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While I know spring tends to get most of the love from brides thanks to the blooms and the weather, as a December bride myself, I might be a tad bit partial to winter weddings, especially ones that take advantage of already-in-place Christmas decor. From the big red bow-accented garlands to the twinkle lights, there is something so magical about classic holiday decor that makes everything feel extra special! I love than Anne and Nick chose the beautiful Carolina Inn for their December celebration because of its rich history and central location to their families. This sweet couple then took full advantage of the Inn’s gorgeous holiday decor and added just the right amount of their personalities and meaningful details. And y’all, how classic and lovely is Anne’s all-white bouquet, accented with magnolia greenery? So dreamy!

I’m so glad our friend and Blue Ribbon Vendor Robyn Van Dyke was on hand to capture this joyful day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I am a really decisive person when it comes to clothes, and my wedding dress was no exception! I had an amazing time looking at dresses with my mom, thinking about Nick and my special day, and playing dress up! We looked at Diva’s Bridal Boutique in Greensboro and almost immediately decided on a gown. I had actually put on the gown and wasn’t crazy about it, but when they made it “fit me” (i.e. pulled it back so that I had a waist, etc.), I just knew. I loved it, my mother loved it, and I knew it was right.

Describe your wedding flowers. I knew from the start that I wanted to use whites and greens. Kathy at The Purple Puddle turned that desire into something beautiful. I loved the use of magnolia greenery, white hydrangeas, roses, and gardenias. They were so beautiful and fragrant!

The first look was the best decision Nick and I made about our wedding! We were guided by our amazing photographer, Robyn Van Dyke, to consider a first look because the light level was low on our wedding day. We fully trusted the Van Dykes and realized very quickly that this was a special opportunity to be together on our wedding day in the midst of the chaos. The moment was just what we had hoped for–better even! We saw each other for the first time that day surrounded by our friends, we had time together to pray, talk, and process what that day meant, and it was the most special and memorable moment of all of the wedding festivities!

Our wedding music was special from the start. Music is such a beautiful part of worship, and we wanted to glorify the Lord through the music we chose. Not all of it was Christian, but most was, and all was classic. A dear friend from dental school played the violin and the organist for CUMC played the organ and the piano. Nick and I each met multiple times with the organist to discuss our musical selections, hear his input and interpretation, and decide on the final selections. Our favorite hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” was selected as a special song. It was a time of transition in our service and meant so much to both Nick and me. We do not take for granted our many blessings–family, education, calling to service, friends–and the musical interpretation by Gentry (our violinist) and the pianist brought us to tears. We both pray our marriage brings us closer to the Lord and gives us the opportunity (and the challenge!) to glorify Him. It was just so special.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We love Chapel Hill! Both of our families have a history in this area, we met and fell in love here, and it was a central location for our loved ones. Christ United Methodist Church has a kind wedding ministry, and everything about the church began to line up with our values. The music was lovely, the services were classic, and the structure of the wedding ceremony was everything we could have hoped for. It was perfect! The Carolina Inn has everything perfected–it was so easy to coordinate with our vendors because just about everyone had worked at the historic inn before. We quickly realized that December 20 was the perfect weekend to have a wedding there–the inn is decorated beautifully for Christmas, and it is a relatively calm time for them. The Carolina Inn is a gorgeous, well-oiled machine, a classic Chapel Hill landmark, and extremely reliable. It was a dream come true!

At our reception, Nick and I danced to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” We first heard this when we were apart over the summer of 2014–I was in Utah and Nick was in Africa. We heard it, both teared up, and knew it was the right song for our first dance. In particular, the line, “Honey, your soul can never grown old, it’s evergreen,” spoke to us. We couldn’t help but see how special our parents’ and grandparents’ marriages were and hope for a lifetime of devotion to one another.

Sweet Memories made the most delicious cake! We had two flavors: sweet potato spiced cake with caramel and white chocolate filling, and lemon cake with white chocolate mouse and raspberry puree. Both were incredible!!!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in dental school! Nick was a first year and I was a second year. We went to medical school prom with friends and became inseparable. We spent about two weeks together before I called my mom and dad and told them I was in love (so crazy!)! Nick and I began officially dating on Easter Sunday 2013 and were engaged less than a year later!
Tell us all about the proposal! Nick and I love time when we can be alone together, laughing and talking. We had planned a spring break trip to camp in Death Valley and Joshua Tree and spend a night in Vegas. On the way to the airport, Nick pulled off the road and said, “Let’s go on a walk; it’s a beautiful day!” I suspected what was about to happen and noticed that both of us were shaking! It was hilarious and awesome and absolutely perfect. We arrived to a quad on UNC’s campus where we had enjoyed many picnic dinners during our courtship. I had no makeup on, and we were just completely relaxed at the beginning of an amazing week together. It was more perfect than I had ever imagined!
When did y’all get married? December 20, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 175
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We said classic vows, which was a very intentional decision. We wanted everything to be traditional.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I loved wearing my mother’s earrings and the same veil that both of my sisters wore in their weddings. I also wore the bracelet that Nick’s grandmother, mother, and sisters wore in their weddings and the pearl bobby pins that once belonged to my grandmother. It all made me feel like these women were with me throughout the day, which meant so much!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? I think the reason that wedding planning was so fun was because we were focusing on preparing for our marriage! We read several books, including “The Five Love Languages,” “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts,” and “Things I Wish I’d Known Before I got Married.” We also met for premarital counseling several times with the pastor at CUMC. We had conversations over dinner about our hopes, dreams, short-term and long-term goals, and aspirations, and made sure we let each other know why we loved one another. We prayed quite a bit and sought wise counsel from family and friends who are married. All of these things really added to the depth and meaning of our engagement.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We decided on the things that really mattered (venue, great food) vs. the things that didn’t (buffet vs. plated dinner, monogrammed vs. non-monogrammed napkins) and allocated funds according to those decisions. We also knew that for our crew, beer and wine were sufficient. We did all of the toasts at the rehearsal dinner, so there was not champagne at our reception; instead, we served spiked cider during our cocktail hour.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Robyn Van Dyke!!! We LOVE our photos and were thrilled to have our day documented by friends. They did an amazing job, and I still can’t believe we were so blessed to have them as such a major part of our wedding day. They really were perfect.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are so looking forward to having control over our time so that we can travel together! We are excited for Nick to graduate from dental school and for me to hopefully match at the pediatric dental residency of my choice. We are on the brink of major changes and professional growth, which is thrilling! We are also excited to have children one day, although that will have to wait a few years. :)

Photographer: Robyn Van Dyke Photography | Planner: Carly of Events by La Fete | Ceremony Venue: Christ United Methodist Church | Reception Venue and Catering: The Carolina Inn | Florist: The Purple Puddle | Cake Baker: Sweet Memories Bakery | DJ: McSound Productions | Paper Products: Reaves Engraving Inc. | Bride’s Gown: Martina Liana | Bridal Salon: Diva’s Bridal and Boutique | Hair Stylist: Becca of Salon 135 | Makeup Artist: Stephanie Sevilla | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Sung | Menswear: Tom Dixon at The Executive’s Cutting Edge

Robyn Van Dyke is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Erica reply

    Beautiful tray! I would love to feature this in my kitchen!

  2. avatar featured: southern weddings » Robyn Van Dyke Photography Blog reply

    […] to share that Anne & Nick’s gorgeous winter wedding at The Carolina Inn was featured on Southern Weddings during the week of Christmas! The joy from this wedding day will always make it one of my all-time […]

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I never thought I would see the day when the Waffle House food truck would be a thoughtful and sentimental wedding detail, but thanks to LaKisha and Brently, that day is today! These two embraced tradition for many aspects of their Georgia wedding, such as their church ceremony and waiting to see each other until LaKisha walked down the aisle, but in other ways, they weren’t afraid to do things their own way. Case in point? The Waffle House food truck that served as a nod to their favorite game day snack, a tribute to their home state, and a meaningful moment for the couple and Brent’s grandfather alike.

We’re so grateful to CWF Photography for sharing this joyful day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had a relatively small budget to work with, so I knew I had to be frugal and creative to create the look I wanted. I stumbled upon Fabulous Frocks of Atlanta online, which sells designer sample gowns at discounted prices. I fell in love with one dress in particular, and when I finally got to my appointment, the dress I had been eyeing was already pulled. After I tried on a few other dresses, the owner, Abriel, helped me into the dress and I had a Cinderella moment. It fit perfectly, and I could not stop smiling. As soon as Abriel put on the beautiful cathedral veil, both my parents and I knew that this was the gown!

We decided to not do a first look. We have had friends who have done it and raved about how great it was, but we ultimately decided to keep with tradition and save that moment for the aisle. Looking back, I wouldn’t have traded that moment for the world! I did have a first look with my daddy though, and the pictures of that moment are priceless. He had had an unexpected open heart surgery a couple of months prior to the wedding that shook my world. I am so grateful that I had my daddy with me on my wedding day!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We chose Prince of Peace for the ceremony because it is my family’s church here in Atlanta. We have such a great relationship with the priest that having a wedding elsewhere wouldn’t have seemed right. Not to mention, the church is immaculate!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We had a traditional Catholic wedding and exchanged traditional vows. I am glad we opted to do this, because I don’t think I would have been able to recite personal vows without crying tears of happiness!

Pamela at Design House of Flowers was amazing to work with! She immediately picked up on my vision and was so knowledgeable of flowers that would work with my theme and budget! My bouquet and all of the flowers were breathtaking, and truly captured the whimsical garden feel I was going for. They included David Austin roses, blush pink sweet peas, dark pink anemones, purple Japanese aster, ivory astilbe, ivory ranunculus, and touches of seeded eucalyptus and dusty miller.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I had centered my whole wedding color scheme and theme around a picture of a cake I had seen on Pinterest, so naturally, I wanted to do a close replica. We had a family friend, who owns Rhodes Bakery in Roswell, recreate the cake! The groom is a big fan or strawberry cake, so the bottom tier was a delicious pound cake with strawberry preserves in the middle. The middle tier was red velvet, my favorite, and the top tier is a surprise! The groom and I can’t wait to cut into it on our first wedding anniversary!

There were so many details we loved, but the Waffle House food truck that we surprised our guests with was by far our favorite! Brent and I are addicted to their hash browns, which we have shared many times after football games, and eat practically every month. Waffle House was also founded here in Atlanta, so we were happy to be able to share it with out-of-town guests. The best part of this detail was bringing a smile to Brent’s grandfather. We learned while he ordered his hash browns that he and Brent’s grandmother used to spend every Christmas morning at Waffle House. She had passed away a couple of years prior, so to see him smile at this detail of the wedding warmed our hearts!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Brent and I are high school sweethearts. We met our junior year of high school in pre-calculus class, and I was so impressed with his mathematical abilities, which I completely lack! The first time we hung out just the two of us (before we officially started dating), we were working on a physics project at his house, and when I left, I accidentally blurted out “I love you”–how embarrassing!! We were inseparable for that whole year, and then endured four years of long distance while we were in college. The best thing about being high school sweethearts is that we have a relationship founded upon an amazing friendship. We were able to watch each other grow, and now that we are married, we get to continue to grow and do life together!
Tell us all about the proposal! After a couple of those “perfect moments” when I thought it was going to happen, I finally told myself to just let life happen and trust in God’s perfect timing. On Christmas day in 2013, I woke up to see my stocking stuffed–we had started a tradition that year of stuffing each other’s stockings instead of giving each other wrapped gifts. Brent was quite adamant that I start taking items out of my stocking first, so I did! One of the big items inside was a personalized calendar. I started flipping through the calendar to see what pictures he had chosen, and on the last month, instead of a picture, it had the message “Will you marry me?” written on it. I was in such shock, I do not remember a word he said–just the dazzling ring I had picked out back in 2010! I later found out Brent had had the ring since 2010, but wanted to wait till he had graduated from college in December 2013 before proposing. Now, that is dedication!
When did y’all get married? September 13, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 70
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We were tasked during our marriage classes with the priest to select our readings and come back and explain why we chose them. The readings we chose shared a common theme of the importance of prayer and the significance of us becoming one: Tobit 8:4b-8, 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a, and Matthew 19:3-6.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Budget! However, I want brides to know that you don’t have to have a big budget to create a beautiful wedding. There were things we had to compromise on, such as reducing our guest count, but it ended up being a great decision because we were surrounded by only our closest family and friends. Websites like Etsy can also be extremely helpful!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The moment we were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Brently Todd McDonald! I have waited so long for that moment and it was so surreal!!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are just enjoying newlywed life together, and we are looking forward to our first wedding anniversary trip to Costa Rica! We have decided that instead of Christmas gifts/anniversary gifts, we will go on yearly trip together. We love to travel, so we are excited about this tradition! We are hoping to travel to South Korea and explore my grandmother’s heritage on our second anniversary.

Photographer: CWF Photography / Videographer: David Robertson & Todd Galucki / Ceremony Venue: Prince of Peace Catholic Church / Reception Venue and Catering: Reunion Country Club / Florist: Pam Holley of Design House of Flowers / Cake Baker: Rhodes Bakery / Candles: Ikea / DJ: Rob Clark / Envelopes: Paper Source / Paper Products: Paper Please / Bride’s Gown: Romona Keveza / Bridal Salon and Veil: Fabulous Frocks of Atlanta / Hair and Makeup: Lashes and Lace / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “492” in Plum by Bill Levkoff / Menswear: Jos A. Bank / Men’s Socks: J. Crew / Food Truck: Waffle House / Bridesmaid Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar David Strauss reply

    I love the idea of having food trucks instead of buffet lines

  2. avatar Young Newlyweds Honor Their Humble Roots With Sweet Waffle House Reception – How to kill your time? reply

    […] [H/T: Southern Weddings] […]

  3. avatar Gerry Mayer reply

    Brent and LaKisha,
    Now that you are Waffley Wedded, I wish you a long, and very happy life together!

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Love Southern wedding traditions and want to include them in your wedding? We wrote our e-book just for you!

When I got married (a little over three years ago), most people weren’t even considering doing a “first look.” My how things change so quickly! While I am a fan of the stunning, emotional images that a first look can help achieve, I am an old soul, and pretty traditional when it comes to weddings. Unsurprisingly, BDK and I opted not to see each other before our ceremony. For us, this was definitely the right decision.

As y’all may know, most Southerners are “Daddy’s girls,” so this sweet tradition that we’ve been seeing is a perfect solution! Want those emotional “first look” photos without actually seeing your beau before the wedding day? Let your daddy step in!

Jason Mize, next two Ray Anthony, Dixie Pixel, Julie A. Whitlock

Y’all, these images could bring a tear to the driest eye!

Emily and I are both huge fans of this sweet twist! The moment when a father first sees his daughter in her wedding gown can be a very emotional and memorable moment. Especially when, as in the photo by Dixie Pixel above, his daughter chooses to wear his wife’s wedding gown! Though a wedding day is focused on the bride and groom, we love when a bride takes a few minutes to spend with just her father.

Special thanks to Moment Junkie, where we found several of these images! Check out their blog for many more moving wedding photographs.

Will you be having a “first look” or did you do a “first look” with your groom — or your Dad? What do you think of this new twist on the tradition?

Dixie Pixel is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
45 Comments
  1. avatar Megan reply

    I am definitely planning on doing a first look with my Daddy before the ceremony..with lots of tissues in hand! Just looking at those pictures above made me grab for a kleenex!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Megan! I’m so glad to hear that! I am sure the photos will be amazing, but most important it will be an incredibly special moment for you two! xx, MAK

  2. avatar NatalieG reply

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful idea!!! I had not heard of doing this….I am so excited to surprise my Daddy!!! <3

  3. avatar Erin reply

    AAAAAANd I started crying just LOOKING at these pictures! You guys!!!!

  4. avatar Lisa reply

    Oh my goodness, this is the sweetest thing!! These pictures are so beautiful!

  5. avatar Annie reply

    Oh my lord, this is the sweetest thing ever! When my husband and I were planning the wedding, my dad couldn’t even talk about the father-daughter dance song (“My Girl” by the Temptations) without having to excuse himself because he was so emotional. On the actual day he got teary several times but held it together well, too.

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Aw! That is so sweet, Annie! It’s such a proud, and emotional moment for fathers! I’m sure yours was so happy!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Annie, this is so going to be my Dad. I’m a little nervous just thinking about it!!

  6. avatar Latrice reply

    this is so precious & I think more brides will definitely do this!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!

  7. avatar Madelynne Miller reply

    OMYGOSH. Heart just melted. My dad looks at me that way every time I model my gown for him :)

  8. avatar Michelle reply

    My first look with my dad was one of my favorite memories of my wedding day.

    When I walked down the staircase he started to lose it! Fearing I would lose it too, I started singing his favorite song, 2011- The USC Gamecocks fight song (yes, I sang it). Being that he is a former football coach, I told him it was “game time” for both of us and we were getting ready for a big win :)

    He smiled, laughed, and cried all at the same time. It was perfect.

    -Michelle

    PS: We got married on the day of the Carolina vs. Clemson game – so there were two big wins that day!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      What a great memory, Michelle! As a big football fan myself, I bet this was awesome! And, wow def a big football day to get married! xx, MAK

  9. avatar Lindsay{LCVintage} reply

    Aww, I love those! I did a first look with my Dad and it was so cute.

  10. avatar Katie reply

    My eyes are brimming with tears! I sure hope nobody comes into my office to ask me anything. My fiance and I are totally against doing a first look ourselves–call me old fashioned but that’s how I’ve felt since I was about five years old. I definitely plan on doing a first look with my dad. Considering that he seemed more excited than I was to show off my engagement ring the following morning at church (and trust me, that had to be A LOT of excitement), his emotions on the actual Big Day will probably be out of control, so I know it will be incredibly special and memorable.

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Katie! I agree, I was a very traditional bride, but this is such a sweet solution. And I bet your dad will be so happy you are taking the time to spend with him during such a special day! xx, MAK

  11. avatar Nancy Ray reply

    Oh my word, I’m tearing up over here! That last one is just precious!
    I have a Daddy First Look photo from my wedding day and it’s one of my favorites. Such sweetness!

  12. avatar Emily reply

    My mom says dad can’t even talk to her about my wedding without getting choked up, so I know he’ll make this a great photo. No matter how old I get he’ll still be my Daddy!

    A comprimise on the first look with the groom though is the photos I’ve seen of the bride and groom each on a side of a solid door holding hands and not looking at each other. I love them.

  13. avatar The Friday Fresh Squeeze | Floridian Weddings reply

    […] dresses? Hop on over here to see the fabulous line. I got a little teary eyed looking at these first looks with dad photos. An engagement at a winery with their cute dog! This engagement session shot by one of our […]

  14. avatar Weekly Wedding Favorites | Going to the Chapel reply

    […] know how I feel about “Daughters” by John Mayer. As a result, I was clearly dying when I read this post by Southern Weddings about this trend. It’s surely one to consider if you are feeling more […]

  15. avatar joy reply

    Love the twist on this. I would also like to mention that it’s not only southern girls that are “Daddys’ Girls.” =) The photos are precious……………great way to capture those special, emotional, happy moments.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Joy! Of course! I’m not technically a Southern girl myself, but I do love my Dad :)

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  20. avatar Amanda reply

    These pictures are beautiful and really capture the emotions! We haven’t decided if we are doing a first look with my fiancé. I wish I could get these pictures. My dad passed 10 years ago and this aspect is the hardest part. Thank you for sharing the pictures! Beautiful!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Amanda! I’m sorry to hear about your dad – I know that must be very difficult for you. I’m sure he would be so proud to know you now, and I’m sure he will be looking down on you smiling on your wedding day. xx

  21. avatar Ayako reply

    Amazing pictures! Brought tears into my eyes. I so wish I had picture like that with my dad. My photographer was no show on my wedding. What a memory right? ;..(

  22. avatar Happy Father’s Day! | Chancey Charm Weddings | Wedding Planning & Design | Destination Weddings | Atlanta – Athens – Madison – Macon | Denver – Estes Park – Colorado Springs | Charleston reply

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  23. avatar Premier regard d’un père sur sa fille en mariée { En Août, Take a Look } « sohappily reply

    […] Source Share this:EmailJ'aime ceci:J'aimeBe the first to like this. 06 août This entry was published on 6 Août 2012 at 9 h 18 min. It’s filed under Eux, Inspirations, Jolie idée and tagged ambiance, blog, blog décoration mariage, blog inspiration mariage, blog mariage, faire-part, fête, fiancailles, french blog, french wedding blog, happily, Happily Factory, idée, inspiration, lumière, mariage, mariée, original, papa, père, photo, photographe, robe. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. […]

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  31. avatar everybody talks about the picture of when the groom first sees the bride but don't forget about a pic when her daddy first sees her… Love this! @ wish-upon-a-weddingwish-upon-a-wedding reply

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  32. avatar Erica reply

    I LOVE all of these pictures!! I have started taking pictures and my first wedding shoot is next weekend. The Bride-to-be wants a lot of pictures of her and her daddy. This Is a great idea of taking a picture of the first time the dad sees his dauhter, My daddy passed away seven months ago and I know just how special my picturesof me and my daddy are and will always be from my wedding.

  33. avatar Couture Boudoir | Atlanta Photographer reply

    Love the emotion in this post! How sweet are these dads.

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    […] Photo by Julie Whitlock Photography via Southern Weddings  […]

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