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Jessica and Travis wanted their guests to feel like family, which was pretty easy for them considering their parents grew up together! Both Jessica and Travis come from long lines of Floridians, so when it came to choosing where they’d say “I do,” Jessica’s family’s orange grove was a natural choice. Especially with her sister’s beautiful yard just 100 yards away, these family properties combined to become the perfect backdrop for a classic backyard party! Under thousands of twinkle lights, hung by Jessica and her father, these two celebrated with a Southern affair complete with seersucker, shrimp and grits, and a banjo to boot! Though their celebration took place at Jessica’s family’s property, I love the way they incorporated pine branches from Travis’ family’s ranch into their decor as well–such a sweet sign of the joining of two families.

Thanks for sharing, Sarah & Ben!

My mom, sister, mother-in-law, and I went dress shopping in Winter Park, Florida. I was adamant that I did not want a strapless dress, but the romantic, illusion neckline dresses that I had coveted in the magazines were not at all flattering on me. My sister picked my dress on a whim and told me to just try it on. When I put it on, it felt perfect. The lace applique, cathedral-length train made from layers upon layers of tulle, and wispy tulle layer at the neckline made it feel like much more than just a strapless lace gown. My seamstress, however, would not believe me that I planned to go barefoot in Vera Wang–she was horrified!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Preparing for our marriage was the most important part of planning the wedding. We both felt strongly that it was important to understand our vows before we recited them to each other. Travis’ family’s pastor, who married us, offered premarital counseling as part of the preparation. He has a wonderful, soft way of giving advice.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The pine cross at our ceremony. Travis and I gathered old heart pine branches from his family’s ranch. We used a draw knife to scrape off some of the old gray exterior and expose the beautiful dark red wood, and Travis cut notches in the branches and bolted them together. Travis hung the cross from the big pine tree where the ceremony was held, and the florists decorated it with very natural arrangements that echoed the flowers in my bouquet. The process of making the cross with Travis, and bringing in natural elements from his ranch, was such a meaningful experience.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? 1 John 4-17 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. Although 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 is read at many weddings, this was especially meaningful to us. A friend of ours told Travis that if we live by the words in this scripture, we will always have a strong marriage. Before we were married, Travis printed it out, highlighted it, and put it on my refrigerator as a reminder to us both. We don’t always live by this scripture, but when we do, our bond is stronger.

We got married in my parents’ orange grove on the Indian River lagoon, where I grew up. Both of us come from a long line of multi-generational Floridian families, so we knew that we wanted to get married in Florida. When it came to picking a venue, it was an easy choice, as my family is blessed to have the perfect set up for a waterfront wedding venue. The ceremony was held under a hundred-year-old pine tree adjacent to my parents’ house. After the ceremony, the guests moved to my parents’ backyard for cocktail hour, and then to my sister’s backyard for the reception, which is conveniently only 100 yards away. My dad and I spent countless hours putting up thousands of white twinkle lights, he also hung giant white paper lanterns across my sister’s yard. My parents, sister, and brother-in-law are some of the most warm, hospitable people I know, and they helped make our wedding day truly special.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We wanted our wedding to feel like a classic, Southern, backyard party, where everyone felt like family, which was relatively easy since our parents grew up together and share many loved ones. It was dressed up, but not stuffy, which to me, is very much a Southern tradition. Of course, the seersucker, linen bow ties, and banjo didn’t hurt either.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in the Okefenokee Swamp Park in South Georgia, where we had both gathered with friends and family to support the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition–a 100-day, 1000-mile trek across Florida from the Everglades to the Okefenokee Swamp as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the need to connect and protect a green belt stretching across the state of Florida. Travis was there to support his brother, a wildlife photographer, and I was there to support a good family friend, both of whom had participated in the Expedition. Travis’ black labrador, Molly, introduced us. She sought me out as the person most likely to throw a pine cone for her to retrieve, and she didn’t leave me alone until her dad finally came looking for her. Travis now claims that he had his dog well trained. About a year later, we went on our first date. It was a romantic, rainy evening at Travis’ family cattle ranch in Limestone, Florida. It also just so happened to be the end of hunting season, so eight of Travis’ muddy, camouflage-clad hunting buddies were there to witness the magic. The rain eventually stopped, the hunting buddies actually went hunting, Travis made a campfire, and we spent time under the stars. It was the perfect beginning to our love story.
Tell us all about the proposal! The weekend before my birthday in November 2014, we had decided to camp in my backyard. Travis set up a tent and a campfire and pulled my T.V. outside so we could watch college football while eating dinner. After dinner, I went inside to put cookies in the oven, while Travis panicked and hid the ring under a napkin. When I came back, he sat there staring at me until I picked up the napkin. He got on one knee, and I cried while he proposed. His brother, sister-in-law, and their toddler got in their car and drove over with a bottle of champagne. I have no idea who won the game, and I burned the cookies, but it was a perfect night.
When did y’all get married? May 2, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 325
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No. We are both fairly traditional and we wanted the moment when I walked down the aisle to be special.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. At the ceremony, we had a string quartet, which included a banjo player to give the music a very slight, but not overwhelming, bluegrass feel. Travis and I had a great time picking out three 80s and 90s ballads for them to play while guests were being seated. I don’t know if anyone recognized Journey “Don’t Stop Believin'” or Mr. Big “To Be With You,” but we thought the idea was hilarious. My middle name is Sunshine and many people still call me that, including my parents. I surprised my dad by having the musicians play “You Are My Sunshine” for our walk down the aisle. The string quartet played it beautifully with just a hint of banjo. When my dad heard the song begin, he teared up, looked at me, and we both started singing. Several people in the crowd joined in. It was a moment that I will never forget. During the ceremony, we had everyone sing Doxology. This song always reminds me of my days at Camp Merrie-Woode, where we would sing it before Sunday supper. Travis and I walked out of the ceremony to a beautiful old hymn, “Blessed Assurance,” by Fanny J. Crosby and Phoebe P. Knapp. It’s one of my all-time favorite hymns! We had a hard time narrowing down our choices for our first dance. We both love music, so this was a big decision! We had asked Travis’ best friend, a musician named Zach Ashton, to play our first dance song, whatever it may be. He came over to our house one evening about a week before the wedding to help us select a song, and ended up playing us a song he wrote called “The Ceiling.” We both immediately knew it was the perfect choice. On our wedding day, Zach belted out the most beautiful acoustic version of his song and, thanks to him, our first dance was an amazing, surreal moment that made me wish I had decided to hire a videographer.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Neither of us really appreciate wedding cake, so we opted for blueberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream. I thought my mom was going to disown me when I told her I didn’t want a wedding cake, but she eventually decided to let me get away with this break from tradition.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Since we got married in my parents’ backyard, we had to arrange for all vendors to come to us. Merritt Island, Florida is beautiful, but it isn’t exactly close to a major metropolitan area. We had vendors from all over the state! Getting married at a private home is wonderful, but it certainly adds a lot of extra work to the planning.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Take time to remember what your wedding is really about. It is so easy to get caught up in having the perfect wedding with all the perfect details but, in the end, the perfect flowers, food, and groomsmen attire are not what you will remember. At one point during wedding planning, I became obsessed with having linen napkins in the perfect blue hue. I spent hours trying to find perfect napkins (that weren’t the price of a small wedding) until I finally realized how crazy I was acting. No one noticed that their napkins were a poly blend, but so many people told us how much they felt the love between us.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are expecting a baby in October, which I know will be the biggest adventure of our lives!

Photographer: Sarah & Ben | Planner: Kelly Hancock Event Planning | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Eau Gallie Florist | Caterer: Arthur’s Creative Events and Catering | Linens: Kate Ryan Linens | Reception Chairs and Tables: A Chair Affair | Ceremony Chairs, Stage, and Dance Floor: Kirby Rentals | Band: Derek and the Slammers | Paper Products: Decoratifs | Bride’s Gown: “Leda” by Vera Wang | Bride’s Veil: Vera Wang | Hair and Makeup: Collective Creations | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Lilly Pulitzer | Suits: Jos A. Bank | Tie and Bow Ties: High Cotton Ties | Ceremony Music: Music by Pegge

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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  1. avatar published: southern weddings » Sarah & Ben I Tampa Wedding Photographers reply

    […] Go relive every picture perfect moment (and crush on Jessica’s stunning Vera Wang gown all over again!) over on the Southern Weddings Blog! […]

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Caroline knew her beautiful lace gown was the one for her as soon as she saw it in the window of Maddison Row while she passed the store on her way home from work. She also knew right away that since one of her favorite things about weddings is how couples incorporate special touches throughout their day (us too!), it was important to her that on her own wedding day, meaningful details were woven in. One of her favorites was the ranunculus halo worn by their flower girl–it had seven individual blooms on it in memory of their seven late grandparents who weren’t physically present at their wedding. We also love the sweet favors that Caroline and her mama canned themselves, using a family friend’s pickle relish recipe. I’m sure guests loved being able to witness a new chapter in Caroline and Luke’s life, and then take home a piece of their family history!

Big hugs to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Courtney Dox for sharing this sweet day with us!

During our engagement, I was working in downtown Charleston. Every day, I would take the same route home from work, and luckily for me, Maddison Row was on that route. I loved getting stuck at the Maddison Row intersection and inching my car up as close to the storefront as possible to see the three beautifully dressed mannequins in the window. On my way home one day, I spotted my beautiful dress, pulled out my iPhone, and snapped a picture! I called and set up an appointment with my photo in hand! I tried on several dresses during my appointment, but the beautiful Monique Lhuillier I had spotted was the one!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: One of my favorite things about weddings is seeing all of the special touches incorporated throughout, so I knew that was important to me for my own wedding. One of our favorite details was the ranunculus halo worn by our flower girl in lieu of a traditional flower basket. The halo had seven individual ranunculus flowers on it in memory of our seven late grandparents who weren’t physically present for our special day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I grew up in a United Methodist Church, but my home church was too small for the wedding size we were planning, so we chose a beautiful United Methodist Church downtown for our ceremony. We chose Lowndes Grove Plantation for our reception because it is a gorgeous Charleston venue that encompassed all of the Southern charm we were looking for to make our wedding incredible!

The biggest challenge we had to overcome while planning our wedding was trying to figure out ways to maximize our budget. We had a large guest list and wanted to be able to include everyone without having to compromise on too many of the personalized touches we knew would make our wedding day so special. We quickly realized the big difference between want and need, and we were able to find a perfect balance to create an amazing day!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The entire wedding planning process helped us plan for our marriage. We learned so much about how to talk to each other during stressful times and how to peacefully resolve differences. In the end, all we wanted was for the other to be happy on that day, and we learned early on to remember that point for the duration of our marriage.

Our flowers were absolutely incredible! We really wanted vibrant pinks and corals and romantic, trailing greenery. The bouquets and arrangements included beautiful peonies, garden roses, ranunculus, and other seasonal blooms, accented with succulents, maidenhair fern, and trailing jasmine vine. The groom, groomsmen, and ring bearer boutonnieres were made of succulents, and our flower girl wore a beautiful ranunculus and greenery crown.

We couldn’t agree on a song for our first dance until one day when “Oh Girl” by The Chi-Lites came on my Pandora station, and I immediately knew it was the one! We thought it would be a perfect fit for our band and we loved the idea of a classic song that everyone in the crowd would know and could sway along to.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had a beautiful, traditional Southern wedding with the most picturesque setting and traditional Southern foods. One of my favorite Southern traditions we included was the guest favor passed at the reception–my mom and I made pear relish using a family friend’s recipe, packaged it in four ounce quilted Mason jars, and tied a tiny butcher’s twine bow around each lid. I loved the days spent in the kitchen canning with my mom to create such a heartfelt thank you to everyone who came to help us celebrate!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Luke began his pediatric residency in July 2011 at the Medical University of South Carolina, and my twin sister was working as nurse on the general pediatrics floor at the time. During his second year of residency, they were on an overnight shift and several people were chatting about significant others. Luke was asked if he was dating anyone, and when he said no, they immediately began brainstorming who they could set him up with. My sister mentioned she had a single twin sister and set us up on a blind date. We went out a few weeks later and the rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! On October 30th, 2013, I got off work early and arranged for afternoon manicures and pedicures with my sister. We went to our usual salon and had a fairly uneventful afternoon. When we got back to my house, my sister went home, and Luke was home from work, but acting suspiciously abnormal. He said he had made dinner reservations for us at one of our favorite restaurants for our weekly date night, so I went to my room to search for the perfect outfit for our night out. He came into the room and told me he’d surprised me and gone and picked up some new makeup I’d been wanting, and set it down on the dresser. He walked out of the room and I kept searching for clothes, only looking at the makeup several minutes later. When I opened the bag, there was a ring box inside and I yelled, “WHAT IS THIS?!” I quickly ran down the hallway to the living room, where Luke was waiting for me on one knee! I was so shocked, I threw the ring box at him, which he immediately opened and asked me to marry him! Of course, I said “YES!” to a man who not only knows what kind of makeup I wear, but also picks up hints that I’d been wanting new products and successfully surprised me with them!
When did y’all get married? May 23, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175-200
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? I absolutely love first look photos in wedding albums. The expressions and emotions are so genuine, and the excitement of the big day is captured forever! It was so hard for me not to want that moment captured for us, but we both strongly felt that we wanted our first reveal to be when I came down the aisle. I wanted the moment to be so pure that I even decided against bridal portraits, so my first time in my gown was on our wedding day.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we wanted to preserve the tradition of a United Methodist wedding and recited vows from the United Methodist Book of Worship.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Of course! My twin sister lent me her monogrammed handkerchief from her wedding two years prior. My paternal grandmother was the donor of something old, giving me her antique gold bangle bracelet to wear. My maternal grandmother passed 10 years prior to my wedding, but was there in spirit for my something blue, which was pale blue fabric from her wedding attire wrapped in lace from my wedding dress and wrapped around my bouquet. I considered my beautiful dress my something new!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We made decisions to select less expensive furniture options in some places, selectively place linens around the venue to provide optimal effect, and made other similar choices that would allow us to save small amounts across varying aspects of our wedding, adding up to bigger savings.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Right now, we are just loving married life and building our life together! We want to see the seven wonders of the modern world and are looking forward to a little traveling before starting a family. We saw Chichen-Itza on our honeymoon and can’t wait for our next adventure!

Photographer: Courtney Dox / Planner: Ashley Wez of Boutique Planning / Ceremony Venue: Bethel United Methodist Church / Reception Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation / Florist: SYG Designs / Cake Baker: Jim Smeal Cakes / Rentals: Snyder Event Rentals and EventHaus / Lighting: Technical Event Company / Band: Heart to Heart / Paper Products: Studio R Design / Bride’s Gown: Monique Lhuillier / Bride’s Accessories: Vera Wang / Hair Stylist: Christine Pointek of Allure Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Lula Kate / Groom’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Event Design: JLV Creative / Transportation: ACW Limo and Absolutely Charleston / Linens: Nuage Designs

Courtney Dox and LulaKate are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    SO beautiful!! They are such a gorgeous couple, and that is a reception after my own heart–biggest heart eyes for that gray and white checkered dance floor and striped cake!

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I adore seeing couples who really have a blast on their wedding days! When your bridesmaids are laughing in matching heart-shaped sunglasses and you’re dancing your way into the first few minutes of married life with a second line, followed by excited guests waving hankies, it’s no wonder that it looks like Katie and Tim grinned from ear to ear all day long. While weddings can be stressful, they are ultimately happy occasions, and Katie and Tim certainly seem to have had an incredible time on their special day!

Thanks to Glass Jar Photography for capturing their fun celebration!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I loved the way all of the colors came together. My mom made bracelets for the bridesmaids that matched the groomsmen’s ties perfectly. I also had everyone wear heart-shaped sunglasses in the same coral colors as the dresses–it was so much fun!

I knew I wanted Vera Wang dress. Being a fashion designer, I’ve been admiring her style and interesting fabric and detail combinations for years! I went to one bridal salon, Big Rock Bridal in Columbus, and tried on about 15 dresses. The sample they had for the one I ended up getting was really worn and about 10 sizes too big, but I knew I loved it!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We wanted to have everything outside. We love the charm and character of the French Quarter and wanted all of our guests to experience it as well! We felt that the lush gardens provided a great ambiance, without us having to pay for a lot of extra decor.

We had a second line with an amazing brass band, Kinfolk. Most of our guests were from up north or the East and West Coasts, so they had never experienced anything like it before! We also included Zapp’s potato chips and Mardi Gras beads in our favor bags.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our wedding planner, Sarah Worsley of Mint Julep Productions! Sarah was amazing and totally understood the vibe we were going for. She helped pick out almost all of our vendors, and they all hit it out of the park. She is a native of New Orleans and taught us so much about Southern weddings. We would have been lost without her!

I was really inspired by the idea of an overgrown wild garden. I knew I wanted our flowers to have an eclectic feel with bright pops of color, and I wanted them to emulate the fun vibe of the South. I was thrilled with how the florist took my inspiration and created such beautiful arrangements!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to “La Vie en Rose,” played by a brass band. It felt very romantic and New Orleans. The seven-person band, Groovy 7, did all live music at the reception–we knew we could not have a wedding in New Orleans without live music! Out first dance was to “At Last” by Etta James. We wanted something classic, and it’s one of my favorite songs. We did our father-daugher and mother-son dance together to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. My good friend, Liz, shared my MySpace page with Tim while I was preparing for my move to NYC. Tim was intrigued, and we met in New York two months later in fall 2006. We were friends for four years before starting to date, and we have been together for five years.
Tell us all about the proposal! Tim planned a romantic weekend in Cinncinati, Ohio for us in March 2014. When we arrived at the hotel, I read the note on the dresser next to the flowers. It said “Occasion: engaged,” so I knew what was up before actually getting proposed to! We hung out around town, and I waited all day for Tim to propose. Right before dinner in our hotel room, he finally popped the question! I cried with joy, even though I knew it was coming, and we celebrated with a late dinner and drinks.
When did y’all get married? April 17, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
Describe your wedding cake and dessert. Since I wanted the colors of the flowers to flow throughout the venue, I knew I wanted real flowers on the cake. To keep it from looking too overwhelming and taking away from the beauty, I chose simple, off-white frosting, and let the flowers be the focus. My husband cannot eat gluten, so the top tier was gluten-free. The inside of the cake had a layer of white almond wedding cake with wild strawberry buttercream. We also had strawberry and vanilla macarons covered in gold glitter, traditional New Orleans croquembouche, chocolate-covered strawberries, and a bananas foster station! We loved the drama of lighting the dessert on fire.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! My dress was new, my underwear was blue, and I borrowed Tim’s great-grandmother’s Claddagh rings.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? My biggest challenge was following my instincts and taking everything people said with a grain of salt. Everyone has advice, but in the end, you need to be true to your own style and spirit.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Our food was buffet-style, and we did not have assigned seating, so we did not have to spend money on escort cards. We had the reception at a restaurant, Broussard’s, so we were able to use their tables, plates, tablecloths, and chairs, instead of renting our own. We also picked a venue that was outside and had a beautiful garden, so we did not have to go overboard with flowers.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We love to travel and went on our honeymoon to Thailand. Hopefully, there are more exotic trips in the future. We also just adopted a puppy on our one-month wedding anniversary, and her name is Nola (short for New Orleans!). We are enjoying being puppy parents! We are also starting to look for a home to buy in Columbus!

Photographer: Glass Jar Photography / Planner: Sarah Worsley of Mint Julep Productions / Ceremony Venue: Hermann-Grima House / Reception Venue and Caterer: Broussard’s / Florist: Arbor House / Baker: Melissa’s Fine Pastries / Band: Groovy 7 and Kinfolk Brass Band / Paper Products: Hartland Brooklyn / Bride’s Gown: Vera Wang / Bride’s Jewelry: BHLDN / Hair and Makeup: Flawless Bride / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses and Menswear: J. Crew / Groom’s Shoes: Allen Edmond’s Shoes / Ties: Stag Handmade / Gift Bags: Map Tote / Signage: Small Chalk / Wedding Map and Guest Book: Cedar Workshop / Bride’s Heart-Shaped Glasses: Shadey Rose / Custom Koozies: Christine Meahan

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Yours Truly Wedding Albums reply

    Breathtaking images! What a gorgeous wedding!

  2. avatar Lindsay Colvin reply

    Her dress is so unique, love the back!

  3. avatar Connie Cutting-Champine reply

    Katie and Tims wedding was beautiful. It was a fun, elegant, sophisticated wedding. It was a wonderful and exciting time. People in town lined the streets as we danced down them waving.

  4. avatar Wedding Photographer Cebu reply

    That is just gorgeous. Love the theme.

  5. avatar Wedding DJ reply

    One of my favorite weddings to DJ was in the Big Easy. This total brought me back! Cafe du Monde would have topped it off. :) Thanks for sharing

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