I’m convinced that deciding where to get married is either one of the easiest or one of the hardest wedding planning decisions. I relate so much to Erin and Sean’s decision to marry in Raleigh, where they would be starting their newlywed life, because Dave and I did the exact same thing! For their classic Southern celebration, Erin and Sean brought a little bit of their hometowns to Raleigh by filling their downtown venues with nautical touches that nodded to their childhoods spent on the coast. My favorite detail of Erin and Sean’s big day? While they were introducing loved ones to their new hometown, they were also giving family and friends mementos for their own homes: “We have our oyster shell place cards displayed on our coffee table, and we’ve visited with friends who kept their place cards and have them displayed in their homes, too!”
Thank you so much to Julie Livingston for sharing this lovely day with us!
My mom, grandmother, and mother-in-law were all with me when I found my dress. I had two appointments in Raleigh and ultimately found my dress at the last place we went, Maggi Bridal. I had no clue what I wanted, so I tried on quite a few dresses, but it ended up being so easy for me to pick the dress. My dress was just so elegant, timeless, and Southern, which is what I wanted our entire wedding day to exude! My favorite part of the whole day was seeing the reactions every time I came out of the dressing room. Of course, they loved every dress I tried on!
Describe your wedding flowers. We started out with the idea of using driftwood and oyster shells as part of our arrangements and decor, as both Sean and I grew up near the coast. Our florist was so on board with our ideas, and had so many ideas of her own. It was so much fun to collaborate with her and watch her bring our vision to life in ways we couldn’t have imagined! Our flowers had a coastal theme and were all shades of creams, ivories, and whites with lots of greenery. Anna, our florist, was also able to source snowball viburnum, which was used in our bouquets and floral arrangements. This was especially important to me, as my late grandmother had a snowball bush that she was so proud of, so including the snowball viburnum was such a special way to honor her. There was even a huge vase filled with it near the entrance to the Merrimon-Wynne House–it was one of my favorite pieces!
Everything from our venue, to the food we served, to some of the traditions we kept was Southern! We buried a bottle of bourbon, which Sean and his groomsmen dug up the morning of our wedding while getting ready. To keep Sean and I from seeing each other, my brother brought me a glass of the bourbon! In addition to the tradition, the food we served was very Southern: mini chicken and waffles, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, and shrimp and grits!
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Sean and I decided we wanted to get married in Raleigh. We loved Raleigh and it was where we would be starting our lives together as husband and wife, so we wanted to choose a venue that would show all of our guests just how great Raleigh and North Carolina are. We started going to Edenton Street United Methodist Church in downtown Raleigh during the summer we were engaged and we loved it. We instantly felt like we were part of a family at EUMC, so there was no question that we wanted to get married there. Our reception was at the Merrimon-Wynne House in downtown Raleigh. My mother and I went to visit the venue and as soon we we walked through the front door, we knew this was where we wanted the reception to be. The Merrimon-Wynne House was everything I could have dreamed of for our wedding–Southern, classic, gorgeous light…and the icing on the cake was that it was only a few blocks from our church and had plenty of room for all of our guests. We were able to get ready there too, and it was so fun to hang out at the house all day with some of my favorite women!
We used driftwood that my mother collected from the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia on the dinner tables, with larger pieces on the porch and the mantle. Anna did an amazing job in incorporating the driftwood into our floral arrangements. There was also a large piece of driftwood draped with greenery, flowers, oyster shells, and candles that hung over our sweetheart table–it was stunning, and now hangs over our couch in our home! We saved oyster shells from an engagement party that my aunt and uncle hosted for us, and from other oyster roasts we had as a family, and used those as place cards for our guests and throughout the decor. One and Only Stationers, who created our programs and other details, wrote each guest’s name on an oyster shell in navy ink. We have our oyster shell place cards displayed on our coffee table, and we’ve visited with friends who kept their place cards and have them displayed in their homes, too! I just loved how all of these pieces were gathered by my family and turned into special pieces that Sean and I have kept and incorporated into our home.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Time management! I work for a public accounting firm and my schedule at work is not light! Some days, I felt like I would never be able to plan a wedding because I just didn’t have time. Luckily, I was able to lean on my mom for a lot of help. I know she sacrificed a lot of time to help me plan the wedding of my dreams–but I don’t think either of us would have had it any other way!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff, because on the day of your wedding, you will forget all about the small stuff! Something will definitely happen or go wrong (like the electricity going out at church, in our case!), but at the end of the day, you will still be married and it will still be the best day ever!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Sean: Erin and I met at a JV football game in high school through mutual friends. I was playing for the varsity team at the time, but decided to stick around after practice to see some of the underclassmen play. I remember being introduced to Erin and immediately having this feeling that I knew she was the one. We started dating shortly after that memorable Thursday night some nine years ago. After enduring a few years in a somewhat-long distance relationship, with Erin at NC State and myself at East Carolina, I made the decision to move to Raleigh, where we call home today.
Tell us all about the proposal! I had just finished my Masters in Accounting at NC State University and was spending all summer studying for the CPA exam. I had just finished taking one of the exams and was meeting Sean for lunch at Player’s Retreat, near NC State’s campus. It was a gorgeous day, so after eating lunch, Sean suggested we go for a walk. We walked down Hillsborough Street towards NC State’s campus and ended up in the Court of Carolinas. As we walked out into the Court of Carolinas, I saw this little puppy next to the sidewalk sitting in a basket. I turned to Sean, a bit worried, and asked, “Is that a dog? Who would leave a puppy out here by itself in the middle of July?” Sean then proceeded to walk over to the puppy, picked him up, and said, “Erin, I’d like you to meet Murphy,” and put him in my arms. I was speechless! While I stood there wide-eyed over my new puppy, Sean turned around, grabbed the ring box out of the basket, got down on one knee, and proposed! We were both shaking and tearing up, we were so excited! It was one of the happiest days of my life–I got a fiancé and a puppy!
When did y’all get married? August 1, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows. Instead, we opted for the traditional vows, which still hold so much meaning to us and the commitment we made to each other.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My uncle Billy J read 1 Corinthians 13 and my Uncle Bill read Philippians 4:4-9. I love 1 Corinthians 13 because it not only tells how important love is in all aspects of our lives, but it also reminds us how to love one another. Philippians 4:4-9 is just a joyful passage and it was so wonderful to be reminded that the Lord was near, surrounding Sean and I, our families, and our friends with His love and grace. It was so special to have my uncles read these passages during our ceremony because I am so close to each of them, and Sean and I really look up to them!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I ended up with a multitude of borrowed, blue, old, and new items on my wedding day! I had a gold pin that my grandmother, her sister, my aunt, and my mother all wore when they were married. I also carried a handkerchief embroidered in blue given to me by a cousin on my mother’s side, who explained that all the women in our family had carried it, and I was to pass it on to the next cousin to get married. My mom and dad gave me a beautiful silver and diamond bracelet.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We attended a few marriage counseling sessions at Edenton St. United Methodist and with our pastor. Through these sessions, I realized more and more how ready and happy I was to be marrying this man.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are living and working in Raleigh with our dog, Murphy. So far, we have just enjoyed coming home to each other, running errands together, cooking dinner together, and enjoying all that Raleigh has to offer. Being big college football fans, we frequent the NC State and ECU football games, cheer for the Panthers, and can be found hanging out with each other or our dear friends and family every weekend. We are looking forward to sharing new experiences together–we’d love to travel around the US and abroad and have a few long weekend trips planned in the coming months!
Photographer: Julie Livingston Photography | Videographer: Jared Cook Films | Coordinator: Gather Together Events | Ceremony Venue: Edenton Street United Methodist Church | Reception Venue: The Merrimon-Wynne House | Florist: Simply Elegant Floral Designs | Dessert Baker: The Cupcake Shoppe | Caterer: Catering Works | Rentals: Party Reflections | Band: The Magic Pipers | Paper Products: One and Only Stationers | Bride’s Gown: Maggi Bridal | Hair Stylist: Parlor Blow Dry Bar | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Mary” Top and “Tulip” Skirt in Umber by LulaKate | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Menswear: VIP Formal Wear | Koozies: Pink House Press | Transportation: Ecostyle and Classy Transportation
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