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As you may know, we here at Southern Weddings have a little bit of an ongoing love affair with chickens. (Actually, all farm animals, to be perfectly honest!) So y’all know we just adore that Audrey + Zane tied the knot in her grandfather’s chicken house, and had a celebration made complete by feathered details galore!

Of course, we not only swoon for chickens in this office; we’re quite smitten with good ol’ Southern gentlemen, too! When meeting Zane for the first time, Audrey knew right off the bat he was a good one when he sweetly stood just-so to block the sun from her eyes. Way to go, Zane! For this farm-loving couple, it took just a few weeks after meeting to know they’d get married one day. Now, over four years later (yep, this one’s an oldie but goodie!), you can’t help but feel the love they have for each other right through the photos from Mark Elkins.

My sweet aunt is an amazing designer and seamstress, so I was so honored that she offered to make my dress! I wanted something a little unusual, and she was thrilled at the idea of using feathers to suit the feel of the wedding. We wanted to embrace the farm wedding, and since we were getting married in a chicken house, I thought feathers would be so fitting. My grandparents had had an egg business for years (they actually were the supplier for the first Chick-Fil-A!), so I wanted the dress to suit a farm girl! With several yards of silk dupioni and a down pillow, my Mom and I set off to South Carolina for a weekend of dress-making. My aunt, Evy Hawkins, designed and made my dress in a long weekend! It was absolutely perfect. I love the uneven textural earthiness of the ruched dupioni and the layers of feathers around the bottom. I’m so thankful my aunt volunteered her talent!

Describe your wedding flowers. 
Our wedding flowers were definitely a do-it-yourself project! We ordered yellow craspedia, white scabiosa, red gerrando daisies, and thistles. The boutonnieres were craspedia and feathers. We also gathered Queen Anne’s lace for arrangements at the reception. We planted wheatgrass in barnwood boxes my dad had made to go on the tables at the reception to tie in with the grass in the field. We planted a swath of red poppies along the side of the barn, and they were blooming gorgeously just in time for the wedding! A really special little detail to me was that in the sea of red poppies, there was one little sweet pink poppy that mysteriously came up. My Nannie (grandmother) had always planted those same pink poppies so it was like a little piece of her was there!

We did do a first look! We loved this! Our ceremony “aisle” wound across a ten-acre hayfield, so if we hadn’t done a first look, I wouldn’t have gotten to see the look on Zane’s face! We did a first look early that morning and I loved having that moment together, just the two of us, and our amazing photographer who captured it!

Y’all, aren’t these two just the cutest!?

Did you write your own vows? 
We had a good friend marry us, and he wrote most of the vows, with our input. He incorporated a song that was also sung at our wedding called “As Long as There’s You” by a bluegrass band called the Cluster Pluckers. They’re so meaningful to us because they really do capture how we feel.

Our wedding was all about life on a Southern farm, even down to the food. Since we had a morning wedding, we had a grits bar complete with various cheeses, bacon, green onions, tomatoes, etc, and biscuits with sausage, bacon, and assorted homemade jellies. We also had berries, watermelon, and homemade Southern spiced pecans from my great aunt’s trees and shelled by my great-aunts. There were mason jars in abundance, monogrammed table linens, and sweet tea of course! The favors were homemade Southern peach jam, made from local peaches from Hollandville, GA. Guests that were able sat on hay bales during the ceremony. Another detail that I felt is pretty Southern is that Zane wore khaki-colored seersucker.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? 
We are so thankful to my parents who went above and beyond and did so much work to get everything perfect! All of our vendors were amazing. I’m so thankful for the Elkins at Mark Elkins Photography. The pictures are an amazing reminder of our wedding!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: 
There were so many! My dad made chandeliers out of mason jars to hang in the reception barn that were amazing. I’m still using the barnwood boxes he made, too. I loved the feathers on my dress, and how we incorporated chicken feathers throughout — the flower girls threw chicken feathers instead of flower petals and when we left, everyone threw feathers instead of rice! We had some beautiful real chickens in a pen at the reception for kids to feed. Also, we had our rings placed inside blown egg shells and cracked them open when the time came to exchange them (much to the surprise of our guests!). It was nice to have a funny little lighthearted detail in the ceremony!

Our wedding cake was a big white coconut cake with strawberry jam filling. We wanted something Southern and also something to go along with the feel of the wedding. What’s more southern than an old fashioned coconut cake? Our baker used large-shredded coconut that looked feathery like my dress as well! She put a nest on top, and in it we put two pottery chickens my cousin handmade for us.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. 
My cousins had grown up with Zane, so I had always heard about him but had never actually met him until we were 17 and 18. The moment we met, I was sitting on a bench with my cousin and he very sweetly stood so the sun wouldn’t be in my eyes — a real Southern man! It was just a few weeks before we both knew we would get married one day. We dated (long distance the whole time!) for four and a half years.
Tell us all about the proposal! 
It was over Christmas break and we were at my parents’ house (down the road from my grandparents’ farm). Early one morning, Zane asked if I wanted to go for a walk out in the field. I was really tired but he was so intent on going on a walk, so I went. We walked through the beautiful dew-covered fields to a big oak tree that I have always loved. He had hung several vintage lanterns in the tree and they were gently swinging in the breeze. As we neared the tree, I knew it was about to happen. Then he turned around, got down on one knee, and pulled a little white box out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. It was the perfect moment! We had openly talked about getting married and we knew we would get married, but he still made the proposal special. I was so glad we got to tell my Nannie that we were engaged! She passed away a couple of weeks later. She had always said Zane was easy to love! We ended up getting married near the site of the proposal on my grandparents’ farm in their hayfield with the reception in their old chicken house, the barn.

When did y’all get married? 
May 16th, 2009 at 9:30 am

How many friends, family, and loved ones attended your wedding? 
About 200

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? 
No readings really. We were thankful that one of our ministers said a prayer and our friend officiating the ceremony said some really nice things.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them.
Planning the music was Zane’s department! I thought he did the best job of it and made it so special. We really didn’t use any traditional wedding music. He found songs that fit us and the feel of the wedding beautifully. The wedding party walked in to Norman Blake’s “Fields of November” and the recessional was “Greenleaf Fancy,” both of which were played at Zane’s parents wedding as well! We are thankful to know some really talented musicians. My uncles and cousin, as well as Zane’s sisters and brother-in-law all performed. My dad and I walked in to Jerry Douglas’ “A Tribute to Peador O’Donnell,” which I think is one of the most beautiful and moving instrumental songs there is! We had a really meaningful hymn printed on the program that all our guests sang together. Zane’s sisters and brother-in-law sang, “As Long as There’s You” by the Cluster Pluckers. We looked for a long time for the perfect wedding song and when we heard that, we knew it was the one! I think they did a beautiful job. We also included cards in our invitations to all of our musically inclined friends to bring their guitars, dobros, fiddles, and mandolins for the reception and had some bluegrass picking under the trees.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? 
Our biggest challenge was definitely finding the time to get it all done! Zane and I were both in our last year of college — we graduated one weekend and got married the next weekend. With finishing school, finding jobs, moving 600 miles away, and wedding planning, we had a lot going on in a few short weeks, especially for a predominantly DIY wedding! Thank goodness for my amazing parents who did so much work to get everything done!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? 
There were so many! The whole day was amazing, but I think we most remember the feeling of walking back down the aisle and actually being married!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? 
Our advice is without a doubt to do what’s “you!” If traditions are meaningful to you, by all means do them. If they aren’t meaningful to you, create your own traditions! Don’t do anything just because “that’s how it’s done.” You’ll be happiest (and your guests, who love you, will be thrilled too) if your wedding is an expression of you as a couple. We love all things farm-related, so we went with that because that’s where we are the happiest. Some of our friends love skeet shooting, so at their wedding we threw (empty) shotgun shells instead of rice — I loved that because it was so “them!”

What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? 
After our wedding, we honeymooned in the mountains of Montana (which is so gorgeous in the spring!). Zane had found a job in Virginia Beach, VA, so we moved up here. We are now living in Portsmouth, VA and have two sweet kids, Camden and Lark. We live in the city now, but hope to live on a farm again one day!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Lauren reply

    The yellow and the red is so gorgeous together. I love how feathery her dress is and that she carried it through into the cake. What a beautiful wedding.

  2. avatar Sharon Alexamder reply

    This was one of our all time favorite weddings! The bride’s gown had feathers around the bottom that set the design/tone for the event. Such fun details and great couple!

  3. avatar Alexis reply

    I’ve a WordPress blog with Arras theme. This site strangely shows different on different computers. On some computers, I see all 3 columsn, on other PC, I see only 1. On other PCs, some wiered things. Please somebody help me..

  4. avatar Lauren reply

    Where is this venue located? Is it a private residence or can it be rented?

  5. avatar Lance reply

    What venue is this?

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Kristin + JJ had just two and half months to plan their wedding, but for a couple who has spent most of their relationship long distance, it was the perfect amount of time to pull together the details and say “I do.” The newlyweds filled their outdoor ceremony and reception at the Whitford Plantation with old Southern hymns and sentimental bluegrass. It was the Avett Brothers’ music, after all, who helped Kristin + JJ fall in love. We’re sending out big hugs to Scott Piner who shared this wedding with us!

Since we had only 2.5 months to plan the wedding, I knew I would not have much time to find a dress and that I would have to buy my dress right off the rack and cross my fingers for a very quick seamstress to do any needed alterations. No pressure. While calling many bridal salons in the Raleigh area, my girlfriend and I encountered many shops that would not even consider having me look at their dresses because of my time constraint. Almost defeated, we called one of our thought-to-be long shots and to our surprise, the shop manager answered and graciously welcomed us to come and see their sample dresses that day. The first dress I tried on was an ivory Chantilly lace gown by Vera Wang. I tried on several dresses after, but none compared with the first gown’s blend of the vintage ivory lace with contemporary lines. So I purchased that flawless sample dress for less than half of the marketed price because it was from a previous year’s collection.

How cool are those feather bouts? They were made in memory of Kristin’ grandfather and in celebration JJ, the family’s newest hunter.

Did you write your own vows? No way!! We both felt the same way when we asked each other about the possibility of writing our own vows. We both know how we feel about one another and there was no way either of us could verbalize those thoughts when we were so emotionally charged.

Describe the proposal. We had just finished lunch when I was making brownies for JJ to bring to work. I overheard JJ playing the guitar in the office. I put my brownies into the oven walked with my coffee in hand to sit by JJ and listen to him serenade me. He began to play and sing my beloved ballad by the Avett Brothers; and by this time I had begun to harmonize with his handsome voice. After we finished the song, he crawled over to me and we embraced. The moment was perfect, except that I felt his heart pounding very hard in his chest. As I withdrew to ask him if he was okay, I saw him holding a box out to me and then he asked me. I said yes and we embraced again. I love that our story was low key and involved all my favorite things: baking, coffee, music and my love.

I’m crazy for the antique vases and blue bell jars filled with delicate flowers that K chose as centerpieces.

My most favorite flower is the hydrangea. I have admired them since childhood, when I used to watch my grandmother water and tend to her huge hydrangea bushes in New Jersey. Instead of ornate arrangements we wanted an understated, fresh look. We chose to use a mixture of hydrangeas in blues, greens and whites along with drosophila for added texture and bells of Ireland for height all arranged in the colored canning glass jars JJ and I collected over the two months leading up to the big day.

Describe your wedding cake: Originally, I found myself drawn to the texture and structural designs of a fondant cake, but we were unwilling to sacrifice flavor for design. Our baker, Ali, helped us attain both with a very simple design of a smooth European buttercream frosting while getting the desired texture with simple dots of all sizes and rows of beading.

A sparkly dress and loose hair definitely spell “magical getaway” style to me!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Our relationship was a subject of much prayer, faithfulness of true friends and grace of the Lord. Two and a half years ago, we met through our married friends Lindsay and Bryan. And what do any two married people do when they have two single friends? Try to get them together. Unfortunately at the time, JJ lived in Lake Tahoe and only came home to visit periodically. We met at a couple of times at laid back dinner gatherings with bunches of friends, not getting much time to speak one on one. In fact, one of the first times I really spoke to him was when I was drilling a hole in his nail that he crushed in the garage door the morning prior. Shortly after this, JJ left for a voluntary deployment overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Coast Guard. He emailed me once in the first part of his deployment to fill me on his well-healing nail bed and then returned home during his mid deployment break. During his break, I saw him a couple times at Bryan and Lindsay’s, and we actually were able get to know each other a little better. He returned for the rest of his deployment for the next five months and we exchanged emails getting to know each other. We became and remained friends alone, though. I did not see him until four months after he returned from his deployment, but even through life’s twists and turns, we still ended up at a very familiar place — in Lindsay and Bryan’s backyard laughing and talking by the fire. One night, the boys were playing some familiar songs on the banjo and guitar when JJ started to sing and play my favorite love ballad by the Avett Brothers. Listening to him play and having learned his heart, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him by my side.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Fresh, serene and intimate.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I couldn’t really name just one detail of the wedding that I could call my favorite. Rather, all the crafts that we incorporated into the ceremony and reception truly made our celebration personal. Some of those crafts included the colored glassware we collected, the fan programs, the votive favors made with sea glass from beaches in Hawaii and sand from Atlantic beach, the Chinese lanterns that JJ and our crew hung the day of the wedding, boutonnières I made from duck feathers that JJ and Bryan had captured together, the veil that I bedazzled by gluing 300 Swarovski crystals onto, the flower girl basket I made and decorated, the wreath that hung on the front door to the plantation, and finally, the family pictures of both our parents and grandparents that we displayed at the entrance.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Both JJ and I tend to migrate to a style that seems to be a marriage of contemporary lines with a vintage feel. It was only natural for that to be tone of the wedding. With my affinity for my mom’s antique aqua canning jars, I chose to use a mixture of them for the centerpieces with simple hydrangeas, wild flowers and candles for the centerpieces. In memory of my beloved grandfather and in celebration of the new addition of a hunter to my family, we used of duck feathers for all the gentlemen’s boutonnieres. Even the music reached into the Southern pocket. The ceremony music was a collection of old Southern hymns played on an acoustic guitar, while the first song JJ and I danced to as a married couple was a folk bluegrass favorite by the Avett Brothers. Another Southern touch was the fans we made and gave to guests to cool themselves with during the course of the outside service. One of the largest Southern elements was the backdrop for our wedding ceremony and reception, the beautiful Whitford Plantation. The plantation is a beautifully grand and historic structure with spacious grounds that were owned by a Confederate colonel John Nathaniel Whitford.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge for sure was planning the wedding in 2.5 months. This was mainly due to finding an available venue. Our families are of utmost importance to us and we wanted to make sure that all our families were going to be able to come and be a part of our celebration. Looking back, we both would not want to do it any differently. I believe we would literally pull our hair out if we had to spread planning a wedding over any kind of extended period of time.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I think the most memorable moments of the wedding day were all the little times of respite between JJ and I, when we had a second to take in the fact that the day was actually here. 

What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to being in the same town. Our relationship, including the first two and half months of marriage, has been long distance. We have been commuting three hours to see one another, so it will be awesome just to be able come home to one another.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
10 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Everything is so lovely and elegant–the cake is my favorite! Major kudos to the bride and groom for planning such a beautiful wedding in such a short amount of time!

  2. avatar Melissa Vause reply

    BEAUTIFUL wedding for just having two months to plan it!!

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  5. avatar Jenny (Captured Photography by Jenny) reply

    Kristen! You looked amazing! And your wedding was adorable :) Congrats my dear!

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  7. avatar Allen J. reply

    I am surprised that any place would discourage you from looking at what they have. Yes, 2.5 months is not a lot of time but surly it is plenty. Your wedding turned out beautiful. I am happy things went well even with that setback.

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