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Alex may not be a born and raised Southerner, but if she isn’t a Southern belle at heart, then I don’t know who is! As she and Andrew planned their Louisiana wedding, their minds were never far from their goal of making their guests feel cared for and part of the celebration. As a result, everything about this chic day, from Alex’s gorgeous Amsale dress, to the late-night passed doughnuts, to the bridesmaid cake pull, helped guests get to know their love story and personalities even more. We were overjoyed to learn that Alex and Andrew found their talented photographer, Kelly of Spindle Photography, through our very own Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory, and we think she did a fabulous job of capturing every sweet moment and gorgeous black and white detail!

My something new was my dress, veil, and Kate Spade shoes! Originally, my something old, borrowed, and blue was going to be my mother’s garter, but 30 years did not yield a usable option. She had one made with the same silks and a blue pearl that had our initials and wedding date, which was even more perfect. I also had the sixpence in my shoe that all the women in my family since my great-grandmother have worn.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Believe it or not, this was probably the easiest part of my wedding planning journey! My mother, grandmother, and matron of honor accompanied me to Mia Bridal Couture in Houston days before Christmas. I told our wonderful consultant, Tina, about my traditional-with-a twist-style, love of horsehair-trimmed veils, and that I wanted a full skirt with “twirlability”–a very important dressing term I coined in my toddler years. I put on her first selection (an Amsale dress I had pined over–and pinned!) and instantly knew it was the one. I was hesitant to say “Let’s pop the champagne!” after only one gown, so I asked to try on everything I said I did not envision: fitted skirts, strapless, lace, beading… just to make sure that I was positive. Finally, I put on the first gown with a double horsehair-trimmed veil and triumphantly announced that we were done! The stars truly aligned when we found out the name of the dress: “Newport”–the name of my mother’s hometown in Rhode Island, where my parents were married almost 30 years ago. The whole experience felt surreal!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes! While Andrew was a little hesitant in the beginning, we eventually decided it was the best way to try to prolong a day that everyone had told us would end in a flash. We are forever grateful we made this decision. We were able to savor the day together, and the photos are just divine. One of our favorite memories of the day was when Alex’s father accidentally crashed our first look. We forgave him since he was looking so dashing in his uniform!

We said traditional Catholic vows used during the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It was such a powerful moment to repeat the words that entered us into the same covenant as so many couples before us. During our vows, we experienced what a sacrament truly is–a physical sign of God’s grace. It was the most impactful feeling we have ever experienced.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Choosing one favorite detail is simply too hard! All of the details that reflected us as a couple were our favorites because our guests saw our personalities throughout the day. Andrew wanted me to point out the “snack tables,” meaning the oyster bar, antipasti bar, Meche’s donut display, and the Maryland favor table of Berger cookies, Fischer’s Popcorn, and Utz Crab Chips. We loved watching our guests enjoy all of our favorite treats!

During our first meeting with our florist, Mia from Root Floral Design, we told her we wanted an effortless garden look without too much symmetry. She used a neutral color palette of garden roses, jasmine, anemones, scabiosa, ranunculus, lisianthus, and astilbe to bring the vision to life. My mother and I used our silver collections for all the flowers (an idea that came from SW’s own Emily Thomas’ wedding!). The entire wedding’s inspiration started with an image I found of a boxwood garland draping a cocktail bar. Mia recreated the bar swag, miniature boxwood wreaths were used at the church as pew markers, and large wreaths were placed on the historic home’s doors. The boxwood garland now sits on our fireplace mantel, and we have a wreath hung in our home as well.

“Southern” in our eyes is a mindset that embodies hospitality, love, and celebration. I did not grow up surrounded by magnolias or eating grits, but I’ve always identified with Southern values and charm. The entire day was designed to feel like the perfect Southern fête, honoring us, family, and the friends that feel like family. A large clear-top tent with bistro lighting was pitched in front of one of A. Hays Town’s historic, Southern homes (the architect is one of the area’s most famous). Bridesmaids received well wishes through cake pulls. A soul band with an excellent horn section resulted in a packed dance floor the entire evening.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? At one point, Andrew led me off the dance floor to the lawn space in front of our tent, and we stood hand in hand, watching our reception. He said, “You’re my wife! This is our wedding!” The twinkling bistro lights, clinking of glasses, laughter of family, and seeing dance moves galore is a sight we will never forget.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Alex: I moved a lot as a military child, but our adventure to the Gulf Coast would eventually lead me to Andrew. After moving back to Annapolis, Maryland, I knew I would return to Louisiana for college. I received my LSU acceptance letter not only on my birthday, but also on the night that the Tigers won the 2007 National Championship. It was fate! From Andrew: I was born and raised in South Louisiana, but I grew up in a wonderful combination of Polish (my mother is a Polish immigrant), German, and Cajun cultures. This diverse (and entertaining) upbringing is probably the reason I was rather accepting of Alex’s northeastern roots when we first met. We formally met when a group of fraternity and sorority presidents came together to design and facilitate leadership development programming for the Greek community. We became fast friends–the type of friends that suddenly shared everything with each other very easily. We laugh now because this was in large part due to us thinking we would NEVER become more than friends. Within months, that friendship took us both by surprise and evolved into a great love of true understanding, compassion, and FUN.
Tell us all about the proposal! I am very much hoping that my little sister will follow in my footsteps and attend LSU, so a college visit was planned for the whole family during Homecoming Weekend. Andrew thought that weekend was the perfect time to propose, but if we’re being honest, so did I! I was slightly perturbed when I arrived at Andrew’s house to discover he was not yet ready to leave for the trip, making us late for our dinner reservations with my family. After storming up the stairs, I found Andrew standing in his living room holding a very small box. After tears and laughter and the slowest proposal ever (I made him pause and repeat everything so I wouldn’t forget any of his words), we heard knocking on the door. It was our dearest friends, who sent us off to Baton Rouge with cupcakes and wedding magazines! Those few hours were so special. We took time to soak in the moment and call some of our loved ones. We were supposed to pick up my best friend in Lafayette on the way, and when we exited, Andrew took the scenic route and drove by the historic home (now a museum) that I had always said would be the perfect wedding reception site. He wanted to get out of the car so we could have a moment, and when we walked up to the museum, he handed me an envelope with the date “October 17, 2014″ inside. He had already secured the museum and the church! When I turned around, both of our immediate families were there. I was told that we were not actually going to Baton Rouge that night, but would be having dinner with our families in Lafayette instead. When we walked into Andrew’s family’s house, a beautiful engagement party was in full swing!
When did y’all get married? October 17, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was learning to understand and compromise on our own list of wedding “normalcies.” With a born and raised Southern gent and a military child raised on the East Coast planning a wedding, we quickly realized we had grown up with different experiences regarding everything from the size of the guest list to the reception dinner service. We exercised more patience, listened more intently, and sought clearer understanding. In the end, compromises were made, and new traditions were embraced.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Our biggest cost savings was having the talented people in our lives share their talents with us rather than ordering items from a rental company or the endless possibilities of Etsy. All of our table runners were sewn by a family friend, others were always on the lookout for extra pieces of silver to use, and our signage was crafted by one of our supper club ladies. This made the day increasingly more special.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our remarkable photographer, Kelly! I looked at Southern Weddings’ Blue Ribbon Vendors in Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama for options that were still relatively close. Within seconds of being on the Spindle Photography website, we knew the creative genius behind these photographs was it. I am also grateful for finding someone who loves dresses that twirl as much as I do.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? This was a big year for us! After getting engaged, I finished graduate school and started work, Andrew began a new work assignment that takes him away from home half of each month, we built a house, and we got married! We are now welcoming the holiday season with rest and enjoying waking up on Saturday mornings with nowhere to be. I also hope we will have a dog by the time you read our story!

Photographer: Spindle Photography / Planner: Southern Fete / Ceremony Venue: St. Genevieve Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum / Florist: Root Floral Design / Cake Baker: Crystal Weddings / Catering: Sam Trahan / Rentals and Lighting: Event Rental, Lafayette / Band: Phat Hat / Chalkboard Signage: Amber Hicks / Donut Table Signage: Anna Broussard / Paper Products: Val Marie Paper / Bride’s Gown: “Newport” by Amsale / Bridal Salon and Veil: Mia Bridal Couture / Bouquet Ribbon: Hyman Hendler & Sons / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Heather Veillon of Bleu Coiffure / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “G837U” in black by Amsale / Menswear: Mary Ellen’s Tux Shop / Bow Ties and Cummerbund: High Cotton Ties / Cups, Koozies, and Coffee Cups: Inkling Design Studio / Calligrapher: Patricia Leith

lisa Written with love by Lisa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Robyn Van Dyke reply

    LOVE this wedding! Especially all the striped accents, and polka-dotted bow tie and cummerbund!!! :D

  2. avatar Kelly Cummings (Spindle Photography) reply

    Thank you so much for sharing Alex and Andrew’s gorgeous wedding! Since Alex found me through Southern Weddings I am thrilled to see their beautiful love story shared here! Hooray for kindred spirits!

  3. avatar lena reply

    L O V E this gorgeous celebration!

  4. avatar Amy reply

    It’s an absolutely gorgeous wedding to behold!

  5. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    Such a beautiful wedding and a radiant bride! I especially love the striped ribbon bouquet wrap and the personal touches that were put on the foods served.

  6. avatar The Fabulous Five + A Secret – Spunky Sapphire Events reply

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  7. avatar Weekly Wedding Favorites No. 8 | Kyla Mary reply

    […] Signage by Anna Broussard captured by Spindle Photography via Southern Weddings […]

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I served as matron of honor in my sister-in-law’s wedding this weekend, and seeing Brianna and Neal’s sweet day brings me right back to Saturday. There is nothing quite like the community and love at a Southern wedding, and it’s evident in these lovely photos by Virgil Bunao that Brianna and Neal experienced that same glorious love on their big day that I witnessed this weekend! While we were not quite as lucky in the weather department, Brianna and Neal were able to celebrate under the stars sans tent, and feel completely at home while watching the sunset over the Wando River at RiverOaks. Along with the bagpiper procession (be sure to read about that below!), I bet this was a wedding guests won’t ever forget!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I searched through countless blogs and Pinterest posts looking for inspiration for a dress and found the “Madame Butterfly” dress by Claire Pettibone. I instantly knew it was my dress, but after doing some research, I found out that the dress was discontinued. After an unsuccessful attempt to shop for a more practical dress option at one of the local bridal stores with my stepmother, I just couldn’t see myself in any other dress but the Claire Pettibone I loved. Luckily, I found a bridal shop in London that had a sample, and we purchased it. Everyone was so nervous, but I just knew it was the one!

Describe your wedding flowers. We used ivy, maidenhair fern, white and pink English roses from the RiverOaks rose garden, light pink astilbe, black and white anemones, and coral and white peonies. The stems of my bouquet were wrapped in ribbon fastened with pins that signified my father’s rank in the Marine Corps during the year I was born. Having my father explain this to me instantly brought me to tears–the pins served as a symbol of how close we have become as a family over the years while overcoming challenges military families face.

My favorite detail was the bagpiper and the memory that created. While staying downtown with my family, I saw a wedding procession walk through the streets of Charleston from the church to the reception, led by a bagpiper. Remembering how excited I had been about that as a child, my parents surprised me with a bagpiper. The RiverOaks team coordinated the bagpiper to lead our wedding guests down the path that led to the ceremony seating area while I watched from an upstairs window. I don’t think there was a dry eye in that bridal suite!

For the most part, our vows were traditional, but we added a hand fasting ceremony and a ring blessing. The rings were fastened around ribbon and rope, and passed to our family and friends at the ceremony so that each person could impart their well wishes on our marriage. I still look at my ring from time to time and think of all our loved ones who held our rings and gave us their blessings at the ceremony.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? My dad is from Charleston, and we often visited the city to see extended family. When I was younger, we sometimes stayed in a condo on Church Street across from two churches. Almost every time we visited, we witnessed a wedding or two held at one of those churches, so I had always dreamed of having a wedding in Charleston. Wedding venues downtown are beautiful, but felt a little too formal for us. I wanted a more laid back, intimate feeling, like an outdoor oyster roast with close family and friends, and RiverOaks provided that feeling. The Spanish moss hanging from live oaks above us and a view of the sunset on the Wando River made us feel incredibly blessed and at home.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our food was hearty and Southern! Harvest Catering uses all local, seasonal ingredients and created an amazing, fresh menu for us, even though our choices were on the heavy side. We stuck with Charleston staples like shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and pimento cheese fritters with pepper jelly. We also had oysters Rockefeller, a dish Neal and I can’t ever resist ordering at a restaurant when it’s on the menu!

After our initial (four hour!) meeting with Marianne and the ladies at RiverOaks, we felt at ease and trusted their process. They showed us some of Virgil Bunao’s work from a wedding he photographed at RiverOaks, and I fell in love with it. We were so happy and grateful that he was available for our wedding day. The RiverOaks crew handled every stressful situation with grace, and added in some very meaningful surprises to the event. Since we didn’t have an engagement photo session (looking back now, I wish we had), I was nervous about being in front of the camera! Virgil did a great job of removing any nervous energy by cracking jokes and making us laugh throughout the day.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Neal and I met through mutual friends when I was in nursing school. My friend was dating one of his good friends, and they acted as matchmakers for us. After a few get-togethers with those mutual friends, Neal and I started dating.
Tell us all about the proposal! We went to visit some of my family in Charleston for a weekend in May. After a seven-hour drive from Virginia, I wanted to get dinner downtown with my brother and the rest of the family as soon as we arrived. Neal suggested we start heading toward the restaurant, so I texted everyone to invite them out, but everyone declined. Everyone knew Neal’s plan except me, and I remember being upset that no one wanted to join us! Neal and I had such a great time having dinner at a fun place off East Bay Street that I forgot about being upset. We walked across the street to Waterfront Park and stopped in front of the pineapple fountain. I was telling Neal about how I used to wade in the water when I was a little girl, and then I turned around to see him on one knee! It was great to be able to celebrate with family that weekend!
When did y’all get married? April 26, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 90
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided to do a first look to help calm our nerves that day. I didn’t want to be an emotional, crying mess the moment I saw him. The moment we first saw each other at the ceremony was just as meaningful as I had imagined, minus tears and mascara running down my face!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something old/borrowed was Marianne Caldwell’s beautiful veil that she wore on her own wedding day. My something blue was the sapphires (Neal’s birthstone) in my engagement ring. My something new was my gold Jack Rogers wedges.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? The RiverOaks crew did a great job shifting certain costs around to get the most bang for our buck. The arrangements on the tables saved on floral costs by having more ivy and greenery than flowers. They were absolutely stunning, and one of my favorite parts of the decor. Thanks to prayers from the RiverOaks staff and family, we were blessed with beautiful weather. That led to us saving money on having to rent a tent! We hired a DJ instead of our original wish to have a band play our reception music–we thought a band would encourage our guests to dance and have a good time, but our DJ had the same effect. Everyone had a great time dancing!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We moved into our new house, and we’re working on making it a home with our dog, Hobie. Having my best friend by my side for whatever happens in our future is a great feeling!

Photographer: Virgil Bunao / Planning, Venue, and Lighting: RiverOaks Charleston / Florist: Deborah Gibson Design / Cake Baker: Charleston Cakes Etc. / Catering: Harvest Catering / Rentals: Polished!, EventWorks, Sperry Tents / Ceremony Musician: Lee Barbour of Charleston Virtuosi / Bagpiper: Cathleen Nixon / DJ: Crescendo Entertainment / Paper Products: The Business Press / Calligraphy and Invitation Design: Lydia Robins Hendrix / Bride’s Gown: “Madame Butterfly” by Claire Pettibone / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Kelli Hoff of Elysium Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew / Bridesmaid Jewelry: Kate Spade / Menswear: Jos. A. Bank / Bar Service: Squeeze On Site / Custom Monogram: Allison R. Banks Designs

RiverOaks is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Such a beautiful wedding! Leave it to sweet Marianne to lend a bride her veil for something borrowed :)

  2. avatar Emily reply

    What a gorgeous beaded gown, Brianna! It looks like you had the most beautiful day!

  3. avatar wilkes barre limo reply

    very elegantly done! love the black and white checkerboard!

  4. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    The location is beautiful, I love that cute, cozy building! And, glad she stuck it out for the right dress, it is stunning on her!

  5. avatar Sandra | Simply Peachy reply

    This is absolutely beautiful. Such an elegant soiree and am loving those blooms. Anemones are by far my fave!

  6. avatar Marianne reply

    Marissa, thank you for the heartfelt compilation in words of Brianna and Neal’s day. Brianna, thank your sweet appreciation of our team Lauren Heuber , Deborah Gibson, Jennigray Hewitt, Sara Hicks and Simone Gebsattel. To all the other kind comments, thank you, as well .

  7. avatar Jehnel Oboza reply

    Great work again, Virgil! Brianna and Neal are a beautiful couple to just look at! All of the vendors did such an exceptional job.

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Remember this adorable engagement session? Y’all loved Sara and Austin, and their bright, preppy style, as much as we did, and we’re delighted to share their wedding today! With the help of Rhiannon of Hey Gorgeous Events, Sara and Austin planned a colorful celebration in the heart of Texas, complete with Kate Spade-inspired details, plenty of gorgeous blooms, sweet nods to their families and Southern roots, and a few cameo appearances by their lovable bulldog. It’s impossible not to smile looking at these photos by Love, The Nelsons, and be sure to read about the heart that was poured into every detail of this joyful day!

Describe your wedding flowers. Mind-blowing. Beyond my wildest dreams. I don’t even know where to start. Rhi took a video of my first look at my bouquet–I was just so giddy and excited, and the squealing sound I made was embarrassing. There were flowers everywhere at our wedding–dahlias and hydrangeas and various kinds of garden and sweetheart roses were used throughout the floral elements as base blooms. Ranunculus, anemones, stock blooms, and sweet pea were used to create lush texture. Boxwood greens, laurel-like garlands, and small amounts of green jasmine vine were used throughout the event to add a touch of kelly green to the color palette, while lending to an understated preppy look. There were also pops of succulents and the most amazing accents of vibrant, wine-colored leaves! Rhi seriously outdid herself!

My something borrowed was my grandma’s bible, which my dad and I held together as we walked down the aisle. All the women on my dad’s side of the family have carried it with their bouquets. My something blue was a small piece of satin that had “love and loyally” embroidered on it with blue thread, sewn into the hem of my dress. The saying is the closing salutation used in formal correspondence with other members of my sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. My something old was a diamond earring (just one, because I lost the other as a child) given to me by my mom, which was a gift from her parents when she was young. I had the single diamond reset into a tragus earring. My something new was my amazingly sparkly Kate Spade glitter shoes! The second I saw them, I knew I had to have them for my wedding!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did! We really wanted to have those traditional words in our ceremony, like “to have and to hold” and “for as long as you both shall live,” but we also wanted to add our personal vows, so our ceremony ended up being a hybrid of both. Exchanging our vows was very emotional–I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. I have to say, Austin totally knocked it out of the park! My favorite line from his was, “I promise to always bring you flowers when I am wrong and carry your shoes home when I am right.” It got a great reaction out of the crowd, because everyone knows I always end up complaining about my feet hurting due to my impractical choices of shoes.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. In March 2013, my mom and my sister came to help us pack and get ready to make our move from Florida to Texas, so we took advantage of the three of us being together and went to every bridal store in the Tampa Bay area. After trying on what felt like a million dresses, we were exhausted and I was discouraged. Wedding dress shopping took a backseat for about five months while we got settled in Texas. That September, my parents came for their first visit, and again, I had a jam-packed schedule of bridal appointments. From the beginning, I had said that I didn’t want strapless and I didn’t want mermaid. After yet another long day of trying on dresses, the sweet stylist at the boutique pulled a strapless mermaid and said, “Please just try it, you might be surprised.” Boy, was she right! I fell in love with the strapless mermaid sample that came as-is, needed to be altered into a sweetheart top, couldn’t be let out, and was totally outside what I ever imagined myself wearing on my wedding day.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our invitations were very traditional, with a twist. The front of the invitation was simple and understated, with traditional wording straight out of the Emily Post etiquette book, but the back had this beautiful floral pattern, designed by Lemon & Lavender, that was used throughout the wedding. Our food was very Southern–we served Texas BBQ, complete with beef brisket and sausage, mesquite-smoked chicken, macaroni and cheese, and jalapeño cornbread. People said it was the best wedding food they had ever had!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: So many details, so many favorites. The blush-colored sequin linens (Rhi was right, a tablecloth can make such a statement), the laser-cut cake topper, the boxwood Mr. & Mrs. chair swag, the programs that doubled as fans (because it was HOT and those came in handy for our guests), our hand-lettered chalkboard welcome sign, and clear plastic beer cups that incorporated our clever wedding hashtag: #mrmrslafinally (our last name is LaFaille, and after a four year, seven month, 30-day courtship, followed by a one year, nine month, 27-day engagement, we FINALLY got married!).

Our cake was so amazing! It was a three-tiered round cake with black and white stripes on the top two tiers and an all-white bottom tier. It was sitting on a base covered in beautiful bright green boxwood, had a small, perfectly-placed cluster of HGE blooms, and was topped with a gorgeous gold laser-cut cake topper that said “happily ever after.” We also had a groom’s cake in the shape of Howard’s Rock at Clemson University, Austin’s alma mater. The groom’s cake sat on a marble table that was adorned with all of Austin’s favorite things: hot tamales, cigars, golf balls/tees in big apothecary jars, an old gumball machine that was given to him by his late grandfather filled with peanut M&M’s (his grandpa’s favorite candy), a square gold vase that held the state flags of all the places Austin has lived, and even a ceramic figurine of an English bulldog.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in March 2008 while we were both vacationing in Negril, Jamaica. I was in my junior year of college and on a trip with two friends–girls only, relaxation required, and no drama allowed. Austin was on his high school senior trip with 15+ friends–last hurrah, no rules, and a whole lot of memories to make. It was hard not to notice them. We were officially introduced after running into each other on the beach. Our groups exchanged friendly conversations and hollow declarations of meeting up again. It wasn’t until a fortuitous encounter at the hotel bar that same evening that we started to recognize there was a magnetism that existed between us. We had our first kiss in a Jamaican discotheque, and thanks to the sheer scandal of this budding relationship, we have a picture of our first kiss. We spent the rest of the week getting to know each other and hoping it would never end. Once the trip was over, the reality of the situation set in. I lived in Colorado. Austin was in South Carolina. It all seemed crazy, but we knew we had a connection and we knew we wanted to make it work. So, a zillion dollars in plane tickets that first year while I was still in Colorado, a lot of miles on our cars once I moved to West Virginia, four years of college for Austin, three moves, and one ornery-but-lovable bulldog later, here we are–starting our lives in Texas. We couldn’t be happier or more excited to finally be husband and wife.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was the week of Thanksgiving 2012 and my parents and sister were visiting us in Florida. On Saturday morning, the only thing on the agenda for the day was decorating our Christmas tree, which I really wanted to do while my family was still there. Since decorating a tree and dropping people off at the airport hardly requires getting ready, I was going to go sans shower, which was met with extreme opposition by my sister and mother–so much so that they ended up convincing me that I smelled and I reluctantly heeded their demands that I get ready. Once everyone was showered and looking cute (unnecessarily, in my mind), we began to decorate our Christmas tree. True to form, The Colonel (my daddy) was filming the whole event on his iPad. We emptied four boxes of ornaments and topped it off with a giant gold glittery bow (obvi). My parents said, “Okay, now let’s light it up and get a picture of y’all in front of your first Christmas tree.” We turned the lights on as I hammed it up in front of the camera, and then Austin got down on one knee in front of everyone and said, “Sara Ashley Lucas, I love you more than anything in this world–will you marry me?”
When did y’all get married? September 20, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 90
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My Uncle Steve officiated the wedding; he also married my parents 35 years prior. That was really special to us. We took his standard ceremony and made a few tweaks here and there to put our own stamp on it. My mama loves 1 Corinthians 13, so we spilt that up between two of my sorority sisters and they each read a portion. It was really special to be able to involve them in such an intimate way!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. My daddy and I walked down the aisle to “Shape of Us” by Ian Britt. I did struggle a bit with whether or not I should use the original version with the words or find an instrumental version. I took my wedding planner’s advice to just do what felt right to me and not to worry about what people would think, so I ended up using the original. After all, it’s the words that made my first listen of the song so profound. A crowd favorite at our reception was “Country Roads” by John Denver. It was the last song of the night and such a perfect way to pay tribute to West Virginia. My parents both grew up there, we still have a lot of family there (many who were in attendance), and I even lived there for three years right after college. A part of my heart will always be in the “Wild and Wonderful” state of West Virginia!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We loved the concept of juxtaposition; the idea of our guests eating good ol’ Southern BBQ off of gold-rimmed china with gold flatware was so perfect! The whole BBQ notion lent itself seamlessly to a buffet rather than a plated dinner, which is inherently less expensive. I mean, let’s be honest, everyone wants to serve up their own helping of macaroni and cheese!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Hire a wedding planner–not just any wedding planner, but one that shares your aesthetic and style, one that understands your vision, and one that you can be honest with. Hands down, the best investment. I would have lost my mind without Rhi! And make sure you “click” with your photographer. Feeling comfortable in front of Shalyn and Drew was really important to us!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We have planned so much of everything up to this point, so we are really just looking forward to living and not planning! We are excited to continue to grow as individuals and as a couple. And eventually, grow our family! But for now, Austin, Rumpelstiltskin, and I are looking forward to a long weekend cuddling on the couch!

Photographer: Love, The Nelsons / Planner and Florals: Hey Gorgeous Events / Venue: Vista West Ranch / Wedding Cake: Classic Cakes by Lori / Caterer: PoK-e-Jo’s / Rentals: Premiere Events, Loot Vintage Rentals, Whim Event Rentals / DJ: Complete / Paper Products: Lemon + Lavender / Calligraphy: Laura Hooper Calligraphy / Bride’s Gown: “Sorento” by Ines Di Santo / Bride’s Veil: Sara Gabriel / Bride’s Sash: Venust Bridal Design / Bride’s Bracelet and Shoes: Kate Spade / Bride’s Garter: Fallen Star Couture / Bride’s Earrings: Nicole Miller via Rent the Runway / Hair Stylist: Mindy Fuller / Makeup Artist: Makenzi Laine / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: LulaKate / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Bridesmaids’ Monogrammed Chambray Shirts: Crystal Faye / Monogrammed Bouquet Ribbons: Oatmeal Lace / Flower Girl’s Tutu: Tutu Girl / Dog’s Bow Tie: Mia’s Closet

Vista West Ranch is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
17 Comments
  1. avatar Zookbinders reply

    What a gorgeous bride, love the earrings. The wedding cake is also beautiful! Love the stripes and the Happily Ever After on top.

  2. avatar Bradley James reply

    This is incredibly stunning! Love everything about this wedding, impeccable job Rhi and Shalyn.

  3. avatar Julie reply

    That place setting is gorgeous!

  4. avatar Shalyn Awesomesauce Nelson reply

    YOU GUYS ARE MY FAVORITE MUFFINS IN THE WORLD! Thank y’all for the beautiful feature! Truly wish y’all lived close so I could hug all of your necks! <3

  5. avatar MaryIsabel reply

    Love the Ines Di Santo dress!

  6. avatar Dana reply

    love her shoes, the pink suspenders, the flowers, and the ceremony arch!

  7. avatar Amy reply

    Just lover-er-ly all the way around! Best wishes to the bride and groom

  8. avatar Amy reply

    Love the pink, suspenders, dresses, and the bride, how gorgeous and the smiles, best part!

  9. avatar The Fabulous Five – Spunky Sapphire Events reply

    […] Spade-inspired wedding designed by the always fabulous Rhi from Hey Gorgeous Events and featured on Southern Weddings.  That sentence is just a plethora of incredible people with missions that mean so […]

  10. avatar jacin reply

    that arch is insane! so gorgeous.

  11. avatar Jadzia reply

    The flowers!!!!!!! Truly spectacular!!

  12. avatar Liz reply

    This was such a beautiful wedding! Amazing job Shay and Rhi!!

  13. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    The floral arrangement on the arch at the reception is stunning. There are so many details to love at this wedding: the bulldog with the bowtie, the circle twine lights at the reception, the hot pink suspenders, and her shoes to name a few!

  14. avatar Southern Weddings Magazine – A great resource for planning your wedding | Eloquent Event reply

    […] Click here to read the full post. […]

  15. avatar Friday Five – Fabulous Floral Altars – You Mean The World To Me : You Mean The World To Me reply

    […] Image: Love, The Nelsons via Southern Weddings […]

  16. avatar Hey Gorgeous, The Blog – Sara + Austin {HGE Wedding with Love, The Nelsons} reply

    […] The beautiful photographs were taken by our dear friends Shay and Drew of Love, The Nelsons. Simply put; they are one of a kind. Enjoy some of my absolute favorites from this special celebration! Oh! And you may have caught this wedding over on Southern Weddings where it was featured in November. It was very exciting to see such this wedding grace the pages of a publication both the bride and I so admire. Check it out here. […]

  17. avatar Arche fleurie – Floral arch | Happy Chantilly reply

    […] Photo : Love, The Nelsons Flowers:  Hey Gorgeous Events via Southern weddings […]

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