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As I read through Emily and Matthew’s interview, “relationships” was the word that kept coming to my mind. Along with making sure their wedding was a great opportunity for their loved ones to connect (“there were plenty of places for the guests to dance, eat, or catch up with friends and family, whether that was on the dance floor, in the barn, in rocking chairs by the outdoor fireplace, or while playing cornhole in the grass”), Emily and Matthew also carved out time during the day for just the two of them. Their first look and private dinner, both right by the river, look like such special moments that I know they’ll cherish forever!

Thanks so much to Clark Brewer and Invision Events for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Laura McCarty did an AMAZING job on all of the florals. The inspiration for my bouquet was white-toned garden flowers, including white cloud, majolica roses, peonies, Juliet roses, and pops of blush peonies and dahlias. We also loved the greenery she used around the chandelier in the barn and on the wedding party table.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! We wanted to do a first look for two reasons. One, it was more practical to see each other before the ceremony so we could get the majority of our pictures taken. We wanted to enjoy the reception and time with our family and friends without having to worry about formal photos right after the ceremony. Second, Matt and I wanted to have as many shared memories of the day as we could. Getting to do a first look allowed us to spend some sweet time together before the ceremony, and since we did it down by the river with just Clark and Chris (the photographers), we got to get away from the hustle and bustle of venue prep for a few quiet moments.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we went with the classic vows. Matt’s co-best man and one of our dear friends, Alex, performed our ceremony, and he did a fantastic job. For the message, Alex focused on the story of Hosea, which is one of our favorite images of the Lord’s love for us. We knew we wanted that to be the main focus of the ceremony.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Most of the readings came from the biblical book of Hosea, but we also included Isaiah 43:4–7, Romans 3:10-18, Romans 5:6-11, and a few others in the ceremony.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Clark Brewer did a fantastic job photographing the day. Two of our favorite parts of the day were our first look and the private dinner we enjoyed down by the river. Clark documented both of those occasions so well, and they truly captured how beautiful the entire day was!

Picking the venue wasn’t as hard as picking the city. Matt and I went through many destination options before settling on my hometown of Birmingham. Once we knew we wanted to have it in Alabama, I was immediately drawn to Swann Lake Stables. It had the look and feel of being somewhere in the East Tennessee mountains (one of the destinations we considered), and we knew that in late October, it would be beautiful. It was laid-back, comfortable and naturally gorgeous, which was what we were going for in terms of style.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food was deliciously Southern. Shindigs did a fantastic job serving up delicious dishes including everything from miniature quail and waffles, to shrimp and grits, to cornmeal-crusted okra. Everything about our venue also made the wedding quintessentially Southern. We enjoyed that there were plenty of places for the guests to dance, eat, or catch up with friends and family, whether that was on the dance floor, in the barn, in rocking chairs by the outdoor fireplace, or while playing cornhole in the grass.

When we first started the wedding planning process, I knew I wanted to have a “naked” cake. I don’t care much for heavy icing, and I like the rustic look of naked cakes. Kim did an awesome job turning that inspiration into a reality, and since it was simple and clean, Laura was able to add some flowers to make it a focal point of the reception.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Matt and I met in Austin in 2011. I had just graduated from college and moved to Austin, barely knowing anyone. A few weeks after I moved there, I ran into a guy I had gone to college with, who invited me to his bible study–that’s where I first met Matt. We were casual friends for a year or two, but as we got to know each other better through Friendsgivings, birthday parties, church activities, weekend trips, and TV nights, we developed (major) secret crushes. It took a night of karaoke and dancing out with friends in early 2014 for us to finally realize the major crushing was mutual. Timing was not on our side (Matt was moving to Dallas for a job at the end of the summer), but we decided to take a chance on our friendship and start dating anyway. It worked out in our favor!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was the Saturday before Easter 2015. Matt was living in Dallas and I was living in Austin. He was coming down for the weekend, and our plan was to go to the Texas Capitol building on Saturday morning for a tour and then meet up with his parents afterward for lunch. This wasn’t an unusual weekend plan because I was planning on moving to Dallas sometime in the coming months, and visiting the Capitol was on our Austin bucket list. His parents being in town wasn’t unusual either because they had come to spend Easter with his grandparents, who lived close by. Matt was able to hook us up with a private tour with Rod, the Sergeant-at-Arms for the House, through a mutual friend. Rod showed us around the Capitol, and as we were wrapping up, he asked if we wanted to make the trek up to the dome, where other tourists didn’t have access. Matt and I weighed whether we should do it or not since we were running late for our lunch, but Rod convinced us to make the climb, since this was a one-time chance sort of thing. When we got to the tip top of the dome, we were able to exit outside onto a small wraparound patio. When Rod said he had to “take a call” and stepped back in, I knew something was up. A few seconds later, Matt grabbed my hand, said my name, and I knew this was it! He got down on one knee and proposed right there. Rod was in on the whole thing, so after his “call,” he came back out and took a few pictures for us. Afterward, we did in fact meet up with Matt’s parents for lunch, but both of our families were there to celebrate with us, as well!
When did y’all get married? October 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 165
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The week after we got engaged, I was visiting one of my bridesmaids in New York City, so we decided to do a brief shopping trip. It was unsuccessful, but I was able to get my feet wet and start to feel more like a bride. A few weeks later, I planned a dress shopping trip with three of my close girlfriends in Austin. I tried on probably 10-15 dresses and honestly loved most of them. We eventually narrowed it down to two favorites and took pictures to share with my mom and sister, since they lived too far to see them in person. My mom, my sister, and my dad all picked the same dress as their favorite, so I went with that one! It was exactly the dress I had had in mind: simple, classic, and not too glam for an outdoor wedding.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail was the wedding party table. It was forty feet of farm table that sat our closest friends. It was a joyful picture to see everyone from every phase of our lives in one place!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We went through premarital counseling with a couple at our church. It was important to us to learn from people who had gone through this season and could guide us through conversation and conflict in preparation for marriage.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We didn’t have to hire an officiant or ceremony musicians since we had our friends play those parts!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Enjoying dinner by the river immediately after the ceremony was a sweet and memorable moment. Having a few minutes alone to relax, eat good food, and revel in our new marriage was a special time for us.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Knock all of the big stuff out first! We jumped into wedding planning the week after we got engaged, and that allowed us to book most of our vendors in the first month of our engagement. The last two to three months before the wedding, we were able to take our time preparing for our marriage, not just finishing up last minute wedding details.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Matt and I reside in Dallas, where he’s an attorney and I’m working for a healthcare startup. The big challenge we’re tackling as a couple right now is keeping our new fiddle leaf fig tree alive.

Photographer: Clark Brewer | Planner: Invision Events | Venue: Swann Lake Stables | Florist: Laura McCarty | Cake Baker: Kimberly Wiggins | Caterer: Shindigs | Rentals and Lighting: Event Rentals Unlimited | Band: The Neons | Special Details: Prophouse | Paper Products: Katie Roden | Bride’s Gown: “Cassidy” by Amy Kuschel | Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott | Hair Stylist: Joanna Ballentine | Makeup Artist: Molly Stilley | Bride’s Shoes: Tory Burch | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nouvelle Amsale | Groom’s Attire: Sid Mashburn | Ice Cream Sandwich Cart: Big Spoon Creamery

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    It’s always such a joy to see our Southern Bride Bloggers tie the knot, and I have to confess, I was stalking Callie‘s Instagram a little bit on Melissa and Will’s wedding day in the hopes of getting a peek at this sweet celebration! Not surprisingly, Melissa was as lovely and gracious as Southern brides come, and after reading the interview she and Will filled out together, it’s so evident that they were completely present on their wedding day. That’s our biggest hope for all of you brides–that you plan well, choose your vendors carefully, and then sit back and soak in every second of getting married! We love that that’s exactly what Melissa and Will did, and they now have so many special memories to carry with them into newlywed life and the many years to follow.

    Thanks so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Callie of Nancy Ray Photography, for sharing Melissa and Will’s beautiful day with us!

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had always dreamed about the kind of dress I would get married in. I knew I wanted lace, and something that was lightweight and very feminine. As soon as I got engaged, I started talking to a few gals who had recently gotten married and made a list of stores they recommended, one of which was Lana Addison Bridal in Cary, North Carolina. I decided to start with Lana Addison because it was a smaller boutique and would help me ease into “the search,” but it actually ended up being the first and only place my mom, mother-in-law, and I ventured to! After looking at my inspiration, we headed to a dressing room and were given two dresses to start with. After trying both on, I knew neither was for me and mentioned the idea of trying on a dress with a “Great Gatsby” feel. Our consultant said she knew just the dress! I was brought a beautiful lace number that had cap sleeves, an alluring V-neckline, and a vintage-inspired silver and gold brooch that I just adored. I put it on and didn’t want to take it off. That’s when I knew it was the one.

    Will has been one of the strongest Christian influences in my life and prays with and for me every single day, ever since the very beginning of our relationship. For whatever reason, I’ve never felt as comfortable praying out loud like he does. This is something I’ve struggled with for years and knew I wanted to change, so on our wedding day, I did just that! Instead of Will and I doing a first look, we decided to pray together behind a tree, and I opened us up in prayer. I was nervous, and didn’t know if I would be able to get any words out, but as we held hands, the excitement started to heighten and I was able to enjoy those brief moments that we got to spend together with God as our focus. I was proud of myself and knew this was the perfect way for us to spend our last few moments together before becoming husband and wife.

    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did a mix of both. For the ceremony, we went with more traditional vows, but added our own words to make them more “us.” My favorite phrase from our vows was “through tears and laughter, sickness and health, hardship and plenty, I will love you faithfully, constantly, and prayerfully”.
    What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Scripture is important to Will and I and we wanted to find something that did a good job showcasing God’s intent for what a strong Christian marriage should look like. After narrowing down our choices, we selected Mark 10:6-9 and Colossians 3:12-17 to be read by one of our bridesmaids and groomsmen during our ceremony. For our homily, we asked our officiant to focus on Ephesians 5:21-33.

    We held our ceremony at Dinwiddie Chapel on the Peace College campus, where I attended college when it was an all-girls school. One of our school’s requirements was to attend chapel every week, so I grew very fond of its charm, and have so many memories that were created there. It didn’t hurt that it was also bright and airy inside, which was something I definitely wanted. For our reception venue, we knew that we wanted to find a space that had a rustic feel, exposed brick, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open floor plan that we could customize. The Cotton Room had all of the above and more. It was just what we had dreamed of!

    Being born and raised in the South, I knew I wanted to have a wedding with lots of Southern details–insert mason jars, Cheerwine bottles, and plenty of wooden accents. It was important to us that all of our family and friends felt comfortable throughout the day, so we decided against having “sides” at our ceremony and asked all of our guests to sit wherever they wanted, allowing them to mingle and meet one another as soon as the festivities began. The friendly and inviting tone of the day gave it a great Southern feel. We also put a lot of thought into the menu options offered at the reception. To our surprise, the most talked-about items at our wedding were the the pimento cheese sliders with fried green tomatoes, the BBQ pork puppies, and the goat cheese smashed potatoes.

    What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved every vendor we had the pleasure of working with, but there are a few that specifically went above and beyond in meeting our expectations. The first was Nancy Ray Photography. Photos capture moments you want to cherish forever and Callie and her team did just that. The second is, without a doubt, my wedding coordinator, Emily King of Whiskey and White Events, combined with the whole staff at The Cotton Room. Without Emily’s help, our wedding day wouldn’t have run as smoothly as it did. The staff at The Cotton Room also blew us away with the display and setup of everything used at the reception. It was magical. They even surprised us with “a pizza pie to say goodbye” that we enjoyed after the reception!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Will: At the end of January 2010, I was introduced to Melissa by some mutual friends. I knew pretty quickly after talking to her that she was something special, but after spending some time getting to know each other that night, we went our separate ways. A few days later, Melissa reached out to me over Facebook, invited me to a party her friends were hosting, and the rest, as they say, is history!
    Tell us all about the proposal! It was a July weekend, and we headed to the mall so Will could pick up some clothes for work. While we were at the mall, Will randomly said “Let’s go to Anthropologie so you can find a dress to wear tonight for the double date we’re going on. My treat!” After stopping at Anthro, we were headed home when Will got a “phone call” and told me he had to go into the office before our double date. About 20 minutes after Will left, one of my closest friends, Emily, arrived at my house and explained that Will had asked her to keep me company because he felt bad that he had to go into work on our date day. A few hours later, Will texted me ask if Emily could drop me off at the place where we were going to meet the other couple. We were almost at our destination when Emily pulled into a parking lot right beside Marshall Park, and in the far distance, I saw my parents and my uncle. This is the moment that I knew something was going on! My parents led me over a bridge and slowly backed away to leave me standing by myself in front of a large fountain. That’s when I spotted Will walking down a hill, looking as handsome as ever. When he finally approached me, I gave him a big hug and got a few awkward laughs out (I was nervous!), and from that point on, all I remember is Will grabbing my hands and asking me if I knew how much he loved me. All I could think about was how amazing he was for thinking through everything in great detail, and the fact he included my family meant so much to me. I said YES once he popped the question and the rest of the night was spent celebrating with our families!
    When did y’all get married? June 13, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
    Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We actually decided against doing a first look for a few reasons, mainly because I wanted to do one with my dad instead. I’m an only child and “daddy’s little girl” so I knew it would be special and mean a lot to him to be able to spend a few moments together before the ceremony. Will also felt strongly about seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle, and we wanted to experience the anticipation and excitement of seeing each other for the first time at the altar.
    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Will and I invested a great deal of time and energy into staying focused on the fact that a wedding lasts just ONE day. A marriage is what lasts a lifetime. Before we were engaged, we went to premarital counseling at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, where we learned the best ways to communicate with one another and were able to put that into practice. After we got engaged, we did counseling with Tyler Jones of Vintage Church and were able to discover each other’s top love language, had regular conversations about the things we valued, and had open discussions about the concerns, fears, and things that we were excited about when it came to being married and growing spiritually with someone.
    If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mom and mother-in-law are DIY-ers through and through, and went out of their way to help Will and I cut costs on our wedding. These busy bees helped make all the signs used at the ceremony and reception, helped paint mason jars and all the items that were used as centerpieces for reception tables, and helped print and prepare our wedding programs. We were also able to save money by providing our own vases for the flowers, and we reused the altar flowers and aisle markers from our ceremony on the bridal party and cocktail tables.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Will and I are renting a townhouse in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Charlotte. We’ve made friends with our neighbors and have enjoyed many nights walking to get ice cream and exploring the Queen City as much as possible. Recently, we’ve been brainstorming ideas of what we want to see and do during our trip to New York this November (I’ve never been!), and have started talking about celebrating our first anniversary overseas in Hong Kong. Will’s mom just moved there and we can’t wait to explore another part of the world together in 2016.

    Photographer: Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography / Videographer: Good Earth Films / Planner: Emily King of Whiskey & White Events / Ceremony Venue: Dinwiddie Chapel / Reception Venue: The Cotton Room / Florist: MEWS Designs / Dessert Baker: The Cupcake Shoppe / Caterer: Triangle Catering / Band: The Troupers / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Gown: “Rita” by Amy Kuschel / Bridal Salon: Lana Addison Bridal / Bride’s Earrings: “Rennie” by Nina from Nordstrom / Hair and Makeup: Makeup by Ashley Mooney / Bride’s Shoes: “Forbes” by Nina from Nordstrom / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style JH5307” by Jim Hjelm Occasions / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: New York Bride and Groom / Menswear: Jos A. Bank / Ties: The Tie Bar / Cake Topper: Emily Steffen Shop / Chair Signs: The Apothecary Bee / Party Favors: Rook Design Co. / Transportation: White Horse Transportation

    Nancy Ray and Good Earth Films are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    8 Comments
    1. avatar Kelly reply

      So lovely! I’ve been following Melissa’s blog for a while and was so excited to finally see the pictures. I’ve heard the proposal story before but absolutely teared up again while reading it.

    2. avatar Melissa reply

      You ladies have wrecked my heart and made my morning….my week if i’m being honest! Thank you for featuring Will and I’s special day. I can’t help but smile looking back at these photos….just amazing.

    3. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

      This entire wedding is simply stunning! I love all of the personal, meaningful, and Southern details, and you can tell just how much thought and attention to detail went into it. The florals are amazing, and I’m always a huge fan of the Cotton Room!!

    4. avatar Mary-Katherine reply

      The most beautiful wedding of a dear friend with an even more beautiful heart! I loved all the special details that they made sure to include, it all came together perfectly!

    5. avatar Melissa and Will Durham, NC Film Wedding | Nancy Ray Photography reply

      […] thanks to Southern Weddings for featuring this lovely wedding! Click here to see the full […]

    6. avatar Emily King reply

      Melissa and Will, thank you for such kind words. It was a true pleasure to work with you both. Wishing you every happiness in your life ahead.

    7. avatar Henry Gray reply

      Nice wedding party the bide look so pretty Love the colour scheme and the beautiful photographs. Gorgeous photos.

    8. avatar Celebrating Southern Weddings | Nancy Ray Photography reply

      […] and Jamie’s Real Wedding featured in the Pages of Southern Weddings Magazine and on the blog Melissa and Will’s Wedding on the SW Blog Southern Newlywed: Planning a […]

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    We’re a sucker for wedding gowns in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few of our favorite gowns from the weddings of 2011 brides.

    Alison’s David Bridal gown (photo by Katelyn James; originally seen here)

    Ashley’s Lazaro gown (photo by Vue Photography; originally seen here) and Melissa’s Allure Bridal gown (photo by Phindy Studios; originally seen here)

    Amanda’s Simply Elegant gown (photo by Paul Johnson; originally seen here)

    Emily’s ruffled gown from The Gown Boutique (photos by Virgil Bunao; originally seen here)

    Marilisa’s gauzy Amy Kuschel gown (photo by Our Labor of Love; originally seen here)

    Sidney’s lace Anne Barge gown (photo by Studio A; originally seen here)

    Lindsay’s sleeved Priscilla of Boston gown (photo by Flory Photo; originally seen here) and Taylor’s ruffled Oscar de la Renta gown (photo by Abby Jiu; originally seen here)

    Last but not least, Katharine’s classic Amsale gown (photo by A Bryan Photo; originally seen here)

    Comment below with your favorite wedding gown!

    emily Written with love by Emily
    4 Comments
    1. avatar Lisa reply

      How to choose?? I adore Katherine’s Amsale, but Ashley’s Lazaro is another of my favorites! So many beautiful Southern brides!

    2. avatar Maryam reply

      I hope the wedding(and other formal) dress with pockets trend fizzles out soon.

      • avatar Emily reply

        Aww, I love that trend! The pockets usually don’t interfere with the lines of the dress, and what could be more convenient than pockets?!

    3. avatar madelynne miller reply

      I LOVE Katharine’s streamlined preppy dress AND Sidney’s classic lace dress. STUNNING!

    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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