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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
1 Comment
  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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On this Memorial Day, I can’t imagine a more wonderful wedding to share with y’all! Stefanie and Kevin are as all-American as a couple can be, and their Tennessee wedding was the perfect expression of their love for each other, for their families and friends, and for their country. Military families are no stranger to hardship (Stefanie planned the wedding while Kevin was deployed abroad), but the tough times these two have endured together made their wedding day all the more joyful!

Thank you from the bottom of hearts to Kevin and Stefanie, all of the military men and women and their families who serve our great country, and to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Bamber Photography for sharing this special day with us!

Instead of having a flower girl, my matron of honor’s little girl carried our family Bible that was given to my grandmother in 1954. Every woman in my family has used the Bible in their weddings. We each chose someone in our life that had been a spiritual mentor to us, and we let them choose the scripture they read during the ceremony. They chose Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Proverbs 3:5-9. Becca stood with the bridesmaids, and as each reader came to the front of the church to read, Becca handed them the family Bible to read from.

I’m very fortunate to have a dear friend who owns Ever After Bridal in Cleveland, Tennessee, and I’m so thankful I got to experience finding my dress with her. I had found one dress in her shop that I really liked, but it didn’t give me that feeling that everyone talks about having! I had convinced myself that I was just numb to dresses because I had worn so many beautiful gowns during my time as Miss Tennessee. My mother and future mother-in-law went with me to order the dress, and when we walked into her shop, I perused the racks of beautiful gowns one last time. Since Kevin’s mom was with us, I decided to try on a few more so she could enjoy the experience with me. I randomly pulled a Maggie Sottero fit and flare, beaded lace gown with a sweetheart neckline off of the rack. Kendra helped me into the dress (that was the opposite of what I thought I was looking for), I walked out to the mirror, and I finally had THE MOMENT! I had tried to find a dress that just wasn’t my style, and I never found it. When I finally just chose something that was ME, it happened!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: People got dressed up and had a good time! Kevin and I both love to dress up, and my mother has always told me that its better to be overdressed than underdressed! I feel like weddings are getting more and more casual, and casual just isn’t in my vocabulary! In keeping with the classic military traditions of an evening wedding, and the fact that we wanted our guests to look and feel fabulous, we requested that our guests wear formal attire. Our guests looked so beautiful, and everyone said that they loved the excuse to pull out that dress they hadn’t gotten to wear in a while, or the excuse to buy something new! Because our guests felt good, they stayed, danced, and enjoyed drinks until the very end!

Describe your wedding flowers. Since we had a classic military wedding, where the men were in their uniforms and classic tuxedos and my bridesmaids wore beautiful nude gowns, we chose to go with flowers in all shades of white and ivory. They were arranged by Flowers By Gil & Curt. Flowers in the bouquets and reception centerpieces included roses, peonies, ranunculus, hydrangeas, and calla lilies.

We considered getting married at West Point in the Protestant Cadet Chapel. It’s a beautiful Gothic-style chapel with a cathedral ceiling and a gorgeous pipe organ. After thinking it through, we decided it would be too difficult to plan a wedding in New York, and it would be tough for all of our family and friends to make it. We set out to find a similar style church nearby, and discovered First Cumberland Presbyterian! It is SO similar in style to the Cadet Chapel, and it was in our hometown of Chattanooga. Before I left for Las Vegas to compete in the 2010 Miss America Pageant, my hometown and family gave me lovely going away reception at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club. The venue is historic and beautiful, and the staff was so wonderful to work with, so we decided it would be the perfect spot for our wedding reception as well.

I always remember my parents telling me how their wedding day was such a blur, so I was bound and determined to soak in every detail of our wedding–I didn’t want to miss a thing! I’m sure there are some things I missed, but I certainly remember the big parts. I remember how I felt when I woke up that morning, I remember the look on my mother and daddy’s faces when they saw me in my gown for the first time, I remember the sweet smile on Kevin’s face when he turned around and we walked toward each other during our first look, I remember the facial expressions of each guest that I looked at as I walked down the aisle, I remember the beautiful words of the prayers that were said during the ceremony, I remember saying our vows, and I remember how amazing it felt to walk arm in arm under the Arch of Sabers with my new husband! I also remember the traditional pop on my booty as one of the saber guard members welcomed me into the United States Army! It was the perfect day, and I’m so thankful that we were able to share it with the ones we love the most.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Kevin being deployed the entire year our families and I were wedding planning was challenging. It allowed me to stay busy, but it was hard because I wanted him to be a part of the decision making process in person. We made it work though! Thanks to technology, he was able to be a part of many decisions via text, FaceTime, and email. Even a world away, an eight-hour time difference, and the 200 soldiers he was responsible for, he still managed to help me so much! He’s a good man.

We wanted to make sure that not only were our cakes beautiful, they were also tasty! Breanne Hager of B’s Sweet in Chattanooga has the best cakes in town! I wanted something fairly simply, but accented with sparkle. We decided to go with a five-tiered Italian cream cake with buttercream icing. At the base of each layer were graduating strands of crystals, and on the top of the cake sat my Miss Tennessee crown with white roses tucked underneath its base. In keeping with military tradition, Kevin and I cut our cakes with his Officer saber.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Aside from the loads of hairspray that filled the bridal parlor while we were getting ready (we sure love our hairspray in the South), the main thing that stands out was the Southern music. When I won Miss Tennessee, I had sang Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” The song is about loving someone enough to let them go. The song fit my relationship with my parents perfectly, and it was a reminder of a very beautiful time we all experienced together when I won the title. They’re so happy that the time in my life has come for me to start my own family and be with the love of my life, even though it means letting go of a part of life that is very difficult to part with. Family is so important to Kevin and me, and being able to have such sentimental moments with them was the best part of our wedding.

Kevin’s groom’s cake was an edible replica of a Walther PPK handgun, which laid on top of a gun case made of chocolate cake. Kevin is a gun collector and the Walther PPK is James Bond’s gun of choice in all of the Bond films. Kevin has a rather collection, but he did not have the Walther. When it was time to do the garter toss, Kevin reached under my dress, and in my garter, he found his very own Walther PPK gun! It was his wedding gift from me. His reaction was priceless, as he had no idea his new bride was packing heat! I had sneaked out right before the toss and secured the gun in my garter, and the surprise went off without a hitch!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. As cliché as it sounds, we were high school sweethearts! I was a cheerleader and Kevin was a football player. Kevin’s dream was to serve his country, so after months of applying, interviewing, and going on recruiting trips during his senior year, he received his appointment from Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, and we decided we would give long-distance a try. Four years and thousands of frequent flyer miles later, we made it through his time at the Academy. After he graduated, he was commissioned as an officer into the United States Army. During this time, I was in college and living out a few dreams of my own. In 2009 I was crowned Miss Tennessee. It was the honor of a lifetime, and a time that I will cherish forever! On January 10, 2010 I headed to Las Vegas to compete in the Miss America Pageant, and on that same day, Kevin left the country for his first year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As I stood on the Miss America stage, my heart was full, yet heavy, knowing that he was defending the freedom that allowed me to live out my lifelong dream. I finished as second runner-up to Miss America, and a year later, Kevin made a safe return home! I spent the next few years working and finishing my business degree at Belhaven University with the scholarships I had earned through the Miss America organization. Just when we thought that he was home for a while, another deployment was on the horizon. Once we knew the exact time he was going to be returning, we set our wedding date. He was the battery commander to 200 soldiers spread throughout three different countries, and I began planning our wedding! We are so proud that we maintained a close relationship, even though, at times, we were a world apart from each other. It makes our time together now so incredibly special, and we certainly do not take that time for granted.
Tell us all about the proposal! Because we are proud Americans to the core, and its our favorite holiday, Kevin proposed on the 4th of July. Under the fireworks, where it was just the two of us with a pizza and a bottle of wine, he popped the question with a gorgeous custom-designed Henri Daussi cushion cut diamond ring from our family jeweler, Rone Regency Jewelers of Chattanoooga. Kevin is private, and I love that about him. He wanted the proposal to be a special moment between the two of us, and he planned it just perfectly.
When did y’all get married? April 11, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to speak traditional vows during our ceremony. My grandfather was a Southern Baptist minister for 49 years, and he married my parents in 1983, so we used the same vows that they used in their wedding. Both of our parents have had long, beautiful marriages, so if traditional vows were good enough for them, they’re good enough for us!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Documentation! Investing in a good photographer and videographer was the best advice I was given during planning, and it’s the best decision we made. John and Lindsey Bamber of Bamber Photography were indescribable! From the initial meeting, to the engagement shoot, to the sweet cards we received in the mail just saying they were thinking about us and praying for us along the way, they were such a blessing during our special day and in the months leading up to it. We were so comfortable with them, and they literally captured everything! Each time a guest came up to Kevin and me during the reception, either John or Lindsey was right there to capture a picture with that guest. It’s wonderful being able to send our guests that professional, beautiful picture! They truly are the best at their craft, and they’re just the best people you’ll ever meet.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Take your time if you truly want to enjoy the process. I did not hire a wedding planner because I wanted to have my hand on every detail and experience that time with my mother. Also, include your future in-laws! Kevin’s parents really enjoyed the process as much as we did, and they loved hearing all of the updates as the months progressed closer to April. I understand that not all in-laws are the easiest to deal with, (just being honest), but I am very blessed with some good ones! And they’re Yankees! We won’t hold that against them too much ;)
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? As I type this, I’m surrounded by boxes, because we are making the move from North Carolina to Kentucky! Kevin has been posted here at Fort Bragg for the past three years as a Battery Commander, and now its time for him to take a new position at Fort Knox. We couldn’t be more excited–new marriage, new town, new jobs, new adventures, and we’re four hours closer to our family and friends in Chattanooga! And thank the Lord we’re still in the South! He’s excited to be in bourbon country, and I’m already planning my wardrobe for the Kentucky Derby next year!

Photographer: Bamber Photgraphy / Videographer: Tim Curry / Day-Of Coordinators: Kendra Collins and Trinity Pearson / Ceremony Venue: First Cumberland Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue and Catering: Chattanooga Golf and Country Club / Florist: Flowers By Gil and Curt / Cake Baker: B’s Sweets / Rentals: The Meeting Company / DJ: Ted Gocke / Paper Products: David’s Bridal / Bride’s Gown: “Marianne” by Maggie Sottero / Bridal Salon and Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Ever After Bridal / Bride’s Tiara: Symphony Bridal / Hair Stylist: Gordon Robison of Gordon & Co. Salon / Makeup Artist: Angela Folmar of Luminous Beauty Boutique / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style 19931” in Nude by LaFemme / Tuxedos: Southern Charm Clothing

Bamber Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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