Y’all know Lisa and I share an affliction for crying over the Real Wedding interviews, well, today I am happy to say that I kept it together while reading Ali + Jonathan’s interview. Not because it wasn’t filled with great details (the story of their church is incredible!) or meaningful memories (um, just the two of them dancing in the rain!), but because my heart was filled with such joy after reading the story of how they met! Not only did these two share the responsibility of telling this story, but they ping-ponged back and forth in such a way that I imagine they’d be ridiculously fun on a double date! I can’t help but see how their personalities continue to shine through in these photos from our very talented friends, Jordan + Landon!
After searching the pages of bridal magazines, (Southern Weddings was my very first–true story! I immediately bought it for myself to get ideas for our wedding and Jonathan, not knowing I had already purchased it, also bought it for me the same day. Great minds think alike!), I decided I wanted a simple, elegant, lace dress. I picked out a few I liked and described my vision to Leah at Alexia’s Bridal in downtown Raleigh, NC before she made a few recommendations for me. She nailed it! I liked each of the four dresses I tried on in increasing measure, until the last one, which quickly became THE one. My mother started to cry when she first saw me in it–a strapless, lace A-line with a sweetheart neckline, by Liancarlo. She said, “This dress makes you look like Jonathan’s bride” and there was no going back.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! Borrowed- My sister in law, Adrienne, graciously allowed me to use her veil. Blue- My shoes were dark blue Badgeley Mischka peep toe heels with a crystal broach on the top. Old- My original proposal ring that was Jonathan’s grandmother’s and the Tiffany pearl bracelet my grandmother gave me when I graduated from West Point. New- My lace Liancarlo wedding dress
The bride’s bouquet was in monochromatic shades of champagne with porcelain peonies, garden roses, hydrangea, lamb’s ear and seeded eucalyptus, with magnolia leaf accents. The bridesmaid bouquets were clutch bouquets of monochromatic shades of pale pink flowers with a magnolia leaf collar. At the reception, we used groupings of silver mercury glass vases mixed with hand-blown vintage milk glass vases with assorted shades of soft ivory and pink blooms, accented with magnolia leaves.
The venue for the ceremony–the Old Sheldon Church Ruins in Yemassee, SC. We absolutely love this place! There is something so uniquely beautiful about the brick columns and remaining structure standing along in a forest of oaks and Spanish moss. The feeling you get while you’re here is so mysteriously, romantically indescribable. As soon as we saw the church in person, we knew this is where we were going to get married. “The Old Sheldon Church Ruins is a historic site located in northern Beaufort County, South Carolina, approximately 17 miles north of Beaufort. Known also as the Sheldon Church or Old Sheldon Church, the pre-existing building was originally known as Prince William’s Parish Church. The church was built in the Greek Revival style between 1745 and 1753. Prince William’s was burned by the British in 1779 during the Revolutionary War. In 1826 it was rebuilt and later burnt by William Tecumseh Sherman, in 1865. An alternative view has more recently come to light, however. In a letter dated February 3, 1866, Miton Leverett wrote that “Sheldon Church not burn’t. Just torn up in the inside, but can be repaired.” The inside of the church was apparently gutted to reuse materials to rebuild homes burnt by Sherman’s army. The ruins lie amongst majestic oaks and scattered graves. Inside the ruins of the church lies the remains of Colonel William Bull, who “greatly assisted General Oglethorpe in establishing the physical layout of Savannah, Georgia. Bull surveyed the land in 1733 to form the basic grid pattern of the streets and squares.” We set chairs up inside the church, just as the pews would have been set up facing the altar, which is actually still standing and walked down the aisle where the original one would have been.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We chose to have a cello and violin duo for the ceremony music. We used several selections from Phantom of the Opera as the prelude because we felt like it matched the setting of Old Sheldon Church–beautiful, haunting, and timeless. Also, we both spent a lot of time in NYC during college and loved Broadway plays. Phantom was the first Broadway play I saw and I fell in love with the music at a very young age! We kept the traditional theme going with Canon in D for the mothers and bridal party entrance. I walked down the aisle to “A Thousand Years,” by Christina Perri, because I love the song (and will admit to being a huge Twilight fan!) It also sounds fabulous on strings. We chose “Here Comes the Sun” as the first song we’d walk to together as husband and wife, not realizing how true the lyrics would actually be. After intermittent showers all morning, it stopped raining just long enough for our ceremony and then proceeded to pour throughout the remainder of the evening. What a blessing! Our first dance was to “Moon River” with a live violin accompanying the DJ’s piano version. Another classic, timeless song.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The menu and details that Southern Graces Catering designed were uniquely Southern! We wanted our guests to get a taste of the low country since they came from all over the country. The dinner menu included appetizers of deliciously presented she crab bisque soup in petite mason jars with a custom tag, presented with a pimiento cheese straw, and fried chicken satay presented with Cheerwine BBQ sauce. For the main course, we had a shrimp and grits station with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, cheddar cheese, crumbled Applewood smoked bacon, parmesan cheese, and diced tomatoes to add in. This was served with a local shrimp and prosciutto cream sauce and was served up in a martini glass. The other main course option was delicious Cheerwine BBQ pulled pork served with bread and butter pickles and Southern yeast rolls. As a side, we had smoked gouda macaroni and cheese.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. J: Ali and Jonathan first met on the hallowed grounds at the United States Military Academy where Cadet Brigade Command Sergeant Major Ali relentlessly hazed young helpless Cadet Private Jonathan. Just kidding, we never met officially at school, but we likely passed each other in the halls and on campus numerous times without knowing it. A: I definitely did not ever haze Jonathan! Or any other plebe for that matter. Our story actually begins one rainy Friday night in September in Fayetteville, NC. Tired, disinterested, hungry Ali laid in bed and wondered if she really wanted to go hang out with the rest of the ladies she had just spent a VERY long five days out in the woods playing Army with. We just completed a physically and mentally demanding “tryout and interview” process and I was looking forward to a full night of sleep. J: To fill the Friday evening of a single Lieutenant, I asked my buddy Sean if he wanted to get some dinner at Latitude 35, where the fish tacos were filling and the music enjoyable. A: Meanwhile, I had decided not to be a complete party pooper, and tired feet, sore body, and all, was having a drink with Sean’s wife, Samantha, at the bar at the Mellow Mushroom. Amid conversations about life, love, and the Army, I happened to ask, “Sam, does Sean have any tall friends?” As a matter of fact, he did… J: At some point in the evening, Sam and Sean hatched a plot to introduce us. After dinner, Sean and I met up with the ladies at Paddy’s. A: Jonathan and Sean were already there, anxiously awaiting our arrival. I remember walking in to Paddy’s, paying my cover, getting my hand stamped, and seeing a strikingly handsome, tall blonde guy at the far end of the bar and thinking to myself, “I hope that’s Jonathan.” J: It was me. After a few songs and a little bit of goofing off on the dance floor with the rest of the group, I introduced myself to Ali, and after a brief exchange of companies and sports (it’s a West Point thing), we went to go find some stools so Ali could get off her feet. A: And my feet were HURTING. We chatted for a bit and even though I was super lame because I was so tired, it was enough to peak his interest. J: When I got home that night, I went straight to the bookshelf to scour the 2006 West Point yearbook and find out more about this intriguing beauty I had just stumbled upon. A: A couple days later, I got a friend request on Facebook from Jonathan and we began to build a wonderful friendship through written communication that soon developed into something pretty amazing. J: And the rest is history. :)
Tell us all about the proposal! I actually got two proposals! Not because I turned Jonathan down the first time, but because he had two rings and two plans, and if you know the guy, nothing Jonathan does is ordinary! We had both recently returned from deployments in Afghanistan, Jonathan about two months earlier, and he used the time to lay the ground for the upcoming proposition of nuptials. He took a trip to Beaufort, SC, to get my parents’ blessing and found the perfect ring in Atlanta. I had been back in the country for about a week and was trying to see all my friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. So when my friend Kim texted to see if I was available for dinner that Friday night, I asked Jonathan if he was up for it too. Of course he was (as he sat across from me at Starbucks that morning surreptitiously arranging the dinner plans with Kim… sneaky guy.) Friday night rolled around, and I put on a cute dress and cute heels, thinking I was in for a night of dinner and dancing downtown. Since I had just moved into a new apartment, my washer and dryer weren’t hooked up yet, so I brought a load of laundry over to Jonathan’s house before dinner at his suggestion. When I got to his house, Jonathan was excited to show me his new bathroom renovations, and eventually lured me outside under the guise that I needed to see the mess the plumber made out on the back deck. I was greeted by Jonathan’s roommate and a roaring fire in the back yard. After some awkward interactions with his roommate, who seemed content to stay seated by the fire for the ordeal, Jonathan finally got him to go inside and brought me over to the fire where two chairs and a champagne bucket were waiting. Jonathan got down on one knee and asked me to marry him (that is, after stumbling over my name in an attempt to be more dramatic and use my full name, but deciding at the last minute to just stick with Ali). Regardless of how it came out (I don’t even remember what he said), I said YES! We sat down to enjoy the fire and admire the ring that Jonathan proposed with, his grandmother’s wedding ring from the 1920’s. As we giddily drank champagne, I realized they were going to be late for dinner! That’s when Jonathan revealed that he had Kim set up the dinner date, but the reservation was only for us. He also divulged that he originally planned to propose on his roof, where we had spent many a evening watching the sun go down and watching the neighbors’ antics, but he didn’t know how to convince me to get on the roof in a dress and heels. Not to be underestimated, I wanted to try it out! I handed the ring back and, evening dress, heels and all, climbed the ladder, and crawled onto the roof! With the waning moon not yet up and poor roof lighting, the roof proposal was quick, but the laughter in the dark was plentiful. So dark, in fact, that I didn’t even notice that Jonathan didn’t give me first ring back until I scurried back down the ladder to show Jonathan’s roommate. As I stuck my hand out to show him, it was then I noticed that something wasn’t right. “That’s not my ring!” I exclaimed and then realized that Jonathan had not replaced his grandmother’s ring, but proposed the second time with a brand new ring of his own design. So I can say I was proposed to twice and proudly wear both rings!
When did y’all get married? May 4th, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 58
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? No, we guess we are just traditionalists. I was living for the moment of walking down the aisle to see Jonathan at the end waiting for me and Jonathan believed the practicality of taking pictures before the ceremony wasn’t as important as seeing his bride for the first time when she was coming up the aisle.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, see above! There is just something about the traditional vows that are timeless and enduring. Plus, we aren’t that artistically creative. :)
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Colossians 3:12-17
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. A classic three-tiered wedding cake, with vanilla butter cake and topped with classic buttercream frosting. It was presented on a vintage cake stand with fresh pink and green floral accents.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? There were actually quite a few challenges. We returned from Afghanistan in the fall of 2012, and because we were both on restrictive military schedules, had to plan the wedding around a couple weeks of “off time” that we both had in common in April/May. This gave us about six months to plan the wedding, which typically wouldn’t have been challenging or stressful, but I was also applying for law school, studying for the LSAT, and still working as an Army officer at Fort Bragg, NC while trying to get all the details together. Jonathan was in Army training for the entire month of February with no communication allowed, so most of the final details waited until he got back and could give his input! It was a very busy six months for both of us. In addition, the added stress of planning an outdoor wedding ceremony and reception in the spring was realized, as we did have intermittent showers on our wedding day! Last minute changes in venue resulted in an indoor reception at Southern Grace’s “Soiree” venue instead of the garden dinner party at the Beaufort Inn as originally planned. Also, American Idol winner Candice Glover made her hometown visit on the same day of the wedding and set up her stage two blocks from the reception. Expected attendance was 15-20,000! Great for Beaufort, not so great for the weddings planned in downtown Beaufort. Parking, travel time, and the threat of having the reception drowned out by her music added to our anxiety. However, the last two issues solved each other, as the rain kept the numbers at Candice’s concert low, Soiree was a great back up option for the reception, and a little extra logistical planning and flexibility resulted in everything turning out beautifully!
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? Landon Jacob Photography. Jordan and Landon were my first choice after seeing so many of their amazing wedding pictures at the Beaufort Inn. We were thrilled when they told us they were available for May 4th. Our pictures are beautiful and they were such an easy and personable couple to work with! We get so many compliments about how we looked on the wedding day–trust me, it’s all them!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The day’s most memorable moment actually came after the ceremony and reception were over. Because of all the stress and changes created by the weather forecast, I was a little bummed that I wouldn’t have my envisioned garden party dinner and get to dance under the twinkling lights of the Beaufort Inn’s courtyard. Jonathan promised me at the rehearsal dinner that he would make sure I got to dance in my courtyard. He made good on the promise, and after everyone had gone their separate ways, we danced together in the Beaufort Inn Courtyard in the rain. :)
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We thought about eloping to save money and keep perspective on what was really important. It was definitely worth it in the end to spend the day with our family and closest friends. It meant a lot to us and we couldn’t have done it without their love and support. Also, small weddings are the way to go! The intimacy of being able to spend time with everyone we love is definitely something we look back on fondly, especially since the day goes by so quickly.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We honeymooned in New Zealand for two weeks before settling into married life. We live in Fayetteville, NC, where Jonathan is in Special Forces training and I just started law school at Campbell University. Right now, we are both so busy that we really just focus on enjoying the time we have together and making the most of it. We are looking forward to many more adventures together!
Landon Jacob is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!
Photographer: Landon Jacob / Planner: Bethany Boyles-Hewitt / Ceremony Venue: Old Sheldon Church Ruins / Reception Venue: Soiree by Southern Graces / Wedding Cake and Caterer: Southern Graces / Cellist: Austin Fitzhenry / Bride’s Gown: Liancarlo / Paper Products: JWD Paperie / Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN / Hair Stylist: Amber White of Kaleidoscope Studio Salon / Makeup Artist: Linda Burton Makeup Artistry / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Lace Sheath Dress” by Adrianna Pappell / Groom’s Attire: Army service uniform / Groomsmen Attire: Military service uniforms and personally owned tux