Southern Weddings

Tag: Lauren Chitwood

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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During a beach-side bike ride on one of my and Brandon’s first vacations together, we explored the construction site that is now Alys Beach. We were even able to walk through the half-built homes as they were being constructed, and now, every time I see a wedding there, it brings back such sweet memories of our dating life. With their favorite wedding detail being their venue, and Emily and Reed’s plans to vacation there each year for their anniversary, I’m positive those future trips will be filled with joyous memories of their beautiful wedding on the Central Park Green! Playing off the modern white architecture, Emily and Reed worked with Lauren Chitwood Events to bring in rustic driftwood and succulents combined with lush peonies and protea. That gorgeous custom driftwood arch had guests talking for months!

Thank you kindly to Amy Campbell for sharing Emily and Reed’s wedding with us!

I found my dress in Nashville at B. Hughes. I had previously looked in Birmingham, where my sister lives, and liked a few dresses, but knew I couldn’t make any decisions until I visited this shop. I tried on a strapless Reem Acra dress and knew it was the one for me. I felt so pretty in it and didn’t want to take it off. I still love it a year later!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows, but did speak to our officiant about the flow and words we wanted him to use during the ceremony. The vows were very simple, but those words are so meaningful. While saying my vows to Reed, I started crying. I’m not a big crier, so I started laughing at myself for crying. It was a sweet moment we’ll both remember forever.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My best friend, Maggie, read Colossians 3:12-14. This was a verse Reed and I kept reading during our premarital exercises. I love the words in this verse and thought it would be special for her to read it.

I grew up going to the beach near Sandestin and Seaside, Florida. Every wedding I’d seen along Highway 30A was so beautiful, and we loved the idea of getting married at the beach. We looked at multiple venues in Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach, and the Central Park Green at Alys Beach was the exact look I wanted. The small green is surrounded by trees and a breathtaking modern pool and restaurant. It turned out to be a perfect venue and I couldn’t have been happier!

Describe your wedding flowers. Lauren and I discussed many different looks, but we ultimately decided to mix the rustic look of driftwood and succulents with peonies and protea. She sent me examples of what she thought I would like, and after seeing a photo that included a gorgeous driftwood arch, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Lauren and her florist created one for our wedding and it was the most beautiful arch I’ve ever seen. It was so memorable–people talked about it months after the wedding.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We saved money by trimming down the guest list. Initially, we wanted around 300 guests, but after talking with our planner, Lauren, we decided to invite 170. It was hard to exclude some people but in the end it felt intimate and was a great size for the venue.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both went to college at Ole Miss. I always knew who he was and had a crush on him, so a mutual friend introduced us after I told him I thought Reed was cute. For a few months after meeting, we would see each other around Oxford and always seemed to get into long conversations. He finally asked me out on a date, and we dated for five years before getting married.
Tell us all about the proposal! Reed and I went to my parents’ house in Mississippi for Thanksgiving. We all decided to cook outside because the weather was so nice. Reed had planned everything with my family beforehand, and to give him time to propose, they all snuck back into the house. Due to lack of sleep from working the night before, I didn’t even notice their attempts to leave us alone. While we were outside talking, my sisters and my mom attached the ring to our dog, Daisy, and then let her back outside. Daisy immediately ran up to us, sat down, and I noticed the ring tied around her neck with a bow. Reed got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. We spent the night celebrating with my family and calling friends to tell them the news.
When did y’all get married? June 13, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 170
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail of our wedding was the venue. After getting married there, we now want to go back to Alys Beach every year! It’s the most beautiful place I’ve been in the United States.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? My husband and I are both from Mississippi and he is a passionate Ole Miss football fan. One of my favorite memories of the night was when Reed took the mic onstage, spouted Ole Miss football statistics, and led our mostly Mississippi reception in the Hotty Toddy cheer.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our wedding officiant, Gary Wingo, introduced us to a premarital workbook, “Before You Say I Do.” This helped us prepare for marriage and discuss things we otherwise may not have discussed. As a result, we grew closer and learned how to handle certain situations should they arise.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Originally, Reed and I were going to marry on May 16, 2015. After we set the date, we had trouble finding vendors who were available that day. After a few minor meltdowns, we decided to change our wedding date to June 13. I’m so happy we did, because everything worked out perfectly.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The most memorable moment for me was seeing Reed for the first time. Having my dad walk me down the aisle to my husband was such a great feeling. When I finally saw Reed and he had a big smile on his face, it was the exact moment I’d pictured for my entire life. The ceremony was definitely my favorite part of the whole wedding day.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are enjoying life in Nashville as a family of three (we have a French bulldog named Willis). I have so much fun with Reed, even when we’re doing simple, daily activities. I hope we continue having fun together, and maybe one day add to our little family.

Photographer: Amy Campbell | Planner and Florist: Lauren Chitwood | Venue: Central Park Green in Alys Beach | Wedding Cake: KaraBoo Bakery | Caterer: Townsend Catering | Band: The Heather Hayes Experience | Paper Products: Dement Printing and Fresh Ink | Bride’s Gown: Reem Acra | Hair and Makeup Stylist: Ana Crane | Bride’s Shoes: “Fearne” by Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Macey reply

    Everything looks like a dream! Beautiful.

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For every bride, there comes that moment when it hits you–you actually feel like a bride, and you’ll soon be marrying your best friend. I remember that moment so clearly during my own engagement, and for Kristen, it came during her dress shopping trip. I imagine that if having her family in tow while dress shopping was special, having 200 of her and Clay’s friends and family present to celebrate their wedding was just incredible! Together with their planner, Lauren Chitwood, Kristen and Clay turned Oxmoor Farm into the beautiful outdoor wedding Kristen had dreamed of, complete with a Lowcountry boil station during cocktail hour and yummy s’mores!

Big hugs to Amy Campbell for sharing this sweet day with us!

One of the most memorable parts of wedding preparation for me was shopping for the perfect dress. That was the day that it felt real, and I felt more like a bride than ever. It was important to me to have my close family with me to pick out the dress. I went shopping with my grandmothers, mom, and sister. At the second store we visited, I put a few dresses on, and then it happened. When I looked in the mirror, I could see myself walking down the aisle and saying “I do” to my best friend. It’s so hard to determine what everything is going to look like on your wedding day, once your dress actually fits and your hair and makeup is done. In the end, it was beautiful and I know I made a great choice.

Clay and I were in agreement that we did not want to see each other before our ceremony. We both wanted that moment to happen when I walked down the aisle and my dad gave me away. It would have been wonderful to have our pictures taken beforehand, but we went with what we felt was right for us.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? It took us awhile to find the readings that we felt were fitting for us. Finally, we agreed on the Irish Blessing of Hands and Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. We each chose one person to read; Clay chose his father and I chose my grandfather. Listening to each of them read on our wedding day was very special and is something that I’ll never forget.

Besides the Southern hot heat on the day of our wedding, the décor had many Southern touches, too. The Lowcountry boil station during cocktail hour was definitely Southern, as were the fire pits and s’mores–nothing says Southern evening like a fire pit and chocolate. Lastly, our venue is deeply rooted in Southern heritage.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Clay was wonderful about our venue–he didn’t really care where we did it, he just knew he wanted to marry me. I wanted to get married outside, and he was supportive of that. He has a huge family, so we also knew we needed a lot of space for a tent. Lauren, our wedding planner, suggested Oxmoor Farms, and after taking a tour of the property, I fell in love with it. I knew Clay would like it too, because he enjoys places with history. Later, I realized that I had actually played in soccer tournaments on the same field where we had our ceremony!

The wedding flowers were absolutely breathtaking. Before I started getting ready, I walked out to the reception area and was just blown away by how everything had come together. My wedding planner and floral designer used hydrangeas, garden roses, and seeded eucalyptus.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We decided on a small cake for us and our wedding party and cupcakes for everyone else. The choice to have a smaller wedding cake helped us save a little money. Our cake had a beautiful sugar flower that is still in our freezer–I’m hoping to re-use it in the future as we build our family!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met through mutual coworkers. A good friend I taught with had heard about Clay through her husband, who worked with Clay. Our friends helped us exchange phone numbers, and talked on and off, mainly through text messages. After about a month, we went on a blind date to dinner and a movie. The rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! Clay asked me to dinner early in the week, which was pretty unusual, since he’s more of a spur of the moment kind of guy, but I tried not to think too much about it. We went to dinner at a place called Game, and Clay was very excited. As we waited for a table, Clay was texting like crazy. He told me that he was texting his brother about an Xbox, which I later realized was not exactly the truth. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, and when we left the restaurant, it was cold and nasty outside, so Clay drove home like a mad man. When he got home, I opened the garage door to find something on the ground. As I turned the corner, I saw an entire path of rose petals and candles leading to the living room. Clay ended up dragging me into the living room because I felt like my feet were glued to the floor. He got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. I was in absolute shock! It couldn’t have been any more perfect.
When did y’all get married? June 21, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We discussed writing our own vows, but I knew I’d be too nervous to actually say them, so we decided against it. Looking back, I think I could have said my own vows, because it felt like it was just him and me standing up there. I’m sure I would have been super nervous leading up to it though, so I think we made the right decision!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The best thing that we did to prepare for our marriage was meet with Father Chibundi. He talked with us about the ups and downs of marriage and shared some of his own experiences. He also gave us a questionnaire to fill out about our relationship. He read over both of our answers and discussed them in detail with us. We were then able to discuss some of the harder issues with one another to plan for our life together.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My most memorable moment is definitely when I locked eyes with the man that I was about to marry! It’s a moment I’ll remember forever.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Our next big steps will be to start a family of our own. I can’t wait to see Clay as a father and I am thankful that I have him to lean on for the rest of my life.

Photographer: Amy Campbell / Videographer: Antonio Pantoja/ Planner: Lauren Chitwood / Venue: Oxmoor Farms / Florist: Sarah Harris / Wedding Cake and Desserts: The Sugar Woods / Caterer: Dupree Catering / Rentals: All Occasion Event Rentals / DJ: SUP DJ Brent Rodgers / Bridal Salon: Rebecca’s Wedding Boutique / Hair and Makeup: Kristie Hicks Creative / Bride’s Shoes: Macy’s / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Twirl / Groom’s Attire: Rebecca’s Black Tie / Table Numbers: Sweet Carolina Collective

Twirl is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Amy Campbell reply

    Thanks so much for the feature! This was a gorgeous day and I’m glad we could share it with others!

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