Bride Rachel shares her North Carolina wedding complete with a monogram-filled floral chandelier!
I am delighted to introduce you to today’s bride, Rachel! Her North Carolina wedding to her beau, Sam, was held at her childhood home and filled with some of the most exquisite floral details I’ve seen! Y’all, a floral chandelier with a monogram. Yes!! Inspired by her parent’s upbringing in Louisiana, Rachel and Sam (and Rachel’s sweet mama!), worked with the team at McLean Events to create a wedding day that honored family heritage while incorporating their own style. Rachel said, “it was very special to be able to get dressed in my childhood bedroom and get married to the love of my life in my own front yard.” What a memorable way to start married life!
Big SW hugs to Perry Vaile for sharing this magical day with us!
When did y’all get married? June 17, 2017.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 325.
Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. We really just happened upon my wedding dress. I was home in North Carolina with my mom and my sister, and I realized that I probably wouldn’t get to go dress shopping with them since I was headed back to Texas in a few days and wouldn’t see them for a few months. I really wanted the experience of getting to go dress shopping with them so I called Alexia’s Bridal last minute and set up an appointment for the next day. I hated all of the first dresses and probably tried on 7 before my sister pointed to another one in the room and asked if I could try that one on as it looked a lot more like what I had been describing. I tried that dress on and all of us immediately knew that was the dress so we bought it that day.
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to do a first look. I think that it was primarily because we wanted to be able to spend as much time together on our wedding day and spending the morning and afternoon apart was already too much! We also really wanted to be able to experience some of the cocktail hour that we spent so much time planning and wanted our wedding party to get to go straight to celebrating, rather than have to take pictures after the ceremony.
Both the ceremony and reception were at my childhood home. We always had a rather large front yard growing up, and I couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else! At first we considered doing the ceremony elsewhere until my dad asked me why we weren’t doing the ceremony at the house too, and I suddenly didn’t have an answer for him. From there, it all fell so perfectly into place, and it was very special to be able to get dressed in my childhood bedroom and get married to the love of my life in my own front yard.
We had a fairly traditional ceremony and chose not to write our own vows. In truth, I was a little concerned I would forget any vows I wrote, and my husband is way more eloquent than I am! It was important to us to involve some key family members so we asked Sam’s Aunt Lori, my Uncle Philip, and my cousin Bobby to read Bible verses for us. We chose to have them read Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, 1 John 4: 7-11,18-19 and John 15: 9-12. Because it ended up being rather hot outside, we didn’t want the ceremony to take too long for fear of baking all of our guests!
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? The most stunning and memorable detail from the wedding was the floral arrangements coming from the ceiling of the tent. They looked like these mythical floral halos. We even had our monogram made out of flowers in the middle of the center one. But I also absolutely loved that we served my dad’s wine (that he makes himself) as the red wine for the wedding. It was so special to have his wine being served that I risked the white dress so I could have some and may have been drinking it while leaning as far away from the dress as possible!
What was Southern about your wedding? The entire wedding was inspired by New Orleans. Both of my parents grew up in Louisiana, so the vibrancy of New Orleans is important to me and to my family, and we wanted it to be a part of the wedding. We had servers carry around trays with oysters for guests during cocktail hour and did a second line to help move guests from cocktail hour to the reception. We also incorporated a Southern tradition in order to keep the rain away from our outdoor wedding, and boy did it work! 30 days before our wedding my father buried a bottle of Old Grand-Dad Bourbon upside down near our ceremony site. The day of the wedding, the sky was ominous, and we were all talking rain plans as all 20 weather apps that my mom downloaded said 100% chance of rain during our ceremony. But, the bottle of bourbon was supposed to keep the rain away. Sam and his groomsmen went to dig up the bottle of bourbon around 1:30, but as Sam finally pulled the bottle up from the ground (out of the unexpectedly deep hole that my dad has dug), the sky fell out and the guys had to run inside. The miracle of it was that as the guys killed the last of the bourbon, the weather cleared, and we were able to have the outdoor wedding we had dreamed of.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Sam and I spent a lot of time listening to different songs for our ceremony. We both agreed that we wanted a string quartet, so we were easily able to pick which songs we wanted for the seating of the families (“Canon in D Major”) and for the wedding party processional (“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”). But, it was my mother who really promoted having a trumpet for the bridal processional so it would stand out more outdoors and would give the ceremony more grandeur. We chose to do “Trumpet Voluntary” for the bridal processional, and while I may not have been on board with the trumpet at the beginning, it was perfect! For our first dance, Sam and I chose a slightly untraditional song, “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit. As a couple, we are more goofy than serious so doing a song that was slightly more upbeat suited us great, and as we listened to the lyrics the song fit us so perfectly. We have traveled to 32 countries on six continents together and are always looking for our next great adventure so the lyrics “We have traveled land and sea, but as long as you are with me there’s no place I’d rather be,” could not have been more spot on for our relationship.
What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? Sam and I have been to a number of weddings and have learned that neither of us are huge wedding cake fans. At the same time, it was important to us to have the tradition of being able to cut the wedding cake so we compromised and had a small wedding cake amidst a more extensive dessert tent complete with petit fours, fruit tarts, Italian ices, chocolate and Bailey’s shooters, and many other desserts since we couldn’t choose just one. We also had strawberries as an ode to a Vanderbilt (where we both went to college) tradition. During Vanderbilt graduation they hold a large champagne and strawberries party to celebrate, so we wanted to include strawberries and champagne in our dessert tent.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. What started as two people sitting next to each other at a football game quickly turned into two best friends exploring the world together and falling in love in the process.
Tell us all about the proposal! Sam had been talking for weeks about this huge case he had at work on March 15th and how it was going to take him all day so we wouldn’t have any time to be together. But, the day before, he started mentioning that the case might get settled and if so, he wanted to do something fun to celebrate. I had a sneaking suspicion it was coming, since he had asked my dad for permission in November, and this was the longest period of time we had to spend together since we lived in different cities (me in Austin and him in Dallas). But he did a great job of throwing me off. He called me at around 1 PM that day and said that the case was done and that he was picking me up and we were going to go to our favorite picnic spot where he took me on my first trip to Dallas. We stopped off at our favorite wine and cheese shop on the way and then headed to the park. He may have given it away when he pulled out a fully packed picnic basket when we traditionally barely remember a bottle opener, but he was so cute and nervous that I didn’t want to say anything. We sat down, had some wine and cheese, and talked for a little (though he had trouble focusing because he clearly had other things on his mind). We have a tradition that when we celebrate anything big we save the cork and write down what we were celebrating. At one point while we were sitting there he grabbed the cork, wrote on it and passed it to me. On it he had written “The Day You Said Yes” and the date. As I was reading it he got down on one knee and proposed. While neither of us can quite remember what he said, I said yes, and the rest is history!
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? My favorite thing about wedding planning was getting to talk to my mom all of the time. It was fun to be creative and come up with ideas for the wedding that I had never seen before, but getting to brainstorm with my mom was the best part.
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? The hardest part about planning our wedding was being able to articulate our vision. I had honestly not put too much thought into what I wanted my wedding my look like prior to actually starting the planning process and found that I never knew how to articulate my style or why I liked something or why I didn’t like something else. There is no way I could have put together such a well thought out and cohesive wedding without an amazing wedding planner and the help of my mom and Sam.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Using my dad’s homemade red wine for the wedding helped save money on the bar.
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? I don’t think I will be forgetting any part of the wedding anytime soon. But, if I had to pick the most memorable moment from the wedding, it would be walking over the bridge my dad had built for the wedding with him by my side, looking to the left at so many of our friends and family there to celebrate with us, and looking ahead to my best friends and immediate family waiting on the island. My dad jokingly whispers (or he thought he whispered) to me, “it’s not too late to turn back” which it seems everyone on the island (including Sam) heard. I was so happy and couldn’t stop laughing at the same time as I could see Sam standing in front of me.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Set a conservative budget, and identify ways to stick to it, but also give yourself a little leeway for those things you realize would make you so happy to be able to incorporate into your wedding. Also, don’t sweat the small stuff. At least one thing will go wrong on your wedding day, but you can’t get upset about it, you just have to enjoy the day and laugh things off – my dogs got out and ran across the yard during the processional and my dad and brother had to chase them down!
Photographer: Perry Vaile | Videographer: Reel Weddings | Planner: McLean Events | Ceremony and Reception Venue: Bride’s Home | Florist: The Watered Garden | Wedding Cake and Dessert Baker: Miel Bon Bons | Caterer: Rocky Top Catering | Rentals and Lighting: Party Reflections | Band: I Love This Band | Bride’s Gown: “Esther” by Vera Wang | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Makeup For Your Day | Bride’s Shoes: “Romance Satin Wedge” by Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Hayley Paige Occasions | Groom’s Attire: “Ivory Shawl Dinner Jacket” by Hickey Freeman | Groomsmen Attire: Bernard’s Formalwear | String Quartet: Elegant Ensembles | Additional Rentals: Party Tables | Italian Ice: Sweet Water Ices
McLean Events and Makeup for Your Day are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!
I’ve never been known to make an understatement, so when I started trying on wedding gowns, it was no surprise that I just wanted all the beautiful elements in one dress. Put me in an elegant satin number, and I would ask if I could add tulle. Hand me a gorgeous trumpet of lace, and I was missing the satin. I’ll always swoon over another bride in a strikingly simple gown, but for myself, more was more!
I know I’m not the only one who couldn’t let go of the satin, the lace, the sparkle, the row of buttons up the back, OR the tulle. If you’re a feminine Southern gal raising your hand right now, I say embrace it! The good news is that with the right gown, you really can have it all without it being too much.
All this may explain why Casablanca Bridal’s Spring 2018 collection, Villa del Sol, immediately brought joy to my showstopper-loving heart. If you’re with me, you have to see the Elsie, Gracie, and Tegan!
Need another way to have it all? I hear you. Sometimes you put on a gown that gets really close to your dream dress, but you can just picture it with a small change that would seal the deal. That’s why Casablanca Bridal offers customization options that range from tweaking the length of a train to an entirely different skirt shape with the same bodice!
With all these options, the hardest part for a bride after my own heart may just be trying not to get carried away! (Thankfully, I realized before it was too late that my gown really didn’t need that huge satin bow in the back I tried to add to it. That actually might have been too much.)
With 23 very different gowns and sizing options including plus and petite in Casablanca’s Spring 2018 collection, there really is something for everyone. Go take a peek at the new collection for yourself!
This post is sponsored by Casablanca Bridal. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!