Bride Lillie shares her cozy, eclectic barn wedding at Lake Oconee.
Please meet today’s bride, Lillie! With its eclectic style and joyful atmosphere, her wedding to Blake easily became an office favorite in our tenth-anniversary issue. From the beautiful location of Lake Oconee (where they shared their first kiss!), to romantic blooms that could make even a non-flower lover swoon, there’s so much beauty to take in. But, of course, the best thing about your wedding day might not be the details! Lillie said, “The most special part of the ceremony for me was walking hand and hand with my mother down the aisle all the while looking at Blake and realizing how lucky and blessed I was to be marrying my best friend.” Y’all, yes! And, get your tissues ready and be sure to read how Lillie sweetly honored her late father.
Thanks to Julie Cate for her sharing this lovely day with us!
P.S. We’re having a sale in our shop, so head over to see this wedding in all its print glory for a steal of a price!
Blake and I got married at 2:00pm on February 25, 2017, a day after my parent’s anniversary. The ceremony was held at Christ Our King and Savior Catholic Church in Greensboro, GA. All the guests parked at the Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee and then hopped on school buses to Sandy Creek Barn (a property of Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee). We chose to get married in the Lake Oconee area because it was very special to us. We spent many summers at my parent’s lake house. It’s where we had our first kiss.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Before trying on dresses, I knew I wanted something simple, and comfortable, that I could wear all night long. After doing a little research, I found a boutique that sold vintage and modern dresses and I made an appointment. The shop is called The Sentimentalist and it’s awesome! Gabi took one look at me and knew exactly what types of dresses would complement my shape. The fourth dress I tried on was the one! A sleek modern Houghton dress. I mean, it had pockets. I had to have it.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Honestly, finding bridesmaids outfits. I wanted everyone to wear something different. Who knew that concept would be so hard to achieve? After spending way too much time searching ASOS.com for bridesmaids’ dresses (about 3 months, I know, crazy), I went to BHDLN in Atlanta. They let me take over a corner of the store to hang dresses beside one another so I could get a full visual of what my bridesmaids dresses would look like together. On my second trip, my sister and I tried on dresses and set up an account so all my bridesmaids had to do was call and order their dress from the store. And just like that, my problem was solved!
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your ceremony? With family. A few months before my wedding, I lost my father to cancer. I knew getting married within the same year was going to difficult. Needless to say, the entire wedding weekend was an emotional event for my family and I. But throughout the planning, I made sure to incorporate elements that would remind me of my dad. I made an offering to St. Joseph during the ceremony for a remembrance of my father.
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. It was a short and simple Catholic wedding. The Deacon who met us with throughout our pre-Cana marriage prep, married us. He was so fun! I would have to say the most special part of the ceremony for me was walking hand and hand with my mother down the aisle all the while looking at Blake and realizing how lucky and blessed I was to be marrying my best friend.
What was the design inspiration for your reception? Cozy eclectic barn wedding and reception. I was inspired more by a feeling: the feeling you get when it’s cold outside and all you want to do is sit by a wood burning fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa. I wanted to achieve that feeling. We tried to make the reception as “homey” as possible, with yard games by the lake, multiple fire pits surrounded by cozy seating areas with an assortment of throws for extra warmth. Inside the barn, there were lots of intimate seating areas including one by the large fireplace right beside the dance floor (that one was my favorite).
What was your reception like? Ummmm, the most amazing thing was everything! Music and backyard games with self-serve bar down by the lake. Up at the barn there were fire pits with cozy seating areas and throws for extra warmth. We had a seated dinner as the sun set under a clear tent. The food was a mix of fancy comfort food. When dinner was over (everyone was ready to get into the barn because the temperature was dropping), we danced into the barn for first dances and cake. After our exit (on a canoe, I might add), the first round of buses left the barn, but the “after party” also started up with the Jay Envy on the 1s and 2s. Also, a food truck opened up outside the barn for the remainder of the night, serving ethnic cuisines in little cones. We love to travel, so this was a fun way to incorporate that into our day.
Tell us about your wedding cake. It was salted caramel and amaretto white chocolate cake made by Kat at Lush Cakery. It was incredibly delicious, and I can’t wait to eat the top of the cake for our anniversary!
I know this sounds cheesy, but you could feel the love in the air. At the wedding, everyone was laughing and crying and laughing some more. At the reception, everyone seemed so happy and cozy. There might have been 160 people there but it felt like one big backyard family reunion to me.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Blake and I met our 8th grade year of middle school. We immediately became best friends. That friendship eventually blossomed into a relationship our senior year of high school. With our lives going in different directions after high school, and being hundreds of miles apart, we unfortunately couldn’t make things work and went our separate ways. Fast forward six years later, and we reunited with one another at a local establishment in our hometown of Statesboro, Georgia, and the rest is history.
Describe the proposal! Well, interesting story, the proposal was actually around the time of Blake’s birthday. So, I had the grand idea of surprising him with a mountain getaway in North Georgia, having no idea the whole time Blake was planning a proposal at my lake house for the same weekend. Luckily, I made the mistake of putting his email into Airbnb when I booked the cabin and he was notified of the sudden change of plans. He took it like a champ and went with the flow. On Saturday we went on an adventure and tried to find a hiking trail to no avail. We got lost and it was getting dark. But I remember being surprised at how determined he was to find this hiking trail. Luckily, we did find it, and there was still some daylight left, and it worked to our advantage because there was hardly anyone on the trail. As we were hopping from rock to rock while crossing a creek, he stopped me and got down on one knee in the middle of the creek. Looking back, I’m not sure how he did that (balancing on one knee on a small rock in the middle of a creek) It was perfect! It’s hard to explain the feeling of ultimate bliss after something like that happens, but I remember feeling it while walking the whole way back to my car.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Well, knowing each other basically our whole lives has definitely helped prepare us, but we also partook in Pre-Cana marriage preparation at the Archdiocese of Atlanta. It was an amazing experience!
How many guests attended your wedding? 160.
What was your favorite detail of the wedding? My mom and dad (before he passed) secretly had a wedding jug made (by a North Georgia Potter) with our names and wedding date as a surprise wedding present. Mom also recorded my dad talking about how he ordered the wedding jug for us and wishing us a happy marriage. Talk about emotional, but amazing nonetheless.
Who participated in your ceremony? Family and close friends. My mom walked me down the aisle, my sisters and Blake’s sisters were bridesmaids. Blake’s father and childhood friends were groomsmen. A couple of my close friends and Blake’s uncle, did the readings. Blake’s uncle (who is a Baptist preacher) also did the nuptial blessing, even though he was unaware of it until the ceremony. Deacon Mike surprised him by calling him up to the front to read the blessing. I thought it was a very cool, and symbolic of the mixing of our faiths (Blake being Baptist and me being Catholic).
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? When Deacon Mike pronounced us husband and wife he said, “I present to you Lillie and Blake Coston,” which is my last name, not Blake’s. Everyone was laughing, and in that moment, I knew my Dad was there whispering that into Deacon Mike’s ear just to make everyone laugh.
Did you try anything new or nontraditional? My father-daughter dance was a little nontraditional. As you know, my dad passed away shortly before my wedding, so I asked his childhood friends to dance with me for the dance. I picked a song my dad loved, and I started to dance with one of his best friends then the other cut in to finish out the song. It was very sweet, and I couldn’t have been more thankful that they did that for me.
What was Southern about your wedding? Hopefully the hospitality! It was very important for us to provide a comfortable and memorable experience for our guests. We tried to make logistics easy (We hired shuttles to transport guests to and from the reception site in order to help alleviate parking concerns) and added lots of personal touches to make sure their experience unforgettable.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? If it’s in your budget, hire a wedding planner. Melanie brought us almost all our vendors (who were amazing), made our vision a reality with her creative design, and just made our day easy and stress free. We could never have done it without her.
Best advice or most memorable comment someone made to you during the wedding celebration. The best was during our reception when Mac pulled me aside to look at everyone on the dance floor. He said “hey, this is our wedding.” And it was a great moment to just take everything in and remember to enjoy the moment.
Who was your favorite vendor and why? This is difficult because I would recommend all of our vendors. I would have to pick Melanie (our wedding planner) because without her, we wouldn’t have found some of our other vendors and she really brought everything together. But after her I would say our photographer, Jen Dillender. We’re not a couple who takes a lot of photos, so we were worried it might be kind of awkward but from the moment we met her, she put us right at ease. She made us feel so comfortable on the day and the photos were beautiful!
Photographer: Julie Cate Photography | Videographer: Kenneth Munoz | Planner and designer: Molly McKinley Designs | Ceremony venue: Christ Our King and Savior Catholic Church | Reception venue and caterer: The Ritz Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee’s Sandy Creek Barn | Florals: Lindsay Coletta Floral Artistry and Design | Wedding cake: Lush Cakery | Bride’s gown: “Grady” by Houghton NYC | Bridal salon and veil: The Sentimentalist | Bride’s shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bride’s jewelry: Catbird | Bridesmaids’ fashion: “Inesse” in Cinnamon Rose, “Cleo” Top in Ivory and “Louise” Skirt in Rose Quartz, “Tully” Top and “Louise” Skirt in Harbor Mist, and “Eclipse” in Taupe by BHLDN | Hair stylist: Hair by Navarro NYC | Makeup artist: Lauren Smelley | Groom’s fashion: Benchmade Clothiers, Groomsmen fashion: Jos. A. Bank | Paper goods: Jamie Jimenez | Rentals and lighting: Goodwin Rentals | Linens: Nuage Designs | Reception lounges, favors, and escort display: Blue Eyed Yonder | Signage: Kate Turner Studio | Transportation: Samson Trailways | Slow motion booth: Shutterbooth | Late night food: Good Food Truck | Bands: Lilac Wine and Big Bling and the Funk Machine via East Coast Entertainment
Molly McKinley Designs and East Coast Entertainment are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor directory!