We love keeping up with gals who are in the midst of wedding planning through our Southern Bride Bloggers page, and were excited to chat a little more in depth with one of them today, because Jessica, is our Southern Bride of Spring! She and Brian are tying the knot in just a few weeks, and she generously took some time out of last minute preparations to fill us in on a few of the details they have planned for their sweet, Southern celebration. I hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as we did!
Hi! What’s your name?
What’s your fiancé’s name?
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
Brian and I met at freshman orientation at NC State University. The moment he smiled at me and said “hello,” I knew I was in trouble. That being said, anyone who knows me well knows that I am stubborn and fiercely independent, which led to me refusing his advances for the entirety of freshman year. We maintained a friendship, and after he transferred to Miami University in Ohio, it eventually turned into a relationship, which then turned into love. I’ve known for a long time that he was the one I wanted to spend my life with, which made living in different states especially hard. After years of dating long distance, Brian ended up at law school in Raleigh, which means we are finally in the same city. We are loving every minute of it!
Now tell us alllll about the proposal.
I knew an engagement was coming soon, but the actual proposal was a total surprise! Brian’s sister, Nicole, was coming for what I thought was a girls weekend. Little did I know, it was her responsibility to make sure my nails were perfect and I got to the right place at the right time. With a convincing story about a party for a family friend, Nicole successfully got me to Lake Johnson, one of my favorite spots in Raleigh. When Nicole directed me towards the dock, I saw Brian standing in the middle of strands of lights and photos of us from years of our relationship. I was totally caught off guard and even asked Brian if it was really happening! After a wonderful speech, he was down on one knee and I was the happiest girl in the world. He also had arranged to have a bunch of my best friends hiding in the clubhouse to celebrate with us afterwards. It was absolutely perfect!
Let’s see the ring!
When’s the big day?
May 8, 2016. We’re counting down the days!
Where might you two be tying the knot?
The Sutherland in Wake Forest, North Carolina
How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
Selecting our venue was without a doubt the easiest part of planning the wedding! I’d done a lot of research at the beginning, with dreams of plantations and oaks in my mind. Knowing we didn’t want to get married too far from home, when we saw The Sutherland, we knew it was everything we’d hoped for.
The ceremony will take place in a garden off the side of the main house. I love that location because when I come down the aisle, I’ll get to come through a door and down the porch. I didn’t think I’d care much for a big entrance, but now, I wouldn’t have it any other way! The reception will take place in a beautiful pavilion behind the main house. Some of my favorite things about The Sutherland are the foliage and flowers. When we visited the venue for the first time, the weather was perfect and everything was in full bloom–at that point, we agreed that we couldn’t imagine our big day anywhere else.
Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
Soft, romantic, and, of course, Southern! For flowers and bridesmaid dresses, we went with light, pastel hues of pink and purple to add to the overall romantic feel. Bouquets and other floral arrangements will include lots of peonies, hydrangeas, and roses. Both of our extended families are from the North, so we wanted to make sure that while they are at the wedding, they get a taste of the Southern life we’ve both fallen in love with.
How have you involved your “community” (friends, family, etc.) in the wedding planning process?
Involving friends and family as much as we’d like has been a challenge, because both Brian’s family and mine aren’t currently in North Carolina, and a lot of our wedding party is also out of state. With that said, it has made the time we do get to celebrate together that much sweeter. Skype and Pinterest have been amazing for making me feel like my family and bridesmaids are connected, and showers have been a really special time of having the women in my life join in this exciting time.
Some of Jessica’s lovely inspiration! Top: both Peaches & Mint via Wedding Chicks, bottom: Rebecca Arthurs via Style Me Pretty, Leah Vis via Colin Cowie Weddings
Has your vision for your wedding changed or evolved over the course of your engagement? If so, how?
With a 13-month engagement, you’d better believe our vision for the day has changed a bit from what it was at the beginning! As we’ve gotten closer and closer to the day, we’ve wanted softer and more romantic touches than when we started. The one thing that hasn’t changed at all is our overall focus for the day: we have always wanted our love for Jesus to be evident on May 8th, and having a longer engagement has enabled us to find unique ways of making sure that comes through.
What wedding-related decision have you been the most indecisive on?
Definitely the guest list–deciding who we wouldn’t be able to invite was one of the hardest parts of planning. I always envisioned a small wedding, but marrying into a family with 60+ person Christmases put a quick end to that! Fortunately, I couldn’t be more excited about each person we’ve invited. What a blessing to have so many loved ones to share in this exciting day!
Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
That’s an easy one. Above anything else, we want our wedding and our marriage to point towards Christ. The bottom line is, our marriage is not just about us–it is about leveraging our relationship to demonstrate the love of God. We strongly believe that our wedding should reflect that. The second aspect we’ve been most intentional about is making the wedding personal and incorporating elements that mean a lot to us. I’ve planned things like wearing my grandmother’s sapphire ring down the aisle, placing family wedding photos on display, and a few other surprises that my groom doesn’t even know about yet!
A few of our favorite family photo displays! Top: Emily March Photography via Southern Weddings, Virgil Bunao via Southern Weddings
How has the budgeting been? What’s your best budgeting tip?
Budgeting hasn’t been too bad, surprisingly! I created my own budget tracker to input all of my expenses for the big day, which really helped me to visualize where money was being allocated. Before we even started planning, Brian and I sat down and figured out what our splurges would be and where we would be ok cutting back (a tip we found in the Southern Weddings Planner!). Having that conversation right at the beginning of our engagement was key in making sure we had exactly what we really wanted without going overboard.
Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
I have! Dress shopping was so much fun! I went twice–once with my mom and matron of honor and the second time with my three best friends from high school (all of whom are in the wedding as well). I didn’t tear up when I first said yes to the dress, but at my last fitting, when it really started to fit well, my mom and I shared in some happy tears as we imagined me walking down the aisle to Brian. I won’t give too much away about the dress, but it’s an Essense of Australia gown and I purchased it from Lana Addison in downtown Cary, North Carolina. The girls there are absolutely wonderful and the bridal salon itself is lovely. Especially for brides looking to find beautiful dresses without emptying their savings accounts, I highly recommend this sweet boutique.
What are you most looking forward to on your wedding day?
Walking back up the aisle with my HUSBAND! I can’t wait for those first moments of realizing that Brian is finally my family and I am his wife! The first thing we’re doing as a married couple will be washing each other’s feet, like Jesus did with his disciples to put His perfect, selfless love on display. We will be doing the same as a demonstration of our desire to serve one another like Christ. We’re both excited to set the tone for the rest of our lives together right after the ceremony.
Jo + JT by Brandon Chesbro, Gabrielle + Dustin by Feather and Twine
What are you most looking forward to about marriage?
The things I am most looking forward to are in the mundane…things like Saturday mornings with cups of coffee and time spent snuggling up on the couch, or getting to spend long road trips together driving home to our families for the holidays. It is times like those that will make some of the sweetest memories, but I also look forward to opportunities where we are stretched and challenged, that cause us to come out on the other side looking more like Christ and loving one another better than before.
Where do you hope to be on your fiftieth anniversary?
On our 50th anniversary, I hope we are reminiscing on the beautiful marriage God has blessed us with, while holding hands on our front porch. Our individual dreams and aspirations are big, but together, there is no greater prayer than to live our lives and use our marriage to bring glory to God and to love each other well. I hope we never get tired of kisses goodnight, holding hands in the grocery store, and laughing together until we cry.
Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
Enjoy as much of your engagement as you can! There are going to be ups and downs, no matter how hard you try to make it perfect, but most things aren’t worth losing sleep over. Let challenges bring you and your fiancé closer together and always look for chances to laugh and celebrate with your family and friends. Most importantly, remember that your engagement leads to something greater, so don’t get so caught up in planning your centerpieces that you forget to prepare for the lifetime ahead of you with the person you love most.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Jessica! Y’all help us wish her well in her last few weeks of wedding planning! :)
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