I couldn’t help but smile when I read Laura and John’s love story. After he offered to help her carry boxes up five flights of stairs (she refused!), they didn’t get to know each other until a year later, when he stopped her in the hallway in search of googly-eye stickers! This unconventional conversation-starter led to a beautiful relationship, a surprise proposal, and ultimately, a delightfully Southern wedding. Since Laura and John met in Oregon and he grew up in Indiana, this Alabama bride sure had her work cut out for her! The azaleas were in full bloom by the time they held their deeply meaningful ceremony in her parents’ backyard, followed by a reception full of Southern foods and treats. I can only imagine how many of their Northern guests fell in love with the South that night! Just like Laura and John’s adorable love story and beautiful wedding, it’s easy to love, don’t you think?
Many thanks to Kelly of Spindle Photography for sending Laura and John’s wedding our way!
John was the first guy I met when I moved to Portland, Oregon. He was the only person (besides a fireman) who offered to help my friend and me move boxes up five flights of stairs to my new apartment. I stubbornly turned down his offer to help. I later found out that he lived down the hall from me, but our schedules were pretty different and I barely ever saw him. A year later, fate and googly-eye stickers brought us together. One night, when I returned home from dinner with my friend, John approached us in the hall and asked if I had any googly-eye stickers that he could use for a model he was building for a science class. Oddly enough, I did. He invited my friend and I over to his place that night (where she quietly told me that she thought he might like me), and we’ve been side-by-side ever since.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my wedding dress was such a special experience. My parents flew me back home to Alabama the summer before my wedding so that I could find my dress with my loved ones by my side. The first place I visited was The White Room because two of my older sisters had had their beautiful dresses perfectly altered by Carolyn Kelley, the owner. I searched around for something unique and picked out a variety of styles to try on. The first one I put on was perfect, and it was floor sample in perfect condition! I tried on about ten more dresses after that, but kept thinking about that first one. Also, my dad (who has impeccable taste) kept saying, “That’s pretty, but I’m not sure that it’s as special as that first one.” Finally, I put the first dress back on. We added a very simple veil and everyone in the room teared up—it was definitely THE dress. Then, on top of everything going so well that day, my amazing grandparents surprised me by purchasing my dream dress. It was just one of those incredibly lucky and lovely days.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did decide to do a first look. I really felt like it would be more special to see each other that day without a crowd of people watching (though my sisters and bridesmaids were stealthily watching from a distance). Plus, I knew that if I saw him for the first time while walking down the aisle, I would have been so overwhelmed by emotion that I probably would have cried through the entire ceremony (which I basically did anyway, but it would have been more intense). It was so comforting to see him, and so sweet to see him see me. I’m glad that we set aside time to do that and let that moment sink in.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had three readings. John’s mom read an excerpt from “The Bridge Across Forever” by Richard Bach. My step-mom read “A Marriage” by Mark Twain. Then, I had our officiant (who is also one of our best friends) read an excerpt from a letter my mom wrote me before she passed away about finding real love.
This picture might be my favorite out of all of them. They look like they just adore each other!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? It was really important to me that I married John in my hometown. He grew up in Portland, but most of his family is from Indiana, so I wanted to make sure that I showcased the charms of the South for all of our Oregon and Indiana guests. Fortunately, Mother Nature cooperated with us and our spring wedding showed off Alabama’s most gorgeous time—my parents’ backyard was filled with blooming azaleas! Of course, we made sure to highlight Southern food: candied pecans, sweet tea, mint juleps, shrimp and grits, crab salad and fried green tomatoes were some of the highlights.
Tell us all about the proposal! John was determined to surprise me, which was a difficult undertaking since we designed my engagement ring together. Actually, I had been anticipating a proposal for almost three years when the time finally came. He had a few elaborate plans that involved us being outdoors, but each fell through due to many strings of rainy days. After a handful of failed attempts at creating an ideal situation, he came up with a low-key plan. He told me one weekend morning that he had to go down to Eugene for business (which isn’t unusual). I kissed him goodbye and went about my day fixing up things at the house. Many hours later, as I was taking a nap, John came through the door with a nervous look on his face. At first I was startled because I didn’t expect him and was half asleep. Then, he got down on one knee, took out the ring (a beautiful combination of two family heirlooms) and told me why he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I was stunned! I quickly realized that I was so stunned that I did not hear his proposal, and I asked him to propose to me again, which he did. Obviously, I said yes. We spent the rest of the day together doing things we love doing and being totally excited.
When did y’all get married? April 13, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 75
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we did. My favorite part about our vows was that we wrote them separately, but they ended up being very similar. My favorite line from both had to do with our desire to help each other fulfill our dreams.
Describe your wedding flowers. My wedding flowers were gorgeous! I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted, but I found a vendor I could really trust (thank you Mandy and the HotHouse team) and left most of the decisions up to her. I told her what colors I wanted, and that I wanted ranunculus and poppies—the rest was up to her and her team. I didn’t ask for roses, but I’m so glad they included them since John and I live in The City of Roses.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Much of my wedding was focused on highlighting things that I love about the South. I knew that I wanted several regular cakes instead of one large one, so we chose a couple of uniquely Southern cakes (strawberry and coconut) and a beautiful chocolate cake (because you have to have chocolate). I also included two cheesecakes because John isn’t really into regular cake.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My favorite detail is that we had an intimate ceremony in my parents’ backyard. When I asked John what his favorite detail was, he said, “My bride.”
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Distance! Planning a wedding from nearly 3,000 miles away comes with many challenges. Luckily, I have lots of awesome family members and friends in Alabama that stepped up to the plate and really made the wedding possible.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I was happy about pretty much everything involved in our wedding, but our photographer, Kelly Cummings, was exactly what we needed throughout the day. She made sure the whole day flowed the way it should, and ended up being the person I turned to for just about everything. Also, she has given me the most beautiful photos that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Our wedding really would not have been the same without her.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The most memorable moment was probably the fire. Right as we were leaving, one of the sparklers set the guest book tablecloth ablaze. We were already in the car, but watching that happen and seeing all the guests scramble to save the guest book (which was heroically saved—thank goodness) was an interesting and memorable end to an eventful day.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t try to live up to anybody’s expectations—make the day about you and your husband. At the end of the day, you aren’t going to have a perfect wedding or meet everyone’s expectations of what it should have been. Though, if you let go and make decisions that feel right, y’all will have a happy day to look back on. For some more practical advice: get that guest list hammered out as soon as possible! Putting together that list with all the correct details was one of my biggest hurdles. Also, don’t fret over little details. As long as you have vendors you trust and respect, all the details will come together in a beautiful way.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are looking forward to so many things. Mostly, we are looking forward to future travels, but we are also very excited to start looking for a house to call our own. The thing we look forward to most about being married is growing together and starting a little family.
Photographer: Kelly Cummings of Spindle Photography | Ceremony Venue: Bride’s parents’ backyard | Reception Venue: The Avondale Villa | Florist: Mandy Majerik of Hot House Design Studio | Wedding Cakes: Edgar’s Bakery | Caterer: Yellow Bicycle Catering | Bride’s Gown: Christos Eloisa | Paper Products: Paper Source | Hair Stylist: Mark Hyde at SalonU | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J.Crew Louisa in Dusty Shale | Groom’s Attire: J.Crew | Groomsmen Attire: J.Crew shirts and Forever 21 ties
Spindle Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!