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Southern Weddings

Very few of us are lucky enough to be able to celebrate our marriages in the same spot that we developed our relationships. There are, after all, so many things to account for like space, power sourcing, catering kitchens and bathrooms. Fay + Jon were lucky enough to be able to say their vows at Jon’s uncle’s farmland, where they got to know each other and fall in love. It makes their big day even more special to us, especially considering that many of Fay’s family and friends came from across the pond and were able to witness how their story unfolded. “The feeling of having everyone from England and America together for (probably) the only time in our lifetimes was absolutely breathtaking,” said the bride.

We’re so thankful for Katherine Miles Jones who shared this big day with us!

Isn’t Fay’s heirloom ring absolutely stunning? It was a surprise to Jon from Fay’s mother who had come to visit from England just before he popped the question.

“She’d never met Jon in person before, but knew that we’d been talking about marriage. She brought my late grandmother’s engagement ring with her (presuming she’d actually like Jon!). At one point in the week when I wasn’t around, she gave the ring to Jon and told him that if he’d like to, he should propose with it. So when Jon got down on one knee he pulled out this tattered old ring box (the original box) and proposed with my grandmother’s sapphire engagement ring, it was unbelievably special.”

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: The first few dresses I tried on got me really down because I thought I’d like and look good in certain style and I certainly did not! I also wasn’t expecting to find my dress at a chain like David’s Bridal. I’d just gone there because I’m not dress-savvy and they have so many different styles, we thought it would be a great place to get my bearings! After a few that I barely wanted to leave the changing room in, I tried one on that just gave me that feeling. I felt totally myself, and comfortable, and I hadn’t expected to feel that way in any gown. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

We created our entire ceremony with our officiant, who is wonderful and really helped us shape a ceremony that was “us.” She is a Unitarian Universalist, which was very important to me, because I wanted to be married by someone who believes that anyone can be married, no matter who they are and who they’re marrying. My favorite part of our ceremony was asking our friends and family to affirm our vows (which they did, with gusto!). I live 4000 miles away from my family and home, so my friends here have truly become my family. Jon was born and raised in Durham, so he has known many of his current friends for 30 years. For both of us for very different reasons, actively involving our congregation in the ceremony was so important.

How many guests attended your wedding? 150. The number wasn’t very flexible because we got married outside on Jon’s uncle’s farmland, where we spent a lot of time fishing in our early-dating days. We both feel like it’s where we truly got to know each other. Jon’s uncle had a dock built onto the lake especially for the wedding, and we made our altar out of a reclaimed fireplace mantle on the end of the dock.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? We did not do a first look. We flip-flopped on it for a while but in the end, we both wanted to have that moment on the aisle. I wouldn’t change it for the world. People told me to really savor that walk down the aisle, but as soon as I caught Jon’s eyes, I could not look away. It was so intense and so emotional.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had 2 readings, one chosen by each of us. Jon chose “Love” by Roy Croft and I chose “Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda from 101 Love Poems. I loved how the readings really reflected each of our personalities within our relationship.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. All of our “important” songs were by the Avett Brothers. My maid of honor grew up with the boys in this band and she introduced me to them years ago. Their music is a staple in our cars and house, and is pretty much the only music Jon and I can agree on! The pieces were arranged and played acoustically on the day by our good friend who is a guitarist. The bridal party entered to “January Wedding,” I walked down the aisle to “Pretty Girl at The Airport,” and our first dance was “Swept Away.”

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Antlers!! When I first suggested using antlers in the wedding, I got some strange looks from the florist and Chelsey, (and Jon!) But I think they worked perfectly. I’ve always had a little obsession with antlers (I just think they are beautiful) and Jon’s uncle is an avid hunter, so we had no shortage. (Although we did tell my mom they were naturally shed!) They helped tie everything together so well, especially as we didn’t have a massive budget for flowers and decorations.

We never set out with the intention of making our wedding super Southern, but because of who we are, I think it actually turned out to be a really nice blend of Southern and English. Our signature cocktail was a “Southern High Tea” made with sweet tea vodka, and lemonade. We played corn hole with boards painted as the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes. Our dining setup was four long banquet tables running parallel to each other and dinner was served family style. We fought to have this setup fiercely (budget and practicality should have meant the traditional round-table, plated food setup). I really wanted dinner to feel casual and familial, and as if you were at a garden party at the end of summer with everyone eating together. Even though we were under a tent, it felt like we were eating outdoors. I loved it, and I think it really felt like a big homey Southern garden party.

How’s this for a brilliant marriage? Fay + Jon combined their Southern and English roots to create “Southern High Tea” signature cocktails — a fun spin on the notable drink that characterizes both regions.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Neither Jon nor I like cake very much. We decided to have pies for our wedding desserts. Bourbon-pecan-chocolate chip, key lime, buttermilk-sweet potato, and rustic apple… Aren’t you drooling?!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. I went to Duke University and after graduating, had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. I kept the job I’d had through college, which was waitressing at a local restaurant. Jon’s best friend from high school owned the restaurant and he moved from Baltimore to Durham to take a job managing the bar. The rest is history!
Describe the proposal. I had planned a trip to the same cabin where we spent our first anniversary (near Grandfather Mountain), and Jon jumped on the opportunity to be at a place that meant something to both of us. He planned to propose at the Mile High Swinging Bridge at the top of the mountain when we went up there for a hike. We didn’t know that they’d just finished construction on a new visitor’s center up there, so when we got up there, we were joined by a couple hundred other folks. (Not exactly the private moment Jon had hoped for.) We decided to hike up the neighboring peak with our two dogs, instead. Jon proposed on top of a giant (terrifying) rocky outcrop that he had to beg me to climb up on in the first place!
In what month did you get married? September. We wanted to be outdoors as much as possible and you cannot beat a good September night in North Carolina! We couldn’t decide on an actual date, and ended up flipping a coin because neither of us wanted to be responsible for picking a date if it got rained on!
Describe your wedding flowers: Gorgeous! I wanted the bouquets to feel wild and loose (I hate stuffy round pompom bouquets) and our florist did a fantastic job! They were perfectly free and tangly with lots of spilling tendrils of foliage, while at the same time keeping a delicate, antique feel with the colors and blooms used.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Guest list. Having a very fixed number of guests was hard. Narrowing down our guest list was emotionally draining (not to mention time consuming). I still have palpitations thinking about it occasionally!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Our budget was $20,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? CHELSEY (our wedding coordinator). I cannot emphasize this enough. Some people told us it was a waste of money, some people told us a planner would take over and make it their wedding. These people couldn’t have been more wrong. She was invaluable. She enabled us to create a wedding we’d never have dreamt we’d be able to have, and did it while keeping us totally in control. She saved us from driving each other crazy and went above and beyond constantly. She is worth her weight in gold.
The best vendor decision you made: I adore our pictures. I didn’t know what to do at first about a photographer. I like Max Wanger and Jose Villa, and the photographers here that we looked at just don’t do that style of photography. Then I remembered my old friend from summer camp 12 years ago! I’d friended her on Facebook a while ago and though we didn’t regularly keep in contact, I’d vaguely followed her journey to becoming an independent photographer in NYC. I emailed her to ask if she’d be at all interested/inclined to come to NC (where her parents live) to photograph our wedding. I was THRILLED when she said yes! Neither Jon nor I are particularly comfortable in front of cameras and Katherine being an old friend made everything SO easy and natural! And she is so unbelievably talented. The pictures came out better than I could ever imagine!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The laughter. There was so much!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be true to yourselves, no matter what that means. You only get that day once, and it goes by so fast. Make it exactly what you want it to be.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? It’s actually going to be nose to the grindstone for the next few years. There will be a lot of school for me and a lot of work for Jon as he carries us through those student loans! But we are planning a long, adventurous honeymoon somewhere off the beaten track before my course starts.

Gather Together Events is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
16 Comments
  1. avatar Ashleigh reply

    LOVE the color of the guys suits! Can you tell me where they came from? I’m having a hard time finding the perfect color for our August wedding!

    • avatar Jon Marin reply

      Ashleigh: The suits were from Jos A Bank. They took great care of us and as far as cost is concerned there isn’t a better price out there. In my opinion it was much better to pay a little more for a suit that they, my groomsmen, could keep versus a rental that they have to return.

  2. avatar sarah der reply

    Ahhhh what a darling, beautiful wedding and such a fun couple! I love, love the elegant and sophisticated–but still sweet and southern–feel to their day. So much love!

  3. avatar Arlissa Vaughn / Special Event Painter reply

    LOVE the UK and USA flag corn hole games. Fun!!

  4. avatar Katherine Miles Jones reply

    Fay and Jon are such a lovely couple–inside and out! It was a joy to work with them!

  5. avatar Emily Alice reply

    Those Avett Brothers songs are so good! I’ve always imagined Swept Away as a great first dance song! Congratulations :)

  6. avatar Valerie (Pieceful Wedding) reply

    This is such a beautiful wedding! I love the soft and natural color palette and that altar is amazing!

  7. avatar Chelsey Morrison reply

    Katherine said it best – a lovely couple inside and out! What an absolute joy this wedding was. Great couple, amazing vendors, and a perfect September day. Thank you to all and especially Southern Weddings for the feature!!!

  8. avatar Emily reply

    Such a dreamy ceremony spot, I thought it must have been from a photoshoot the first time I saw it! :)

  9. avatar Amber Housley reply

    So very pretty! And that sweet dog! Melts my heart. :)

  10. avatar Dee Shore reply

    I actually got teary eyed looking this wedding over. It’s simply beautiful and so ever romantic.

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