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Bride Lillie shares her cozy, eclectic barn wedding at Lake Oconee.

Please meet today’s bride, Lillie! With its eclectic style and joyful atmosphere, her wedding to Blake easily became an office favorite in our tenth-anniversary issue. From the beautiful location of Lake Oconee (where they shared their first kiss!), to romantic blooms that could make even a non-flower lover swoon, there’s so much beauty to take in. But, of course, the best thing about your wedding day might not be the details! Lillie said, “The most special part of the ceremony for me was walking hand and hand with my mother down the aisle all the while looking at Blake and realizing how lucky and blessed I was to be marrying my best friend.” Y’all, yes! And, get your tissues ready and be sure to read how Lillie sweetly honored her late father.

Thanks to Julie Cate for her sharing this lovely day with us!

P.S. We’re having a sale in our shop, so head over to see this wedding in all its print glory for a steal of a price!

Blake and I got married at 2:00pm on February 25, 2017, a day after my parent’s anniversary. The ceremony was held at Christ Our King and Savior Catholic Church in Greensboro, GA. All the guests parked at the Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee and then hopped on school buses to Sandy Creek Barn (a property of Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee). We chose to get married in the Lake Oconee area because it was very special to us. We spent many summers at my parent’s lake house. It’s where we had our first kiss.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Before trying on dresses, I knew I wanted something simple, and comfortable, that I could wear all night long. After doing a little research, I found a boutique that sold vintage and modern dresses and I made an appointment. The shop is called The Sentimentalist and it’s awesome! Gabi took one look at me and knew exactly what types of dresses would complement my shape. The fourth dress I tried on was the one! A sleek modern Houghton dress. I mean, it had pockets. I had to have it.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Honestly, finding bridesmaids outfits. I wanted everyone to wear something different. Who knew that concept would be so hard to achieve? After spending way too much time searching ASOS.com for bridesmaids’ dresses (about 3 months, I know, crazy), I went to BHDLN in Atlanta. They let me take over a corner of the store to hang dresses beside one another so I could get a full visual of what my bridesmaids dresses would look like together. On my second trip, my sister and I tried on dresses and set up an account so all my bridesmaids had to do was call and order their dress from the store. And just like that, my problem was solved!

How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your ceremony? With family. A few months before my wedding, I lost my father to cancer. I knew getting married within the same year was going to difficult. Needless to say, the entire wedding weekend was an emotional event for my family and I. But throughout the planning, I made sure to incorporate elements that would remind me of my dad. I made an offering to St. Joseph during the ceremony for a remembrance of my father.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. It was a short and simple Catholic wedding. The Deacon who met us with throughout our pre-Cana marriage prep, married us. He was so fun! I would have to say the most special part of the ceremony for me was walking hand and hand with my mother down the aisle all the while looking at Blake and realizing how lucky and blessed I was to be marrying my best friend.

What was the design inspiration for your reception? Cozy eclectic barn wedding and reception. I was inspired more by a feeling: the feeling you get when it’s cold outside and all you want to do is sit by a wood burning fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa. I wanted to achieve that feeling. We tried to make the reception as “homey” as possible, with yard games by the lake, multiple fire pits surrounded by cozy seating areas with an assortment of throws for extra warmth. Inside the barn, there were lots of intimate seating areas including one by the large fireplace right beside the dance floor (that one was my favorite).

What was your reception like? Ummmm, the most amazing thing was everything! Music and backyard games with self-serve bar down by the lake. Up at the barn there were fire pits with cozy seating areas and throws for extra warmth. We had a seated dinner as the sun set under a clear tent. The food was a mix of fancy comfort food. When dinner was over (everyone was ready to get into the barn because the temperature was dropping), we danced into the barn for first dances and cake. After our exit (on a canoe, I might add), the first round of buses left the barn, but the “after party” also started up with the Jay Envy on the 1s and 2s. Also, a food truck opened up outside the barn for the remainder of the night, serving ethnic cuisines in little cones. We love to travel, so this was a fun way to incorporate that into our day.

Tell us about your wedding cake. It was salted caramel and amaretto white chocolate cake made by Kat at Lush Cakery. It was incredibly delicious, and I can’t wait to eat the top of the cake for our anniversary!

I know this sounds cheesy, but you could feel the love in the air. At the wedding, everyone was laughing and crying and laughing some more. At the reception, everyone seemed so happy and cozy. There might have been 160 people there but it felt like one big backyard family reunion to me.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Blake and I met our 8th grade year of middle school. We immediately became best friends. That friendship eventually blossomed into a relationship our senior year of high school. With our lives going in different directions after high school, and being hundreds of miles apart, we unfortunately couldn’t make things work and went our separate ways. Fast forward six years later, and we reunited with one another at a local establishment in our hometown of Statesboro, Georgia, and the rest is history.
Describe the proposal! Well, interesting story, the proposal was actually around the time of Blake’s birthday. So, I had the grand idea of surprising him with a mountain getaway in North Georgia, having no idea the whole time Blake was planning a proposal at my lake house for the same weekend. Luckily, I made the mistake of putting his email into Airbnb when I booked the cabin and he was notified of the sudden change of plans. He took it like a champ and went with the flow. On Saturday we went on an adventure and tried to find a hiking trail to no avail. We got lost and it was getting dark. But I remember being surprised at how determined he was to find this hiking trail. Luckily, we did find it, and there was still some daylight left, and it worked to our advantage because there was hardly anyone on the trail. As we were hopping from rock to rock while crossing a creek, he stopped me and got down on one knee in the middle of the creek. Looking back, I’m not sure how he did that (balancing on one knee on a small rock in the middle of a creek) It was perfect! It’s hard to explain the feeling of ultimate bliss after something like that happens, but I remember feeling it while walking the whole way back to my car.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Well, knowing each other basically our whole lives has definitely helped prepare us, but we also partook in Pre-Cana marriage preparation at the Archdiocese of Atlanta. It was an amazing experience!
How many guests attended your wedding? 160.
What was your favorite detail of the wedding? My mom and dad (before he passed) secretly had a wedding jug made (by a North Georgia Potter) with our names and wedding date as a surprise wedding present. Mom also recorded my dad talking about how he ordered the wedding jug for us and wishing us a happy marriage. Talk about emotional, but amazing nonetheless.
Who participated in your ceremony? Family and close friends. My mom walked me down the aisle, my sisters and Blake’s sisters were bridesmaids. Blake’s father and childhood friends were groomsmen. A couple of my close friends and Blake’s uncle, did the readings. Blake’s uncle (who is a Baptist preacher) also did the nuptial blessing, even though he was unaware of it until the ceremony. Deacon Mike surprised him by calling him up to the front to read the blessing. I thought it was a very cool, and symbolic of the mixing of our faiths (Blake being Baptist and me being Catholic).
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? When Deacon Mike pronounced us husband and wife he said, “I present to you Lillie and Blake Coston,” which is my last name, not Blake’s. Everyone was laughing, and in that moment, I knew my Dad was there whispering that into Deacon Mike’s ear just to make everyone laugh.
Did you try anything new or nontraditional? My father-daughter dance was a little nontraditional. As you know, my dad passed away shortly before my wedding, so I asked his childhood friends to dance with me for the dance. I picked a song my dad loved, and I started to dance with one of his best friends then the other cut in to finish out the song. It was very sweet, and I couldn’t have been more thankful that they did that for me.
What was Southern about your wedding? Hopefully the hospitality! It was very important for us to provide a comfortable and memorable experience for our guests. We tried to make logistics easy (We hired shuttles to transport guests to and from the reception site in order to help alleviate parking concerns) and added lots of personal touches to make sure their experience unforgettable.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? If it’s in your budget, hire a wedding planner. Melanie brought us almost all our vendors (who were amazing), made our vision a reality with her creative design, and just made our day easy and stress free. We could never have done it without her.
Best advice or most memorable comment someone made to you during the wedding celebration. The best was during our reception when Mac pulled me aside to look at everyone on the dance floor. He said “hey, this is our wedding.” And it was a great moment to just take everything in and remember to enjoy the moment.
Who was your favorite vendor and why? This is difficult because I would recommend all of our vendors. I would have to pick Melanie (our wedding planner) because without her, we wouldn’t have found some of our other vendors and she really brought everything together. But after her I would say our photographer, Jen Dillender. We’re not a couple who takes a lot of photos, so we were worried it might be kind of awkward but from the moment we met her, she put us right at ease. She made us feel so comfortable on the day and the photos were beautiful!

Photographer: Julie Cate Photography | Videographer: Kenneth Munoz | Planner and designer: Molly McKinley Designs | Ceremony venue: Christ Our King and Savior Catholic Church | Reception venue and caterer: The Ritz Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee’s Sandy Creek Barn | Florals: Lindsay Coletta Floral Artistry and Design | Wedding cake: Lush Cakery | Bride’s gown: “Grady” by Houghton NYC | Bridal salon and veil: The Sentimentalist | Bride’s shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bride’s jewelry: Catbird | Bridesmaids’ fashion: “Inesse” in Cinnamon Rose, “Cleo” Top in Ivory and “Louise” Skirt in Rose Quartz, “Tully” Top and “Louise” Skirt in Harbor Mist, and “Eclipse” in Taupe by BHLDN | Hair stylist: Hair by Navarro NYC | Makeup artist: Lauren Smelley | Groom’s fashion: Benchmade Clothiers, Groomsmen fashion: Jos. A. Bank | Paper goods: Jamie Jimenez | Rentals and lighting: Goodwin Rentals | Linens: Nuage Designs | Reception lounges, favors, and escort display: Blue Eyed Yonder | Signage: Kate Turner Studio | Transportation: Samson Trailways | Slow motion booth: Shutterbooth | Late night food: Good Food Truck | Bands: Lilac Wine and Big Bling and the Funk Machine via East Coast Entertainment

Molly McKinley Designs and East Coast Entertainment are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Anjeev Chaturvedi reply

    That is the very nice story.We always dream that kind of marriage. Good images and beautifully explain……..

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Happy Thursday, belles!

You know we love to celebrate love around here, so we had to pull out all the stops for Valentine’s Day! We’re celebrating with a HUGE sale in our shop! Take up to 50% off all our favorite items, including our Vows booklets, wedding journal, and, drumroll please, the Joyful Wedding Planner!

Head to our shop to snag the best gifts for brides and newlyweds (and yourself) around!

Written with love by Catherine
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If you’re anything like me, you’ve had a secret wedding Pinterest board for longer than you’ve had a beau, but if you joined my last post, you know how important it is to prioritize your wedding budget before pinning another wedding bouquet (though they are lovely!).

Today, I’m excited to be sharing what our top two priorities have been during wedding planning, and a few ways we’re saving money with another vendor!

Our Wedding Venue

We took the advice of many wise friends and didn’t start dreaming about details or vendors until we secured our venue (and date!). Logan and I are both from North Carolina, but currently live in Atlanta, so we had quite a few location options we could have considered.

We knew early on where we wanted to get married, however. In fact, Logan casually told me before we were engaged that he knew where we were getting married. Talk about sending a girl into a tailspin! Glen-Ella Springs Inn in Clarkesville, GA was a place of refuge for us a year ago after very busy work seasons (the launch of Southern Weddings’ Volume 9 and PowerSheets), and we were overwhelmed by the hospitality and attention we experienced from their entire staff, particularly Luci and Ed, the innkeepers.

When they replied with only one available date between March and October, we were giddy. Albeit eager and excited, we wanted to do research before signing the dotted line to make sure it was a good investment. We took Emily’s advice and compared apples to apples. While Glen-Ella’s initial venue fee was higher than some other quotes we received, we soon realized it was by far the better deal because it included all tables, chairs, dishes, flatware, stemware, and linens.

A bonus for us? Glen-Ella’s restaurant is award-winning, and by booking them as our venue, we get to take advantage of their catering! Not only is the food delicious, but that’s one fewer vendor for us to find and manage!

Photo by Cariad Photography

Our Photographer

I was surprisingly calm during Logan’s proposal, not shedding a single tear! However, when we received a yes from my dream wedding photographer, I bawled my eyes out (and still do tear up when recounting this story to others)!

When Emily and Lisa returned from an editorial shoot for Volume 9, Lisa Kirk looked me in the eye and said, “I know this sounds strange and you aren’t getting married anytime soon, but I think Davy Whitener will shoot your wedding.” I giggled, shrugged it off, but was captivated when the photos for A Storied Love came in.

After spending time in Laurel, MS with Davy and his entire family for our Home Town Celebration editorial for our tenth anniversary issue, I knew I wanted Davy to be our wedding photographer. His demeanor throughout the entire day was nothing but joyful and hospitable, and I couldn’t think of anyone who better embodied our hope for our big day.

Photo by Davy Whitener from A Storied Love

Our Florist

While my Pinterest board was full of beautiful bouquets, I knew early on our flowers were an area where we would be able to save money. Our florist–Bella Flora Designs–has been phenomenal to work with. Not only has she given us options, but never once have we been pressured to spend more money than we have allocated.

Here are a few ways we’re saving in our floral budget:

  • We’ve hired a florist who has worked extensively at Glen-Ella Springs Inn. Susan and Renee’s familiarity with the space gives them an understanding of how to best invest our floral budget. Not only are they familiar with the space, they are local to the area, which means we’re saving on travel fees. Be sure to ask your venue for preferred vendors!
  • We’re flexible about the specifics. I’ve communicated my favorite flowers and color preference, but I trust their expertise in finding the most economical blooms for our bouquets and centerpieces. I’ve found that I’m actually excited about seeing what they create on the day-of!
  • Our bridesmaids are carrying smaller bouquets, and they will be repurposed for the buffet tables after the ceremony. We’re using a mixture of florals and candles for our centerpieces.
  • My three-year-old niece is our flower girl, and we’ve decided to forgo traditional flower girl petals, knowing it’d be a bit of a toss up if she’d actually throw them :)

While we’re certainly saving in our floral budget, I’m confident our flowers are going to be beautiful because I’ve seen Susan and Renee’s work and it matches my personal aesthetic!

I’d love to hear from you! Where did you find your wedding vendors? What made you choose them? I’d love to hear any personal stories!

Need some help prioritizing and planning your big day or want to stock up on gifts for friends? You’re in luck! Shop our Valentine’s Day sale in the Southern Weddings Shop! Our prompted wedding journal, all copies of Southern Weddings magazines, and my beloved Joyful Wedding Planner are up to 50% off!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
9 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    I am still quite proud of that prediction, but most of all, I just can’t wait to see the way Davy captures you and Logan!!! Counting down the days!

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      I might have thought you were silly at the time, but boy am I grateful that you were right! Xx!

  2. avatar Stephanie Shaul reply

    Jess, I’m getting more and more excited for you, and I love hearing about yours and Logan’s wedding plans!! Our venue was really the only one we looked at and wanted, and it also had just one date open in almost a year-long span. Hence the six month engagement for us, too! But I truly am SO, so, so glad our engagement was six months (and I have a feeling you will be, too!), and I wouldn’t change that timing for the world. I can’t believe your wedding is coming up so soon – April weddings are the best!! xoxox

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Yes! I think about you and your encouragement often when thinking about our timeframe! Yay for April weddings!

  3. avatar Janna Toruno reply

    We knew what we were looking for and were open to a semi destination wedding, we actually found our dream venue from a Facebook ad! Daughter’s Barn in Folkston, Ga! Our photographer I found from Instagram and fell in love with their work! Southern Studios from Jacksonville, FL! Turns out they were old friends of my fiance’s family!

    • avatar Janna Toruno reply

      My mom is a retired florist, but I’m going with more of greenery on the tables with white pumpkins added in the mix. My niece is going to be carrying a cotton boll kissing ball.

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      I love hearing all about your day, Janna! What a fun connection with your photographer!

  4. avatar Tegan reply

    We picked our venue because it’s beautiful, associated with an incredible restaurant, and allows us to have an intimate ‘backyard’ wedding vibe while accommodating our larger guest list.
    My fiancé was on board with it from day one, but what honestly sold him on the venue was the fact that his college football team’s coach got married at the same venue!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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