Southern Weddings

Tag: first look

The most common advice our featured brides give to our readers week in and week out? Throughout your wedding day, regularly step back and take mental snapshots. Slow the day down, and soak it in, or else it will whir by in a happy blur. I’m positive each of the ten most memorable moments below are imprinted in each couple’s mind just as beautifully as their photographers’ captured them for posterity.

I hope these photos help you to take a pause even today, and remember how joyful and sublime a wedding day can truly be!

Ashley’s sweet confetti moment with her bridesmaids (photo by Elisabeth Carol)

Nicole’s tearjerker moment with her Dad (photo by Danielle Nichol)

Madeleine and Caleb’s giddy first look (photo by Kristin Sweeting)

Erica and Daniel’s private foot washing and letter exchange before their ceremony (photo by Anna Shackleford)

Callie and Cade’s joyful ceremony exit (photo by Paul Johnson)

Libby and Matt’s bridal party huddle (photo by Lynnesy Catron)

Leigh and Steve’s ceremony to reception boat ride (photo by Rach Loves Troy)

Emily and Matthew’s private dinner (photos by Clark Brewer)

Amy and Mike’s second line boogie (photo by Arte de Vie)

Finally, Caitlin and Davis’ confetti-soaked exit (photo by Landon Jacob)

I would love to hear: what is one of the moments that stands out most vividly from your wedding day?

Elisabeth Carol and Anna Shackleford are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
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There are few things more Southern than a community coming together, which is one of the many reasons Erica and Daniel’s wedding was so magical! Their family and friends helped with everything from offering up their gorgeous property as a venue, to building and crafting reception details, to bartending and cutting the cake on the night-of. Getting married at a private residence is no easy feat, but with all hands on deck, Shiloh Farms certainly turned into the perfect home for this joyful celebration. Erica and Daniel also went out of their way to get to know their vendors on a personal level, so even the folks who started out as strangers became part of the community that made this day extra special!

Many thanks to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Shackleford for sharing this day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went to my first appointment at Affordable Bridal, Inc. in Buford, Georgia. I had heard great things about the shop from friends who bought their dresses there. I arrived to my appointment with my mother, sister, and maid of honor, and was instantly greeted by two smiling women who respected my budget and went straight to picking out dresses in the style I had in mind. I tried on about ten dresses before finding the one. Once I put on that beautiful, lace, fit and flare gown with cap sleeves and a keyhole back, I knew it was going to be the dress that I married Daniel in, and so did the rest of the women there. Just when I didn’t think it couldn’t get any better, the stylist placed a cathedral veil on my head and I was done for. Not to mention, I was able to buy the dress off the rack and at an additional 15 percent off. It was the perfect dress, and I will never forget how beautiful it made me feel!

We decided to do a first look and I am so happy we did. We knew that with a wedding party and guest list as big as ours, we wouldn’t have that much alone time. Having a first look gave us an opportunity to enjoy each other, check each other out in our wedding attire, cry, laugh, and pray. We even took that time to read letters that we had written to each other. Afterwards, we washed each other’s feet as a sign of humbling ourselves before the other, serving one another for a lifetime, and loving each other just like Christ loves His church. It was the most intimate moment. The first look did not take away the anticipation of me walking down the aisle to Daniel. In fact, we think it made it that much better.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We chose to have our wedding at Shiloh Farms, the property of our dear friends who are like family to us. I stayed at the farm when I would visit Daniel over the course of our long-distance relationship. It is special to us because it is truly where our romance developed, as well as where Daniel proposed. We dreamed of having a wedding there and are blessed to have shared this simple, yet magical place with our family and friends.

Music is so important to Daniel and I. Daniel plays the guitar, bass, and piano, and he performs in the worship team at our church. I wouldn’t say I’m a professional, but I am a fan of musicians (obviously) and I love going to concerts. We knew that music had to be a key element in our wedding. Our friends and members of the worship team at our church sang during the ceremony while the bridal party walked down the aisle and during the communion. Here are the songs: “Take My Heart” by Emily Hackett feat. Will Anderson (Daniel’s song walking down), “Fall Afresh” by Bethel (bridesmaid and bridal processional), “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus” by All Sons and Daughters (communion), and “Brand New” by Ben Rector (recessional).

Our favorite detail of the wedding was the cedarwood bar my dad handmade for the reception. He worked so hard on it for two and a half months. He will tell you that it was one of his favorite projects, and it was definitely a hit at the reception! He loved showing it off, and our guests loved hanging around it to enjoy drinks and conversation. It was such a special gift, and we now proudly display it on our backyard patio.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Daniel’s family is extremely talented and his sisters helped by making our wedding signs that were displayed during the ceremony and reception, as well as creating a design for each welcome bag that went to our guests staying at hotels. We created a DIY photo booth by borrowing furniture and picture frames. We asked friends to bartend during the reception and had two ladies offer to cut our cake so we didn’t have to pay a cake cutting fee. We decided not to have wedding favors to reduce the cost.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. When people ask how we met, we usually keep things simple and say “at a wedding,” but here is the real story. Daniel and I attended a wedding of mutual friends, separately. He saw me sitting at a table alone “in a red dress” (he likes to add), and due to unforeseen circumstances, we never actually talked at the wedding. However, Daniel found out who I was through a mutual friend and added me on Facebook later that night. Two weeks later, Daniel messaged me saying that he saw me at the wedding, and was wondering if he could get to know me over coffee. One thing led to another and Daniel made the grueling trek from Valdosta, Georgia to Atlanta, where we talked over coffee for three hours. On Labor Day, he drove up again for our first “real” date, where we went hiking, ate our favorite Italian food, and went to the movies. After that, I found myself making the trip down to Valdosta to visit Daniel for the first time. It was then when Daniel told me that he wanted to pursue me with the intentions of marriage. Since then, we have embarked on a whirlwind romance full of new adventures that ultimately led to me moving down to Valdosta to be with him. Our friends and family would agree that the crazy way our relationship has come about is truly God’s work at hand. We are full of immeasurable joy as we embrace this new chapter as husband and wife!
Tell us all about the proposal! On Labor Day, one year from when we went on our first date, we were at one of our favorite restaurants in town when Daniel mentioned that our friends, the owners of Shiloh Farms, wanted us to come see them. I was less inclined to go because I had to work the next day and needed to go to the grocery store. Daniel insisted that we go, saying we needed to pick up my kayak, which was at the farm. On the drive there, I was looking on social media, and at least three people I knew had gotten engaged. I kept going on and on about it and joked with Daniel that he would probably propose with a ring hiding in food since he loves food so much. We pulled up to the front of the house and I noticed flower arrangements sitting in their gazebo. I didn’t think twice about it and started to walk inside the house. Daniel grabbed my hand and said we should go check out the flowers. When we walked inside the gazebo, I noticed that there were rose petals on the ground. I felt Daniel take a step back, and when I looked to see what he was doing, I saw tears in his eyes…and that’s when I knew. Daniel got down on one knee and popped the question. My jaw dropped and I went through a process of being speechless and in shock to saying, “oh my gosh” and “is this real,” to finally saying “YES!” Afterwards, he turned and pointed back at the house to where his sister, Ashley, was hanging out of the second story window taking pictures of the whole thing. We literally could not stop smiling, freaking out, hugging, kissing, and laughing. It was the best, most surreal moment of pure joy and happiness.
When did y’all get married? April 23, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We decided not to write our own vows. We kept it traditional and we both found that they were just as powerful. We both had tears in our eyes, and I could hardly keep it together as he said, “For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Daniel’s sister, Alison, read Ephesians 5:22-31. Daniel and I found this scripture to be so vital during our marriage counseling and we wanted to incorporate it into our ceremony.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge we faced was adjusting the menu to feed 300 guests while staying within our budget. We went back and forth with our caterer so many times because of our guest list grew weekly. Thankfully, she was willing to work with us and did everything she could to give us want we wanted. We paid a little more than we had originally planned for, but it all worked out in the end and the food was a hit.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? It takes a lot of time to plan a wedding on your own, especially at a private venue. If you have the money, I would suggest hiring a planner and selecting a venue that takes care of everything. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing about our wedding, but it just caused a lot of unnecessary stress. To the brides, be sure to include your groom in the planning. They may want something special that you wouldn’t have originally thought of. To the grooms, know that the special woman you are about to marry has probably dreamed of this day for a long time. Respect her during the stressful times and be there to listen and offer encouragement when she needs it. To the couple, understand that this is just one day. It is a very special day, but it goes by so fast. Enjoy the planning, but take time to go on dates and eliminate wedding talk.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Daniel and I are excited to be buying our first home together. I work as a nurse on night shift and he works as a general contractor, so with our crazy schedules, we are looking forward to a time of rest and enjoying each other in our home with our two dogs, Maddie and Cooper. We are looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us during our marriage, getting involved in ministry, being successful with our jobs, creating life-giving relationships with family and friends, and traveling to new places.

Photographer: Anna Shackleford | Videographer: Lucas Hicks Video and Photography | Planner: Jamie Lea Shiver | Venue: Shiloh Farms | Florist: Hilary Colyer | Cake Baker: Pam Vickers | Caterer: Covington’s Dining and Catering | Rentals and Lighting: International Tent Inc. and Shindig | Decor: The Squirrel’s Nest | DJ: Tom Hochschild | Champagne Glasses and Cake Cutting Set: Oriental Trading Company | Paper Products: Shutterfly, Etsy, and Staples | Bride’s Gown: “Bronwyn” by Maggie Sottero | Bride’s Hairpiece and Veil: Affordable Bridal, Inc. | Bride’s Earrings: Steel’s Jewelry | Hair Stylist: Anna Beth Purvis | Makeup Artist: Claire Rice | Bride’s Shoes and Groomsmen Attire: JCPenney | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: The Dessy Group | Groom’s Attire: Nordstrom | Officiant: Brinson Barker | Acoustics: Event Point

Anna Shackleford is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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  1. avatar Elisabeth reply

    I really love these bridesmaids dresses. Can anyone tell me what specific color or collection they’re from?

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When you combine a family farm, fluffy spring blooms, and a couple that is clearly smitten with one another, you know a wedding is going to be a good one, and that is certainly the case for Julie and Jonathan! Even though they were planning their wedding during a super busy season of life, they were dedicated to preparing for marriage and incorporating as many intentional moments into their celebration as they could. Some of those were planned, like their first look and foot washing ceremony, while others were a surprise–Julie was shocked when she and her parents rounded the corner to find Jonathan singing and playing her processional song on guitar at the other end of the aisle!

Thanks so much to Bella Grace Studios for sharing this lovely day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. A few months after the engagement, Jonathan’s parents invited my parents and I to a short vacation in Destin, Florida. That week, we had so much fun cooking meals together and relaxing on the beach. Later on in the week, when rain came our way, I decided that I wanted to go dress shopping while I had both my mom and my soon-to-be mother-in-law in one place. It was such a sweet time together. I only tried on three dresses, and the last dress (which my mother-in-law picked off the rack for me) was everything I had ever wanted. I never thought I would pick a dress that quickly, but my mother-in-law knew me better than I had expected!

Jonathan and I chose to do a first look. It was just us and our photographer on a nearby road nestled under a tunnel of trees. In all honesty, I was very skeptical about the first look, because I thought it would take the “wow factor” away when I walked down the aisle. But oh, how wrong I was! It ended up being one of the best decisions we made during the day and made everything so stress-free. Plus, little did I know that the “wow factor” wasn’t missing in the least–as I turned the corner to walk down the aisle, my groom was singing/playing my favorite song to me as I walked closer to becoming his wife.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our song is “My Only Love” by Matt Maher, and we had planned on Andrew, the best man playing and singing it as I walked down the aisle. But Jonathan surprised me, and he sang and played it instead! Oh my heart!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The best detail of our wedding was the two old doors and rug that served as our “spot” at the ceremony. We loved how the doors and floral arrangements on top framed us perfectly and contrasted so well with the lush green trees behind them. We get to keep those doors in our family now, and the rug sits in our apartment. We plan for that to always be in our home as a sweet reminder of where we stood when we became husband and wife.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Jonathan’s favorite part of my vows was, “I promise to always set my affection and devotion on you as we both pour out our love on the feet of Jesus together for the rest of our lives.” My favorite part of Jonathan’s vows: “Julie, my bride, my dear, to God and to you, I vow to say yes to you for the rest of my life. To dream with you not only of places we want to go, but also of the miraculous things we want to see God do.”

The most memorable moment of our wedding day for both of us was washing each other’s feet during our ceremony. Not only because Jonathan’s feet stunk (SO BAD), but mostly because of the symbolism it was for us and our relationship. We were following the example that Jesus left for His disciples when he humbled Himself to wash their feet, to serve them, and love them when they didn’t deserve to experience that type of love from the King of Kings. We feel that way about our relationship; we have done nothing to deserve the sweet love and affection God has given us for each other, so we want to be good stewards of that gift and serve each other in love for the rest of our lives. When I was washing his feet, I began to weep, and realized what a gift Jonathan really has been to me, and he felt the same. Such a sweet moment.

Describe your wedding flowers. Our wedding flowers were soft and full with a muted color palette that matched the atmosphere we created perfectly. I had white and peach roses with soft green dusty miller greenery in my bouquet, while the bridesmaids had assorted white roses and soft greenery in theirs. My sweet florist made a flower crown for me to wear for the reception as well. The men wore eucalyptus boutonnieres and Jonathan had a white rose added to his, which contrasted so well with his scruffy beard. In addition to the bridal party flowers, a close friend and I arranged a huge assortment of flowers on top of two old painted doors that we used at the ceremony. That was such a fun DIY to tackle together.

Our ceremony and reception were both held at a family farm outside of Lexington, Kentucky. It was significant because it was in my hometown, and family and friends from college were all close by. The reason we chose the venue was because we knew and trusted the family that owned the farm, and it would allow us to have the outdoor wedding and barn reception that we wanted, all in the same place. We were very happy that it was away from the city as well, so there were no loud noises or distractions.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Jonathan and I met through mutual friends during my first week of college. He is a year older than me, and I thought that the group of guys he ran around with were so funny–there is never a dull moment with that crew. He grew up in the Nashville area and came to Kentucky for college, so we had so much to talk about and learn from each other. Neither of us was looking for anything serious, but I knew that he wasn’t just any guy. As we spent more and more time together, we became best friends. He asked me to be his girl and the rest is history. Three and a half years later, I still get butterflies when I’m on my way to see him!
Tell us all about the proposal! We spent our last summer in college apart–Jonathan was working at Spring Hill Camps in Cincinnati, Ohio and I was an intern at Compassion International in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While we were both living out dreams and having the best summers of our lives, we would talk over FaceTime each night and say “I miss you” way too many times to count. At the end of the summer, I was about to start my journey back to Kentucky, so Jonathan flew out to help me with the 20-hour drive! Before we left Colorado, I told him that I wanted to take him to my favorite spot I had explored over the summer, Dream Lake in Estes Park. We had the best day talking about our summers and just enjoying each other’s company as we hiked up to the magical spot that I was so in love with. We got to the lake, and after taking in the view, I turned around and he was on his knee asking me to marry him. I cried and said yes! Little did I know that two sweet friends I made that summer were recording and photographing the entire thing! Jonathan had been planning it for months. He is just the best.
When did y’all get married? May 28, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275 sweet friends and family!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had four flavors of wedding cake served at our reception: lemon, chocolate mousse, strawberry, and bourbon, of course, since we were in Kentucky!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We are so blessed to have amazing examples of marriage in both of our lives, so we felt very prepared going into all of this! We went through marriage counseling with our mentors, who we have know for our entire season of dating. They walked us through “The Mingling of Two Souls” by Matt and Lauren Chandler and had endless conversations with us covering principles of marriage that you might not always see from the outside. They prayed with us and over us and continue to challenge and encourage us!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? One thing I did to save money was to do all of the hair and makeup myself! The morning of the wedding was so fun–we relaxed and the bridesmaids did each other’s makeup while I curled everyone’s hair, including my own. I’ve always been notorious for playing with my friends’ hair while hanging out, so why would I do it any differently on my wedding day?
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Spread out the planning so you can enjoy it! I had so much fun slowly checking things off my list–setting deadlines in a planner (I used the Southern Wedding Planner!) is great way to not get overwhelmed. Also, allow people to help. I’m a designer, so I love making things by myself, but some of my favorite memories were painting old doors with friends and going shopping with my mom and making decisions with her. Wedding planning can and should bring you closer to the people around you–they want to celebrate this season of your life with you and your fiancé!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are making our home in Franklin, Tennessee, where we both work and live. We are looking forward to traveling together, learning from our mistakes and victories, and serving the community around us as our marriage and family grow. We also can’t wait to see Tennessee beat Kentucky in football for years to come.

Photographer: Bella Grace Studios | Venue and Catering: Gilkison Farm | Florist: Chambliss Designs | Wedding Cake: Sweet Lilu’s Catering | Rentals: Bryant’s Rent-All | DJ: Chase Scott | Vows Books: Seliz Design | Bride’s Gown: “KP3695” by David’s Bridal | Veil: “WPD16266M” by David’s Bridal | Bride’s Shoes: “Kivah” by INC International Concepts | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Midi Bandeau” by ASOS | Groom’s Attire: Levi’s | Bow Ties: “BC578ST” by The Tie Bar

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Dana reply

    What a sweet proposal story!

  2. avatar Josh Merideth reply

    Thank you so much for sharing… Such a sweet beautiful couple!!

  3. avatar Amy reply

    Such an adorable bride and groom, Loved all the photos!

    We at http://poemstogo.tv wish them a lifetime of love and happiness xxxoo

  4. avatar Julie Hay reply

    here is our proposal video too! :)

  5. avatar Skylar Caitlin reply

    Bella Grace Studios did a fantastic job capturing this couple! I can feel their genuinely sweet spirits flowing off the screen.

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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