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At Southern Weddings, we’re big believers in family dinners–cell phone-free quality time spent at the table with your significant other. One of the best tools to have in your arsenal in order to make that happen? An inventory of delicious, healthy meals that can be prepared quickly and easily after a busy day of work. That’s why we love Dana and John of Minimalist Baker, and their commitment to sharing recipes that consist of 10 ingredients or less, use only one bowl, or take under 30 minutes to prepare. Their blog is a fantastic resource for making those family dinners happen, and we’re so excited to introduce this Kansas City couple to y’all!

Thanks so much to Whitney Knutson for these sweet photos!

By day: I’m a recipe developer, professional food photographer, and content creator for Minimalist Baker. John is the designer, technical guru, and brand strategist for Minimalist Baker, among many other roles.

How they met: We became familiar with each other through a group of friends who were in the same college church group in Wichita, Kansas (where we grew up). We first met at a dance party a friend of ours hosted. John says we locked eyes on the dance floor, but it wasn’t until months later that I fell for him and we began dating.

Their wedding: Our wedding was on a chilly day in March 2010, and it was simple and elegant. Since we were only engaged for a few months, the planning process went rather quickly. Friends and family watched us exchange vows at our church, and a dessert reception nearby followed. We may be biased, but it was kind of perfect.

Meal planning: I do the meal planning! Every Saturday, I plot out the week ahead and make a grocery run on Monday for everything we need. The grocery store is my happy place.

The cooking: That’s me again! John isn’t big on cooking, but thankfully, I happen to love it.

Favorite meal-related memory: There are so many, but I’d have to say eating sushi together during our trip to Bali, Indonesia last summer. We’d had a long day of lounging on the beach, and we got all dressed up and went out for dinner. I remember our time being particularly sweet, and John making me laugh a lot (which he does frequently).

Top ten favorite recipes:

1. My Favorite Vegan Pizza: I make this simple, healthy pizza every Sunday. It’s our favorite standing meal tradition.

2. Crispy Baked Peanut Tofu Stir Fry: I make some version of this dish every week. I love how bold the flavors are, and how it yields crispy, perfect tofu every time, even without frying!

3. Creamy Vegan Garlic Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes: This pasta gets thrown into our meal rotation at least every other week. I’m a sucker for white sauces, and this one satisfies my cravings every time, no dairy required.

4. Vegan Chai Ice Cream: Hands down the best ice cream I’ve ever made! I’m smitten with how creamy and perfectly spicy and sweet it is.

5. One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread: This is the most tender, moist banana bread I’ve ever had, and I love that it’s gluten free! I whip up a batch any time I have overripe bananas.

6. 5 Ingredient Detox Smoothie: I make some version of this smoothie most mornings for breakfast. It’s a simple way to squeeze more greens into our diet, and the tart-sweet flavor and creamy texture are near perfect.

7. Baked Herb and Pistachio Falafel: I’m a sucker for Mediterranean food, and this dish by Sara of Sprouted Kitchen satisfies my falafel cravings every time.

8. Chickpea, Spring Onion, and Tuscan Kale Panzanella Salad: I could eat this salad by Laura of The First Mess every day for the rest of my life and be one happy woman. Every time spring rolls around, I find myself reaching for this recipe as often as I can.

9. Shawarma Nachos: This recipe from My Name is Yeh looks like absolute perfection. This is technically cheating because I haven’t made it yet, but it’s on my menu plan for this week! I mean, look at all those flavors and textures! Amazing.

10. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes: Hands down, my favorite pancakes of all time, and the recipe that started it all on Minimalist Baker. I whip them up whenever I’m craving pancakes (which is rather often). I love their moist, slightly dense texture and how they taste just like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, only healthier!

We’re so grateful to Dana and John for sharing their favorite meals with us! Be sure to follow along with them on their blog, Minimalist Baker, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

P.S. We’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Love this and love Dana to bits. These photos are so wonderful!

  2. avatar Mandy volpe reply

    Love this and totally agree that dinners around the table are important. I think I will try those oatmeal pancakes!

  3. avatar Kathy Mader reply

    What a fun article. Minimalist Baker is my favorite food blog. I thought you were going to show us some wedding pictures, though :)

  4. avatar Best of September | My Recipe Network reply

    […] did an interview with Southern Weddings about how we met, what our wedding was like, and what our 10 current favorite recipes are. Check […]

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College football kicked off two weeks ago, which means life for the Winchesters is upside down until December! It’s safe to say that we fully embrace the good ol’ Southern tradition of college football around our house. KPW works in college athletics (Go Hokies!) and our first public photo was taken at Kenan Stadium after a Carolina victory (Go Heels!). Given my love of college sports and my deep passion for marriage, my heart explodes into a million bits of happy when I see a nod to an alma mater during a wedding day. I love the idea of incorporating your heart (and allegiance) into your big day – we served our champagne toast in stadium cups during our reception, which our guests got to keep as a favor! Clearly, I couldn’t let Marissa and her beloved SEC Football have all the fun. Without further adieu, welcome to the ACC – Southern Weddings style!

Want more ACC inspiration? Be sure to check out last year’s post!

Julia Laible Photography, unknown, Emily Gilbert, 35 Atlanta Photography, Blue Mountain Photography. Thanks to the Clemson Girl blog for many of these photos!

Clemson University
Nickname: The Tigers
Mascot: The Tiger and the Tiger Cub
Colors: Clemson Orange and Regalia
Location: Clemson, South Carolina
Joined the ACC: Original member (1953)

Begrudgingly, let’s travel up I85 from Clemson to Durham:

Becci Ames, unknown

Duke University
Nickname: The Blue Devils
Mascot: The Blue Devil
Colors: Duke Blue and white
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Joined the ACC: Original member

Let’s head down South to FSU:

Red Fly Studio via Southern Weddings, Woodland Fields Photography, Red Fly Studio, Set Free Photography via Southern Weddings, Meg Baisden

Florida State University
Nickname: The Seminoles
Mascot: In addition to Osceola and Renegade (see below), Cimarron the horse
Colors: Garnet and gold
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Joined the ACC: 1991

Fun Fact: FSU lays claim to what might be the most dynamic tradition in college football (in fact, it’s almost too dynamic-sounding to be believable, but it is!) At every football game at Doak Campbell Stadium, a student portraying the famous Seminole Indian leader, Osceola, charges down the field riding an Appaloosa horse named Renegade and plants a flaming spear at midfield to begin every home game. Whoa! FSU graduate Bill Durham envisioned the idea of Osceola and Renegade while still a student and sought and obtained the approval of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Osceola’s regalia is designed by the tribe, and Durham and his family supply the beautiful Appaloosa horses who portray Renegade. Make sure you YouTube this one if you’re not familiar with it!

Up next: the Ramblin’ Wreck in the heart of Atlanta!

Flip Photography, Anna & Spencer, Anna & Spencer, Andrew Thomas Lee

Georgia Institute of Technology
Nickname: The Yellow Jackets
Mascot: Buzz the yellow jacket and the Ramblin’ Wreck
Colors: White and Old Gold
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Joined the ACC: 1979

Fun Fact: The Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech is the 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe that serves as the official mascot of the student body. The Wreck is present at all major sporting events and student body functions, and its most noticeable role is leading the football team into Bobby Dodd Stadium, a duty which the Wreck has performed since 1961. The Ramblin’ Wreck has been the target of several pranks perpetrated by rival schools — the University of Tennessee once provided the Wreck with an unsolicited new paint job, and the University of Georgia has stolen the Wreck on at least two occasions. The official Ramblin’ Wreck is considered the only “true” Wreck, and no backups or replacements exist.

A hearty Southern welcome to the ACC’s newest member, Louisville!

Conrhod Zonio Photography

University of Louisville
Nickname: The Cardinals
Mascot: Cardinal Bird
Colors: UofL Red and black
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Joined the ACC: 2014

Let’s head back to Florida – this time to sunny South Beach and “The U”!

The Majestic Vision, Ricky Stern via Floridian Weddings

University of Miami
Nickname: Hurricanes
Mascot: Sebastian the Ibis
Colors: Miami Green and Miami Orange
Location: Coral Gables, Florida
Joined the ACC: 2004

From sunny Florida, we head to Chapel Hill, a Southern slice of heaven, and home of my beloved Tar Heels:

Martha Manning, Renee Sprink, Renee Sprink, The Burks

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nickname: The Tar Heels
Mascot: Rameses, a live Dorset ram. A stuffed ram makes appearances as well :)
Colors: Carolina Blue and white
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Joined the ACC: Original member

Continuing east down I40 to NCSU.

Anna Paschal, Aaron & Jillian, Renee Sprink (x3), Nicole Faby

North Carolina State University
Nickname: The Wolfpack
Mascot: Mr. and Ms. Wuf, who are stuffed wolves, and Tuffy, a live Tamascan dog
Colors: Red and white
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Joined the ACC: Original member

Now it’s time to head to the mountains (and my current residence): Virginia Tech

Laura’s Focus

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Nickname: The Hokies
Mascot: The HokieBird, a turkey-like bird that grew out of the former Fighting Gobbler mascot
Colors: Chicago Maroon and burnt orange
Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
Joined the ACC: 2004

Continuing on our tour of Virginia, let’s travel to UVA:

Mykkah Photography

University of Virginia
Nickname: Cavaliers (also referred to as the Wahoos)
Mascot: Cavalier
Colors: Orange and blue
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Joined the ACC: Original Member

And our last stop: Wake Forest!

Ellis Photo Studio

Wake Forest University
Nickname: The Demon Deacons
Mascot: Demon Deacon
Colors: Old Gold and black
Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Joined the ACC: Original member

Tell me: Where does your alliance lie? Have you been to or will you be representing your alma mater at your wedding? AND – next week we’ll be doing our last Southern football schools round-up. Who should we be sure to include? I know there are some UT fans out there! :)

kristin Written with love by Kristin
6 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa E reply

    James Madison University! We had Duke Dog at our reception and a Wilson Hall groom’s cake! to show our alliance!

  2. avatar Bridget reply

    First of all, thank you for explaining what a Hokie is – I’ve been wondering forever! Love this whole feature…especially the tiny Ramses pin on the bridal bouquet.

  3. avatar maghon walker reply

    LOVE this post Kristin!! I will be borrowing so many ideas from the UNC Section in May! Go Heels!

  4. avatar Amy S. reply

    Sorry to point out the obvious, Kristin, but you spelled our “NCSU” wrong before our school shout-out! Small, forgivable error or thoughtful sabotage by an opposing Tar Hell fan? :)

  5. avatar Whitley reply

    Yay for ACC love! Go Hokies!

  6. avatar Elizabeth L. reply

    Love this post! Go Deacs!

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Whenever I hear that one of our Real Weddings took place at a historic plantation, I’m instantly excited to see it! Maybe it stems from my love for Gone with the Wind or the amazing antebellum homes of Mobile that I grew up visiting. Either way, they’re so Southern, and completely romantic! Page and Blake chose to tie the knot at the beautiful Pebble Hill Plantation, and just as I suspected, Pebble Hill was the perfect backdrop for their big day! I know Emily (who had a tented reception herself!) would be equally smitten with their classic white Sperry Tent and twinkle light combo!

We’re so happy Harwell Photography was on hand to capture this lovely day!

Describe your wedding flowers. I wanted something simple, elegant, and in all soft colors. We had a great florist who brought my vision to life. My bouquet was full of white and ivory peonies, seeded eucalyptus, and dusty miller.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I was lucky to have had a stress-free experience, and I tried on around ten dresses total. I knew that I wanted something strapless and lace, and once I found one that I loved, I didn’t hesitate to say yes to the dress!

We had a first look, and I am so glad we did. We wanted to have a special moment together, just the two of us. It was also less stressful getting a lot of pictures done beforehand, so we didn’t keep all our family and friends waiting!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We decided on traditional vows. We asked our former teacher and good friend to perform the ceremony, while one of Blake’s groomsmen led a prayer. Having a Christ-centered marriage is very important to us, so we had Ephesians 5:25 and Isaiah 61:3b read: “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” This verse went perfectly with our ceremony under the giant oak tree!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: One neat detail was the horse and carriage we had waiting at the end of the aisle to pick us up after the ceremony. Riding it gave us the chance to be alone together in the moments right after becoming husband and wife. We wanted to remind each other to enjoy every minute, knowing the night would go by fast! It was also our getaway “car,” which was so fun and unique. At the end of the night, we were able to ride around the property for a little bit, already reliving every minute of the day! It was magical.

Our food was very Southern, and it was a hit! We served watermelon salad with candied pecans, quail with tomato jam, fried green tomatoes, and pimento cheese sandwiches. We had several food tables that featured seafood, beef, poultry, and a cheese display with local honey and berries. Our caterers made each table look beautiful and put a lot of effort into making great-tasting food! Towards the end of the night, we surprised our guests with a snack of chicken and biscuits.

We are blessed with awesome family and friends. With our wedding being out of town for many of our guests, we were blown away by how many people traveled to the South to celebrate with us! Our band had us come to the stage to thank all of our guests for being there. I will never forget that moment, and I’m so glad I had the chance to slow down and take that in. It reminded us how much love and support we have from everyone.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I was a sophomore and he was a junior… yes, we are high school sweethearts! We were both trying out for the musical that year, and I am pretty sure I got butterflies the first time he talked to me. Later, he sent me a Facebook message asking for my number, and soon after that, we started dating.
Tell us all about the proposal! The proposal was very much a surprise! Blake took me back to the theater at our high school, which is where we met and our story began. I walked in and he was standing at the bottom of rose petal-lined steps, and the stage was decorated with pictures from our time together. We were so excited and filled with emotion! Both of our families were there to celebrate with us afterwards. I felt so special seeing all the thought, time, and love he put into making his proposal so memorable.
When did y’all get married? May 31, 2014
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Many of my family members are in Thomasville, and I’ve spent every Christmas there, so I knew it would be the perfect location to get married. We chose Pebble Hill Plantation. We held our ceremony under the oak tree, and it fit the vision I had pictured for our wedding day perfectly! We opted for a tent for the reception, which was just steps away from the ceremony site, and kept everyone cool.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Blake chose all of our songs, which I loved, because it was one less decision I had to make! He chose “Canon in D” for me to walk down the aisle to–we loved that it was traditional and beautiful. Our first dance was “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” by Elvis Presley. Blake is a big Elvis fan, and it was perfect!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed/old was my great-great-grandmother’s pin, which I attached to my bouquet. All of the women in my family had it with them on their wedding day, so it was pretty special. My something blue was my garter and my something new was my earrings.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Many of your family and friends will want to help with planning and day-of things, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. It will make your wedding day a lot less stressful if you don’t have to worry about last minute decisions or details. Don’t forget to take time on your wedding day to slow down and take in all the details that were your vision for so long. Most importantly, remember that the day is ultimately about the two of you becoming one, so don’t sweat the small stuff!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We just got a place together in Nashville and are in the process of making it our own. We are just excited to do everyday life together! It is so wonderful to have someone to go through life’s ups and downs with and to have a constant companion and supporter.

Photographer: Jeremy Harwell / Videographer: Shutter Life Productions / Planner: Tricia Willis Custom Event Planning / Ceremony and Reception Venue: Pebble Hill Plantation / Florist: Singletary’s Florist / Cake Baker: Savannah Moon Bakery / Caterer: Jeannie Bracy and John Thomas / Rentals: Sperry Tent / Band: The RiverTown Band / Linens: La Tavola / Bride’s Gown: “Alana” by Maggie Sottero / Bridal Salon: Formally Yours / Hair Accessories: BHLDN / Hair and Makeup: Dreamstate Salon / Bride’s Shoes: “Chrissy” by J.Renee / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “555″ by Bari Jay in Misty Blue /Menswear: Joseph A. Banks

Harwell Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Robyn Van Dyke reply

    LOVE their first look image!! What a gorgeous wedding!

  2. avatar Happy Weekend // Around The Web | Coastal Bride reply

    […] lovely Georgia wedding featuring a Sperry […]

  3. avatar Finley reply

    This is such a lovely and sweet style. Thanks for sharing!

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The gals and I joked that my Day in the Life post would just be a “Gone Fishin’” sign. While Emily and Lisa are busy as bees from June through August, my busiest time of year starts in August and runs through October. Right now, we’re waist-deep in layout for our next print edition, developing a bunch of exciting shop products, and have some pretty fun partnerships and projects happening at the same time.

Photo by Faith Teasley

8:53am I’m always the first in the office, which I love (it means I get first dibs on fridge space for my lunch bag and get to open the mail!). I go upstairs to our office bungalow and settle into my chair. My to-do list today is titled, “hustle,” which has become our unofficial motto for this time of the year.

8:58am I open up my internet browser and three tabs at once: my inbox, the Southern Weddings blog and the Southern Weddings Shop dashboard. I make sure everything on the blog is displaying correctly and then take a look at how many V7 preorders we’ve gotten overnight. Whew! It’s a lot!

9:00am The rest of the gals trickle into the office and Lisa and Emily are reliably in matching outfits. I get started with my emails. Marissa forwarded over a bunch of gorgeous V7 ads that need approval (done!) and some that need ads made. Like Emily, I also try to work on a one-touch email system, so I always download and copy over materials to a design document as soon as I read the email. Next in my line of emails come wireframe designs for an web project and a long message from one of our shop product manufacturers — our email chains are ridiculously long as we both try to get all of the specs and files perfect and print-ready.

I love my monogrammed chair! When we’re in the thick of layout, I like to make a cup of tea and sink into it with an orange blanket. There’s now a giant iMac on my desk, too, for laying out the magazine. Photos by Faith Teasley.

9:30am I make a list of all the decisions still waiting to be made in my inbox. Many of them require the input of the rest of the gals and I always wait to go over everything at once with them so I don’t keep them from their own tasks. As I wait for their time to free up, I get started with some product designing. A new line of 2015 items and holiday gifts are on our list to complete, so Morgan and I huddle for a few minutes to make sure we’re on the same page and to distribute the tasks.

10:00am Lara’s ready to go through proofs for new products and talk about our schedule for the day. Since so much of the design work is a combination of ideas and collaborations from the two of us, she’s often at my desk going over projects with me. I give her a quick update on all of our projects and then have her look over a mockup of designs that Morgan and I have been working on. I’m particularly nervous about these since they’ll be sent off to a partner we’re really excited to work with. Lara reassures me that we’re moving in the right direction. This is such a big relief for me and is just another reminder of how grateful I am to work with women whose opinions I trust and who are always supportive.

10:30am I get a call from our magazine printer who wants to make sure we place our order with them in time to acquire the paper needed for all tens of thousands of copies. Our circulation has increased this year, but we haven’t received a final order from retailers yet. I send out a slew of emails to make confirm our retailer orders and check in with competing bids.

A big part of my day is spent making new products for the Southern Weddings Shop and the Lara Casey Shop. We just finished a new design of PowerSheets and are working on something special for Southern Weddings that we’re almost ready to announce!

11:00am I see a bunch of DropBox folders and gallery links come into my inbox and they’re all full of gorgeous print images that we haven’t seen yet! I open them right away to give them some time to download. Then, I email the artists and calligraphers we’re working with for this issue. I’ve pulled some examples from our calligrapher’s website that I really love and send them to her to make sure we’re on the same page. We’ve got 17 real weddings in print this year, so I want to make sure she has enough time to hand-letter all of them and that the style matches our taste and direction.

11:15am We design a handful of ads for our print sponsors each year, so I get started on one for a bakery. (It’s not great timing — all of their dessert photos are making me hungry and it’s not even lunch time!) I’m quite familiar with this company, but I always take some time to reacquaint myself with their website and all of their social media accounts. In part, this is to make sure the ad we’re creating for them has the same voice and style as their web outlets, but I’m also looking for photos of their desserts and buffets that really stand out to me and that I think will make a great impression, in addition to the ones they sent over. I usually create three to five different versions of an ad for a sponsor to choose from. It’s always fun and insightful hearing which ones they like best and why!

12:00pm Emily sends over a bunch of V7 text pieces that she and Lisa have been working on. One of them needs a little experimentation with layout, so I quickly put the text on the page and style it to see how much room we have and what the possibilities could be.

A giant inspiration board above my desk helps me focus on things that make me happy when I need a break. Candy and tea are always within reach, too. Photos by Faith Teasley.

1:00pm I trade desks with Lara for the next hour or two so she can pick her favorites among the hundreds of images we just got in. We systematically label them in Adobe Bridge. When I start laying out those features, I can quickly look at and place only the images we think are best for print. Thank goodness for technology!

2:00pm I join Lara back at my desk so we can review the features that I’ve already laid out. I always design features and photographs so they’ll tell a story and show our readers place, context, detail and love story. However, getting Lara’s eye and opinion is so helpful in making the story even clearer, and bouncing ideas off each other always results in a better end-product.

3:30pm With the final layout of most of our features approved, I go back and make sure that all of the images are aligned correctly, that they all have the proper color-mode and that they’re all large enough to print at high quality. I record all of our final image choices and send those in to the respective photographers to see if they want to make any final edits, making sure to point out certain images that are running full page.

3:55pm I go back into our layout for Volume 7 and begin working on the features Lara have just chosen photos for. Some stories are told easily and come together intuitively. Some require a lot of experimentation. After playing around with many variations, I think I might have gotten one of our weddings to read just as elegantly as the images.

Lara and I trade notes on selects for the next issue. We get a ton of flash drives and DVDs of images that come with the prettiest packaging!

5:00pm Usually around 5, we’d all be wrapping up our projects for the day and heading home. Lately, everyone stays late to accommodate the workload. I take a break from layout so I don’t go cross-eyed staring at the same page. I move on and try to separate myself from the project a bit by picking up on product design. I wish I could tell y’all more, but all I can say right now is that we’re working on a really fun new collection for SW and a ton of updated and brand new items for the Lara Casey Shop! I made headway on some projects and also wrap up the first design round on others. I send a PDF of the designs out to the rest of the girls to get their opinions and make sure we’re all happy with it.

5:45pm With some fresher eyes, I take a look at the V7 layout again and make some changes to what I did just an hour before. It’s amazing how much clearer a vision gets once we give yourself a little room to breathe!

6:45pm I check my email again, make a to do list for tomorrow and get any little things off my plate while I’m still in the office.

7:00pm I’m usually the last one out of the office, especially during layout season. I pack up all of my things, turn off my computer, turn off all of the office lights and head downstairs. Sometimes Lara and Grace have an overflow of veggies from the garden to give me, which just makes my evening. I drive home and then usually whip up dinner using one of their home-grown tomatoes or carrots.

Next week, get a peek into a day in the life of our Ad Director, Marissa!

Catch up with Emily’s day here and Morgan’s day here.

Faith Teasley is a member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
7 Comments
  1. avatar Morgan Moore reply

    I’m so thankful that I get to work beside you everyday, Nicole. I also love that your happy inspiration board is in my line of vision!

  2. avatar Mary reply

    I just love these posts! They not only remind me of the incredible work y’all do at SW but also the talent that goes into it!

  3. avatar Mandy Volpe reply

    Love these behind the scenes look at the SW team. Can’t wait to see the layout you are putting together Nicole!!

  4. avatar Jessica Frere reply

    So fun hearing about your work day, Nicole! It’s so nice to read about such a refreshing and collaborative environment!

  5. avatar Sharon @ Red Poppy | Pink Peony reply

    Great post! I love your desk area and monogrammed chair~ the orange is so fresh! And yes, candy is a must.

  6. avatar Sandra | Simply Peachy reply

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve always wondered what everyone gets up to in their day!

  7. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    I really look up to you Nicole and the work that you do with the SW family! Thank you for sharing your day with us. This is the kind of work I dream of doing in the future and this post really inspires me to keep working towards my goals :)

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It took exactly one year for Kimberly and Jason to go from their first date to their wedding day. As someone who never would have imagined I’d get engaged just eight months after starting to date my now-fiancé, I could not agree more with Kimberly’s sentiment: when you know, you know! These two couldn’t resist tying the knot on the same occasion that fell on their first date, the Kentucky Derby. Drawing from this beloved Southern sporting event for inspiration, as well as Kimberly’s passion for all things equestrian, Kimberly and Jason set out to plan a sweet spring wedding, complete with fabulous hats and an abundance of mint juleps. Marilisa of Chancey Charm Weddings was on hand to ensure the day went off seamlessly, and our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Chris Isham, captured every special moment and detail!

On Saturday, May 4, 2013, a dark bay colt named Itsmyluckyday ran in the 139th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Unfortunately for him, it was not his lucky day, as he finished near the end of the pack, but for Jason and me, that day changed our lives forever. It was the day we sat in a corner booth at The Capital Grille in Atlanta for over four hours on our first date. Less than a week later, we had a second dinner date that lasted over five hours, and by our third date, we both finally understood what the phrase “you will just know” meant. We both felt that all the years leading up to us meeting were years that God had used to mold and shape us to be ready for each other.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? The layout of our wedding day was a bit unusual in that we wanted to keep the ceremony very small and intimate, with only our families and extended families in attendance. Following the ceremony, we had a cocktail hour so that our ceremony guests could mingle, and the other 200+ guests who were invited to the reception arrived. We decided to do a first look before the ceremony, as we wanted a moment that was all ours to read the vows that we had written for each other. This was the most intimate moment of the day, and one we will never forget!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? When my dear friend, client, and business partner offered her farm to us as a wedding venue, the decision was a no-brainer–it is immaculately kept and so very serene! My horse is boarded at the farm, and I train clients’ horses, so I am there most days of the week. The farm is like heaven on earth to me! You could truly feel the presence of God at the farm on our wedding day.

I knew that our ceremony was going to be an emotional time, so we added a little comic relief by having my dog, Zhou, as our ring bearer! He goes to work with me every day, so he knows his way around the farm. He did perfectly coming down the aisle and sitting with us, but I guess he got a little bored, because he started rolling around in the grass at my feet. It was a great laugh!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Jason and I both agree that when our photographer took us to the pasture to have some photos taken between the ceremony and reception, we were truly able to breathe in the atmosphere. The reception guests had arrived, and the band was starting up, so from a distance, we were able to let everything sink in for a moment.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The Kentucky Derby theme was a lot of fun! It was quite significant considering our first date and wedding day were both on Derby Day. I have also ridden my entire life and have made my career training horses, so it fit my personality and passions. Our guests seemed to really enjoy the Derby attire, and everyone looked so posh! We wanted the overall feel to be elegant, yet comfortable, and I think the Derby theme helped us achieve this. From the Derby props in the photo booth to the lavender mint juleps, it was so much fun!

We wanted an environment that encouraged our guest to be up, moving and mingling. We had enough seating/tables for about half our guests, so those who wanted to sit had the option, but we also had a bunch of high tables set out for those wanting to stand. Mac the Cheese was the perfect fit for our desire to have people “grazing” on the Southern fixins’. They set up a couple of Southern food stations, and also served off the truck. We made sure to have plenty of sweet tea as well!

Jason and I discussed eloping right after we got engaged because neither of us considered ourselves “wedding” people, but it was so important for us to have our family there. I was not a girl who grew up dreaming of a fairy tale wedding, so I had to mentally break things down and think of it like planning a big party. In the end, it all turned out to be a fairy tale wedding, and we were so happy that we didn’t elope.

Don’t miss their teaser from Remedy Wedding Films!

Tell us about the proposal! On a Wednesday evening in early October, after having dinner in Chattanooga, Jason and I took a walk across the Walnut Street Bridge. While sitting on a bench overlooking the Tennessee River, Jason asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. We chose May 3, 2014 for our wedding date, and the 140th Kentucky Derby ran as our friends and families celebrated our union, exactly one year from our first date!
When did y’all get married? May 3, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 75 at the ceremony, about 275 at the reception
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my dress was one of the easiest parts of wedding planning! I thought it might be a daunting task, as I am not much of a shopper, and I had never thought about my future wedding dress. I made three appointments on one day and invited my mom and sister to join me. My second appointment was almost cut short, as I did not want to dig through the hundreds of dresses on the racks at Bridals by Lori, but my sister jumped at the opportunity and started bringing dresses to me in the fitting room. I tried on a few that were beautiful, but the fourth or fifth dress brought a tear to my eye when I walked out to show my mom. The dress was so unique and had so many different elements to it. It was a perfect fit for my personality!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? For the ceremony, we wanted all the glory to be given to God. A childhood friend of mine, who is now an ordained minister, told our story of how God brought us together, and we took communion. We also put a unity cross together to represent two becoming one. We had scripture read, as well as praise and worship music played.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed was a hair clip that my sister (my matron of honor) had worn in her wedding. For my something blue, I had fabric that belonged to my late grandmother (a seamstress) sewn in the underside of my dress. My something old was an old Italian handkerchief given to me from our mentor couple on our wedding day. I wrapped it around my bouquet under the diamond horseshoe brooch that I had pinned to the stems.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Breathe…your engagement should be about the marriage, not the wedding. We attend North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, and we were blessed to go through their premarital mentoring program. It was time well spent leading up to the biggest decision of our lives. We loved our mentor couple and continue to seek their wisdom and guidance!

Photographer: Chris Isham Photography / Videographer: Remedy Wedding Films / Planner: Chancey Charm / Ceremony and Reception Venue: Serenity Farm / Florist: Bloomin’ Bouquets / Cake Baker: Cakes by Darcy / Caterer: Mac the Cheese / Rentals and Lighting: Classic Party Rentals / Band: Az Izz / Photo Booth: Wow Photo Booth / Paper Products: Ecru Stationery & Design / Bridal Salon, Bride’s Accessories, and Men’s Attire: Bridals by Lori / Hair Stylist: Studio Todd G / Makeup Artist: The Moore Agency / Bride’s Shoes: Benjamin Adams and Stuart Weiztman / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bravura / Monogram Throw Pillows: I Do Linens / Transportation: Easy Ride Golf Carts

Chris Isham is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    Love that their wedding was able to take place at such a special spot for them!

  2. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    I think the small ceremony was a great alternative to just eloping. Beautiful wedding!

  3. avatar Charmaine (Rustic Folk Weddings) reply

    Love how the couple incorporated the cross at the altar. Beautiful wedding!

  4. avatar Marilisa reply

    Such a blessing to have worked with this amazing couple! Their sincere focus on the marriage more than just the wedding details was refreshing and obviously radiates in their love for one another in the photos :) Thanks SW ladies for sharing!!

  5. avatar Rachel Nordgren reply

    As someone who LOVES horses, this looks like the most darling wedding! What a beautiful location, and I adore that they had their dog in the ceremony!

  6. avatar Sarah Chancey reply

    This wedding was such a blessing to be a part of!

  7. avatar Chris Isham reply

    Y’all are the best! Thanks so much for sharing this wedding!! :)

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