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Ready for basically the cutest love story ever, y’all? Listen up: Michelle + Paul knew they wanted to marry each other when they were seventeen. Back then, Paul even dropped to one knee and asked Michelle to promise to marry him one day. (She said yes!) “Most people don’t think love is possible for young teenagers, but we knew we loved each other only a few months after we started dating,” said Michelle. Six years to the day after their first date, the two tied the knot at J & D Farms in Alabama. Read on for the rest of their courtship (including many more details of epic love story proportion!).

Their picnic reception was a way for them to do one of their favorite things for the first time as a married couple with their closest friends and family. We love that guests were able to mingle among the quilts and tables and then take home their picnic baskets! Big hugs to Simply Bloom Photography for sharing M + P’s lovely day with us!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes, we saw each other before the wedding. We wanted a moment between just the two of us instead of in front of the crowd of guests. It was hard to decide, but it was the best decision we made. It was sweet and relaxing and a special moment between just us, which is often unheard of on your wedding day!
Did you write your own vows? Yes, we wrote our own vows and read them to each other during the ceremony. Our wedding officiant had gone through marriage counseling with us, so we did include some the Biblical husband and wife responsibilities in our vows, but added our own special promises to each other. My favorite line in Paul’s vows to me was “I promise to always be thinking of you and will constantly give you all that I am and nothing that I am not.” Paul’s favorite line in my vows to him was, “I vow to love you more each day than I did the day before, and I look forward to seeing you carry 50 red roses.”

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Weather and food. It rained continuously the entire two weeks leading up to the wedding, and we had planned a completely outdoor wedding. The days before, we created a Plan A (it’s sunny), Plan B (it might rain) and Plan C (it’s raining). Praise the Lord, it stopped raining that morning and the sun was bright enough to dry the ground. We were blessed with one of the most beautiful sunsets the venue owner said he had seen all summer. It started raining as soon as the reception was over and everyone had left. As for food, I had a clear plan in mind of what I wanted the picnic reception to include. After meeting with several caterers, none of them could offer that exactly. We ended up doing everything ourselves. It was a team effort of my sister’s mother-in-law (who catered years ago), my mom, my sister and brother-in-law, my aunt and cousin, a church friend and her daughter, and one of my former college roommates. The menu was gourmet grilled cheese, chicken bites, pasta salad, Caesar salad, fresh fruit, fudge brownies, my homemade lemonade (I squeezed 120 lemons!) sweet tea and water with lime.

We wanted everything to be shabby chic, so the flowers were very whimsical. They were all shades of lavender and Robin’s egg blue. Instead of using large blooms, we used all sprigs and herbs. I wanted it to appear as if we picked the flowers from our backyard the morning of the wedding, which we actually did end up doing. My Aunt Jenna grew most of the flowers in her own yard the year leading up to the wedding and picked them the day before and day of the wedding to bring to the venue and assemble. We used sprigs of lavender, purple lantana, rosemary, lockspur, delphiniums, and baby’s breath, to name a few. Jenna arranged them in blue transparent mason jars with raffia bows tied around the lip then placed one on each picnic table and all around the reception area.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Mason jars for the flowers, quilts that were my great-grandmother’s that have been passed down through the generations, a barn as a focal point of the reception, Paul’s bowtie and seersucker jacket, a banjo and stand-up bass guitar and folk singing, our weddin’ sign, a vintage Model T station wagon for transporting guests from parking to the ceremony, drinks in mason jars with grey and white striped paper straws, a 1950’s two-tiered vintage table I found at the Country Living Fair, and the lead singer of the band (my friend Sharla) made us a personal quilt with our names and wedding date to sit on at the reception.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Paul and I grew up together. We started playing together after school when I was in second grade. His mother was a kindergarten teacher and my grandmother was a librarian. At age 13, we became best friends in marching band. We were “just friends,” but we both secretly had a crush on the other. The summer before my junior year of high school – I was drum major and Paul was the drum line captain – I had to call all of the section leaders to remind them of band camp and I called Paul last because I was nervous to talk on the phone with him. When I finally called him, we talked on the phone for five hours straight, chatting about how we wanted to travel the world one day and how we didn’t know we had so much in common. We didn’t want to get off the phone although I had to go (majorette practice was about to start and I had to unlock their practice building). Sitting there watching batons fly, I saw a silhouette in my peripheral. It was Paul. I asked him why he was there and he said, “I came to rescue you.” At that second, I left the building keys with the majorette captain, hopped in Paul’s car and went on what turned out to be our first date – a walk around Heritage Park and eating at Arby’s. Two days later on July 13, 2006, Paul officially asked me to be his girlfriend. Most people don’t think love is possible for young teenagers, but we knew we loved each other only a few months after we started dating. Paul even knew he wanted to marry me when we were 17. One night in my room he even got down on one knee and asked me to promise to marry him one day (I said “yes”). Then on July 13, 2007, Paul came to my house with a single red rose. He said, “This is one rose for one year of being in love with you. One day I won’t be able to carry them all.” That began the tradition of receiving a rose for every year we have been together on July 13.
Describe the proposal. On July 12, 2011, I went to sleep that night at my parents’ house as usual, and Paul was at school in Tuscaloosa. I was woken up at midnight by the sound of my door creaking open and could see a dark figure standing in my doorway. I was frightened because there was something that looked as if it was jolting out the sides of the figure’s body. I rose up and started whispering, “Hello? Hello?” I’m sure I didn’t sound very intimidating if someone was really trying to break into our house… Then the figure started walking toward me. Heart racing, I finally adjusted my eyes to focus. It was Paul. He was carrying five red roses. I couldn’t find my glasses and I was still somewhat groggy from sleep, so I didn’t really understand what was going on. I just kept asking him why he wasn’t at school like he should be. He assured me everything was fine, and he knelt next to my bed. He started reminding me of everything we had been through together, most of it at my house and in my room – the first time he came over to my house and we just talked and tossed popcorn into each others’ mouths, our first kiss, my recovery after gallbladder surgery when he sat next to me all day until I woke up. Then he said, “Right over there when we were 17, I asked you to marry me one day. I knew then what I know now, but this time I brought a ring.” He looked at the clock and brought to my attention that it was just after midnight, making this the first thing to happen on July 13. “Michelle, will you marry me?” I said, “Yes!”
In what month did you get married? July 13, 2012. It was our sixth anniversary.
How many guests attended your wedding? 100
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I actually found it online! It’s by Lyn Ashworth. I saw a picture and it fit all my criteria: tea length for our outdoor wedding, poofy to fulfill my need to be Cinderella, and in a romantically elegant material. I ordered it online (didn’t even try it on!) and it fit with minimal alterations.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. The wedding party walked in to Ben Rector’s “White Dress,” with a small break for everyone to stand up and the house doors to open at the verse, “She’s coming in on Friday and then the close spark…” That’s when I walked down the aisle. For the recessional, we walked back down the aisle to Dave Matthews Band’s “You and Me,” which we also danced to for our first dance.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We had miniature cupcakes from Dreamcakes Bakery in Birmingham. The flavors were strawberry, lemon and coconut.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The picnic reception. Paul and I have always loved going on picnics together, so we wanted our first picnic as a married couple to be with all of our family and friends. We all sat on quilts on the ground and on picnic tables and ate dinner from individual family picnic baskets (which guests got to take home as their favors).
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? We ended up spending between $10,000 and $25,000.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The venue and photography.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Paul and I loved our first moments of seeing each other before the wedding. It was comforting and romantic and we realized that we were minutes away from starting an exciting new life together. Nothing else mattered.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Buy a wedding planning book the day after you get engaged (I recommend The Knot Book of Wedding Lists). Don’t let the tiny details stress you out because at the end of the day, you will still be married to the love of your life, which is much more important. Utilize the talents of friends and family members, and don’t worry about what other people want or think – it’s your wedding!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to Paul graduating with his master’s degree and settling into a new job, wherever that may be!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
14 Comments
  1. avatar Desiree reply

    Love love love that someone executed the picnic reception, so well! I had this idea for a photo shoot I worked on last year – only 3 blankets/baskets. It’s wonderiful to see this come to life with lots of blankies and picnic tables – how fun!! So glad the weather held out and this coupld is SO darling! Congrats!

  2. avatar Kate Collison reply

    Congratulations, Michelle! You should send one of your beautiful photos to Lyn Ashworth so she can add you to “Real Brides” on her website! I saw your lovely wedding posted here and checked out the dress designer for one of my friends who’s still looking for her dream dress. Thanks so much for sharing your big day!

  3. avatar Lisa reply

    Not only is this one of the most charming weddings I’ve ever seen, I’m also a little choked up at their sweet story! What a beautiful couple!

  4. avatar YVETTE PRICE reply

    Just darling! Love the story behind this adorable couple!
    xoxoxo

  5. avatar Vania -SimplyBloom Photography, LLC reply

    thank you so much gals! we are honored to have our work on your site :D

  6. avatar Allie reply

    this wedding is gorgeous…very homey & them. i love that about weddings these days. it’s not about dressing up and having a party (well, sort of the party bit), but mostly just about having an event that represents the special day and who you are.

  7. avatar Emily reply

    ADORE this couple’s story! The part about the roses just does me in…

  8. avatar Lauren reply

    The photography is gorgeous, of course! I love the picnic theme and how cozy this wedding feels. What a sweet story!

  9. avatar Sarah reply

    Such a beautiful wedding and great story. July 13th, 2006 is mine and my boyfriend’s anniversary of our first date too!

  10. avatar NC Wedding Planner- Orangerie Events reply

    I love the idea of a picnic reception! Such a fun spin on the traditional wedding reception. Very unique! Thanks for sharing!

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Do I spy another game of corn hole? Brilliant! What picnic wedding would be complete without some lawn games? This casual Kentucky wedding looks like the perfect summer soiree. Katie + Brian enlisted the help of their family and friends to make the gathering even more personal. The bride’s mom canned dilly beans for the appetizer table and picked her own mint for the mint juleps! While the newlyweds served cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes and donuts from Krispy Kreme, Katie’s high school friend also made them a small cake to cut into. The personal touches make this soiree even more Southern!

See all the photos from Katie + Brian’s wedding in their Real Wedding Gallery!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Well, definitely the bourbon since that’s a favorite of Brian’s and we were in Kentucky – we even used old bourbon barrels with burlap for our bar. We served local microbrewery beer and Virginia wine in honor of my home state. My mom canned dilly beans for the appetizer table and brought her own mint to be used for the mint juleps. The menu was Southern themed– pulled pork and chicken with green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked beans, and coleslaw. Also, our groomsmen rocked seersucker pants and many of the guests wore hats in honor of a May wedding in Kentucky.
Describe your wedding cake: We served mini cupcakes and Krispy Kreme donuts to our guests. However, we did have a small cake to cut – my high school friend made and decorated our cake for us and even used my grandparents’ original cake topper from their wedding over 50 years ago.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning everything from Michigan without a point person in Louisville – there was a LOT of emailing and we were booked solid whenever we went down for a planning weekend.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000 for 240 people
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Our photographer! Josh from Bella Grace was amazing.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? So hard to narrow this down – definitely walking down the aisle to Brian, and on a less serious note, getting pelted with lavender buds as we boarded the trolley from the church.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Relaxing! We’re exploring Michigan this summer and planning our Hawaii honeymoon this winter

Photographer: Bella Grace Studios // Coordinator: Allure Events // Ceremony venue: Saint Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church // Reception venue: Historic Locust Grove // Florist: The Greenery // Wedding Cake Baker: friend // Cupcakes: Gigi’s Cupcakes // Donuts: Krispy Kreme // Caterer: Terri Williams // Paper Products: Ink Parade Paperie // Bride’s Dress: I Do Too Bridal // Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil: Hair flower from midoridesigns, clutch from KellysKeepsakes // Accessories: Bridesmaids’ earrings by J Gorkowski Jewelry // Hair & makeup: Joseph’s Salon

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
4 Comments
  1. avatar Katie reply

    Oh my goodness, Krispy Kreme AND Gigi’s?, that’s the power couple of desserts for sure! This wedding is so fun and cheerful! And the backdrop for the reception is stunning!

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    […] MENSWEAR: We love these dapper men! Marissa chose the Southern and preppy bow ties sported at Katie + Brian’s wedding. Emily loved the […]

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Katie + Brian described their wedding as “classy Southern fun.” I love it! The daytime wedding was complete with a bright color palette. Yellow made its appearance on the couple’s invitations from Ink Parade Paperie, the bridemaids’ shoes, groomsmen’s ties (who were also bedecked in seersucker pants!) and flowers. A special twist? The florist at The Greenery who arranged Katie’s wedding flowers also arranged the flowers at her parent’s wedding! A special thanks to Bella Grace Studios who shared this sweet wedding with us!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. I spotted Brian in the biomedical library when we were both in graduate school at Vanderbilt and thought he was the cutest med student around. I figured out his name but didn’t think I’d ever meet him until one summer night at a mutual friend’s party. I caught his attention, got his number, and the rest is history!
Describe the proposal. After three years into a long distance relationship with Brian in residency in Michigan and me finishing up graduate school in Nashville, we were vacationing by driving up the coast of California. After a day of visiting wineries, Brian proposed at sunset at a bed & breakfast at Morro Bay.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Classy Southern fun.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: This is hard! We put so much time into so many of them! Probably the mason jars for Brian and the lanterns for me. Honestly though, so many of the details were a labor of love – we wrapped the bamboo utensils in napkins, assembled the lantern lights & batteries, tied ribbons on flip flops, made chalkboards, made the playlists, decorated the flower girl basket, etc. all ourselves in the evenings while watching our favorite TV shows.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I knew I didn’t want a strapless gown or a lot of bling, so this one was just perfect. It even fit without any alterations other than the bustle!
Describe your wedding flowers: The same florist who did my parents’ wedding did our wedding flowers! I fell in love with the simple bouquet of yellow mini calla lilies and other than that, just wanted yellow and ivory for the bridal party.

Photographer: Bella Grace Studios // Coordinator: Allure Events // Ceremony venue: Saint Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church // Reception venue: Historic Locust Grove // Florist: The Greenery // Wedding Cake Baker: friend // Cupcakes: Gigi’s Cupcakes // Donuts: Krispy Kreme // Caterer: Terri Williams // Paper Products: Ink Parade Paperie // Bride’s Dress: I Do Too Bridal // Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil: Hair flower from midoridesigns, clutch from KellysKeepsakes // Accessories: Bridesmaids’ earrings by J Gorkowski Jewelry // Hair & makeup: Joseph’s Salon

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
9 Comments
  1. avatar Josh reply

    Love it! Thanks so much.

  2. avatar Budget Wedding Invitation reply

    That bride and bridesmaids pic looks gorgeous!

  3. avatar Christening Invitations reply

    Really like the simple wedding invitations design.

  4. avatar Lydia reply

    So awesome! A couple that’s willing to have the groomsmen wear something totally different from the groom!

  5. avatar Hens Night Invitations reply

    Some really nice photos!!!

  6. avatar Party Invitation Templates reply

    A truly lovely couple.

  7. avatar Wedding Invitations Sydney Online reply

    I love the simple wedding dress of the bride.

  8. avatar Weddings Links Around the Web | 7centerpieces reply

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