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When you combine a family farm, fluffy spring blooms, and a couple that is clearly smitten with one another, you know a wedding is going to be a good one, and that is certainly the case for Julie and Jonathan! Even though they were planning their wedding during a super busy season of life, they were dedicated to preparing for marriage and incorporating as many intentional moments into their celebration as they could. Some of those were planned, like their first look and foot washing ceremony, while others were a surprise–Julie was shocked when she and her parents rounded the corner to find Jonathan singing and playing her processional song on guitar at the other end of the aisle!

Thanks so much to Bella Grace Studios for sharing this lovely day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. A few months after the engagement, Jonathan’s parents invited my parents and I to a short vacation in Destin, Florida. That week, we had so much fun cooking meals together and relaxing on the beach. Later on in the week, when rain came our way, I decided that I wanted to go dress shopping while I had both my mom and my soon-to-be mother-in-law in one place. It was such a sweet time together. I only tried on three dresses, and the last dress (which my mother-in-law picked off the rack for me) was everything I had ever wanted. I never thought I would pick a dress that quickly, but my mother-in-law knew me better than I had expected!

Jonathan and I chose to do a first look. It was just us and our photographer on a nearby road nestled under a tunnel of trees. In all honesty, I was very skeptical about the first look, because I thought it would take the “wow factor” away when I walked down the aisle. But oh, how wrong I was! It ended up being one of the best decisions we made during the day and made everything so stress-free. Plus, little did I know that the “wow factor” wasn’t missing in the least–as I turned the corner to walk down the aisle, my groom was singing/playing my favorite song to me as I walked closer to becoming his wife.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our song is “My Only Love” by Matt Maher, and we had planned on Andrew, the best man playing and singing it as I walked down the aisle. But Jonathan surprised me, and he sang and played it instead! Oh my heart!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The best detail of our wedding was the two old doors and rug that served as our “spot” at the ceremony. We loved how the doors and floral arrangements on top framed us perfectly and contrasted so well with the lush green trees behind them. We get to keep those doors in our family now, and the rug sits in our apartment. We plan for that to always be in our home as a sweet reminder of where we stood when we became husband and wife.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Jonathan’s favorite part of my vows was, “I promise to always set my affection and devotion on you as we both pour out our love on the feet of Jesus together for the rest of our lives.” My favorite part of Jonathan’s vows: “Julie, my bride, my dear, to God and to you, I vow to say yes to you for the rest of my life. To dream with you not only of places we want to go, but also of the miraculous things we want to see God do.”

The most memorable moment of our wedding day for both of us was washing each other’s feet during our ceremony. Not only because Jonathan’s feet stunk (SO BAD), but mostly because of the symbolism it was for us and our relationship. We were following the example that Jesus left for His disciples when he humbled Himself to wash their feet, to serve them, and love them when they didn’t deserve to experience that type of love from the King of Kings. We feel that way about our relationship; we have done nothing to deserve the sweet love and affection God has given us for each other, so we want to be good stewards of that gift and serve each other in love for the rest of our lives. When I was washing his feet, I began to weep, and realized what a gift Jonathan really has been to me, and he felt the same. Such a sweet moment.

Describe your wedding flowers. Our wedding flowers were soft and full with a muted color palette that matched the atmosphere we created perfectly. I had white and peach roses with soft green dusty miller greenery in my bouquet, while the bridesmaids had assorted white roses and soft greenery in theirs. My sweet florist made a flower crown for me to wear for the reception as well. The men wore eucalyptus boutonnieres and Jonathan had a white rose added to his, which contrasted so well with his scruffy beard. In addition to the bridal party flowers, a close friend and I arranged a huge assortment of flowers on top of two old painted doors that we used at the ceremony. That was such a fun DIY to tackle together.

Our ceremony and reception were both held at a family farm outside of Lexington, Kentucky. It was significant because it was in my hometown, and family and friends from college were all close by. The reason we chose the venue was because we knew and trusted the family that owned the farm, and it would allow us to have the outdoor wedding and barn reception that we wanted, all in the same place. We were very happy that it was away from the city as well, so there were no loud noises or distractions.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Jonathan and I met through mutual friends during my first week of college. He is a year older than me, and I thought that the group of guys he ran around with were so funny–there is never a dull moment with that crew. He grew up in the Nashville area and came to Kentucky for college, so we had so much to talk about and learn from each other. Neither of us was looking for anything serious, but I knew that he wasn’t just any guy. As we spent more and more time together, we became best friends. He asked me to be his girl and the rest is history. Three and a half years later, I still get butterflies when I’m on my way to see him!
Tell us all about the proposal! We spent our last summer in college apart–Jonathan was working at Spring Hill Camps in Cincinnati, Ohio and I was an intern at Compassion International in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While we were both living out dreams and having the best summers of our lives, we would talk over FaceTime each night and say “I miss you” way too many times to count. At the end of the summer, I was about to start my journey back to Kentucky, so Jonathan flew out to help me with the 20-hour drive! Before we left Colorado, I told him that I wanted to take him to my favorite spot I had explored over the summer, Dream Lake in Estes Park. We had the best day talking about our summers and just enjoying each other’s company as we hiked up to the magical spot that I was so in love with. We got to the lake, and after taking in the view, I turned around and he was on his knee asking me to marry him. I cried and said yes! Little did I know that two sweet friends I made that summer were recording and photographing the entire thing! Jonathan had been planning it for months. He is just the best.
When did y’all get married? May 28, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275 sweet friends and family!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had four flavors of wedding cake served at our reception: lemon, chocolate mousse, strawberry, and bourbon, of course, since we were in Kentucky!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We are so blessed to have amazing examples of marriage in both of our lives, so we felt very prepared going into all of this! We went through marriage counseling with our mentors, who we have know for our entire season of dating. They walked us through “The Mingling of Two Souls” by Matt and Lauren Chandler and had endless conversations with us covering principles of marriage that you might not always see from the outside. They prayed with us and over us and continue to challenge and encourage us!
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? One thing I did to save money was to do all of the hair and makeup myself! The morning of the wedding was so fun–we relaxed and the bridesmaids did each other’s makeup while I curled everyone’s hair, including my own. I’ve always been notorious for playing with my friends’ hair while hanging out, so why would I do it any differently on my wedding day?
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Spread out the planning so you can enjoy it! I had so much fun slowly checking things off my list–setting deadlines in a planner (I used the Southern Wedding Planner!) is great way to not get overwhelmed. Also, allow people to help. I’m a designer, so I love making things by myself, but some of my favorite memories were painting old doors with friends and going shopping with my mom and making decisions with her. Wedding planning can and should bring you closer to the people around you–they want to celebrate this season of your life with you and your fiancé!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are making our home in Franklin, Tennessee, where we both work and live. We are looking forward to traveling together, learning from our mistakes and victories, and serving the community around us as our marriage and family grow. We also can’t wait to see Tennessee beat Kentucky in football for years to come.

Photographer: Bella Grace Studios | Venue and Catering: Gilkison Farm | Florist: Chambliss Designs | Wedding Cake: Sweet Lilu’s Catering | Rentals: Bryant’s Rent-All | DJ: Chase Scott | Vows Books: Seliz Design | Bride’s Gown: “KP3695” by David’s Bridal | Veil: “WPD16266M” by David’s Bridal | Bride’s Shoes: “Kivah” by INC International Concepts | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Midi Bandeau” by ASOS | Groom’s Attire: Levi’s | Bow Ties: “BC578ST” by The Tie Bar

lisa Written with love by Lisa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Dana reply

    What a sweet proposal story!

  2. avatar Josh Merideth reply

    Thank you so much for sharing… Such a sweet beautiful couple!!

  3. avatar Amy reply

    Such an adorable bride and groom, Loved all the photos!

    We at http://poemstogo.tv wish them a lifetime of love and happiness xxxoo

  4. avatar Julie Hay reply

    here is our proposal video too! :)

  5. avatar Skylar Caitlin reply

    Bella Grace Studios did a fantastic job capturing this couple! I can feel their genuinely sweet spirits flowing off the screen.

  6. avatar Geoff reply

    What a great back story to the wedding and how they met. Photos looks great!

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We talk a lot at Southern Weddings about letting your wedding venue guide the rest of the day’s design and decor, and since the South is blessed with an abundance of breathtaking locations, it makes a Southern bride’s job a little easier. Sarah and Gabe thoughtfully chose Spring Island, South Carolina for their wedding venue–an idyllic, Lowcountry community where Sarah’s parents own a home. The people there, including many of their vendors, watched Sarah and Gabe’s relationship grow over the years, making their wedding even more intimate and meaningful. From the cotton detailing on her dress to the soft, neutral palette in the decor, Sarah was inspired by Spring Island in more ways than one, and we’re so grateful that Ashley Seawell was on hand to capture every detail!

My favorite thing about my wedding dress was that it felt like it was made for Spring Island. The lace of the bodice and the appliqué pieces on the skirt were cotton (which Spring Island was known for) and the washed organza skirt was so light, it felt that it was supposed to get dusty on the walk down the oak alley. I found my dress at Mark Ingram Atelier in New York, where they happened to be showcasing Peter Langner’s dresses that day. The first few dresses of Peter’s I put on were absolutely gorgeous and fit amazingly. When I put this dress on, my mom, sister, and I all knew that it was perfect. I tried on many more dresses, but nothing compared. When we went back the next day to get the dress, Peter did a pen and ink sketch of the dress and signed it for me. When he said I was the first bride ever to pick the dress, I cried.

Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? Each of the bridesmaids wore a different dresses in a variety of colors. I did not want one or two particular colors to dominate the wedding, so we coordinated the bridesmaid dresses in multiple soft pastel shades. I also wanted all of my bridesmaids to be comfortable in the dresses they wore that day, so it seemed best to let each of them pick one that they loved.
Describe your wedding flowers: The flowers were incredible. They were the perfect soft colors, and I loved the dusty miller and peonies! I especially loved the white spirea magnolia and cherry blossom branches at the ceremony. We kept my bouquet nice and small, so that it didn’t overpower me. It also had special trailing ribbons that were embroidered with my maiden initials, which were beautiful!

The wedding ceremony was held before the statue of Saint Francis, under a canopy of oaks draped with spanish moss. Our ceremony was very personal. Gabe’s dad, Tommy, was our officiant, which was very special. He collected advice on marriage from family and friends, which he incorporated into the ceremony. One thing that was very unique and special was the long walk I took with my Dad down the oak alley. It was so serene, and many guests commented on how magical it was to watch from a distance as we started our walk.

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? Our cocktail hour was supposed to be at the Old Tabby Ruins on Spring Island. Unfortunately, the rain didn’t cooperate and we had to move it inside, but it was still beautiful! We were married on the Saturday of the Kentucky Derby, and since I am an equestrian, we played the Derby on the radio and served mint juleps. Some of the guests even wore hats for the cocktail hour. I loved it because the cocktail hour was a nod to the derby without the cocktail hour or the wedding becoming derby-themed.

What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? Spring Island is so naturally beautiful that we wanted the beauty of the Island to be the focal point, and for all other aspects of the design to be in harmony with that beauty. Once we made that decision, Gabe really let me, my mom, and Ashley Rhodes run with the design. I knew that I did not want a dominant color scheme, so we used a lot of natural finishes and added in soft pastels to keep it from becoming dull or overly rustic. I told my mom and Ashley my overall vision, and they were really responsible for executing on the details. My mom is an incredible interior designer, and she and I are very close, so I trusted the decisions she and Ashley made. Even though we used the wooden farm tables, we used silver chargers, soft flowers, and hurricanes filled with oyster shells and candles to dress it up.

The watercolor detail of the wedding really evolved during the course of planning. I knew from the start that I wanted the envelope liners of the save the dates and invitations to show images of Spring Island, so we called one of my parents’ best friends from college to see if he might be able to do a couple of watercolors. They were so beautiful, I wanted more, so we incorporated them throughout the wedding. Now, the originals of the watercolors are framed and hanging in our dining room. It was so generous of Julian to do all of the watercolors and so special that such a large detail of the wedding was done by someone I have known my entire life!

My mom poured her heart and soul into planning the wedding, and she knew every single detail of the day. Or, so she thought! I wanted to show her how much I appreciated everything she did to make the day perfect, so I wrote her a letter to tell her. I arranged to have Sideshow Press print the letter on wood stock and ship it directly to Ashley Rhodes, so I could surprise my mom with it at the wedding. When my mom got to her table for dinner, the letter was waiting at her seat in lieu of her place card. I will never forget watching my dad read her the letter and seeing the look on her face.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Sparks flew in the library at Vanderbilt while we were studying for finals during our second year of law school. Anything not to study, right? We left for winter break a few days later, but kept in touch. When we came back for the spring semester, we started dating almost right away and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a quiet moment between us at home. We celebrated that night with family and friends!
Tell us all the basics of your wedding! Gabe and I chose Spring Island because my parents have a home there, so it is a meaningful place to both of us. I always thought I wanted to get married in Colorado on Strang Ranch, where I grew up horseback riding, but I felt it was important for the venue to be a place that was equally meaningful to both of us. Spring Island was a natural choice. Anyone who has been to Spring Island, knows that it is a truly special place, and we were able to spend a lot of time there during law school. All of the people on Spring Island, including the wonderful staff, watched our relationship grow over the years. Having them all there for the wedding made the day even more intimate. I must have thanked Jim and Betsy Chaffin, a pair of the original developers, for creating Spring Island ten times that night!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Magical, romantic, boisterous
What was the weather like on your big day? Let’s just say it was not the weather that any bride dreams of! I woke up to a cold, steady drizzle of rain, and it stayed that way for most of the day. The ceremony and cocktail hour were both supposed to be outside, and I admit, I was a little disappointed–there may have been a few tears on my big sister’s shoulder. Amazingly, the skies parted long enough for photographs and, most importantly, for the ceremony. The sun even made an ever-so-brief appearance, shining right through the oak canopy, in the middle of the ceremony! After the ceremony, we managed to get all of the guests into the clubhouse, where Ashley Rhodes had seamlessly relocated the cocktail hour, mere moments before heavy rain set in for the remainder of the evening. To be honest, I think the rain made for an even better party, because with the tent flaps down and the rain pouring outside, it was the perfect environment for all of the guests to join Gabe and me on the dance floor!
How many friends, family, and loved ones attended your wedding? 225
What did the groomsmen wear? The groomsmen all wore navy blue linen suits from J.Crew. Gabe made a few strong pushes for Duke Blue to be incorporated into the wedding, so we found blue and white gingham linen ties in just the right shade of blue, and had them embroidered with each groomsman’s initials.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows, but we modified traditional vows to make them fit our style a little bit better.
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? My grandfather gave me a sixpence to wear in my shoe for good luck, as he had done for my mother, aunt, and big sister!
What kind of food did you serve? We kept the food light and fresh! We served arugula salad and stuffed flounder, andt was delicious! Chef Tony and the Spring Island Club did an amazing job. Pulled pork sliders and gatorade were a perfect late night snack after lots of dancing (and drinking)!
Tell us a bit about your first dance. We danced to Keith Urban’s “Without You” for our first dance. We took dance lessons before the wedding, which was so much fun. Of course, once we were out there, I’m pretty sure we forgot most of what we were taught.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was a beautiful meringue cake! The design went perfectly with the soft and natural palette of the wedding. During our cake cutting, Gabe tried to put some in my face, but I was too quick for him!
Tell us about your grand exit. I changed out of my amazing Peter Langner dress and into a shorter dress by Badgley Mischka. The guests threw birdseed and we departed in a vintage car. It felt like the exit came far too early in the night…though it was actually quite late!
Did you take a honeymoon? If so, where? We spent a few days in Beaufort after the wedding. It was nice to spend some quiet time with family after the busy weekend. We had a few family meals and spent some time on the boat. Then, we took a delayed honeymoon to Antigua. It was so beautiful–we did not want to leave!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Enjoy it–it goes so quickly!
Best advice or most memorable comment someone made to you during the wedding celebration: While I was getting ready and admittedly stressing about the rain, Ashley Rhodes mentioned to me that it rained on her wedding day, and that one of the best parts was that when it stopped raining, the birds all came out and started to sing. Shortly after Ashley told me that, the rain stopped and I headed outside for my bridal photographs. I was standing alone partway down the oak alley waiting for Ashley Seawell, and the birds started singing! It was such a peaceful moment and a great reminder to enjoy all of the wonderful little moments throughout the day.

Photographer: Ashley Seawell Photography / Planning and Design: Ashley Rhodes Events / Venue and Catering: Spring Island, South Carolina / Florist: Emily Wynn Wildes Floral Design / Wedding Cake: Sweets Supplier Signe’s Bakery / Bride’s Gown: “Waking Up” by Peter Langner / Bridal Salon: Mark Ingram Atelier / Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman / Bride’s Veil: Peter Langner / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale and J.Crew / Hair Stylist: Hope Patterson, Bangs Salon / Makeup Artist: Nora Honeycutt / Men’s Fashion: J.Crew / Paper Products: Sideshow Press / Rentals and Lighting: Sperry Tents SE and Snyder Event Rentals / Linens: Snyder Event Rentals / Water Color Table and Butler Cards: Julian Tablanda / Transportation: Point Tours, Beaufort, South Carolina / Additional Vendors: Amazing Event Rentals and Ooh Events!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
11 Comments
  1. avatar Dana reply

    the mismatched bridal party worked out perfectly!

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Her bouquet is spring perfection. And I love that her gown is made out of cotton!

  3. avatar Kelly reply

    This is gorgeous! Did I miss who did the invitation suite? I know Julian Tablanda did the watercolor, but I was wondering about the overall invitations. They are perfect for a Lowcountry wedding!

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Hi Kelly! The invitations are by Sideshow Press. All of the credits can be found at the end of the post. :)

    • avatar Kelly reply

      Good gracious. I read through the credits three to four times, and still missed the “paper products”! Thanks, Lisa!

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  6. avatar Blanca reply

    Omg, I teared up just looking through the pictures! Everything looked amazingly beautiful and perfect! Best wishes for you both!!!!

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