Year after year, our sweet real wedding brides have proclaimed that their most memorable wedding day moments occur during their ceremonies. This year is no exception: from exchanging of specially written vows to walking back up the aisle as husband and wife, wedding ceremonies tend to hold treasured moments that are made even more special with sweet details. Everything from jaw-dropping ceremony backdrops to very special reserved seating for the parents of the bride. Our 2016 real weddings were overflowing with incredibly meaningful details and moments, and we’re excited to share ten favorites with you!
Based on details alone, it’s clear that Olivia and Scott threw a Southern soirée, but amidst the bow ties, pearls, and bourbon lemonade lies much more. Olivia imagined a day that felt like an effortlessly elegant Southern dinner party, so with the help of their planner, Blue Ribbon Vendor Leigh Pearce, they planned a wedding day that focused on serving their guests well as gracious hosts and honoring the traditions of their families. While lots of newlyweds struggle to fill their new homes with thoughtful pieces, I love the way Leigh encouraged Olivia and Scott to look for decor that could be easily reused after their wedding in their home. I bet those same pieces will go on to become heirlooms for future generations to cherish!
Big hugs to Anna Paschal Photography for sharing this dreamy day with us!
My experience finding a dress was one of epic fairy tale proportion. Along with my mom and sister, I traveled to Hayden Olivia in uptown Charlotte. The consultant encouraged me to pick at least one or two gowns that I had not pictured myself in–something outside my comfort zone. I began making my selection and was lured in by the youthful, uber feminine designs of Hayley Paige. I especially loved the cascading striped silk organza of the Guindon gown, and knew it had to be my wild card pick. After a few gowns, the consultant decided it was time I tried on my “just for fun” pick. The feeling I felt as I wore the gown was transformative–I felt more myself than I had ever been. Needless to say, Guindon became a pivotal inspiration piece for the entire wedding!
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, Scott and I did decide to do a first look. At first, we were a little unsure if a first look would be right for us, but after talking with Leigh Pearce, Anna Paschal, and our rabbi, we decided it would be perfect fit. We wanted to spend as much time as possible with our friends, family, and loved ones after the ceremony. The first look also gave Scott and I an opportunity to create and share a special moment alone together prior to the ceremony.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I had always dreamed of an outdoor wedding. As we began looking for wedding venues, Scott and I wanted to find a place that felt refined, yet organic. We immediately fell in love with the expansive and stately oak trees found at one of the ceremony sites at Summerfield Farm.
I looked through various issues of Southern Weddings and selected a few of my favorite phrases to create my vows. My favorite lines were: “I, Olivia, take you, Scott, as you are this day, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become. I promise to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and accept your support. I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they are my own. I will love you and have faith in your love for me through all that life may bring. May my heart be your shelter and my arms be your home. With these words, and all the words of my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours.”
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Do bow ties, pearls, and bourbon lemonade count? The whole design of our wedding was Southern. Southern design, to me, is understated elegance and effortless tradition. It is as if you went out into the backyard, gathered some flowers from your garden, went into the dining room and brought out the pressed linens and the Sunday china, grabbed the heirloom silver, whipped up a deliciously fresh meal, and lit a few candles, all while say to your guests, “Really, it was nothing. Glad you could make it”. The focus on our guests and our efforts to be gracious hosts were the most Southern parts of our wedding.
We chose a selection of small round layer cakes to accompany our main three-tiered round layer cake. The cakes ranged in flavors from strawberry buttercream, to raspberry lady cake, to chocolate mocha cake. The cakes’ decorations were very simple–we used white frosting with a beaded border around the bottom, adorned with real blooms.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Scott and I met in college in August 2008. We both remember the very first moment we laid eyes on each other, standing in the hallway of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house. Scott was a sophomore and I was a freshman. We instantly connected over whatever music was playing at the time and continued to connect over various topics in the weeks to come. However, it took Scott almost three years and a sort of happenstance meeting to officially ask me out on our first date. Our first date will forever be one of best memories, besides our wedding, of course. On both occasions, we danced and sang the entire night away.
Tell us all about the proposal! I can honestly say the proposal was a COMPLETE surprise and that it happened months before I thought it might! I grew up on a farm and have ridden and owned horses since the tender age of five. In third grade, as I started to grow not only in size, but in skill, as an equestrian, my parents gifted me with an American Quarter Horse named Sundance. I loved him from the moment I met him! In late fall 2013, as Sundance began to age and reach “old man” status (30 years old), I mentioned to Scott and my family how very much I would love to have my picture taken with Sundance as a sort of memento. On December 1 of that year, while Scott and I were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, they surprised me with a professional photography session with Sundance. As Sundance and I neared the end of our photo shoot, the photographer suggested I turn the horse around and position Scott into one of the last frames. I turned Sundance around and came to spot Scott kneeling on the ground. I immediately asked him what he was doing, reminding him it was not safe to be on the ground around horses. Well…he pulled out a little box and a gorgeous diamond ring! He nervously uttered lots of sweet and meaningful words and I said “Yes!” The whole proposal was caught on camera.
When did y’all get married? May 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Scott and I planned for our marriage by meeting with our rabbi once a month during a large portion of our engagement. We have really come to cherish those monthly meetings, and they are one of the reasons we were able to create such a deeply meaningful ceremony.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Having a custom invitation suite and calligraphed envelopes was really important to me. The invitation is the first tangible piece of the big day guests will encounter. I always look at invitations as a suggestion of all the beauty yet to come. In order to stay within my budget for invitations and paper, I decided to forgo paper items like individual menus and programs. I also decided learn the art of modern calligraphy so I could address the invitations, create the place cards, and hand-paint the table numbers and signage myself. I walked away from my wedding day with the man of my dreams and a new skill to boot!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Leigh Pearce, my planner, and Anna Paschal, my photographer, obviously! Those ladies were such a blessing and I felt so fortunate to have found them. I am really glad that I listened to every piece of their advice, especially, when Leigh advised me to look for decor items that I could also use in my home after the wedding. Many of the pieces we used during our wedding have now become heirloom-quality decor in our home.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Beyond working to build a life together, I would have to say travel and adventure. On our honeymoon, Scott and I decided that each year for our anniversary, we would plan a special trip for the two of us. We are very excited to celebrate our first anniversary in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands–we have made arrangements to stay in an eco-tent resort for the first leg of our trip. For the first time ever, we will be traveling with just a backpack filled with the bare necessities, and we simply can’t wait to see what exciting revelations come when traveling ultralight!
Photographer: Anna Pachal Photography | Planner: Leigh Pearce Weddings | Venue: Summerfield Farm | Florist: The Farmers Wife | Cake Baker: Maxie B’s | Caterer: Fresh. Local. Good. Food Group | Rentals: Party Makers Event Rentals | Lighting and DJ: K2 Productions | Paper Products: Four Things Paper | Bride’s Gown: “Guindon” by Hayley Paige | Bride’s Earrings: Haute Bride | Bride’s Custom Sash: Davie & Chiyo | Bride’s English Net Veil: Tessa Kim | Hair and Makeup: Carla White | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “D468” by Alfred Sung | Groom’s Attire: Brooks Brothers and Canali | Bow Ties: The Tie Bar | Groomsmen Attire: Brooks Brothers and Michael Kors
Confession: I have been secretly looking forward to writing this post for over a year! Maghon is a very dear friend of Southern Weddings (if you’ve tuned in to our launch party live stream over the last two years, you may recognize her!), and she and her beau, Chris, were married last May. After 20 years of love and friendship, they had plenty of memories to draw from for wedding inspiration, and as a result, their day was packed with meaningful details, plus plenty of Maghon’s cheery calligraphy–she’s the talent behind All She Wrote Notes, after all! As if that wasn’t enough to love about this colorful North Carolina celebration, Maghon and Chris also have a huge passion for their Southern roots, and adopted “Cheers, y’all!” as their official wedding day motto. Join me in raising a glass (or coffee cup!) to toast the Taylors, and enjoy this recap of their joyful day!
I knew in my head exactly what I wanted in a dress: I wanted to feel like myself. I am marrying a guy who has played basketball with me since first grade, so I wanted to walk down the aisle and have Chris see the girl he’s always known. I also LOVE fun jewelry and accessories, so I wanted a simple dress that didn’t compete and wasn’t too much. My friend (and wedding photographer) Anna suggested I try the J. Crew Warehouse in Virginia, and that same day, we hopped in the car and drove there! I found the EXACT dress I had in mind, and the best part is–y’all won’t even believe this–it was $73! I could have cried, I was so excited!
Describe your wedding flowers. Coral. Charm. Peonies. I wanted a big, beautiful, pink bouquet with peonies, and Kat with Dear Sweetheart Events absolutely nailed it. I knew I was going to give it away to Chris’ grandmother in honor of their 56 years of beautiful marriage later in the evening, so I wanted it to be extra special!
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did and it was my absolute favorite part of our whole day! I knew that Chris and I would both be pulled in different directions all day and I really wanted a moment that was just for us. We knew from the very beginning that we would do a first look, and our venue even had a porch swing for it! I walked around the corner to see my sweet man, and I don’t ever want to forget the way he looked at me. It was the most simple and comfortable moment, and all of our favorite photos are from those few minutes together. It gave me such a sense of peace and calm to have had that time with him before the ceremony, and I will always be grateful that we did it!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I can’t even pick just one. I truly loved everything, but my absolute favorite was our invitation envelopes. Molly at Ply took my crazy idea and made it happen and it was even more awesome than I could have even imagined. Chris and I exchanged notes every day when we were kids, and when I was moving a few years ago, I stumbled across the box where I had saved every single one he wrote me. He would draw this little heart at the bottom of each one with an arrow going through, and from the moment I found that note, I knew I wanted it to be incorporated into our wedding somehow. Molly took Chris’ original pencil drawing and turned it into an amazing envelope liner that also included a cute message to explain that Chris drew this for me when we were 10 years old. That note is my most prized possession, so it was absolutely the most meaningful detail to me.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to stick with traditional vows, but with one little addition. Chris and I both admittedly have had a crush on each other since first grade and want to make sure we always do. We added the line “to have a crush on you always” to our vows, and that will forever be my favorite! That’s a promise I can’t even wait to keep.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My best friend from high school, Rachel, read 1 Corinthians 13. Rachel has been such an inspiration to me spiritually over the years and there isn’t anyone else I would have chosen to do that special reading.
Chris and I have known each other almost our entire lives, but we knew we still had a lot to learn. We met weekly with our amazing pastor, Josh Sands, and discussed a different marriage topic every week, from communication to budgeting, family, and everything in between. I was sad when those sessions were over because I loved them so much!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I think making our guests feel like family was the most important Southern tradition that we incorporated. Growing up, my family always held hands around the dinner table to pray, so I got on the mic and explained this tradition to our guests. Before dinner, all 150 of us held hands in a circle and prayed to bless the food and our marriage. My brother did this at his wedding too and I was proud to continue the tradition. We served Eastern and Western North Carolina BBQ with all the fixin’s, and a dessert table that made you feel like you were at a family picnic. Starting from our save the date, the theme of our wedding was “Cheers, Y’all!” and we incorporated that into our signage, coasters, koozies, napkins and anywhere else we could! That’s one of my favorite sayings and totally fits our personality as a couple.
My FAVORITE songs are the ones for our first dance. Part 1: Chris and I both fondly remember our very first middle school dance in sixth grade, when we danced (very awkwardly) to “All My Life” by K Ci and Jo Jo. Every time I’ve heard that song over the past 20 years, I always thought about Chris Taylor. When the music started, we decided to throw it back to middle school and have our arms WAY extended out like little kids do, to make everyone laugh. Part 2: The moment I knew I was going to marry Chris was when we were in the car on the way to watch a Carolina game and he played “Jump Around” by House of Pain. That is the “get hype” song for UNC and the song that they always play before a jump ball. We have gone to dozens of games ever since and I always grab his hand during that song and remember that first moment. So we knew that this would need to be part of our first dance too! We had planned with our DJ to cut out of “All My Life” and into “Jump Around,” but what Chris didn’t know was that I had an even bigger surprise planned (and the only secret I’ve ever kept). My friends at the General Alumni Association helped me invite the UNC mascot, Rameses, to the festivities, and he joined us during our first dance as a HUGE surprise to all of our guests, including the groom!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I have two. A few weeks before our wedding, we got some amazing advice from our friends who said that we should steal away for just a few minutes, step back, and just watch the party happen. Chris and I snuck away in a corner for a little while during our reception and just beamed at all of our family and friends. Love was so, so present at every moment for the entire day, but that’s the picture in my mind when I think back about all of it. My other favorite is that I couldn’t get Chris’ ring on his finger! They warn you that this may happen, but most brides would remain calm and just let the show go on. Not me. I waited almost 30 years for this! Chris gave me a look and said “go for it,” so I practically man handled his finger to get his ring on! We both died laughing and so did the crowd. Chris then looked at everyone and gave them a thumbs up! It was perfect.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Chris and I met in the first grade!! I had a crush on him for as long as I can remember, and he officially asked me to be his girlfriend when we were 10 years old. He was my first slow dance, first kiss, and first guy I ever said “I love you” to. We were boyfriend/girlfriend in sixth and seventh grade, but we weren’t quite ready for forever back then, so we remained friends through high school and college. We reconnected at our five-year high school reunion, exchanged numbers, and started hanging out. It wasn’t until a few years later that we finally went on our first date to play golf in our hometown and we’ve been PAR-TEE-ing ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! Lots of important life moments for me, and my best memories as a child, have taken place in a porch swing, and our proposal was no different. When I purchased my first home, my daddy built a swing for my porch that is a replica of the one that was on my playhouse when I was a little girl. Every Sunday, Chris and I love to hang out on the porch, me in the swing and him in an heirloom rocking chair that came from my grandparents. We listen to music, catch up on our week, and just chat about life and love. This particular Sunday, we were enjoying our regular porch party when he walked towards me like he was walking in the house, but instead, he got down on one knee and asked me if I would make him the happiest guy ever and be Maghon Walker Taylor! I was SO excited that the first thing I blurted out was “Thank you” instead of yes!! It was so special, so laid back, and so us! Every weekend when I am out there now, swinging in the swing still gives me butterflies. The biggest surprise was that Chris had actually called and booked my dream wedding venue just a few weeks before he proposed, so not only did I have a brand new fiancé, we already had a date and the venue I had always wanted!
When did y’all get married? May 22, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our bridesmaids walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of “Carolina on my Mind” by James Taylor because Chris and I are both Tar Heel fanatics. I walked down the aisle to “A Thousand Years” by The Piano Guys, and chose it because even though we didn’t play the words, I love what they say. For our walk back down the aisle, I have waited on this one forever and always pictured our kiss and walk every time it came on the radio. It was “Gone Gone Gone” by Phillip Phillips. I LOVE every word and feel that Chris and I take turns living out those words for each other every day.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. If you ask Chris or myself what we are having for dessert, it’s almost always going to be banana pudding! We opted for a dessert bar instead of a traditional wedding cake and we asked each one of our moms and grandmothers to make our favorite desserts. They each have their own specialty and it was so much fun to see it all come together. We also had Carolina blue cotton candy from Sweet Puff Candy and Chapel Hill Toffee, which are some of my favorites from two sweet friends.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Chris and I paid for our wedding ourselves, so as much as that certainly was a challenge, we loved working together to have the day that was exactly what we wanted. The hardest part for me was choosing my bridesmaids. I have been blessed with SO many amazing girlfriends throughout my life and if I could have had every single woman there stand up at the front with me, I would have.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I am a calligrapher, so I addressed our invitations, worked with an amazing stationer to put a handwritten touch on our invites, and created our signage, place cards, and decor. There was so much calligraphy that at one point, Chris was like, “May, we get it that you write cursive for a living! That’s probably enough!” :)
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We just welcomed a new golden doodle puppy, Mr. Teddy Confetti, to our household a few weeks ago and we are looking to move into a larger place. I’ve lived in our current home for four years and started running my business out of our home before Chris moved in. We are so blessed that All She Wrote Notes has continued to expand, but Chris is tired of finding confetti everywhere, so we need a little more space! I am excited to channel my inner Joanna Gaines and make a beautiful home for us wherever we’re supposed to be. God’s plans have been bigger (and far better) than our own throughout our whole journey to find each other, so we can’t even wait to see what He has in store. Right now, we are just enjoying the ride.
Photographer: Anna Paschal Photography | Videographer: Dansby Productions | Planner and Florist: Dear Sweetheart Events | Venue: The Gardens at Gray Gables | Caterer: Prissy Polly’s BBQ | DJ: Mike Marshall of Triad DJ and Events | Guest Appearance: Rameses the UNC Mascot and UNC Pom Pons | Paper Products: Ply Fine Paper | Bride’s Gown: “Miranda” by J. Crew | Bride’s Jewelry: Moon and Lola | Birdcage Veil: David’s Bridal | Hair and Makeup: Jourdan Gallman | Bride’s Shoes: Fan Feet | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Urban Outfitters, Old Navy, Red Dress Boutique | Groom’s Attire: Banana Republic, Saks 5th Avenue, Nike | Groomsmen Attire: Express | Calligraphy, Cake Topper, Signage, and Decor: All She Wrote Notes | Cotton Candy: Sweet Puff Candy | Toffee: Chapel Hill Toffee | Tassel Garlands: Studio Mucci | Ring Bearer Bow Ties: Little Brotique