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Getting our past Southern Brides of the Month organized lit a fire under us to make sure we continued this lovely monthly tradition! I’m so happy to welcome this series (one of my favorites!) back with Amy. As soon as I saw that she is engaged to her high school sweetheart, I knew we’d get along, but it was her answer to what she’s most looking forward to about marriage that made me fall in love with her. I know you’ll agree, so please help me welcome our February Bride!

Hi! What’s your name?
Amy Leigh Bell

What’s your fiancé’s name?
Daniel Clark Salo

Cameron Faye Photography

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
Daniel and I met when we were juniors in high school in our hometown of Charlotte, NC. I was in another relationship at the time, but there were always things about Daniel that I admired, even as we were just becoming friends. As we started our senior year (and I was single again), our relationship began to develop with a little help from our friends! Daniel was not allowed by his parents to officially date while in high school, so he began “courting” me, inviting me to spend time with his family or just in groups with our mutual friends. As a smitten 17-year-old girl, this was certainly frustrating, but little did I know, he had big hopes for the future! His protection and caution through those beginning stages has made all the difference over the past four years in college, and I am so thankful!

Now tell us alllll about the proposal.
After attending a friend’s wedding earlier in the day, I was quite excited to spend an evening with my beau on September 14th. The night started with dinner at P.F. Chang’s (one of my absolute favorites) where my fortune cookie read, “Good news of a long awaited event will arrive soon.” This was a complete coincidence, and it was all Daniel could do to not show a reaction all over his face.

After dinner, he drove me to the outdoor North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. I have never seen the boy so nervous. As we walked quite briskly toward a gazebo, I began to catch glimpses of white curtains draped throughout it, with hundreds of small tea lights glowing inside. As we entered the gazebo, Daniel stopped walking and grabbed my hands. He said a lot of beautiful things (which he later had to email to me since I couldn’t remember a bit of it), and proposed with a stunning ring made from the diamond my grandmother and my mother wore during their marriages.

After I said yes (of course!), he led me to a chair and washed my feet, representing the way Jesus served his disciples during his time on earth. Daniel grabbed his Bible and read Scripture to me, promising to lay down his life daily for me, his bride. It was the most romantic, joyful moment of my life!

When’s the big day?
May 24, 2014

Where might you two be tying the knot?
We are getting married at the Aqueduct Conference Center in Chapel Hill.

How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
I chose our wedding venue based off of pictures from a friend’s wedding that took place at Aqueduct. When I first mentioned it to Daniel, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he had already been there for a few weekend retreats, and thought it was just as beautiful as I do.

Our ceremony and reception will all be at the same place, which is one of my favorite aspects of the venue. Evening receptions in gigantic, white tents with beautiful lighting make me swoon, and I am thrilled to be planning one of my own! Although Aqueduct is just moments away from the heart of Chapel Hill, the winding, gravel driveway and rolling fields make it feel hours away.

Because Aqueduct functions as an overnight conference center as well as an event venue, there are two large cottages on the premises, which allow Daniel and I and our wedding party to spend the night at the venue after the rehearsal dinner. I love knowing that after we arrive on Friday afternoon, we don’t have to leave until after the wedding on Saturday! The cottages also double as a place for my vendors and guests to stay after the wedding, since the entire facility is ours for the weekend.

A sweet first look at Aqueduct from this wedding by Caroline Joy!

Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
Above all, my goal is for our wedding day to point forward to a beautiful marriage. I want the aura of the day to reflect us as a couple, but my intention is not to “wow” my 250 guests with every detail. I am focused on using my budget wisely to create simple elegance.

Our wedding will be made up of soft shades of green, with yellow accents and lots of white. Because it will be outdoors in May (hopefully with beautiful weather!), I want the colors, the flowers, and the décor to feel fresh and romantic, and of course, Southern!

Who or what has been most helpful and/or inspiring in the wedding planning process?
I have had tons of amazing support through this process, with 11 beautiful bridesmaids and incredible Southern belles (literally, Bell’s!) in my family that could not be more excited for May 24th to arrive. When your wedding party is the size of a small football team, opportunities to chat and dream about the big day are in no short supply!

Bridesmaid inspiration from Elizabeth Messina and Ron B. Wilson

What part of wedding planning, if any, has made you the most anxious?
All of the little details! There are literally hundreds of small things to remember, in addition to the big decisions. I have to make lists constantly, making sure I am spreading out all of these little tasks evenly throughout our engagement. My biggest fear is getting to the last few weeks before the wedding and being overwhelmed with a million things to do!

Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
I have been the most intentional about picking vendors that I love. I was already booking our venue and photographer before we were actually engaged (whoops!) because I believe that those choices will make such a huge impact on the feel of the day, for us and for our guests. Beautiful wedding photography and videography are quite literally irreplaceable, and I know that’s what Daniel and I will have, thanks to Cameron Faye Photography and Needle + Thread videography!

Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
Yes! That process was very fun and easy. Like I said, I tend to know what I want! I only went to one store (New York Bride & Groom in Charlotte), and I came in with a picture of my dream dress. Although that specific dress was way out of my budget, I found one that had all of the potential to be exactly what I wanted, after some major alterations! Seamstresses are amazing, y’all. I will be wearing a Justin Alexander gown, and that’s about all I can say until May 24th!

Wedding gown inspiration from Ryan Bernal via Style Me Pretty and Virgil Bunao

What has been the best part of wedding planning? The worst part?
The best part about wedding planning has been spending at least part of every day thinking about and working towards what I hope will be the best day of my life! I love getting home from work and having packages to open full of wedding items that have arrived in the mail that day. Wedding planning has even allowed me to take up a new hobby, as I am learning calligraphy to hand address all of my invitations!

If I had to choose a “worst” part of planning my wedding, it would probably be the amount of time and communication required to coordinate between so many people and vendors. I chose to forgo a wedding planner for budgetary reasons, and I have definitely felt the need for one more than once! However, doing everything myself allows me the freedom to fully put things together the way I want, and I know the day is going to feel that much more beautiful after so much hard work!

Tell us about planning with your fiancé. Has it gone smoothly? Is he more involved, or hands-off?
Daniel is amazing. He is involved when I want him to be involved, and hands-off when I need to do things myself. As a musician himself, the music that will fill our wedding weekend from beginning to end is very important to him, and it has been so fun to talk about options and decide on playlists, while letting some of our musical friends and family members take the reins on special parts of the day. Daniel has done a great job making it clear that he cares about the details of our day, while also affirming that he trusts my decisions and is excited to finally see the day come together the way we have envisioned.

Centerpiece inspiration by Brittany Janelle Photography and Ian Riley via The Perfect Palette

What do you wish you would have known at the beginning of your engagement?
I wish I had known just how many decisions I would have to make over this 8-month period. I have learned that there are a million options for every little detail, but it is never going to be worth my time to peruse all of them on Pinterest. Sometimes, you just have to pick something you like and run with it, knowing there is a chance that there is something out there that is cuter, prettier, or more unique. When I began to realize that I was adding wedding planning on top of graduating from college and starting a full-time job, there were tons of options I just had to let go of.

What are you most looking forward to on your wedding day?
I am most looking forward to our first look. We debated a lot over whether or not to do one, but after advice from other brides and my photographer, we decided it would be a very special moment between the two of us. We are not writing our own vows, so this will be our opportunity to read letters to each other and spend plenty of time getting pictures of just the two of us.

Any plans for a honeymoon? Where do you want to go and what will you do?
Yes, of course! Daniel and I are going to Secrets St. James Montego Bay in Jamaica. We purposefully have no plans except to relax and enjoy our first vacation together as Mr. and Mrs. Salo!

Cameron Faye Photography

What are you most looking forward to about marriage?
I am most looking forward to starting and ending each day with Daniel. Throughout our relationship, every time I see him is marked with the knowledge that we will eventually have to say goodbye before the night is over. I can’t wait for his home to be my home, too.

Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
For every time someone asks you, “How’s wedding planning?” remember to ask yourself, “How’s marriage planning?” The purpose of your wedding is to celebrate the beginning of your marriage, and it is infinitely more important that you are planning well for that. Don’t let a perfect wedding become the end goal, because that is simply a brand new beginning to something even more beautiful!

Thank you so much, Amy! We can’t wait to see that gorgeous gown! Readers, interested in being featured as a future Southern Bride of the Month? Take a peek at this page for all of the details!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Love, love, love her perspective on planning for her marriage!

  2. avatar Erin Jamesson reply

    Aww! Adorable couple and proposal story too! Her, bling is similar to mine

  3. avatar Jillian Boland reply

    Love this!!! Such a sweet couple. Thrilled for you both, Amy!! Thankful to know and work with you! :)

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