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I’m not sure anything makes a wedding celebration more special (or Southern!) than when family is weaved through the entire thing! Such was certainly the case for Katie and Alex, starting with their ceremony venue–these two followed in Katie’s parents’ footsteps by getting married at the University of Virginia chapel. Along with drawing inspiration from their families for their wedding details (they especially loved their family photo display and the groom’s cake designed in honor of their dog!), Katie and Alex’s loved ones also came through in a big way to bring this special day to life. The perfect example: when they couldn’t make it to Virginia a month before the wedding to bury the bourbon, Katie’s cousin took the task into her own hands! As you can see in these photos by Rachel May, the tradition was a great success, leading to many new family memories being created as Katie and Alex celebrated their marriage.

P.S. Don’t miss the stories of Alex’s Christmas proposal or Katie’s most memorable wedding day moment below–both are stories for the books!

The vendor that truly set our wedding apart from others was the very talented Kristy Rice from Momental Designs. Her team hand-painted all of our save the dates, invitations, ceremony programs, menu cards, table numbers, and welcome bag inserts. The designs they created for us were works of art that not only captured Charlottesville’s beauty, but also told our story as a couple. I also have to mention Jodi Macfarlan, who did the stunning calligraphy for our seating chart and place cards at the reception. Her work is seriously the prettiest calligraphy I have ever seen, and her ability to match the designs of our paper goods was beyond impressive.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did not have something borrowed, blue, old, and new. My mom told me that she didn’t partake in the tradition when she got married, and my parents have been married for over thirty-five years, so I didn’t feel the need to either!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. It has always been a struggle for me to find dresses that fit well, so to be honest, I was sort of dreading the whole process. My parents were planning a trip from Atlanta to Houston to meet AY’s parents for the first time, so I thought it would be the perfect time to look for a dress with both of our moms and his sisters. We went to Ivory Bridal Atelier in Houston and I tried on several dresses. While every dress the store had was so beautiful, nothing seemed to fit me the right way. Just as I was losing hope, the store manager mentioned that a Fall 2015 Anne Barge dress had just come in. At first glance, I wasn’t in love–it was a light blush color and had an antique look to it. I wanted an ivory dress, but at that point, I was willing to give it a shot. As soon as I stepped into the gown, I got that first feeling of “this might be the one.” It had all this gorgeous lace on the bodice and at the very bottom of the dress. When I saw the matching veil, I was blown away. I knew this was my dress when I found out that I could order it in ivory! With a few magic touches from Linda’s Couture Alterations in Houston, it became everything I was hoping for. Looking back on the whole wedding planning process, dress shopping was absolutely one of my favorite memories and is such a special occasion that every bride should look forward to!

Our fabulous wedding planner, Cody Grannis of Amore Events, created the bouquets for the wedding party and the floral arrangements for the reception. Cody did an amazing job arranging different types of roses with dark greenery to accentuate the light pink in the bridesmaids’ dresses and really make them pop. For my bouquet, I wanted something that looked natural and almost messy, as if the flowers were picked from a wild garden. It came out even better than I had envisioned and was truly unlike any bouquet I’d ever seen. The flowers for the ceremony were designed by Amy Webb from Blue Ridge Floral Design. Amy completely got my vision when I told her that I wanted to have an entrance for the Chapel unlike anything that has ever been done there before. She created this gorgeous floral arch with white roses and greenery that surrounded the front doors of the Chapel. It was such a dreamy piece that perfectly established the entire look and feel for our ceremony.

The most memorable moment for me was seeing my grandfather at the front of the Chapel. My grandfather suffers from Parkinson’s and had a few rough days leading up to the wedding–so rough that we were concerned he might not be able to make it to the ceremony. When I met AY at the altar, I looked to my right and saw a light shining through the stained glass windows of the dark chapel right onto my grandfather. Tears immediately came to my eyes. It was such an unforgettable moment because it was everything that my family had been praying for leading up to the wedding. That same light beam later moved over to me and AY, shining down on us as we said our vows. I remember hearing gasps from the congregation right when it happened, and several guests even came up to us afterwards asking if we had planned it, but perfection like that can only be explained as a gift from above!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? This is an easy one! My parents also graduated from the University of Virginia and were married at the University Chapel on June 28, 1981, so from the moment AY and I started dating during college, I dreamed of following in their footsteps. The University Chapel is so beautiful and rich in history and is such a meaningful place for my family–I really couldn’t imagine us getting married anywhere else. For the reception venue, Charlottesville has so many stunning venues for brides to choose from. AY and I wanted to pick somewhere memorable to us from our time together at UVA. Wine tasting at King Family Vineyards was always one of our favorite activities, and, their views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking and second to none!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Is it okay if we have two favorites? A detail we were really excited about was the Moscow mules, which were passed during cocktail hour. Served in a cute copper mug, they seem to always bring smiles to faces. That’s how we knew Moscow mules would be the perfect signature drink for our wedding–plus, they are also really refreshing on a hot summer day! Another detail that was definitely a wow-factor was the wedding memory table, a display of old family wedding photographs designed by my mother. It was a special way to remember our history and give a presence to our loved ones who have passed. It turned out so beautifully and was something our guests really enjoyed.

A Southern tradition we included in our wedding was burying the bourbon, believed by Southerners to keep the rain away. I tend to worry about silly things like the weather, so when I heard about this tradition, I had to find a way to make it happen, especially because every wedding planner will tell you that Charlottesville weather is the most unpredictable. My cousin and a bridesmaid in our wedding, Jayne Anne, is currently a student at UVA, and offered to bury the bourbon for us at King Family Vineyards, as we live in Dallas, Texas and couldn’t find time to make the trip. In true UVA fashion, she chose to bury Jefferson Reserve, and exactly a month later, we had the most beautiful weather for our big day. To Jayne Anne’s surprise, AY and I asked her to do the honors and dig up the bourbon at the reception, too! We owed her big time for bringing us sunny skies and high-70 temperatures at the end of June! It was such a funny sight to see Jayne Anne trying to dig up the bourbon with the massive shovel provided by King Family–an image we will continue to laugh about for years to come! Once the bourbon was retrieved, AY and I said cheers with two antique sterling silver shot glasses from Tiffany’s, given to us by my mother as a wedding present a few days before the wedding. Each shot glass had our new initials engraved on the front and are keepsakes we will forever cherish in remembrance of the tradition.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Especially when times get stressful, try to remember what the day is really about. A dear friend of mine would remind of that by saying, “No more or no less married” when I would start to worry or compare our wedding with others. It’s easy to get wrapped up in it all and lose sight of what’s really important, but your wedding will be perfect in its own way. As you make it about the love that you have for each other, it will, without a doubt, be the best day of your life.

The cake mastermind, Anita Gupta of Maliha Creations, made both our wedding and groom’s cakes. Our wedding cake was a four-tiered cake with roses and gold leaf flakes decorating the rim of each tier. The cake flavors were hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting and vanilla butter cake with French vanilla buttercream. I was so blown away by our wedding cake–it was beautiful inside and out and looked like something out of a magazine! Our groom’s cake was designed to look like AY’s beloved family dog, Ellie B. Young, who wasn’t able to travel to Charlottesville to celebrate with us. The cake was around two feet tall and featured chocolate cake with Oreo chocolate icing. It was such a sweet surprise for the Youngs that Ellie B. could make an appearance at the wedding, even if it was just in cake form! Having parents that grew up in Charlottesville, there are several local spots that are sentimental for my family. One of those places is The White Spot located on the Corner. It serves an infamous dessert called the “Grillswith,” a grilled and butter-brushed Krispy Kreme donut with vanilla ice cream on top. Our caterer, C&O Restaurant, replicated the recipe perfectly and served Grillswiths to our guests as the late night snack at the reception. I swear, I’ve never seen people react in such a way to a dessert! Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how delicious they were and it was definitely a fun treat for our guests who also know and love The White Spot.

Our first dance was to “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” by The Tams. We thought this song was perfect for us, as AY’s last name (and now mine) is Young. The song also has a great Motown beat and is super easy to dance to!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We first met at the Foxfield Races, an annual horse race in Charlottesville, during our first year at the University of Virginia. I was introduced to him as “AY,” short for Alex Young, and continue to call him AY to this day. We really didn’t get to know each other until we had a class together our second year. He was in the 8:00 A.M. class section of Commerce 180 and I was in the later section that everyone wanted to be in at 11:00. On the first day of class, AY slept in and missed his section, so he snuck into the later one. During the class, our professor asked the students to divide into groups for the semester. To this day, I can still picture the moment AY walked down the classroom hallway over to me and nervously asked to be in my group. I told him that he had to ask the professor for permission, once he admitted to being in the earlier section. Thankfully, the professor said yes, because I truly believe that our love story began with that study group. I spent more time laughing at his terrible jokes than actually doing work, but I also got to see what a great guy he was…and, he did most of the work. We were both dating other people at the time, but we became great friends because of the class. We finally started dating a month before graduation, and have been together since!
Tell us all about the proposal! AY came to Atlanta to spend Christmas with my family. On Christmas morning, he pulled me aside and told me that I needed to open my present early. He described it as “Christmas-y” and hinted that he wanted me to have a chance to use it before the day was over. He handed me a medium-sized box, and inside were six ornaments holding pictures of special moments during our relationship. I thought it was such a sweet present and understood why he wanted me to open it early. As I started to hang the picture ornaments on my parents’ Christmas tree, AY mentioned that he forgot to include one ornament in the box before he wrapped it. He hung the last ornament on the tree and asked me to look at the picture. Busy trying to find vacant spots on our very full tree, I just said, “Oh, that’s very cute” without really examining the picture. AY laughed and told me to look closer. When I did, I screamed, as I realized it was a picture of AY down on one knee in front of his family’s Christmas tree back home! He then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him in front of my family, who ran into the room as soon as they heard me scream. My mom was just as surprised as I was–she thought we had knocked over the Christmas tree!
When did y’all get married? June 25, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Having a male vocalist sing “Ave Maria” by J.S. Bach was one of the most important parts of the ceremony for us. My grandfather, who was a professor at UVA and a big reason why I went to school there, has always loved that song. His father (my great-grandfather) was a self-taught opera singer and sang “Ave Maria” at my grandparents’ wedding. We hoped it would evoke special memories, while also creating new ones for our families, and it certainly did!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Father Stephen Alcott, a priest from my grandparents’ church in Charlottesville, officiated our ceremony. Leading up to the wedding, AY and I met with Father Stephen several times for marital guidance and counseling. I would definitely encourage other couples to do so as well. Getting to know Father Stephen better and talking through our plan as a married couple put us completely at ease during our ceremony, allowing us to really enjoy and appreciate the moment.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We were very fortunate to have a wonderful wedding and a dream-come-true honeymoon. Now that we are officially the Youngs, we are looking forward to having some down time and getting the chance to be newlyweds. I also have to admit that our wedding diet kept us from trying the hot new restaurants in town, so we are pretty excited about not having to be good anymore!

Photographer: Rachel May Photography | Planner and Florist: Amore Events | Ceremony Venue: University of Virginia Chapel | Reception Venue: King Family Vineyards | Ceremony Florals: Blue Ridge Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Maliha Creations | Caterer: C&O Restaurant | Rentals: MS Events | Lanterns: Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting | Cocktail Hour Guitarist: Peter Richardson | Band: Attraction via Sam Hill Entertainment | Calligrapher: Jodi Macfarlan Calligraphy and Joie de Vivre Calligraphy | Paper Products: Momental Designs | Bride’s Gown and Veil: “Avallon” by Anne Barge | Bridal Salon: Ivory Bridal Atelier | Bridal Gown Alterations: Linda’s Couture Alterations | Bride’s Hair Piece: Lila Accessories | Hair Stylist: Brianna B. Adams | Makeup Artist: Gohar Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Various styles in Bellini by Amsale | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Groom’s Tuxedo: Suit Supply | Groom’s Cuff Links: Ledbury | Groom’s Bow Tie: The Cordial Churchman | Bride’s Robe: Girl with a Serious Dream | Bridesmaids’ Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bridesmaids’ Earrings: Erwin Pearl | Maid of Honor’s Hair Accessory: Twigs & Honey | Bouquet Ribbon: Silk & Willow | Wedding Dress Hanger: Poppy and Scooter | Custom Napkins and Drink Stirrers: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Transportation: Ambassador Limousine and Albemarle Limousine | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Stage: Skyline Tent Company

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Rachel May reply

    Thank you so much for the feature! It’s an honor to be on the SW blog! :)

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One of the very sweetest parts of working at Southern Weddings is the people we get to meet and the relationships that are formed over the years. Jessica interned for Southern Weddings back in the day, and ever since then, it has been so exciting to watch her start and grow her business, Simply Jessica Marie. Even more so, we’ve loved getting to witness her forever love story from day one! The joy she and Zack have found in each other is palpable, and when we heard the news of their engagement (don’t miss the story below!), we couldn’t resist asking Jessica to share their wedding planning experience with us. You can catch all of their posts here if you missed them, and now, we’re overjoyed to share their special day with y’all! Jessica and Zack, thank you so much for sharing your hearts with us, not only today, but over the last year and a half–we can’t wait to see where y’all go next!

We’re so glad our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Perry Vaile, was on hand to capture every moment for J+Z!

Our favorite detail of our wedding was how we infused one of our favorite elements of our love story: the letters we wrote one another throughout our relationship. To set the tone for our wedding and visually portray our relationship as a couple, I infused portions of a love letter Zack wrote to me as an art print on the back side of our invitations for our guests to keep and frame, as our envelope liner pattern, and printed on the back flap of our invitation envelopes. We sealed our suite with a custom gold wax seal featuring our custom wedding crest design, which reminds me of old school letter writing and epic romance. Zack said the wax seals remind him of Game of Thrones, so it was a win-win with both of us! He actually added all of the wax seals to our envelopes, and I loved including him in that way. We carried our love letters through to our day-of design–we used the same wax seals on our escort cards, and displayed them on the scoreboard of the golf course with a handful of our original letters framing the escort cards. Guests then found their tables with envelope table numbers lined with a floral pattern and soft pink calligraphy numbers. We also asked our guests to fill out “advice for the newlyweds” cards as their own letters to us, which we read after our honeymoon and have displayed in a keepsake box on our coffee table. I am excited to go back and read them again throughout the years!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! The something borrowed, blue, old and new tradition is one of my favorites, and I had so much fun gathering all of these pieces! A few of my sweet bridesmaids lent me their rings, each with blue stones, for my something borrowed and something blue. I had them tied to my bridal bouquet so that I could carry a piece of them with me throughout our wedding day. My something old was a handkerchief that belonged to my maternal great-grandmother. It is one of my favorite keepsakes! I had it with me while getting ready, and carried it in my clutch throughout the day. I then had a couple of something new items! My sister gifted me with the most gorgeous Kate Spade jeweled necklace. It made the perfect statement to complete my bridal look, and I cannot wait to pass it down to my daughters and granddaughters as an heirloom in years to come. Zack also gifted me with the most beautiful, delicate diamond earrings on our wedding day, which I wore paired with the earrings I donned during our engagement session!

Shopping for my wedding dress was so much fun! My mom came to Nashville one weekend and we went to three different bridal boutiques to get a sense of what styles I loved best, which designers I was drawn to, and what I had a feeling Zack would love. We walked away from the day feeling excited that we had an idea in mind of what I wanted to look for moving forward! My mom and sister then came back into town a couple of weeks later for Easter. I knew I wanted to take advantage of the time when my sister was in town to get her opinion, so we went to a local bridal boutique, B. Hughes. I tried on a handful of gorgeous gowns, but none of them felt quite right. There was one that I didn’t know if I loved from simply seeing it on the hanger, since the style was so different than what I had been trying, but I tried it on anyway, just to see how it looked. When I stepped out of the fitting room in front of the mirrors, I could not stop beaming! I kept touching each part of the dress, from the stunning beaded floral lace to the delicate tulle skirt, twirling all the while. I remember saying that I did not want to take it off, which is when my mom, sister, and I all realized that it was the one!! I loved my dress so much that I included the floral lace detail as a pattern on our invitations and as the backdrop for our escort card display!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, we did decide to do a first look! We really wanted to have a few sweet moments to ourselves, since the rest of our day would be spent surrounded by loved ones. Those few minutes are some of the moments I remember most clearly from our wedding day. Spending that time alone helped reaffirm why we were there that day: to join together as just the two of us with God, as husband and wife, to create a unique and love-filled family of our own!

I have a huge love of color, and knew I wanted our wedding flowers to reflect that! I included watercolor florals throughout our invitation suite design and day-of artwork, and the Rebecca Rose Events team brought those same florals to life on our wedding day. We used my favorite combination of flowers: blush and fuchsia peonies, peach garden roses, white anemones with navy centers, pink ranunculus, darling little peach hypericum berries, and lots of soft silver dollar eucalyptus and dusty miller! My bridesmaids’ bouquets were some of my favorite floral elements, as they were adorned with a sweet little gift from me. I adorned their silk bouquet ribbon with navy calligraphy that read, “a single rose can be my garden, a single friend, my world.” I thought it was so fitting for them and their bouquets!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional wedding vows, and are both so happy with that decision. There is something so special about saying the same words and making the same promises to each other that our parents and grandparents vowed to one another years before!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings from the Bible during our ceremony. My sweet uncle read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. We love this reading, because it focuses on two coming together, helping one another throughout life and making each other stronger. That is how we always want to view our relationship! Zack’s sweet cousin then read Colossians 3:14-20. We chose this reading because it reminds us to always let love, peace, and thankfulness be constants in our marriage. And most importantly, to let everything we do in our marriage be done in the name of the Lord!

The biggest challenge we had to overcome while planning our wedding centered around religious beliefs and traditions. We had many conversations together, with our parents, with a priest, with Zack’s uncle who is a pastor, and with friends about how to stay true to ourselves and our religious beliefs while also keeping each of our family traditions active and be respectful of them during our wedding. It was definitely a big lesson in compromise and blending of families, and we are both so happy with the decision we made! I could not imagine having been married by anyone other than Uncle LeGrand!

We looked at a few garden venues, and then Zack mentioned the idea of getting married at a golf course. I immediately loved that idea! Zack plays golf weekly with his friends, and I loved the idea that we could incorporate something that was a part of his life into our wedding day, since he was so graciously accommodating many of my wedding ideas! When we first visited Gettysvue together, I could not get over the gorgeous rolling greenery and stunning view of the Tennessee mountains. I knew it would make the perfect backdrop for our ceremony! It also had a unique setup that allowed us to make use of the entire venue for each element of our wedding day: a beautiful bridal suite and groom’s area for getting ready, a grassy mountain view area for our ceremony, a patio for our cocktail hour, a ballroom for dinner and toasts, and an area outside under a tent overlooking the golf course for dancing!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Since our dinner was one of the details we were most excited about (it included a full mac and cheese bar with delicious toppings, a steak carving station, bacon-wrapped shrimp, and crab cakes!), we wanted to focus our food and beverage budget toward that, so we decided to save money in other portions of our food and beverage budget by opting for a simple beer and wine beverage package instead of a full bar or signature cocktails. We also saved money on our cake by only having two tiers, since we had a feeling our guests would be quite full after dinner!

While certain elements of our wedding were traditional, our wedding cake definitely was not! We knew we wanted to have fun with the design, and also include a couple of delicious flavors. We chose a delicate dusty blue for the bottom tier, with sweeping gold brushstrokes on the base tier to reflect the painted elements throughout our wedding design. To balance the more unique cake design, we kept things simple with a two-tiered cake adorned with one beautiful blush peony and a few eucalyptus leaves. The cake flavors are what really won us over with our cake designer! We selected two flavors, English toffee and strawberry. Zack loved the strawberry flavor, and I loved that it was pink! We especially loved smashing it in each other’s faces, haha! If you are on the fence about the cake smashing idea–we say go for it! It was really fun, and makes for awesome photos and video!

Don’t miss Jessica and Zack’s wedding film (by Zack’s brother and sister-in-law, Casey and Kristin!) below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Oh, our love story–it is one of my favorites to tell! It all started one Friday evening in May 2014. I was getting ready for a fun night out with my girlfriends, when I jokingly turned to my roommate and swore we were going to meet our boyfriends that night. She laughed, and we carried on getting ready. Later that evening, as we were about to head home, we stopped by one of our favorite places and I was happy to see my friend Sierra (a former SW employee!), who I hadn’t seen in months. I was even happier when I noticed that she was with a new group of friends, including a dapper boy wearing a sport coat. Something immediately drew me to him (he claims it was his sport coat!), so I walked right up to him and introduced myself! We talked and laughed for what felt like hours. We made plans to meet up the next night, and after another fun evening, planned our first date for that upcoming week. I knew that there was something extra special about him when he showed up at my doorstep with a single red rose!
Tell us all about the proposal! Fast forward eight months from the day we met–months full of fun trips, holidays spent with families, and more thoughtful and sweet date nights–to January 24, 2015. Zack, his brother, and his sister-in-law had gifted me a promo video for my business as a Christmas gift, and this was the big day that filming was supposed to take place. Little did I know, it was also the day Zack was going to propose!! The big morning came, and I got all dolled up for my “promo video.” Zack knew this was the perfect decoy, because I would be wearing a cute outfit, I would have my nails painted, my friends would be with me the whole day, and he would catch everything on both video and camera. After a morning full of girly activities with my friends, we quickly grabbed lunch while Zack, Casey, and Kristin went back to my house to set up for my “interview.” As I walked into my house, I saw Zack standing in the hallway leading to my office. He wore the same sport coat that he was wearing when we first met. I hadn’t caught on to what was happening yet–I was still so focused on what I would be saying during my interview! Zack led me into my office where he had a couple of collages set up displaying our favorite pictures together. On my desk, I saw a note that had my name on it sitting atop the journal that we keep together. As instructed by the note, I flipped to the bookmarked page, which said, “On December 17th, I bought an engagement ring.” At that moment, I was in SUCH shock! Zack led me to the middle of the room, took my hands, and said the sweetest things I have ever heard in my entire life–words that I had been so excited to hear since we first met! Once I heard the words “Will you marry me?” I immediately screamed “Of course!!” and hugged Zack, without even taking a glance at my ring! Once we started to settle down from the excitement, he told me that he promised my mom that she would be the first person we would call. The tears that started to well up upon hearing my mom’s voice turned into screams of joy as she walked around the corner and into my room!! My entire family, Zack’s mom, and my friends all followed her into the room, and I felt so surrounded by love. It was the perfect ending to the most wonderful surprise!
When did y’all get married? May 14, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? One of the things that was most Southern about our wedding was that it truly was a family affair! All of our vendors were either family, friends, or people we had previous working relationships with, which made our day feel even more special because we knew they were pouring their hearts into each detail just for us! Not only did our family and friends help bring our wedding day to life, but we also honored our family through our details. We included all five of our little girl cousins as flower girls since we simply couldn’t favorite just one, we had a table in our reception area with photos, albums, and heirlooms from our parents and grandparents on their wedding days, we used my parents’ champagne flutes during our toast, and our ceremony backdrop was made of three fabric panels, each with my parents’ first dance song, Zack’s parents’ first dance song, and our first dance song that I lovingly calligraphed on the flowing fabric. I loved the idea of creating a statement piece that tied together our families! Since the majority of my guests and some of Zack’s guests were traveling in from all across the country (and one from overseas!), making sure they felt comfortable throughout our entire wedding weekend was of the utmost importance to us. We tried our best to show true Southern hospitality, from the welcome gift boxes our guests received at their hotels, to our post-rehearsal dinner get-together, to ensuring that there was something for every age group to do during our wedding reception. We had a lounge area with games and playing cards where people could rest their feet while still having fun, corn hole for our competitive Southern friends, and a dance floor with continuously amazing music for those who simply wanted to dance the night away! Zack and I also each relived our college days through songs at our reception–my sorority sisters surprised me by singing one of our Sigma Kappa songs after our first dances were through, and Zack’s University of Tennessee friend group gathered together to sing and dance to Rocky Top!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We found it most helpful to seek counsel from our parents and friends who have been married, asking them about their marriages and what advice they would provide to us as we were going through our engagement and preparing for the years to come. We also worked together to be as open and honest as possible about not only what we love about each other, but also about how we could help each other grow. We learned how to compromise together, make decisions as a couple, and communicate better. Learning each other’s love languages early on in our dating relationship really helped with this! Growing as a couple is a continuous learning process, and I couldn’t ask for a better person to help me grow as a wife and eventually as a mother than Zack. I hope to be able to support him as much as he always supports me!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are so excited to continue planning travel adventures together! Zack and I fell in love with traveling overseas during our Italian honeymoon, and always want to be planning one major trip each year. We are currently planning a trip to Ireland with another one of our couple friends, and cannot wait to explore that part of the world together! Zack has also taken up woodworking, and has built us a new coffee table and a beautiful coat rack for our entryway. He is so talented! I cannot wait to keep these pieces in our home for years to come, and pass them down to our children and grandchildren one day.

Photographer: Perry Vaile | Videographer: Casey and Kristin | Planner and Florist: Rebecca Rose Events | Venue and Caterer: Gettysvue Polo, Golf, and Country Club | Cake Baker: Art of Cakes Bakery | Rentals: HoneyBee Events | Tent Rental and Lighting: All Occasions Party Rentals | Lighting, DJ, and Getaway Car: Music in Motion | Paper Products, Signage, Watercolor Painting, and Pocket Squares: Simply Jessica Marie | Bride’s Gown: “Heavenly Lace” by Reem Acra | Bride’s Veil: “Athena Cathedral Veil” by BHLDN | Bride’s Necklace: “Crystal Arches Necklace” by Kate Spade | Bride’s Bracelet: J.Crew | Bride’s Earrings: Kay Jewelers | Hair and Makeup: Bangs and Blush | Bride’s Shoes: “Isabella Scalloped Heel” by BHLDN | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: BHLDN, Amsale, and Lulus | Menswear: Kenneth Cole and Ralph Lauren | Ties: The Tie Bar | Vintage Stamps: Verde Studio | Silk Ribbon and Ceremony Backdrop Fabric: Adorn Company | Guitarist: Logan Murrell | Macarons: Sweet Darling Patisserie | Bridal Party Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bride’s Reception Dress: “Shined Cocktail Dress” by BHLDN

Perry Vaile and Rebecca Rose are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    Been waiting for this wedding to be posted! So beautiful!

  2. avatar Kirsti Cook reply

    I have been following Jessica for years and am SWOONING over how her wedding turned out – not that I am surprised! I think this is one of my favorite weddings I’ve seen in SW!

  3. avatar Amy Loochtan reply

    I absolutely love her dress. And the crest on her paper products! I wish I could go back and have a wedding do-over! Would love to meet y’all one day as I’m in Durham!

    Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins

  4. avatar Logan Murrell reply

    It was such an honor to be a part of such a loving wedding!! The real deal!!

  5. avatar Sheffield Wedding Photographer reply

    Such a lovely post. Thank you for sharing.
    Sheffield Wedding Photographer

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Y’all, I am so excited to share today’s beautiful wedding with you!! As you may remember, Ashlyn was our Southern Bride of the Summer, and she generously shared her super Southern, magnolia-filled, Alabama wedding plans with us a few months ago. We have been waiting on eggshells to see how her and Wes’ day played out, and as you can easily see in their photos by Holland Williams Photography, it was just as lovely as we know Ashlyn hoped it would be. Even more than that, their day was focused on what matters most to them–their faiths, their families, and starting their marriage on the firmest footing possible. Be sure to read Ashlyn’s interview below to learn about the heart and intention she and Wes poured into this sweet day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I’m a girly girl, but I’ll be honest, the food and band seemed like more fun decisions to plan! The dress was too much pressure. Mama, my sister Kristen, and I made four appointments in Atlanta one Saturday. You think you don’t care until you turn around and see yourself in the mirror in “the one.” Changes everything! I loved my dress–it was all lace and had hook-and-eye buttons down the entire back. I was also staunch on a bow or a sash–funny enough, that pretty shade of ivory on the bow is called “magnolia!”

As soon as we started planning, one of the only things Wes was really vocal on was not seeing me before the ceremony! I loved that. Our photographer, Holland, was so fantastic, it didn’t hinder the day or put a hitch in timing one bit. We prayed together without seeing each other, and then we both got that “church doors swing open” moment. I’ll never forget it!

I saw my florist, Melissa Kendall, write “Southern elegance” on her worksheet–if there was a theme, I told her the theme could be magnolias! Charming and gracious, they’ve always said “home” better than any other flower or tree to me. I love their scent, glamour, and beauty. I even had a blog when I traveled for ADPi called Miss Magnolia! Gardenias weren’t plentiful in August, but loads of other white flowers and roses complemented all the greenery. We also wanted a magnolia-covered cross at the ceremony. My sweet daddy built it, and it was one of my favorite touches! The bridesmaids’ bouquets were wrapped in monogrammed hankies.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I had a running iPhone list for a year of hymns that struck me! I pieced those together for the ceremony. The prelude included “In Christ Alone” and “The Power of the Cross.” My grandfather was a Southern Baptist music minister, and I had the grandfathers be seated to his favorite hymn, “Crown Him with Many Crowns”–he teared up telling me that surprise made him so happy! I gave Wes a couple of options, and after playing it, he said he wanted me to come down the aisle to “Trumpet Voluntary.” We sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as a congregation.

I loved the vows we used. They’re updated, traditional, Biblical vows that Pastor David Platt wrote. Many people kindly let us know they really enjoyed that part of the ceremony. We found them in “The Christ Centered Wedding” by Catherine Parks. My favorite line is “I will join with you in the mission God has entrusted to us.” We’re a few short weeks into marriage, and already see how life’s challenges do not stop just because you get your fairy tale wedding, cute little house, and some pretty crystal! We were thrown curveballs early, and partner in encouraging each other to fight the good fight.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? It was fairly easy: First Baptist is the church I grew up in, and my parents are tremendously involved. We wanted a Christ-exalting ceremony, but I don’t necessarily believe that can ONLY happen in a church! I’m just the type of girl who gets rain on her birthday every year, so we needed something indoors. I also wanted to respect my parents and pay homage to nostalgia–I have so many sweet memories in that gorgeous building. It’s a beautiful, old, Southern church. Montgomery Country Club ended up being the winner for a reception. I have a lot of memories from growing up going there–plus, I’m the biggest Zelda Fitzgerald fan you’ll meet. I have about 18 books about the Montgomery girl who won F. Scott Fitzgerald’s heart, and they met at Montgomery Country Club in 1918. Only fitting, right?

With a Montgomery wedding, there isn’t much that won’t end up covered in Southern-ness! I wore pearls, and magnolias were everywhere. Family keepsakes like silver goblets, mint julep cups, and old wedding photos made appearances. My sorority sisters wanted to sing, of course. And then that menu, gracious. We had shrimp and grits, pimento cheese finger sandwiches, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, and Arnold Palmers–you know, health food. And as an Auburn fan, I had to salute the plains: Momma G’s nachos came out for “late night!”

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Samford University is a small school tucked away in the hills of Birmingham. I was a junior when Wes waltzed in as this cute former-high-school-QB freshman and joined Sigma Chi, which happened to be the guys I hung out with. I confessed my crush to my close friend Ryan, his fraternity brother. Ryan told me he’d “endorse me like Nike” to Wes. Fast forward, and my best friend and I were walking toward Wes and Ryan one day after class. Paths crossed, and there was a brief hi-and-shake-hands moment. We walked off, and Ryan turned around and yelled “Like Nike, Ash!” Embarrassing for me. Fortunately, Wes took it as “game on.” We were fire and dynamite from that time on!
Tell us all about the proposal! Wes wrestled my type-A planner habit away from me by staking claim to a January Saturday as his date to plan. Kindly, he let me make the brunch reservation, so naturally, I still thought I was planning things. What a guy. He picked me up Saturday morning, and we laughed and chatted over coffee, eggs, and gravy-covered biscuits at no. 246 off the Decatur square. Side note–I had the stomach bug the night before, y’all. Poor Wes didn’t sleep a wink as me and my germs almost wrecked his plans! After brunch, he wouldn’t tell me what was next as we drove down Peachtree Street toward Buckhead. ANY notion I had of “maybe this is it” was null and void–surely he wouldn’t ask me since I was sick! Wes’ nerves set in and he got quiet as he pulled over to Duck Pond Park. He led me to a bench and told me he wanted to talk about something important. God washed a peace over us, and we had the sweetest next few moments together worshiping: Wes led us in a time of prayer, and then read from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (chapter 5) about biblical marriage, and said he wanted this with me. Next thing I knew, he was grinning on one knee while–duh–I cried. Wes drove us back to my little Buckhead townhouse, where my three roommates and about 25 friends and family members had the Veuve Clicquot ready to pop! He thought of everything, and having dear ones there to celebrate was so special. Wes is the most thoughtful man I’ve ever met.
When did y’all get married? August 15, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 325
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Everyone knows Peggy McKinney’s desserts in Montgomery. She’s the best! I don’t adore traditional wedding cake, so I opted for strawberry cake with white icing. Wes went with Miss Peggy’s good ol’ chocolate cake! We have a crystal cake stand that was cut around 1890 and belonged to my great-great-grandmother. It’s been used in weddings and at family parties for generations, so it had to make an appearance at ours, too.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wes and I read through “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller and were counseled through our church. Wes also had us both read Francis Chan’s “You and Me Forever.” I think we stayed the course throughout planning, knowing that the day we woke up after our wedding, THAT was really day one!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mama was the best, free wedding planner I could have ever “hired.” :) My family did a lot of crafty, DIY things, from baking sugar cookies in the shapes of Alabama and Georgia to asking the Visitor’s Bureau for hotel bag goodies. We opted for the country club as it offered an all-in-one event space–rental fees rack up! Third, I have said it before and I’ll say it again: you CAN spend only $1,000 on a wedding dress and get it ordered during your six-and-a-half month engagement, regardless of what the industry or experts tell you.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I had a “first look” with my daddy, which was really special. I was having a lot of anxiety issues that day, and mama’s two best friends came and put hands on me and prayed over me–that was a precious gift. Other then that, the whole blur of standing in the MCC ballroom right next to my best friend as an endless string of family and friends came to hug us was my favorite memory. They flew in from all over! It’s so humbling to know people love you, but maybe more humbling to see people love on your spouse–it made me fall more in love with Wes to see all his fraternity brothers and family friends drive all the way to my hometown because they love him.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? A HONEYMOON! Halfway through planning, Wes scored a dream job at Delta Air Lines. Tremendous blessing–but training started the Monday after our wedding! Those flight benefits will behoove us well into the future though. ‘Til then, we’re two of a kind working on a full house. I have the handiest husband, and our cute little Decatur home by East Lake Country Club is enjoying its facelift–and Wes is enjoying learning about things like my fall decoration, pumpkin, and mum budget.

Photographer: Holland Williams / Ceremony Venue: First Baptist Church of Montgomery / Reception Venue: Montgomery Country Club / Florist: Melissa Kendall / Cake Baker: Peggy McKinney / Band: Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces / Paper Products: Virginia Noblin / Bridal Salon: Bel Fiore / Hair Stylist: Amplify Salon / Makeup Artist: Hope Wallace / Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style 8472 in Navy by Sorella Vita / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Getting Ready Venue: PARISH by Ashley Gilbreath

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Caroline Nelson reply

    Can you please tell me where the adorable floral romper she is getting ready in is from? Also, where the cute Alabama cookie with the gorgeous AW monogram welcome tag came from?

    Thank you!
    Caroline

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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