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Category: Real Weddings Beyond the South

I’m not positive, but this might be the first Canadian wedding to grace Southern Weddings! The lovely bride, Brooklynne, and her Southern gent, Michael, met at summer camp as teenagers, and then fell in love over years of distance between Canada and South Carolina. A birthday visit and surprise picnic proposal later, this sweet couple decided to bring everything they love about the South to Canada through their charming, sparkly wedding. We couldn’t agree more with Brooklynne’s sentiment that Southern is a state of mind, and we can only imagine how much their Northern guests enjoyed an evening of Southern hospitality…and cuisine!

Thank you so much to Genevieve Renee Photographie for sharing Brooklynne and Michael’s wedding with us!

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I was nervous about finding a dress that would not only fit my vision, but be something that Michael would love as well. I was ecstatic when I found a dress at a boutique in my hometown that was just perfect. The mix of tulle and lace struck the perfect balance of whimsical, feminine, and a touch vintage. It was a bit over budget, so I decided to think it over for a bit. That night, during my ritual wedding blog perusals, I came across the used wedding dresses on Once Wed. I decided to type in the dress I had tried on earlier that day, and to my amazement, the exact dress in the right size came up! The price was almost half of what the store was selling it for. I had always imagined myself saying yes to the dress in the shop while wearing the dress, but I decided to just email the owner anyway. I decided to order the dress, and within a week, it was in my home! It was everything that I had imagined, and I was so thankful I could save that money and use it toward another part of the wedding, without compromising the dress that I had always envisioned.

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Describe your wedding flowers. I wanted my bouquet to look handpicked and whimsical, but still have structure and continuity. My sister helped me come up with the perfect blooms, and our florist executed the bouquet so beautifully–neutral astilbe, blushing bride protea, lisianthus, and wax flower, with pops of coral and pink garden roses. White veronica and green trailing ruscus accented the feminine flowers. My sister hand-tied my bouquet with beautiful silk ribbon from FrouFrou Chic.

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Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided against a first look, as we wanted the impact of seeing each other for the first time as I came down the aisle. This was an easy decision for both of us!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We both love traditional vows and felt like they encompassed everything we wanted to communicate to each other. Michael’s father is a pastor and married us, so it was so wonderful to be able to go through the vows and talk about what they actually mean, making traditional vows very personal to us.

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Walking down the aisle, a friend played “Dawn” from Pride and Prejudice, a simple and lovely song on the piano. We wanted something beautiful that didn’t distract from the moment. During our ceremony, we had my grandmother and Michael’s grandfather each read a Scripture passage, Colossians 3:12-17 and Ephesians 3:14-21.

Because of immigration/paperwork complications, we couldn’t have the wedding in the South that we had always dreamed of. But Southern is a state of mind, so we decided to throw a Southern-infused bash up in Canada! Our ceremony was followed by a church picnic-inspired biscuit bar–my grandma made the biscuits and the jam was brought in from Texas. Dinner and merriment were held in a charming town dance hall, where our guests enjoyed a brisket dinner served family-style, BBQ sauce homemade by Michael’s grandpa, and of course, sweet tea. :)

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What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I was so honored to have my sweet and talented sister, Alexandra Joy of Pink & Honey Event Styling, style our special day for us. I have worked with her on many different shoots and projects, and have always been so inspired by the beauty she creates, so to have her pour her creative talents and love into our wedding was so special. To top it off, she was seven months along with my sweet niece at our wedding!

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Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I was so excited to have the bakery I had been working at provide the cakes for our wedding! I loved knowing what was going into the cakes–from the fresh and delicious ingredients, to the love and passion the bakers pour into each cake! We decided on a display of seven cakes, all with different designs and textures on white buttercream. They were topped with chunks of fresh honeycomb, white wax flower, and greenery. Not only were they beautiful, they were also absolutely delicious!

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How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. At the sweet age of 16, I went down to Texas from Canada to work at a summer camp. I was paired up with Michael, who was 17, to do photography for the camp. It didn’t take long for me to fall for this sweet Southern gentleman, who was so different from any guy I had ever met. At the end of the summer, I returned to Canada, and we spent the next year and a half getting to know each other through letters, emails, and a few visits. In January of our freshmen year of college, we officially began dating, and thus began several years of long distance. Because of some visa complications, I had to return to Canada and began working at a bakery, while Michael attended college in South Carolina. Yet, Michael proved to be the strong, caring man I fell for at 16–he continually came to Canada to visit me and didn’t let the complications of distance change our relationship.
Tell us all about the proposal! Michael was planning to come to Canada to visit me for his fall break during his senior year of college. My birthday was on a Friday, so he planned to come a few days after that and stay for the week. However, on my birthday, he surprised me by coming early! That night (without my knowing), he asked my dad permission to marry me. The next day, Michael took me on an evening picnic at the very top of a hill, which overlooked the Rocky Mountains. He set up a tripod and camera behind us to take photos of the sunset. After a few minutes, he came over and sat by me, and proceeded to read me the most beautiful letter. We had saved saying “I love you,” as Michael only wanted to say it to the girl he married. In that letter, he told me all the reasons he had grown to love me. At the end, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife! To top it all off, he had been recording the whole thing behind me on the tripod without me knowing.
When did y’all get married? August 17, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 100
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I loved that there was a story behind almost all of the details in the wedding. My sister made fabric flags for our send-off, my best friend spent hours dip-dyeing napkins with me, and a whole group of friends participated in a craft night, making dozens of fabric mobiles that covered the ceiling of our reception. I also absolutely loved that my brother-in-law made loaves of homemade sourdough bread for each table at our reception.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest thing we faced during our engagement and wedding planning was the distance between us. It was hard having to do different things without Michael, even simple appointments or consultations. I just wanted to do all of these “wedding things” with my groom! But it led us to communicate well, not get upset at each other over minor things, and appreciate the time we had together so much.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Right after the ceremony, Michael and I slipped away to share our first moments as husband and wife together before taking photos. It was so special to have a few minutes to take in everything that had just happened, thank the Lord for His goodness, and enjoy the moment.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? After assisting at many different weddings, I couldn’t wait to plan my own. It was a special time that only happens once, but it really is only one day…a marriage, on the other hand, is forever. Spend time together as a couple planning for your marriage and future, not just the wedding. Don’t let a day that is supposed to be celebrating and emphasizing your love damage your relationship. Recognize that this day, like the rest of your relationship, is suppose to be about the bettering of the other person. Pray about the decisions you make as you’re planning, and be thankful!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? I had always imagined that after our wedding, I would move back to Texas, begin making a house a home, and just enjoy a simple life with my husband. Well, the Lord had other plans for us, and four days after our honeymoon, we were on a plane flying across the world to the beautiful country of New Zealand. We are spending the next year volunteering at a small Capernwray Bible School on the South Island, with Michael teaching and me serving as the school’s cook. We would have never imagined our first year of marriage in New Zealand, but we are so thankful for this opportunity. It is so wonderful to have a year together to explore, adventure, and continue to learn about each other.

Photographer: Genevieve Renee Photographie / Planner: Pink & Honey Event Styling / Ceremony Venue: North Zion Lutheran Church / Reception Venue: Southey Memorial Hall / Florist: Fresh and Green / Cake Bakers: Crave Cookies & Cupcakes / Catering: Smokin’ Okies BBQ / Band: Jamison Troy (Bride’s brother) / Paper Products: Uh Oh My Deer / Bride’s Dress: “Detalle” by Provonias / Bride’s Shoes and Jewelry: Kate Spade / Hair Stylist: Alison Borowko / Makeup Artist: Ginette Yee / Bridesmaid Dresses: Ruche, ModCloth, TopShop, World of Trout / Groom’s Attire: Tip Top Tailor / Groomsmen’s Attire: Express Men / Bouquet Ribbon: FrouFrou Chic / “South” Print: Southern Weddings Shop

lisa Written with love by Lisa
22 Comments
  1. avatar Whitley Gaffney reply

    LOVE that they played “Dawn” from Pride and Prejudice, I have always wanted to have the scores from the movie incorporated in my wedding one day!

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Their golden ceremony backdrop is beautiful! Love all of their details!!

  3. avatar Ariana – Hey Wedding Lady reply

    What a phenomenally stylish bride! I love the gold detailing!

  4. avatar Michael reply

    Thank you for the feature!

  5. avatar Caitlyn reply

    Love the sweet story behind this one. :) How fun to have your sister be a part of designing your special day.

  6. avatar Brooklynne McCall reply

    Hooray! Thank you for the kind words and wonderful feature! xo

    • avatar cortney reply

      LOOOOOOOOOOVEEEE your BM dresses!!! I’ve been searching for a gold dress that i like, let alone LOVE!!! well I found the LOVE in your wedding! Wish I knew where you found the one in your group picture of you & your BM’s she is on the far right, with a sheer top and gold sequins?!?! would love to hear from you if could!!

      Beautiful Wedding!!!

  7. avatar William Carter Sam reply

    These photos are lovely — and honestly, making me consider one day having a engagement or wedding! Great photos.

  8. avatar Dana reply

    they are so darling. her bridesmaid dresses are perfect!

  9. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] Brooklynne and Michael brought all of their favorite things about the South to Canada for their sweet wedding. See it here. […]

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  15. avatar Kristin reply

    Where did you get your bridesmaid dresses from?! I LOVE THEM! :)

  16. avatar SIMPLY INSPIRATION: Sarah Seven Golden Lights | My Wedding Zone reply

    […] via Style Me Pretty, Stationary via Berin Made, Photography by Ed Osborn // Bridesmaid dresses via Southern Weddings, Photography by Genevieve Renee Photography …read […]

  17. avatar Pink & Gold Polka Dot Wedding Inspiration | B Loved Blog reply

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  18. avatar Katelyn reply

    Where on earth did you find the bridesmaid dresses!?! They are so beautiful!!!

    • avatar Brooklynne McCall reply

      Thanks! They were from a variety of stores- ModCloth, Ruche, & Top Shop.

  19. avatar Katie reply

    LOVE this wedding-so beautiful! I would love to know how the ceremony backdrop was made. It looks like fabric with the gold circles ironed on? What is the material of the gold dots? Thanks so much!

    • avatar Brooklynne McCall reply

      Thanks! We tried multiple different ways but the easiest way.. the circles were a pack of pre-cut cardstock circles from Michaels. We spray painted them gold and used spray glue to stick them to the fabric backdrop :)

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Since we were not married in the South, and we are not Southern by birth, there were not a ton of obvious Southern details in our wedding. However, the love and community that rallied around our celebration, and the hospitality we took great pains to show to our guests, were definitely hallmarks of every true Southern wedding I’ve ever seen. Plus, we had BISCUITS! So happy to share a few more details about our cocktail hour and reception…

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What was the funniest moment of your wedding? The funniest moment was actually during our portrait session. Tanja and Tia, her stylist, wanted to bring us down to the nearby beach for a few photos, so we settled into the backseat of their sedan for the trip. Philip, one of our videographers, concluded that there wasn’t enough room for him in the car (which was true, with my gown), and started to head back up to the reception. Tanja and Tia, however, convinced him to get into the trunk of the car, legs hanging over the edge, and then took off slightly faster than might be advised down a bumpy dirt road with “no trespassing” signs posted everywhere. Thankfully, he made it in one piece, and we were all able to take advantage of the last pieces of beautiful light and a gorgeous sunset over the ocean!

Pretty much anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with “mini food,” so serving a bite-size meal was a given. We didn’t have a full sit-down meal under the tent; instead, guests mingled around small rounds, high tops, and lounge areas, and wait staff circulated with pint-size courses over several hours. Some highlights from our caterer A Thyme to Cook included pigs in a blanket, tiny lobster rolls, a trio of fancy mac and cheeses, and composed plates of shepherd’s pie (with tiny slices of green bean on top!) and “Thanksgiving” during the reception.

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Our cocktail hour included a table of “Southern favorites,” complete with mini pulled pork sandwiches, biscuits (with blackberry jam brought with us from North Carolina!), corn muffins, spicy deviled eggs, and Cheerwine! The Cheerwine was very confusing to our Northern guests — most thought it was alcoholic!

Did you have a cocktail hour? We did have a cocktail hour, and I’m sure it was awesome! However, we actually were not in attendance. Instead, we chose to have a picnic for two underneath a huge old tree down the hill from our tent. Our wonderful caterer packed us an actual picnic basket full of goodies from cocktail hour, and we thoroughly enjoyed the half hour we spent together relaxing, snacking, chatting about our ceremony, and marveling over the fact that we were married.

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Favorite design element of your big day: It’s so hard to choose, when you’ve spent the last year carefully planning every detail! I absolutely adored our Sperry tent – those flags are so celebratory snapping in the breeze. I also love that we collected all the silver for the reception centerpieces. It was really a group effort – a good friend and I scoured our favorite flea market for months, my Mom enlisted all of her friends, we reused a pile of mint julep cups from John’s sister’s wedding, which took place just two months before ours, and my grandmother sent a few pieces from her collection.
Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: John’s initial answer was that he doesn’t remember any of the details, only the people (mostly me). Upon further prodding, he revealed that he liked our picnic, the couches in our lounge areas, and “that thing Linda [our caterer] provided at the mac and cheese station” best. In case you’re wondering what “that thing” is, it was a vintage set of wooden drawers she set out to hold the forks! (And it was pretty cool.)
Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: I spent a larger portion of time than I probably should have in the weeks leading up to the wedding making an abundance of signage for our cocktail hour and reception. I bought some calligraphy supplies and went to town, learning as I went! I also produced party popper favors, our guest book, our “Quaker” marriage certificate and my signature drink stirrers, among other things.

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I handmade the popper favors (filled with candy) for our guests to take home at the end of the night. (With, I’ll add, some assembly-line-style help from John, his mom, his sister, and her boyfriend a few days before the wedding!) We also decided to make a donation to the cat adoption agency where our kitties were from in honor of our guests — we love them oh so much, and couldn’t imagine our lives without them!

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Two more projects! Our guest book was actually cards with question prompts like “What is your favorite memory of us?” and “Where should we go for our fifth anniversary?” I’m going to compile them into a book as soon as life slows down a bit. We also asked our guests to sign our own version of a Quaker marriage certificate as witnesses to our vows, which you can read more about here.

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My sister and I actually made the wedding cake! We knew the majority of dessert was going to be small bites (to go along with our mini meals!), so we didn’t want to spend a lot on something that was only going to have two bites taken out of it. Sadly, I made a little garland cake topper that never made it onto the cake, but our florist stuck some flowers on it and it looked fine. The best part was our mini desserts – hot apple crisp, chocolate cake with raspberries, and mini fruit tarts (John’s favorite!) from our caterer. We also served each of our mom’s specialties – chocolate peanut butter balls from mine, and chocolate chunk gingerbread cookies from his.

I love dancing, but historically, it has not been John’s favorite activity. In the months leading up to the wedding, we often talked about taking some lessons, but never got around to it. To make matters worse, we were still deciding between two different first dance songs about two weeks out – “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz, and “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin. In the end, we chose “Beyond the Sea,” largely because it is a standard foxtrot rhythm and much easier to dance to than the Jason Mraz song, which is a very quick waltz. After deciding, we watched several YouTube instructional videos (oh yes we did), and practiced a few times in our living room. And then, armed with a few basic moves, we pretty much winged it! The hilarious part is that we received compliments on our performance for the rest of the night, with many guests assuming we had taken actual lessons! My theory about first dances is that it’s always better to look like you’re having fun (and actually have fun!) rather than be huffing and puffing and struggling to remember a series of moves. Perhaps our huge smiles distracted guests from our less than stellar feet?

Adore these two from our father daughter dance, so I included both :)

What was your reception like? It was awesome! The majority of our time was spent dancing to our band, Avenue A. They played the perfect mix of swing, big band, and rock and roll, and had everyone on the dance floor the entire night! In fact, one of my only planning regrets is that we didn’t rent a slightly larger dance floor!
What were some of the highlights? All three of our toasts were amazing. My Dad started things off by reminding guests of the months we spent apart during our first year of college, when John was in DC and I was in Massachusetts, and concluded that we are great on our own, but always better when we’re together. My sisters, who are both physical therapists and admittedly did not get the creative genes in the family, put together a hilarious toast with lessons pulled from their academic textbooks about bones and ligaments. Sounds like a stretch, but the band leader actually deemed it the best toast she had ever heard over the microphone! Our best man, who has been one of John’s best friends for at least fifteen years and mine for at least eleven, finished thinks up with a heartfelt toast that included just the right balance of embarrassing moments. I also very much enjoyed sharing our slideshow with our guests. John and I worked hard to collect photos, choose music, and put it all together, and it was so fun to see everyone’s reactions. Since so many of our guests have known us individually and as a couple for so long, we were able to include at least one shot of most of our guests, which made it extra fun for everyone.
Tell us about your grand exit. At the very end of the night, our bandleader invited everyone up to the driveway for a sparkler exit. (We had wanted to set off sky lanterns, but our town’s fire marshal nixed that idea immediately.) John and I stayed down in the garden, chatting with our caterer and waiting for the signal from our coordinator. However, we started to see smoke go up from the lit sparklers, and figured we had better make a run for it, since we still had to get across the garden, up the stairs, and out to the driveaway, and didn’t want them all to burn out before then! So that’s exactly what we did, and though the sparklers were definitely still lit as we ran through, I don’t think Tanja was quite ready for us! The photo editor in me feels a bit guilty about that!
What advice would you give to someone planning his or her wedding? Do what feels right for you. There were many times throughout our engagement that people thought we were crazy (wanting to serve only “mini food,” having a private picnic instead of attending cocktail hour, making our own cake, flying in a photographer from California and a videographer from North Carolina, etc., etc., etc.), but in the end, they were the right choices for us.

Thank you all again, SO much, for cheering us on throughout our engagement! It meant the world to me! If you’re a new reader and curious, this post links to most of the posts I wrote during our engagement. I’ll also be sharing more details about our wedding, including DIY project how-tos, our budget, and our rehearsal dinner, on my personal blog, Em for Marvelous, in February.

Last but certainly not least, make SURE you tune in on Saturday to see our wedding highlights film from Inkspot Crow!! I may be biased, but it’s pretty amazing :)

Inkspot Crow Films and Sperry Tents are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
24 Comments
  1. avatar Nicole Saffron reply

    Emily, I have really enjoyed following your planning posts! It’s so wonderful to see and read all the details. Your day looked like a day full of love and sophistication! I love reading about how much thought and effort you and John both put in to all the planning. :) Congratulations to you both!

  2. avatar amanda reply

    I literally teared up looking at your photos… ugh that photo of John touching your face as you kiss.. HOLY COW! But oh my goodness… what a dream Tanja must have been to work with. Her photos are absolutely out of this world and all the detail shots are so so dreamy and the photos she’s captured of you two.. I don’t know how you’d ever choose!!! Gah. Makes me wish I had more film photos.. Sigh… The up close shots are just amazing. I love everything.. Really, you look heavenly and it’s amazing!! LOVE love love love loveeeeeeeee!! Everything was perfect for you and I’m so happy for y’all!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you, friend! And girl, don’t forget you looked AMAZING on your wedding day and your photos are so, so gorgeous!!

  3. avatar annabella charles reply

    OOOh so gorgeous Emily!!!!

  4. avatar Katie reply

    Congratulations Emily! Your wedding was absolutely gorgeous, and I was SO excited to finally get to see some pictures!

  5. avatar Emily reply

    I’m so glad you love it, Katie! Thank you!!

  6. avatar Jenna reply

    Emily I love seeing these and hearing your thoughts on your wedding day! I’m so glad it was everything you hoped for. You two (and the rest of your family!) are so beautiful. xoxoxo

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you, Jenna! Your photos of our family from Kate’s wedding are still some of our very, very favorites!

  7. avatar Sarah reply

    Congrats Emily! Your wedding was absolutely beautiful, as are the photos! I loved following along with you during your planning process (and planning alongside you, since my wedding was a few weeks before yours, and we were also lucky enough to have Philip and MacKenzie work their amazing film magic on our day). I can totally see Philip’s Tom’s clad feet sticking out the back of a car trunk!

    Sounds like you and John are still floating on post-wedding could nine, as are we!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you so much for such a sweet comment, Sarah! And let me tell you, I was SO happy to see that Tanja caught a photo of Philip in the trunk when we looked through our full CD!! :)

  8. avatar Ashleigh reply

    I am so in love with your mini-desserts, Emily! They sound heavenly! We’re in the same boat with not wanting a big cake that won’t be eaten, but it’s so hard to decide on which desserts to have! Yours were precious!

  9. avatar Kelly reply

    Oh my goodness, Em! It’s stunning and gorgeous. I definitely gasped when I flipped (immediately upon opening) to your wedding coverage in V5. Everything was just an absolute dream! I can’t wait to see the Inkspot Crow video, and I wish you & John the happiest life together!!!!!!

  10. avatar cami reply

    That VEIL! My goodness, it took my breath away and that pleated ribbon, I am in love. Absolutely stunning. Your details are lovely in every way. Congratulations!!!

  11. avatar Allyson reply

    Emily, I loved seeing your wedding in V5, but it was so fun to look at your posts today too! I followed along through some of the planning on your personal blog and just loved seeing it all put together! Gorgeous! Love that the two of you took time to have a little picnic, I’m definitely going to talk to my couples about doing something like that. I’m sure it was a very special part of the day. Congratulations!

  12. avatar Anna (Lover.ly) reply

    Those mini foods are absolutely adorable and delectable! I like the mini biscuits and corn muffins best, because those are often foods I indulge in!

  13. avatar Kat reply

    Emily I am oh so happy for you!! I have LOVED following your process both on here and on your blog… I’ve learned so much! Thank you for celebrating and sharing with all if us you’ve never even met! The images are STUNNING, your day was BEAUTIFUL and I love everything from your veil to the reception signage! :)

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  15. avatar Heather @ Beyond the Aisle reply

    Emily, your dress is UH-MAY-ZING and you were a beautiful bride!

  16. avatar Cameron Smith reply

    Emily…ya’lls wedding. I die. So classic, so beautiful. Love! Thanks for sharing your process! It’s been wonderful to read through your planning as I plan my own. So helpful!!
    I think it’s wonderful you made your own wedding cake!! Such a neat memory!
    Hope ya’ll are enjoying the never-ending slumber party with you best friend! What a blessing that is life :)

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Oh my. How does one write the real wedding introduction for one’s own wedding?? There’s so much I could say, and yet, thankfully, the lovely images by Tanja Lippert say more than I ever could. Of course, that hasn’t stopped me from adding in a few notes here and there! Since y’all had such a hand in planning it, I very much hope you enjoy this extended look at my and John’s wedding. And if you haven’t yet seen it in print, do pick up a copy of V5 here!

What was the weather like on your big day? It was PERFECT. Bright blue sky, crisp but warm air, mid-70s… we couldn’t have handpicked a better day. I am so thankful it turned out as it did! The only thing I ever really knew I wanted for my someday future wedding was that I wanted it to take place in Connecticut (where both John and I grew up), and I wanted it to take place in September. It’s my absolute favorite month in New England, and the day God delivered was exactly the day I was picturing when I dreamed about a September wedding.

Y’all know I love paper, and I always knew I would have high standards for my one-day wedding invitation. Working with Magpie Paper Works and MM Ink to produce this beauty was a dream come true!

My sister in law drew the custom map below — isn’t it darling?

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My wedding dress search spanned three states and five stores. I started the hunt in Charleston, where I fell in love with a Monique Lhuillier and a Vera Wang at Maddison Row. I then looked in Connecticut at The White Dress by the Shore, but didn’t even have a top contender at the end of that trip. My third stop (with just Mom this time) was at Nitsa’s in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The first dress I tried on was the “Brisa,” by Christos, and the best way I can describe it is that it just felt like me. I had never seen another bride wear it before, which I didn’t think was important to me, but apparently it was! (And since I work at a wedding magazine, stumping me with a “new” gown is pretty tough.) We visited two more stores after that to make sure, but it was Brisa in the end. The funniest part about wearing my dress was that people asked to touch it all day! I guess the skirt looked very soft :)

Our beautiful horsehair-edged veil was a custom creation by Chaviano Couture. I dreamed it up with John’s sister, who got married exactly two months before John and I did. It’s our hope that our sisters and maybe even children will one day wear it, too!

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I struggled for a long time with what to inscribe on our Paloma’s Nest ring bearer bowl, and eventually decided on simply “grateful,” plus our wedding date.

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I have a very distinct style when it comes to flowers, and happily, I found my match in Elisabeth from Blush Floral Design. I asked for a lush garden look with garden roses, ranunculus, sweet pea, lambs ear, and anemones in whites, creams, and the palest blushes. The stem of my bouquet (which I loved!) was wrapped in pleated pale blue ribbon I picked up on a special trip to New York City. We incorporated tiny apples and berries into the cocktail hour and reception centerpieces, as well.

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You can read more about our decision to do a first look right here. It wasn’t the overwhelmingly emotional part of the day that it is for some people — more joyful — but we were glad we did it and it worked well with our timeline.

My bridesmaids wore long charcoal gray dresses by Dessy. Choosing bridesmaid attire was one of the, if not the, hardest decision I made while wedding planning, though they all looked beautiful in the end!

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I adore that photo of our dads! So good.

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Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: I really loved the boutonniere and bell boards we set up at the church. Upon arrival, gentlemen were invited to pin on a velvet ribbon boutonniere, and ladies could take a little silver bell to ring at the end of our ceremony. I loved that these details made our guests feel special, and included in the celebration, right from the beginning!

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In the days and months leading up to our wedding, I wondered often about how my emotions would manifest themselves on the big day. I tend to be pretty unpredictable with crying – I’ll tear up at commercials, but often won’t shed a drop in situations where it’s expected, you know? If anything, I expected to cry while reciting our vows, and during the father daughter dance. Turns out I was wrong on both accounts, though I did get extremely emotional at one point.

Throughout the morning of our wedding, I felt quite calm, and quietly excited. I didn’t feel nervous, and I didn’t feel particularly emotional. Our first look was joyful, not tearful. Since we had already seen each other, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and our families all gathered together in the basement of the church to await the start of the ceremony. Soon it was time for us to line up, and when I was standing next to my Dad in the narthex I felt the first flip in my stomach. I got another one when the string trio began to play the first song of the processional. After the last bridesmaid had begun her walk down the aisle, the doors to the sanctuary closed, and my Dad and I moved into position. I had specifically asked that the doors not be opened until about fifteen seconds into my song, so that we would hit the top of the aisle at the right point in the music. My emotions started to build, and I couldn’t help smiling, while we waited behind the closed doors. When the doors finally opened, I could hear an audible intake of breath from our guests. (That sounds horribly vain, but it’s true!) I think it was in part because I was wearing a blusher veil, which is so unexpected these days but so me, and my Dad looked stunningly handsome in his dress whites (military uniform). I had my eyes locked on John’s the entire time we walked down the aisle, but when we reached our guests, I had to start taking deep breaths in and out to try and control the impending flood. Once we got a little closer, I could hear the entire row of bridesmaids and entire row of groomsmen sniffling, and that finally opened the flood gates for me. We all had tears rolling down our faces throughout the beginning of our ceremony, so much so that our pastor had to remind everyone to take deep breaths before he began.

Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? Besides my grandmothers, and John’s relatives who came from as far away as Taipei and Shanghai, our most special guest was our pastor, Carl. He’s the pastor of our church in North Carolina, and has had such a huge impact on our lives and our life together since we met him two years ago. We were so excited and grateful when he agreed to fly north to lead our ceremony. We were equally as devastated when we found out two months before our wedding that he had been diagnosed with cancer. He had surgery about a month before, and happily, was recovered in time to still make the trip. His presence was one of the most special parts of our entire day – our wedding would have felt entirely different (at least to John and me) had he not been a part of it.
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We chose to serve communion to our guests, since we found deep meaning in having our first act as a newly married couple be one of service. We used a silver cup from the church where my grandmother was baptized to hold the wine. We weren’t sure how our guests would react, but many told us communion was their favorite part of the day.
Did you write your own vows? We wrote our own vows and recited traditional vows, as we felt they both brought something meaningful to the ceremony. Our personal vows took the form of promises to each other. My favorite line from John’s vows was “I promise to always be available to and grateful for your love.” His favorite part from mine was the last line: “And if at the end, all I have done is loved you with all of my heart, I promise that for me, that will be enough.”

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At some points during the budgeting process, I second-guessed our decision to hire a string trio, but I am SO glad we did. They played so beautifully, and really set the tone for the ceremony. They were accompanied by my childhood piano teacher, and having her there injected one more layer of meaning into the day. The moms walked down the aisle to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” one of my very favorite hymns, and one that just says WEDDING to me (in the best way possible). My bridesmaids entered to “In Christ Alone,” which I had never heard mentioned as a processional, but which we received many compliments on. I loved it. My processional was to “A Thousand Years.” I debated long and hard over what song to use, and worried that I might regret choosing something so contemporary (especially something that first appeared in the Twilight movies – yikes!). But in the end, it was most important to me to have something that pulled at my emotional chords and made me feel something, and “A Thousand Years” most certainly did. If you’ve only heard the radio version, you’ve got to check out Vitamin String Quartet’s rendition! Our congregational hymn was “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (love!), and our recessional was “Ode to Joy,” the same one my parents and my older sister and her husband used at their weddings.

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How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We grew up in the same small town in Connecticut, and went to different elementary schools, but had many of the same friends. Despite this, we did not meet each other until middle school, when all the elementary schools pooled into one school. I had a crush on John, but sadly, it was not reciprocated. Fast forward to high school, where we were still in interlocking groups of friends, but more acquaintances than anything else. I still thought John was cute, of course, but he was dating someone else. Fast forward again to senior year. We had a class together with a mutual good friend, and so began to hang out more. Unbeknownst to me, John had developed a crush on me, but didn’t really know what to do about it. He even resorted to loudly talking about how much he liked me while sitting a few seats away from my younger sister in the cafeteria (hoping she would overhear and report back), but to no avail. Finally, in January of their senior year, John (with the encouragement of our friend Jeremy) mustered up the courage to say something. He called me up out of the blue and blurted out “So… I think I like you.” To which I responded with nervous giggles, obviously. A first date was eventually arranged (ice skating), and we have been together ever since.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: joyful, thoughtful, and precious
How many guests attended your wedding? About 120
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? I have been studying wedding magazines for about thirteen years now, and working at one for three. So I’ve seen a lot of weddings, and a ton of creative and unique ideas. Though I love almost all of them, I knew the vast majority weren’t right for John and me. Our wedding style was classic, while never taking itself too seriously. We wanted everything to fit seamlessly into our beautiful seaside location, and in the end, I think it did.
What were your wedding colors? This is a tough question! People always looked at me like I had two heads when I tried to explain. Let’s go with powder blue, black and white, blush pink, dove gray, and environmental green. There might have been some peach in there, too.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when planning your wedding? Isn’t it always the budget? I almost feel guilty giving that answer, though, because we were extremely lucky to have a larger amount to work with than most, and were so grateful for everything we were able to afford. But when you know what’s out there, it’s hard to stop yourself from wanting more!
What range did your budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your big day? Though we had to wake up earlier than I would have chosen (6:15) to start the hair and makeup process, the morning was perfect – slow and relaxed, and spent with just my sisters, John’s sisters, and our moms. We had reserved a large suite at a cozy local inn, and we had the windows and door open all day, letting in the crisp early fall air. I also made a custom playlist to set the right mood, a tip I’d highly recommend!
Did you have any special readings? We spent much time choosing our readings, and we were so happy with them in the end! We chose one from the Bible, Colossians 3:12-17, and had a good friend with whom we went to high school and college read it. (She also has her Masters of Divinity, so she was extra qualified!) Our second reading was an excerpt from “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, which begins “Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing.” Our dear friend from college read that one. Our final reading was the one we had the most difficulty choosing. After going through a box of old notes we had written to each other over the years, we finally settled on an excerpt from “The Petite Prince” that I had included with a letter to John years before. For those who are familiar with the book, we choose the conversation between the fox and the prince about what it means to be tamed. Our ninth grade English teacher and my mentor of eleven years read it, which was only fitting, as she was the one who had introduced me to it years before.
Who participated in your ceremony? Growing up I had three best friends (all of whom I’m still quite close with), and one of them did us the honor of singing “Set Me As a Seal” and “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing” during communion. It was so beautiful!

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emily Written with love by Emily
30 Comments
  1. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    I’ve never been more excited about someone else’s wedding than I was about Emily’s. Really, just perfection. I love the color palette because it’s so unique and inventive. I can’t even say enough things about that amazing dress. And Tanja? Man, she’s so talented. Just an incredibly beautiful wedding all around.

  2. avatar Lara reply

    Oh my. I know I’ve already seen these images, but they are as breathtaking as the first time I saw them! You and John radiate with love!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you!! I definitely felt like I was radiating with love that day, and it’s all Tanja’s magic that captured it on film! :)

  3. avatar Shelby reply

    Yay!! Absolutely beautiful photos! I’ve been waiting for this post since last September! Every detail is beautiful, Emily, I am so happy for you & John!

  4. avatar Lauren @ Every Last Detail reply

    Love love love all of your details Emily! Can’t wait to see Part 2!! :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you so much, Lauren!! That means a lot coming from someone who has seen as many details as you have!

  5. avatar Megan reply

    Emily, can I just say how much I love reading your posts, especially this one? You are such an amazing writer and so descriptive that I could imagine every little detail and moment! Your wedding was absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait for Part 2!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Megan, that is pretty much the nicest compliment anyone has ever given me. I’m so glad you are enjoying the posts!!

  6. avatar Lisa reply

    After seeing bits and pieces of your planning process, it was such a thrill to see your wedding in V5, Emily! And now it’s so exciting to hear more about the details and decisions that went into your gorgeous day, not to mention, see more of Tanja’s breathtaking pictures!

  7. avatar Taylor J reply

    Emily- I have so enjoyed your “Emily plans a wedding series” and to see the end result- I feel as if I’ve had the privilege of attending the wedding of a dear, old friend. What a stunning day. Best wishes to both of you, lovebirds!

  8. avatar Emily reply

    What a compliment, Taylor! I wish I COULD have invited y’all!!

  9. avatar Victoria C reply

    I have LOVED hearing about your planning process and now reading all about the day here, I know you two just had an amazing time. I feel like I was there with you and I am so happy for you! Thank you for all of the help you have provided to me as I’m planning my own wedding (coming up so soon – April 6)!

  10. avatar Graham reply

    AH-MAZ-ING! These are some of my favorite wedding pictures EVER! Emily and John’s wedding was the first thing I flipped to when we got our copy of V5! :)

  11. avatar Kelly reply

    The bells and bows, the INCREDIBLE pleated ribbon bouquet…. oh my heavens, lawdamercy. Just amazing!!!!!!

  12. avatar Mary reply

    I loved everything about this wedding. Emily, you were stunning!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Mary! Thank you so much – that is so kind of you to say!! There’s nothing like having your hair & makeup done by a master, and Tia certainly is one!

  13. avatar Sierra reply

    Em, you were simply breathtaking! Wishing so much happiness to you and John :)

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  18. avatar Meghan reply

    Emily,
    I love all of the details of your day! I’m especially in LOVE with your boutonniere board. This is a really silly question – but did someone create the board for you? I’d love to do something similar (with ribbons tied similarly and presented similarly) for our escort cards, but I’m a HORRIBLE bow tier and I have no idea how you attached them to the board…haha. I know you posted this a long time ago, but just found it now that I’m in the throws of planning for our May 2nd wedding (which I hope to submit to y’all).

    Thanks a bunch!

  19. avatar Ali reply

    Hi! I just love your style and attention to detail. I see that your bridesmaid dresses are Dessy, After Six but what is the exact color called? I am in love with the color!

    Thank you!

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