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It’s always such a joy to see our Southern Bride Bloggers tie the knot, and I have to confess, I was stalking Callie‘s Instagram a little bit on Melissa and Will’s wedding day in the hopes of getting a peek at this sweet celebration! Not surprisingly, Melissa was as lovely and gracious as Southern brides come, and after reading the interview she and Will filled out together, it’s so evident that they were completely present on their wedding day. That’s our biggest hope for all of you brides–that you plan well, choose your vendors carefully, and then sit back and soak in every second of getting married! We love that that’s exactly what Melissa and Will did, and they now have so many special memories to carry with them into newlywed life and the many years to follow.

Thanks so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Callie of Nancy Ray Photography, for sharing Melissa and Will’s beautiful day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had always dreamed about the kind of dress I would get married in. I knew I wanted lace, and something that was lightweight and very feminine. As soon as I got engaged, I started talking to a few gals who had recently gotten married and made a list of stores they recommended, one of which was Lana Addison Bridal in Cary, North Carolina. I decided to start with Lana Addison because it was a smaller boutique and would help me ease into “the search,” but it actually ended up being the first and only place my mom, mother-in-law, and I ventured to! After looking at my inspiration, we headed to a dressing room and were given two dresses to start with. After trying both on, I knew neither was for me and mentioned the idea of trying on a dress with a “Great Gatsby” feel. Our consultant said she knew just the dress! I was brought a beautiful lace number that had cap sleeves, an alluring V-neckline, and a vintage-inspired silver and gold brooch that I just adored. I put it on and didn’t want to take it off. That’s when I knew it was the one.

Will has been one of the strongest Christian influences in my life and prays with and for me every single day, ever since the very beginning of our relationship. For whatever reason, I’ve never felt as comfortable praying out loud like he does. This is something I’ve struggled with for years and knew I wanted to change, so on our wedding day, I did just that! Instead of Will and I doing a first look, we decided to pray together behind a tree, and I opened us up in prayer. I was nervous, and didn’t know if I would be able to get any words out, but as we held hands, the excitement started to heighten and I was able to enjoy those brief moments that we got to spend together with God as our focus. I was proud of myself and knew this was the perfect way for us to spend our last few moments together before becoming husband and wife.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did a mix of both. For the ceremony, we went with more traditional vows, but added our own words to make them more “us.” My favorite phrase from our vows was “through tears and laughter, sickness and health, hardship and plenty, I will love you faithfully, constantly, and prayerfully”.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Scripture is important to Will and I and we wanted to find something that did a good job showcasing God’s intent for what a strong Christian marriage should look like. After narrowing down our choices, we selected Mark 10:6-9 and Colossians 3:12-17 to be read by one of our bridesmaids and groomsmen during our ceremony. For our homily, we asked our officiant to focus on Ephesians 5:21-33.

We held our ceremony at Dinwiddie Chapel on the Peace College campus, where I attended college when it was an all-girls school. One of our school’s requirements was to attend chapel every week, so I grew very fond of its charm, and have so many memories that were created there. It didn’t hurt that it was also bright and airy inside, which was something I definitely wanted. For our reception venue, we knew that we wanted to find a space that had a rustic feel, exposed brick, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open floor plan that we could customize. The Cotton Room had all of the above and more. It was just what we had dreamed of!

Being born and raised in the South, I knew I wanted to have a wedding with lots of Southern details–insert mason jars, Cheerwine bottles, and plenty of wooden accents. It was important to us that all of our family and friends felt comfortable throughout the day, so we decided against having “sides” at our ceremony and asked all of our guests to sit wherever they wanted, allowing them to mingle and meet one another as soon as the festivities began. The friendly and inviting tone of the day gave it a great Southern feel. We also put a lot of thought into the menu options offered at the reception. To our surprise, the most talked-about items at our wedding were the the pimento cheese sliders with fried green tomatoes, the BBQ pork puppies, and the goat cheese smashed potatoes.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved every vendor we had the pleasure of working with, but there are a few that specifically went above and beyond in meeting our expectations. The first was Nancy Ray Photography. Photos capture moments you want to cherish forever and Callie and her team did just that. The second is, without a doubt, my wedding coordinator, Emily King of Whiskey and White Events, combined with the whole staff at The Cotton Room. Without Emily’s help, our wedding day wouldn’t have run as smoothly as it did. The staff at The Cotton Room also blew us away with the display and setup of everything used at the reception. It was magical. They even surprised us with “a pizza pie to say goodbye” that we enjoyed after the reception!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Will: At the end of January 2010, I was introduced to Melissa by some mutual friends. I knew pretty quickly after talking to her that she was something special, but after spending some time getting to know each other that night, we went our separate ways. A few days later, Melissa reached out to me over Facebook, invited me to a party her friends were hosting, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a July weekend, and we headed to the mall so Will could pick up some clothes for work. While we were at the mall, Will randomly said “Let’s go to Anthropologie so you can find a dress to wear tonight for the double date we’re going on. My treat!” After stopping at Anthro, we were headed home when Will got a “phone call” and told me he had to go into the office before our double date. About 20 minutes after Will left, one of my closest friends, Emily, arrived at my house and explained that Will had asked her to keep me company because he felt bad that he had to go into work on our date day. A few hours later, Will texted me ask if Emily could drop me off at the place where we were going to meet the other couple. We were almost at our destination when Emily pulled into a parking lot right beside Marshall Park, and in the far distance, I saw my parents and my uncle. This is the moment that I knew something was going on! My parents led me over a bridge and slowly backed away to leave me standing by myself in front of a large fountain. That’s when I spotted Will walking down a hill, looking as handsome as ever. When he finally approached me, I gave him a big hug and got a few awkward laughs out (I was nervous!), and from that point on, all I remember is Will grabbing my hands and asking me if I knew how much he loved me. All I could think about was how amazing he was for thinking through everything in great detail, and the fact he included my family meant so much to me. I said YES once he popped the question and the rest of the night was spent celebrating with our families!
When did y’all get married? June 13, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We actually decided against doing a first look for a few reasons, mainly because I wanted to do one with my dad instead. I’m an only child and “daddy’s little girl” so I knew it would be special and mean a lot to him to be able to spend a few moments together before the ceremony. Will also felt strongly about seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle, and we wanted to experience the anticipation and excitement of seeing each other for the first time at the altar.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Will and I invested a great deal of time and energy into staying focused on the fact that a wedding lasts just ONE day. A marriage is what lasts a lifetime. Before we were engaged, we went to premarital counseling at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, where we learned the best ways to communicate with one another and were able to put that into practice. After we got engaged, we did counseling with Tyler Jones of Vintage Church and were able to discover each other’s top love language, had regular conversations about the things we valued, and had open discussions about the concerns, fears, and things that we were excited about when it came to being married and growing spiritually with someone.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mom and mother-in-law are DIY-ers through and through, and went out of their way to help Will and I cut costs on our wedding. These busy bees helped make all the signs used at the ceremony and reception, helped paint mason jars and all the items that were used as centerpieces for reception tables, and helped print and prepare our wedding programs. We were also able to save money by providing our own vases for the flowers, and we reused the altar flowers and aisle markers from our ceremony on the bridal party and cocktail tables.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Will and I are renting a townhouse in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Charlotte. We’ve made friends with our neighbors and have enjoyed many nights walking to get ice cream and exploring the Queen City as much as possible. Recently, we’ve been brainstorming ideas of what we want to see and do during our trip to New York this November (I’ve never been!), and have started talking about celebrating our first anniversary overseas in Hong Kong. Will’s mom just moved there and we can’t wait to explore another part of the world together in 2016.

Photographer: Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography / Videographer: Good Earth Films / Planner: Emily King of Whiskey & White Events / Ceremony Venue: Dinwiddie Chapel / Reception Venue: The Cotton Room / Florist: MEWS Designs / Dessert Baker: The Cupcake Shoppe / Caterer: Triangle Catering / Band: The Troupers / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Gown: “Rita” by Amy Kuschel / Bridal Salon: Lana Addison Bridal / Bride’s Earrings: “Rennie” by Nina from Nordstrom / Hair and Makeup: Makeup by Ashley Mooney / Bride’s Shoes: “Forbes” by Nina from Nordstrom / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style JH5307” by Jim Hjelm Occasions / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: New York Bride and Groom / Menswear: Jos A. Bank / Ties: The Tie Bar / Cake Topper: Emily Steffen Shop / Chair Signs: The Apothecary Bee / Party Favors: Rook Design Co. / Transportation: White Horse Transportation

Nancy Ray and Good Earth Films are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    So lovely! I’ve been following Melissa’s blog for a while and was so excited to finally see the pictures. I’ve heard the proposal story before but absolutely teared up again while reading it.

  2. avatar Melissa reply

    You ladies have wrecked my heart and made my morning….my week if i’m being honest! Thank you for featuring Will and I’s special day. I can’t help but smile looking back at these photos….just amazing.

  3. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    This entire wedding is simply stunning! I love all of the personal, meaningful, and Southern details, and you can tell just how much thought and attention to detail went into it. The florals are amazing, and I’m always a huge fan of the Cotton Room!!

  4. avatar Mary-Katherine reply

    The most beautiful wedding of a dear friend with an even more beautiful heart! I loved all the special details that they made sure to include, it all came together perfectly!

  5. avatar Melissa and Will Durham, NC Film Wedding | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] thanks to Southern Weddings for featuring this lovely wedding! Click here to see the full […]

  6. avatar Emily King reply

    Melissa and Will, thank you for such kind words. It was a true pleasure to work with you both. Wishing you every happiness in your life ahead.

  7. avatar Henry Gray reply

    Nice wedding party the bide look so pretty Love the colour scheme and the beautiful photographs. Gorgeous photos.

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The best gals had some of our best looks this year. We loved seeing the sweet, creative, and beautiful ways y’all chose to outfit your ladies!

Christina’s gold glitter Badgley Mischka dresses (photo by Ariel Renae)

Victoria’s gray Watters dresses with big puffs of baby’s breath (photo by Chelsey Boatwright)

Melody’s navy lace “Gardenia” dresses from Watters (photo by Courtney Dox)

Emily’s pale pastel dresses by Dessy, After Six, and Joanna August (photo by Abby Grace)

Leah’s mint and white striped LulaKate dresses (photo by Jon Schaaf)

Mary Courtney’s beautiful blue bridesmaid dresses by Joanna August (photo by Graham Terhune)

Nolan’s black and gold mix and match bridesmaid dresses (photo by Ashleigh Jayne)

Victoria’s mix and match long gray bridesmaid dresses (photo by Whitney Neal)

Megan’s bold jewel tone bridesmaid dresses (photo by Stephen DeVries)

Jennifer’s pink seersucker bridesmaid dresses by LulaKate (photo by Nikki Santerre)

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Just Wedding News / 2014 Most Memorable: Bridesmaids reply

    […] post 2014 Most Memorable: Bridesmaids appeared first on Southern Weddings […]

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Southern city weddings have my heart, and today’s lovely day is no exception. Samantha and Eric fell in love during college in Williamsburg, spent many years long-distance, moved to Arkansas together, and were finally married on the most beautiful summer day in Richmond. They brought their love for literature (Samantha is an English teacher!) into their wedding through readings, decor, and even their ceremony venue–a restored church that used to be a theater frequented by Edgar Allen Poe. Paired with a smattering of Southern delicacies, some lovingly handmade details, and a whole lot of joy, Samantha and Eric’s wedding strikes the perfect balance between classic, Southern, and fun!

Thank you so much to Freshly Wed (the same photographers who captured Eric’s proposal–don’t miss the story in Samantha’s interview!) for sharing this sweet day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I decided I wanted two dresses: one to keep the traditional, Southern charm, and one with lots of lace to dance in! I brought my mother, maid of honor, and sister (via Skype) to Bliss Bridal shop, where they specialize in consignment and sample sales. The third dress I tried on an Allure Couture ivory silk gown. Everyone cried and I felt like Eric would fall in love with me all over again in that dress. The client services at Bliss are amazing. For my reception dress, I knew I wanted lace, as it is so traditional and sweet. As I shopped for bridesmaids’ dresses, I fell in love with the Watters Coriander Little White Dress. I loved the simple style and lace overlay. After making a few alterations, it was perfect for our outdoor reception.

We wanted to give our guests a good look at the Old Dominion’s state capital. We kept with the historical theme and hosted our ceremony at Monumental Church, which had originally been a theater. The Historic Richmond Foundation revitalized the grounds and stays open for tours on a daily basis. The best seat in the house belonged to poet, Edgar Allan Poe. While working at Harris Williams & Co., Eric developed a special relationship with one of the senior professionals, Tiff Armstrong. Tiff and his wife, Kelly, were more than generous to offer their beautiful estate as our reception venue. Located in the West End, the Armstrongs’ multi-acre estate housed beautiful views of horses, rolling fields, and sunsets overlooking the James River. With the traditional Victorian-style home, we utilized the pool house, deck, and outdoor kitchen for part of our cocktail hour. We are beyond grateful for the Armstrongs’ generosity.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We edited our vows to include the phrase: “I promise…to encourage your own fulfillment as an individual through all the changes of our lives.” This was important to us, as we knew that if we encouraged the individual, we’d grow stronger as a couple and team.

My something borrowed and old were my 86-year-old grandmother’s pearl cross earrings and pearl necklace. My something blue was a heart I (terribly) sewed into my dress. Besides my dress and ceremony accessories, our something new was our traditional jumping broom. We purchased this specifically to celebrate the tradition African American symbol for tying the knot. Once you jump over it, you sweep away the past for a new beginning. Additionally, whoever jumps the highest has the upper hand in the marriage. Of course, we jumped together and at the same height!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had to embrace all the beautiful country scenery that Richmond, Virginia has to offer. We had a traditional church ceremony and couldn’t wait to enjoy all the loveliness of a Southeastern summer outside. The weather played in our favor and we had a gorgeous day. With a few tents up for shade, our guests were treated to a wonderful “backyard” reception. Our signature drink, the Tipsy Arnold Palmer, was a huge hit with our guests. It combined lemonade and sweet tea vodka. Our food was an explosion of good Southern barbecue. We had fried oysters, brisket, pork barbecue, sweet potato mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, cornbread, and all the fixin’s.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The classic novels and literature themed we used to decorate really helped make our wedding unique. The trivia escort cards allowed guests to converse with one another and helped bring together different and unique groups of people. We loved that we could make everyone feel welcome!

We had a traditional four-tiered wedding cake with chocolate ganache, vanilla-almond marble cake, and carrot cake in the two top tiers for my husband. We had our monogram on one tier, an edible ribbon on another tier, and then used a handmade bride and groom Westie couple for the cake toppers. The cake toppers looked just like miniature versions of our dog, Boo! In addition to the traditional wedding cake, we also offered sweet treats to eat and take home at our dessert bar. My aunt is a caterer and baker, and she made everything from spice cake balls, chocolate and coconut cake balls, traditional carrot cake, cheesecake brownies, red velvet cake, and pecan pie.

Don’t miss their highlights film from Lovell Productions!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met at The College of William & Mary, where Eric played football and I was a cheerleader. We ran in the same circles, but we had never truly spent time together until our junior year. My roommate, Meghan, started talking about this guy everyone called OB, who turned out to be Eric (his last name is O’Brien, so everyone called him OB). One day, Meghan and I were having a study session at our apartment, when Eric showed up with some grapes and cheese for a snack. Unbeknownst to Eric, this was one of my favorite snacks (a close second to Goldfish crackers), so I shamelessly asked if I could have some. He smiled the warmest smile and politely shared. Fast forward through some AOL Instant Messenger conversations and Facebook poking (admit it, you did it too!), we started hanging out one-on-one. We may not have known it at the time, but our strong foundation of friendship at the beginning has made for a great, long-lasting relationship. Eric and I dated long distance pretty much upon graduating from W&M, so when I relocated back to Virginia to teach, an hour of distance seemed like nothing. I’m not the easiest person to get along with, so I knew God made Eric for me, and he assured me “vice versa.”
Tell us all about the proposal! It’s pretty typical to see people get engaged on major holidays, especially ones centered around family. One of my good friends got engaged on Thanksgiving Eve, and when I ran into the O’Brien kitchen on Thanksgiving morning and shared the news, a look of horror spread across everyone’s faces. I couldn’t figure out then what caused their confused looks, but I know now it was because my ring was just around the corner! Around the holiday season, Williamsburg gets all dolled up in its holiday finest for tourists, so Eric and I decided to invite my parents up to spend the day with us and tour Colonial Williamsburg. We brought our dog, Boo, with us and booked a hotel so that we could make a weekend out of it. I didn’t think anything of it—it’s a pretty typical event. To kill time while waiting for my parents to arrive, we took Boo on campus for a walk. The Crim Dell and the Crim Dell Bridge have some campus history behind them. If you walk across the bridge by yourself, you’re doomed to singledom forever. On the flip side, whomever you walk across the bridge with is meant to be your soulmate. Eric feigned the idea that Boo was coming loose from his harness, so we stopped…right at the bridge. The next thing I knew, Eric started talking about how much this place meant to us, how much I mean to him, and how he can’t picture his life without my laugh, smile, and heart in it. For someone who is not one for words, he sure did nail them. Then, he got down on one knee with a ring box. I was speechless! I guess he was down there for a while because I remember him getting up and asking me if my non-talking was actually me saying yes. I said, “Yes!” and jumped up and kissed him the hardest I’ve ever kissed him. We walked to the crest of the bridge, and then he told me he had hired photographers to capture the entire proposal! I was floored!
When did y’all get married? June 28, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Describe your wedding flowers. We tried to keep our flowers as bright and light as possible. Our centerpieces had lilies, baby’s breath, and daisies. My bouquet had peonies, baby’s breath, and lamb’s ear. Lamb’s ear was my husband’s deceased grandmother’s favorite plant. Since she passed away, we honored her in our wedding program and in the bouquets and boutonnières. To keep the focus on the yellow color of the bridesmaids’ dresses, we had them each carry a bouquet of lamb’s ears and baby’s breath.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Even when planning from far away, we had the opportunity to do some projects ourselves. With the help of family and friends, we made over 300 tissue poms and strung over 100 cranes. I made all the personalized escort and place cards to match our literary theme. With my background in print publications, I made all of our stationery and thank you cards, using Wedding Paper Divas and Vistaprint to print them.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? At 86-years old, we were thrill that my paternal grandmother could make it. Despite being born and raised in the North, she has the sassy, sharp-witted tongue of a true Southern mama. During the wedding process, she fell in love with this loveseat that a vintage prop company, Paisley & Jade, had in their inventory. Grandma made a donation to our wedding fund and we used her contribution to get the loveseat for our sweetheart table.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Remember why you’re getting married and just throw an awesome party to show your gratitude for those who have been there for you through all aspects of your relationship. The day flies by, so take time together and just look around!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We had an amazing two-week honeymoon in Greece, which was an amazing time that we got to spend together as husband and wife. Now, we’re so excited to finally be living together. We’re looking forward to buying our first home and finally giving Boo the yard he deserves!

Photographer: Freshly Wed / Videographer: Lovell Productions / Planner: Colleen Cook of CCS Events / Ceremony Venue: Monumental Church / Reception Venue: Private residence / Florist: GM Littleton Design / Cake Baker: Cakes by Graham / Caterer: Catering by Jill / Rentals: Party Perfect / Lighting: Leap Audio & Visual / DJ: Sean Mcnamee / Special Details: Paisley & Jade / Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas and Vistaprint / Bride’s Ceremony Gown: Allure Couture / Bride’s Reception Gown: Watters / Bridal Salon: Bliss Bridal Shop / Bride’s Ceremony Jewelry: Divine Jewel / Bride’s Veil: Candi Merle / Hair and Makeup: Avenue 42 Style Studio / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “D523” and “D538 in Daffodil Peau de Soie by Alfred Sung / Groom’s Attire: Black by Vera Wang / Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Alterations: Salt & Pepa Sewing Nook and Connie of Natural Steps Alterations / Ice Cream Truck: Mister Softee / Food Truck: Pizza Tonight / Getaway Car: Carol Woodson Richmond Trolley

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

    What a gorgeous veil! I love the photos of the bridal party encountering well wishers in the city, too! :)

  2. avatar Denée reply

    This wedding is simply stunning. I love the design and the story. The pictures truly bring the event to life.

  3. avatar Amanda Dukes reply

    Freshly Wed always does amazing work! This is yet another example of a beautiful wedding photographed brilliantly and beautifully by one truly talented duo!! You’ve done it again, Freshly Wed!

  4. avatar Katie reply

    Beautiful wedding and beautiful photography by Freshly Wed!!!!

  5. avatar Caitlin reply

    The black and white image of the two of them at the top of the stairs laughing is my absolute favorite (my wedding partner, Jennifer, photographed it) – a glimpse into their future… laughing together for the rest of time! Thank you so much for this feature!

  6. avatar Dana reply

    love this wedding! the literature touches were perfect!

  7. avatar Loverly reply

    Loving the colorful twists on a classic Southern wedding!

  8. avatar Samantha reply

    This is so fun to relive! Freshlywed and all our vendors were absolutely fabulous! The literary theme was hard to pull off, but thank goodness for Colleen Cook at CCS Events!

  9. avatar Tracy reply

    Freshly Wed girls are the best!

  10. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    You don’t often see bridesmaids in yellow, but they pulled it off and the color was even complimentary to the blue in the church. And, the bride’s veil, wow!

  11. avatar Brooke & John Get Married at Public Landing – Blushing Blog reply

    […] Yellow Richmond Wedding by Freshly Wed […]

  12. avatar Historic Monumental Church Wedding | Virginia Film Wedding Photographer | William and Mary Wedding Photographer » Freshly Wed reply

    […] And to top it off, their wedding was featured on Southern Weddings! […]

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