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In reading through the details Kelly and Richard sent our way, one word that stood out to me over and over was “hope:” their hopes for beautiful weather (they even jumped their venue’s fence after hours to bury a bottle of bourbon!) and their hopes for a beautiful garden ceremony space (they booked Yew Dell after only seeing it in the dead of winter), but mostly, their hopes for a beautiful wedding day that was about more than just them, and a truly beautiful marriage. For most of us, the wedding planning process involves compromises along the way, but one thing I think we should never compromise on is the hope for a beautiful future, together. Kelly and Richard are such a sweet example of that!

Big hugs to Nina + Wes for these photos!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met on a blind date! I was living with four of my best friends, and one night, my friend’s fiancé told me they had the perfect guy for me. A little reluctant and very apprehensive, I went with it, so he texted Richard. Apparently, in his text, he said to Richard “Whenever you’re ready, I’ve found your wife.” Who knew he was right! After Richard and I both agreed to this blind date, it took two months for the date to actually happen. I tried to cancel at least half a dozen times–luckily, my roommate wouldn’t let me. Eventually, the four of us went bowling and to dinner one Saturday night, and the rest is history!

I was so nervous to go dress shopping–I had heard horror stories about how stressful it was. My experience was the absolute opposite! I loved trying on wedding dresses–you feel like a princess for a day. I didn’t know what I wanted in a dress, so we searched high and low and tried on dozens. My options were all over the place. After looking all over Louisville (my hometown) and in numerous stores in Cincinnati, my mom and I finally decided to go to Twirl in Lexington, where I live now. I tried on two dresses before trying on the most beautiful Tara Keely gown. I knew it was my dress! It was sweet and delicate, but so lovely. We had our seamstress add sleeves with extra lace we ordered.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did do a first look. I knew I was going to be too nervous to go the whole day without seeing him until the ceremony! We decided that it was our wedding day and we wanted to enjoy one another. We wanted time before the ceremony to pray for the day and our marriage, and calm the nerves before saying our vows. We wanted to soak up the joy of the day as much as we could together. It was the best decision we could have made!

We had the bridal party walk down the aisle to “Jesus We Love You” by Bethel Music. Once they were down the aisle, my dad and I walked down to an excerpt from “Come to Me” from Bethel’s Without Words album. We chose these songs because we wanted the focus of our day to be about the beauty of the Lord bringing us together and inviting us into this covenant with him.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The day Richard proposed, we got on our knees along with our families and prayed for our marriage and our future. We knew that though weddings are beautiful and exciting celebrations, we didn’t want the one day to be our main focus. With every decision, we asked the question “Is this going to bring glory and attention to the covenant we are making with the Lord?” At the end of the day, it is the marriage we were celebrating, not the wedding. Throughout our engagement, we met up with with an amazing couple full of wisdom for marriage counseling. We also read Timothy Kellers book, “The Meaning of Marriage.”

My heart has always been bent toward the beauty of nature, especially the loveliness of flowers. As soon as Richard proposed, we knew we wanted an outdoor wedding, and my heart was set on a celebration among the trees or in a garden. As it turns out, I was blessed with both! Richard proposed in November, so we were venue hunting in the dead of winter. We found Yew Dell in December, and did a walk-through with frost on the ground and barren trees. Though we had pictures from the website to reference, it took a pretty strong imagination to picture the garden in full bloom. We booked Yew Dell on faith, hoping and praying it would be as beautiful as we imagined. When we visited the gardens about a month before the wedding, I cried. It was a wonderland! I knew our venue was going to be the enchanted garden nestled in the woodland that I had dreamed of since I was a little girl.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our florist outdid herself. Our head table was a work of art. We decided to use five beautiful farm tables to make one giant head table for our 20 bridesmaids and groomsmen, plus their guests. Our florist had a lush garland running the length of the table, all 30 feet of it! Our menus, beautifully designed by a friend, were resting on top of the golden chargers, tucked inside a napkin with sprigs of greenery resting on top. It made such a statement when you walked into the reception tent.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Several months before our wedding, Richard and I decided to get dance lessons for our first dance. We didn’t want anything special–just enough so we could do more than the middle school shuffle on the dance floor. To be honest, I wasn’t even excited to do the first dance! As it turns out, our dance instructor taught us the basic rumba and then threw in a variety of spins and twirls. Though I was hesitant at the beginning, our first dance was one of our favorite moments of the day. There is no better way to feel like a princess than to have your prince spin you around the dance floor in a lovely gown!

Tell us all about the proposal! Apparently, I am a difficult girl to surprise. Richard knew the element of surprise was important to me, so he made me believe it wasn’t going to happen until March at the earliest. The day after Thanksgiving, my parents told everyone they wanted to get a family picture for that year’s Christmas card. Later that afternoon, as the girls were getting ready (taking longer than usual, as girls do), Richard and the guys decided to run out for some Black Friday shopping. While the guys were gone, my mom suggested I take my sister and sister-in-law to one of my favorite gardens in Louisville (a location we had thought about as a wedding venue someday). The three of us arrived, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a stuffed bear to my left. I assumed a family had a Thanksgiving event there the day before and some child had left their stuffed toy, but as we got closer, I saw a note propped up against the bear with my name on it. I looked up and saw that Richard had strung twinkle lights among the trees in the loveliest part of the garden, and he stood waiting for me at the end of the path. It was simply magical.
When did y’all get married? July 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 260
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own. Richard is a pastor, so speaking in front of people is his forte–I, on the other hand, am not a public speaker. I knew I was going to be nervous enough repeating the vows after our minister. I didn’t think I would be able to say my own vows on top of it!
Describe your wedding flowers. Our florist made the most beautiful bouquets for us! She made lush full bouquets of ranunculus and garden roses and used a single garden rose for Richard’s boutonniere. My mom had gardenias on her wedding day, and every time she smells them, she said it brings her right back. I knew I wanted a distinctly fragrant flower, so even 30 years down the road, the scent would bring me back to our fairy tale day.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? A few weeks into our engagement, we learned about the burying the bourbon tradition! So, on June 18, Richard and I, along with my family, hopped in the car to discreetly bury the goods on Yew Dell’s property. Unfortunately, that day was dreary and rainy, and Yew Dell was closing their gates as we arrived. I was satisfied with burying the bourbon right outside the gate on the perimeter of their property, but Richard wanted it to be closer to our venue site! We drove around to the rear of the property, hopped the fence, and buried the bourbon adjacent to both the reception location and the ceremony location. We had full sunshine on our wedding day!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Know that the day is a celebration of the lifelong commitment you are making to one another. It brought Richard and I such peace to rest in the knowledge that the day was about more than just ourselves. It was about our promise to one another and our promise to the Lord. Your attitude and focus and make or break the day for you. So it was 95 degrees outside and humid? We had the privilege of starting our marriage joyfully overcoming the circumstances of our surroundings. So the ceremony music didn’t start out correctly? The sweet imperfection of the ceremony let our friends and family rest at ease. So there was a fly in the communion cup? Richard and I got a little extra protein! Your attitude and focus sets the mood for the rest of your guests. Just remember, regardless, at the end of the day you will be married. Isn’t that more important than who gets chicken or beef?
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? That is a great question! We don’t know. Richard and I feel settled in Lexington for now, but we both have a heart for missions and for serving. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up in another country within the next several years. Or perhaps we will stay in Lexington, Kentucky and expand our family here! We are both dreamers, so in our heads, we have about a hundred dreams for where our future could go, but who knows where the Lord will take us next! In the meantime, we are basking in the joy of living life with the other at our side. We are making sweet memories sharing our home together and fellowshipping with friends.

Photographer: Nina and Wes Photography / Videographer: Summit Stone Creations / Planner: Devanny Kuhn of Essential Details / Venue: Yew Dell Gardens / Florist: Country Squire Florist / Cake Baker: Merts Cakes / Caterer: Masterson’s Catering / Rentals: Essential Details / DJ: Complete Weddings + Events / Invitations: Julie Diamond Calligraphy and Invitations / Program and Menu: Melody Thoburn / Bride’s Gown: Tara Keely / Bridal Salon: Twirl Boutique/a> / Hair Stylist: Hayley Gleason/ Makeup Artist: Ashley Meadows Makeup Artistry / Menswear: J. Crew

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

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Nina reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful wedding! We loved this day!

  2. avatar Liz Cox reply

    Goodness gracious I love this precious bride! Helping her find her dress was such a joy and to her in it on her wedding day is so sweet. Thanks for the sharing their gorgeous wedding & their beautiful love.

  3. avatar Kat Forsyth reply

    What a stunning location! Those lines of trees…wow.

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In the Sweet Tea Society, we share a belief that simple is often better, and Rachel and Sam’s wedding day is a perfect example of this sentiment. They chose to honor God, their family, and their own love story at their sweetly simple wedding, reminiscent of Southern celebrations from times past. They held a morning ceremony at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where Rachel’s grandparents were married in 1950, followed by a brunch reception, complete with sweet tea and the buzz of good company to celebrate their day. I love how Rachel and her mom kept each other focused during their planning by asking “what kind of significance will this really have?” when considering details. What a poignant question to keep in mind.

Big SW hugs to my friend Brooke Glassford of Colorbox Photographers for sharing this lovely day!

I had originally decided that I wanted to wear my mom’s dress. It is a beautiful lace gown that I loved, but we knew there were a couple of things we would want to change about it. We went wedding dress shopping just to get ideas, but the girls at The White Room really did their job well! I ended up falling in love with an Anne Barge dress, and I was really torn about it, but my mom assured me that it was my dress. I am so happy with the choice. We ended up using some lace from my mom’s gown on my veil that she sewed herself, which ended up being even more special to me. It is something we will pass down for generations to come.

Our wedding was more like the Southern weddings in times past–it was at 11:00 in the morning and we served brunch with lemonade and sweet tea afterwards. We enjoyed the company of friends and family and didn’t have anything fancy going on other than the buzz of good company.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? My grandparents were wed at St. Paul’s in 1950. It is the church that I grew up in and that my father grew up in and that my grandfather grew up in. It was very special to my family and to Sam and I that we were married in a place with such rich history and deep meaning.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? This is a hard one. I think the most memorable moment of our wedding day was saying my vows to Sam. That was the moment when everything started to really sink in for me. I also really loved this moment that after we were announced as husband and wife, we turned around to face our friends and family, and the whole church joined in to sing the Doxology. It was such a joy to get to see so many loved ones and to sing praise to the Lord with them!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The main way that we planned for our marriage was through prayer for our future. We prayed for each other as well as ourselves in the new roles we were about to take on. Our main desire for our marriage is that the Lord be honored and glorified.

Our wedding flowers were beyond gorgeous! The day before our wedding, I had to run by the church and ended up walking into the reception venue. I was immediately in tears because of how beautiful everything was, and because of the people who blessed me with the talent they have been blessed with. Two women who have had a big impact on my life, and especially on my walk with the Lord, were in charge of all of the flowers. They, along with a team of family and friends, created more than I could have ever asked for. The flowers certainly pointed to the beauty of the Lord and the brilliance of what He creates.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Sam and I met in kindergarten. Although we “dated” from 7th-12th grade, we say that we truly started dating our junior year of college after we became Christians. We know that it is only because of the Lord’s great mercy on our lives and His great love for us that we are able to love each other.
Tell us all about the proposal! October 10, 2014 is one of my most favorite memories. It was just a normal Friday, and a close friend of ours had invited us over to eat with their family at their cabin, about 30 minutes outside of Auburn. I didn’t think twice about it, even though Sam came up with a thousand excuses for why the Sheils were coming to the cabin after us. He was basically on one knee the second we stepped out of his truck and onto the porch. He recalled lots of things that had happened over our 11 years together and talked about wanting me to be his wife. I was completely shocked and so excited that I didn’t say anything for a while! He then prepared a delicious meal for us and we sat on the porch for hours, excitedly talking about our future together and thanking the Lord for allowing it all to really happen as we had always wished.
When did y’all get married? July 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 250
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did decide to do a first look. We really wanted to have that moment to ourselves to soak in the day before all of it moved too quickly to remember. Seeing him at the end of the aisle waiting for me was still just as special and exciting as I had always dreamed it would be.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? 1 Corinthians 13 was read during our ceremony by our officiant, Sam’s dad. He talked about how our home needed to be built on Godly love in order for our home to be sustained.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I think the biggest challenge for us was our guest list. We knew we wanted a more intimate ceremony, and although 250 guests doesn’t seem very intimate to some people, in our small, Southern town, it is! Cutting down the guest list was definitely challenging for us.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My parents asked me to choose three things that were really important to us for our wedding. We chose three big, important things and tried to cut corners on everything else. My mom and I would stop each other and ask, “Is this really that important?” Or “What kind of significance will this really have?” It made the planning process a lot more enjoyable.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My advice is to enjoy the process! It is something you will never have the opportunity to do again, and it’s neat to think that the Lord planned this specific time just for you. Praise Him for it, thank Him for it, and give it up to Him. Planning seemed like a breeze because I knew I wasn’t doing it alone.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Right after we got married, we moved to Tuscaloosa from Auburn. We both just started new jobs here and are looking forward to getting plugged into a local community in this new place.

Photographer: Brooke Glassford of Colorbox Photographers / Videographer: David Haygood / Venue: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Carlowville / Florals: Catherine Gilmer and April Lane / Caterer and Cake Baker: Granny B Catering / Rentals: Encore Rentals / Paper Products: Kadie Smith / Bride’s Gown: “Pembroke” by Anne Barge / Bridesmaids’ Hair and Makeup: Amber Todd / Bride’s Shoes: Toms / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: David’s Bridal / Menswear: Jim Massey Formals / Ties: Landisun

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    I love, love, love the heart and simplicity behind this wedding! It’s so refreshing to see a wedding these days that evokes the feel of weddings of the past… less focused on the details and the party and more focused on simplicity, family, community, and love. Thanks for sharing this one – it sure it gorgeous & is one to remember!

  2. avatar Brooke Glassdord reply

    Thank you SO much for featuring this wedding! It was an honor to capture AND an honor being featured by SW!

  3. avatar Southern Weddings feature: Sam + Rachel » Colorbox Photographers reply

    […] Weddings for featuring Sam + Rachel’s summer morning wedding on their blog today! Click here to see the […]

  4. avatar Jehnel Oboza-Davison reply

    Seriously, seriously beautiful wedding. I am so in love with the central focus of love, family, and God in this wedding. This reminds me of looking through your grandparents’ old wedding albums and it was just chock-full of happy pictures; a blushing bride and a dapper groom. So beautiful. Let’s return to this again, y’all!

  5. avatar Donna Harrison reply

    I watched this couple grow up…It was indeed a great day!!! A glorious day!

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Any time I spot wedding details inspired by the great state of Texas, it never fails to make me smile! Even though Julia and David’s love story started in Minnesota where they grew up, they chose to invite their loved ones to their new home city of Dallas for their wedding. From the Lone Star State flag pin Julia attached to her bouquet to the tables named after roads in Texas, it’s clear that these Northern cuties have embraced their Southern locale wholeheartedly. Kristyn Hall of Event Elements helped them pull every sweet detail together so that Julia and David could focus on saying the vows they wrote, enjoying their abundant dessert table, and soaking in every one of their first moments as husband and wife!

Thanks so much to Elisabeth Carol for sharing this lovely day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! I borrowed diamond earrings from one of my bridesmaids; they were a gift from her parents on her wedding day. My something new was my wedding dress and shoes. For something blue, I had a navy blue ribbon that matched David’s suit tied around my bouquet. Lastly, my mother surprised me with my something olds on our wedding day: a handkerchief that was handmade by my great-grandmother.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? From David: I’ll go ahead and answer this one. We did a first look mostly for my benefit. I come from a family (mostly on my mother’s side) of emotional people, and I knew that seeing my beautiful wife-to-be for the first time would be a joyous and emotional moment for me. Not that I’m afraid of shedding a tear in front of our family and friends, but I didn’t want to make everyone sit out in the Texas heat for too long while I tried to get myself back together.Our photographer, Elisabeth Carol, set me up on the front porch and had Julia come up from behind to surprise me. It was a good thing we did a first look–Julia was absolutely stunning and I’ll cherish that moment forever.

We both thought it was important to express our love for each other in our own words, and ended up writing both separate vows and joint vows. Our personal vows were more of a story of what our love means to us. In our joint vows, we thought carefully about the things we wanted to promise to each other and what we wanted our marriage to become. Our favorite line was, “I promise to take you as my only love from this day forward and to join you on our journey of adventure and wonder. I promise to challenge you and myself to every day become a better person and spouse.”

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail was having my grandfather, Larry, marry us. It was so special to hear my grandfather say the words “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” We will never forgot that special part of the day!

I have a serious sweet tooth and couldn’t decide on just one cake, so we went with a whole dessert table. It featured five different cakes and a variety of bite-sized desserts–everything was so delicious and beautiful. I almost didn’t want anyone to eat them!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. David and I met and became very close friends during high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We never dated in high school, but we remained in touch when we both went away to college–David to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and I to Boston University in Boston. David and I continued to spend time together as friends over the summer back in Minneapolis until one magical night at David’s family summer cottage, when he finally worked up the courage to kiss me. We have been together ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! A few days before Christmas, I was sitting on the couch in my pajamas when David went downstairs to get my Christmas present. David can be pretty last-minute when it comes to buying gifts, so I thought he was joking when he said he already had a gift for me. When he came upstairs, he was hiding something behind his back, and then he got down on one knee and proposed to me in our living room. We ended up keeping our engagement a secret for a few days, as we were heading home to Minnesota to be with our families for Christmas, and we wanted to tell everyone in person at once. We enlisted the help of David’s brother-in-law to gather everyone together, and when we arrived in Minnesota after a 14-hour drive through the night, we shared our news and celebrated with our families!
When did y’all get married? April 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My parents live in Minnesota, so my mom came to Dallas for a weekend of wedding dress shopping. I knew exactly what style I wanted: lace, straps, and something somewhat modest. We shopped at a few stores, but I kept going back to the same beautiful Mori Lee dress–one of the first I had tried on. After sleeping on it, we went back the next day and tried it on again. That time, my mom and I both knew it was the perfect dress for the wedding.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For our recessional, we chose “The Jurassic Park Theme Song.” This song selection was really just for the fun of it–the song and movie are a little inside joke between David and I. It was a special moment for us and definitely intrigued our guests quite a bit. We got a lot of, “Was that the Jurassic Park theme song?” during the reception.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Julia: After the ceremony, David and I were able to spend time just the two of us. It was so special to have those first few moments as husband and wife together to celebrate our love, our marriage, and our future. From David: By far the first look. A close second would be having everyone that means the most to us together for one fun night.

Photographer: Elisabeth Carol Photography / Planner: Kristyn Hall of Event Elements / Ceremony Venue: Texas Discovery Gardens / Reception Venue and Catering: The Belo Mansion / Florist: Raquel Lovern of RLove Floral Designs / Dessert Baker: Emily Allen of Cakewalk Bake Shop / Lighting: Brian Prescott of Simply Music / Band: Astounding Sounds / Calligraphy: Polished Pen Calligraphy / Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas / Bride’s Gown: Mori Lee / Hair and Makeup: Tracy Melton Artistry / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jim Hjelm / Menswear: Tommy Hilfiger

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Hannah reply

    So funny, I just photographed a different wedding where they walked out to Jurassic Park as well! It works surprisingly well! :) Beautiful wedding and best wishes for your life together!

  2. avatar Elisabeth Carol reply

    Love!! Thanks SO much for the feature! <3

  3. avatar Tracy Melton Dallas Hair Styling & Makeup Artistry | Julia’s Wedding Day reply

    […] might have seen me share that our bride Julia’s wedding day was featured on Southern Weddings Website not too long ago (on my social media – if you don’t follow along you totally […]

  4. avatar Deidre reply

    Hi! Doyou know by chance where they got the gold face for the centerpiece?

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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