Kara grew up with a plantation at the end of her street and dreamed about having her own wedding in front of the cascading trees and white columns. So when it came to finding a venue, she couldn’t think of anywhere other than her hometown and on a plantation! What a great choice! Along with the amazing plantation, there is just something so classically glamorous about black and white checkerboard dance floors. Add in some sparkly linens, a dapper groom in a white smoking jacket, and top it off with their sweet pups, and you’ve got what we here in the SW office like to call “Southern glam.” Boy, did Kara + Jon do us proud! What makes us even prouder to share this wedding is Kara’s Sweet Tea Society-esque outlook on planning their day. She said, “As we realized after butchering our first dance, no one will know if something doesn’t turn out exactly the way you planned–in their eyes, it will still be a beautiful, breathtaking event, and ultimately, all they care about is sharing your joyous day with you.”
Thanks to Chrisman Studios for sharing K + J’s big day!
After three long days of dress shopping in Dallas, I found “the dress,” only to discover it hadn’t been released yet. The Vera Wang June was originally made in black and was the most fabulously over-the-top dress I’d ever seen. I decided to make the trip back to the Carolinas empty-handed to think about it. The following weekend, I went to Charlotte to try on some other dresses. I had previously called about “the one” and asked if they had received a sample…of course, they hadn’t. When I walked into the store, I saw it wrapped up, brand new, waiting for me. They explained that they had requested that it be shipped in after I called. I decided to give all of their dresses a look. The first dress I tried on, I fell in love with all over again, so much so that it turned into “the other one.” I went home to think it over, and after much deliberation, decided to call the store and buy the original “one.” I called, credit card in hand, and they were CLOSED! I took it as a sign that I shouldn’t buy it, and the next day, I went back to NC and purchased “the other one.” In retrospect, I couldn’t have made a better decision. The Lismora is classic, unique, and dramatic, without being completely over-the-top.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Of course I did! My fiancé had never heard of a first look, and the last thing I needed was for either one of us to be an emotional mess at the altar. Plus, we knew how great Ben and Erin (our photographers) were, and how amazing their photos would be as we looked at each other for the first time in our wedding garb. As expected, Ben and Erin took full advantage of the late afternoon light to capture some ridiculously awesome shots just before the twilight ceremony.
Describe your wedding flowers. The feel of the florals was very playful and romantic. To create that feel, our florist used a color palette that included pink, blush, cream, and gray. And thanks to the time of year, we had so many beautiful blooms! Peonies, garden roses, astilbe, anemones, and hydrangea, to name just a few. The white anemones with black centers gave the florals a really playful, fun look. My bouquet was very soft and romantic, but it still had a playful feel to it. My florist added an amazing pleated ribbon and lace detail–it was perfect! I wanted the bridesmaids’ bouquets to be simple, yet unique. I LOVE the look of pink astilbe, so we decided we would use that for the girls to carry. Our wonderful florist, Lesley, added ribbon streamers to those bouquets too.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows, but we did choose two readings that meant a lot to us. The first was 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (“Love is patient, love is kind…”), which reminds us to love, respect, and above all, value the person with whom we choose to live our lives. The second was “How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali, which really captured our love for each other, our love of dogs (evidenced by the fact that all three of ours attended the ceremony in formal doggy attire), and the light-hearted spirit we wanted for our ceremony.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I wanted a simple cake, but I wanted the table to look stunning. Lesley picked out an amazing, rose-toned, ruffled linen for the cake table. The cake itself was very simple–four tiers with textured white icing, accented with ranunculus blooms in shades of blush and pink. It was set up beneath a beautiful crystal chandelier under a gazebo at the venue.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We planned our entire wedding around a massive oak tree on the grounds of Brandon Hall. I had looked for the perfect tree for months, and knew I wanted a fabulous tree with hanging lights and hundreds of candles, but had to find someone who could understand my vision and was creative enough to make it a reality. We had hundreds of candles, and the colored petals and candlelit aisle added so much to the ceremony. It was one of the most beautiful trees I had ever seen when it was all said and done. I looked back one last time after the ceremony and just stared at how beautifully lit up it was in complete darkness.
Can I please move in? I promise to be neat and tidy!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. It was January 2011. I was headed to Cabo for a long weekend with friends, and found myself wandering around the Charlotte airport. Out of nowhere, a tall, handsome guy walked up next to me. He was carrying one of those oversized L.L. Bean bags that only sorority girls and dads carry. I thought it was quite odd, because he was very handsome, wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, and there were no baby or sorority letters in sight. Why was this guy carrying this super feminine bag? And, for that matter, how tall was this guy? Against my better judgement, I simply walked away, for fear of being rejected or, more likely, for fear of him pulling his wedding ring out of his pocket. I spent the long weekend in Cabo making up stories about the L.L. Bean guy, and feeling furious with myself for not speaking to him. A few weeks after I got back, I was set up on a date. Slash was in town playing a show (without Axl), and I thought that would be a perfect first date to weed out any duds. He (the guy, not Slash) came to the door to pick me up and I noticed that he was EXTREMELY tall and devastatingly handsome. I still vividly remember the moment when Jon went to get something out of his closet and I noticed a red L.L. Bean bag sticking out–I panicked!! Later, we put our timelines together and found out that it was Jon in the Charlotte airport that day, flying somewhere for work. Funny how things work out!!
Tell us all about the proposal! After a long work week in Jacksonville for work, I arrived back at the Charlotte airport to spend the weekend with Jon. He came to pick me up at the airport with all three of our dogs in the backseat and all of our bags packed. Obviously, something was up. He told me we were going to Asheville to get away for the weekend and that he had found a B&B (The Inn on Montford) that would allow the dogs to stay. The next morning, I awoke to heart-shaped toast and freshly-squeezed orange juice. We played around Asheville, stopping by Tupelo Honey (my favorite restaurant) and doing a little shopping around the square. We went back to rest and get ready for dinner later that night. We were all ready to go when I decided it was a perfect time for a family pic with the puppies, so I asked Jon to take a picture of us on the couch. He went to the other room to get the camera, then came out and dropped to one knee to arrange the scene. Meanwhile, I had prepared an Olen Mills-worthy backdrop on the couch, with all of the dogs and pillows perfectly placed. It was then that Jon asked “will you be my wife?”
When did y’all get married? April 20, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 165
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Choosing music for the ceremony was touch. We wanted to keep it somewhat traditional, but at the same time, traditional can get a little boring for guests. We chose “Bittersweet Symphony” by Richard Ashcroft for our recessional–it’s fun, different and unexpected. We had been practicing our first dance for four months with our dance instructor, but still managed to mangle it (luckily, none of our guests knew the difference). Music is VERY important to both of us, so the rules were: 1. no cheesy band, and 2. no clichés. We danced our first dance to “Love You Madly” by Cake, and the cha cha has never looked so uh-uh!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something new was the gorgeous (and totally reasonable) faux diamond necklace I wore with my gown. My something borrowed was my mother-in-law’s sapphire bracelet. Something blue was built into my BHLDN shoes.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I made sure to have bridal portraits taken months prior to our ceremony. One of my best friends is a photographer, so she and I spent a cold day in Natchez shooting bridals to put on display at the wedding. Another obvious Southern tradition was the simple act of having our wedding in Natchez, MS. I couldn’t have had my wedding anywhere other than my hometown and on a plantation. I grew up with a plantation at the end of my street and it’s something I’ve dreamed about for as long as I can remember. Our menu was also about as Southern as it gets–shrimp and grits, crabmeat mornay, and a variety of other goodies rounded out a truly Southern menu that may have blown a few Northerners’ minds! In addition, on the day of the wedding, our out-of-town guests had the opportunity to tour a variety of antebellum plantations in Natchez and visit the Natchez cemetery, which is home to many breathtaking monuments to the city’s forebears.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Narrowing all the amazingly beautiful options down to something specific. The beauty of planning a wedding in the internet age is the embarrassment of riches in terms of alternatives, but at the same time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed (and I speak from painful experience). The best way to address this challenge is to close your eyes and picture the single most important image in your imagination, then focus on making that a reality. Every other detail is secondary.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our wedding photographers, Ben and Erin Chrisman. All of our vendors were AMAZING, but without Ben and Erin, we wouldn’t have been able to capture timeless images of all our other vendors’ beautiful, inspired work. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of our vendors–we love you and couldn’t have had such a magical wedding without all of your contributions!!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Looking at each other during the first look. There were a million other beautiful, memorable moments, but nothing compares to that. San Francisco photographer, Danielle Fletcher, helped me with his wedding gift, which I gave to him before the first look. It’s always nice to see an even bigger smile on your groom’s face, courtesy of an eight-hour shoot with Danielle!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? As unrealistic as it sounds, try not to sweat the tiny details too much. As we realized after butchering our first dance, no one will know if something doesn’t turn out exactly the way you planned–in their eyes, it will still be a beautiful, breathtaking event, and ultimately, all they care about is sharing your joyous day with you.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are enjoying living in Dallas and being able to see friends and family in the North and the South, thanks to DFW’s status as an American Airlines hub. Plus, the BBQ in Texas is absurd. After an amazing honeymoon in Asia (Hong Kong, Bali, and Thailand), we look forward to a couple more memorable trips in the next eight months to celebrate Jon’s birthday in Bali and sail the Caribbean with friends between Christmas and New Year’s.