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Ever since they met, Milena had been asking Jake to write her a song. During his sweet proposal, he shared that he had finally written one for her… but it was only half-finished. When their wedding day arrived, they opted to pray together around a corner before their ceremony. This is always emotional, but it proved to be even more so when Jake surprised Milena by playing his newly finished song for her! It was a sweet moment I am sure neither of them will ever forget. A few more things I’m sure they’ll always remember from their wedding at Foxhall Stables: having both families together in one place, Milena’s first look with her daddy, and the ceremony cross Milena’s daddy made from wood recycled from her great-great-grandfather’s cottage.

Thanks to Sarah Ingram for capturing so many of these magical moments!

Tell us all about the proposal! After meeting in Florida, we both relocated to California for school/work. During our visit with family for Christmas 2015, Jake asked me if he could take me on a date. This was odd considering we NEVER see our families and I thought, we can go on dates whenever we want–why now, why here? I asked my mom what we were going to do the day after Christmas and to my surprise, she replied that she was going to be “busy” with my dad, so I agreed to go out for a date with Jake. He surprised me by taking me to the Harry P. Leu Gardens, a place where we had one of our first dates in 2012. Ever since we first met, I’ve bothered him to write me a song. Turns out, he finally wrote (half) of that song. I held back tears as we sat on the same picnic blanket we had four years ago and he played it. Then, he went to put his guitar away and pulled out a box with a ring he had designed with my dad from jewelry his Nana had given him. It was beautiful and perfect.

I did do a first look with my father, but Jake and I decided we didn’t want to see each other until I walked down the aisle–we felt there is something magical about the moment when the doors open and the bride and groom see each other for the first time during the ceremony! We did agree that our nerves would be tense and we’d be anxious, so it would be wise to pray together before the ceremony, but without seeing one another. This is also when Jake played the song he wrote for me when he proposed, only this time, the song was finished! This was emotional for us–Jake could hardly play his guitar and sing as I sobbed on the other side of a stable door!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We didn’t have any special readings besides what our pastor preached, but we did have Sara, our photographer, make us a banner that hung in our ceremony that said Psalm 91:4: “He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings, you will find refuge.” This represented Christ covering our marriage. To tie in with the verse, our precious flower girls threw petals and white feathers from their baskets.

Jake has always wanted to be married in a church, and I have always wanted to be married outside. We originally agreed to search for a glass chapel, since that would serve both of our visions. After chatting with Lauren, she gave us so many beautiful options, but Foxhall had the all-in-one venue which made it easy for our family members who were coming from all over. Foxhall also had outdoor games, which was on our list, and the venue just seemed like us. To give it more of a chapel feel, we rented church pews and my dad made us a cross from wood recycled from my great-great-grandfather’s cottage.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Almost every detail exceeded our expectations! We loved our custom coffee bar, our invites, the painting my dad did for us, and the dancing! But I guess what it all comes down to is that Jake and I have lived far away from our families for the past five and a half years, so having both our families together in one place was seriously magical and meant so much to us.

Describe your wedding flowers. I was so nervous about my flowers, considering I’d never met any of the girls from Petaline in person before. But they nailed it! They even added lavender and mint to my bouquet, which made it smell so great!!

I wanted donuts and Jake wanted cake, so Lauren was wonderful and threw both into our wedding design! We had classic white cake with vanilla frosting, and blueberry cinnamon donuts! They were all tasty!

When did y’all get married? August 6, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We really prayed that our wedding would be Christ-centered–as Christians, we believe that a wedding is a foreshadowing of the real wedding when Jesus (the groom) returns for the church (His bride). That being said, Jake chose “Divine Romance” by Phil Wickham for the bridal party and himself to walk down the aisle to. I chose to walk down the aisle to the piano version of “It is Well.” Most people may think of this as a sad song, but I chose it because of the hope it portrays not only in our marriage, but in the marriage of Christ and His church. As we left together, we lightened it up with a song from our favorite Disney movie, Wreck It Ralph: “When Can I See You Again” by Owl City. Later at the reception, our first dance was to the classical guitar version of “So This is Love” from Cinderella. My dad and I could not pick just one song, so we used two: “What a Wonderful World” (we used this song at a daddy-daughter dance when I was a little girl) and “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food!!! We served chicken and waffles, strawberry bruschetta, caprese salad, sliders, fried chicken, steak medallions, a mac and cheese bar, and a chicken fajita bar. So yummy!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We both agree it was definitely when Jake played the song he wrote me before our ceremony.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Get a planner, especially if you are planning a wedding from a different state. This saved hurting family members’ feelings and so much stress. I also believe she saved us money! Planners literally do weddings all the time, and Lauren was also able to sort through my realistic and unrealistic expectations for our day! ;)
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We look forward to Jake finishing college and traveling as much as we can before we start a family!

Photographer: Sarah Ingram | Planner: Lauren Emerson Events | Venue: Foxhall Stables | Florist: Petaline | Wedding Cake: Sweet Creations by Candi Pittman | Caterer: Simply Catering | Custom Illustrations: Dave O’Connell | Paper Products: Pirouette Paper | Hair Stylist: Katie Hensley | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Groom’s Attire: Calvin Klein

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Milena carter reply

    Hello there, Thankyou so much for featuring my wedding, seriously what an honor! I think some details may have gotten lost though in translation though. My shoes were actually not heals I felt wearing heels all night would be beautiful but I went for comfort and my maid of honor bought me Kate spade white sparkling shoes that were sneakers. And I’d never change that I wore them, I’d honestly strongly suggest them to other brides because of how comfy they were and that they were different then traditional wedding shoes. Although the invitations y’all featured were beautiful our invitations were actually custom made by my Father& my dear friend kaylyn at pirouette paper company. They both put So much love and work into them from my dads custom illustrated map of fox hall & character drawing of Jake and myself. To kaylyns beautiful handwriting and watercolor work on our envelopes. They were such a precious detail that ment so much to Jake and myself. They just tied many other details of our wedding together too! Again I’m so flattered by yalls feature! Xoxo

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Milena! Thank you so much for letting us know. We love the idea of wearing sneakers for your wedding day. What a fun detail. We’re honored to share your wedding day! xx, Marissa

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Sara and Lee’s Georgia wedding is pure and simple Southern goodness that will have me swooning for quite a few days! While I love bright colors just as much as the next girl, there is something so refreshing and romantic about their muted palette and classically styled reception under the twinkle light-draped tent at The Taylor Grady House. Let’s not even get started on Sara’s dreamy Hayley Paige ballgown–that tulle skirt! All the heart eyes, y’all! Of course, the beauty of their wedding day cannot overshadow the sweet nods to their family they incorporated throughout their day, like the pecan brittle favors in honor of Lee’s late father.

Big SW hugs to our darling Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna K Photography for sharing Sara and Lee’s pretty day with us!

We met at work, when we happened to sit next to each other at a farewell happy hour for a coworker. We mostly talked about Georgia football. A week later, Lee sent a follow-up email reminding me of the deadline to apply for UGA season tickets, and it happened to be Valentine’s Day. I thought I was having a pretty bad Valentine’s Day so far, as I had gotten into a car accident earlier that morning. But then Lee told me that he had just returned home from a business trip and discovered that his house had been broken into and, unbeknownst to him, the thieves stole the spare key to his car and came back to steal it the night Lee returned home! After an epic email exchange that transpired over the following weeks, we went on our first date: test driving cars. Most of the salesmen during our test drives that day probably thought we had been together forever since we were “shopping” for cars together, so there was a really fun dynamic to the date. After the last dealership closed, Lee asked me to dinner and drinks at one of the most romantic restaurants in town, Canoe. Before the date was over, Lee proposed something crazy: a vacation. He told me that if I could clear three days the following week, he’d plan the rest. Next thing we knew, we were off to St. Lucia for a whirlwind of a five-day third date. It was a complete leap of faith and something neither of us had ever done before. The rest is history!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Oh, trying on dresses was so much fun! I tried on a variety of different styles, but kept daydreaming of the big, traditional, princess-style wedding gowns. The trick was to find one that would fit in with our tented outdoor reception in Athens, Georgia. I finally felt like a bride when I tried on a gorgeous Hayley Paige creation: a full-skirted gown with generous ruffles made of sculptural tulle with horsehair trim and a crossover sweetheart neckline with a natural-waisted silk radzimir bodice. My dad and I initially joked that the ruffles looked a little like tissues, so we affectionately dubbed the dress the “Napkin Dress!” I tried on a few more styles, but the night after I tried on the Napkin Dress, I stayed up until 4:00 a.m. staring at pictures of it. I knew it was the one!

A string quartet played at our ceremony. The soft sounds of the strings complimented our traditional choices, including Handel’s “Water Music-Air” for the seating of the mothers, Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” for the processional, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” for the bride’s processional, and Handel’s “Water Music-Hornpipe” for the recessional. Lee fell in love with “Canon in D” early in the engagement, so using that for my processional was very special. I’ll never forget hearing the quartet playing the first few notes as I waited outside of the Chapel doors with my dad before walking down the aisle!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? After the ceremony, Lee and I snuck to the side of the Chapel to enjoy a few moments alone and soak in the fact that we had just become Mr. and Mrs.! It was so nice to slow down and catch up after being apart for the whole day. I also got to show Lee the engraving inside his wedding band, which I secretly had done in the weeks leading up to the wedding. I engraved his ring with our wedding date and the phrase, “Forever Your Bunny,” which is our pet name for each other. Seeing his face after showing the engraving to him is a moment I will never forget!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Lee’s father passed away, so we wanted to honor him and make him a part of the day by hand-making his famous pecan brittle recipe with Georgia pecans for our wedding favors. Lee helped his dad make the pecan brittle when he was a little boy, and he continues to make it for family and friends at Christmas. We packaged the pecan brittle, labeled them “Dad’s Pecan Brittle,” and set them on a table with a photograph of Lee’s dad.

One of the biggest money-savers was the fact that the Taylor Grady House let us bring in our own alcohol! We were able to set up a full bar and had a separate bourbon bar comprised of bourbons from Lee’s prized collection. Not only did the freedom to bring our own alcohol bring down the cost, but it allowed us to incorporate Lee’s passion for bourbon and share some of his favorites with our friends and family!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our head table was a dream come true. At 32 feet long, it seated all of our bridal party and their dates. My favorite floral detail was the lush garland that ran down the entire length of the table and had tall, white candles tucked in throughout. The head table also had beautiful place cards with Sarah Ingram’s romantic and organic calligraphy and copper wax seals with a custom logo that Sarah created for us! Sarah’s calligraphy also appeared on the menus set out at each place setting. The head table was everything I had ever dreamed of and more!

Anyone in Athens knows Cecila Villaveces’ Cakes! Our three-tier wedding cake was a vanilla cake with strawberry filling, but the real treat was the Tres Leches cake (vanilla cake soaked with special milks and fresh strawberries) that had to be served from a sheet cake, since it’s too spongy to hold up in tiers!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be intentional about the vendors you choose to surround yourself with on your wedding day. In most cases, they’ll be with you for more of the day than you’ll be with your future husband! The best vendors will immediately click with you, will know your aesthetic better than you do, and will get things done even when you didn’t think it was possible. And, no matter how stressed you get, know that it’ll all melt away by the time your rehearsal dinner starts. At that point, all of your friends and family will be there ready to celebrate you, and you’ll feel such love and support and joy the second those festivities start!

Tell us all about the proposal! We went to Washington, D.C. for the weekend to attend a party hosted by my brother and sister-in-law. The day after the party, we planned to tour some of the museums and monuments. We were moving slowly after the party, and I remember that Lee didn’t say anything when I took a little longer getting ready and curling my hair for the day. We set out to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and stared at all of the breathtaking gems in the The Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, including the Hope Diamond. Lee joked that I shouldn’t get any ideas from walking through the exhibit! When the museums closed, we walked through the National Mall. After walking nearly nine miles all day (me in my 4-inch booties!), we reached the Jefferson Memorial, Lee’s favorite. We walked around the Memorial, and then Lee brought me down to the tidal basin. He held both of my hands, dropped to his knee, and proposed! Mid-proposal, a middle school sports team swarmed the Jefferson Memorial and began cheering for us and taking pictures. After we soaked it all in for a few moments, Lee pulled me back to the spot where he proposed, told me to look behind me at the Jefferson Memorial, to look ahead at the Washington Monument, and to look right at the White House. He told me to remember the exact spot, because in twenty years, when we return with our family, we’ll be able to visit the exact spot where he proposed and would be able to do so for the rest of our lives.
When did y’all get married? September 12, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 135
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Lee and I are both Double Dawgs, having attended the University of Georgia for both undergrad and law school. We wanted to share Athens, Georgia with our family and friends, so when we found out the Chapel on North Campus was available, we jumped at the opportunity. We are season ticket holders and return to Athens every fall for football games. We love that we’ll be able to walk by the place where we got married year after year when we return to the Classic City. We chose the Taylor Grady House for our reception.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We said traditional vows. There is something so sacred, beautiful, and romantic about speaking the same words as generations of couples who have made this commitment before us.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We included the Prayer of St. Francis to honor my dad’s Catholic faith.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We met with our officiant, Reverend Jonathan Spencer, throughout our engagement for marriage prep sessions. We loved making time to be intentional about our relationship and our marriage. We always walked away from our meetings feeling more connected and grounded to the things that truly mattered!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The hardest thing for me to do was to know when to stop searching for inspiration. There are so many beautiful magazines, blogs, Instagram accounts, and Pinterest boards that are wonderful during the initial planning stages and can be a real help when interviewing potential vendors to communicate your vision and aesthetic. At some point, though, I began feeling overwhelmed with all of the options and let my magazines stack up…which just made me feel more stressed about not being able to check off reading the magazines from my to do list! I relied so heavily on the support of my planner, Marilisa Schachinger of Chancey Charm. She helped move me along throughout the whole planning process when I’d get bogged down by certain details. Marilisa was SUCH a blessing and helped me trust my gut and make decisions!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I had an incredible team of vendors that truly became my friends throughout the engagement. I was very intentional about selecting folks who not only had the aesthetic I was looking for, but–more importantly–were good people who were enthusiastic about what they do and were excited to be a part of our wedding day. The very first decision I made was to hire my photographer, Anna Shackleford of Anna K. Photography. I found her through Southern Weddings and, as soon as I read on her Blue Ribbon Vendor profile that she “specialized in happy brides,” I knew I had to meet her. She invited me to her beautiful home for our first meeting, and even surprised me with a Christmas gift of the most recent Southern Weddings magazine and a Starbucks gift card to get a tasty treat while I perused the magazine for inspiration! Anna truly set the bar for everyone else I worked with–she was so patient, kind, supportive, and genuinely excited for us. Anna constantly surprised us with little (and some not-so-little) gifts throughout our engagement and beyond. Having Anna with me throughout our wedding day felt like having an old friend there, who happened to create beautiful images, keep things on schedule, and could corral an entire, crazy family!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We’re settling into our new home in Atlanta, Georgia! We are looking forward to having friends and family over for dinner parties, special celebrations and holidays. We’re also thrilled to spend time together without the stress of wedding planning. I can’t tell you how many nights we’ve been sitting on the couch and just look over at the other and say that we can’t believe how lucky we are to have found each other and that we’re actually married!

Photographer: Anna K Photography | Videographer: Rusticus Films | Planner: Chancey Charm | Ceremony Venue: University of Georgia Chapel | Reception Venue: Taylor Grady House | Florist: Martha McIntosh Creative Consulting | Wedding Cake Baker: Cecilia Villaveces Cakes | Caterer: home.made | Rentals and Lighting: Goodwin Events | Band: The Answer Band | Custom Map: Natalie Kilgore | Paper Products: Sarah Ingram | Bride’s Gown: “Londyn” by Hayley Paige | Bridal Salon: The White Magnolia | Bride’s Veil: Sara Gabriel | Hair Stylist: Tame | Makeup Artist: Becca Whitwinghill | Bride’s Shoes: Valentino | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” in Lilac by Jenny Yoo | Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss Red Label | Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Ribbon: Silk and Willow | Ceremony Music: Cobalt Strings

Anna K is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Marilisa Schachinger reply

    Aw thanks for sharing SW! It was such a pleasure to work with Sara on her wedding and we so appreciate you featuring it here! Now if we could all get our hands on some pralines to snack on while reading the feature ;)

  2. avatar Emily reply

    What a gorgeous gown!!

  3. avatar Sarah Chancey reply

    Thank you so very much for featuring this stunning wedding. Marilisa did such a great job working with these clients, and we are just thrilled to have been included. Anna killed it with these iamges!

  4. avatar Sara Clayton reply

    YAY!!!! Thank you so much for the feature!!! It’s so fun to relive our special day when reading this. We wouldn’t have these stunning images if it weren’t for Southern Weddings, which is how I found Anna Shackleford. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!

  5. avatar Audrey Eshman reply

    It was such a gorgeous wedding, and Sara was stunning! So glad that her special day is being shared!

  6. avatar L & S – CHANGEME reply

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