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Are y’all familiar with my bridesmaid dress saga? Oh my, it went on and on! I agonized over the price, the color, the fit, the style, the lead time… pretty much every aspect of the experience. I think if I had only seen these happy images from Donna Morgan Bridesmaids sooner, my experience would have been a lot sunnier…

The Blaire in Lemonade and Spearmint and the Rhea in Orchid

One of my favorite things about Donna Morgan Bridesmaids dresses is that they’re perfect for mixing and matching. Each one is cut from chiffon, a wonderfully adaptable (and forgiving!) material, making it easy to pair silhouettes and even colors and still achieve a unified look. Each style is feminine and flattering, meaning you pretty much can’t go wrong no matter what you choose.

The Mary and Emily in Blush, and the Lauren in Sterling

Donna Morgan’s use of chiffon also means these gowns are particularly well-suited to Southern bridesmaids — the light and airy material is perfect for sweltering Southern summers (and springs and falls — y’all know they can be sweltering, too!).

Morgan in Hint of Mint, Hallie in Ocean Spray, Morgan in Candlelight, Morgan in Peach Fuzz, and Mary in Blush

Are you loving these pastel shades as much as I am? They mix and match in such a gorgeous way!

My final favorite thing about Donna Morgan’s collection? Immediate shipment! So much of my bridesmaid dress angst stemmed from the fact that I felt a ton of pressure to make a decision quickly and order the gowns as soon as possible so that we’d have the two month (or more!) construction time most lines require, plus enough time for alterations. And heaven forbid if the dresses come in and you don’t like them! With Donna Morgan, your ‘maids could even order one style, and if they don’t love the fit as much on them as they thought they would, have time to exchange it for another! Brilliant!

After all, with 13 core bodies, or styles, and 15 core colors, there are lots of great possibilities from which to choose, so I can understand if they’d want to try out a few options! You can check out the entire 2013 Bridesmaids Collection here, and take a peek at their darling Spring Lookbook here!

P.S. Those of y’all who’ve already chosen your bridesmaid dresses? Be sure to check out DM’s Little White Dress Collection! I personally love the Raven.

Photography by Trent Bailey and beautiful styling by Jacqueline Weppner for Merci New York!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar lisa reply

    Love love these colors and all of the different styles!

  2. avatar Kelly Taylor reply

    I am loving these pastels! They are so beautiful, and look like a flattering universal fit! Love love love!

  3. avatar Ashleigh reply

    I am LOVING those pastel colors! Chiffon is so nice for the spring/summer too! Must go check out the “little white dress” collection now!

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Our February Southern Bride of the Month is squeaking in just under the wire! I know y’all will love Jen, and will enjoy as much as I did reading about some of the smart planning decisions she and Nick have made. (I especially liked their plan for setting priorities — see below!) Let’s give this lady a warm welcome!

Hi! What’s your name?
Jen Welch

What’s your fiancé’s name?
Nick Rueter

Vue Photography

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
We met during our freshman year of college at Vanderbilt University. My close friend from home joined the same fraternity as Nick. When I stopped by to hang out with him, Nick always seemed to catch my eye. We went on our first date the day before school started our sophomore year, and the rest was history. Our introduction has become even more meaningful, as that friend will be serving as Nick’s best man at our wedding!

Vue Photography

When’s the big day?
June 22, 2013 – four months to go! I always knew I wanted a summer wedding since my favorite flowers are hydrangeas, and I wanted them to be beautiful and in season for my wedding!

Blue hydrangea inspiration from Brian Kraft and Martha Stewart Weddings

Where might you two be tying the knot?
We are having both the ceremony and the reception at The St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta.

How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
Nick and I have celebrated many special occasions at The St. Regis over the past few years, so the venue was already meaningful to us. We knew we wanted to have the ceremony and reception at the same location and wanted to keep things indoors to spare our guests from the brutal Atlanta heat. The St Regis was the first venue we visited after we got engaged, and while we considered a few others, we concluded rather quickly that the elegance of the St. Regis would be the perfect backdrop for our wedding!

The gorgeous lobby of the St. Regis Atlanta!

Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
I’ve always wanted a black tie wedding, so I knew the style and theme would need to feel very formal and sophisticated. At the same time, I want to give everything a contemporary edge. I love the color blue, so we have looked for ways to incorporate that with French blue bridesmaid dresses, navy ink for our invitations, blue hydrangeas for bridesmaid bouquets, and blue lighting for the reception. We also loved the idea of having our wedding ceremony in a dimly lit ballroom surrounded by candles to make the event feel very special and intimate!

Ceremony inspiration via Wedding Style

Who or what has been most helpful and/or inspiring in the wedding planning process?
I am very lucky to have my Mom in Atlanta with me to help with a lot of the details. She has an amazing ability to keep me focused on my vision when I get indecisive. My mom also was smart enough to hire us a wedding planner right away, and Lindsay Pitt of Toast has been very helpful with navigating and refining my hundreds of ideas. I am also very lucky to have eight wonderful bridesmaids, several of which recently got married and have been a huge help by sharing advice they learned from their big day.

What part of wedding planning, if any, has made you the most anxious?
We are so excited to see all of our guests during the wedding weekend, so we are trying to allow for as much time as possible with our friends and family. When we started working on the timeline for the weekend, we realized how quickly the whole day, and especially the evening, will go by, and we were worried we wouldn’t have a chance to talk to every guest. To try and alleviate some of that anxiety, we decided to try and get all of our guests together after the rehearsal dinner to celebrate the wedding weekend prior to the big day! We are also considering doing a first look so we can join the cocktail hour and start celebrating with all of the people who are so important to us as soon as possible!

What wedding-related decision have you been the most indecisive on?
Definitely the invitations! I always knew I wanted to do a calligraphy letterpress invitation, but I have been very indecisive regarding whether to stick with a traditional style or to incorporate some more modern elements. We are working with hi note for all our stationery and they have been fabulous at listening to our ideas and turning them into actual concepts, not to mention that they have been very patient with me considering I’ve changed my mind at least ten times! I am still going back and forth on this part, but have to make a decision pretty soon.

Calligraphy invitation inspiration from Bella Figura

Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
Probably the most important aspect of a wedding, to us, and the one that we’re most excited about for our own wedding, is the food. We want the food to match the formality of the event, but also want it to be fun and to showcase some Southern ingredients. It was also important to us that the rehearsal dinner menu complement, but not duplicate, the wedding menu. We’ve worked very closely with the chefs at these venues to create menus that we are truly excited about.

Dressed-up Southern comfort food inspiration from Whitney + Clarke’s wedding (photo by Patricia Lyons)

Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
Yes! I ordered it back in July and it should come in sometime in the next few weeks. I worked with Susan at Joan Pillow, who made the process as stress-free as possible despite how difficult a decision this was for me. I had always dreamed of wearing a Monique Lhuillier gown, so I went in to Joan Pillow right after we got engaged and thought I had found “the one”. Lucky for me, there was a Monique trunk show a few weeks later, so I went back to order it, but I ended up falling in love with a different gown from the new collection! It is the complete opposite of the gown I was planning to order the first day. I ended up ordering the gown from the trunk show and can’t wait for it to arrive in a few weeks, as I know that will make this all feel very real!

What do you love most about Southern weddings?
I have always admired the way a big Southern wedding can still feel intimate and personalized. While I always knew I wanted a big black tie affair, it was also important that the whole event reflected our personalities and that each guest would walk away knowing we were involved in every detail of the night. I think Southern weddings feel very special because Southern brides pay a lot of attention to the details, especially the delicious Southern food they usually serve their guests!

Tell us about planning with your fiancé. Has it gone smoothly? Is he more involved, or hands-off?
Nick has been very hands on and has made efforts to attend every wedding-related meeting, even if just for the support. Nick has also contributed some great ideas of his own, including an incredible idea for a way to personalize our cocktail hour. It will be a very fun surprise for our guests and make our cocktail hour very unique! I feel incredibly fortunate to have a fiancé who is involved and brings a different perspective than I have to every decision.

Reception table and lighting inspiration from The Studio B Photography and Ira Lippke Studios

What do you wish you would have known at the beginning of your engagement?
When we first got engaged, we focused on the venue and the photographer right away. We saved the band for later, and I wished I had known how quickly great bands can book up. We have a fabulous band, Simply Irresistible, but I wish we had booked them right away and avoided all of that stress!

What are you most looking forward to on your wedding day?
I know this sounds a bit cheesy, but more than anything, I’m looking forward to getting married! I think it’s important to remember that a wedding and a marriage are two different things. While I’m ecstatic about the wedding we have planned, in the end, a wedding is just a fabulous party. What I am most excited for are the vows that we will say to each other on that day, and the fact that I will have my best friend by my side for whatever life throws at me – the good and the bad. We’re incredibly lucky that both sets of our parents have been married for over 30 years, so we have great role models for a successful marriage!

Any plans for a honeymoon? Where do you want to go and what will you do?
This is one of the most exciting parts, since Nick and I LOVE to travel! We’ll be spending our honeymoon in the Seychelles, with a few days in Dubai on the way back. A few weeks after we got engaged, Nick took me out to dinner and presented me with a slideshow on his iPad for two different honeymoon itineraries. I decided that Seychelles and Dubai was the combination I was least likely to visit outside of a honeymoon. We are so excited to relax at a gorgeous hilltop resort and spend a week hopping around to all the islands to visit beaches, scuba dive, and enjoy delicious food!

Vue Photography

Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
At the beginning of our wedding planning, we all sat down and discussed what was most important to us. I wanted to make sure that Nick, my parents, and I all had the “final say” in the area of the wedding that was the most important to each of us. For Nick, that was the food, for my mom it was the calligraphy, invitations and desserts. For my dad it was the band, and for me it was the flowers and décor. It’s been nice to have set these priorities early and to have someone “in charge” of making the decisions for each of these categories.

Now it’s your turn to ask for advice – is there anything you’d like to poll the SW readers on?
Yes! We are really debating doing a first look. Nick and I both want to show respect for some of those “wedding traditions,” such as that moment when the doors open and the bride and groom see each other for the first time. However, the idea of a first look is starting to sound more appealing – we would have a chance to take beautiful photos next door to the St. Regis at the gardens at the Atlanta History Center, and more importantly, we could join cocktail hour and spend more time with our guests. What should we do? Is it more important to preserve that special tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony and capture that moment around our friends and family, or should we have that moment in private and get the opportunity to take gorgeous photos outside and then have more time with our guests later? Help!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Jen! Readers, if you’d like to apply to be a Southern Bride of the Month, check out this post for all the details! If you’ve already emailed me, you’re still in the running for future months!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    Congratulations Jen and Nick! Every couple is different when it comes to the first look. Myself and my husband are very very glad we did it. It gave us an opportunity to privately and quietly enjoy seeing each other for the first time without 225 people watching you. We exchanged gifts during this time and took some pretty emotional portraits.You can go to my Facebook album if you want to check them out! When I walked down the aisle, I actually didn’t even look at my husband right off because I was so distracted by all the faces! That is definitely something to consider. Seeing each other beforehand definitely did not take away from the emotions at all for either of us. We both bawled like a baby when we saw each other as I walked down the aisle! Whatever decision you make will be right for you as a couple! Good luck!

  2. avatar Shelby reply

    Absolutely adorable! I love the St. Regis Atlanta, it’s the most glamorous hotel in the city. Personally, I’m a traditional when it comes to the first look, but I will say the photos at Atlanta History Center/Swan House are possibly too good to pass up on!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Hi Jen! I just have to weigh in and say that having a first look definitely did not take away from the emotion at our ceremony, if that’s something that’s worrying you! It was a big concern of mine, and I’m so relieved (and happy!) with how everything worked out for us!

  4. avatar Kathy reply

    Congratulations Jen and Nick, The wedding weekend sounds divine, the St. Regis will be the icing on your wedding cake. What ever you decide will be just perfect for you, but if it were me I would go for the private first look. If anything it will fill you both with ever so many more emotions, you will remember this private tender time together forever. So go for the photo opportunities, you won’t regret it.

  5. avatar Brenda reply

    Congratulations, you’re wedding sounds fabulous! As far as the first look, I’d say do it but then again, I was a non-traditional bride, we both walked in together! Your honeymoon will be awesome, I just returned from touring over 13 amazing resorts this past Jany 2013-in. Eautigk seascgelles

  6. avatar Brenda reply

    Woops! Not sure what happened to my last comment. Seychelles are amazing! One word of caution, Dubai will be extremely hot in June, I would spend an overnight in Dubai then head to the Seychelles. Dubai is best when visited in the Spring, Fall or Winter. Have a great time!

  7. avatar Jen reply

    Thanks for all the advice! After reading all the comments Nick and I have decided to do the first look and just reserved the gardens at the Atlanta History Center as our location for this special moment! Thanks to all the readers for your advice! It was super helpful!

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You know when you meet someone and you become instant friends? Well, that’s exactly how I feel about this bride! Y’all, I am SO excited that I get to introduce today’s Real Wedding because not only is it an absolutely gorgeous soiree, but the bride is our very own Blue Ribbon Vendor Director (and my personal virtual BFF – we work in different states!), Mrs. Kristin Winchester.

Kristin + Kyle are not only a good lookin’ couple (dying over KNW’s Southern bump!), but they have the best hearts. I know that Kristin worked to create a wedding that was not only beautiful, but a celebration of their marriage. And, I’m sure the food wasn’t bad either: K + K served Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing according to the bride’s special family recipe. As Kristin says, “Thanksgiving is one of our favorite meals, and represents a time when we gather around people we love and celebrate all that we are thankful for, which is exactly what we wanted to do on our wedding day.” Yes, ma’am!

Big thank yous to Martha Manning for being there to capturing all the joy that I know surrounded this day.

Custom monogrammed Jack Rogers, come on now, you know KNW is a girl after my own heart!

I may or may not have gone to (what felt like) 100 stores the first three weeks post-engagement.  I may or may not have tried on at least 1,000 dresses.  I was on quite the warpath trying to balance my timetable and my vision.  Everyone said that I must find a dress and find one fast so that I could get it ordered and back by May.  I tried on lots of pretty dresses in cities all across North Carolina. At the end of January, with the clock running out, my mama convinced me to take a day off and drive home to Gastonia to look at Poffie Girls.  Since I knew we were getting married in Chapel Hill, it seemed fitting that I would find my dress in Gastonia, so that I could have a little piece of my childhood with me on the BIG day. As I walked out of the dressing room with what would soon be my dress, there was soft music playing over the loud speaker.  I started humming along before I realized it was Josh Groban.  The very song that Kyle played right after we got engaged, when we danced in the middle of the living room, was playing in the middle of Poffie Girls.  I should have stopped right there, handed them the credit card and called it a day.  Instead, I tried a few more dresses, managing to re-try on my dress four more times in-between the others.  Decision made.  Mama, Sissy and I all got a little weepy when I put on mama’s veil and completed the look.  It was so special to be able to wear her veil on my wedding day. They made a few modifications to the original design (making the neckline a more defined sweetheart, adding pockets and extending the buttons the length of the train) in the process creating my dream dress.  Upon leaving the salon, I promptly called Kyle to warn him that there was a GOOD chance that he might come home for many months following our wedding to find me sitting on our sofa, wearing my wedding dress.  I loved it that much.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration?  What was Southern about your wedding? Oh my stars, as you can probably guess, there were Southern details woven throughout our entire wedding day. The bridal party wrapped their bouquets in sweet handkerchiefs, monogrammed with each bridesmaid’s initials, that were anonymously delivered to the house where we were getting ready.  I wrapped two somethings blue, embroidered handkerchiefs, one from each of my grandmothers, around my bouquet.  And of course the groomsmen were dashing in their handmade coral, madras bow ties and khaki seersucker suits.  And those were just our duds!

My heart literally leaps for the image above, and the one below! Such sweet moments.

Did you decide to do a “first look”?  No.  Since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of the moment that those church doors would open and I would see my groom for the first time.  Kyle was on the same page, so we decided to forgo the “first look.”  We did have a brief moment to exchange gifts and squeeze hands around the church parlor door before the ceremony.  While we didn’t get to see one other, this simple moment and chance to hold hands and silently pray was just what I needed to calm my nerves. Happily when those beautiful church doors opened and I caught my first glimpse of my handsome groom, I knew we had made the right decision for us.  That one moment is imprinted on my brain, and I know I will never, ever forget it.
Did you write your own vows?  If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? The ceremony was by far the most important part of our day.  We spent a lot of time planning it to ensure it reflected our personalities, both individually and as a couple, our faith, and the future of our family.  We decided to recite traditional vows, just like our parents and grandparents. However, we felt strongly that adding personal touches throughout our day was important, so we decided to write promise statements to one another.  My favorite line of my promise statement to Kyle was, “Today is a celebration of the miracle of love and the blessings of family.  Today, we declare our commitment to one another, before God and our loved ones.  Today we become a family.” Kyle promised to take me to as many sporting events as I wanted (note: he works in college sports), which garnered a chuckle from the congregation.  He concluded his promise to me by saying, “I will have no fear – I will lay my life down for you, and for our children, in the name of Christ and for His glory.  I will be your best friend and love you more every day until the end of time.  Pinky promise.” Yes, we locked pinkies and sealed the deal.

Soon after we got engaged, we found over 150 mason jars in my late grandmother’s basement and used them everywhere at the reception, which made it feel like she was there celebrating with us.  Some of those mason jars were the same ones that had contained delicacies from my grandparents’ vegetable garden, which I helped tend in the summers when I was growing up. My grandmother gave Kyle and me a white family Bible as a wedding present.  It lay on the altar during the service, open to our favorite scripture, which made us feel connected to our Southern roots. As a tribute to my childhood and the peach trees in our backyard in Gastonia, NC, there were fresh peaches piled on all the reception tables.  I actually witnessed guests (not to mention the groom) grabbing peaches and eating them straight from the centerpieces. Guests were served Arnold Palmers during the cocktail hour and biscuits with honey butter during dinner.  And, I slipped out of my wedding shoes into newly monogrammed Jack Rogers sandals to dance the night away. If that doesn’t shout “Southern charm,” then my initials aren’t KNW.

Y’all might recognize that happy face on the left – that image actually became the back cover of Southern Weddings V5!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Kyle and I aren’t really big fans of cake but we come from a family of cake lovers so we wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out on this wedding tradition.  Our cake was a simple three-tiered beauty; each layer was a different flavor.  We had original white cake and buttercream frosting, white cake with fresh strawberry filling and chocolate with chocolate ganache (a crowd favorite).  Admittedly, my favorite dessert is a homemade chocolate chip cookie.  Baking is also that tangible way that I love on people, especially Kyle.  When we were dating, I would spend Thursday evenings baking, in anticipation of our weekend visits.  I am rarely without the supplies to make a fresh batch of cookies or Rice Krispy treats, so we decided to incorporate this sweet expression of love into our wedding day.  My amazing family spent hours the week of the wedding making dozens upon dozens of chocolate chip cookies, Rice Krispy treats, peanut butter cookies and shortbread.  The guests nibbled at the sweets table all night and then were able to make a treat bag to take home for a midnight snack! Apparently, my father-in-law never got to the wedding cake because he snagged a cookie every time he passed the table — he lost count at seven. 

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Good heavens, I can’t pick just one.  We served Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing according to my family’s special recipe.  It is one of our favorite meals and represents a time when we gather around people we love and celebrate all that we are thankful for, which is exactly what we wanted to do on our wedding day. We included an assortment of self-addressed Chapel Hill landmark postcards on every table at the reception, with instructions for our family and friends to craft a note to us – sharing advice, love, thoughts and wishes.  At the end of the evening the postcards were collected by my dear friend Kate, and she has been mailing a batch to us each month around the 23.  Reading the hand-written notes from our dearest friends and family has been such a joy each month; funny, thoughtful, gracious memories that we will treasure for a long time. My other favorite detail was our candle-light departure.  We decided to do a staged exit around 9:45 to allow everyone to participate in the departure festivities.  We left behind a beautiful scene of our family and friends surrounded by the warm glow of candles.  We rode up through campus and were dropped off on Franklin Street, which gave us a chance to walk, hand-in-hand, through UNC-CH’s campus, just as we did when we first starting dating.  It was the first time we had really been alone that day, and we spent some sweet moments discussing our most perfect day.  Kyle also used this as the time to tell me where we were going on our honeymoon (the Dominican Republic!), which up until that moment, had been a big, well-kept secret.  After a lovely little walk, still in our wedding day finest, we headed back to the reception and danced the rest of the night away!

How did the two of you meet?  (From the groom) It took 7+ years to get to this point. Here’s the (abbreviated) love story: Three years at Carolina were full of fun times and great friends for both of us.  So many times our paths crossed – through classes (always for Kristin; sometimes for me), games (always for me; sometimes for Kristin), church, campus organizations – and we didn’t know it. For three years, we lived both perfectly content college-kid lives, never knowing the other one existed, until August 24, 2004. We were both Communication Studies majors and were set to take back-to-back upper-level Comm classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays the first semester of our senior year.  Kristin entered the first of those classes with her usual pep and zeal, ready to take on the world. I was, surprisingly, already in class, but (not surprisingly) half asleep in the back row with my hat pulled down over my eyes.  In fact, I barely lifted an eye when my roommate of four years said hello to the cute blonde in the bright green shirt and white skirt.  After somehow staying awake through the first class, we headed to our next stop.  After settling in near the back with a couple of friends, I began to take in the scene around me when that same cute blonde dropped her pen two seats in front of me.  “Awww, sad face,” she said aloud as she reached down to pick up the pen.  For the first time, I really took notice of the girl who would, one day, become my wife. After some time getting to know one another in class, our friendship started to grow. I planned a ‘first official’ date to the NC State Fair, but a serious case of strep throat prevented Kristin from going.  (From the bride) We wound up spending that evening at my house. He came over to check on me and brought me diet coke, gummy worms and cotton candy from the fair.  Yes, he sent someone to Raleigh to buy cotton candy so he could bring it to me.  Needless to say, even though I was terribly ill, I was smitten.  (From the groom) Our official, official first date would turn out to be a Friday night dinner at Chili’s (come on, we were on a budget here) and a Haunted House trip for a sorority function. Senior year was filled with many more special memories: meeting the parents, meeting “the sissy” (Hi, Kimberly), attending formals, winning a National Championship in basketball, and, of course, graduating.  Little did we know that this would be the only time in our dating relationship that we would live in the same city.
Describe the proposal. My sweet husband proposed juuuust after the ball dropped on NYE.  He asked.  I said yes.  Simple and sweet; the rest is history.  I would be remiss, however, (and totally unlike myself), if I didn’t take a sweet, simple story and gussy it up with all the yummy details. We were at the beach. After getting back to the house from a busy day and sitting around dressed up for a few minutes, I decided it was perfectly acceptable to put on my pajamas and curl up on the sofa for the remaining 83 minutes of 2011.  A few minutes after midnight, the groom managed to drag me outside to the deck of the beach house as everyone was shooting off fireworks. I was freezing and had no plans to actually go outside. It took a little coaxing + an afghan + a faked ‘step on a nail’ injury to get me outside. Alas, as I turned to go inside, IT happened. Down on one knee + lots of sweet words + a ring, and poof, it was official. We headed inside because it was freezing; he proceeded to scoop me up and started to pray for us (our relationship, our marriage, our future children, grandchildren, etc.), which would be the point of the blessed event where I sprung a leak.  I hadn’t shed a single tear before that point of the evening.  Then, there in the dark of the living room, all by ourselves, we danced.  It is exactly what we did on our very first NYE back in 2004.  This time it wasn’t quite so calculated on my part to sneakily have a cheesy country CD in the stereo system. Instead, he had Josh Groban on pause, ready to belt out one of my favorite songs of all time.  Be still my heart. Then all the fun started with calling both of our parents and my little sister around 12:30 a.m. (Imagine my surprise; my parents that are normally in bed by 9pm sharp were wide awake and sitting by the phone.  I think it made to half a ring). I called my mama the moment I woke up on Sunday to tell her that I was not, in fact, dreaming, but that there was a sparkly little diamond sitting on my left hand, and I was ready to officially start planning.
In what month did you get married? June
How many guests attended your wedding? 225
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony?  Colossians 3:12-17 and a very beautiful Love reading.  It was a back-and-forth interpretation (gracefully read by two of my dear friends from college) that incorporated many special scripture verses about love.  It was definitely a highlight of our ceremony, and I am so glad we decided to include it.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding.  Music was an important part of the ceremony experience.  I was bound and determined to have more than just a ceremony; I wanted to have a worship service.  My aunt and uncle sang Amazing Grace during the prelude.  I could hear them as I was standing just outside the church doors. They also sang “Surely the Presence” during the ceremony.  We were blessed to have one of my favorite singers from the church I attended in Cary sing two solos as well.  I always joked that when we got engaged, I was going to figure out how to meet Autumn (note: my church in Cary is 9,000+ people) and ask her to sing at our wedding.  After a little digging and networking, I managed to track down her email address and wrote her a lengthy note that included asking her to sing at our wedding.  She graciously agreed and I couldn’t have been more thankful.  She sang Be Thou My Vision as an interlude and Twila’ Paris’ “How Beautiful” during the lighting of our unity candle. There was something special about including a few traditional songs for the processionals and recessionals.  Kyle’s mama played the organ for the local church while he was growing up, so she had played at many weddings and had a few favorites. The mothers and grandmothers processed in to Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” the bridal party processed in to Pachelbel’s “Cannon in D,” my daddy and I walked down the aisle to Clark’s “Trumpet Voluntary” and Kyle and I processed out, as husband and wife (yay!), to Mendelssohn’s “The Wedding March.”
Describe your wedding flowers:  Simple perfection.  My bouquet consisted of several Southern delicacies:  ivory roses, white peonies, white hydrangeas and white freesia.  They were even able to turn the bonnet that Kyle wore home from the hospital into a flower and tuck it into my bouquet.  Kyle’s mama had saved it to give to her daughter-in-law; she even has a sweet poem that accompanied the bonnet to talk about its significance. My bridesmaids carried similar bouquets, composed of roses, peonies, hydragenas and hypericum berries in pinks and coral, wrapped in the same fabric as the guys’ bow ties. For the groomsmen, we tried for something a little heartier that could withstand the pre-ceremony hugs from the wedding guests and the late June afternoon humidity.  The florist crafted lovely peach hypericum berries, tied with raffia.  I think that the groomsmen looked dashing, and their boutonnières stayed intact all night!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Time — or a lack thereof.  After becoming engaged on New Year’s Eve, I knew that I wanted to get married in June, leaving a little over five months for everything to fall into place.  We ran into a few scheduling challenges with some potential vendors but managed to enlist just the right ones to help make our day magical. Oh, and budget.  But isn’t budget always a challenge?  Having a vision is one thing.  Making your vision match your budget is a totally different story. I was very deliberate in prioritizing what was most important and had to be comfortable letting a few other things go.  It was also a great and constant reminder that, at the end of the day, the most important thing was the fact that Kyle and I were getting married.  When I focused on that piece, the budget just didn’t seem to matter as much.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Absolutely, a videographer.  Every time I watch our wedding highlights film, I cry.  It immediately transports me back to that day.  I am so grateful to have live footage of both sets of parents and my grandmother.  It is something I will treasure forever, and I am already anticipating watching it with our children and grandchildren!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Well, they say that nothing ever goes exactly as you planned.  As someone who tends to be a tad type-A and a bit of an over-planner, I promised Kyle that I would just “be” on our wedding day.  After all, the most important thing was that we were getting married.  So, when our departure candles could not be located mere minutes before our planned departure, I took a deep breath, grabbed a glass of champagne and sent the wedding party on a reconnaissance mission.  The result was one of my most favorite moments of that day.  The guests went outside, the wedding party went hunting for the candles and Kyle and I wound up all alone (with our favorite DJ) in the reception hall.  Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” started pouring out of the speakers, and Kyle took my hand and led me to the dance floor. For the next few minutes, we danced in the candlelight, causing me forget about what was going on outside. The song ended, and I noticed my baby sister, standing at the edge of the dance floor with happy tears streaming down her cheeks.  She didn’t want to interrupt our moment, so she had waited to happily share the news that the candles had been located, and we could proceed with our planned departure.  What a special, albeit totally unplanned, moment!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Oh mercy!  I have so many things I would love to share. Constantly remind yourself that you are planning your wedding to celebrate your marriage.  When you feel yourself over-extended or stressed, remind yourself WHY you are planning a wedding.  And be true to yourselves. As Kyle likes to say, “do you.”  There are traditions and etiquette rules that are important, but it is equally important to make sure the day reflects you, the couple.  Thanksgiving in June?  Four solos during the ceremony?  Thirty-one members in the wedding party?  Yes, please!  One of the biggest compliments that someone paid to us during the reception was how much they felt “us” throughout the whole day – in all the details.  Finally – and I feel most importantly – remember to stop and smell the (proverbial) roses. Remember to take the time to stop, take a deep breath and take it all in.  Then, do it a second time. And a third. It is a very special day, a day that you have put your heart and soul into making happen.  Look around, make memories, and enjoy each and every moment!!
What’s next for you as a couple?  What are you looking forward to in the future?  After dating long-distance for nearly six years, we are happily settled into newlywed life, which includes weeknight meals around the dinner table, afternoon naps on Sundays, and day-dreaming about our first family dog, who will be named Murphy, in honor of the building where we first met!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Starting the morning with a few tears thanks to that most memorable moment story :) Kristin, you are a truly breathtaking bride and every picture is just overflowing with love! So excited to finally see this post from your big day!

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Lisa: You are so kind. I am so grateful to share a bit of our story from our most wonderful day. The pictures definitely beam the amazing feelings of joy and love we felt on that special day. I am so grateful to have all of these memories written down. Big hugs!!

  2. avatar Emily reply

    I remember you telling us about your “sleeps” sign, so it’s so fun to see that photo! And, of course, all of the rest of them — love this whole post!!

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Yay! Thanks for picking such sweet memories of our day to share. Looking through these images transports me back to that sweet, sweet day!!

  3. avatar Kat reply

    The bride’s advice is so perfect – just what I needed to hear!! I love how they not only stayed true to their roots, but made everything about the wedding very “them”. What a beautiful day!!

  4. avatar Maggle Goodell reply

    Handsome couple, and the wedding looks like so much fun! I especially loved the bouquets, great colors!

  5. avatar Brooke reply

    Poffie Girls is amazing! I bought my dress there too and it was nothing but a wonderful experience!

  6. avatar Katie reply

    Kristin- do you have a photo of the back of your hair without the veil? I’m a big fan of volume and have been wanting a style like yours! I’d love to show my stylist a view from the back as well. Beautiful wedding!!!


    • avatar Kristin reply

      Katie: But of course! I love that you love the ‘Southern bump/volume’ too. Let me dig through all my photos! I am sure that I can come up with something between my portraits and the day-of photos. I would be more than happy to share. Will you email me so I that I can send them to you directly? ([email protected])

  7. avatar Steven Neal reply

    Thank you Marissa for an early birthday present. From a very proud papa.

  8. avatar Sukey (Dress For The Wedding) reply

    This wedding has so many of the sweetest touches imaginable! I love the “sleeps” sign, because I count the “sleeps” until something big too! I also love the way the light is shining in that beautiful church and just illuminates the already radiant couple, and how all the bridesmaids and groomsmen are up there close behind them – symbolic and beautiful. Congratulations to the happy couple!

  9. avatar Taylor J reply

    DYING over those Jack Rogers!! How did I not know about this? I foresee a similar picture in my wedding album! AHH!!

  10. avatar Rebeka reply

    As I read the sweetness in this post I simply cry. I feel that we are kindered spirits that have never met. Every bit of what you dreamed for your wedding is what I am trying to plan into mine. My dress is from Poffie Girls as well, I have a large wedding party, and my fellas are dressing very similarly. After seeing your Jack’s I think I may have to splurge and do the same… I love the idea! Your little touches make all the difference. And thanks for the reminder of what it’s really about. When the moments become stressful I have to realize that it isn’t about the wedding it is about the marriage. I want it to be a celebration of our marriage and commitment to one another, not just one day; a worship service to the one who brought us together, not a production of my husband and I. Thank you for sharing your story and being just so lovely. It gives me hope that I can make this happen and work out beautifully. Good luck and best wishes to you and your husband!

  11. avatar What It’s All About | Twirl Boutique reply

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  12. avatar Caroline reply

    What church is this ceremony in? It looks beautiful

  13. avatar How a Writer Crafts a Wedding Ceremony | Backstage | The Williford Wedding reply

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  15. avatar Southern Newlywed: In the Kitchen with Kristin Winchester + a Giveaway! – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] How they met: We met during our fall semester of college in Chapel Hill. During the first few weeks, we exchanged pleasantries before, during, and after class. Fast-forward to early October. I needed someone for my sorority grab-a-date function and thought I might ask Kyle (after some serious advance research and networking through connected friends). Unknowingly, I had caught Kyle’s eye on the first day of classes so when I asked, he said yes. The rest is history (a long, juicy, marvelous kind of history that I will happily tell you over coffee, just ask). You can read more on his side of the story here. […]

  16. avatar Ellen reply

    Hi SW! Can someone help me by providing the designer of Kristin’s dress since this post pre-dates when vendors were provided? I would be oh so appreciative!

    Thanks and take good care,


    • avatar Kristin reply

      Ellen! I wish I had more information. I got my dress at Poffie Girls in Gastonia (NC). The designer was a very small (she didn’t even have a website) and located in California. Her name was Angelina. I have tried to look up more information for you, but I think she might no longer be making dresses. Email me directly ([email protected]) and I will happily share as many additional details I can find! xo.

  17. avatar How a Writer Crafts a Wedding Ceremony – Weddingbee reply

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