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With a love for the mountains and fond memories of Charlottesville, Lauren and Andrew chose to celebrate their wedding in her home state of Virginia. After a whirlwind tour of venues, they settled on a beautiful backdrop of rolling hills at The Market at Grelen. A six-month engagement meant a spring date for their celebration and a venue in full bloom, so Andrew and Lauren worked with their florist to accentuate the already lovely landscape with local flowers. So local, in fact, that the magnolia blooms in Lauren’s bouquet were plucked from the magnolia trees that line the road leading to their venue! Continuing to play off the beauty of Virginia, their clear tent was the perfect place to top off their lovely day with dancing under the stars.

Thanks to Sera Petras for capturing Lauren and Andrew’s dreamy day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my wedding dress on the first day of “the search,” which was quite the outcome considering, like any good Southern woman, I can sometimes take my time making big decisions! Since Andrew and I were engaged over Thanksgiving and wanted a spring wedding in Virginia, I only had six months to plan everything. When I learned that some women give themselves a full six months to find their wedding dress alone, I started to internally panic! The pressure was on, but I tried to keep it at bay and enjoy our new engagement until January, when my future mother-in-law (thankfully!) decided to help kick-start my dress search by making a couple of appointments at boutiques that her daughter had visited a few years before. I fell in love with the lace on a gown at the first boutique we visited, but decided to give the second boutique a try. After trying on a few more dresses, I came out in one that I felt really pretty in–and the looks on my friend and mother-in-law’s faces sealed the deal. When I looked in the mirror, I knew I had found the dress I wanted to get married in–I only wished that my mother, who lived in Virginia, had been there there to witness the moment. We took plenty of photos and video for her! I also had my dress customized, replacing some rhinestones in the center of the magnolia flowers on the back with pearls.

Our wedding flowers were dreamy. We were very lucky to have our wedding on a beautiful hilltop venue that was in full bloom to begin with, so we were far from working with a blank slate. I worked with our amazing florist, Whimsical Floral, to design a floral spread that complimented and accentuated the venue with flowers that were local to Virginia and also went with the springtime color story I had envisioned: soft pinks, greens, and shades of white. I really wanted to incorporate magnolias into our wedding flowers, as an ode to my memory of growing up with two giant magnolia trees in my yard, and the trees started flowering about a week before our wedding. In fact, the road leading up to the venue was lined with magnolia trees in full bloom, and my florist was able to sneak a fresh magnolia bloom from one of those trees into my bouquet, which made me happy as a clam. She also picked fresh pink peonies right from our venue’s peony field and incorporated some other gorgeous pinks and whites into my and the bridesmaids’ bouquets. Our centerpieces were a mix of gold pedestal bowls filled with mixed greens, pink and white honeysuckle, peonies, hydrangea, mock orange, and magnolia leaves with magnolia blossoms. We also had a hanging centerpiece over the head table, covered in peonies and magnolia leaves and blooms. One of my favorite parts of the wedding was creating a vision for the flowers!

We exchanged the traditional wedding vows and also shared some personal sentiments with each other during the ceremony. The ceremony felt exponentially more special because we were able to share such personal thoughts about each other in front of all of our family and close friends.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I would say that our wedding was definitely Southern, from having an outdoor wedding with a magnolia theme, to our officiant’s very charming Virginia accent! I couldn’t imagine wearing anything but pearls on my wedding day. Our Southern signature cocktail was bourbon-based (we buried a bottle of bourbon in spirit since we lived out of state at that time!), and we chose a Southern-leaning local menu, including truffle mac and cheese, cornbread, and sauces galore, buffet-style so our guests could get up and mingle with each other at their leisure. I also surprised Andrew with a life-sized basketball groom’s cake (he played in college) at the rehearsal dinner–he is from New England, so he was completely taken aback by this fun Southern tradition!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We lived in Boston, but decided to get married in my home state of Virginia, in the beautiful rolling hills near UVA, where I went to college. We both love the mountains and had made some fun memories together in Charlottesville, so we took a whirlwind tour of several venues in the area about a month after we were engaged. We had such a great feeling after visiting the Market at Grelen and meeting Sarah, and the fact that we could have our wedding the Saturday of Memorial Day (we wanted a long weekend so our guests could enjoy the area) sealed the deal. We really wanted a spring wedding (spring in Virginia is so special) and we were enamored with the venue’s surroundings and natural beauty. Our venue felt sophisticated, but unpretentious; it was a perfect blend of the outdoor elements with indoor comforts (inside the tent). We also loved that we were able to have our ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception in three completely separate spaces, each with their own unique look and feel, but all within close proximity. The flow of the evening and the spaces felt very organic, with each location getting a little more spectacular leading up to the reception tent. The clear top (and sides) tent was also a big selling factor–it allowed us to feel like we were outside while we were still protected from the elements. We had a spectacular sunset and we danced under the sunset and stars–it was magical.

Our wedding cake was three layers, consisting of lemon and white cake with white frosting. My favorite part of the cake was the fondant magnolia blooms–our baker did a spectacular job of making them look true to life. We also had our new monogram on the top layer, which was a nice personal touch. A close friend of mine, Cakes by Colleen, makes beautiful mini cakes, and I had her make three different flavors (almond, red velvet, and chocolate) to add another dessert option for our guests. In addition, we had a fire pit with a s’mores station outside the tent for our guests to enjoy while sitting under the stars.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. In a not-so-traditional way: Tinder! The app was brand new and we were both out of the typical “Tinder generation” and in our early/mid 30’s, but out of curiosity, we thought we’d give it a go. Andrew was traveling a lot when we first “matched,” so it took a couple of tries to line up our first date, but what I remember about that first night (besides it being one of the chilliest December nights in Boston I can remember) is that Andrew was all smiles, and he laughed at all of my dorky jokes. He didn’t even give me a hard time for being late to what turned out to be a very important date! Two weeks after we met, I went on a trip to Kenya for two weeks; when I told him I would be photographing school kids in Nairobi, he sent me with a suitcase full of brand new running shoes from the company he worked for to give to them. The whole experience melted my heart. We stayed in touch over WhatsApp daily while I was away, and when I returned, we spent an entire weekend together instead of catching up with friends. That’s when I knew we had something really special.
Tell us all about the proposal! The proposal came as a complete surprise to me! Though we had lived together for six months and had talked about the longer term plan to get married, we had not talked timing as far as getting engaged. I was a bit surprised when he said he wanted to treat me to a nice dinner out at our favorite restaurant in Cambridge, Craigie on Main, the night before Thanksgiving. However, he said he owed me a nice meal because he had been out of town for the past week for work, so I gladly agreed to his fancy idea. Completely unaware of his master plan, I even had him push back the reservation an hour so we could meet a few of our friends for drinks in Boston before dinner! Looking back on it, I can’t believe how many road blocks I unknowingly created for him that day–patience is one of his greatest virtues. We enjoyed our entire meal in the corner booth where we sat for our very first Valentine’s Day, and after our last course, he started talking about how wonderful the past two years had been, how he couldn’t wait for our future together, and that he had a little present for me. That’s when he took out a little blue box. I was so shocked, I couldn’t stop saying, “Are you serious? Is this happening right now??” It was an evening I’ll never forget. The chef sent out a beautiful congratulatory dessert and champagne and the table beside us took pictures. After all of the excitement at Craigie, we went home, popped another bottle of bubbly, called all of our family and friends (my dad knew because Andrew had asked for his blessing) and danced the night away to Bruce Springsteen (Andrew’s favorite) in our apartment. The next day, we shared the great news with his family in person in Rhode Island. It was a Thanksgiving to remember.
When did y’all get married? May 28, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 145
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided to do a first look after a close friend told us that it was the best decision they made for their wedding day. We were hesitant at first because we always imagined seeing each other for the first time when I was walking down the aisle, but the first look was so special because we got to embrace each other right away and spend a few moments saying what first came to our minds–something we could not have done by seeing each other at the altar for the first time. The joy we felt was beyond measure, and it took away some of the pre-ceremony nerves so that walking down the aisle was filled with even more excitement. It also helped to get through some of our tears (of joy!) out before the ceremony so that we could keep it together for our vows.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Although we hired a DJ for most of our reception music, our first dance was performed by Andrew’s brother-in-law, professional musician Will Evans. “Life is Just a Photograph” is one of our longtime favorite songs written by Will, and it speaks to lifelong love and commitment. It was very special and emotional to have one of our close family members perform this song live as we danced together for the first time as a married couple.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was planning a wedding from afar in less than six months, while also working full-time and planning/managing a cross-country move. Needless to say, we did not have much downtime in the months leading up to the wedding! Thankfully we caught up on sleep when we got to California.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Music is very important to Andrew especially, and we went with a DJ over a live band to cut costs; however, with a live performance for our first dance and the harpist at our ceremony, we were able to get the feeling of live music without a band’s price tag.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Divide and conquer! For the creative, planner-type brides like me, one piece of advice: it does not make you any less of a bride to hand off tasks to your groom. In fact, you will breathe easier by doing so and he will probably enjoy helping you out and having input over certain aspects! I waited longer than I should have to realize this :) Enjoy your engagement and set some sacred time aside each day for just the two of you, when there is no mention of the wedding planning. Prepare for your marriage, and talk about your mutual goals and aspirations.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are very excited about this new adventure we’ve embarked on in California! We are both East Coasters, so this has been a major move for us, but we truly feel it is a unique opportunity to build a strong foundation for the rest of our married lives. Wherever we go, we have each other–and at the end of the day, that’s all we really need.

Photographer: Sera Petras Photography | Videographer: Joygaba Photo | Planner: Two Byrds Events and Design | Day-Of Coordinators: Colleen McCabe and Helen Osinga | Venue: The Market at Grelen | Florist: Whimsical Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Pao Cakes and Cakes by Colleen | Caterer: The Local Restaurant and Catering | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: Frank Smith via Prime Time Sound & DJ Services | Harpist: Kristen Eye | Decor: A Grand Affair Events | Paper Products: Lattice Tree Studio | Bride’s Gown: “Selena” by Watters | Bridal Salon: Cristina’s Bridal | Bride’s Veil: Tiffanys Bridal | Hair and Makeup: Emily Hair & Makeup Artistry | Bride’s Shoes: “Lesta Slingback” by Anne Klein | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Long Tulle Convertible Versa” in Petal by David’s Bridal | Menswear: J. Crew

The Market at Grelen is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Sera Petras reply

    Thank you for featuring this lovely spring wedding! It was such a dream to photograph! I am always thrilled to see my couples on Southern Weddings!

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While details and decor can help set the tone for your wedding day, nothing quite compares to the venue. There is not just the location to consider, but amenities, occupancy, and so much more. Like my husband and I when we were wedding planning, Catye and Trey found choosing the right fit for their reception to be a bit of a challenge. However, after just seeing renderings of The Carriage House, they knew it was the place for them to celebrate their marriage! I think they were absolutely right in their choice–the lovely Carriage House was the perfect backdrop for a romantic celebration filled with friends, family, and absolutely beautiful blooms from Without Wax, Katy.

Thanks to Mustard Seed Photography for sharing this sweet day with us!

I always envisioned myself in something more form-fitting and lace, but, to my surprise, I ended up with a Jim Hjelm dress that was somewhat voluminous and not at all what I had expected. The second I stepped into it, I knew it was the dress for me. I just felt like such a bride and could not imagine walking down the aisle in anything else. I also had a Watters dress for the reception. I had seen the Watters Santina dress all over Pinterest and was dreaming about it, but wasn’t quite sure if it was right for my wedding. When I was trying on dresses at Town and Country in New Orleans, I saw that they had the Watters gown and I just had to try it on! The second it was on my body, I knew that I had to fit it somewhere into my big day, so I decided to wear it to the reception as a lighter and more flowy option. It ended up being so comfortable to dance in and a perfect fit for our wedding day.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows, but chose to keep with the traditional vows. We chose instead to include our personal touch with the songs we chose and readings we had.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The worship band from our church, which is made up of a bunch of our friends, played the music at our ceremony and it was absolutely beautiful! The song that they played as I walked down the aisle, “Beloved” by Tenth Avenue North, actually brought me to tears. Such a beautiful song that was made even more lovely by their talented voices.

The main reading of our wedding was an excerpt from Donald Miller’s book “Blue Like Jazz.” It read, “I will give you this, my love, and I will not bargain or barter any longer. I will love you, as sure as He has loved me. I will discover what I can discover and though you remain a mystery, save God’s own knowledge, what I disclose of you I will keep in the warmest chamber of my heart, the very chamber where God has stowed Himself in me. And I will do this to my death, and to death it may bring me. I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again. God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We chose the ceremony venue (The Woodlands United Methodist Church) because we belong to a Methodist church in the area; however, we currently have services out of an elementary school. By using another local Methodist church, we were able to have our church pastor marry us. When it came to the venue, we had a very difficult time finding the right one. I went into the process knowing I wanted something a little more rustic, but nothing I found seemed to be the right fit. After what seemed like months of looking (but was probably only a week or two), I stumbled across The Carriage House. It was not even open yet, but the renderings made it look absolutely beautiful. The second I saw it, I could envision exactly what our wedding would look like. It definitely felt right.

We chose to go with farmhouse tables at our reception, and combined with the cross back chairs and beautiful floral arrangements, they brought out the beautiful Southern charm of our farmhouse venue. We also served hibiscus lemonade and tea at our cocktail hour, which ended up being the perfect refreshments for a hot August day in Texas.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Allie Ruth of Allie Ruth Designs. We originally hired her just to do our invitations (which were absolutely stunning!), but she ended up designing many of the elements that became an integral part of our wedding, including napkins and signs. One of my favorite elements of the wedding that Allie helped with was the design of the menus. Our planner found some beautiful dip-dyed blush napkins and then Allie designed a menu stamp that we were able to actually stamp directly onto the napkins. All of Allie’s design pulled our wedding together beautifully and made everything feel cohesive.

The dessert table was everything I could have imagined and more! I was so lucky that Jennifer (my wedding planner) pointed me in the direction of Kristina Guilbeau of Buttercup Bakery. She designs and makes the most gorgeous cakes. We ended up going with three smaller cakes instead of one large wedding cake. Our main cake ended up being a banana cake with peanut butter mousse and a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. So delicious! On the two smaller cakes, we went with one traditional white cake with fruit and then a chocolate cake with espresso mousse. We figured that with all the options, everyone would be happy! In addition to the cakes, we decided to give our guests a variety of pies to choose from. Kristina made us a beautiful spread of mini pies in an assortment of flavors. I honestly believe that the pies were Trey’s absolute favorite part of the evening. The dessert table in general was one of the most beautiful elements of the wedding.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Trey and I planned for our marriage in multiple ways. First, we went through premarital counseling with the pastor of our church, covering a variety of tough topics that he believed were important to discuss before marriage. We also chose to work our way through a marriage book before the wedding. This book helped us to talk about a variety of topics that we had never talked about before and start thinking more about what married life would look like for us.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Trey and I met at a CrossFit gym called CrossFit Town Center. I had been going to the gym for a few months when in walked this handsome man. I was immediately drawn to his smile and sense of humor. I knew he was the one for me! After a few months of hanging out as friends, Trey finally worked up the courage to ask me out on a date (while we were running a cool down lap at the gym, no less). The rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! Two weeks before the proposal, Trey suggested that we go out to dinner at our favorite restaurant for a fun night out. Trey seemed a little off throughout dinner, but I didn’t think anything of it. After dinner, he told me that we needed to stop at our CrossFit gym to lock up. When we walked into the gym, I saw that candles were lit and there were roses everywhere. There was also a slideshow playing of all of our memories together. I couldn’t tell you what was said, but I know it was a magical moment. After the proposal, we headed to a nearby bar and I was shocked to see all of our closest friends and family gathered to celebrate. It was truly a beautiful evening!
When did y’all get married? August 1, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 280
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We chose not to do a first look. Both of us had always imagined that the first time we saw each other would be the second the church doors opened. We were very happy with our decision to keep with tradition in this regard.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? More than $100,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? It is easy to say this now, but truly don’t sweat the small stuff, and always stay focused on the end goal: to marry the love of your life. I have seen so many brides get caught up in trivial things and it ends up putting a strain on their relationship. Focus on the end goal and everything else seems to pale in comparison.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We already took the next big step of buying a house together, and now, we are looking forward to our one-year anniversary that we are going to be spending together in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. All three of these places are places we have never been, so we are excited to travel and experience them together.

Photographer: Mustard Seed Photography | Videographer: 31 Films | Planner: Jennifer Laura Design | Ceremony Venue: The Woodlands United Methodist Church | Reception Venue: The Carriage House | Florist: Without Wax Katy | Cake and Dessert Baker: Buttercup Bakery | Caterer: Rosemary’s Catering | Rentals: POSH Couture Rentals | Band: Royal Dukes Band | Paper Products: Allie Ruth Design | Bride’s Gowns: Jim Hjelm and “Santina” by Watters | Bride’s Hair Accessories: Twigs and Honey | Hair Stylist: Salon Bugatti | Makeup Artist: Jennifer Aronson Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” by Jenny Yoo | Menswear: Jos A. Bank and The Tie Bar

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    So sweet and charming! Love the bridesmaid dresses!

  2. avatar Southern Peach Summer Wedding Palette | Hey Wedding Lady reply

    […] Photo by Mustard Seed Photography, Floral Design by Without Wax Katy, Bridesmaid Dresses by Jenny Yoo via Southern Weddings […]

  3. avatar Amanda Purvis reply

    I can’t seem to find a website for Allie Ruth Designs or any contact information for her. Can you share more details?

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After reading hundreds of real wedding interviews as an editor here at Southern Weddings, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my own wedding day would feel like. But, from the moment I woke up on May 2, 2015, all of my expectations were blown out of the water in the sweetest, best way. The entire day felt like a dream–not because every detail turned out perfectly or every second of our timeline was followed to a tee (neither was the case!), but because after a journey that spanned five years, three states, and two countries, I got to marry my best friend in the world, surrounded by the people I love more than anything. I was so honored and humbled to share my and Dave’s wedding day with y’all in V8, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading a little bit more about the heart behind our inspiration and the details we included below!

I am forever grateful to Ryan Ray for capturing our day so beautifully on film. These images take me right back, and I can think of no greater gift than that!

I was SO nervous about dress shopping—I love bridal fashion, and knew I wanted a dress that I had never seen before (easier said than done for this wedding magazine editor!). I only had one weekend to shop with my mom and sisters, so we scheduled four appointments in Houston, the first being at Joan Pillow, where they were having a trunk show for my favorite designer, Monique Lhuillier. My dress ended up being the second one I tried on, and while I loved it right away, I still wanted to see what else was out there. I went to two other appointments and tried on lots of beautiful options, but ended up comparing every other dress to the Monique Lhuillier. By the time we went back to Joan Pillow the next day, I could hardly wait to get into my dress (technically, a top and skirt combo!), and when I had it on, it just made me happy. I loved the combination of lace and tulle, and the alternating raw and horsehair-edged tiers on the skirt were so unique and special. I now can’t picture our wedding without it, and it was one of my very favorite details of the day!

One of the best decisions I made for the wedding was asking Kelly Perry of Philosophy Flowers to create the bouquets, boutonnieres, and ceremony flowers. She was a dream to work with, and the arrangements she created were perfect. Pink peonies were the first flowers Dave ever gave me when we started dating, so they’re extra special to both of us, and I dreamed of including both peonies and dogwoods in my wedding flowers. When the dogwoods began to bloom a month early, I was heartbroken that they wouldn’t make it to May. Kelly told me not to worry, and I still have no idea how she did it, but sure enough, she made it happen in a bigger way than I had ever imagined! She included so many gorgeous spring flowers, including peonies and dogwoods, in all of the bouquets, and every time I smell my favorite peonies now, it brings me back to that day.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something new was my dress, and my something old was a beautiful embroidered handkerchief that had belonged to Dave’s grandmother. My something blue was my favorite! On her way to the wedding from Austin, my sister picked a few blue bonnets, and snuck them up to North Carolina in a water bottle. I tucked them into the back of my bouquet, and they made me so happy! It was really sweet to have a little piece of my home state with me all day, especially since we weren’t getting married in Texas.

What did the groom and groomsmen wear? Our number one priority for the gents was great fit. Dave chose a navy blue suit from J. Crew, and his groomsmen wore similar navy J. Crew pants that were a bit less expensive. Our dads wore navy suits from J. Crew Factory, so we technically had three slightly different J. Crew navies on the guys, but you could hardly tell, and it was great to ask everyone to pay a price they were comfortable with. As his gift to them, Dave bought all of the guys white shirts from Brooks Brothers and had the cuffs monogrammed in navy thread. They all looked so handsome, and we got multiple comments from the guys about how much they loved their outfits!
Did you include any Southern traditions in your wedding? Dave buried a bottle of bourbon at our first look location a month before the wedding, and then dug it up the morning of the wedding with his groomsmen—we credit this, plus lots of prayer, for our beautiful weather!

Did you do a first look? We did—we are admittedly both criers, and thought seeing each other before the ceremony would help us hold it together during my walk down the aisle! Even though we did a first look, we chose not to do any family or bridal party portraits during that time. It was an intimate time for just for the two of us to pray, rejoice, and thank God for the blessing of that day.

We had a traditional Catholic Mass ceremony, and it was perfect for us in every way. We spent a lot of time during our engagement praying about and preparing our ceremony so that it would truly reflect how important our faith is to us and how deeply we value the sacrament of marriage. Having our priest, Father Edward Wolanski, marry us was a huge blessing—he knows us and our story well, and did the most incredible job expressing the beauty of sacramental marriage throughout the ceremony. We were so honored that the reverence of our ceremony was the number one thing our guests commented on—God is the most important part of our lives and our marriage, and we are so happy our guests were able to recognize that on our wedding day.

We like to joke that Dave is a country boy from New York and I’m a city girl from Texas. Balancing urban and rustic is something we find ourselves doing in our day-to-day lives, and choosing just one aesthetic for our wedding didn’t seem like it would reflect us accurately enough. I love that we gave our guests a taste of downtown Raleigh through our ceremony—the church is right in the heart of the city, a block away from the state capitol. The tailored, elegant styling at our reception carried that feel throughout the day, but the reception setting provided plenty of Southern pastoral loveliness, from the gardens around Fearrington, to the barn venue, to the black and white Belted Galloway cows grazing in a field just a few yards from the party!

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? Our guests gathered in the courtyard outside of the barn before the reception, and enjoyed our two passed hors d’oeurves (a mini BLT and a potato fritter with truffle crème fraiche), our two signature cocktails (a cucumber gin and tonic and a spiked sweet tea and lemonade), and a display of local cheeses (the one thing my Wisconsin-born and bred dad insisted on!). We also served wine and a selection of four beers, including three that were brewed in North Carolina. In the meantime, Dave and I had some champagne with our bridal party and families in the Fearrington Garden House, took family and bridal party pictures, took portraits of the two of us, and then relaxed alone together. We loved how much time we got alone together on our wedding day to soak in the moments—both during our car ride from the ceremony to the reception, and at the end of cocktail hour!

I had always wanted to be married in the spring—I think it’s the most romantic season, and all my favorite flowers are in bloom! We chose May 2 because it was the Saturday before a Catholic feast day that is meaningful to us. Choosing which state to get married in was one of our hardest decisions, since I’m from Virginia and my family lives in Texas, and Dave is from New York. We settled on our new state of North Carolina because we wanted to be married by our priest and at our parish, Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. It’s so beautiful and intimate, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t picture our future wedding the first time we set foot inside together while we were dating. We chose Fearrington for our reception because I wanted an indoor venue that was surrounded by beautiful outdoor space for portraits. There are lots of fantastic indoor venues in the Triangle, but Fearrington was the only place that checked off both of my must-haves. The vibe there is also a lovely combination of European and Southern, which nodded to both the place where we met and the place we now call home!

Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: We splurged on beautiful white draping and twinkle lights on the ceiling to make the room feel a little bit magical. Our long guest tables were covered in white linens with gray and white ticking stripe runners, handmade by my mom. Running down the tables were alternating gray and white taper candles in mismatched silver candlesticks we had collected, and silver julep cup-sized floral arrangements in pale blushes and whites with greenery that trailed onto the tables. At each place setting was a gray napkin and a crisp white menu that featured our new married monogram. Dave and I sat at a sweetheart table covered in a sparkly white linen, in white chiavari chairs decorated with garlands. Our black and white checkered dance floor was one detail my mom insisted on, and we’re so glad she did—it made the room! Our cake was displayed on a round table covered with a white, sparkly linen, and placed on a silver cake stand. We also had a dessert display that featured four of our favorite treats, arranged on all different white cake stands. Finally, we had a table for our family photo display, where we included wedding pictures of our parents, grandparents, and Dave’s siblings. That table also held our “guest book” cards—postcards from Texas (my home state), New York (Dave’s home state), and North Carolina (where our wedding was held), where our guests could write their prayers, wishes, and advice for our marriage.

Our reception was so much fun! I really wanted to dance a LOT, and am so glad that that’s exactly what I did. Dave and I started the reception with our first dance as soon as we entered. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, listened to sweet toasts from my sisters and Dave’s best man, and cut into our delicious cake. Then, my dad and I did our father-daughter dance to “Little Miss Magic” by Jimmy Buffett—he raised my siblings and me on Jimmy Buffett music, and I couldn’t imagine having our dance to anything else. He sang the whole thing in my ear, and kept me posted when my mom and sisters started bawling! Next up, Dave and his mom danced to “Say a Little Prayer for You,” which transitioned into a polka to open the dance floor! Wedding polkas are a Kirk family tradition, and since both of our families share Polish heritage, it got everyone out there! I stayed on the dance floor for most of the night, breaking only to show my Grandma her and my Grandpa’s wedding picture in our family photo display, and to sneak a few bites of our wedding cake!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. The first time Dave and I saw each other was in January 2010 while studying abroad from Franciscan University in the Sound of Music-esque little town of Gaming, Austria. Dave had already spent the fall semester there, and was an RA for the spring, so my very first memory of Dave was that he was the handsome RA. I was a little bit excited when I was assigned to his small group to learn about things like which Austrian cleaning material was which! We officially met about a month or so later, in the cafeteria. He sat down next to me at dinner with some mutual friends, and after asking me where I was from, we found out that one of my high school friends (side note: I went to high school in Qatar) was one of his best friends. A few weeks later, we connected immediately while in Italy with a bunch of friends, and were inseparable for the rest of the semester. We made some amazing memories in Europe as friends over the next few months, but after the semester ended, I transferred schools and we didn’t keep in touch. We never stopped thinking about each other though, and three years (and a lot of growing up) later, we reconnected at the perfect time in both of our lives. We knew within a week of talking again that this was it, and Dave proposed ten months later!
Tell us about the proposal! Dave flew to North Carolina to celebrate with me at my very first Southern Weddings launch party. A few hours into the party, while I was mingling and chatting with guests, Dave told me he had a letter from my mom that she wanted me to read in private. I reluctantly agreed to go with him “in just ten more minutes,” while unbeknownst to me at the time, the rest of the SW gals were trying to cut off all my conversations! Finally, I agreed to follow Dave out of the ballroom and down the hall of The Carolina Inn to the Sun Room, where he claimed his coat was being kept. There, he gave me a letter and I sat down on the couch to read it. The first line was the answer to a promise I had made my mom when I was 7, telling her I’d never agree to a proposal without calling her and asking if it was okay first! Dave had me stand, told me the sweetest things, and then got on one knee and asked me to marry him. After a few minutes of relishing in the joy of the moment, I asked Dave what to do now—should we call our parents? Go back to the party? Should I hide the ring? He told me to “leave it on and see who notices,” which I thought was strange, but I went with it. As soon as we stepped back into the ballroom, Lara grabbed the mic to announce our engagement, and confetti filled the air. Dave pulled me onto the dance floor for a dance to our song, played by the live bluegrass band, and then we spent the rest of the night Facetiming family and friends from the hallway. It was a magical day!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Joyful, sacred, and sweet
How many guests attended your wedding? 130
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We walked back up the aisle to the Wedding March, which my parents had also used at their wedding. I wasn’t even considering it at first, but knew we had to use it when our music director played it during our meeting and I burst into tears picturing that moment! Hearing it on the organ as we exited the church, mixing with the bells chiming outside, was completely surreal.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Lisa: While our first look, walking down the aisle, and saying our vows were all incredible, memorable moments, the one that stands out the most for both of us is one we hadn’t planned or anticipated. After the last song of the night, our DJ sent all of our guests outside to get ready for our sparkler exit. I was standing at the edge of the dance floor alone, trying to take in everything just one more time, when our DJ began to play “La Vie en Rose” over the speakers. Before I knew what was happening, my new husband pulled me onto the dance floor and held me close while we had one more dance. We held each other and cried grateful tears and said “We’re so lucky” over and over again. We’ve played that song just a few times since that day and danced in our apartment, and every time, when I close my eyes, I’m right back there in that perfect moment. Dave: Our last dance. Everyone was lining up for the sparkler exit outside, and the DJ unexpectedly played one last song, “La Vie en Rose.” Lisa and I just held each other and soaked in every last second of what was the most incredible day of our lives.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. Our first dance song was a given to us: “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. We bonded over our love for the song early in our dating days, and it has seemed to follow us everywhere! We’ve danced to it at a honky-tonk in Austin, an Irish pub in Syracuse, behind the trees at an outdoor bluegrass show in North Carolina, and now, at our wedding. That said, we barely practiced for our first dance, and never got around to scheduling the dance lessons we had wanted to take. Our first dance was far from the most impressive ever, but it was really sweet to us and we just had fun with it :)
Did you toss the garter or bouquet? Neither of us is a fan of garter tosses, so we skipped that tradition, but I did toss my bouquet! I think that moment has such a sweet “rite of passage” feel, and I definitely didn’t want to miss out on it. The DJ played “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble, and my little sister caught the bouquet—can’t say my dad was super thrilled about that ;)
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? We are both passionate about the Catholic teachings on marriage and the theology of the body, so preparing for marriage was very spiritually focused for both of us. Along with an engagement retreat and meetings with our priest, we also read a number of books, including Love and Responsibility, The Theology of the Body for Beginners, Heaven’s Song, and Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Our reception venue handled the coordination, catering, cake, lighting, and reception flowers, and while such an all-inclusive place is a wonderful option for many brides, I would have preferred to choose more of my own vendors.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Give yourself a deadline for all of your wedding tasks to be done, and once that day comes, hand everything off to someone else or let it go. I was so stressed out in the month leading up to the wedding, so the week before, I decided I would do two more little tasks, but that was it. I even told my coordinator that if anything came up, she should talk to my mom to have it taken care of instead of me. Worked like a charm! As soon as I did that, I felt like the burden was lifted off of my shoulders, and I got to truly enjoy the week leading up to our wedding.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are settled into our apartment outside of Raleigh, and are loving every single second of being newlyweds. Living together and sharing every aspect of life is such a joy! We are looking forward to lots of travel, both to explore new places and to visit our families on opposite sides of the country, and we are excited to someday have a big family!

Photographer: Ryan Ray | Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films | Ceremony Venue: Sacred Heart Cathedral | Reception Venue, Reception Florals, Coordination, Catering, Cake Baker, and Lighting: Fearrington Village | Personal and Ceremony Florals: Philosophy Flowers | Bride’s Gown: Monique Lhuillier | Bridal Salon and Veil: Joan Pillow Houston | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN | Bride’s Bracelet: Kendra Scott | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Annabelle” in Mist Gray by Jenny Yoo for BHLDN | Mother of the Bride’s Dress: Watters | Mother of the Groom’s Dress: Adrianna Papell | Hair and Makeup: Lula Hair and Makeup | Groom’s Suit, Groomsmen’s Pants, and Flower Girl Dress: J. Crew | Men’s Shirts: Brooks Brothers | Invitation Suite Design and Menus: Paper Daisies Stationery | Invitation Suite Calligraphy, Escort Cards, and Bar Menu: MM Ink Studio | Watercolor Map, Programs, and Other Reception Signage: Morgan Moore | Dance Floor and Sweetheart Table Chairs: Party Reflections Raleigh | Sweetheart, Cake, and Guest Book Table Linens: La Tavola Linens | Transportation: Walter Harris | DJ: Mark McNally of Joe Bunn DJ Company

Inkspot Crow Films, Lula Hair and Makeup, and Joe Bunn DJ Company are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Our Wedding Morning – Something Pretty reply

    […] That story is coming on Tuesday…but if you want a sneak peek, check out our feature on the Southern Weddings blog this morning, and our video post which will be live at 10:30 EST! […]

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Magical and beautiful – all of it :)

  3. avatar Rhiannon reply

    The most beautiful wedding I ever did see :)

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Xoxoxo! The smell of the perfume you so sweetly gifted me takes me right back to it :)

  4. avatar Four years of marriage – Em for Marvelous – reply

    […] This year, I wanted to share some advice from the priest who officiated Lisa and Dave’s wedding. […]

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