days into our vacation, after a long day of hiking and a beautiful sunset, Chris dropped down to one knee at the Tunnel View overlook in Yosemite and asked me to marry him. The next night, we celebrated in Carmel with delicious cocktails and an amazing dinner, while watching the the sun set over the Pacific. It was most definitely a trip we will never forget!
When did y’all get married? May 16, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I have been in love with our venue for years! Chris and I are both from the Roanoke, Virginia area and wanted our wedding to be close to home. Sundara had unbeatable mountain views and the perfect amount of Southern charm.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Homemade cakes and other delicious desserts are key to the conclusion of any great Southern meal. Many of our family members are known for their baking skills, so we saw this as the perfect opportunity to save money and add a bit of Southern swag to the dessert table. We served an assortment of homemade cakes, including strawberry, coconut, lemon pound cake, and cheesecake. We also had my personal favorite, pink cake pops dusted with edible gold glitter! All of the desserts were arranged on top of a vintage buffet that Chris and I painted mint and gold to match our wedding colors.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? One of my bridesmaids is a whiz at marketing and design. Luckily for me, she offered to design all of our wedding stationery! She created a custom monogram logo that we used to brand every single detail of our wedding–it was featured on everything from our programs to cornhole boards Chris made.

Photographer: Sam Stroud Photography / Videographer: Michael’s Videography / Planner: Amy McArthur of Amy Kristina Weddings / Venue: Sundara / Florist: Gloriosa / Caterer: Blue Ridge Catering / Band: Blue Moonshine / DJ: RSP Entertainment / Bride’s Gown: Bliss by Monique Lhuillier / Paper Products: Richelle Holland / Bridal Salon and Veil: Church Street Bridal / Hair and Makeup: Les Cheveux Salon and Day Spa / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Newbury Long” by Joanna August / Men’s Attire: Black by Vera Wang

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

    Yay Sam! Congrats on the feature.

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