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This week marks one year that my boyfriend and I have been dating long-distance, so Brent and Graham’s story is extra special to me today! While I love reliving each real wedding we post through the pictures, the stories from the couple make the photos even more meaningful! Brent and Graham have the sweetest dating story, so be sure to read the story of how they met and how long they dated long-distance below. (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot longer than a year!) I’m positive I could learn a thing or two from this sweet couple on how to thrive in a long-distance relationship.

No amount of rain or chilly September air could hide the joy on their faces or the celebration in the air as you scroll through the photos below! I love how in the years ahead, the couple will be able to go back to Brent’s family’s home and relive their big day as their family grows!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for these images!

We went to Charlotte Latin School together from 5th grade onward, but hardly interacted until junior year of high school. We became good friends at the start of senior year and went on our first date the month before graduating. Because we like to make our lives *so* simple and easy, we began dating right after high school graduation – just days before he left for his summer internship in D.C. and the summer before we both headed off to separate colleges in separate states. Four years later, after racking up hundreds of Southwest Airlines miles to see each other on weekends, spending three summers in separate cities, and two study abroad semesters that resulted in us not seeing each other for six months, we both moved to New York City. Seven years and two months after we first began dating, Graham popped the question!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We recited standard vows during the ceremony; however, I made sure to write him all of my vows, both serious and not so serious, in the letter that I had delivered to him the morning of our wedding.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two! We asked Graham’s mentor and good friend to read an excerpt from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. My “other father”, the father of my best friend and maid of honor, followed with a reading from I John 4:7-8, 12. Our minister also gave a brief homily.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It’s so hard to choose! I’ll never forget the moment my dad and I had together right before we walked down the aisle. We were both teary, emotional, shaking, and overwhelmingly happy. To share in such an intimate moment together was so special. He kept whispering in my ear “this is so surreal!” as we walked down the aisle.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? From day one, we both knew we didn’t want to do a first look and I’m so glad we didn’t. The anticipation of seeing his face as the church doors opened and watching him as he watched me and my dad walk down the aisle was a moment I wasn’t willing to forfeit. It’s still one of the many decisions that I have absolutely no regrets about, and it’s a moment I’ll remember so vividly for the rest of my life.

I grew up in the North Carolina countryside with my parents’ house sitting on 344 acres of land, centered around a steeplechase course. It’s my home and such a beautiful and unique setting – there was no question that that’s where we would get married. We debated having the ceremony on the property as well versus in our church, but deep down I’d always wanted to be married in our church – Christ Church of Charlotte – which just so happens to be where Graham and I were both confirmed together in 8th grade.

Honestly, everything about the weekend was just so “us”. The flowers stood out to us as really bringing the venue to life and making it feel like the most magical place on a rainy, chilly evening in September. We also made an effort to add touches of our personalities everywhere, from “Please Don’t Take My Drink, I’m Dancing!” napkins that were distributed at the bars once the band started (there’s nothing worse than putting your drink down only to find an efficient waiter has removed it two minutes later!), to a map of our food stations so people knew where to go for what, to a lawn jockey hand-painted with our wedding logo on it to welcome our guests as they entered the reception.

All southerners know the importance of good (fried) food, so we incorporated Southern twists into our food stations. A few of our favorites were Deep South BBQ Eggrolls with Carolina BBQ inside and the Southern Pimento Mac n Cheese. We had Fried Chicken and Waffle Skewers as our passed late-night snack since a good southern hostess never lets her guests go home hungry.

My sweet tooth is unmatched, though I sadly can’t say the same about Graham’s. We knew we wanted a more traditional cake, and Kathy Allen is the woman to go to in Charlotte for elegant cakes with a twist. Ours was five tiers with alternating layers of Spice Cake and Almond Cake. At the end of the night, I gave each of my bridesmaids a sugar flower from the cake in a glass dome to remember the weekend by. We now have a few of the flowers displayed around our house and every time I walk by them, it makes me smile. I’m counting down the days until our first anniversary and I can tear open our top layer in the freezer!

Tell us all about the proposal! It was almost the proposal that didn’t happen! I was determined to get my haircut that afternoon but just two days prior, Graham called and said his parents wanted to do a family dinner that same evening to celebrate my birthday, which was a few days away. Not unusual or suspicious in the least but something I tried to get out of in order to make my desperately-needed haircut. On the day of the proposal, my lovely coworkers threw me a surprise birthday celebration late that afternoon, complete with massive ice cream sandwiches. Never one to say no to sweets, I happily partook, but was left feeling less than stellar. I called Graham once again and tried to get out of the dinner, this time claiming I really didn’t feel well and dinner was the last thing I could stomach (pardon the pun). He once again convinced me I had to come, so we agreed we would meet up and cab to Central Park together since the restaurant, The Loeb Boathouse, was in the middle of the park. The taxi dropped us off at the edge and we wandered in along the pathways until we came to the Conservatory Pond, one of our favorite spots in Central Park. Before I knew it, Graham was telling me how much I meant to him and I immediately blacked out. I got so caught up in the moment that I had to ask him later on if I had even told him “yes.” (I had!) After we soaked in the moment together, we continued on through the park to meet his family for dinner as I frantically tried to call my parents who, of course, weren’t picking up the one time I needed them to. When we got to the restaurant, not only were his parents and two brothers there waiting with champagne, but my parents had surprised me and flown up for the occasion as well!
When did y’all get married? September 26, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 284
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Walking down the aisle, back up the aisle, first dance, etc. In my piano-playing days, one of my favorite songs I played year after year was Canon in D by Pachelbel. Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed about walking down the aisle to that song. Our processional songs were Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and Trumpet Tune in D by Purcell. We walked back up the aisle to Hornpipe from Water Music by Handel – it’s so joyful and uplifting, perfect for the occasion! We both love Van Morrison so our First Dance was to “Into the Mystic”. I danced with my dad to “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor, which was fitting both because my dad shared with me his love for James Taylor from early on in my childhood, and because although I’d been a New Yorker for nearly five years, Carolina will always have my heart. Graham’s first dance with his mom was to Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. My mom and I also shared a dance toward the end of the night to The Tams’ “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I found it helpful to make a dream “wishlist” of things, from special foods to flowers to specific materials you want to incorporate into the weekend, and see it all listed out in one place. From there, it’s easier to figure out what you can afford to let go of and what’s an absolute must-have. The vendors are experts so if there’s something you don’t want to compromise on but you don’t have the budget for, they likely have another idea on how to get the same point across for less money.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I think there’s a big misconception that as the bride, you’re supposed to be glowing, happy and reveling in every minute of the planning process from start to finish. It’s OK to feel stressed and to dread certain parts of the planning (I’m lookin’ at you, list making!). Do your best to take it all in stride, and don’t be afraid to confide in and vent to your loved ones, especially the ones that have been through the process. Also, don’t take the timelines you see in all of the wedding books so literally. We found that many vendors we thought we had time with actually booked up much sooner than we would’ve thought, so be aware and start your research early!

Photographer: Anna Routh Barzin | Planner: Dina Berg Blazek Events | Ceremony Venue: Christ Church Charlotte | Reception Venue: Brooklandwood | Florist: The Place For Flowers | Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Kathy Allen Cakes | Caterer: Queen City Catering | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Lighting: Classic Party Rentals | Band or DJ: Black & Blue Entertainment through East Coast Entertainment | Invitation: Arzbergers | Save the Date: Lee Ann Clark Calligraphy | Bride’s Gown: Leanne Marshall | Hair Stylist: Jami Svay | Makeup Artist: Jami Svay | Bride’s Shoes: BHLDN | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale Bridesmaids Chiffon G787C in French Blue | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Loro Piana for J.Crew

Anna Routh and East Coast Entertainment are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
3 Comments
  1. avatar Sarah Elizabeth reply

    I love everything about this wedding! Especially that save the date & adorable picture of the flower girl & ring bearer!

  2. avatar Rhiannon reply

    This looks like the church sweet Em Thomas got married in. What a stunningly classic soiree!

  3. avatar Mary Kay reply

    What a beautiful wedding! I also appreciate Brent’s honest advice!

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Though we like to think that gals from around the world can pull inspiration from any of our features, the truth is that many of the details we dream up are very specific to the area of the South where we shoot them. That’s on purpose, of course — we love exploring what makes every corner of our beautiful home unique! — but it does make it extra important to create editorials in a variety of Southern states. One such state that we hadn’t had the pleasure of visiting before Southern Weddings V8 was Kentucky. Having the chance to craft a story involving the Bluegrass State, traveling to Louisville, and meeting so many wonderful readers and vendors in KY was one of our very favorite parts of #MakingSouthernWeddings this year, and we hope y’all (Kentuckians and otherwise!) love the result!

Biggest hugs to photographer Whitney Neal and stylist and florist Jaclyn Journey for working with us on Our Kentucky Home!

We were so happy to have Rachel Fisher Calligraphy on hand to create paper details as the shoot unfolded, including escort cards and signage. She did make our beautiful invitation suite ahead of time, however!

Some of you may recognize that smiling face — it belongs to Kayla, who was one of the bridesmaids on V7’s cover! We adored working with her so much that we asked her to return as a model for this issue, this time with her sweet husband!

Jaclyn created the most amazing wildflower- and bluegrass-inspired bouquets for our ladies. Blue is not always an easy color to work with in flowers, but she pulled together a gorgeous handful of scabiosa, delphiniums, Queen Anne’s Lace, bachelor’s buttons, sweet peas, stock, and grasses that was a perfect fit.

There were so many fun fabric patterns to play with in this shoot! From the gingham groomsmen shirts to the coordinating flower girl dresses and mix and match bridesmaid tops, we were inspired to incorporate all shades of blue in the attire.

Jaclyn’s talented husband built our ceremony arch! It looked right at home paired with rustic white pews from the Pew People.

One of my favorite photographs from this issue — I think everyone who’s been married can remember the joy of walking (or running!) back up the aisle as husband and wife!

There’s nothing like down-home favorites at a wedding reception, and Wiltshire Pantry knocked our socks off with their spread of delicious (and beautiful!) Southern food! I may have been partial to those deviled eggs, but skillets of mini hot browns were a non-negotiable for this Kentucky-themed editorial.

We couldn’t resist wrapping up the evening with a little bluegrass music — we were in the Bluegrass state, after all! Local couples, take note: we adored working with the talented gents of Fresh Cut Grass! They would be a perfect complement to any cocktail hour!

If you haven’t already, pick up your own copy of Southern Weddings V8 here, or on newsstands across the South! This is the last editorial to share from this issue, but check back in the new year to see more from our featured weddings!

Photographer: Whitney Neal Photography | Film processing: Richard Photo Lab | Planner, stylist, props, and florals: Jaclyn Journey Event and Floral Design | Venue: Farmington Historic Home | Caterer: Wiltshire Pantry | Dessert: Wiltshire Pantry and Kentucky Woods Bourbon Barrel Cake | Hair stylist and makeup artist: Carley Randall Beauty | Paper goods: Rachel Fisher Calligraphy | Pew rentals: Pew People | Farmhouse table: Louisville Farm Tables | Glassware: 12th Table | China: Lancaster Court, LLC. | Bluegrass band: Fresh Cut Grass | Bride’s gown: “Lafayette” by Sarah Seven | Bridal salon: The Dress Theory | Bridesmaid fashion: Anthropologie | Jewelry: Dress & Dwell | Floral bow tie: Lord Wallington | Striped and gingham bow ties: High Cotton

Whitney Neal and Jaclyn Journey are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Dana reply

    Love the blues and all the patterns! Beautiful styling!

  2. avatar Lindsay C. reply

    The food in this shoot looks DELICIOUS!

  3. avatar Drawing Inspiration from Southern Weddings V8 – Kyla Mary reply

    […]  I especially love the pie bar, the mismatched groomsmen, and their bowties. View the original post here. […]

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There’s nothing more special than when a couple celebrates their marriage in a way that is completely true to them as a couple–upholding the traditions that are important to them, and not being afraid to let go of the rest. For Hanna and Nick, they chose to wait until Hanna walked down the aisle before seeing each other, Hanna thoughtfully selected something old, new, borrowed, and blue, and the newlyweds enjoyed a sweet first dance. On the other hand, they decided that an intimate elopement, with just the two of them and their parents, was the way they wanted to begin their marriage, so they forewent a traditional big wedding in favor of an intimate ceremony and dinner at the Aldredge House. Wendy Kay of Birds of a Feather Events helped them pull the details together in just 44 days, and the result was as lovely as it was meaningful!

Thank you so much to Charla Storey for sharing this unique celebration with us!

There were 44 days from the day Nick proposed to the day of our wedding, so that is all the time I had to find the perfect dress. Needless to say, I was terrified! The Lord was on our side because on my second day of shopping, I fell in love with the first dress I tried on! The ladies at Lulu’s Bridal Boutique in Dallas were extremely accommodating. After they got over the initial shock of the time crunch we were in, they began working their magic. Two ladies were pulling dresses for me and others were on the phone or computer making sure that we could get the dresses on time. It was truly an amazing experience and I didn’t have to settle on a dress that I wasn’t in love with.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided against a first look because we wanted to experience that magic moment of meeting at the altar. My favorite part was the the anticipation leading up to seeing my groom for the first time. Focusing on him as I walked down the aisle was the most magical and romantic moment of my life. I will never forget the look on his face and the love that I felt! The moment was so perfect, and I feel like it would have been diluted had we already seen each other that day.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was that we were actually able to experience and enjoy every detail! Having an elopement that only included both sets of parents allowed us the freedom to truly focus on each other and not attend to anyone or anything else. We didn’t have to rush around or worry about what we needed to do next. We were able to notice the little things and embrace every moment.

Describe your wedding flowers. Our wedding flowers couldn’t have been more perfect! They were a mix of simple white blooms and beautifully textured greens. My bouquet was tied with hand-dyed indigo streamers that accented the flowers perfectly. Maxine Owens at The Southern Table captured my vision of natural and airy better than I could have expected.

The biggest challenge was keeping everything a secret. We wanted to surprise our family and friends by throwing small “engagement” parties and using the pictures and video to announce that we got married. It was so much fun seeing the shock on our loved ones’ faces! Everyone was extremely supportive of our decision and loved how unique it was. Even though it was difficult sneaking around, I wouldn’t change a thing! Our day was intimate, simple, and everything we hoped for.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We indulged on blueberry galettes, baked honey and walnut pears, chocolate mousse cake, and gold and indigo macaroons. Our cake had a blue watercolor wash on the bottom tier and the top two tiers were dipped in gold. Everything was divine–I am still dreaming about the blueberry galettes!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Nick and I met during our junior year at Tarleton State University. He was working on his coaching and education degree and I was working on my elementary education degree. We found ourselves in three of the same courses, and there was an instant connection. The more time we spent together, the easier it was for us to see that we had something special. Falling in love was easy!
Tell us all about the proposal! Many girls dream of a big, elaborate proposal with a flash mob, a photographer, and everyone under the sun cheering the couple on. I was not that way. I wanted something genuine, intimate, and simple, and Nick met my expectations in every way! He proposed at our home on December 6, 2014, after we finished decorating our first Christmas tree. I was taking pictures of our hard work when I turned around to find Nick on his knee, ready to propose. It was perfect and I was completely surprised!
When did y’all get married? January 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 4
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. As I walked down and back up the aisle, we had a guitarist, Noah Galaviz, play “Fields of Gold” by Sting. I chose “Fields of Gold” because it has always been one of my favorite songs and I knew it would fit perfectly with the feel of our ceremony. Our first dance was to “Your Song” by Elton John, also played by Noah. We wanted a timeless song that we knew we would always love. The lyrics are simple, romantic, and really relate to our relationship.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! For my something borrowed and something blue, I wore my mother’s sapphire ring. I also wore my grandmother’s wedding ring as my something old, and my dress was my something new.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? Less than $10,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Our largest money saver was deciding to elope. We saved on every aspect of the wedding with this decision.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We couldn’t have done it without the help of Wendy Kay from Birds of a Feather Events. I was blown away by how easy it was for her to bring our vision to life. The flowers, the tablescape, the music, the food, the venue–everything was intimate and exactly what we wanted. Wendy made this experience so easy and enjoyable.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Stay focused on what you and your spouse want. It’s your wedding, do what you want and have fun with it! It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to make everyone else happy but this is the one day that you and your spouse need to be spoiled and treated like royalty.

Photographer: Charla Storey / Videographer: Heartstring Films / Planner: Wendy Kay of Birds of a Feather Events / Ceremony Venue: The Aldredge House / Florist: Maxine Owens of The Southern Table / Cake Baker: Layered Bake Shop / Caterer: Food Glorious Food / Band: Noah Galaviz / Paper Products: Southern Fried Paper / Bride’s Gown: “Melanie” by Maggie Sottero / Bride’s Shoes: Sam Edelman / Groom’s Attire: J. Crew

lisa Written with love by Lisa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Luxury Services | Интимные Свадебные синий по Чарла этажный reply

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  2. avatar Wendy Kay reply

    Thank you so much for this lovely feature, I loved planning and designing this wedding, it was a winderful way to kick off 2015! I also want to give a shout out to Crystal with Harts and Quills for providing the calligraphy!

  3. avatar Bloomwood Photography reply

    Such a beautiful wedding
    Lovely flowers, cake, couple & venue

  4. avatar Bailey reply

    I love that Hanna and Nick had the exact type of wedding that was right for them as a couple, and I so appreciate that Southern Weddings features weddings of all shapes and sizes.

  5. avatar Asheville Wedding Inspiration in the Blue Ridge Mountains | Hey Wedding Lady reply

    […] Graceful Southern Bride – Photography by JoPhoto, Styling by Ginny Au via Mountainside Bride | Mountain Inspired Invitation – Photography by Elisa Bricker Photography, Stationery Design by Julie Song Ink via Grey Likes Weddings | Delicate Lace Table Decor – Photography by Jose Villa Photography, Coordination by Alexandra Kolendrianos, Floral Design by Mindy Rice via Style Me Pretty | Mountain Ceremony – Photography by Erin Hearts Court, Coordination by Jennifer Hammond, Floral Design by Vail Vintage Magnolia via Style Me Pretty | Loose, Romantic Bouquet – Photography by Ryan Ray Photography, Floral Design by Bows + Arrows via Once Wed | Blue Gem Ring – Photography by Christie Graham Photography, Engagement Ring from Kiss And Makeup via Mountainside Bride | Dessert Display with Cobalt Blue – Photography by Charla Storey Photography, Coordination by Birds of a Feather Events, Cake and Desserts by Layered Bake Shop via Southern Weddings […]

  6. avatar Maxine reply

    Thank you for featuring, Southern Weddings! This couple was too sweet, and the team headed by Birds of a Feather was amazing to work with!

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    […] instagram  | Teal & Copper Wedding Invitation : Charla Storey Photography via Southern weddings | Jimmy Bridal Shoes : Blenda Montoro Photography via instagram | Copper Wedding Cake : Christina […]

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

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