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For these high school sweethearts, growing up in the same small town in East Tennessee was full of 4H, FFA, sheep showing, and countless memories of growing up together and falling in love! After Matthew left for the Navy, he wrote love letters to Jessica promising he’d come home and marry her one day–y’all, can we stop and swoon for a second? Delivering on his promise, Matthew married Jessica on a day rich with the history of their love story and the South at the Museum of Appalachia. With the help of beautiful blooms arranged by their family friend Whimsical Gatherings, Jessica and Matthew threw a wedding day that was the perfectly Southern, vintage-feeling, and naturally beautiful. And exactly what they had hoped for!

Big SW hugs to Dixie Pixel for sending along the sweet day!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in high school. He was a Southern born-and-bred farm boy. His family raised sheep and lives on a beautiful farm on the Clinch River in East Tennessee. He and I were involved with agriculture together in high school, so I spent a lot of time with his family learning the basics of 4H, FFA, and, of course, sheep showing. We have countless memories growing up together and falling in love. During college, he left for the Navy. I still have his old love letters from the military, in which he always promised he’d come back home and marry me one day.

I am totally inspired by all things vintage, so I knew I wanted a simple, lace dress. I found the perfect dress at White Lace and Promises in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was from the Stella York collection, and featured a sweetheart neckline and trumpet silhouette.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our wedding crest and invitations designed by Lydia Sellers of The Darling Type. They laid the groundwork for our overall theme, vision, and color palette, which helped inspire the design for the entire event.

Matthew is very traditional, which I absolutely adore. He wanted to save that first look moment for our wedding ceremony when I walked down the aisle. It was captured by Dixel Pixel, and the photos turned out to be some of most spectacular ones of the entire day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were both raised in the same small town of Clinton in East Tennessee, so we knew we wanted to get married in a place that captured the essence and history of the area. The Museum of Appalachia was perfectly fitting and beautifully displayed the heritage of the South, while also capturing the incredible landscape of our hometown area.

Our flowers came from Whimsical Gatherings of Alcoa, Tennessee. The owner, Leah McCall, is a long-time family friend, and her lead designer, Colby West, is brilliantly gifted. Matthew and I shared our inspirations with their team, and they made our dreams come to life. The wedding flowers were lush, colorful arrangements of garden roses, peonies, clematis, cosmos, hydrangea, and ranunculus, mixed with foraged lavender, pears, willow, and honeysuckle. My favorite details were the blue jay feathers, antlers, and bird nests throughout the centerpiece arrangements. It was perfectly Southern, vintage, and natural. The overall design plan was inspired by our wedding crest, designed by Lydia Sellers of The Darling Type.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Matt and I share a love of entertaining others. We were raised in homes with big arms, open doors, and full tables. Coming from the same small hometown, we sincerely wanted to invite everyone we knew to share in this celebration with us. The biggest challenge was finding the balance between inviting everyone we knew (which we both wanted to do), while, at the same time, maintaining an intimate enough setting with those who share life with us.

Tell us all about the proposal! It was Easter weekend in April 2015 and we were sharing a Bible study and coffee in our sun room. It’s one of our favorite things to do on Saturday mornings. At the end, Matthew prayed over our relationship. It was the most sincere prayer, asking God to give us guidance and wisdom in the days and years to come. I felt a comfort and peace like I’ve never felt before. It was an unforgettable moment. A few minutes later, I got up to take our coffee back to the kitchen, when he asked me to come to the front porch. As I opened the door, I noticed a chalkboard where he had written, “Will you marry me?” I turned around to the front steps and he was down on one knee. It was the best surprise of my life.
When did y’all get married? August 22, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes. From me to Matthew: “I vow to submit myself unto Jesus and unto you as we are one, because a strand of three chords is not easily broken. I choose to encourage you joyfully, forgive you freely, and love you unconditionally, possibly only by the power of God’s grace in me.” Matthew to me: “I will faithfully and courageously pursue you with a Christ-centered heart as our Shepherd with faith and love.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My brother represented my dad by reading a letter from him, since it wasn’t possible for him to be present on this day. Matthew’s niece also read scripture from Isaiah 61:10-11.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Oh, of course! My something “new” was my wedding dress and shoes my mother bought me. Something borrowed was my matron of honor’s jewelry. Something old was a ring which my mom had specially designed at Markman’s Jewelers. It includes two princess cut sapphires, my birthstone, on either side of the center stone, which is my grandmother’s wedding diamond. Something blue was the fun part! I wrote a cute poem to each of my closest girlfriends which read, “So, now is the time to share and celebrate. My wedding day is near, I simply can’t wait! I have something old and my something new. I even borrowed something, but not something blue. I just have one thing to ask, to be a part of our special day with one small task. Please, please be my beautiful ‘something blue!’ Just wear the dress that inspires you.”
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Premarital counseling was really awesome for us. It was a neutral ground for us to share about our strengths as well as our differences. It was great for us to have an older couple walk with us through the real aspects of marriage and to give us advice on how to love each other through our differences.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We wanted to celebrate at our reception, so we opted to cut out the timeline of events, such as the cake cutting and bouquet toss, to focus on fun! We saved big bucks by not having wedding cakes, and opted for a dessert bar designed by Echo Bistro instead.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Dream about the day. Create a vision together. Set a planned budget. Stay organized (your vendors will appreciate that!). At the end of the day, stay focused on the purpose of the marriage, not the day of the wedding. Plan for fun and fellowship at your ceremony and forget the details. You’re getting married!!!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We look forward to having children, growing a farm, raising sheep and building a home on his family’s land. Most importantly, we want to serve our church and give back to the organizations that impacted our childhood, such as FFA and local 4H groups.

Photographer: Dixie Pixel | Videographer: Kati Baird | Venue and Planning: Museum of Appalachia | Florist: Whimsical Gatherings | Caterer and Baker: Echo Bistro | Rentals: All Occasions | Lighting: Tennessee Lighting | Band: Pink Cadillac | Paper Products and Makeup Artist: The Darling Type | Bride’s Gown: Stella York | Bridal Salon: White Lace and Promises | Bride’s Jewelry: Stella and Dot | Hair Stylist: Amy Anderson | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Daria reply

    Beautiful wedding! Love the little details, especially the framed reserved card; so pretty! The foliage table runner is to die for !

  2. avatar Victoria Chris reply

    Love these, such a clean pure look!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    What a great place to have your wedding!

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Hand-picked cotton centerpieces, dapper gents in classic black tuxedos and an oak-lined plantation: oh y’all, Caitlin + Jared’s wedding is sweet Southern goodness! With a stunning backdrop like Turkey Hill Plantation, C + J decided to keep it simple with a “less is more” approach to design, and I am totally on board with their choice. As Caitlin said, “The plantation we chose was so naturally beautiful that it didn’t need very much decoration. We decided to skip flowers all together; instead we used cotton!”

Big hugs to Tea Olive Photography for sharing C + J’s darling day with us!

Our wedding took place at a beautiful historic plantation that is settled at the end of a fantastic oak-lined driveway. The plantation also featured ancient live oaks that were dripping with Spanish moss. There is just something romantically Southern about the way the light shines against the moss. Having centerpieces and arrangements made of cotton also added a natural Southern touch. Along with that, we served barbecue with good ol’ fashioned bottled Coca Colas.

I love Caitlin’s wedding band – it’s so different, yet classic!

Jared’s family friends own several cotton fields, so we made a trip or two to cut the cotton plants for our big day. I then had the joy of cleaning tons of plants of cotton before the wedding. It really is amazing how dirty that stuff gets out in the elements!

One of my aunts helped me make my cotton bouquet and the boutonnières for the groomsmen. I decided to change it up a bit with the bridesmaids, and instead of having them carry flowers I gave them pretty little lanterns with twinkle lights and Spanish moss.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. I found an amazing orchestral version of “Secrets” by One Republic mixed with Beethoven’s 5th Symphony by the Piano Guys to walk down the aisle to. It’s such a beautiful song and had the most perfect build up — it still gives me chills! On our way back down the aisle we played “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours,” by Stevie Wonder. Jared actually picked this one, and he couldn’t have been more spot on. Our first dance was to a James Taylor song, “Smiling Face.” It’s one of our favorite songs, and just fits us.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? 
The most memorable moment for me was walking down the aisle with my dad. It is such an emotional moment; it’s hard to forget something like that.

Jared’s grandfather also helped me make the centerpiece boxes we used. We then gathered a mountain of Spanish moss to fill them. I absolutely adored how they turned out. We then rounded up antlers and had them painted gold to go along with our centerpieces and candles, which looked especially beautiful that evening.

Jared is very picky about his cake: he likes chocolate and only chocolate. So for our cake, we had a simple small chocolate cake. We also served chocolate as well as pumpkin spice cupcakes in honor of fall and my personal love of pumpkin. I also incorporated a groom’s cake for Jared. One of his favorite pastimes is fishing for redfish, so naturally his cake was in the shape of one!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. 
The two of us met during our freshman year of college at Charleston Southern. We were in the same public speaking class and shared glances at each other for a few weeks before Jared worked up the nerve to walk me to my dorm after class. We shared several walks over the next few weeks until he finally asked me to be his girlfriend, and several years later his wife.
Describe the proposal. 
Jared planned a surprise for the two of us during the SEWE weekend in Charleston. He had only hinted at one thing, “It’s something you’ve always wanted to do.” Well boy did that make my head spin. There were tons of things I had always wanted to do! As I was enjoying the Jack Hannah show and patiently waiting to see the cheetah, he informed me that we were late for our “thing,” and had to leave. I was pretty disappointed due to the fact that the show wasn’t even halfway over, but we made our way to the car and began the drive to Patriots Point. I had a sneaking suspicion he was taking me to see my old teammates, as they were playing against College of Charleston, but again I was wrong. We passed the softball fields and continued on, parking near the docks. At this point, I was wondering what the heck we were doing, and then we met the Captain of the Firefly. Jared had chartered a sailboat for the two of us to cruise the harbor on. I was dumbfounded and thought that this in itself was the surprise! We then skimmed atop the Charleston harbor enjoying wine, cheese, and fruits for quite some time until Jared insisted that I come to the bow of the boat. It had been raining off and on and I wasn’t too keen on getting wet, but I eventually obliged. We did the cheesy “Titanic moment” and as I turned to head back to cover, Jared was down on one knee with a beautiful ring asking me to marry him. After answering with a yes, we then took cover as the Captain showed me that he was taking pictures of the whole thing! I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
In what month did you get married? 
How many guests attended your wedding? 
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. 
I found my wedding dress the first day I went shopping. I didn’t have much of an idea what I was looking for until I put it on. I was actually debating between two dresses that were significantly different, but was so happy with my final choice.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? 
We decided not to do a “first look” as we are both pretty traditional. We were looking forward to first seeing each other down the aisle — we didn’t want to miss that dramatic moment.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: 
There were way too many to count them all. I absolutely loved our venue, our ceremony site, the driveway, and the backyard. It is so naturally beautiful. I also was over the moon for how our centerpieces turned out. I could go on, but everything was just perfect.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? 
A big challenge for me was planning the wedding two hours from home where Jared lived. It was slightly difficult trying to orchestrate everything that needed to be done, especially while trying to also spend some non-wedding time together on the weekends. We didn’t want every weekend to be all about the wedding since we only saw each other every week or so, but there are some things that aren’t easy to decide over the phone.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? 
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? 
I wouldn’t say I splurged on any particular thing, but I cannot say how happy I was with our photographer. She truly did an amazing job capturing our day. I couldn’t have asked for better.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? 
Don’t let it stress you out, and add a little time to your wedding day schedule. We had a very padded schedule and it worked out so well. The groomsmen and groom were a little late to their pictures, but we weren’t rushed because of great planning.

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Stephanie Gregory reply

    Amazing job Christine! The cotton centerpieces and boutonnières are heavenly!!

  2. avatar Elizabeth reply

    Gorgeous! Love the use of cotton in place of flowers and lanterns for the bridesmaids! Great menu options for a southern wedding, and any couple who decides on bottled Cokes for their wedding is a-okay with me :) Love!

  3. avatar Ken Tan reply

    Great job, Tea Olive Photography for capturing and sharing this. What a beautiful wedding!

  4. avatar Sergio Goncharoff reply

    Gran work! Exelente pic! Me encanta…

  5. avatar Sophie reply

    The best thing I’ve ever seen! Photographer is the best!

  6. avatar Carol Neil reply

    Absolutely the most beautiful wedding and so down to earth cost wise! What a beautiful couple they are, just radiate love! Such a true inspiration to southern couples everywhere!

  7. avatar Oh, How Pinteresting! » Kelsey Tice Photography reply

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  8. avatar Laura reply

    Where is her engagement ring from? That is exactly what I have been looking for and can’t seem to find anything like it anywhere.

    • avatar Caitlin reply

      Laura: Hi Laura, my band is from Croghan’s in Charleston and it is the Coast Diamond brand. The band is NOT listed online, but a Coast Diamond dealer should be able to order it. There was another variation of it that alternated marquis with diamond/square designs. Good luck!

  9. avatar Non-Floral Boutonnieres – {Because Some Men Won’t Wear Flowers!} | DesignedByBH reply

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