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We don’t see many brides describe their weddings as avant garde, but Shannon + Victor have proven to be full of surprises. They even stuck with their guns on shaking things up a bit and breaking the rules that instead of a typical color- or style-based theme, theirs was “the element of surprise.” I love that Shannon + Victor saw their reception as a time to celebrate their guests this way. Among a few other unexpected twists, the gals in the office were quite impressed with the newlyweds’ cake! Shannon said the design became so involved that it required a blueprint! After reading through Shannon + Victor’s interview, though, we are not surprised to see them put so much work into desserts — one of which could be found at each place setting. “We remained true to ourselves by starting the meal with a dessert amuse bouche,” said Shannon. “We truly believe that all meals should start with something sweet.”

The central theme of our wedding was the element of surprise. We wanted to do things a bit differently to keep our guests intrigued and excited. We saw our wedding as a wonderful time not only to celebrate our love, but also to celebrate our guests. In my mind, the bridesmaids’ dresses epitomize the decor scheme. While they may not seem to be the design centerpiece from a coloring perspective, they set the tone for the chic and avant garde experience we created. While the wedding took place in two of Atlanta’s most historic locations, we purposefully decided not to play by the rules. The mix of the classic and contemporary styles is representative of who Vic and I are as a couple. There were no flowers at our wedding except for the South African proteas in my bouquet. The tablescape included sophisticated lamps and exotic greenery to subtly reflect our love of travel. The flower girls were feather girls, as they used feathers for their grand entrance instead of flowers. My bridesmaids held feather clutches instead of bouquets. We also used only estate tables throughout the reception space to create a communal experience for our guests and a backdrop for the equally unique family style meal. I could not commit to colors so we worked with an array of neutral tones.

The band was an amazing highlight. I wasn’t sure I wanted to have a wedding band because I held the stereotype that they could be a bit cheesy. I was blown away by my band, Top Secret led by Shaun Pezant. They played current music like “Love on Top” by Beyonce, “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga and even had a rapper for an awesome version of “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z. They were AMAZING!

The famous cake! The floating tiers and pool of water are spectacular.

Did you include any Southern traditions in your wedding? We included the groom’s cake. I decided to do this at the last minute. The cake had a guy watching football (Army football to specific – because Vic went to West Point and is the biggest fan of their football team).

Tell us a bit about your first dance. We danced to “Just Right” by Robin Thicke. I don’t have much rhythm so I typically don’t dance much. Vic and my parents were surprised by my improv dance moves. I guess I perform well under pressure.

What was your reception like? It was unique and a party. I didn’t want to have a standard reception because many of our parents’ friends attend several formal events and sit-down dinners a year. I wanted this to feel different — more fun, with surprises in terms of décor, food and music. I feel all of these things were accomplished.
Favorite design element of your big day: The black dance floor. I got the idea when I saw a few images of weddings planned by Mark Niemerko in London. I later learned that the specific dance floor I wanted could only be found at the Claridges Hotel in London. But, the Bold Design team was able to find a very close resemblance.
What range did your budget fall into? $100,000+
What advice would you give to someone planning his or her wedding? This might sound weird but my favorite line to reference is “Wedding planning is a bit of a dictatorship.” I think sometimes couples add additional stress by trying to treat it as too much of a joint project because they feel that it is a reflection on their relationship/marriage. But, I learned that in partnerships, there is often one person who takes on most of the responsibility for a certain project — and that’s what I did with the wedding. I quickly identified the things Vic felt were most important (food, his attire, the vows) and then managed the rest with my mom and my wonderful wedding planner, Jade.
Who was your favorite vendor and why? It was have to be my wedding planner, Jade Lee. We went through so much together! She was there for every step of the process and always kept my best interests at heart. She provided wonderful ideas, genuine friendship and support.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
8 Comments
  1. avatar Leon reply

    That cake looks incredible! Beautiful wedding photography. :)

  2. avatar Shelby reply

    I use to work for a wedding planner in Atlanta, and I’ve worked at numerous events at Atlanta History Center. I have NEVER seen quite a transformation! So beautiful! Bold did an amazing job.

    Also, I LOVE the dessert first. Such a cute touch

  3. avatar Samantha reply

    Loved this wedding. I really could see the couples personality in it. Congratulations to the happy couple and great job to all the vendors involved.

  4. avatar Amy reply

    Wow!! The bride and groom in this wedding are stunning!!

  5. avatar Lexi reply

    The bride looked positively glowing! And the wedding cake, it’s gorgeous! Seemed like a really fun wedding event :)

  6. avatar Sergio Goncharoff reply

    Muy intresante vision en B&W! Great job!

  7. avatar Happy Father's Day: Precious Father-Daughter Wedding Day Moments – Munaluchi Bridal Magazine reply

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  8. avatar Cyprus wedding photographer reply

    Amazing wedding pictures! Really like your style

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I wish y’all could have been in the office when Lara and I first received the full collection of Shannon + Victor’s images from Jonathan Canlas. No lie — we screamed a little bit. Something like, “WHAT! Oh. My. Goodness. You must be kidding me!” Then, we’d click over to the next photo and do that all over again. Scroll down and you’ll do the same. This couple is gorgeous beyond words and their wedding day is, as Shannon tells us, a reflection of who S + V are as a couple. Though some of Atlanta’s most historically significant locations acted as the setting for their wedding day, they purposefully chose not to follow the rules. The result is something both classic and contemporary. We think it’s the perfect match for a couple who wanted to celebrate their new life together as well as the legacy of their families.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress.  What is your favorite thing about it? I’m very decisive so when I know, I know. The dress I selected was the first dress I tried on at the first shop I went to in New York. The dress was Vera Wang, and the contemporary but classic style spoke to me. Another important element is that my mom surprised me by having a piece of her wedding dress sewn into mine. That was very special for me.

I didn’t want to do the “typical” bridesmaid’s dress. I searched far and wide to find unique items that would best showcase my fierce and fabulous friends. I fell in love with a Romona Keveza dress I saw on the runway a few years back. The dress was no longer being made so I used the vision (and the help of the wonderful, Linda Sears of TK Designs) to recreate the dresses for my girls.

These portraits are truly lovely and timeless. Jonathan Canlas does such a wonderful job of capturing each personality. We actually featured all of the bridal party’s portraits on two pages of the magazine because we loved them so much! The two above are a couple of my favorites. Shannon + Victor look in love, excited and radiant.

Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We included large, canvassed black and white photos of various family members wedding in the entrance to the church. It was a nice sentimental touch that showed the tradition of marriage in both of our families.

I didn’t want flowers because I felt like they were too typical. A big part of the design scheme is that there were no flowers. Various types of greenery took the place of flowers. My bouquet was made of Proteas from South Africa. My mom and wedding planner surprised me with the flowers, which suited me well and worked with my vision to use inventive and international plants that reflected my desire for creativity and love of other cultures. The bridesmaids had feathers, not flowers! They each carried a black feather clutch. The boutonnieres were a guinea feather.

Tell me a bit about the wedding ceremony. Vic and I each selected two couples to do readings based on people whose marriages we admired and hoped to emulate. We asked each couple to choose a passage from the Bible that communicated what they felt it was most important for us to know as we began our marriage. The passages they selected were a surprise to us until the ceremony!
Did you write your own vows? We actually did! And then forgot them. So we said the standard vows at the ceremony.

What was the most memorable or touching moment about your wedding day? Walking down the aisle was definitely a moment. The minute I saw my dad, I felt a rush of emotion and I couldn’t even look at him. I definitely felt the bigness of the moment.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.  (From the groom) We met in Atlanta over Christmas break during our junior year of college. Shannon’s best friend was dating my cousin at the time. They were at a mutual friend’s house and I planned to meet them but got lost. Shannon picked up the phone to give me directions. We had a great time and saw each other again at a New Years Eve party where we exchanged numbers, and the rest is history!
What is a date you will always remember? (From the groom) On our first date, we were both in NYC and just explored the city. We even played in the massive Toys R Us in Times Square. It was all fun and allowed me to see how open-minded and exploratory Shannon was, a trait we both share.
Describe the proposal: (From the groom) I wanted to propose in NYC where we spent a lot of time dating but that wasn’t feasible logistically. I wanted the opportunity to ask her father for his blessing in person and I knew he would be in Atlanta for Labor Day. After I got his blessing, I proposed to Shannon about an hour later at her parents home. I wanted friends and family to be a part of the moment so it worked out well. 
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Adrenaline, celebratory, sentimental.
What was the weather like on your big day? The weather was perfect. Sunny and mild – which is exactly what we were hoping for.
How many guests attended your wedding? Around 300.
Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: The bridesmaids’ dresses. And the groom.
Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: The bride!
What was the biggest challenge you faced when planning your wedding? Clearly communicating my vision. I would have ideas or concepts in my head and often had difficulty explaining them in detail.
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your big day? I woke up feeling like it was any other day. It didn’t hit me until I saw all of my bridesmaids dressed and ready. Then, I started to get a little nervous.
Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? The most special guests for me were my grandfather’s and grandmother’s sister. Both of my maternal grandparents passed so to see their siblings there was so important to me. While I know my grandparent’s were there in spirit, it was nice to have them represented in a more tangible way as well.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
13 Comments
  1. avatar Sukey reply

    What a fabulously stunning wedding! I love that the bride had such clear vision for her wedding day and stuck to it –from the feathers to those amazing bridesmaids’ dresses. Her gown and his custom attire are pure elegance – so sharp together!

  2. avatar Jen O. reply

    One of the most stunning weddings I’ve ever seen. Jon is amazing and captured it beautifully. I love, love, love this.

  3. avatar Desiree reply

    This was my favorite wedding from V5 — it’s to die for!! The bridesmaid dresses and the swag that was shown off as they processed…you can’t duplicate that. That’s all natural. I would want to party with these ladies all.the.time. And don’t even get me started on Shannon’s veil/hair piece. I gasped when I saw it!!! SO excited to finally see it on the blog!! ahhhh

  4. avatar Ursula reply

    Now that is what I call pure fab!! Absolutely gorgeous. I love that the bridesmaid carried a feather clutch instead of flowers. Original and breathtaking!! My favorite pics this year.

  5. avatar Emily reply

    The two page spread of the portraits from this wedding were hands down my two favorite pages in the V5!!! Ok, actually I cannot pick a favorite, but they were definitely near the top!

  6. avatar Southern Love Weekly Wrap Up « U.Breyn – Freshwater Pearls and Gemstones reply

    […] Southern Weddings and photographer Jonathan Canlas shared pictures of a fabulous wedding that took place in Atlanta, GA recently. Details, details, details! The location, the dress, the […]

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  9. avatar kate reply

    Hey! can you tell me what brand the groom’s tux is? I am having trouble finding a nice-looking white/ivory dinner jacket for my upcoming wedding :)

  10. avatar Pasha Belman Photography reply

    This is one gorgeous couple and the photos are just amazing.

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  13. avatar Maurice Roberts reply

    This is one great and awesome pics!

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Our February Southern Bride of the Month is squeaking in just under the wire! I know y’all will love Jen, and will enjoy as much as I did reading about some of the smart planning decisions she and Nick have made. (I especially liked their plan for setting priorities — see below!) Let’s give this lady a warm welcome!

Hi! What’s your name?
Jen Welch

What’s your fiancé’s name?
Nick Rueter

Vue Photography

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
We met during our freshman year of college at Vanderbilt University. My close friend from home joined the same fraternity as Nick. When I stopped by to hang out with him, Nick always seemed to catch my eye. We went on our first date the day before school started our sophomore year, and the rest was history. Our introduction has become even more meaningful, as that friend will be serving as Nick’s best man at our wedding!

Vue Photography

When’s the big day?
June 22, 2013 – four months to go! I always knew I wanted a summer wedding since my favorite flowers are hydrangeas, and I wanted them to be beautiful and in season for my wedding!

Blue hydrangea inspiration from Brian Kraft and Martha Stewart Weddings

Where might you two be tying the knot?
We are having both the ceremony and the reception at The St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta.

How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
Nick and I have celebrated many special occasions at The St. Regis over the past few years, so the venue was already meaningful to us. We knew we wanted to have the ceremony and reception at the same location and wanted to keep things indoors to spare our guests from the brutal Atlanta heat. The St Regis was the first venue we visited after we got engaged, and while we considered a few others, we concluded rather quickly that the elegance of the St. Regis would be the perfect backdrop for our wedding!

The gorgeous lobby of the St. Regis Atlanta!

Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
I’ve always wanted a black tie wedding, so I knew the style and theme would need to feel very formal and sophisticated. At the same time, I want to give everything a contemporary edge. I love the color blue, so we have looked for ways to incorporate that with French blue bridesmaid dresses, navy ink for our invitations, blue hydrangeas for bridesmaid bouquets, and blue lighting for the reception. We also loved the idea of having our wedding ceremony in a dimly lit ballroom surrounded by candles to make the event feel very special and intimate!

Ceremony inspiration via Wedding Style

Who or what has been most helpful and/or inspiring in the wedding planning process?
I am very lucky to have my Mom in Atlanta with me to help with a lot of the details. She has an amazing ability to keep me focused on my vision when I get indecisive. My mom also was smart enough to hire us a wedding planner right away, and Lindsay Pitt of Toast has been very helpful with navigating and refining my hundreds of ideas. I am also very lucky to have eight wonderful bridesmaids, several of which recently got married and have been a huge help by sharing advice they learned from their big day.

What part of wedding planning, if any, has made you the most anxious?
We are so excited to see all of our guests during the wedding weekend, so we are trying to allow for as much time as possible with our friends and family. When we started working on the timeline for the weekend, we realized how quickly the whole day, and especially the evening, will go by, and we were worried we wouldn’t have a chance to talk to every guest. To try and alleviate some of that anxiety, we decided to try and get all of our guests together after the rehearsal dinner to celebrate the wedding weekend prior to the big day! We are also considering doing a first look so we can join the cocktail hour and start celebrating with all of the people who are so important to us as soon as possible!

What wedding-related decision have you been the most indecisive on?
Definitely the invitations! I always knew I wanted to do a calligraphy letterpress invitation, but I have been very indecisive regarding whether to stick with a traditional style or to incorporate some more modern elements. We are working with hi note for all our stationery and they have been fabulous at listening to our ideas and turning them into actual concepts, not to mention that they have been very patient with me considering I’ve changed my mind at least ten times! I am still going back and forth on this part, but have to make a decision pretty soon.

Calligraphy invitation inspiration from Bella Figura

Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
Probably the most important aspect of a wedding, to us, and the one that we’re most excited about for our own wedding, is the food. We want the food to match the formality of the event, but also want it to be fun and to showcase some Southern ingredients. It was also important to us that the rehearsal dinner menu complement, but not duplicate, the wedding menu. We’ve worked very closely with the chefs at these venues to create menus that we are truly excited about.

Dressed-up Southern comfort food inspiration from Whitney + Clarke’s wedding (photo by Patricia Lyons)

Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
Yes! I ordered it back in July and it should come in sometime in the next few weeks. I worked with Susan at Joan Pillow, who made the process as stress-free as possible despite how difficult a decision this was for me. I had always dreamed of wearing a Monique Lhuillier gown, so I went in to Joan Pillow right after we got engaged and thought I had found “the one”. Lucky for me, there was a Monique trunk show a few weeks later, so I went back to order it, but I ended up falling in love with a different gown from the new collection! It is the complete opposite of the gown I was planning to order the first day. I ended up ordering the gown from the trunk show and can’t wait for it to arrive in a few weeks, as I know that will make this all feel very real!

What do you love most about Southern weddings?
I have always admired the way a big Southern wedding can still feel intimate and personalized. While I always knew I wanted a big black tie affair, it was also important that the whole event reflected our personalities and that each guest would walk away knowing we were involved in every detail of the night. I think Southern weddings feel very special because Southern brides pay a lot of attention to the details, especially the delicious Southern food they usually serve their guests!

Tell us about planning with your fiancé. Has it gone smoothly? Is he more involved, or hands-off?
Nick has been very hands on and has made efforts to attend every wedding-related meeting, even if just for the support. Nick has also contributed some great ideas of his own, including an incredible idea for a way to personalize our cocktail hour. It will be a very fun surprise for our guests and make our cocktail hour very unique! I feel incredibly fortunate to have a fiancé who is involved and brings a different perspective than I have to every decision.

Reception table and lighting inspiration from The Studio B Photography and Ira Lippke Studios

What do you wish you would have known at the beginning of your engagement?
When we first got engaged, we focused on the venue and the photographer right away. We saved the band for later, and I wished I had known how quickly great bands can book up. We have a fabulous band, Simply Irresistible, but I wish we had booked them right away and avoided all of that stress!

What are you most looking forward to on your wedding day?
I know this sounds a bit cheesy, but more than anything, I’m looking forward to getting married! I think it’s important to remember that a wedding and a marriage are two different things. While I’m ecstatic about the wedding we have planned, in the end, a wedding is just a fabulous party. What I am most excited for are the vows that we will say to each other on that day, and the fact that I will have my best friend by my side for whatever life throws at me – the good and the bad. We’re incredibly lucky that both sets of our parents have been married for over 30 years, so we have great role models for a successful marriage!

Any plans for a honeymoon? Where do you want to go and what will you do?
This is one of the most exciting parts, since Nick and I LOVE to travel! We’ll be spending our honeymoon in the Seychelles, with a few days in Dubai on the way back. A few weeks after we got engaged, Nick took me out to dinner and presented me with a slideshow on his iPad for two different honeymoon itineraries. I decided that Seychelles and Dubai was the combination I was least likely to visit outside of a honeymoon. We are so excited to relax at a gorgeous hilltop resort and spend a week hopping around to all the islands to visit beaches, scuba dive, and enjoy delicious food!

Vue Photography

Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
At the beginning of our wedding planning, we all sat down and discussed what was most important to us. I wanted to make sure that Nick, my parents, and I all had the “final say” in the area of the wedding that was the most important to each of us. For Nick, that was the food, for my mom it was the calligraphy, invitations and desserts. For my dad it was the band, and for me it was the flowers and décor. It’s been nice to have set these priorities early and to have someone “in charge” of making the decisions for each of these categories.

Now it’s your turn to ask for advice – is there anything you’d like to poll the SW readers on?
Yes! We are really debating doing a first look. Nick and I both want to show respect for some of those “wedding traditions,” such as that moment when the doors open and the bride and groom see each other for the first time. However, the idea of a first look is starting to sound more appealing – we would have a chance to take beautiful photos next door to the St. Regis at the gardens at the Atlanta History Center, and more importantly, we could join cocktail hour and spend more time with our guests. What should we do? Is it more important to preserve that special tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony and capture that moment around our friends and family, or should we have that moment in private and get the opportunity to take gorgeous photos outside and then have more time with our guests later? Help!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Jen! Readers, if you’d like to apply to be a Southern Bride of the Month, check out this post for all the details! If you’ve already emailed me, you’re still in the running for future months!

emily Written with love by Emily
7 Comments
  1. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    Congratulations Jen and Nick! Every couple is different when it comes to the first look. Myself and my husband are very very glad we did it. It gave us an opportunity to privately and quietly enjoy seeing each other for the first time without 225 people watching you. We exchanged gifts during this time and took some pretty emotional portraits.You can go to my Facebook album if you want to check them out! When I walked down the aisle, I actually didn’t even look at my husband right off because I was so distracted by all the faces! That is definitely something to consider. Seeing each other beforehand definitely did not take away from the emotions at all for either of us. We both bawled like a baby when we saw each other as I walked down the aisle! Whatever decision you make will be right for you as a couple! Good luck!

  2. avatar Shelby reply

    Absolutely adorable! I love the St. Regis Atlanta, it’s the most glamorous hotel in the city. Personally, I’m a traditional when it comes to the first look, but I will say the photos at Atlanta History Center/Swan House are possibly too good to pass up on!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Hi Jen! I just have to weigh in and say that having a first look definitely did not take away from the emotion at our ceremony, if that’s something that’s worrying you! It was a big concern of mine, and I’m so relieved (and happy!) with how everything worked out for us!

  4. avatar Kathy reply

    Congratulations Jen and Nick, The wedding weekend sounds divine, the St. Regis will be the icing on your wedding cake. What ever you decide will be just perfect for you, but if it were me I would go for the private first look. If anything it will fill you both with ever so many more emotions, you will remember this private tender time together forever. So go for the photo opportunities, you won’t regret it.

  5. avatar Brenda reply

    Congratulations, you’re wedding sounds fabulous! As far as the first look, I’d say do it but then again, I was a non-traditional bride, we both walked in together! Your honeymoon will be awesome, I just returned from touring over 13 amazing resorts this past Jany 2013-in. Eautigk seascgelles

  6. avatar Brenda reply

    Woops! Not sure what happened to my last comment. Seychelles are amazing! One word of caution, Dubai will be extremely hot in June, I would spend an overnight in Dubai then head to the Seychelles. Dubai is best when visited in the Spring, Fall or Winter. Have a great time!

  7. avatar Jen reply

    Thanks for all the advice! After reading all the comments Nick and I have decided to do the first look and just reserved the gardens at the Atlanta History Center as our location for this special moment! Thanks to all the readers for your advice! It was super helpful!

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