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We often talk about how much we love it when couples pull inspiration from their own stories for their wedding designs, and Mary Beth and Nicholas are a perfect example! Mary Beth said she wanted their evening to feel lush and elegant, like a “black tie version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” They filled the Oxmoor Estate and Gardens with white flowers and lots of greenery, and even had a hanging garden hovering above their dance floor! But the true inspiration for their verdure reception stems from their proposal, where Nicholas jokingly used a blade in place of a ring! By mixing various grasses into the design, they created a dreamy reception with heartfelt meaning. It was the best of both worlds!

Thanks to Bella Grace Studios for sharing Mary Beth and Nicholas’ wedding day with us in our last print issue!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? After trying on about 100 dresses (no joke!), I finally found a custom gown at Jin Wang’s studio in San Francisco that I loved. Jin started telling me about the creative process for a custom gown right then, and I was sold. We worked on it together for the better part of a year; it’s such an intense process, but totally worth it as I was so thrilled with the final product. The front of the gown was very simple and the back was accented with gorgeous, ethereal organza details and a long train. The back of the gown was definitely my favorite part!

Since we got married outside at a gorgeous estate with beautiful gardens, I really wanted to keep our flowers simple, but elegant. My planner chose gorgeous blooms in whites and greens. I carried a bouquet composed of white peonies, David Austin garden roses, stock, hydrangeas, and astilbe. The blooms were held together by lace from my mother’s wedding dress and an Italian handkerchief she had given me that morning. Each bridesmaid carried a unique mono-floral grouping of blooms ranging from hydrangeas, stock, peonies, roses, tulips, and calla lilies. I loved this detail, as I think it really complemented the various dresses the girls chose.

Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? Having such a large bridal party, I wanted to keep everything simple and soft so that the colors from the garden would really pop, so I asked each of my 13 bridesmaids to choose their own dress in any shade of nude. Designers ranged from Carven to Reformation to La Perla to Stone Cold Fox, among others, and the final product was flawless.
What did the groom and groomsmen wear? Since our wedding was black tie, all 13 of our groomsmen wore classic black tuxedos. Nick wanted to stand out, however, so he chose to wear a formal ivory dinner jacket. I personally loved this detail, as it was a very Southern choice for my very Northern groom.

We considered several different locations for the wedding, including Hotchkiss, Jackson Hole, and Beaver Creek, but when I went to Louisville for my best friend Barrett’s birthday, it just felt like the perfect place, as it’s the city I grew up in and a place that few of my friends had visited before. Seeing Oxmoor Farm for the first time really sealed the deal for me, as it made me feel as if I would be inviting guests into my own home.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? The ceremony was one of the most special parts of the day for me! I will never forget the feeling I had watching Nick’s face as I walked down the aisle, since he rarely gets emotional, but was definitely a bit teary-eyed in that moment. We asked Nick’s future brother-in-law to do a reading and he chose Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, which was absolutely perfect for us. Another favorite detail was the recessional–we had our string quartet play the chorus of Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever,” a song Nick and I both adore.
Did you write your own vows? Nope, we chose to keep our vows traditional. Sweet and simple!

What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? If I had to pinpoint exactly where my inspiration came from, it would probably be a black tie version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”–I wanted the whole evening to feel elegant and lush, with traditional white flowers and tons of greenery everywhere. Since Nick proposed with a blade of grass, I also really wanted various grasses to be mixed into the design, which ended up looking fantastic and feeling meaningful.

I had so much fun at our reception. We had a separate tent for dinner and dancing, and my planner, Lauren Chitwood, did a wonderful job executing my décor vision. I wanted our guests to feel like they were walking into a scene straight out of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when they entered the tent, and it really did feel just like that–white flowers and greenery everywhere, with a stunning hanging garden over the dance floor. For dinner, we served a summer zucchini ribbon salad with burrata to start, followed by herb and peppercorn encrusted strip steak over creamy cheese grits and spring vegetables. For dessert, we gave every guest a cupcake from Plehn’s Bakery, the very same bakery that made all of my birthday cakes growing up. The Sultans of Swing performed and did a fantastic job. Nick and I danced to Van Morrison’s “Wavelength,” which was one of my favorite parts of the whole night, and the Sultans kept people on the dance floor for the rest of the night playing everything from Frank Sinatra and Etta James to Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake–they were seriously phenomenal. Since our best man and maid of honor had spoken the night before at our rehearsal dinner, my dad was the only person who toasted at the wedding. His speech was incredibly sweet and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who became teary-eyed!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We initially met as high school students at the Hotchkiss School, a boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut, but didn’t start dating until six years later in New York after I literally ran into him and broke his sunglasses at my best friend’s house in Newport, Rhode Island. I was so embarrassed at the time, but turns out he wasn’t that phased, as we had a blast together that weekend and he asked me to drinks for the first time the following week!
Describe the proposal: It was a lazy, foggy Saturday morning at home in San Francisco, and Nick surprised me with breakfast in bed. This wasn’t that random, as he loves to cook, but this time, there was a little jewelry box on the tray with a blade of grass inside (I had always joked with my friends that I loved Nick so much that if he proposed with a blade of grass, I’d still say yes, so clearly, this story had gotten back to him!). After I opened that box and lost all ability to speak, he dropped down to one knee beside the bed and pulled out the real ring! We celebrated with friends the following day in Point Reyes, where we shucked and grilled oysters and drank copious amounts of rosé!
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? We did several premarital counseling sessions over FaceTime with our minister, my cousin Adam Webb, who lives in Atlanta. He had us read The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. One of the biggest takeaways for both of us was to always aim to do some sort of unselfish act for the other person at least once a week. This simple, but thoughtful, task has already impacted our relationship in the best way!
How many guests attended your wedding? 185
Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: My favorite details were the blade of grass motif that was carried through everything from the wedding invitations to the décor, the cupcakes from Plehn’s, and the handwritten notes on the escort cards that also served as dance cards. It’s an old-fashioned tradition for women to record the names of the gentlemen with whom she intends to dance at a formal ball, and so Nick and I thought it would be fun to create dance cards for all of our guests to encourage them to seek out dance partners and maybe even meet some new friends. Whether or not they actually found the people listed on their dance card, we’ll never know, but what we do know is that people were on the dance floor the entire evening!
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? I originally wanted to wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” as my mother had done in her wedding. The lace from my mother’s wedding dress that was wrapped around my bouquet was my something old, the wedding dress was new, my mom’s diamond earrings were borrowed, and my sapphire engagement ring was blue. However, Nick surprised me with his grandmother’s earrings, so of course, I wore those instead of my mom’s!
Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. Growing up in Louisville, I was lucky enough to have a Plehn’s Bakery cake every year for my birthday, so choosing a wedding cake was a no-brainer. Nick is totally obsessed with cupcakes, so rather than serve a traditional Southern groom’s cake, we decided to place a cupcake–either red velvet or lemon with cream cheese icing–on each guest’s plate after we cut the cake. Absolutely delicious!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We’re excited for everything about the future! As Nick always reminds me when I start to get sad that the wedding and honeymoon are over, these next few months are just the beginning of the rest of our lives! I can’t wait to see what happens for us professionally, I can’t wait to see where we end up buying a house, and I can’t wait to explore the world and raise a family together!

Photographer: Bella Grace Studios | Videographer: Two Rings Wedding Videos | Planner, Designer, Linens, and Lighting: Lauren Chitwood Events | Venue: Oxmoor Farm | Florals: Paul Latham of Lauren Chitwood Events | Caterer: Wiltshire Pantry | Dessert Baker: Plehn’s Bakery | Bride’s Gown and Veil: Jin Wang | Bride’s Shoes: Aquazzura | Bride’s Earrings: Cresalia Jewelers | Hair Stylist: Hali B & Co.| Makeup Artist: Sloan Winters | Bridesmaid Salon: Drybar | Groom’s Dinner Jacket: Saks Fifth Avenue | Paper Goods: Lettered West | Rentals: All Occasions Event Rental | Transportation: R&R Limousine

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Catherine Marks reply

    I love the dance cards idea and all the greenery! What an elegant day!

  2. avatar Bri A reply

    What a beautiful wedding!! I love that she carried the grass theme throughout – what a sweet reminder of the proposal! Such a sweet interview.

  3. avatar Darek Novak reply

    Love the skin tones on this set. So creamy. Beautiful wedding.

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Have you heard? It’s Engagement Celebration Week! Whether you’ve been engaged for two days or twelve months, we invite you to join the party and celebrate like you said yes yesterday. Upload a proposal or ring shot to our hashtag, enter to win giveaways all week on Instagram, or take 20% off our wedding planner with code JOYFULLYENGAGED. We can’t wait to cheer you on!!

The first item most brides look to book is the wedding venue — and with good reason! Your venue sets the tone for everything that is to come, it often helps determine your wedding date, and it can take up a large chunk of your wedding budget. Many brides or grooms also often have a sentimental attachment to the spot they choose to say “I do,” so (as with many wedding decisions) there’s an additional emotional factor to consider.

Since we know many of you are at the beginning of your engagement (how exciting!!), we wanted to share some of the most important things to consider when choosing a wedding venue! To do so, we invited three of the event planners at Keeneland, one of Kentucky’s premier venues, to offer their tips, and combined them with some of the best info from the Joyful Wedding Planner. We’ve sprinkled a few lovely photos from Keeneland’s various venues throughout, too!

Honey Heart Photography

1. The Particulars of Your Wedding. Know your (approximate) guest count, (desired) date and (approximate) budget before starting the search. It’s okay to not have them all set in stone, but you want to have at least a ballpark for each! If you have any must-haves (great view, garden setting, white walls, etc.), write these down, too. Use this information to make a list of possible venues, then narrow it down to your top picks before scheduling tours.

Honey Heart Photography

2. Your Love Story. Do you have a special tie to a location or city? Your wedding should be filled with your unique love story, and your venue is a great place to start! The Keeneland folks love hearing from brides who met their fiancé on property, grew up coming to the track, or were proposed to in between races.

Nina and Wes

3. Catering. There are several benefits of choosing a venue with an in-house catering company (especially if it’s a fabulous one, like Keeneland’s!). Having the food prepared by an in-house team means you don’t need to create a kitchen from the ground-up, you usually don’t have to worry about renting china and silverware, and you know your venue and catering team will work together seamlessly. Of course, if you have a specific caterer you’ve been dying to work with, or you have a particular vision in mind (like food trucks), you’ll want to look for a venue that allows outside vendors.

Lang Thomas

4. Coordination. At Southern Weddings, we believe that every couple should have at minimum a day-of coordinator, even if it’s just a trustworthy and organized family friend. Whether you’re planning to hire a full-service planner or not, make sure that you meet with and get along with the venue contact who will be on site during your celebration! Ask what level of involvement they’ll have with your planning, too.

VRV Photographie

5. Venue Specifics. The frustrating thing about the wedding venue search is that you’re usually comparing apples to oranges, because every venue builds their packages differently and charges accordingly. Make sure to gather as much information as possible! In addition to our basic questions, below, here are a few next-level Q’s:

— How long do we have the venue on the day of our wedding? Will we have access early to set-up?
— Does our rental include tables, chairs, china, a dance floor, a stage, or any other rentals?
— How will our venue coordinator assist us?
— Do you have enough parking to accommodate our guest count? Do you require valet, and is it additional?
— Restrooms: are they big enough and nice enough for your taste?
— What is the rain plan?

6. Photos. Does the venue itself photograph well? Are there pretty spots for portraits? If not, is the surrounding area accessible, and a good fit for your aesthetic?

Honey Heart Photography

Thanks to the ladies at Keeneland for chiming in today with their expert advice! And remember: as you sift through information from your top picks, make visits to each, and consider your options, don’t be afraid to ask questions, get proposals, and use the expertise of the on-site coordinator!

Sending wishes that you all find your perfect wedding venue match as quick as a Kentucky thoroughbred! :)

This post is brought to you by Keeneland, a gorgeous wedding venue and iconic race track in Kentucky. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Ryan reply

    LOVE seeing our photographer friends and several past clients on Southern Weddings! The planners and staff at Keeneland are second to none and it is such an honor that we get to produce wedding videos at this beautiful Lexington venue!

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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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