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It’s safe to say that I’m a sucker for a good bouquet or floral arrangement, and my office bulletin board is covered in some of my favorites from past volumes of Southern Weddings. However, not even a 15 pound (!!) bridal bouquet could distract me from how beautiful Courtney looked in her gown and gushing over the joy on Courtney and Kyle’s faces throughout their day! My favorite part? The way Courtney and  Kyle worked so thoughtfully to weave their families into their ceremony! Be sure to read the story behind why they chose to forgo a traditional unity candle and what they chose instead. It’s the perfect keepsake from their wedding day that they will cherish for years to come!

A big thanks to Cody Hunter Photography for sharing Courtney and Kyle’s beautiful day with us!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our first look was amazing. We were under a canopy of oak trees with a cool breeze blowing. It was just our photographer, the videographers, and my sister who were there with us. It was so sweet and sentimental. Kyle and I both teared up when we saw each other, but we loved those quiet moments together.

I thought I knew what type of dress I wanted, and had a very specific look in mind, but wasn’t finding it anywhere. At our last stop, Laura Jacobs Bridal, I tried on a few that were gorgeous but didn’t feel like “the one.” Finally, I went with the consultant to the back of the store, where we both eyed a dress at the same time, and knew I had to try it on. It was literally the OPPOSITE of what I was picturing. When I came out, my mom, sister, grandma, and best friend were speechless. It was the one and we all knew it!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We wanted to be married under a big oak tree, somewhere that was very natural and had a story behind it. Buckingham Farms couldn’t have been a more perfect place! We loved that it was a working family farm and all of our food was truly farm-to-table. Kyle’s dad is a third-generation cotton farmer, and I grew up playing in the Florida landscape, so plants and growth signify so much to us. Instead of unity candles, we had a unity tree–our moms brought dirt in jars from our homes where we grew up, and we poured them into the base of a tree and watered it together. It was so special and we are still growing it today!

I walked down the aisle to “Turning Page (Instrumental)” by Sleeping at Last, one of our favorite songs and one that I have loved and played on the piano for years. The lyrics to the song are so incredible, but we wanted the instrumental version so the lyrics wouldn’t distract. My dad listened to the song for months in advance to prepare, just because it brought back so many memories of me playing at home. Since I was moving away and the first to get married in my family, it was very emotional for him! One of my best friends, Lauren, played guitar and sang “Holy Spirit” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt while our parents prayed over us and we did the unity tree. That song has always been one we want as a prayer over our lives and marriage, so it was such a sentimental moment.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We focused intently on preparing for marriage over the wedding. We were so excited for the wedding, but even MORE excited to just do life together side by side. We had weekly marriage counseling, read books, and did devotions together in preparation. It really was such a sweet season of life!

The flowers were unbelievable. We wanted a very natural and organic look, but left it up to our florists to pick the flowers. My bouquet probably weighed about 15 pounds (shoutout to my sister, the maid of honor, for holding it the whole ceremony!). We couldn’t have done it without Isn’t She Lovely Florals. I met with those ladies so much to dream up what the wedding would look like, and they are absolutely incredible with their vision and execution. People still tell me to this day how amazing all the hanging greenery was!

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? It truly was such a sentimental wedding. Our guests said over and over how special our ceremony was and how truly touching it was. That was important to us. We value the significance of marriage and didn’t want to take it lightly and blow through the ceremony. That, to us, was the best part.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I am a Florida girl and he is a Texas boy. We met at the one and only Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Though we were both on Liberty’s track and field team, we had nothing to do with each other at first. (Partly because I liked another guy at the time and partly because he was very shy when it came to girls. Adorable, right?) As time went on, we slowly got to know each other and became interested in each other’s quirks and charm. Our relationship was built on little notes to one another, surprise dates, and always being open and honest with each other. We spent the long summers apart, but knew it would only help us grow closer and strengthen our communication. I knew Kyle was the man I wanted to marry early on, so I began journaling about every date and all our little moments together. That is one of my most cherished possessions to date and something we will show our kids for years to come.
Tell us all about the proposal! We were flying to my parents’ house for our big New Year’s Eve party on the beach, but a HUGE snow storm canceled our flight. Many, many flights later, we ended up flying out of Dallas and made it to Florida at 2 A.M. on January 1, 2015–proposal day! Kyle was totally himself and it was a normal day. When we got home, I went in to shower and get ready for the “nice dinner restaurant” we were going to. Kyle greeted me at my door and asked if he could give me one last Christmas present out on our dock. I went with him and he gave me a big elephant blanket (my favorite animal) and I proceeded to explain that we should get going. He was acting strange and said, “Can we make a fire? I promise, it’s a special one.” I agreed (semi-reluctantly), and as the sun went down, he made a fire in our dock fire pit. I didn’t know what was going on until he started to read parts of 1 Corinthians 13 that he had written on the fire starter sticks. Once there was a roaring flame, he came over to where I was sitting and tearfully said, “I want Christ to always be the center of our relationship. If we continue to be rooted in His word, the flame of our love will only grow stronger.” He had me close my eyes, and when I opened them, he was holding a lit-up sign he had made that said “Marry me?” I was speechless! Then, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, holding the most gorgeous ring I had ever seen. I, of course, said “Yes!” and my family came running out in celebration.
When did y’all get married? October 17, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 130
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We wrote our own vows a few nights before the wedding. It was such a sweet, sweet time together. We wrote separate vows and read them to one another. We are very active and love being outside and traveling, so one of the vows I wrote for him said, “I vow to always adventure through life with you, never lacking the sense of wonder you stir in me.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our pastor (my uncle) read aloud our life verse, that is our prayer for each other and our marriage: Philippians 1:9-11. It says, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.”
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 LOVE traveling. We are currently planning a trip to Hawaii, as well as preparing to bring home our golden retriever puppy, Bear. We are so excited to be parents to a little pup!

Photographer: Cody Hunter Photography | Videographer: Phos Media | Planner and Florist: Isn’t She Lovely Florals | Venue and Caterer: Buckingham Farms | Dessert Baker: Show Me Love Confections | Rentals: Niche Event Rentals | DJ: DJ Jorge via Stereophonic DJs | Invitations: Artifact Uprising | Place Cards: Sophia Loves Letters | Bride’s Gown: Martina Liana | Hair Stylist: Kristy Connley | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Angelo | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
3 Comments
  1. avatar Peggy Fields reply

    This is one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever seen!

  2. avatar Foldable flats reply

    So beautiful couple look .. nice sharing post

  3. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Great use of lighting!

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After getting engaged, Anne Elise and Nick knew exactly where they wanted to celebrate their wedding day. With frequent cocktails after work, Union Station’s Grand Hall in downtown St Louis was a place that had grown special to them during their time dating. So when their dream venue only had one fall date available, Halloween was it! With Anne Elise’s big sister acting as creative director, they designed a dramatic wedding with a rich cranberry-color palette and sweet family details. Among my favorites: Anne Elis’e heirloom veil. Originally worn by her mother 30 years prior, then by her sister five years before, the chapel-length veil adorned with pearls and a cloche headpiece was the perfect something borrowed! Of course, with a wedding date of Halloween, they couldn’t forgot to add a little fun! Anne Elise and Nick not only added a trick-or-treat candy table, but the nightly laser light show on the ceiling of the Grand Hall served as fabulous surprise for their out-of -town guests.

Thanks to Charis Rowland for sharing Anne Elise + Nick’s wedding with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I moved to Terre Haute, Indiana right out of college for my first job. I was 7 1/2 hours from home in a new region where I knew no one. I spent three years in this tight-knit community, while my future husband and in-laws were across town, and yet, our paths never crossed. As I was getting ready to move to St. Louis for my next job, a Terre Haute family I had become friends with reached out to tell me about this guy named Nick who had just recently moved to St. Louis from Terre Haute as well. They asked if they could pass my number along since neither of us knew anyone, and the rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! Wow! I hardly have the words to accurately describe that magical day. I’m a broadcast meteorologist in St. Louis, Missouri. On this particular Friday in March, my assignment editor informed me of a story that the station had already lined up for me. I was going to interview the manager of a local restaurant, The Boathouse, in the city’s popular park, Forest Park. (Side note: This was where Nick took me for an impromptu dinner the first night we met.) I arrived at The Boathouse that afternoon and asked for the manager. She greeted me at the hostess desk and led me down the dock along the water to an intimate table, where she says we’d do the interview once my photographer showed up. On this table was the most beautiful flower arrangement, candles, and a manila envelope with my initials written on the front. My mind started racing as I tried to talk myself out of thinking the obvious. As I opened the envelope, I immediately recognized Nick’s handwriting on the four handwritten pages. On these pages, Nick summarized our love story, titling each chapter. On the last page, his last line said, “I need your help writing the rest of the story. Meet me at the front of The Boathouse.” Hands shaking and smile plastered on my face, I walk back up to the front of the pier and found my handsome best friend standing there. He grabbed my hand and walked me to the edge of the dock along the lake. He got on one knee and said the most beautiful and meaningful words I’ve ever heard. Needless to say, I said “yes!”
When did y’all get married? October 31, 2015. It was the one fall date that our dream venue was available, so Halloween it was!
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I’ve never been the girl who had every detail of her wedding mapped out from early on, but I’ve always loved looking at wedding dresses in bridal magazines, and the one thing I did know was that I wanted a dress with sleeves and lace. My mom and mother-in-law joined me on Easter weekend in St. Louis. Our first stop showed some promising dresses, including a long-sleeve, lace, off-the-shoulder dress. It was all that I wanted on the hanger, but I didn’t love the fit once I got it on. Fast forward to the next store and I saw the same dress, and I tried it on again. Once the consultant pulled it tight and gave me a true impression of what it would fit like once it was sized for me, I fell in love! My mom, mother-in-law, consultant, and other customers nearby were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over it with me. We all knew it was the one!
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes. I always thought that I’d be a traditional bride who waited until I was walking down the aisle, but after talking with many friends and family members, the consensus was that a first look makes for a more pleasant experience after the ceremony. I was also told that it’s really special because it’s your moment with your groom to express that first reaction, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Our photographer captured it so well. There was laughter, giddiness, awe, and lots of hugging and kissing. I’m so thankful we had time for the two of us.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our ceremony was at our church, Central Presbyterian Church. This was special because being new in a city together, we were able to hunt for a church together. We landed at Central and even got to go through the New Member training class together as a dating couple. It was super special to share that journey and then say our vows in this beautiful, historic church that had become so sentimental to us. Our reception was in Union Station’s Grand Hall. It is simply stunning! During our dating time, I lived in a loft near Union Station in downtown St. Louis, and we would often get cocktails in the Grand Hall. When we got engaged, it was the first place we thought of, and after checking various venues, nothing even came close to Union Station in our book!
Did you write your own vows? We did not. We chose traditional, yet beautiful and intentional, vows that we discussed with our pastor during premarital counseling.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to “Processional and Maria” (Rodgers and Hammerstein). My favorite movie has always been The Sound of Music. There’s something so majestic and beautiful about Maria’s march down the aisle to this song, and I could think of no more wonderful song to meet my groom to! All our ceremony music involved the church’s incredible organ. “Toccata” (Bach) was the perfect song of celebration and joy for our recessional–it fit the way Nick and I felt walking away from the ceremony as husband and wife.
Describe your wedding flowers. Exquisite! My amazingly talented big sister, Sara Beth, went above and beyond in her matron of honor role. She was the true creative director behind our wedding. From designing our wedding programs, invitations, save the dates, and all other print work, to designing and making my bridal bouquet, I still can’t find the words for what she did. My bouquet was super full, vibrant, and earthy, with various hues of cranberry (the wedding’s main color). It was composed of dahlias, garden roses, ranunculus, hellebores, spray roses, parrot tulips, protea, astilbe, pepper berry, dusty miller, eucalyptus, Italian ruscus, ivy, and foliage. The bouquet was wrapped in silk ribbons and a piece of lace from my mother’s wedding gown. It also included a gold jewel from an arrangement at one of my bridal showers.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was a round, five-tiered, French vanilla cake covered with delicious buttercream icing, imprinted with a scattered lace design, and accented with ivory fondant flowers edged in gold. The largest layer was covered in fondant ruffles with buttercream pearls. A gold “P” monogram, placed on the side of the center layer, was a focal point, and a surprise red velvet layer (my favorite flavor!) was enjoyed by not only my groom and me, but by several other guests as well. I worked with the Cakery to design our cake, and it was truly the prettiest (and tastiest) cake I’ve ever seen.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The light show at our wedding reception was one of our favorite details. Union Station in St. Louis does a variety of beautiful laser light shows on the ceiling of Grand Hall each evening. Our guests (who were mainly from out of town) had no idea to expect it, so it was a fun surprise. Guests attended a cocktail hour in one portion of Union Station following our wedding ceremony before being led into the reception in Grand Hall where a light show was beginning. The laser light show has coordinating music and imagery on the ceiling, creating a musical movie of sorts. It feels like you’re at Disney World! Another detail we loved was the trick-or-treat station at our reception. My mother-in-law took our vision for a trick-or-treat stand and ran with it. Some of our favorite candies (in mainly gold, white, and cranberry tones) filled various tall glass containers on a table next to the photo booth. Guests could go at any time during the reception to pick up a treat bag and fill it as they pleased!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a family veil, first worn by my mother 30 years ago and then by my sister five years ago. The chapel-length veil is adorned with pearls and attached to a pearl cloche headpiece. My garter was wrapped in light blue ribbon, and my something old was lace from my mother’s dress, wrapped around my bridal bouquet. My lace Casablanca wedding gown was new!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Southern touches could be found all throughout our wedding. The wedding party was large (and all Midwestern friends thought we were crazy, ha!). With 12 bridesmaids, 12 groomsmen, four honorary bridesmaids, two registry attendants, two junior bridesmaids, two ushers, and a flower girl and ring bearer, the party filled in fast. Sweet tea was a beverage of choice at all wedding festivities. We exited the wedding reception to a popular and frequently played song during Mississippi State football games (as the cowbells clang): Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We took part in premarital counseling with our church’s pastor. We would meet once every few weeks for the three months prior to the wedding. We started our sessions by taking an intensive test that analyzed our personalities and how we handle others/relationships. We discussed the test results with our pastor and talked about possible conflicts/victories that may result from our two types. We loved every minute of these special sessions with our wise pastor, and only wished it never had to end! In the hustle and bustle of planning, this was a serene time that helped us gain focus and perspective. We also made a point to have date nights where we weren’t allowed to talk about the wedding, which I highly recommend!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I am blessed to have creative family members. My sister saved us so many costs by cutting any design charges from our wedding invites, paper goods, etc. She only charged us for the materials, which was a huge help. My childhood babysitter (and our family’s dear friend) volunteered to be our wedding day coordinator so that we could enjoy the day and not worry about all of the details lining up. For the ceremony, we used a lot of greenery and candles for the front of the church, instead of large floral arrangements. Central Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary has massive, colorfu,l stained-glass windows throughout and lots of natural light, vaulted ceilings, and large lanterns; it’s a beautiful place and didn’t need much extra.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Decide what’s right for you! A wedding is a small glimpse into the soul of a couple. Whatever style fits you, go for it and don’t look back. Weddings of all kinds are a lot of work, but I don’t regret one ounce of time we spent pouring into this most memorable day of becoming one with my husband. It’s one of the only days in your life when you’re truly surrounded by your very favorite and most loved people. Be in the moment and celebrate such a joyous and monumental occasion with no regrets!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We just bought our first home in our favorite neighborhood in the city! Our golden doodle, Murphy, loves having a backyard and room to play. We look forward to having friends over for house parties. Up next for our family…we’d like to plan a trip to Europe next year. Italy, perhaps? We shall see!

Photographer: Charis Rowland Photography | Videographer: LEAP Weddings | Planners: Beth Parks and Sara Beth Cobb | Ceremony Venue: Central Presbyterian Church | Reception Venue and Caterer: St. Louis Union Station | Florist: Les Bouquets | Wedding Cake: The Cakery Bakery | Band: PowerPlay | Special Details and Paper Products: Nimblee | Bride’s Gown: “Style 2169” by Casablanca | Hair and Makeup: Emily Miller | Bride’s Shoes: “Lois Glittery Mesh Kitten Heel” by Adrianna Papell | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style 6705” in Venetian Gold by After Six | Menswear: Joseph Abboud | Photo Booth: 2 Chics and a Photobooth | Rehearsal Dinner Venue: City Cottage on Chouteau

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar 17 romantic red bouquets for Valentine's Day  reply

    […] Loosely tied red bouquet with Juliet roses. Via Southern Weddings […]

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Though my husband and I are college sweethearts ourselves, I have always been a bit envious of high school sweethearts. Knowing you have found your one at a young age, like Taylor and Darrell, has always held some extra special magic to me. After meeting in high school, these two instantly became each other’s best friend and forever soulmates. One super sweet proposal, and a surprise engagement party later – Taylor and Darrell planned a joyful wedding at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum. Bright pops of red florals from Poppy Lane Designs added a colorful addition to their classic wedding venue and globe string lights added a whimsical atmosphere, and also Taylor’s favorite detail!

Thanks to Magnolia Adams for sharing Taylor and Darrel’s wedding with us!

After a full day of trying on gorgeous wedding gowns, the dress I chose ended up being the very first one I had tried on. The feeling of “saying yes to the dress” will be something I’ll cherish forever.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No first look for us. We wanted to save the special moment for the ceremony, and it was perfect.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We chose our venue because we wanted to have the ceremony and reception at the same place. We had many out-of-town guests, so not needing them to drive from the ceremony to reception was perfect!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We did premarital counseling with my pastor, which was great, and we recommend it to all couples. It opens up discussion and topics that are critical for a healthy marriage.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Using Minted for save the dates, choosing simple but elegant table linens, and using Easy.com for the ceremony program. Plus, our venue was tax-deductible!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The globe string lighting we used above the dance floor and behind the cake table. I’m in love with hanging lights–they create such a whimsical and happy atmosphere!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Darrell and I met in high school many, many years ago. We instantly became each other’s best friend, encourager, supporter, person to laugh with, shoulder to cry on, and forever soulmates.
Tell us all about the proposal! We had planned a weekend getaway to Washington D.C. to meet up with friends, and decided to drive up early from Richmond to beat traffic. On the morning of May 1, I woke up early to finish packing, and that’s when the proposal happened! Darrell had secretly placed a ring box and a letter on my nightstand in the middle of the night. By the time I finished reading the letter, Darrell was on his knee asking me to be his wife! After the proposal, Darrell informed me that we weren’t going to Washington D.C. for the weekend–that was just a scheme so I’d be packed! We were actually flying to Oklahoma to surprise my parents at a dinner that my sisters planned. My first thought was, “You didn’t ask my dad to marry me?” But he quickly told me he asked many months ago–they just didn’t know when it would happen. I was quickly relieved, as well as beyond joyful because my family is my world and I couldn’t wait to get home! My sisters were at the airport to pick us up, and we headed straight to my parents’ house to surprise them. When we pulled up to the house, we saw 60 of our closest friends and family in the lawn with a sign that said “She Said Yes!” My parents had known the whole time, and I wasn’t there to surprise them–they were surprising ME with the best engagement party! To this day, I still get goosebumps about all of the planning that went into this proposal, and I am beyond thankful.
When did y’all get married? June 25, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 225
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? All the men in the wedding wore polka dot bow ties. We also served Buffalo Trace bourbon and had mini chicken and waffles for late night snacks!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning while living 1,200 miles away from our venue. I am thankful for FaceTime and the most wonderful mother–there is no way I could have done it without her!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Start planning and booking early! Also once you decide on something, don’t dwell on it or continue looking for the same thing–it will drive you crazy.

Photographer: Magnolia Adams Photography | Planner: Leslie Herring Events | Venue: Gaylord Pickens Museum | Florist: Poppy Lane Design | Wedding Cake: Mishelle Handy Cakes | Caterer: Abbey Road Catering | Rentals: Marianne’s Rentals | Lighting: Innovative Event Solutions | Paper Products: No Regrets | Bride’s Gown: “Janine” by Leanne Marshall | Bride’s Hair Accessory: “Crystal Head Wrap” by Jennifer Behr | Hair Stylist: Natasha Shipley Artistry | Makeup Artist: Chelsey Ann Artistry | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Morgan” in Dove Grey by Donna Morgan | Menswear: Allton’s

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Taylor Guttery reply

    This is just so perfect! Thank you for such a beautiful and heart humbling post! Also, thank you to Southern Weddings for so many inspirations and ideas (within our budget!)to help plan our dream wedding!

  2. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Great images, particularly love the b/w shots.

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