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Very few of us are lucky enough to be able to celebrate our marriages in the same spot that we developed our relationships. There are, after all, so many things to account for like space, power sourcing, catering kitchens and bathrooms. Fay + Jon were lucky enough to be able to say their vows at Jon’s uncle’s farmland, where they got to know each other and fall in love. It makes their big day even more special to us, especially considering that many of Fay’s family and friends came from across the pond and were able to witness how their story unfolded. “The feeling of having everyone from England and America together for (probably) the only time in our lifetimes was absolutely breathtaking,” said the bride.

We’re so thankful for Katherine Miles Jones who shared this big day with us!

Isn’t Fay’s heirloom ring absolutely stunning? It was a surprise to Jon from Fay’s mother who had come to visit from England just before he popped the question.

“She’d never met Jon in person before, but knew that we’d been talking about marriage. She brought my late grandmother’s engagement ring with her (presuming she’d actually like Jon!). At one point in the week when I wasn’t around, she gave the ring to Jon and told him that if he’d like to, he should propose with it. So when Jon got down on one knee he pulled out this tattered old ring box (the original box) and proposed with my grandmother’s sapphire engagement ring, it was unbelievably special.”

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: The first few dresses I tried on got me really down because I thought I’d like and look good in certain style and I certainly did not! I also wasn’t expecting to find my dress at a chain like David’s Bridal. I’d just gone there because I’m not dress-savvy and they have so many different styles, we thought it would be a great place to get my bearings! After a few that I barely wanted to leave the changing room in, I tried one on that just gave me that feeling. I felt totally myself, and comfortable, and I hadn’t expected to feel that way in any gown. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

We created our entire ceremony with our officiant, who is wonderful and really helped us shape a ceremony that was “us.” She is a Unitarian Universalist, which was very important to me, because I wanted to be married by someone who believes that anyone can be married, no matter who they are and who they’re marrying. My favorite part of our ceremony was asking our friends and family to affirm our vows (which they did, with gusto!). I live 4000 miles away from my family and home, so my friends here have truly become my family. Jon was born and raised in Durham, so he has known many of his current friends for 30 years. For both of us for very different reasons, actively involving our congregation in the ceremony was so important.

How many guests attended your wedding? 150. The number wasn’t very flexible because we got married outside on Jon’s uncle’s farmland, where we spent a lot of time fishing in our early-dating days. We both feel like it’s where we truly got to know each other. Jon’s uncle had a dock built onto the lake especially for the wedding, and we made our altar out of a reclaimed fireplace mantle on the end of the dock.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? We did not do a first look. We flip-flopped on it for a while but in the end, we both wanted to have that moment on the aisle. I wouldn’t change it for the world. People told me to really savor that walk down the aisle, but as soon as I caught Jon’s eyes, I could not look away. It was so intense and so emotional.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had 2 readings, one chosen by each of us. Jon chose “Love” by Roy Croft and I chose “Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda from 101 Love Poems. I loved how the readings really reflected each of our personalities within our relationship.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. All of our “important” songs were by the Avett Brothers. My maid of honor grew up with the boys in this band and she introduced me to them years ago. Their music is a staple in our cars and house, and is pretty much the only music Jon and I can agree on! The pieces were arranged and played acoustically on the day by our good friend who is a guitarist. The bridal party entered to “January Wedding,” I walked down the aisle to “Pretty Girl at The Airport,” and our first dance was “Swept Away.”

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Antlers!! When I first suggested using antlers in the wedding, I got some strange looks from the florist and Chelsey, (and Jon!) But I think they worked perfectly. I’ve always had a little obsession with antlers (I just think they are beautiful) and Jon’s uncle is an avid hunter, so we had no shortage. (Although we did tell my mom they were naturally shed!) They helped tie everything together so well, especially as we didn’t have a massive budget for flowers and decorations.

We never set out with the intention of making our wedding super Southern, but because of who we are, I think it actually turned out to be a really nice blend of Southern and English. Our signature cocktail was a “Southern High Tea” made with sweet tea vodka, and lemonade. We played corn hole with boards painted as the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes. Our dining setup was four long banquet tables running parallel to each other and dinner was served family style. We fought to have this setup fiercely (budget and practicality should have meant the traditional round-table, plated food setup). I really wanted dinner to feel casual and familial, and as if you were at a garden party at the end of summer with everyone eating together. Even though we were under a tent, it felt like we were eating outdoors. I loved it, and I think it really felt like a big homey Southern garden party.

How’s this for a brilliant marriage? Fay + Jon combined their Southern and English roots to create “Southern High Tea” signature cocktails — a fun spin on the notable drink that characterizes both regions.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Neither Jon nor I like cake very much. We decided to have pies for our wedding desserts. Bourbon-pecan-chocolate chip, key lime, buttermilk-sweet potato, and rustic apple… Aren’t you drooling?!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. I went to Duke University and after graduating, had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. I kept the job I’d had through college, which was waitressing at a local restaurant. Jon’s best friend from high school owned the restaurant and he moved from Baltimore to Durham to take a job managing the bar. The rest is history!
Describe the proposal. I had planned a trip to the same cabin where we spent our first anniversary (near Grandfather Mountain), and Jon jumped on the opportunity to be at a place that meant something to both of us. He planned to propose at the Mile High Swinging Bridge at the top of the mountain when we went up there for a hike. We didn’t know that they’d just finished construction on a new visitor’s center up there, so when we got up there, we were joined by a couple hundred other folks. (Not exactly the private moment Jon had hoped for.) We decided to hike up the neighboring peak with our two dogs, instead. Jon proposed on top of a giant (terrifying) rocky outcrop that he had to beg me to climb up on in the first place!
In what month did you get married? September. We wanted to be outdoors as much as possible and you cannot beat a good September night in North Carolina! We couldn’t decide on an actual date, and ended up flipping a coin because neither of us wanted to be responsible for picking a date if it got rained on!
Describe your wedding flowers: Gorgeous! I wanted the bouquets to feel wild and loose (I hate stuffy round pompom bouquets) and our florist did a fantastic job! They were perfectly free and tangly with lots of spilling tendrils of foliage, while at the same time keeping a delicate, antique feel with the colors and blooms used.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Guest list. Having a very fixed number of guests was hard. Narrowing down our guest list was emotionally draining (not to mention time consuming). I still have palpitations thinking about it occasionally!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Our budget was $20,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? CHELSEY (our wedding coordinator). I cannot emphasize this enough. Some people told us it was a waste of money, some people told us a planner would take over and make it their wedding. These people couldn’t have been more wrong. She was invaluable. She enabled us to create a wedding we’d never have dreamt we’d be able to have, and did it while keeping us totally in control. She saved us from driving each other crazy and went above and beyond constantly. She is worth her weight in gold.
The best vendor decision you made: I adore our pictures. I didn’t know what to do at first about a photographer. I like Max Wanger and Jose Villa, and the photographers here that we looked at just don’t do that style of photography. Then I remembered my old friend from summer camp 12 years ago! I’d friended her on Facebook a while ago and though we didn’t regularly keep in contact, I’d vaguely followed her journey to becoming an independent photographer in NYC. I emailed her to ask if she’d be at all interested/inclined to come to NC (where her parents live) to photograph our wedding. I was THRILLED when she said yes! Neither Jon nor I are particularly comfortable in front of cameras and Katherine being an old friend made everything SO easy and natural! And she is so unbelievably talented. The pictures came out better than I could ever imagine!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The laughter. There was so much!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be true to yourselves, no matter what that means. You only get that day once, and it goes by so fast. Make it exactly what you want it to be.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? It’s actually going to be nose to the grindstone for the next few years. There will be a lot of school for me and a lot of work for Jon as he carries us through those student loans! But we are planning a long, adventurous honeymoon somewhere off the beaten track before my course starts.

Gather Together Events is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Ashleigh reply

    LOVE the color of the guys suits! Can you tell me where they came from? I’m having a hard time finding the perfect color for our August wedding!

    • avatar Jon Marin reply

      Ashleigh: The suits were from Jos A Bank. They took great care of us and as far as cost is concerned there isn’t a better price out there. In my opinion it was much better to pay a little more for a suit that they, my groomsmen, could keep versus a rental that they have to return.

  2. avatar sarah der reply

    Ahhhh what a darling, beautiful wedding and such a fun couple! I love, love the elegant and sophisticated–but still sweet and southern–feel to their day. So much love!

  3. avatar Arlissa Vaughn / Special Event Painter reply

    LOVE the UK and USA flag corn hole games. Fun!!

  4. avatar Katherine Miles Jones reply

    Fay and Jon are such a lovely couple–inside and out! It was a joy to work with them!

  5. avatar Emily Alice reply

    Those Avett Brothers songs are so good! I’ve always imagined Swept Away as a great first dance song! Congratulations :)

  6. avatar Valerie (Pieceful Wedding) reply

    This is such a beautiful wedding! I love the soft and natural color palette and that altar is amazing!

  7. avatar Chelsey Morrison reply

    Katherine said it best – a lovely couple inside and out! What an absolute joy this wedding was. Great couple, amazing vendors, and a perfect September day. Thank you to all and especially Southern Weddings for the feature!!!

  8. avatar Emily reply

    Such a dreamy ceremony spot, I thought it must have been from a photoshoot the first time I saw it! :)

  9. avatar Amber Housley reply

    So very pretty! And that sweet dog! Melts my heart. :)

  10. avatar Dee Shore reply

    I actually got teary eyed looking this wedding over. It’s simply beautiful and so ever romantic.

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You guys know I’m a sucker for a non-traditional dress. Alison’s pink Vera Wang was a show-stopper, but still looked perfectly whimsical to fit into her outdoor brunch “I do’s” with hubby, Brent. I am absolutely loving their breezy ceremony set-up, calligraphy details and lush green florals, courtesy of The Byrd Collective. We wish we could join in on Alison + Brent’s fun wedding from Paige Newton Photography!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Wow. It was quite an experience. I fell head over heels for the blush dress in Vera Wang’s collection for David’s Bridal the second I saw it. I was trying to save money and ended up buying another dress that I wasn’t happy with. After lamenting the decision and trying the blush pink dress on several times with friends, I stumbled upon a Three Nails Photography giveaway for my dream dress in my size! I held my breath for weeks and jumped straight out of my chair when I WON!

Brent knew that advent calendars were one of my favorite Christmas traditions. So when I made one for us, he decided to surprise me with a very special present on the last day! The ring was tucked in a chocolate candy wrapper (I have a major sweet tooth). I was in such a state of shock that it took me a minute to realize that he was down on one knee! It suddenly made sense why my parents had been avoiding me all morning. They had known since Thanksgiving when he had asked for my dad’s permission and they had all gone ring shopping together!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? No. That moment when I was walking down the aisle and we were both crying our eyes out was well worth the wait.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes! Brent’s were amazing. My favorite parts were the opening and the end. They started out very sweet and simple. “I promise to hold your hand under tables, in public, during the movies, while you sleep.” And the end was so special. “I look forward to the day it is no longer just us. To the day that we begin a family, and to working together as one body. I will be our hands, while you are our eyes. And you will be our heart, while I am the flesh, bones, and even armor that protects us.”

Two things I love: fun accessories and happy couples. Don’t y’all love Alison’s little black hair bow above and her adorable post-ceremony photo with Brent, below?

Ashley with The Byrd Collective is a floral genius. I wanted the flowers to be romantic and wild and she captured it perfectly. The room smelled gorgeously of sweet buds and delicious brunch food.

What range did your wedding budget fall into? I went over budget, broke down and hired a wedding planner. If I had been smart about it, I would have saved a lot by hiring her earlier on! We hit around $25,000. It could have been done for much less if I had planned my rentals earlier in the game and been better at budgeting — another handy reason to hire a planner.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Prioritize. If you aren’t good with budgets, then find someone who is immediately and follow your gut. Write thank you cards as you receive the gifts and make a list of those you’ve sent. Also, don’t borrow or buy your dishes. Washing 300 dishes isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun way to spend their first two weeks of marriage.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We became the best of friends during our last year of college at Texas State University. My maid of honor was also his good friend, so when he invited me to be his date at a wedding in his hometown, I didn’t hesitate. There is something extremely charming about a Southern gentleman and a small town wedding. But I bet I don’t have to tell y’all that!
In what month did you get married? I have always wanted to be a June bride and loved the date 6-2-12. Should be easy enough to remember!
How many guests attended your wedding? Close to 120.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Julia Ward sang “Love is a Big Deal” by Miya Dunets as I was walking down the aisle and as our first dance. It is hauntingly beautiful and has always brought tears to our eyes.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: When we sat down at the bakery to taste flavors, we had no idea what we were in for. We ended up choosing four different flavors because they were all so incredible. We chose to leave off the outer icing and drizzle the top with caramel. It gave it that wild and undone look that matched the flowers, but we placed two romantic brass swans on top to give it a polished touch.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The way it all felt very “us” from the bridal party outfits to the decor and food.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our families are from the South (Mississippi, Alabama, and deep in East Texas) so the accents alone made it feel very Southern. Other than that, we had several Southern touches. For brunch, we served scratch biscuits and gravy, I wore my something old/new/borrowed/blue in the form of wedding jewelry from our grandmothers and great grandmothers. The entire wedding had a family reunion feel which we loved, and we asked everyone to dress for my favorite Southern love, Sunday brunch.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I tried to do it all myself, while living in Arizona. If we hadn’t moved back to Austin a month before the wedding, I don’t know how I would have pulled it off. Having our friends and family around helped tremendously.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The photography! We’ll cherish these photographs forever.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The look on Brent’s face when I saw him standing at the altar. It was the sweetest moment of our entire relationship.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We just moved home to Austin because we’d like to settle down, begin planning a family of our own, and enjoy every day that we are back where the people are friendly and the land is beautiful.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Lynn reply

    I love the signs for the drinks and the beautiful range of colors in the bridesmaid dresses the most. Hope you had a great labor day weekend and are excited for the official return of pumpkin spice lattes and salted caramel mochas starting today!

  2. avatar Sharon @ Red Poppy | Pink Peony reply

    Love the dress in blush pink! I wore it in ivory. Beautiful photos!

  3. avatar Leah Muse reply

    Holy gorgeous. That dress is amazing, the photography is beautiful and bright, and the details are so charming!

  4. avatar Emily @ BDW reply

    It was a blast helping Alison + Brent pull off their wedding vision along with some of my favorite people. Alison is such a talented artist and hand letterer, too! Thanks for featuring :). And, congratulations, Martins! xoxo

  5. avatar Katie @ Lovebird Productions reply

    Stunning! It is amazing how romantic sheer curtains can be.

    And the blush dress…perfect!

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  10. avatar ann reply

    Who designed/made the corn hole bag board. Its amazing.

  11. avatar Jenna reply

    I am planning my wedding right now and REALLY want to copy your corn hole boards. I was going to paint the design myself but I was just curious if yours was a decal you got made or hand painted? If it was a decal do you mind telling me where it was from?
    Thank you!!

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When someone tells you that they’re getting married at Honey Creek Ranch, doesn’t that make you immediately excited? For a couple like Madeline + Jake, who met when they were 12 years old (while shooting shotguns competitively for Texas 4H shooting sports, no less!), the ranch on the Llano River served as the sweetest place to say “I do.” We love that Madeline + Jake waited to do see each other until she walked down the aisle. I’m sure it was especially emotional since they spent most of their engagement long-distance and didn’t see each other until two days before the wedding! Big hugs go out to The Nichols for sharing this with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I knew that I wanted to get my dress in New York and I wanted my mom to be there. She flew up and we had four appointments in two days. Vera Wang was my second appointment and while I liked a couple of dresses at each place, the one I ended up picking stood out to me from the very beginning, even though the sample was pink! When I tried it on, it was just so perfect. After all the appointments, my mom and I each ranked our favorite dresses separately and it turned out that both of us put the Vera Wang Isabella dress as our #1. The ladies at Vera Wang were so sweet and they squeezed us in the next morning to come back before my mom left. Jake was with us so he had to patiently wait in the waiting room downstairs while they pulled out the ivory sample from the back and I officially decided that was my dress. After I decided, they hid the dress and brought Jake upstairs so that he could celebrate with us!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Everyone was seated to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” My bridesmaids and I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D” and our recessional music was Vivaldi’s Spring from “The Four Seasons,” movement 1: Allegro. Our first dance was to “Carried Away” by George Straight and our last dance was to “Then” by Brad Paisley.

We took some vows that Jake liked and edited them a little so that they would be fitting for our life together. My favorite line was, “I will cherish you when we are together and when we are apart” because Jake is in the Army, and we will have to spend a lot of time apart over the next years. It was really important to us to have that line because of how important it is to continue to love each other deeply despite the challenges we will face being apart often.

My brother did a reading of Ephesians 4:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT) for us. “4 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had the wedding at a ranch, in a barn. There were chickens wandering around the grounds and I gave my husband a gun as his wedding gift — I supposed that is a rather Southern thing to do!

I really wanted simple, loose flowers. I love tall blooming flowers and wanted tons in buckets and boxes that resembled more of a polished but natural wildflower look. I wanted to use beautiful flowers everywhere, to look full. We used purple and white stock flowers, purple and white snapdragons and purple larkspur. We combined that with sand dollar eucalyptus and seeded eucalyptus. I have a close friend from high school who is incredibly talented and creative and she did all the flowers, from the table arrangements to the bouquets and boutonnieres!

Our cake was four tiers and two different flavors. We decided not to do a groom’s cake, but instead to alternate white and chocolate cake tiers so that we were still offering two different flavors. Our white cake flavor was almond cake with a Bavarian cream filling and our chocolate cake was a Guinness beer chocolate cake with raspberry filling. The whole cake was covered in a white almond buttercream icing. My mom made our cake topper!

Eek! I could look at this sweet first dance image of M + J all day. From the looks of this photo, their joy was abundant — and that’s exactly what they wanted their guests to feel at their wedding.

I think my favorite thing about the whole wedding was the atmosphere. I really wanted it to be fun and filled with happiness and it was just so much better than I even imagined. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of having all the most important people in your life there to celebrate with you, on such a precious occasion. There was so much love in the air!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Jake and I met when we were 12 years old. We both shot shotguns competitively for Texas 4H shooting sports. Despite living five hours away from each other, we developed a great friendship over the years and would spend weeks during the summer staying at each other’s houses. Jake was the first boy I ever kissed and then we started actually dating later in high school. We broke up my senior year of high school but remained friends. I went to college in Texas at Baylor University and he went to New York at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In the summer of 2010, I took an internship in New York City and Jake came into the city to have lunch with me. After that, we started to communicate more and a few months later he invited me to his formal for West Point in January. I think that was the weekend I knew that things were changing between us and I felt like he was the man I was going to marry. After the formal, Jake took me to the airport and as we were saying goodbye, he told me that he loved me and that he was going to marry me. After this, we started dating long distance again as I finished school and graduated. After Jake proposed, I moved to New York City to work, putting us the closest we had ever lived to each other. After 12 years of knowing each other, we are finally in the same place!
Describe the proposal. I was invited to go to the US Virgin Islands with Jake’s family for Christmas of 2011. Jake asked me to go on a walk one evening and I could tell he was a little nervous! We were walking on a hill on St. John, where we were staying. It was getting dark, but we could still see the ocean and parts of the island. After talking a little, Jake got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. It was so exciting and such a happy time! After the proposal, we went back to the house to meet up with his family and we ate grilled cheese and drank champagne. It was so fun and perfect!
In what month did you get married? July
How many guests attended your wedding? About 170
Did you decide to do a “first look”? We decided we did not want to do a first look because my favorite part of weddings is seeing the groom’s face when his bride is walking down the aisle. I didn’t like the idea of him seeing me before that moment, so we waited!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? When we started planning our wedding, I was living and working in New York City, my mother was finishing graduate school in St. Louis, Missouri, my father was living and working at my parents’ home in Spring Branch, Texas, and Jake was trying to finish and graduate from West Point, about an hour north of New York City. It was extremely challenging planning that far away from each other! When Jake graduated, he had to stay at West Point to work, but my mom and I both moved back to Spring Branch. It was really helpful to be back with my parents to plan but I didn’t see Jake from the end of May until July 12, 2 days before our wedding!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Hands down, the photographer. Jennifer and CJ Nichols are so incredibly talented. Their photography stood out to me from the second that I discovered them and they were the first vendor we booked! I could not be happier with our photos and I haven’t even seen them all yet! Also, having a month-of coordinator was amazing! Beth from 36th Street Events was so incredible and we would not have had the wedding we had without her.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Jake and I both feel like it was the moment we saw each other for the first time, it was so special to walk toward him down the aisle.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Pick the things that are most important to you and focus on those, then fill in the rest. I really stuck with a few things that were important to me and I am really happy with how those details and vendors contributed to the wedding. Also, I couldn’t have done it without our month-of coordinator, Beth. I wish I could put into words how awesome she is and how much she helped make our wedding happen. We brought her all of the little pieces and she put it together into this beautiful evening.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are heading to Georgia for Jake to start his training as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. I will be continuing to make art and develop my career. We will spend the next eight years with the Army and so I will be following my husband wherever that leads us. We are looking forward to learning about life together and we are so appreciative of the time we have together right now. It is amazing to finally live in the same place! There will be many challenges ahead with the time we will spend apart but I am so grateful to have him and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I guess by now we are getting pretty good at this long distance thing!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Elizabeth reply

    This wedding is absolutely gorgeous. Such a sweet story of how Madeline and Jake came together. Madeline’s dress is beautiful, and I love the flowers and use of eucalyptus. And that cake is pretty spectacular. Mom did a great job on the cake topper, too :)

  2. avatar Emily Lawrence reply

    Her dress could not be more breathtaking! And I hope I can find a place as amazing as her’s to have my reception in.

  3. avatar The Nichols reply

    Such a lovely wedding to document! Thanks to Madeline and Jake for including us and thank you to SW for featuring this charming wedding!

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  7. avatar Angela Rando reply

    Beautiful! Love the flowers, especially the bride’s bouquet. The barn is gorgeous.

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  9. avatar Linda reply

    What a beautiful wedding. I love all of the purple touches as well as the rustic feel.

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    […] by Nichols Photographers {via Southern Weddings} | Sword Ceremony and Groomsmen by Amy Arrington Photography {via Southern Weddings} | Rings […]

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