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Today’s bride Debby is a wedding photographer herself, so planning her wedding to Richard was a joy… and a challenge! She said, “Being a wedding photographer, I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t. And while she had joked that she did wanted a courthouse wedding, her sweet husband-to-be knew she actually wanted a full celebration. So in front of 40 of their closest family and friends, these two said “I do” in their favorite oak tree-filled park in Richard (and mine, by the way!) hometown of Mobile! Y’all know I’m always partial to weddings in Mobile, but Debby and Richard’s does not even need my favoritism, its sweetness speaks for itself.

And while they opted out of that courthouse wedding, be sure to keep reading because Richard gave Debby a courthouse proposal instead!

Thanks to Elizabeth Gelineau for sharing!

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? One was my rings. Richard purchased the center oval stone for my engagement ring then paired it with diamonds that my dad gave my mom and some of my grandmother’s, as well. I love having a unique and timeless piece of jewelry that includes generations of love stories. I also loved my bouquet. I’ve made florals for all my best friends’ weddings, but knew when it came down to my day I needed to trust someone else. My bouquet was also wrapped in my dad’s shirt — although he couldn’t be there to walk me down the aisle, he was holding my hand every step of the way.

Did you decide to do a first look? YES! I am a wedding photographer, so this was a no brainer for me. Not only did I want more portrait time with my groom, but I also wanted to enjoy the day with him versus apart. I also had a first look with my bridesmaids, because I kept my dress a secret from them for months. And it was totally worth it. I mean, my matron of honor was completely in the air! And my first look with my stepdad was special. He’s been with me since I was 12, so I am his little girl, too.

What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? All morning I waited anxiously until it was time to see my groom. Our first look took place on the porch of our venue. In the moment before he turned around, I just couldn’t help but cry at the fulfillment of a promise. God knows our every need and when we need them. Richard before me was that fulfillment: my husband, the one I would spend forever with.

What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? Richard and I exchanged our own vows during our first look. In my vows, I wrote, “You are the strongest yet gentlest man I know. Your kind eyes reassure my soul that I am home…. May the dessert and road trips to new places never cease. I look forward to raising all the pups and maybe a couple of adorable kids together, too. And I hope that fifty years from now this smile you’ve given me remains and laughter fills our home.” He wrote, “I can, in fact, say I have found my person. The person who loves me for the nerdy, perfectionist, goofy, brunch-loving, night owl that I am…. The person who’s smiles after a kiss makes me melt EVERY SINGLE TIME.” We also kept our ceremony small and intimate. Our parents, siblings, and bridal party were the only ones in attendance. My brother walked me down the aisle, and I was given away by my mom, stepdad, and brother.

What was Southern about your wedding? We buried bourbon at our ceremony site because we certainly didn’t need it to rain — and it didn’t! We had brunch food at our wedding (hello, biscuit bar!) because our first date was brunch in downtown Mobile, and our late-night pass was milk and Chick-fil-a cookies. Finally, my girls prayed over me before the ceremony. For so many years we’ve prayed over each other and the men that we’d marry, so to have that moment of promise fulfilled was overwhelming and so special.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Washington Square Park is my favorite park in Mobile, where Richard grew up and I came here for college and never left. The oak trees that scatter the park are so dreamy, and it’s nestled in the Oakleigh District, which is a beautiful area of the city.

What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? I often joke that the main reason I photograph weddings is for the cake! So when it came time for my own, I knew I wanted Cakes by Judi, who is the best! We chose three different flavors, because why not?! White almond with raspberry filling, chocolate, and strawberry, all with cream cheese icing.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to Kari Jobe’s “My Beloved.” We recessed from the ceremony to John Mayer’s “Wildfire” because Richard said it reminded him of our summertime romance from last year :) Our first dance was to Arctic Monkey’s “Baby, I’m Yours,” a fun, sweet song. Richard danced with his mom to “Bridge over Troubled Water,” one of his mom’s favorites.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. Completely unexpected, yet our greatest adventure thus far.
Tell us all about the proposal! I always joked that I wanted to have a courthouse wedding, but Richard knew that deep down I would want a full celebration. So he gave me a courthouse proposal! We were on a walk around the square in Opelika, Alabama, when he said he had something to show me. He had prepared a small journal of blessings for me to read from my parents and brother and even my pup along with his handwritten proposal. At first I said, “Are you serious??? Is this really happening?!” Followed by, “Yes! Of course!” He had designed the most gorgeous ring with the help of Lou’s Jewelry in Mobile, Alabama. My photographer friend, Anna Robbins, was there to capture the whole scene. AND then our parents arrived to surprise me! Goodness, I cried.
When did y’all get married? April 28th, 2018
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 40 of our closest family and friends attended our ceremony, and then 150 joined us for our reception
Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. POCKETS for handkerchiefs! My husband is a paraplegic, so I knew that I would need to be able to sit down and move around easily in my dress, but also be able to dance in it, too!
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? My favorite challenge was making it my own day, not something seen on Pinterest. Being a wedding photographer, I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t.
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? We opted for a DJ versus a band, and allowed our bridal party to purchase their own dresses from different stores.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Keep a short engagement. Make it your own day, not what everyone else wants. If you want a small ceremony, have a small ceremony. If you want a big party, have a big party. Find someone you trust to take care of the details so that you and your mom especially can enjoy the day — after all, she’s waited for this day probably longer than you have! And set aside a day the week of the wedding for just the two of you, because when your friends start to arrive, you’ll get busy and not be able to focus on that relationship as much.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? My dad passed away eight years ago, and I wanted to be intentional about including him in my wedding day. I had my brother and stepdad wear two of my dad’s ties. I also used one of my dad’s shirts for the ring bearer pillows and to wrap my bouquet in. (We displayed family photos, including a picture of my dad in the shirt I used for my bouquet, in a hutch at our reception to help guests make that connection.) We also had a special dance at the reception where I invited all dads and their daughters to the dance floor to dance to the Temptations’ “My Girl.”

Photographer: Elizabeth Gelineau | Videographer: Lifehouse Films | Planner: Heather Pfefferkorn with Classic Events | Ceremony Venue: Washington Square Park | Reception Venue: The Pillars | Florist: Sarah Beth’s Florist | Wedding Cakes: Cakes by Judi | Caterer: Chef Rob | Rentals: SOHO | DJ: DJs by the Bay | Bride’s gown and accessories: Bella’s Bridal & Formal | Hair stylist: Mallory Gleason with Root 43 Salon | Makeup artist: Courtney Matthews | Bride’s shoes: Kate Spade Keds | Bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen attire: Purchased individually | Groom’s attire: Samuelsohn from Oak Hall | Rings: Lou’s Jewelry | Invitations: Minted | Koozies: SipHip Hooray | Watercolor of bride and father dancing: Melissa Munger

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Debby reply

    Ah! Thank you so much for sharing our love story. Our wedding day was the best day ever! Hope this inspires many more Southern brides as they plan their big day.

  2. avatar Tessa Berg reply

    I love an intimate, elegant ceremony. What a beautiful celebration!

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Bride Kirsti shares her classic Savannah wedding!

Y’all are going to love today’s bride, Kirsti! Not only was she one of our own Southern Bride Bloggers, but her Georgia wedding to Brett is pure classic, Southern goodness — starting with her attire. From her Southern bump right down to her monogram Jacks, Kirsti’s wedding day style is quickly climbing the ranks to one of my favorite looks. Of course, her style isn’t the only thing that would make any fellow Southern gal proud: the way she and Brett honored her late father and loved on their guests is what’s most notable from their celebration. As Kirsti said, “The biggest Southern aspect was showing our guests true Southern hospitality and gratitude in return for traveling to celebrate with us.“ Yes, ma’am!

Keep reading to learn more ways Kirsti and Brett shared the South with their guests! And see if you can spot a little Southern Weddings love incorporated into their big day!

Thanks for sharing, Holly Felts!

Tell us your love story in one sentence. Best friends turned into the relationship neither of you knew you needed, turned into the sweetest marriage you could ask for!
Tell us all about the proposal! When my dear friend and photographer, Mallory, asked if I wanted to meet at a local vineyard to discuss styling a photoshoot with her, I jumped at the idea! She and I had met for coffee to talk about work, weddings, and photoshoots before, and so I had no idea that she had this plan up her sleeve. We arrived at the vineyard and I was immediately drawn to a charming old cabin looking across a large pond. I said, “Mallory, Bret would LOVE this, let me take a picture!” As soon as I started to take photos, I heard the door open and got nervous that we were disturbing someone. To my absolute surprise, my soon-to-be finance walked out the door, got down on one knee, and before we knew it – our lives were forever changed! Not only was Bret’s proposal the sweetest gift I could ever ask for, he had arranged for Mallory to document the whole thing so we could relive that moment forever!

I was of course certain to include something old, new, borrowed, and blue with my late Nanny’s pearl earrings, Jack Rogers with my new monogram, a pearl hairpin from a cousin, and a heart cut out of my dad’s overalls.

Our favorite Southern tradition (especially because it worked!) was burying the bourbon! We had to get creative on how and where to bury it, as we were saying “I do” 1,000 miles from home in a public space, so we chose to bury it in a decorative flower pot and drive it to Georgia!

Being two Southern soul food lovers, we couldn’t think of anything better to serve at the reception than fried chicken, smothered pork chops, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and all the fixins – and don’t forget the sweetest tea we could get our hands on!

The biggest Southern aspect was showing our guests true Southern hospitality and gratitude in return for traveling to celebrate with us. Being a destination wedding, our guest list was smaller, and that allowed us to serve our guests and allow them to feel as though we were simply having them over for a dinner party at our home!

Did you decide to do a first look? We did choose to do a first look so that we could spend more time with our guests after the ceremony. With it being a destination wedding, we wanted to celebrate with our friends and family that traveled from Oklahoma and many other states to be with us! Bret chose the location of our first look, Wormhole Historic Site, and I think it was the perfect spot to share that special moment. I was worried that other visitors would take away from the moment, but we were blissfully unaware that there was anyone else there at all!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? After months of planning a large soiree close to home, we felt like we wanted to really focus on what mattered most and say “I do” in one of our favorite vacation spots with our closest friends and family and began planning anew in Savannah! We wanted our friends and family to really get a feel for the city, so we chose a charming square downtown for our ceremony and a historic mansion to celebrate afterwards.

What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? My dad passed away in 2014, so we wanted to find special ways to honor him during our ceremony. I asked his best friend to walk me down the aisle, and then my brother to officially give me away. We then asked guests to share a moment of silence with us and to read a special prayer I had printed on the back of our programs, remembering all our friends and family who were unable to celebrate with us that day. My best friend and maid of honor’s dad officiated our ceremony, so it was very special to have him share memories from my childhood. We also selected our vows from the suggestions in our Joyful Wedding Planner and wrote them to each other in keepsake booklets to read to each other each year on our anniversary!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. This was one of the more challenging wedding planning tasks! We finally selected a violin cover of “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran for my walk down the aisle — the lyrics described our feelings on our wedding day. For the recessional, we chose a classic: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” because it is such a happy, celebratory song! I also surprised Bret at the end of the reception by playing his favorite song by our favorite local band, Turnpike Troubadours, to bring a little piece of Oklahoma to Georgia with us!

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? The stationery was probably my favorite part overall, because I have always had a soft spot for paper goods, and this was a way for me to get creative and customize the overall feel for our wedding. I always say that the invitation suite is the first glimpse your guests will get of your wedding theme, so I was tickled pink to bring out all of the blue and white and even added a touch of magnolia! My favorite detail from our invitation suite was the line from the song “Georgia on My Mind” that we had printed on the back of each envelope to get guests excited about being in Savannah! Our full paper suite also gave us a chance to say all of the things we wanted to say but wouldn’t have had time, such as asking our guests to enjoy an unplugged ceremony, sharing the history of Brockington Hall, placing a note of gratitude at each place setting and, of course, honoring my dad.

What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? We chose to do a small cake so that we could also serve some of our Southern favorites! Bret’s parents graciously let us borrow their cake topper from their wedding 36 years ago, and now we look forward to passing it on to our kids. Alongside our cake, we served banana pudding and peach cobbler from Paula Deen!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We were very mindful to remember that no matter the amount we spent on the wedding, at the end of the day, we would still be husband and wife, and we did our best to not let expenses get out of hand. At the beginning, we chose a few items that meant the most to us to splurge on, and the rest followed as it could fit within our budget. We were able to save money by purchasing the alcohol in bulk ourselves, and I also designed all of our paper materials myself.

When did y’all get married? May 6, 2018
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 54
Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. I spotted my dress in a Southern Wedding blog post in 2015 and knew that I had never seen a more beautiful dress in my whole life! When our engagement came in 2017, I began the search for the “Paz” gown by Augusta Jones, but struggled to find a store near me that carried it. Thankfully, I found a boutique that had ONE of the gowns left – it was off the rack and was in need of a little TLC, but I had to have it! I took my momma and mother-in-law with me shopping, and the look on their faces said they agreed.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? Preparing for our marriage with our officiant during premarital counseling was very special to us, because although we had dated for four years, we both grew even closer during that time. Throughout the planning process, we were very intentional about our time since Bret was in his third year of optometry school. We would make little dates out of planning, and set aside a block of time to spend time with each other and work to plan a meaningful wedding celebration with our friends and family.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? Bret’s favorite moment was the first look, because he said it was special to be in a more relaxed and quiet atmosphere to soak in the moment of seeing me in my dress for the first time. I personally loved the feeling of walking down the aisle to him, because it was so calming to know that all of our planning was over, and this was the moment that we had been waiting our whole lives for.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? I would remind readers to enjoy and savor this new season in life because it goes by oh so fast! Being engaged is full of excitement, congratulations, parties, gifts, new experiences, planning, dress shopping, and picking out rings – all things that you haven’t done before and will only do once! I would also always remind newly engaged couples to really focus on planning for your marriage while planning your wedding. I have the best memories of our one-on-one conversations with our officiant, hearing words of wisdom from friends and family (and some strangers!) who have been married for 20, 30, and even 50+ years, and having friends help guide us along the way and pray for our marriage before it began.

Photographer: Holly Felts Photography | Planner: Emily DeLoach with Sincerely Yours Events | Ceremony Venue: Chatham Square in Savannah, GA | Reception Venue: Brockington Hall | Florist: Kato Floral Designs | Wedding cake: Publix | Caterer and dessert baker: The Lady & Sons | Rentals: EventWorks Rentals | DJ: All About You Entertainment | Paper products: designed by the bride | Bride’s gown: “Paz” by Augusta Jones | Bride’s shoes: Jack Rogers | Bridesmaid dresses: UWDress.com | Menswear: JC Penney | Trolley: Old Savannah Tours

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Janna Toruno reply

    I love that they buried the bourbon in a flower pot! My fiance and I have already planned to go to our venue 2 hours away a month before the wedding for our last engaged couple day date before our October wedding so we can bury the bourbon! :)

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Bride Tori’s joyful wedding at The Biltmore Estate.

Please meet today’s bride, Tori! Of course, I think that all our bride’s look stunning on their wedding day’s, but it’s hard not to smile while looking at nearly all these photos of Tori – that bed jumping photo is exactly how I hope every single one of our brides feels when marrying her groom! According to Tori, she and her beau Matthew are just “Two goofy people who happened to meet at the perfect time.” While Tori might say “goofy,” I’d say joy-filled! Based on the above comment, I’m a tad surprised by her favorite part of their wedding. Tori said, “The ceremony was our favorite part! I honestly didn’t realize how much fun it would be to get married.” Well, now I see why! That might be one of my favorite reason’s to date. You absolutely want to keep scrolling for more of Tori and Matthew’s Biltmore wedding!

Big SW hugs to Natalie Watson for these sweet photos!

Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. I went with my mom to every shop, and she was always the perfect person to bounce ideas off of. I wanted it to twirl, and I did NOT want strapless. Low and behold, my mom and I fell in love with a twirly strapless gown that we both knew was perfect!

Did you decide to do a first look? We did do a first look, and we’re both SO glad that we did! There were no distractions — we just enjoyed the moment. Another bonus is that at the reception we didn’t have to take time to leave and take photos. We could enjoy our time with each other and with our families.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? One requirement of the wedding was that it be outside. I was raised in north Georgia, so mountains were the backdrop to my life. The Biltmore had the incredible view that I always wanted and amazing service to go along with it.

What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? The ceremony was our favorite part! I honestly didn’t realize how much fun it would be to get married. We exchanged traditional vows, and we also each wrote a letter to each other. They are now hanging on our walls at home.

What was Southern about your wedding? Ha! Everyone and everything. I’m from Georgia; Matt is from Florida; we fell in love in North Carolina. We got married in the mountains. We ate pecan pie to celebrate. We had bourbon in our glasses to toast. We ate s’mores, danced to “Wagon Wheel,” and prayed that we would get through whatever life threw at us.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. A quartet played instrumental music as we entered and exited the ceremony. The parents and grandparents walked in to “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and the bridal party walked in to “I Want you Back” by Jackson 5 (so much fun watching them dance in!). I walked in to “How Long Will I Love You” by Jon Boden, which was also our first dance song! And we all exited to ‘Shut Up and Dance’ by Walk the Moon. Matthew and his mother danced to “Boys of Fall” by Kenny Chesney, a throwback to when Matt was a football star in high school. My dad and I danced to “Georgia on my Mind” by Ray Charles, a perfect trace back to my roots.

What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? We had pie! This was my second requirement of the big day. I like cake, but I LOVE pie. We had pecan, chocolate, and peach streusel (another homage to my Georgia roots!). We did have a small coconut cake to slice in to for a first bite, but the pies were where it was at!

Tell us your love story in one sentence. Two goofy people who happened to meet at the perfect time :)
Tell us all about the proposal! MATTHEW IS AMAZING! New Year’s is the one holiday that we always spend together. He told me he was going to fly in to Atlanta on December 31st and meet me downtown that evening. I spent the day shopping for a New Year’s dress with my sister and being surprised by my favorite cousin to get my nails done. Right when I thought it was time to go towards Atlanta, my sister and cousin started driving in the other direction. They handed me a laptop and headphones and told me to watch. All of my friends and family began to tell me how much they love me and how they have loved getting to know me and Matt separately and as a couple. When the video was over, we parked, and I was told to put on a blindfold, hold their hands, and follow them. When the blindfold came off, I saw a sidewalk lined with luminaries and flower petals. I followed them until I saw my goofy, tall, perfect boyfriend standing under twinkly lights with a goofy grin dancing to a song from our favorite movie, “About Time.” The rest was perfect, including a friend hiding in the bushes to take pictures and our families back home to celebrate with us.
When did y’all get married? September 3rd, 2017
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 120

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? We didn’t want a big fabricated event — we wanted an outdoorsy, charming, casual wedding, our favorite things with our favorite people. Asheville Event Co. made sure that the reception was exactly what we envisioned. They really listened to what defined us as a couple and celebrated it.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? We definitely had differing ideas, but they allowed Matt and me to come together and support each other. We learned what was important to each other, and we really advocated for one another.
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? There were a lot of moving parts! We had a fun gathering for our friends on Friday night, followed by a day at summer camp (the summer camp that Matt went to and worked at) on Saturday. Then we had our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner that night, and all Sunday was full of prepping. We were excited/nervous about everything that had to be done, but Missy (at AEC) made it really easy!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We didn’t focus on the embellishments too much, but instead focused our efforts on the entertainment and food. We found what was important to us and focused on that. The rest was an added plus, but not something that would make or break our day.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Be around people that bring you up! There will always be people that make the planning a little more stressful. Remember that this is a day for you to celebrate with your betrothed. Surround yourself with people that make it exciting and happy, and that will make it enjoyable.

Photographer: Natalie Watson | Videographer: Magic Hour Creative | Planner: Asheville Event Co. | Venue, caterer, lighting, and dessert baker: Diana at The Biltmore Estate | Florist: Blossoms at Biltmore Park | Rentals: The Biltmore and CER | Band: The Free | Paper products: The Happy Envelope | Bride’s gown: “Agatha 13704” in ivory by Watters Wtoo | Bridal salon, veil, earrings: The White Magnolia | Hair stylist: Love, Daisy | Makeup artist: Blush by Wendy Balance | Bride’s shoes: Steve Madden | Bridesmaid dresses: Watters 244 in Plum from Bella Bridesmaids | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse | Ceremony musicians: Ron Clearfield

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Kyla Shattuck reply

    I love their joy! I can completely relate to Tori’s sentiments about the ceremony, too! :)

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