Claudia + Brad’s engagement was a sweet and intimate moment — just the two of them surrounded by a beautiful lake and mountains. I love that looking through these images from Paperlily Photography is reminiscent of their proposal story! It was by far the newlyweds’ favorite detail of the day. “My jaw literally dropped the first time I saw it,” said Claudia. For me, there’s something calming about their surroundings that makes their “I do’s” seem like they were meant to be and a part of the world’s grand romantic plan!
Like most gals, finding THE dress was top on the wedding planning to-do list, and I knew just the place to go. Fabulous Frocks of Atlanta is owned by a dear friend of mine that I have gotten to know through working in the wedding industry (I’m a makeup artist). Both the shop and the dresses are beautiful and it would be a bonus to have someone I trust help choose the perfect dress. My mom, sister and best friend took a trip to Fabulous Frocks with me. About four dresses into the process, I found the winner. It was a delicate, flowing Claire Pettibone that couldn’t have fit my vision for my dress any better.
Describe your wedding flowers. Sherry of Gertie Mae’s Floral Studio is a close friend and one of the most talented floral designers, so we knew exactly who we would come to for flowers. Flowers were really important to me and I trusted Sherry to bring my vision for soft, beautiful, organic-looking bouquets and arrangements to life. I really loved that each of the bridesmaids’ bouquets were unique, and each arrangement on the tables was different and in an array of pitchers, jars and vases that we collected and now have in our home.
Music was extremely important to us for both the ceremony and reception. We are big fans of bluegrass and knew that type of music would be unique and appropriate for our riverside wedding in the hills of North Georgia. Our band, The Whiskey Rebellion, played some fiddle tunes during the ceremony and accompanied Meredith, Brad’s childhood friend who is also a talented musician. She sang “For the Beauty of the Earth” as everyone was seated and then “Amazing Grace” for the processional. It was so special to us to have such a dear friend be a part of the ceremony in that way. Our first dance was to “Not With Haste” by Mumford & Sons. The dather-daughter dance was to “Find Your Wings” by Mark Harris and the mother-son dance was to “How Sweet It Is” by James Taylor.
The setting of our wedding felt like heaven to us. Our family friends offered their beautiful piece of land on the Soque River to use for the ceremony and reception. My jaw literally dropped the first time I saw it. We both envisioned our wedding being outdoors in the mountains of North Georgia, but this setting far exceeded our expectations with the beautiful view of the water, the open grassy fields and the giant trees lining the river.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on?
The music for the ceremony and reception was so important to us, so we were definitely open to spending some money in that area. We love live music, especially bluegrass, and we thought that a bluegrass band would be different and fun and fit the laid back vibe of our wedding.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The ceremony was so precious to both of us, and the sweetest moment of it was when our pastor had us both turn around and face all of our guests just to see who all was there for us and would be in our lives for a very long time. It was such a neat moment to soak in the beauty and love that surrounded us.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our riverside wedding couldn’t help but be Southern. We had a bluegrass band, beer was served in an iced-down canoe, bales of hay provided seating, food was served by food trucks and our getaway car was a 1940 Chevy. All of these details made the wedding feel very much like us. Nothing was stuffy or stiff. We just wanted to have fun and enjoy everyone and wanted the same for our guests.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy every single bit of your engagement. The parties. The planning. And enjoy every bit of it together. I know a lot of people say that the “wedding is for the bride.” It meant so much that Brad was interested in the details of our wedding and that we planned it as a team. Of course, we had tons of help from family and friends or there would have been no way that we could have pulled it off during our five-month engagement, but I felt like Brad and I were in the planning together and it made the big day that much more meaningful.
There is a bakery in Athens (where we both went to college) that makes the best cakes. We didn’t really have to decide where we would get our wedding cake. The harder decision was what flavor we would have. Since we couldn’t decide on a single flavor, the best we could do was narrow it down to our favorite six. It was one of the best decisions we made.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
We met online! Not actually, but kind of. Our mutual friend had been trying to introduce me to Brad for a while. After weeks of hearing about this great guy, my friend “introduced” us via group Gchat. Ah yes. Just how I had always imagined meeting my husband — in a “chatroom” while I was at work. I was so excited to finally get to know this guy I had heard all about, and luckily, he totally exceeded my expectations. I remembered telling my sister half joking, half totally and completely seriously, that this guy is my soulmate. Understandably, she didn’t really believe me since Brad and I still hadn’t met in person at that point. After a couple of weeks of emailing and instant messaging, we finally had plans to get together. I knew both of us were just a wee bit nervous about this meeting. There was a lot of build up because we had both already spilled our guts to each other, had a lot in common, and made each other laugh, but the real question was: are we attracted to each other? Thankfully, that was not an issue. We clicked! Hurray! We instantly became best friends and knew very quickly that we would be in each other’s lives for a very long time.
Describe the proposal. The day we got engaged was the day after our nephew was born. I was so caught up with this new addition to the family and wasn’t even thinking Brad was up to something when he took a random Wednesday and Thursday off. I figured it was just to be with the family and love on that new baby boy. After we left the hospital Wednesday, Brad suggested that we spend the night at his parents’ lake house. I was all in, yet still clueless as to what he was up to. The thing that was so strange to me was Brad was adamant about running back home to grab his swimsuit and contact case. I couldn’t understand why on earth we couldn’t just buy both on our way up to the lake. Little did I know, someone had to get a pretty piece of jewelry from the house. So the next day, we lounged around on the dock and just enjoyed being together. It didn’t feel any different that any other day. Even when Brad sat on the arm of my chair and was playing with my hair and saying all sorts of lovey, sweet things, I didn’t have a clue that this day was going to be one I remember forever. But as soon as he knelt down and reached into his pocket, it clicked. Something we had been waiting for was about to happen. Once I knew what was happening, I cried, like uncontrollably, and for a while. It was the sweetest, most surreal moment. We were together, just the two of us, surrounded by the beauty of the lake and mountains and were so filled with joy that we were one (big) step closer to spending the rest of our lives together. I remember in that moment wishing we could freeze that moment and stay there for a long time. It was precious. But we had to head back to Atlanta that evening, and I was surprised to be greeted by our closest family and friends at the restaurant where we had our first date to celebrate our engagement. Oh what a happy, happy day.
In what month did you get married? October 2012
How many guests attended your wedding? 225
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Doing a “first look” really wasn’t an option for either of us. We both always imagined seeing the other for the first time at our ceremony, and it was well worth the wait and build up.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Not getting stressed! I have the tendency to stress, even about small stuff –even if it should be fun! I won’t lie, I worried throughout the planning more than I wish I had. Everything came together better and more beautifully that we could have imagined, so I should have just kicked back and chilled out.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Finally living life together! It is so much fun to wake up, drink coffee, live our day, and then come home to the same place. There is no more running around trying to mingle our uncertain schedules together. We know where we are going each day and that’s fun. And best of all, there is no more wedding planning! On a more serious note, we can’t wait to discover how to mesh and meld our life together as a married couple. Every single day we discover some small thing we love and appreciate about each other. We can’t wait to learn more about each other while growing old together. That’s the good stuff.
Gertie Mae’s is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!