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This week marks one year that my boyfriend and I have been dating long-distance, so Brent and Graham’s story is extra special to me today! While I love reliving each real wedding we post through the pictures, the stories from the couple make the photos even more meaningful! Brent and Graham have the sweetest dating story, so be sure to read the story of how they met and how long they dated long-distance below. (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot longer than a year!) I’m positive I could learn a thing or two from this sweet couple on how to thrive in a long-distance relationship.

No amount of rain or chilly September air could hide the joy on their faces or the celebration in the air as you scroll through the photos below! I love how in the years ahead, the couple will be able to go back to Brent’s family’s home and relive their big day as their family grows!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for these images!

We went to Charlotte Latin School together from 5th grade onward, but hardly interacted until junior year of high school. We became good friends at the start of senior year and went on our first date the month before graduating. Because we like to make our lives *so* simple and easy, we began dating right after high school graduation – just days before he left for his summer internship in D.C. and the summer before we both headed off to separate colleges in separate states. Four years later, after racking up hundreds of Southwest Airlines miles to see each other on weekends, spending three summers in separate cities, and two study abroad semesters that resulted in us not seeing each other for six months, we both moved to New York City. Seven years and two months after we first began dating, Graham popped the question!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We recited standard vows during the ceremony; however, I made sure to write him all of my vows, both serious and not so serious, in the letter that I had delivered to him the morning of our wedding.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two! We asked Graham’s mentor and good friend to read an excerpt from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. My “other father”, the father of my best friend and maid of honor, followed with a reading from I John 4:7-8, 12. Our minister also gave a brief homily.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It’s so hard to choose! I’ll never forget the moment my dad and I had together right before we walked down the aisle. We were both teary, emotional, shaking, and overwhelmingly happy. To share in such an intimate moment together was so special. He kept whispering in my ear “this is so surreal!” as we walked down the aisle.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? From day one, we both knew we didn’t want to do a first look and I’m so glad we didn’t. The anticipation of seeing his face as the church doors opened and watching him as he watched me and my dad walk down the aisle was a moment I wasn’t willing to forfeit. It’s still one of the many decisions that I have absolutely no regrets about, and it’s a moment I’ll remember so vividly for the rest of my life.

I grew up in the North Carolina countryside with my parents’ house sitting on 344 acres of land, centered around a steeplechase course. It’s my home and such a beautiful and unique setting – there was no question that that’s where we would get married. We debated having the ceremony on the property as well versus in our church, but deep down I’d always wanted to be married in our church – Christ Church of Charlotte – which just so happens to be where Graham and I were both confirmed together in 8th grade.

Honestly, everything about the weekend was just so “us”. The flowers stood out to us as really bringing the venue to life and making it feel like the most magical place on a rainy, chilly evening in September. We also made an effort to add touches of our personalities everywhere, from “Please Don’t Take My Drink, I’m Dancing!” napkins that were distributed at the bars once the band started (there’s nothing worse than putting your drink down only to find an efficient waiter has removed it two minutes later!), to a map of our food stations so people knew where to go for what, to a lawn jockey hand-painted with our wedding logo on it to welcome our guests as they entered the reception.

All southerners know the importance of good (fried) food, so we incorporated Southern twists into our food stations. A few of our favorites were Deep South BBQ Eggrolls with Carolina BBQ inside and the Southern Pimento Mac n Cheese. We had Fried Chicken and Waffle Skewers as our passed late-night snack since a good southern hostess never lets her guests go home hungry.

My sweet tooth is unmatched, though I sadly can’t say the same about Graham’s. We knew we wanted a more traditional cake, and Kathy Allen is the woman to go to in Charlotte for elegant cakes with a twist. Ours was five tiers with alternating layers of Spice Cake and Almond Cake. At the end of the night, I gave each of my bridesmaids a sugar flower from the cake in a glass dome to remember the weekend by. We now have a few of the flowers displayed around our house and every time I walk by them, it makes me smile. I’m counting down the days until our first anniversary and I can tear open our top layer in the freezer!

Tell us all about the proposal! It was almost the proposal that didn’t happen! I was determined to get my haircut that afternoon but just two days prior, Graham called and said his parents wanted to do a family dinner that same evening to celebrate my birthday, which was a few days away. Not unusual or suspicious in the least but something I tried to get out of in order to make my desperately-needed haircut. On the day of the proposal, my lovely coworkers threw me a surprise birthday celebration late that afternoon, complete with massive ice cream sandwiches. Never one to say no to sweets, I happily partook, but was left feeling less than stellar. I called Graham once again and tried to get out of the dinner, this time claiming I really didn’t feel well and dinner was the last thing I could stomach (pardon the pun). He once again convinced me I had to come, so we agreed we would meet up and cab to Central Park together since the restaurant, The Loeb Boathouse, was in the middle of the park. The taxi dropped us off at the edge and we wandered in along the pathways until we came to the Conservatory Pond, one of our favorite spots in Central Park. Before I knew it, Graham was telling me how much I meant to him and I immediately blacked out. I got so caught up in the moment that I had to ask him later on if I had even told him “yes.” (I had!) After we soaked in the moment together, we continued on through the park to meet his family for dinner as I frantically tried to call my parents who, of course, weren’t picking up the one time I needed them to. When we got to the restaurant, not only were his parents and two brothers there waiting with champagne, but my parents had surprised me and flown up for the occasion as well!
When did y’all get married? September 26, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 284
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Walking down the aisle, back up the aisle, first dance, etc. In my piano-playing days, one of my favorite songs I played year after year was Canon in D by Pachelbel. Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed about walking down the aisle to that song. Our processional songs were Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and Trumpet Tune in D by Purcell. We walked back up the aisle to Hornpipe from Water Music by Handel – it’s so joyful and uplifting, perfect for the occasion! We both love Van Morrison so our First Dance was to “Into the Mystic”. I danced with my dad to “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor, which was fitting both because my dad shared with me his love for James Taylor from early on in my childhood, and because although I’d been a New Yorker for nearly five years, Carolina will always have my heart. Graham’s first dance with his mom was to Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. My mom and I also shared a dance toward the end of the night to The Tams’ “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I found it helpful to make a dream “wishlist” of things, from special foods to flowers to specific materials you want to incorporate into the weekend, and see it all listed out in one place. From there, it’s easier to figure out what you can afford to let go of and what’s an absolute must-have. The vendors are experts so if there’s something you don’t want to compromise on but you don’t have the budget for, they likely have another idea on how to get the same point across for less money.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I think there’s a big misconception that as the bride, you’re supposed to be glowing, happy and reveling in every minute of the planning process from start to finish. It’s OK to feel stressed and to dread certain parts of the planning (I’m lookin’ at you, list making!). Do your best to take it all in stride, and don’t be afraid to confide in and vent to your loved ones, especially the ones that have been through the process. Also, don’t take the timelines you see in all of the wedding books so literally. We found that many vendors we thought we had time with actually booked up much sooner than we would’ve thought, so be aware and start your research early!

Photographer: Anna Routh Barzin | Planner: Dina Berg Blazek Events | Ceremony Venue: Christ Church Charlotte | Reception Venue: Brooklandwood | Florist: The Place For Flowers | Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Kathy Allen Cakes | Caterer: Queen City Catering | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Lighting: Classic Party Rentals | Band or DJ: Black & Blue Entertainment through East Coast Entertainment | Invitation: Arzbergers | Save the Date: Lee Ann Clark Calligraphy | Bride’s Gown: Leanne Marshall | Hair Stylist: Jami Svay | Makeup Artist: Jami Svay | Bride’s Shoes: BHLDN | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale Bridesmaids Chiffon G787C in French Blue | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Loro Piana for J.Crew

Anna Routh and East Coast Entertainment are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
3 Comments
  1. avatar Sarah Elizabeth reply

    I love everything about this wedding! Especially that save the date & adorable picture of the flower girl & ring bearer!

  2. avatar Rhiannon reply

    This looks like the church sweet Em Thomas got married in. What a stunningly classic soiree!

  3. avatar Mary Kay reply

    What a beautiful wedding! I also appreciate Brent’s honest advice!

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