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I’m not sure anything makes a wedding celebration more special (or Southern!) than when family is weaved through the entire thing! Such was certainly the case for Katie and Alex, starting with their ceremony venue–these two followed in Katie’s parents’ footsteps by getting married at the University of Virginia chapel. Along with drawing inspiration from their families for their wedding details (they especially loved their family photo display and the groom’s cake designed in honor of their dog!), Katie and Alex’s loved ones also came through in a big way to bring this special day to life. The perfect example: when they couldn’t make it to Virginia a month before the wedding to bury the bourbon, Katie’s cousin took the task into her own hands! As you can see in these photos by Rachel May, the tradition was a great success, leading to many new family memories being created as Katie and Alex celebrated their marriage.

P.S. Don’t miss the stories of Alex’s Christmas proposal or Katie’s most memorable wedding day moment below–both are stories for the books!

The vendor that truly set our wedding apart from others was the very talented Kristy Rice from Momental Designs. Her team hand-painted all of our save the dates, invitations, ceremony programs, menu cards, table numbers, and welcome bag inserts. The designs they created for us were works of art that not only captured Charlottesville’s beauty, but also told our story as a couple. I also have to mention Jodi Macfarlan, who did the stunning calligraphy for our seating chart and place cards at the reception. Her work is seriously the prettiest calligraphy I have ever seen, and her ability to match the designs of our paper goods was beyond impressive.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did not have something borrowed, blue, old, and new. My mom told me that she didn’t partake in the tradition when she got married, and my parents have been married for over thirty-five years, so I didn’t feel the need to either!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. It has always been a struggle for me to find dresses that fit well, so to be honest, I was sort of dreading the whole process. My parents were planning a trip from Atlanta to Houston to meet AY’s parents for the first time, so I thought it would be the perfect time to look for a dress with both of our moms and his sisters. We went to Ivory Bridal Atelier in Houston and I tried on several dresses. While every dress the store had was so beautiful, nothing seemed to fit me the right way. Just as I was losing hope, the store manager mentioned that a Fall 2015 Anne Barge dress had just come in. At first glance, I wasn’t in love–it was a light blush color and had an antique look to it. I wanted an ivory dress, but at that point, I was willing to give it a shot. As soon as I stepped into the gown, I got that first feeling of “this might be the one.” It had all this gorgeous lace on the bodice and at the very bottom of the dress. When I saw the matching veil, I was blown away. I knew this was my dress when I found out that I could order it in ivory! With a few magic touches from Linda’s Couture Alterations in Houston, it became everything I was hoping for. Looking back on the whole wedding planning process, dress shopping was absolutely one of my favorite memories and is such a special occasion that every bride should look forward to!

Our fabulous wedding planner, Cody Grannis of Amore Events, created the bouquets for the wedding party and the floral arrangements for the reception. Cody did an amazing job arranging different types of roses with dark greenery to accentuate the light pink in the bridesmaids’ dresses and really make them pop. For my bouquet, I wanted something that looked natural and almost messy, as if the flowers were picked from a wild garden. It came out even better than I had envisioned and was truly unlike any bouquet I’d ever seen. The flowers for the ceremony were designed by Amy Webb from Blue Ridge Floral Design. Amy completely got my vision when I told her that I wanted to have an entrance for the Chapel unlike anything that has ever been done there before. She created this gorgeous floral arch with white roses and greenery that surrounded the front doors of the Chapel. It was such a dreamy piece that perfectly established the entire look and feel for our ceremony.

The most memorable moment for me was seeing my grandfather at the front of the Chapel. My grandfather suffers from Parkinson’s and had a few rough days leading up to the wedding–so rough that we were concerned he might not be able to make it to the ceremony. When I met AY at the altar, I looked to my right and saw a light shining through the stained glass windows of the dark chapel right onto my grandfather. Tears immediately came to my eyes. It was such an unforgettable moment because it was everything that my family had been praying for leading up to the wedding. That same light beam later moved over to me and AY, shining down on us as we said our vows. I remember hearing gasps from the congregation right when it happened, and several guests even came up to us afterwards asking if we had planned it, but perfection like that can only be explained as a gift from above!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? This is an easy one! My parents also graduated from the University of Virginia and were married at the University Chapel on June 28, 1981, so from the moment AY and I started dating during college, I dreamed of following in their footsteps. The University Chapel is so beautiful and rich in history and is such a meaningful place for my family–I really couldn’t imagine us getting married anywhere else. For the reception venue, Charlottesville has so many stunning venues for brides to choose from. AY and I wanted to pick somewhere memorable to us from our time together at UVA. Wine tasting at King Family Vineyards was always one of our favorite activities, and, their views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking and second to none!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Is it okay if we have two favorites? A detail we were really excited about was the Moscow mules, which were passed during cocktail hour. Served in a cute copper mug, they seem to always bring smiles to faces. That’s how we knew Moscow mules would be the perfect signature drink for our wedding–plus, they are also really refreshing on a hot summer day! Another detail that was definitely a wow-factor was the wedding memory table, a display of old family wedding photographs designed by my mother. It was a special way to remember our history and give a presence to our loved ones who have passed. It turned out so beautifully and was something our guests really enjoyed.

A Southern tradition we included in our wedding was burying the bourbon, believed by Southerners to keep the rain away. I tend to worry about silly things like the weather, so when I heard about this tradition, I had to find a way to make it happen, especially because every wedding planner will tell you that Charlottesville weather is the most unpredictable. My cousin and a bridesmaid in our wedding, Jayne Anne, is currently a student at UVA, and offered to bury the bourbon for us at King Family Vineyards, as we live in Dallas, Texas and couldn’t find time to make the trip. In true UVA fashion, she chose to bury Jefferson Reserve, and exactly a month later, we had the most beautiful weather for our big day. To Jayne Anne’s surprise, AY and I asked her to do the honors and dig up the bourbon at the reception, too! We owed her big time for bringing us sunny skies and high-70 temperatures at the end of June! It was such a funny sight to see Jayne Anne trying to dig up the bourbon with the massive shovel provided by King Family–an image we will continue to laugh about for years to come! Once the bourbon was retrieved, AY and I said cheers with two antique sterling silver shot glasses from Tiffany’s, given to us by my mother as a wedding present a few days before the wedding. Each shot glass had our new initials engraved on the front and are keepsakes we will forever cherish in remembrance of the tradition.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Especially when times get stressful, try to remember what the day is really about. A dear friend of mine would remind of that by saying, “No more or no less married” when I would start to worry or compare our wedding with others. It’s easy to get wrapped up in it all and lose sight of what’s really important, but your wedding will be perfect in its own way. As you make it about the love that you have for each other, it will, without a doubt, be the best day of your life.

The cake mastermind, Anita Gupta of Maliha Creations, made both our wedding and groom’s cakes. Our wedding cake was a four-tiered cake with roses and gold leaf flakes decorating the rim of each tier. The cake flavors were hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting and vanilla butter cake with French vanilla buttercream. I was so blown away by our wedding cake–it was beautiful inside and out and looked like something out of a magazine! Our groom’s cake was designed to look like AY’s beloved family dog, Ellie B. Young, who wasn’t able to travel to Charlottesville to celebrate with us. The cake was around two feet tall and featured chocolate cake with Oreo chocolate icing. It was such a sweet surprise for the Youngs that Ellie B. could make an appearance at the wedding, even if it was just in cake form! Having parents that grew up in Charlottesville, there are several local spots that are sentimental for my family. One of those places is The White Spot located on the Corner. It serves an infamous dessert called the “Grillswith,” a grilled and butter-brushed Krispy Kreme donut with vanilla ice cream on top. Our caterer, C&O Restaurant, replicated the recipe perfectly and served Grillswiths to our guests as the late night snack at the reception. I swear, I’ve never seen people react in such a way to a dessert! Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how delicious they were and it was definitely a fun treat for our guests who also know and love The White Spot.

Our first dance was to “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” by The Tams. We thought this song was perfect for us, as AY’s last name (and now mine) is Young. The song also has a great Motown beat and is super easy to dance to!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We first met at the Foxfield Races, an annual horse race in Charlottesville, during our first year at the University of Virginia. I was introduced to him as “AY,” short for Alex Young, and continue to call him AY to this day. We really didn’t get to know each other until we had a class together our second year. He was in the 8:00 A.M. class section of Commerce 180 and I was in the later section that everyone wanted to be in at 11:00. On the first day of class, AY slept in and missed his section, so he snuck into the later one. During the class, our professor asked the students to divide into groups for the semester. To this day, I can still picture the moment AY walked down the classroom hallway over to me and nervously asked to be in my group. I told him that he had to ask the professor for permission, once he admitted to being in the earlier section. Thankfully, the professor said yes, because I truly believe that our love story began with that study group. I spent more time laughing at his terrible jokes than actually doing work, but I also got to see what a great guy he was…and, he did most of the work. We were both dating other people at the time, but we became great friends because of the class. We finally started dating a month before graduation, and have been together since!
Tell us all about the proposal! AY came to Atlanta to spend Christmas with my family. On Christmas morning, he pulled me aside and told me that I needed to open my present early. He described it as “Christmas-y” and hinted that he wanted me to have a chance to use it before the day was over. He handed me a medium-sized box, and inside were six ornaments holding pictures of special moments during our relationship. I thought it was such a sweet present and understood why he wanted me to open it early. As I started to hang the picture ornaments on my parents’ Christmas tree, AY mentioned that he forgot to include one ornament in the box before he wrapped it. He hung the last ornament on the tree and asked me to look at the picture. Busy trying to find vacant spots on our very full tree, I just said, “Oh, that’s very cute” without really examining the picture. AY laughed and told me to look closer. When I did, I screamed, as I realized it was a picture of AY down on one knee in front of his family’s Christmas tree back home! He then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him in front of my family, who ran into the room as soon as they heard me scream. My mom was just as surprised as I was–she thought we had knocked over the Christmas tree!
When did y’all get married? June 25, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Having a male vocalist sing “Ave Maria” by J.S. Bach was one of the most important parts of the ceremony for us. My grandfather, who was a professor at UVA and a big reason why I went to school there, has always loved that song. His father (my great-grandfather) was a self-taught opera singer and sang “Ave Maria” at my grandparents’ wedding. We hoped it would evoke special memories, while also creating new ones for our families, and it certainly did!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Father Stephen Alcott, a priest from my grandparents’ church in Charlottesville, officiated our ceremony. Leading up to the wedding, AY and I met with Father Stephen several times for marital guidance and counseling. I would definitely encourage other couples to do so as well. Getting to know Father Stephen better and talking through our plan as a married couple put us completely at ease during our ceremony, allowing us to really enjoy and appreciate the moment.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We were very fortunate to have a wonderful wedding and a dream-come-true honeymoon. Now that we are officially the Youngs, we are looking forward to having some down time and getting the chance to be newlyweds. I also have to admit that our wedding diet kept us from trying the hot new restaurants in town, so we are pretty excited about not having to be good anymore!

Photographer: Rachel May Photography | Planner and Florist: Amore Events | Ceremony Venue: University of Virginia Chapel | Reception Venue: King Family Vineyards | Ceremony Florals: Blue Ridge Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Maliha Creations | Caterer: C&O Restaurant | Rentals: MS Events | Lanterns: Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting | Cocktail Hour Guitarist: Peter Richardson | Band: Attraction via Sam Hill Entertainment | Calligrapher: Jodi Macfarlan Calligraphy and Joie de Vivre Calligraphy | Paper Products: Momental Designs | Bride’s Gown and Veil: “Avallon” by Anne Barge | Bridal Salon: Ivory Bridal Atelier | Bridal Gown Alterations: Linda’s Couture Alterations | Bride’s Hair Piece: Lila Accessories | Hair Stylist: Brianna B. Adams | Makeup Artist: Gohar Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Various styles in Bellini by Amsale | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Groom’s Tuxedo: Suit Supply | Groom’s Cuff Links: Ledbury | Groom’s Bow Tie: The Cordial Churchman | Bride’s Robe: Girl with a Serious Dream | Bridesmaids’ Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bridesmaids’ Earrings: Erwin Pearl | Maid of Honor’s Hair Accessory: Twigs & Honey | Bouquet Ribbon: Silk & Willow | Wedding Dress Hanger: Poppy and Scooter | Custom Napkins and Drink Stirrers: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Transportation: Ambassador Limousine and Albemarle Limousine | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Stage: Skyline Tent Company

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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  1. avatar Rachel May reply

    Thank you so much for the feature! It’s an honor to be on the SW blog! :)

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We believe that preparing for your marriage is an incredibly important aspect of wedding planning, so I love how Karina and John used their time of engagement to do just that. Throughout the process, they practiced compromise, balanced priorities, and threw in a whole lot of fun along the way, all while keeping their focus on creating a strong marriage. With the help of their planner, Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs, Karina and John threw a wedding that felt like “a fun, Southern shindig,” inspired by their summers spent on the Carolina Coast!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for sharing this sweet day with us!

Wedding dress shopping was one of my favorite parts of wedding planning. My mom and I had scheduled an appointment at one of the larger wedding dress shops in town, but about a month before the appointment, I saw on Instagram that a new shop in town was having a trunk show that weekend. I called, and on a whim, my mom, two friends, and I went in for an appointment. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted and picked my dress out right off the rack. It was the third wedding dress I tried on and I knew it was the one. We bought it that day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We had our ceremony and reception at a private home along the Intracoastal Waterway. Some friends of ours were also married there and we knew it was a very special place. It meant a lot to us to get married and celebrate right along the water where we’ve made so many memories together over the years.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we used a traditional Episcopal wedding service. My uncle married us, which was extra special because he also married my parents.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We hired a ukulele player for our ceremony, which was so much fun. He played traditional wedding ceremony music with an island vibe. Our first dance was to “Magnolia Wind” by Guy Clark. That song seemed to capture our relationship perfectly and we both loved it.

We chose not to do a first look. My husband is pretty traditional and really wanted to see me for the first time when I was walking down the aisle. I’m so glad we made that decision because when our eyes met for the first time, it was such a magical moment!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We both grew up in North Carolina and wanted the wedding to feel like a fun, Southern shindig. We served all Southern foods: deviled eggs, fried chicken, bourbon-glazed pork, mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, collards, hoppin john, and cornbread. We also had boiled peanuts, mini Moon Pies, and Pepsi for a late night snack. John and his groomsmen wore seersucker suits with bow ties, and part of the groomsmen gift included an NC flag Freeker (knit koozies made here in Wilmington).

We had a four-tiered cake with textured white buttercream frosting. Each layer was a different flavor and so delicious! The cake was decorated with flowers and greenery.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I knew when we started planning an outdoor wedding that the weather would be a huge factor. The forecast looked pretty promising for our big day–just a slight chance of storms. All throughout the ceremony and cocktail hour, the weather was perfect. Just as we sat down to eat dinner though, the sky turned black and the wind really picked up. A few cocktail tables blew over and a tablecloth caught on fire! The cake almost blew over, but was saved by my quick thinking cousins! The radar showed a crazy storm headed our way. We rushed to cut the cake and prepare for the rain to come when suddenly, the sky cleared. It never rained. The light coming through the clouds as the storm passed was absolutely beautiful. Our photographer captured a picture of that sky over our tent, and it is my absolute favorite photo of the night. Once the threat of pouring rain was over, the band cranked up and we danced the night away!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. John and I met through mutual friends on July 4, 2009 at Wrightsville Beach. We spent such a fun day boating with friends, and we really hit it off. We exchanged numbers that night and spent the next day together. He cooked me dinner the following week and I was sold! We dated for close to seven years before getting married–part of that time was long distance while I attended graduate school. John was so supportive and drove to Durham nearly every weekend so we could be together. We both knew if we could survive that separation, we could survive anything together. After school, I moved home to Wilmington and we got engaged the following year.
Tell us all about the proposal! We got engaged in November 2014 at Wrightsville Beach–where we met and where we spend most weekends in the summer. It was the day after my 30th birthday, and John woke up extra early to suggest we go to breakfast and then for a walk on the beach. I could tell he was a little nervous while we were walking along the water and thought something was up. A few minutes later, he was down on one knee. Later that night, we surprised all of our friends with the news at a party. It was a perfect day.
When did y’all get married? April 23, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 175
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a pearl bracelet from my mother-in-law, which served as my something borrowed and old. I wore Duke blue nail polish on my toes for my something blue. My dress, veil, shoes, and earrings were all new.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wedding planning, in many ways, was good practice for married life. There was lots of compromising, budget discussing, and balancing of priorities. We managed to have a lot of fun throughout the process, and constantly reminded ourselves that our marriage was much more important than the wedding.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Right now, we’re enjoying a low-key summer with family and friends and saving for our first home.

Photographer: Anna Routh Photography | Planner: Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Fiore Fine Flowers | Wedding Cake: One Belle Bakery | Caterer: Gibbs Catering | Rentals: L&L Tent and Party Rentals | Lighting: High Performance Lighting and Power | Band: Mr. Potato Head Band | Ukulele: Kent Knorr of North Carolina Ukulele Academy | Paper Products: Reeves Engraving | Bride’s Gown: “MJ101” by Madison James | Bridal Salon and Veil: Coastal Knot Bridal | Hair Stylist: Kelli Kuperus and Megan Gregory from Sea Grass Salon and Day Spa | Makeup Artist: Amy Kennison | Bride’s Shoes: “Danya” by Naturalizer | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank | Trolley: Azalea Limo

Anna Routh, Fiore Fine Flowers, One Belle Bakery, and Coastal Knot Bridal are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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  1. avatar Karina + John » Anna Routh Photography reply

    […] Thanks also to Southern Weddings for featuring this sweet wedding recently. Check it out here. […]

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With so many beautiful weddings in our print issues, it’s always hard to pick a favorite. However, when the bride emulates Jackie O’s elegant style, describes her wedding day look as “Kennedy-inspired,” and then calls their wedding day theme “Southern elegance” with personal touches, it’s hard not to choose it as my favorite! Lauren and John knew that fall in the South was just too pretty to pass up, so after consulting both the SEC football schedule and the Farmer’s Almanac weather projections, they decided it was the perfect time to celebrate with their family and friends. Their wedding at the Rye Patch pairs a beautiful and romantic color palette with the crisp air of fall in such a way that is as classic as Jackie O. herself! With the help of her sweet mama, a talented artist, Lauren incorporated hand-painted floral watercolors into their details that added even more beauty and meaning to their day.

Big SW hugs to Ashley Seawell for sharing her beautiful work with us in V8!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? I emulate Jackie O’s crisp, elegant style and wanted something structured and architectural. I knew lace or ruching (though beautiful!) was not me, and the “no ruche, no lace” rule left some boutiques with literally nothing to show me. The Amsale Jane dress caught my eye immediately at The House of the Bride in Augusta. It was the second dress I tried on, but being a “researcher,” I did not make the decision until after I hit the Boston boutiques. As I’ve learned, first loves are hard to beat! My Kennedy-inspired “simple with a twist” look was answered by the Amsale gown, complete with the classic bateau neckline and streamlined silhouette, and the unexpected organza train in the back made my heart flutter. I’ve always been a big shoe lover, so when I found my white Chanel shoes with white soles (and thick enough heels so as to not aerate the outdoor lawn location), the look was complete. I wish I could wear it again!
Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? I let my bridesmaids select their own dresses, and I gave them guidance of a neutral color palette. They are each such beautiful, special women; I wanted to see those unique personalities come through in their dress selections and have them feel comfortable in a dress of their choosing. I loved the differing textures and colors, and each woman looked stunning! I couldn’t have picked out better dresses if I tried.

Our two biggest themes were “Southern elegance” and “personal,” so we wanted our fingerprints all over the wedding. The ceremony was one of the most intimate and important details to us. We wrote our whole ceremony together, and the judge John clerked for was the officiant. Since we wrote the ceremony ourselves and are both music lovers, we viewed the ceremony and the music as our readings. We borrowed a line from a Native American blessing that we still love, as it speaks both the individuality and plurality of marriage: “Now you are two persons, but there are three lives before you: his life, her life and your life together.” Judge Cothran also imparted words of wisdom to “always have fun,” and we bring up his advice to provide perspective when we need it.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you?The venue was very important to ensure our classic Southern theme would come to life. Since we both grew up in Augusta, we wanted to get married in that area. We established two criteria: an outdoor venue with live oaks for the ceremony, and the ceremony and reception sites being within walking distance, so people only had to park once. When my mom sent pictures of Hopelands Gardens and The Rye Patch, we immediately fell in love with the location. It was the perfect venue for us.

We wanted the menu to scream Southern, but also include some family recipes. We had a carving station with beef tenderloin, Augusta green jacket salad, charcuterie and cheeses, shrimp and grits, and grilled pimento cheese with tomato soup, to name a few dishes. Boiled peanuts were strategically placed outside on various tables for people to snack on.

Tell us about your wedding flowers. Karin Jeffcoat of Cote Designs has exquisite taste, and incredible vision and execution. I wanted organically shaped bouquets, maidenhair ferns, and the feel that the flowers had been plucked from a Southern grandmothers’ beautiful garden for an afternoon party. Even though it was a fall wedding, we wanted a soft color palette for the wedding: moss greens, pale peach and whites. In the reflecting pool at the ceremony location, Karin built floating magnolia leaf wreaths around lanterns that shifted when the wind blew — it was stunning. She nailed that natural, simply elegant look, accented with vintage gold, brass and cut glass vessels. My mom’s hand-painted watercolors of botanicals and flowers echoed this theme and added extra personal touches to our décor. All the boutonnieres had flies tied on by the groom, in honor of his favorite pastime of fly fishing.

Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: My mother is an artist, and she hand-painted watercolors of flowers/ferns/succulents to hang on the ceremony chairs and be placed at the reception tables. They also served as the artwork for the printed materials (gift bags and ceremony program), and the guests could take them as a parting gift. She also made pillows for the benches that screen grafted botanical prints. She’s incredibly talented, and I cannot thank her enough. My dad passed away from cancer in 2007. We celebrated him with meaningful details, which reminded me throughout the day that he is always with us: a surprise small framed picture in my bouquet so he could still “walk me” down the aisle, his famous mashed potato recipe served at dinner, and my brother and I’s dance to “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” by The Four Tops, which was my dad’s favorite song. My mom, Todd, and I all danced together and had everyone laughing. Finally, we made a donation to the American Cancer Society on behalf of guests “in loving memory of those who have fought and lost, in loving appreciation of those who have fought and won, and in loving support of those who are still fighting.”

Our thought was that if one cake is good, 10 is better. We wanted the look of handmade treats brought in by many people, so we had several cakes, both naked and frosted, in different flavors. Cote Designs made sweetgrass pedestals and also placed some in bell jars. Coconut cake was the main cake, and displayed a topper from John’s parents’ wedding. We also served red velvet, seven-layer caramel as the charm pull cake, a German chocolate torte, pound cake with fresh berries and cream (John’s favorite), and my grandmother’s famous chocolate cake recipe.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. In 2000, before heading to high school soccer practice in our hometown of Augusta, John approached me on the tennis court to introduce himself. At that moment, a 15-year road started. We reconnected as a couple in 2010 during a trip home to Augusta. We survived long distance between small town South Carolina and small town New Hampshire, until John made the ultimate romantic gesture: taking the Massachusetts Bar. That is probably the first and only time the Massachusetts Bar exam has been described as being romantic! John very graciously took his second state law exam so I could pursue my career in health care in Boston. After three wonderful years (and an engagement!) in New England, we moved back to Charleston the week before our wedding for John’s new job at a law firm downtown. Through our decade and a half of adventures, we have come to believe in the old saying: “Good things come to those who wait.”
Describe the proposal: In September 2013, John took me on a “mystery trip” (an activity we try to surprise each other with a few times a year) to Woodstock, Vermont. Woodstock is a classically charming New England town that has a special place in our history, as we visited for dinner and skiing several times during his visits to see me in business school. September in Vermont meant beautiful foliage–the perfect backdrop for a very memorable day. We went for a walk after breakfast, and John asked me to marry him in front of a classic Vermont covered bridge. After sharing the news with friends and family, we went for a hike and had dinner at our favorite spot, where (knowing how sentimental I am) he had pre-selected handmade wine glasses ready for us to enjoy during the meal and take home as a keepsake. We are still enjoying those glasses at dinners at home in Charleston.
Tell us all the basics of your wedding! On October 11, 2014, we had outdoor ceremony in Hopelands Gardens and a reception at the Rye Patch in Aiken, South Carolina. The 4:30 P.M. ceremony and beautifully sunny day took us into a gorgeous, dance-filled night under the stars (no tents! Which was a nervous gamble, but it paid off when the weather cooperated!). Both being huge SEC fans, I always joked that no self-respecting Southern woman would get married on a Saturday in the fall…which I promptly did anyway because the time of year for an outdoor wedding was too good to pass up. When picking a date, we consulted both the football schedules and the Farmer’s Almanac weather projections. In retrospect the “not too bad” game weekend ended up being closer/bigger than we had originally thought, but people were too busy dancing the night away to be missing the Dawgs or Crimson Tide too much!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Personal, Southern, elegant
How many guests attended your wedding? Approximately 170 of our favorite people from all over the country gathered in Aiken for the weekend. We were able to rent out The Willcox, a historic, charming inn less than a mile away from Hopelands for most of our family and wedding party to stay in.
Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: Having the judge John clerked for and remains close to officiating was very personal and special to both of us.
What was the design inspiration for your reception? The Rye Patch is a historic estate maintained by the city of Aiken. I wanted our reception to feel like it was a backyard reception at an elegant Southern grandmother’s home. The natural landscape and the pristine interior were a stunning backdrop, to which Karin at Cote Designs and my crafty mom added special details throughout. We risked it and went no-tent (not going to lie, that did cause a lot of anxiety in the days leading up to the event!), but the layout helped transition from sunset into the nighttime dancing. It was a magical garden dinner and dancing party under bistro lighting hanging from the huge oak tree. We loved it!
Were there any family traditions you included in the reception? We included family recipes and favorite dishes into the menu, including my dad’s famous mashed potatoes, John’s favorite cake, and my grandmother’s frosting recipe. We also had the wedding pictures of our parents and grandparents near the parting birdseed and vintage postcards that served as our guest book.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Moving 1,000 miles from Boston to Charleston the week before the wedding and John starting a new job meant a lot of exciting change in October. We are looking forward to exploring our new hometown of Charleston, finally being within driving distance of family in Augusta, and enjoying our time as husband and wife.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? If you are having an outdoor wedding, the rental costs for the space can be lower, but don’t forget about all the rentals you have to bring in (chairs, tables, linens, lighting, etc.). Don’t forget to check how much power you’ll need for lighting and a band…you may need an extra generator at the last minute!
Who was your favorite vendor and why? My mom is the MVP–she was incredibly patient, creative, and dedicated. We could not have had the wedding of our dreams without her support and love. Thank you to her, all our vendors, and to all our friends and family who made this day so special for us.

Photographer: Ashley Seawell | Film Processing: Richard Photo Lab | Florals and Event Design: Cote Designs Floral and Event Designs | Ceremony Venue: Hopelands Gardens | Reception Venue: Rye Patch | Caterer: Tastefully Yours, LLC | Cake Baker: Donna Jannik | Bride’s Gown: “Jane” by Amsale | Bridal Salon and Veil: House of the Bride | Bride’s Shoes: Chanel | Hair Stylist: Hair by Robbin | Makeup Artist: Alexandria Taylor | Groom’s Fashion: Brooks Brothers | Rentals: Goodwin Events and All Star Events | Vintage China, Flatware, and Glassware: Southern Vintage | Linens: Nuage Designs and Cote Designs | Transportation: Lewis Bus Line | Videographer:Cinema Couture | Strings Ceremony Music: The Henrys | Gospel Trio: The Pinckney Sisters | Reception Music: The ATL Groove Factory | Bride’s Bouquet Ribbon: Silk and Willow | Rings: Boston Platinum | Calligraphy: Ann Erickson

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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