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While the number of wedding gown options may feel a little overwhelming when you start dress shopping, here’s the good news: it means there’s something out there for every bride! Whether you’re a classic gal through and through, or you’re looking for something that will make a major statement, the details are what set one white dress apart from another. Allure Bridals’ Fall 2016 collection is all about those details, and from beading, to floral appliqués, to dramatic backs, to perfect draping, each dress is designed to make a bride feel special and like herself on her big day. Even though none of the SW gals are in a wedding dress shopping season right now, we each picked a favorite dress from Allure’s newest Bridals, Romance, and Couture collections–here are the styles that stood out to us!

Lisa‘s favorite: Allure 2951
“I always love a classic ball gown with a twist, and I think this dress would make any bride feel like a modern Grace Kelly! The ivory lace combined with palest blush satin is elegant, but memorable.”

Marissa‘s favorite: Allure C380
“The dramatic crystal beadwork and layers upon layers of organza ruffles on this dress give me all the heart eyes. Perfect for a black-tie wedding, this dress is a showstopper in my book!”

Nicole‘s favorite: Allure 2966
“I love when a wedding dress combines sweet lace and an easy silhouette with a show-stopping details, like a blush underlay, beaded back, and killer train! This dress would make any bride feel at home in her skin while wearing it, but is also worthy of being worn on the most special day of her life!”

Amber‘s favorite: Allure 9371
“I am in love with this gorgeous lace sheath that is the perfect combination of romance and style. The detailing around the neckline and the dramatic back are sure to wow everyone as you walk down the aisle and dance the night away!”

Emily‘s favorite: Allure 2959
“I am a sucker for big skirts and sweetheart necklines–it’s what I chose for my own wedding day! The lace detail and scalloped hem on this beauty are perfectly feminine and romantic.”

Kristin‘s favorite: Allure 9357
“While I’m traditionally a ‘the simpler, the better’ kind of gal, this satin beaded ball gown has won my heart. The detailing on the bodice is a fun way to add some sparkle to a timeless silhouette!”

Jess‘ favorite: Allure 2953
“We all know that on your wedding day, all eyes are on the bride, so make sure the back of your dress is just as beautiful as the front! The combination of tulle, lace, and buttons down the back of this gown provide just enough interest, while still letting the bride shine on her special day!”

Love these dresses as much as we do, or do you have a different top pick? Find your nearest Allure retailer to see where you can try them on in person!

This post is brought to you by Allure Bridals–thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

lisa Written with love by Lisa

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I remember when I saw Erica and John’s wedding for the first time in a draft for V8. I was immediately taken with their romantic color palette of pink, cream, and glittery gold, the stunning backdrop that Pippin Hill Farm provided, and, most of all, how joyfully in love these two are. With the help of Amore Events by Cody, Erica and John honored their respective upbringings with an “apples and cheese” theme running throughout their wedding details–Erica is from New York and John is from Wisconsin. This theme even carried into their late-night treats of cheesecakes and apple pies! Adorable theme and beautiful details aside, reading about John’s favorite part of their wedding makes their day even sweeter! One thing he mentioned was, “The 10 minutes with my wife immediately following the ceremony.” After seven years of marriage, I too can remember those unforgettable moments post-ceremony, and can attest to just how incredible and fleeting they are!

Thanks to Rachel May for sharing this beautiful day with us in print!

We got married at 6 P.M. on Saturday, September 5, 2015. When we got engaged, we knew right away that we wanted to get married outdoors in order to celebrate how much we love adventure, nature, and natural beauty. I knew that I wanted to get married in a barn, as the rustic chic look appealed to me as soon as I started wedding planning. We found a few barns in upstate New York that were pretty, but ultimately decided that we wanted to be in a location that had significance to both of us. We decided to start looking in southern Virginia because of all the amazing times we had spent together renting cabins in the Shenandoah. After some recommendations from friends, we drove to Charlottesville and starting looking for venues. Given that we got engaged at a winery (and how much we both love wine), we started thinking that a winery could be the perfect location. When we saw Pippin Hill, we fell in love with the beautiful scenery right away. We booked Pippin Hill about two days after first visiting, and we plan to go back year after year for our anniversary. It is such a special and beautiful place, and we are so glad we got to spend the best day of our lives there!

Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? When I first started looking at bridesmaid dresses, I fell in love with some pink Donna Morgan dresses and quickly sent them out to all of my bridesmaids. After searching through some blogs, though, I really started to like the mix-and-match bridesmaid dress look, and wanted to go that route. I found out two of my girls had already ordered the Donna Morgans, so I couldn’t go completely mix-and-match, as they had already started tailoring their dresses. I decided to do pairs of different dresses, and I love the way it all turned out!

I went dress shopping in both DC and New York with some of my bridesmaids and my mom. I thought I would love romantic tulle, but every time I tried on those dresses, something just didn’t feel right–like I wasn’t being myself. My style is very clean and classic, and I wanted to look like myself on my wedding day. It was important to me and John that we remained authentic to who we are on the day of our wedding, so I knew I had found my dress when I felt like the prettiest version of myself when I tried it on. My favorite thing about my dress is the way it made John react when he saw me for the first time. He just kept saying, “Your dress! Your dress! It’s beautiful. You look beautiful!” That was the reaction I was looking for.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? Our wedding ceremony was the most beautiful and important forty minutes of our lives. My dad performed our ceremony, which was so special because he worked hard to make his remarks meaningful and personal. Both of our sisters-in-law read special passages, and every moment of the ceremony was emotional and true to who we are as a couple. It was truly gorgeous.

What songs did you use for your ceremony? For the bridal party processional, we used India Arie’s “Can I Walk With You.” I’ve wanted that song to be played at my wedding since I was a little girl, and it was so special to hear it on the big day! For my entrance, we used the traditional bridal march. For the recessional, we used Ray Lamontange’s “You Are the Best Thing.”

My favorite details were the ones that infused our apple, cheese, and literary motif. I’m from New York (“The Big Apple”) and John is from Wisconsin, which is known for its cheese. We’re both educators and we both love to read, so we wanted to infuse our love of books into the wedding as well. We had a beautiful logo made that was on our menu, welcome bag tags, and gift bags. We served cheeses from Wisconsin and New York during cocktail hour. For dessert, we served cheesecakes and apple pies. As a late night snack, guests enjoyed grilled cheese and apple sandwiches. Our centerpieces included a book display that looked gorgeous, and our cake stand was surrounded by books. I love how the theme was woven throughout the ceremony, reception, and all the small details of the wedding.

Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: Where to begin? Our colors were pink, cream and glittery gold, and the room was full of those colors. Our florist, Amy Webb of Blue Ridge Florals, did a wonderful job bringing the wedding colors to life through the flowers. My favorite part of the reception was the floral ladders hanging over the long farm tables. They were dripping with flowers and candles, and they were just gorgeous. We had bistro lights cascading from the beautiful wooden rafters at Pippin Hill. We had books to represent our love of literacy around the cake stand, in our logo, and on the tables. We also had apples as escort cards to go along with our apple and cheese theme. There were so many small details that made the wedding come together and it was absolutely perfect!

John loves John Legend and I love his song “Stay With You,” so deciding on our first dance song was a really easy choice. John also loves live music, so he had the awesome idea to have one of his very talented groomsmen sing our first dance song. I heard Raphael practicing for the first time right after the ceremony (he wanted to keep the performance a surprise for us) and was astounded. He sounded amazing! John’s extremely talented orchestra teacher, Kendall Isadore, accompanied Raph on violin, and turned it into such a beautiful cover. The week of the wedding, John and I took a few dance classes, so we had some pretty cool dips and tricks up our sleeves!

Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. Though I didn’t get a piece myself because I was too busy dancing, everyone said that the wedding cake was delicious. We had a marble wedding cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, as well as cheesecakes and apple pies to go along with our theme. We also had a s’mores pit for guests to enjoy a late night treat!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met while on a business trip to Houston in March 2013. We were both training for new leadership roles, me to be a vice principal and John to start his own school. The trip was an orientation for the five-week leadership program. I did not know many of the KIPP DC people, and John, having been with the company for six years at that point, warmly welcomed me into the group. John even gave me one of his drink tickets that night, and we spent the entire evening talking and getting to know each other. We had breakfast the next morning and even changed our travel arrangements in order to fly back to DC together at the end of the weekend. Even though we worked for the same organization in DC, we had never met before that fateful weekend. John always reminds me that he knew of me long before meeting me, and had always wanted to know more about that fourth grade teacher folks were buzzing about. We’ve been inseparable since the day we met.
Describe the proposal: I knew John was the one within weeks of meeting him. In fact, the truth is that I proposed to John first (about 10 months before he did). It seemed like I was joking when I shouted at him, “We should get married!” But really, I knew I meant what I had said. When we planned a 2014 trip to Argentina, I thought it would be the perfect time to really get engaged. When I called my dad for a final farewell and he asked me where I was going and who I was going with, my anxiety kicked into high gear. Was my intuition wrong? Was John not going to propose? Surely, my dad would know if John planned on asking me to marry him while on this vacation. Finally, my birthday arrived (part of the reason we were going to Argentina was to celebrate my birthday), and I finally had something else to be excited about. My mind moved away from the potential proposal–I resolved to have fun in Argentina and enjoy time with the love of my life. When we woke up the morning before my birthday, John announced that we would be flying to Mendoza, the wine country of Argentina. The next day (my birthday), as we sat and ate breakfast in the tiny restaurant of our inn, I heard an old car horn beeping outside. When I walked out of the restaurant, I saw a small circle of people gawking at a old Model A-style convertible. Still forcing myself to believe that this was all just for my birthday, we got in the car and were whisked away to the famous Nieto Seniter Vineyard. We began walking around the property and John walked us to two horses being held by a traditional Argentinian gaucho (cowboy). Little did they both know, I am pretty afraid of horses. Nonetheless, after some persistent urging from John, I got on and we went for a beautiful horseback ride through the vineyard at the foot of the Andes Mountains. After a while, the gaucho motioned for the horses to stop, and John got me (reluctantly) off the horse. We walked down a path and there under a tree was a picnic, a book, and a bottle of champagne. John opened the book, and inside, was a gorgeous ring, and he asked me to marry him. I, of course, said yes. Then, remembering my conversation with my dad on the plane, I asked, “Does my dad know?” John said of course, my dad had been in on it the whole time. John then told me to look up, and I saw one of the photographers from earlier in a tree–he had captured the whole proposal. Next to the wedding, our proposal was the second best day of my life!
Tell us about your beautiful engagement ring and how/why your husband (or the two of you!) chose it: My diamond is a 1.5-carat, round cushion-cut diamond. After John designed my ring, the store loved it so much that they named my setting the “Erica Setting.” John chose my ring and diamond based on quality of stone and the pronounced setting arrangement. John says my bold love is nearly matched with my bold ring–the stone stands alone at the top, but is supported by smaller paving diamonds below. John likes to compare my ring to our love. Our love stands at the top and is the boldest of its kind, but we have lots of family and friends to support us and help us shine along the way.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Beautiful, enchanting, unforgettable
How many guests attended your wedding? 140
Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: A letter from my bride, the first look, a house to stay in with family in the days leading up to the wedding, fantastic food, local beer, Wisconsin cheese, Mi Amigo cigars, the mountain backdrop, a Kit-Kat s’more station, and the 10 minutes with my wife immediately following the ceremony.
What were some of the highlights of the reception? My favorite moment of the reception was at the end of the night when we played our last song, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. Our friends were singing at the top of their lungs, and John picked me up and swung me around right at the height of the song. It was awesome. I also loved my dad’s toast. It was so heartfelt and emotional, and was a very special moment.
Did you toss the garter or bouquet? We did a bouquet toss. My good friend caught it and I love her boyfriend so…fingers crossed!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? I am looking forward to having adventures with my husband for the rest of my life. Whether it is hiking four miles up a mountain in Yosemite, jumping off cliffs in Jamaica, riding horses in Argentina, or just enjoying a four-hour-long “Cops” marathon in our living room, I always have a great time when I’m with him. I’m looking forward to forever. Next, we are focusing on buying our first house and getting some more room for our dog, Stella!

Photographer: Rachel May Photography | Videographer: Mwendo Weddings | Planner and Designer: Amore Events by Cody | Venue, Caterer, and Linens: Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards | Florals: Blue Ridge Florals | Cake Baker: Sweethaus Bakery | Bride’s Gown: “Margot” by Anna Maier | Bridal Salon: Gabriella New York | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Accessories:  BHLDN | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Annabelle” in Cashmere by Jenny Yoo, “Beaded Chiffon Blouson Dress” in Blush and Taupe by Adrianna Pappell, “Rachel” in Petal by Donna Morgan, “Laura” in Petal by Donna Morgan, “Tori” in Cream by Paper Crown | Hair Stylist: Top Knot Studio | Makeup Artist: Tiffany Lumpkin | Menswear: Allure Bridals | Paper Goods: Dandelion Patch | Rentals, Linens, and Reception Décor: MS Events | Favors: Fromagination | Transportation: Blue Ridge Tours | Lighting: Blue Ridge Lighting

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Perry Vaile reply

    Whoa this was beautiful! Rachel, beautifully done!

  2. avatar Jevettra Gardner reply

    Just a gorgeous wedding and the details are just oozing with wonderfulness!!

  3. avatar Chantal reply

    What a stunning affair – and beautiful photography. Might I ask where the bride got the ring box? I’m looking for one just like it. Thank you!


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When it comes to wedding planning advice, we’ve pretty much heard it all–some of which we wholeheartedly agree with, while other things make us cringe a little. Kimberly’s advice for brides falls very solidly in the first category: “If you put in the work early to find vendors you can trust, it makes everything else so much easier. I was so confident in my florist, DJ, photographer, and event staff, I knew that no matter what, the end result was going to be a beautiful, amazing, and fun party.” Following their own advice, Kimberly and Michael’s wedding turned out beautifully, but more importantly, choosing their vendors with care let them truly soak in and enjoy their special day. No matter what the specifics of your wedding are, enjoying the day should be a top priority, and we’re so glad Kimberly and Michael did exactly that!

Thanks so much to Kristen Lynne for sharing this special celebration with us!

Our flowers were one of my favorite details from the wedding! Coral charm peonies provided big pops of color among hydrangea, spray roses, and greenery. Juliet garden roses made my bouquet special and different from the other flower arrangements, in addition to poppy pods and hanging ivy. The poppy pods were added to honor my grandfather, who we called “Poppy,” and the ivy was in honor of my grandma and aunt, both named Ivy. This made me feel like those very special people were, in some way, with me on our wedding day.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did. We knew we wanted to spend cocktail hour with our family and friends who had traveled from all over the country. Our first look gave us the opportunity to have a moment that was completely honest and private, and to get out our pre-wedding jitters. With most of our pictures taken care of, we were able to spend almost all of our cocktail hour visiting with guests and enjoying the delicious food Pippin Hill had prepared.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For the ceremony, we had a flute/string trio. The flutist helped us pick classic, but light, songs for when the guests arrived, when the bridal party walked down the aisle, and for me as both of my parents accompanied me to the altar. Mike has always liked classical music, so it was perfect for us.

One of my best friends is a writer, and he wrote a poem for us that he read during the ceremony. It was one of the most special gifts we received. Mike’s aunt also did a reading from Corinthians in the Bible.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We knew we wanted to get married in Charlottesville since that is where we met. We wanted a simple and elegant outdoor wedding, and Pippin Hill provided the perfect setting for exactly that!

Besides the gorgeous backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, our wedding had a few other little Southern touches, including a sweet tea and lemonade hospitality station before the ceremony, barn wood boxes with burlap and lace details for our centerpieces, and large farm tables for us and our bridal party.

Our favorite detail was definitely our first dance. We secretly took lessons and surprised our family and friends with a choreographed routine, full of spins and dips. We don’t know what was more fun–the dance itself or seeing the shocked/excited expressions of our guests!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met when Mike was finishing his first year of medical school, and I was finishing my first year of my Masters in speech language pathology at the University of Virginia. Our friends introduced us one night when we were out and about in Charlottesville, and we went out on a date right away. After only dating for a few months, Mike surprised me for my birthday by showing up in NYC with tickets to The Lion King. After a big gesture like that, I knew he was really something special.
Tell us all about the proposal! Because of Mike’s very taxing schedule as a medical student, it was difficult for us to find time together, especially around holidays. In early November, Mike told me he was going to give me my present since we weren’t going to be able to spend Christmas together. He took me on a hike to Old Rag, a notoriously difficult, but beautiful, hike in central Virginia, and then surprised me by taking me to a bed and breakfast in a town nearby. We had a beautiful dinner, followed by a movie by the fireplace in our private cottage. It was a night full of surprises, but the biggest surprise was when Mike pulled out a ring and ask me to marry him. Of course, I said yes! We immediately got in the car to drive until we could find cell phone service so I could call my parents–we were in the middle of the country, and didn’t get service for miles!
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 140
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wedding planning was truly a joint effort, and helped us to realize each other’s strengths when it came to decision making. We learned communication and compromise along the way, which I think are crucial in a happy and successful marriage.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I think the biggest challenge was trying to honor and respect the wishes and ideas of our family members, while remembering the day was supposed to be about us as a couple. For the most part, all of the planning went very smoothly. We had a year and a half engagement, so we were able to spread things out and make one decision at a time, rather than deciding on everything at once. I think that in the end, we added touches and made decisions that we knew were meaningful to our families without compromising our dream wedding.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We were able to save money on flowers and decor for the ceremony and reception by picking a venue with natural beauty and elegance. We also used the standard tables, chairs, and china our venue provided, rather than renting our own.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Planning is important, but over-planning is the biggest mistake you can make. Inevitably, things happen, something will “go wrong” or have to be altered, so go in with that mindset in place. Do research on vendors and ask for recommendations and referrals. If you put in the work early to find vendors you can trust, it makes everything else so much easier. I was so confident in my florist, DJ, photographer, and event staff, I knew that no matter what, the end result was going to be a beautiful, amazing, and fun party.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are currently enjoying living together for the first time in our new home. We were able to buy a house in Charlottesville and move in with our dog, Jackson, immediately after the wedding. We are looking forward to dinners together every night, waking up together every morning, and making our new house a home.

Photographer: Kristen Lynne / Venue: Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard / Florist: Blue Ridge Floral Design / Dessert Baker: Sweet Haus / DJ: Derek Tobler / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Gown: Allure Bridals / Hair Stylist: Salon Druknya / Makeup Artist: A More Beautiful You / Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson Blue / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew / Groom’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Emily King reply

    What a gorgeous venue and such a sweet love story. Kimberly’s dress is so beautiful, love the lace detail. I love how Kristen captured those fleeting, emotional moments of the bride and groom. :)

  2. avatar Zookbinders Wedding Albums reply

    Gorgeous bride! Love her dress and also the dress of the bridesmaids! Incredible pictures of an amazing location!

  3. avatar blushcheek reply

    romantic wedding, amazing wedding dress and hair accessory.

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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