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We feature all kinds of gorgeous and meaningful Southern weddings, from chic, modern celebrations, to fabulous ballroom weddings, to casual, outdoor soirées…but weddings like Elizabeth and Tripp’s feel kind of like our bread and butter to me. After a first look, they exchanged traditional vows at a church that holds tons of meaning for Elizabeth’s family (don’t miss the story below!), and then invited their guests to a reception in Elizabeth’s parents’ backyard that featured Southern details, family heirlooms, and even a tent dedicated to Ole Miss tailgate favorites. Elizabeth said, “The most Southern thing about our wedding would have to be the tradition behind every detail” and while I think her elegant wedding day look may be a close second, there’s no doubt that the inspiration she and Tripp drew from their roots and their love story are what made this day so magical!

Many thanks to Ashley Upchurch for sending this sweet celebration our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mom and I were out shopping one day and decided to pop into a bridal salon, The Bridal Path, that has been in the Jackson area for as long as I can remember. I always knew that would be the place where I would find my wedding dress. After trying on about five dresses, I put on the sixth one and knew that it was the perfect dress for me. After I picked out my veil and tried the entire ensemble on, I knew it was exactly what I was going to get married in a short five months later.

Tripp and I decided early on that we wanted to have an intimate moment, just the two of us, before our wedding ceremony. It was a chance for us to take a breath, pray together, and soak in the fact that we were about to begin the happiest journey of our lives.

The most memorable moment of our wedding day was a moment Tripp and I shared during my vows. I always get emotional at weddings and knew that my own wedding would be no different. After each phrase of my vows, I had to take a short breath to keep from falling to pieces in front of my groom and the church full of our family and friends. At one point, Tripp winked at me and whispered “I love you” in the middle of me reciting my vows. He is in a constant state of calm and that moment was no different. Those three little words got me through the rest of my vows, but not without a few more tears!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? My dad had recently restored the church that he and my mother were married in. The old sanctuary was built in the 1800s and was in horrible condition, so our church decided to tear it down and build a new sanctuary on the plot of land right beside it. My dad salvaged every possible thing from the old sanctuary, including the stained glass windows and exterior columns. It’s the most beautiful building in the world to me and I couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else. Our reception was held at my parents’ home, which is set in the middle of a pecan grove right outside the city limits of Forest, Mississippi. It has been my home since I was ten years old. It’s the place where Tripp first told me he loved me and where we’ve celebrated many holidays and special events with both of our families. We opened all of the French doors so guests were about to spend time both inside the house and outside around the pool and garden, where we had tents, food, and plenty of dancing.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? As guests entered my parents’ home for the reception, they were greeted by servers with trays of traditional mint juleps and blackberry lemonade. The food consisted of a seafood fountain of oysters on the half shell and tail-on shrimp! We also had individual servings of shrimp and grits. Since Tripp and I dated all through our time at Ole Miss, we had a Grove tent full of chicken on a stick, an individual slider station, corn dog nuggets, and more! Our favors were pecans that my MeMe and Great Aunt had picked from my parents’ pecan grove during the previous fall. My mom and I spent an entire day making them into delicious sugared pecans that we boxed up for our guests to enjoy! The most Southern thing about our wedding/reception would have to be the tradition behind every detail.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My favorite detail would have to be the wedding cake topper that belonged to my MeMe and PawPaw. I would always play with it as a little girl, and my MeMe so graciously let us display it in a gold and glass container on the table that our wedding cake was on. Tripp’s favorite detail was an antique truck that belongs to my dad–a 1965 Ford that belonged to my PawPaw when my dad was in high school. It was the same truck that my dad drove on his first date with my mom. As a nod to Ole Miss, we had a Grove tent with all the tailgating food you could imagine. We parked the Ford beside the tent and filled it with galvanized tubs of beer.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge was that I was planning a wedding from 900 miles away! Every weekend that I was able to travel to Mississippi was planned to the exact minute so that we were able to squeeze in all the planning we could. Thankfully, I have the most amazing mom and mother-in-law who made the process a lot less stressful than it could have been.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Our story began when Tripp and I met briefly through mutual friends while we were in high school. After reconnecting in the spring of 2011. when Tripp was a freshman and I was a sophomore at the University of Mississippi, Tripp asked me to be his date to Old South–his fraternity’s spring formal in New Orleans, Louisiana. We danced the entire night away and ended the weekend eating beignets while watching the sunrise over the Mississippi River. We’ve been inseparable ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl, and spending time with my dad is one of the things I miss the most about being close to home. So, when my dad suggested that we go on a father/daughter date while I was home over the Thanksgiving holidays, I was thrilled! My dad is a local building contractor in our small town in Mississippi, and over the past couple of years, had begun restoring an old, run-down building downtown called The Smith Building. It’s the most beautiful building with the best character. After spending our “date day” taking a dancing lesson, my dad and I headed home to practice what we had learned that afternoon. It was late November, so it was already dark by the time we arrived at the Smith Building, where we intended to practice. My dad made up an excuse that he needed to run home to get a stereo, so he left me to start the heat and turn all the lights on. The downstairs portion of the building was still in disarray, filled with tools and other materials, so I assumed we were practicing on the second floor, which was completely refinished. When I opened the door, I noticed that the steps were lined with pillar candles and white rose petals. In the distance, I could hear mine and Tripp’s song, “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray Lamontagne, playing softly in the background. After I walked up the steps and turned the corner, I found Tripp standing in a room filled with hundreds of candles and white roses. He had furnished the room with pieces that I immediately recognized: a red velvet couch that belonged to my grandmother, one of my favorite rugs that belonged to my mom, and more (he had obviously had some help from my three brothers!). Tripp had an entire speech prepared–he began at the moment he first saw me and ended at the moment he asked my dad for my hand in marriage. I had always joked that I wouldn’t remember anything he would say when he finally proposed, so he had thoughtfully set up cameras around the room to capture the moment from every angle. After many sweet words and lots of tears, Tripp got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Afterwards, we drove to my parents’ house because Tripp said both of our families were there to celebrate with us by having a small family dinner. When we opened the door, however, 100 of our closest friends and family members were there to greet us with champagne and lots of love!
When did y’all get married? June 4, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 400
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Tripp and I decided to use traditional vows.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Music has always been a large part of both mine and Tripp’s lives. While I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, Tripp is a phenomenal singer (it’s one of the things I love most about him). We wanted to incorporate hymns that we both loved, while honoring the way each of us has grown up in the church. Our grandmothers were seated to “Amazing Grace,” a favorite of them all. The solo was “Be Thou My Vision,” which reduces me to tears by the time I get to the verse that reads “Heart of my own heart, whatever befall; Still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all” every single time I sing it. I walked down the aisle to the strings rendition of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” which has always and will always be my favorite hymn.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was a four-tiered masterpiece created by The Cake Diva, Maria de La Barre. The flavor of each tier alternated between creme brûlée and traditional almond wedding cake with champagne flavoring. Ivory and blush garden and spray roses cascaded from the top tier to the bottom. The groom’s cake was duck-hunting themed, a favorite hobby of Tripp’s since he was a child. It was a chocolate cake topped by a handmade edible duck decoy and antique shotgun shells. Tripp also had individual tiramisu on his cake table–his favorite dessert of all time.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Tripp and I spent a lot of time in prayer in the months leading up to our wedding. After moving to DC almost two years ago while Tripp was still in Mississippi in graduate school, we’ve spent the last couple of years making our relationship work through constant communication and making the most out of the moments we were able to be in the same place. We soaked up all the advice we could from family and friends and spent time in marriage counseling with my pastor, who also performed our wedding ceremony.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Tripp and I are settling into our cozy life as husband and wife in Washington, DC. Through work obligations and spending time with old and new friends in DC, we still take time to just enjoy each other’s company. We are most excited about sharing this wonderful city together and learning new things about one another every day.

Photographer: Ashley Upchurch Photography | Videographer: Frameblender Films | Planner, Special Details, and Paper Products: Stella and Company | Ceremony Venue: Forest Presbyterian Church | Reception Venue: Private residence | Florist: Au Courant | Cake Baker: The Cake Diva | Caterer and Rentals: Pretty Presentations Catering and Event Rentals | Lighting and Tents: Great Southern Events | Band: The DMP Band | Bride’s Gown: “Eiran” by La Sposa | Bride’s Veil and Jewelry: The Bridal Path | Hair and Makeup: Jan Crowell | Bride’s Shoes: “Giana” by Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Anabel” by J. Crew | Menswear: Tuxes Too | Calligraphy: J. Graham Lettering and Design | Printing: Dement Printing Company

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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It has been such a delight having Meg, our spring intern, with us this semester! Since her time in our office is wrapping up, we couldn’t resist asking her to introduce y’all to one of our beautiful real wedding features! – Lisa

You know a couple is a special when an entire street shuts down to celebrate their big day! McKara and Brandon paid homage to their beloved downtown Lakeland in the best way possible–by using its streets as the venue for their reception! Ashton Events, one of our super talented Blue Ribbon Vendors, transformed N. Kentucky Avenue and Pine Street using the most darling and whimsical vintage details (I’m still swooning over those antique floral teacups), while still keeping in mind McKara and Brandon’s main desire: to highlight the strong sense of community that Lakeland has to offer. Guests enjoyed a yummy meal seated at gorgeous, community-style farmhouse tables, and the night ended with the couple inviting folks walking by to join in on the fun. How beautiful is that? McKara and Brandon really captured the sweet essence of community while fusing it with their own quirky and vintage taste. I’m completely tickled with this fun couple and their big day…and I think y’all will be, too!

Thank you, Esther Louise Photography, for sharing this wonderful day with us!

I had my heart set on a peach-hued gown. After looking in boutiques in Florida, I found that none of the bridal shops stocked dresses in the peachy/pink hues I had in mind. I wanted to try on the dress in the color I would be wearing, so a trip to New York City was set up. My mom and my best friend/maid of honor flew up to Manhattan with appointments set at several boutiques who had confirmed they had peach dresses in stock for me to try on. Our first stop was Kleinfeld’s. I really did not have high hopes for finding my dress at Kleinfeld’s because I had my eye on a Carol Hannah dress that I was sure was the one. But, I figured since Kleinfeld’s had the largest selection of peach dresses in stock, it would be worthwhile. Upon arriving, we were extremely impressed with the customer service. Our consultant, Judy, was helpful and attentive. She brought me a brand new style from Lazaro in a peony color–it was just in and had not even been tried on by anyone before. Judy pulled me into the dress and it was beautiful. The peony color was made from alternating layers of ivory, pale yellow, and pale pink tulle created a variation of peach hues within the skirt. The strapless sweetheart neckline was wrapped in delicate peach Chantilly lace with a little peplum over the mountain of tulle. I felt like a cupcake in the best possible way–the softest, peachiest, prettiest cupcake. But, that Carol Hannah dress was still in my mind, which Judy knew. My mom, MOH, and I toured a few more boutiques–Lovely, Reem Acra, and then finally, Carol Hannah. As I slipped into “the dress” I had been dreaming of, I waited for the feeling to know this is the one. Carol was on-site and came out to talk with me as I tried it on. As I evaluated the dress and discussed tweaks with Carol, my mom pointed out that all the changes I was asking for were to make the dress look like the Lazaro dress. She was right. I wanted the Carol Hannah gown to be the one so badly, but I had left my dress at Kleinfeld’s with Judy. The next morning, we returned to Kleinfeld’s. The sales manager saw us in the waiting area and said, “I was just talking about you during the sales meeting this meeting. I told the consultants that not every bride comes in here with red hair, wants a peach dress, and finds the perfect gown. I knew you would come back.”

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Brandon and I wrote our ceremony together, with input from our officiant–a local community member/friend we admire. We opted to write vows we would both say together versus separate vows we would make to each other. Our completed vows are a very accurate description of the nature of our relationship. This line, in particular, really speaks to our relationship: “I vow to take on anything this world sends our way, standing back to back with you, the one I love most.” I’ve always felt a good visual of our relationship is similar to a movie where two superhero partners are standing back-to-back, with threats coming at them from every direction. We’re not focused on the same thing all of the time, and we may not see what the other sees, but at the end of the day, I feel Brandon behind me and he’s got my back. I can count on that every minute, which allows me to trust him, tackle whatever is thrown at me, jump at opportunities that arise, and always know he will be there if I turn around.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We really credit the time we spent while creating my engagement ring before we were engaged as the most concentrated time we spent focusing on the idea of marriage. We discussed a lot about what we wanted from the relationship, what a successful marriage looked like to each of us, and made the choice together to move forward. Although Brandon traditionally “asked” me to marry him during the proposal, it was really a joint decision we made prior to that day.

The ceremony venue, The Loggia at Lake Mirror, is one of our favorite places in Lakeland. The 1920’s architecture overlooking the beautiful lake are right in line with our style. When discussing a ceremony venue, Brandon and I both instantly agreed about The Loggia. We wanted to be outdoors and this was the ideal venue. For the reception, we went a little outside of the box. We knew our guest list could be a little on the heavy side, eliminating most venues of our taste in the Lakeland area. We didn’t want to have to cut guests to accommodate the venue restrictions. One Saturday, while walking through the Farmer’s Market, I asked Brandon, “Why can’t we just have our reception here?” in a wishful thinking kind of way. Brandon thought about it and said, “I bet we could get the city to close the streets for us if they do for the Farmer’s Market.” From there, the ball began to roll. Our hearts were set on the streets of downtown as our reception venue. We approached the City of Lakeland for a road closure request. They had never been asked to hold a private party in the streets and were a little on the unsure side at first. From there, our wedding coordinator, Laura with Ashton Events, worked through all the red tape and permits. The finished reception result was completely worth it. For a fee at a fraction of the cost of a ballroom at a hotel, we were able to close three blocks of downtown Lakeland for our cocktail hour and reception. Cafe lights were strung between the buildings lining the street, feasting tables were brought in for a family-style BBQ dinner on vintage china, the coffee shop we frequent most mornings stayed open late to provide coffee and tea, we created a dance floor in the middle of an intersection, and our favorite wine bar around the corner hosted the after party. Ashton Events was instrumental in coordinating all the moving pieces of the party. It would have never been possible without Laura and her team.

With the venues that we chose, we had a lot of design elements to pull in to fill the space. We essentially started with a blank canvas. For the ceremony, we used a greenery garland at the top of the aisle and vintage wood crates and boxes filled with airy baby’s breath, which I loved as a fun, ethereal filler. Both components were repurposed at the reception in the lounge area. For my bouquet, I carried a hand-tied bouquet with a variety of peach, ivory, and pale pink blooms, lots of greenery, and a few scabiosa pods. Each of the bridesmaid’s bouquets was comprised entirely of one kind of bloom that was represented in my bouquet. This, to me, represented how each of the ‘maids was a different part and sector of my life, but how they all helped make it beautiful. On each of the bouquets, I selected a variety of textiles like velvet ribbon, silk strips, and fuzzy yarns to create a streamer/tassel look hanging from the blooms. For the centerpieces, we used a variety of vintage vases and vessels with springs and sprays of various peach, cream, and pale pink blossoms with lots of greenery and some scabiosa pods.

Our date has special significance because both Brandon’s parents and my parents were married on the same date. We incorporated this into our save the dates by having both sets of parents in the photo. We stood in front of our ceremony location at The Loggia and each couple held a sign with their wedding date, mine and Brandon’s reading October 10, 2014. We wanted guests to know the significance from the get-go, and this was a fun, visual way to share that. At the wedding, we surprised our parents with a little tribute to their anniversaries. Our cake table showcased five smaller cakes rather than one large cake. When it was time to cut the cake, we had displayed both sets of parents’ cake toppers on two of the cakes on the table, in addition to our cake with our own topper. We asked our parents to join us and we all took turns cutting our cakes. They were surprised and touched by the sentiment.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We elected for five smaller cakes instead of one large cake. This allowed us to select a few different flavors and create a display that included our parent’s wedding cake toppers for their anniversaries. We (and I really mean Brandon, because this was his favorite meeting of the whole wedding planning process) chose a pink champagne cake with a whipped icing as our center cake, which was layered with fresh strawberries. Strawberries are heavily grown in the local area, so this was a nice way to incorporate a little bit more of our city into the wedding. Two of the smaller cakes were orange citrus cake with cream cheese icing–again, a nod to the large citrus industry of our city. The final two small cakes were chocolate with vanilla icing (my personal favorite when it comes to classic flavors). We used five different vintage cake plates to create a display for the beautiful cakes. Each cake was decorated differently, utilizing watercolor painting on a very thin outer layer of fondant, a rustic icing with a sugar bloom, or an application of gold foil. Our main cake that Brandon and I cut featured adorable little ivory china swans with gold foil details from BHLDN. Swans are a big part of the Lakeland community, serving as the symbol of the city, so this was one more tie in to our community.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? That Brandon and I were able to enjoy every single moment. I’ve always heard that your wedding day flies by–you blink and it’s over. I’m not a relaxed personality type, but the day of our wedding, we both were so laid back. We were able to savor every moment and every memory. That is my favorite part–that I am able to relive the whole day in my head and remember being 100% present for those moments, not only through the beautiful photos and video. I credit this to having such a solid conductor of events at the helm with Laura from Ashton Events. We could relax because we knew it was all taken care of and every piece was being executed as planned.

Don’t miss McKara and Brandon’s wedding film by White in Revery!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met our freshman year at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. We were both involved in sorority/fraternity life and were serving on Greek Council together. Brandon hardly spoke–he’s the quiet, shy type. I eventually transferred to finish my degree at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Our senior year of college, we reconnected through a Facebook status I commented on. We started private messaging and the conversation continued for three months while I finished an internship in England. Brandon had promised to cook me dinner and show me all these great new places in Jacksonville that had popped up since I left–so when I returned stateside, I made a visit to Jacksonville to “visit friends,” testing if Brandon would follow through. He did. He nervously cooked me dinner with the scarce ingredients in his downtown loft and we watched SNL skits all night. The next day, we went to the beach and he pulled me into the ocean…fully dressed. From there, we took visits back and forth between Jacksonville and Tampa until our graduation the following semester.
Tell us all about the proposal! Being that I’m in the design industry (and a Class A control freak), I’m extremely particular about, well, just about everything. When Brandon brought up the idea of marriage, the conversation naturally led to him asking about the type of ring I would like. Together, we spent about seven months sourcing the center stone (a peach seven-karat Morganite) and locating a local jeweler willing to create a custom ring. This was a very enjoyable time in our relationship–it eased us into the concept of marriage and moved us towards the future together. Finally, on August 11, 2012, I stated to Brandon that “I wasn’t going to spend the next however long on pins and needles, trying to look my cutest all the time just waiting for him to propose.” With his sheepish smile, Brandon told me “Well, just look cute today.” I didn’t get the hint and continued to playfully badger him. We went down to the Farmer’s Market, like we do every Saturday, but then Brandon split off, saying he had to drop something off and he’d catch up with me–knowing I’d head to one of our favorite vintage treasure haunts, The Black Swan Bazaar. After browsing, I was ready to move to the next shop, but one of the owners kept pulling me around the store to show me new inventory. Finally, Brandon showed at the entrance of the store. As I turned to head out, I was pulled one more time by the shop keeper who said, “Oh, have you seen one of these before?” as she touched the top of a cut-glass candy dish. I was thinking “Duh, lady, it’s a candy dish…” as she lifted the lid. Mid-thought, I saw a glimpse of the ring Brandon and I had been working on, inside the candy dish in a little box. I turned to look at Brandon and found him on one knee. Brandon muttered somethings which I don’t think my brain even heard because I was completely caught off-guard. We celebrated for a few minutes with the owners and shoppers at The Black Swan before Brandon informed me that his parents were at my parents’ house for a little celebration brunch.
When did y’all get married? October 10, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 200
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? The rental fees for the venues were very low. The Loggia was about $750 for the ceremony and closing the streets cost about $250. The streets were a blank canvas, so we had to bring in all the tables, linens, chairs, etc., but we had carte blanche on which vendors to use. We created custom packages with our photographers and videographers to met our needs. The packages they had were either a little under what we were wanting or a little over, so we asked for a personalized package. Typically we would have had to pay extra for things we didn’t want/need, but our vendors were super great and worked with us to meet our needs, which saved us money. For the centerpieces, my mom and I hunted and collected vintage vessels for the two years Brandon and I were engaged. We were able to find most pieces for $1-3 at thrift stores, garage sales, or antique shops. This saved on the cost of the rental, and we were also able to resell the items after the wedding to recoup the cost.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Hire a wedding coordinator! Hands down, it will be the best money you spend on the wedding. Don’t skimp on the hands to do the work that you plan! A lot of time, coordinators can help save you money through vendor relationships they’ve built.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Well, we found out a month after the wedding that we were expecting a baby. So we’re now enjoying the whirlwind experience of becoming parents to a baby boy! We’re looking forward to seeing where the next couple of years take us with my business, Brandon’s career, and watching our son, Rex, grow up in a city we love.

Photographer: Esther Louise Photography | Videographer: White in Revery | Planner: Ashton Events | Ceremony Venue: City of Lakeland’s Loggia | Reception Venue: Downtown Lakeland, N. Kentucky Ave & Pine Street | Florist: FH Weddings | Cake Baker: Hands On Sweets | Caterer: Hickory Hollow BBQ | Rentals: Wish Vintage Rentals | Lighting: Tampa Lights | Band: Brian Sutherland Band | DJ: Cory Baron | China: Dishie Rentals | Paper Products: Boutique Greek | Bride’s Gown: “Style 3300” in Peony by Lazaro | Bride’s Accessories: Lazaro, Carolee, and Kate Spade | Hair and Makeup: Michelle Renee The Studio | Bride’s Shoes: Cynthia Rowley | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Fifth Avenue Showstopper Dress” by Badgley Mischka | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse, JoS. A. Bank, The Tie Bar, and Johnston Murphy | Linens: Kate Ryan Linens | Chairs: Signature Event Rentals | Bartenders: Tucker’s Southside Liquor & Package | Coffee and Tea: Mitchell’s Coffee House | Vintage Cars: MJC Classic Cars | After-Party Location: Tony’s Studio B | Photo Booth: Bash Booth

Ashton Events is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by admin
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After reading hundreds of real wedding interviews as an editor here at Southern Weddings, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my own wedding day would feel like. But, from the moment I woke up on May 2, 2015, all of my expectations were blown out of the water in the sweetest, best way. The entire day felt like a dream–not because every detail turned out perfectly or every second of our timeline was followed to a tee (neither was the case!), but because after a journey that spanned five years, three states, and two countries, I got to marry my best friend in the world, surrounded by the people I love more than anything. I was so honored and humbled to share my and Dave’s wedding day with y’all in V8, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading a little bit more about the heart behind our inspiration and the details we included below!

I am forever grateful to Ryan Ray for capturing our day so beautifully on film. These images take me right back, and I can think of no greater gift than that!

I was SO nervous about dress shopping—I love bridal fashion, and knew I wanted a dress that I had never seen before (easier said than done for this wedding magazine editor!). I only had one weekend to shop with my mom and sisters, so we scheduled four appointments in Houston, the first being at Joan Pillow, where they were having a trunk show for my favorite designer, Monique Lhuillier. My dress ended up being the second one I tried on, and while I loved it right away, I still wanted to see what else was out there. I went to two other appointments and tried on lots of beautiful options, but ended up comparing every other dress to the Monique Lhuillier. By the time we went back to Joan Pillow the next day, I could hardly wait to get into my dress (technically, a top and skirt combo!), and when I had it on, it just made me happy. I loved the combination of lace and tulle, and the alternating raw and horsehair-edged tiers on the skirt were so unique and special. I now can’t picture our wedding without it, and it was one of my very favorite details of the day!

One of the best decisions I made for the wedding was asking Kelly Perry of Philosophy Flowers to create the bouquets, boutonnieres, and ceremony flowers. She was a dream to work with, and the arrangements she created were perfect. Pink peonies were the first flowers Dave ever gave me when we started dating, so they’re extra special to both of us, and I dreamed of including both peonies and dogwoods in my wedding flowers. When the dogwoods began to bloom a month early, I was heartbroken that they wouldn’t make it to May. Kelly told me not to worry, and I still have no idea how she did it, but sure enough, she made it happen in a bigger way than I had ever imagined! She included so many gorgeous spring flowers, including peonies and dogwoods, in all of the bouquets, and every time I smell my favorite peonies now, it brings me back to that day.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something new was my dress, and my something old was a beautiful embroidered handkerchief that had belonged to Dave’s grandmother. My something blue was my favorite! On her way to the wedding from Austin, my sister picked a few blue bonnets, and snuck them up to North Carolina in a water bottle. I tucked them into the back of my bouquet, and they made me so happy! It was really sweet to have a little piece of my home state with me all day, especially since we weren’t getting married in Texas.

What did the groom and groomsmen wear? Our number one priority for the gents was great fit. Dave chose a navy blue suit from J. Crew, and his groomsmen wore similar navy J. Crew pants that were a bit less expensive. Our dads wore navy suits from J. Crew Factory, so we technically had three slightly different J. Crew navies on the guys, but you could hardly tell, and it was great to ask everyone to pay a price they were comfortable with. As his gift to them, Dave bought all of the guys white shirts from Brooks Brothers and had the cuffs monogrammed in navy thread. They all looked so handsome, and we got multiple comments from the guys about how much they loved their outfits!
Did you include any Southern traditions in your wedding? Dave buried a bottle of bourbon at our first look location a month before the wedding, and then dug it up the morning of the wedding with his groomsmen—we credit this, plus lots of prayer, for our beautiful weather!

Did you do a first look? We did—we are admittedly both criers, and thought seeing each other before the ceremony would help us hold it together during my walk down the aisle! Even though we did a first look, we chose not to do any family or bridal party portraits during that time. It was an intimate time for just for the two of us to pray, rejoice, and thank God for the blessing of that day.

We had a traditional Catholic Mass ceremony, and it was perfect for us in every way. We spent a lot of time during our engagement praying about and preparing our ceremony so that it would truly reflect how important our faith is to us and how deeply we value the sacrament of marriage. Having our priest, Father Edward Wolanski, marry us was a huge blessing—he knows us and our story well, and did the most incredible job expressing the beauty of sacramental marriage throughout the ceremony. We were so honored that the reverence of our ceremony was the number one thing our guests commented on—God is the most important part of our lives and our marriage, and we are so happy our guests were able to recognize that on our wedding day.

We like to joke that Dave is a country boy from New York and I’m a city girl from Texas. Balancing urban and rustic is something we find ourselves doing in our day-to-day lives, and choosing just one aesthetic for our wedding didn’t seem like it would reflect us accurately enough. I love that we gave our guests a taste of downtown Raleigh through our ceremony—the church is right in the heart of the city, a block away from the state capitol. The tailored, elegant styling at our reception carried that feel throughout the day, but the reception setting provided plenty of Southern pastoral loveliness, from the gardens around Fearrington, to the barn venue, to the black and white Belted Galloway cows grazing in a field just a few yards from the party!

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? Our guests gathered in the courtyard outside of the barn before the reception, and enjoyed our two passed hors d’oeurves (a mini BLT and a potato fritter with truffle crème fraiche), our two signature cocktails (a cucumber gin and tonic and a spiked sweet tea and lemonade), and a display of local cheeses (the one thing my Wisconsin-born and bred dad insisted on!). We also served wine and a selection of four beers, including three that were brewed in North Carolina. In the meantime, Dave and I had some champagne with our bridal party and families in the Fearrington Garden House, took family and bridal party pictures, took portraits of the two of us, and then relaxed alone together. We loved how much time we got alone together on our wedding day to soak in the moments—both during our car ride from the ceremony to the reception, and at the end of cocktail hour!

I had always wanted to be married in the spring—I think it’s the most romantic season, and all my favorite flowers are in bloom! We chose May 2 because it was the Saturday before a Catholic feast day that is meaningful to us. Choosing which state to get married in was one of our hardest decisions, since I’m from Virginia and my family lives in Texas, and Dave is from New York. We settled on our new state of North Carolina because we wanted to be married by our priest and at our parish, Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. It’s so beautiful and intimate, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t picture our future wedding the first time we set foot inside together while we were dating. We chose Fearrington for our reception because I wanted an indoor venue that was surrounded by beautiful outdoor space for portraits. There are lots of fantastic indoor venues in the Triangle, but Fearrington was the only place that checked off both of my must-haves. The vibe there is also a lovely combination of European and Southern, which nodded to both the place where we met and the place we now call home!

Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: We splurged on beautiful white draping and twinkle lights on the ceiling to make the room feel a little bit magical. Our long guest tables were covered in white linens with gray and white ticking stripe runners, handmade by my mom. Running down the tables were alternating gray and white taper candles in mismatched silver candlesticks we had collected, and silver julep cup-sized floral arrangements in pale blushes and whites with greenery that trailed onto the tables. At each place setting was a gray napkin and a crisp white menu that featured our new married monogram. Dave and I sat at a sweetheart table covered in a sparkly white linen, in white chiavari chairs decorated with garlands. Our black and white checkered dance floor was one detail my mom insisted on, and we’re so glad she did—it made the room! Our cake was displayed on a round table covered with a white, sparkly linen, and placed on a silver cake stand. We also had a dessert display that featured four of our favorite treats, arranged on all different white cake stands. Finally, we had a table for our family photo display, where we included wedding pictures of our parents, grandparents, and Dave’s siblings. That table also held our “guest book” cards—postcards from Texas (my home state), New York (Dave’s home state), and North Carolina (where our wedding was held), where our guests could write their prayers, wishes, and advice for our marriage.

Our reception was so much fun! I really wanted to dance a LOT, and am so glad that that’s exactly what I did. Dave and I started the reception with our first dance as soon as we entered. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, listened to sweet toasts from my sisters and Dave’s best man, and cut into our delicious cake. Then, my dad and I did our father-daughter dance to “Little Miss Magic” by Jimmy Buffett—he raised my siblings and me on Jimmy Buffett music, and I couldn’t imagine having our dance to anything else. He sang the whole thing in my ear, and kept me posted when my mom and sisters started bawling! Next up, Dave and his mom danced to “Say a Little Prayer for You,” which transitioned into a polka to open the dance floor! Wedding polkas are a Kirk family tradition, and since both of our families share Polish heritage, it got everyone out there! I stayed on the dance floor for most of the night, breaking only to show my Grandma her and my Grandpa’s wedding picture in our family photo display, and to sneak a few bites of our wedding cake!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. The first time Dave and I saw each other was in January 2010 while studying abroad from Franciscan University in the Sound of Music-esque little town of Gaming, Austria. Dave had already spent the fall semester there, and was an RA for the spring, so my very first memory of Dave was that he was the handsome RA. I was a little bit excited when I was assigned to his small group to learn about things like which Austrian cleaning material was which! We officially met about a month or so later, in the cafeteria. He sat down next to me at dinner with some mutual friends, and after asking me where I was from, we found out that one of my high school friends (side note: I went to high school in Qatar) was one of his best friends. A few weeks later, we connected immediately while in Italy with a bunch of friends, and were inseparable for the rest of the semester. We made some amazing memories in Europe as friends over the next few months, but after the semester ended, I transferred schools and we didn’t keep in touch. We never stopped thinking about each other though, and three years (and a lot of growing up) later, we reconnected at the perfect time in both of our lives. We knew within a week of talking again that this was it, and Dave proposed ten months later!
Tell us about the proposal! Dave flew to North Carolina to celebrate with me at my very first Southern Weddings launch party. A few hours into the party, while I was mingling and chatting with guests, Dave told me he had a letter from my mom that she wanted me to read in private. I reluctantly agreed to go with him “in just ten more minutes,” while unbeknownst to me at the time, the rest of the SW gals were trying to cut off all my conversations! Finally, I agreed to follow Dave out of the ballroom and down the hall of The Carolina Inn to the Sun Room, where he claimed his coat was being kept. There, he gave me a letter and I sat down on the couch to read it. The first line was the answer to a promise I had made my mom when I was 7, telling her I’d never agree to a proposal without calling her and asking if it was okay first! Dave had me stand, told me the sweetest things, and then got on one knee and asked me to marry him. After a few minutes of relishing in the joy of the moment, I asked Dave what to do now—should we call our parents? Go back to the party? Should I hide the ring? He told me to “leave it on and see who notices,” which I thought was strange, but I went with it. As soon as we stepped back into the ballroom, Lara grabbed the mic to announce our engagement, and confetti filled the air. Dave pulled me onto the dance floor for a dance to our song, played by the live bluegrass band, and then we spent the rest of the night Facetiming family and friends from the hallway. It was a magical day!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Joyful, sacred, and sweet
How many guests attended your wedding? 130
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We walked back up the aisle to the Wedding March, which my parents had also used at their wedding. I wasn’t even considering it at first, but knew we had to use it when our music director played it during our meeting and I burst into tears picturing that moment! Hearing it on the organ as we exited the church, mixing with the bells chiming outside, was completely surreal.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Lisa: While our first look, walking down the aisle, and saying our vows were all incredible, memorable moments, the one that stands out the most for both of us is one we hadn’t planned or anticipated. After the last song of the night, our DJ sent all of our guests outside to get ready for our sparkler exit. I was standing at the edge of the dance floor alone, trying to take in everything just one more time, when our DJ began to play “La Vie en Rose” over the speakers. Before I knew what was happening, my new husband pulled me onto the dance floor and held me close while we had one more dance. We held each other and cried grateful tears and said “We’re so lucky” over and over again. We’ve played that song just a few times since that day and danced in our apartment, and every time, when I close my eyes, I’m right back there in that perfect moment. Dave: Our last dance. Everyone was lining up for the sparkler exit outside, and the DJ unexpectedly played one last song, “La Vie en Rose.” Lisa and I just held each other and soaked in every last second of what was the most incredible day of our lives.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. Our first dance song was a given to us: “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. We bonded over our love for the song early in our dating days, and it has seemed to follow us everywhere! We’ve danced to it at a honky-tonk in Austin, an Irish pub in Syracuse, behind the trees at an outdoor bluegrass show in North Carolina, and now, at our wedding. That said, we barely practiced for our first dance, and never got around to scheduling the dance lessons we had wanted to take. Our first dance was far from the most impressive ever, but it was really sweet to us and we just had fun with it :)
Did you toss the garter or bouquet? Neither of us is a fan of garter tosses, so we skipped that tradition, but I did toss my bouquet! I think that moment has such a sweet “rite of passage” feel, and I definitely didn’t want to miss out on it. The DJ played “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble, and my little sister caught the bouquet—can’t say my dad was super thrilled about that ;)
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? We are both passionate about the Catholic teachings on marriage and the theology of the body, so preparing for marriage was very spiritually focused for both of us. Along with an engagement retreat and meetings with our priest, we also read a number of books, including Love and Responsibility, The Theology of the Body for Beginners, Heaven’s Song, and Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Our reception venue handled the coordination, catering, cake, lighting, and reception flowers, and while such an all-inclusive place is a wonderful option for many brides, I would have preferred to choose more of my own vendors.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Give yourself a deadline for all of your wedding tasks to be done, and once that day comes, hand everything off to someone else or let it go. I was so stressed out in the month leading up to the wedding, so the week before, I decided I would do two more little tasks, but that was it. I even told my coordinator that if anything came up, she should talk to my mom to have it taken care of instead of me. Worked like a charm! As soon as I did that, I felt like the burden was lifted off of my shoulders, and I got to truly enjoy the week leading up to our wedding.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are settled into our apartment outside of Raleigh, and are loving every single second of being newlyweds. Living together and sharing every aspect of life is such a joy! We are looking forward to lots of travel, both to explore new places and to visit our families on opposite sides of the country, and we are excited to someday have a big family!

Photographer: Ryan Ray | Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films | Ceremony Venue: Sacred Heart Cathedral | Reception Venue, Reception Florals, Coordination, Catering, Cake Baker, and Lighting: Fearrington Village | Personal and Ceremony Florals: Philosophy Flowers | Bride’s Gown: Monique Lhuillier | Bridal Salon and Veil: Joan Pillow Houston | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN | Bride’s Bracelet: Kendra Scott | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Annabelle” in Mist Gray by Jenny Yoo for BHLDN | Mother of the Bride’s Dress: Watters | Mother of the Groom’s Dress: Adrianna Papell | Hair and Makeup: Lula Hair and Makeup | Groom’s Suit, Groomsmen’s Pants, and Flower Girl Dress: J. Crew | Men’s Shirts: Brooks Brothers | Invitation Suite Design and Menus: Paper Daisies Stationery | Invitation Suite Calligraphy, Escort Cards, and Bar Menu: MM Ink Studio | Watercolor Map, Programs, and Other Reception Signage: Morgan Moore | Dance Floor and Sweetheart Table Chairs: Party Reflections Raleigh | Sweetheart, Cake, and Guest Book Table Linens: La Tavola Linens | Transportation: Walter Harris | DJ: Mark McNally of Joe Bunn DJ Company

Inkspot Crow Films, Lula Hair and Makeup, and Joe Bunn DJ Company are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Our Wedding Morning – Something Pretty reply

    […] That story is coming on Tuesday…but if you want a sneak peek, check out our feature on the Southern Weddings blog this morning, and our video post which will be live at 10:30 EST! […]

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Magical and beautiful – all of it :)

  3. avatar Rhiannon reply

    The most beautiful wedding I ever did see :)

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Xoxoxo! The smell of the perfume you so sweetly gifted me takes me right back to it :)

  4. avatar Four years of marriage – Em for Marvelous – reply

    […] This year, I wanted to share some advice from the priest who officiated Lisa and Dave’s wedding. […]

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