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Although I don’t know Laura and Michael personally, aside from a few emails exchanged, reading their interview made me feel like they were old friends! I loved reading about everything from the dress Laura dreamed of as a little girl (and how her real-life Anne Barge beauty compared!), the meaningful ways they honored Laura’s father’s memory throughout their celebration, their goal of hosting a Southern dinner party-inspired reception in Laura’s childhood backyard, and so much more. As it’s easy to see in these photos by our talented Blue Ribbon Vendor Amy Arrington Photography, everything came together so beautifully for their day, and along with being sweet, prayerful, and intentional, it also looks like it was so much fun!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! I wore my mom’s pearl earrings and earring jackets that my dad gave her (old). My shoes (new) were a gift from my mom and sisters. But the most special surprise was my dad’s signature, which my mom had stitched in blue onto one of his old shirts and then sewn into my wedding gown (blue, old, and new). I did not put a sixpence into my shoe–it’s hard enough walking in heels without a coin rolling around in there. Something even older than my dad’s signature or my mom’s earrings was the ring bearer’s pillow and the cameo on my bouquet. The pillow was made from my paternal grandmother’s lace wedding gown. All of the cousins who have gotten married in our family so far have had their rings carried on Grammy’s lace pillow. The cameo was hand carved by my maternal great-grandfather. Both my sister and I had the cameo attached to our bouquets on our wedding day.

I was definitely one of those little girls who drew pictures of my future wedding dress with my little sisters. At one point, we even signed a contract (when we were around eight years old) to not steal each other’s ideas! We loved to draw and imagine our “one day as a princess!” My dream dress was a full gown with lace, a giant bow, and a train as long as the church! (Like I said: little girl, big dreams!) My mom and I went to The White Room the week before Christmas. I was in a sea of gorgeous, flowing dresses, some with bows, others with trains. My mom found this layered Anne Barge trunk show dress (with no lace, no bow, and a short train), and I was surprisingly drawn to it! When I tried it on, the dress was absolutely gorgeous! We started playing around with the skirt, and when we pulled the top two layers back, it created a beautiful, ribbon-like peplum (of sorts) at the back of the dress. It was architectural and romantic. I was in love! Carolyn made a delicate, scallop-edged lace top, which was sewn over the bodice of my dress, and she hemmed, stitched, and pinned the back to recreate the ribbon effect. It was perfect in every way!

Describe your wedding flowers. My dad used to grow garden roses for my mom. If I could keep a plant alive, I would grow roses for Dad. Our wedding flowers were the garden I wish I could grow and cultivate and love on every day! When I first met with Carole to pick out our flowers, she let me read through several books she had. I learned about (what seemed like) hundreds of flowers! It was so hard to narrow it down for our wedding. Ultimately, it was the succulents, the garden roses, and the peonies that won my heart. Carole did such an incredible job making every little idea we had come to life. I especially loved how she wrapped the columns of the tent with grapevines to complement the trees surrounding the tent in our yard.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! With such a late ceremony, we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to capture the day and to preserve the reception for spending time rejoicing with our family and friends!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We both love music, so it was probably one of the hardest things to nail down. We could always think of another song we wanted to add or knew there was one trapped in the back of our minds that we had to remember to play. Ultimately, it took a little pushing from our wedding planner, Emma. For the ceremony, we decided to have a string quartet, as Michael grew up going to the symphony with his family. The soft sound of the strings complimented the pieces in our ceremony beautifully!

Our vows were the most memorable moment of my life. In that moment, I truly did feel everything else melt away around me. It was like everything went quiet, and I could only hear Michael and me making our covenant with God. It is the clearest moment I have ever had. If my memory ever goes, I think even the deep, unknown feeling of this day would make Michael known to me.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I have always wanted to have my wedding reception at home (again, part of the sister wedding pact). It was truly a dream to have it all come together in a place that holds so many beautiful memories, especially of the time Michael and my dad got to know each other in the last few years before he passed away.

One of our favorite things to do together is to share a meal. I love to cook, and Michael loves to eat, so it’s a pretty good combination. Sometimes, it is so hard to slow down life and really take the time to talk to and know the people around you. When I think of the South, I think of taking that time to slow down and to share something that you have (tea, cookies, a meal, etc.) with your guests, while taking a moment to really know them. That’s what we wanted for our reception. We wanted our guests to share a meal together. We set the table like you would when all of your family comes over for Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas–you run out of china and silverware, so you mix and match, pull everyone up to your longest farm tables, and lay out a delicious meal (and some yummy Southern cocktails).

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I would say remember to have fun. Your marriage is the beginning of a lifetime with your best friend. The wedding is a celebration of that defining moment where it all begins–a short time to have all of your family and friends together. Do you know how rare that moment will be? Can you think of another time in your life when you will be able to have all of those people you love so dearly together at one time? It is so beautiful. It is a time to be treasured. Don’t cloud the preparation with anxiety. You’ll miss out on a rare moment in your life. Something will always go against the perfect plan you had. Let it go. It’s nothing compared to the joy around you!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Michael and I met in college. It took him a few days to ask me out because he was looking for a girl with the wrong name. Once he got that cleared up, he asked me out. Then, life got real: I studied abroad, he graduated from graduate school, my dad passed away, he moved to Houston for work, I moved to Austin for my Masters…lots of craziness, but love is hard, yet easy. I cannot imagine walking through life with anyone who could love me better or challenge me more.
Tell us all about the proposal! We were in Memphis, Tennessee celebrating Thanksgiving with Michael’s family. All week, we had woken up early to go on jogs before the day got under way. He came in to wake me up on Friday morning and was all excited to run (in the freezing cold weather). We were getting dressed and he tried to pull off shorts and a t-shirt, because he knew we wouldn’t be out there long, but I–the ever weather-wary runner–would not let him leave without some layers. One hooded sweatshirt and some knee high socks later, Michael was ready to go. I sported an old hoodie, which I tied securely around my face with a bow. Michael tried to help me by untying it but I was insistent (for warmth, of course!). So, off we went to jog the green belt. It was ABSOLUTELY gorgeous. Everything a fall day can offer. The leaves literally rustled in the wind and dispersed at our feet as we happily trotted along. About a quarter of a mile into our jog, Michael paused, knelt, and pulled a deep burgundy pocket square out of his shorts (I didn’t even know there were pockets in his shorts!). The whole thing was a blur of joy! Next thing I knew, I am trying to figure out which hand I was supposed to hand over. Michael knew what he was doing, though, and slipped his mother’s engagement ring onto my left hand. When we got home, I discovered his entire family had worked all morning to throw an engagement party for us. To my surprise, when we opened the door, my family was there, too! He had planned ahead with my mother and they drove up from Birmingham early that morning to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? June 27, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Michael’s favorite bible verse is Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I struggle to write anything more, because how could I possibly elaborate on something so beautiful and so fierce?
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Cake! Noms! Cake tasting was a day I was so excited for, and it lived up to my expectations!! I just wanted a simple cake with some flowers on top. On the other hand, the groom’s cake was designed to reflect Michael. The oak tree stump was for his childhood dog, Oakley, who was Michael’s “brother” growing up. The bike was a tribute to Michael’s devotion to and completion of Ironman Florida just a few months before our wedding, and the spotted cutie was our pup, Eli.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Aside from the flowers, the rain. Gosh, I just love a summer rain. It cools you off and also kind of makes you just sit and take it in, you know?
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Father Bob was our team coach. We had a huddle. He gave the plan. We walked down the aisle.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Who knows. We are a crazy bunch, Michael, Eli (the pup), and me. We’ll find ourselves on an adventure soon. For now, we are enjoying pulling together our home.
Is there anything you’d like to add that our readers might be interested in? My third cousin, Abbot Richard, performed our nuptial blessing. He is a Norbertine Abbot, O. Praem at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania. It was so special having a little bit of the past tying together the present and the future. We are excited to live our marriage as witness to the loving marriages that formed the generations before us and gave us the beautiful and loving families that we grew up with.

Photographer: Amy Arrington | Videographer: Alan Harned | Planner: Mariee Ami | Ceremony Venue: The Cathedral of Saint Paul | Reception Venue: Private residence | Florist: Lagniappe Designs, Inc. | Cake Baker: Barb’s Cakes, LLC | Caterer: Hot and Hot Fish Club | Rentals: Event Rentals Unlimited | Lighting: Design Productions | Band: The Pat Patrick Band | Bride’s Gown: Anne Barge | Bridal Salon and Bride’s Veil: The White Room | Hair and Makeup: Celine Russell | Bride’s Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “In Perpetuity Camisole” and “Anika Tulle Skirt” by BHLDN | Menswear: Mr. Burch Formal Wear | Calligrapher: Jan Pruitt | Ceremony Musicians: Angela Franklin, Bruce Ludwick, Deborah Flax

Amy Arrington is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Matt Selby reply

    What a stunning set of photographs! Love the mono shots, the couple must be thrilled with these :)

  2. avatar Brooke Paris reply

    “Our vows were the most memorable moment of my life. In that moment, I truly did feel everything else melt away around me. It was like everything went quiet, and I could only hear Michael and me making our covenant with God. It is the clearest moment I have ever had. If my memory ever goes, I think even the deep, unknown feeling of this day would make Michael known to me.”

    …Holy WOW. I’m in tears, this is one of the most beautiful descriptions of the wedding ceremony I’ve ever heard.

  3. avatar Mountain Brook, AL Wedding : Laura + Mike reply

    […] you SOUTHERN WEDDINGS for featuring their […]

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A month after their intimate ceremony on the beach, Morgan and Brian gathered their family and friends back home together for a fun, casual reception. Even though the design between their Florida ceremony and Oklahoma reception switched from beachy to rustic, the most important thing remained the same: it was a joyful celebration of the love Morgan and Brian share. Y’all please enjoy part two of Morgan and Brian’s wedding, full of gorgeous styling by Kylie Swanson, and captured by the talented Aaron Snow!

Our reception took place on an equestrian farm in Tulsa. The horses were such stunning creatures and made beautiful wedding guests. I love being outdoors, so I really enjoyed the natural touches of the wide open spaces and grassy fields. All of the wood features and tables brought great warmth to the reception, and the greenery along the tables were extra lovely.

What was Southern about your wedding? Farm tables, horses, and the great outdoors!

What kind of food did you serve? We served a combination of some of our favorite foods at both our wedding and our home reception. Both were served buffet-style and were very casual.

Being a bride who never really had a particular “vision” for my wedding day, I honestly left all of the design up to our planner and designer, Kylie Swanson. She really made it her mission to get to know Brian and I as a couple, and that affected the outcome of both our wedding and our reception back home. Aside from having her focus on our aesthetic as a couple, I was drawn to bright colors and I love anything with great natural light.

For our cake in Florida, we chose to stick with something classic, and Kylie adorned it with fresh blooms. Our cakes at our home reception also included flowers and were not only beautiful, but also extremely delicious!

Tell us about your grand exit. We ran through a tunnel of smiles and sparklers and into a vintage hot rod getaway car.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? It was probably the time crunch–we got engaged and married in four months. For couples with short engagements, I recommend hiring a wedding planner, for sure!
Tell us a bit about your first dance. Our first dance was to the original version of “Crazy Love.” It was soft, sweet, slow, and intimate. It felt like we were the only ones there.
Did you toss the garter or bouquet? We did both!
Tell us about a way or ways you saved money or cut costs while planning. Kylie not only created two incredible events in a short amount of time, but she was also invaluable in budgeting everything and brought everything together seamlessly. She supplied us with great vendor teams and we trusted not only her vision, but also those she chose to work with.
What’s next for you as a couple? Three months after our wedding, we moved to England to be missionaries.
What are you most looking forward to about marriage? We are simply looking forward to doing life together. One of God’s greatest gifts is getting to share your days with your best friend.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Wedding planning can be inevitably stressful, so always keep what your wedding day is really all about in the forefront of your mind! Brian says to make every decision fun and to celebrate when you get something accomplished.

Photographer: Aaron Snow / Videographer: Pen Weddings / Planner, Designer, and Stylist: Kylie Swanson / Ceremony Venue: Marriott Marco Island / Reception Venue: KJM The Farm / Florals: Isn’t She Lovely (Florida) and Poppy Lane Design (Oklahoma) / Catering: Marriott Marco Island (Florida) and Ludger’s (Oklahoma) / Cake Baker: Marriott Marco Island (Florida) and Amy’s Cakes (Oklahoma) / Hair and Makeup: Blo OKC / Bride’s Gown: Monique Lhuillier / Bridal Salon and Veil: JJ Kelly / Bridesmaid Dresses: Dillard’s / Groom’s Attire: Banana Republic / Paper Goods: Gather & Co. / Rentals: Niche Event Rentals (Florida), Kahoy Studios (Oklahoma), and Marianne’s Rentals (Oklahoma) / Transportation: Tulsa Vintage Rides / Lighting: Zach Downing Productions

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Wendy reply

    Thank you so much for the beautiful feature. It was a honor to have Morgan and Brian celebrate their marriage at KJM The Farm! We wish the couple a very happily ever after!

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Choosing a wedding venue is no small task–the location and your surroundings set the tone for your entire wedding day, and as a result, this decision can be one of the hardest for brides to make (it certainly was for me!). For Caroline and Will, however, their venue was a no-brainer: the stunning home that Caroline’s great-grandparents built in the 1920’s. Her parents had been married there as well, and along with the gorgeous property and its landscape, the history that the house held served as Caroline and Will’s biggest source of inspiration. Caroline’s family poured their hearts into renovations prior to the wedding, and the sweetness of the memories that it held were palpable as Caroline and Will became husband and wife. I can only imagine how special this place will continue to be for generations to come!

Thank you so much to Ali Harper for sharing this incredible day with us!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were married in the front yard of my grandfather’s house. I’ve always wanted to be married there because my parents were married there as well, and it’s the most special place in the world to me. My great-grandparents built the house in the 1920’s, and just before I got engaged, my parents decided to buy and move into the house. This was no easy undertaking! My grandfather had recently passed away and the house was in major disrepair. The entire year before the wedding, my parents were up to their elbows in renovations, on top of wedding planning. Will and I are both so grateful and humbled by the fact that my parents would put in so much work to make our wedding dreams come true, and without a doubt, everything was more incredible than we could have imagined. One of the most amazing parts of the day was getting to share this place with all of our loved ones. There is an incredible warmth about the house, and it proved to be the perfect wedding venue. We wanted our wedding to have a reverence to it, but we also wanted people to feel comfortable and at home. Nothing achieves that more than a backyard wedding at your own home!

It doesn’t get much more Southern than an outdoor wedding under 100+ year old oak trees, does it? But more than that, one of the things I love most about the South is how much we Southerners value our heritage, and to Will and I, that meant honoring our families in details throughout the wedding. Of course, we were married in my family home, but we also tried to bring in other sentimental touches throughout. Will’s aunt gave me some Victorian, wax roses, which she and Will’s mom had both worn on their wedding days, that had belonged to their great-grandmother. We tied them to toasting goblets to use while we cut our cake. My grandfather loved bow ties and was always sporting some kind of festive tie, no matter the occasion, so we asked our guests to wear bow ties, and of course, the wedding party all wore mix and match green ties, too! The details like that, that most guests probably never noticed, served as little reminders that while this day was all about us, there are so many wonderful people who have made us who we are, and who we needed to honor on such an important occasion.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? The decision to do a first look really came down to timing and pictures. We wanted to go straight to the reception from our ceremony, rather than taking photos during that time. Plus, we knew that getting to see each other before the ceremony would help calm our nerves, and it might be the only alone time we’d get all day.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose the traditional Episcopal marriage rite, but our officiant was Will’s step-grandfather. He did such an amazing job of speaking to our relationship during the homily. It was such a gift to have someone we know so well marry us, and he made our ceremony so moving and magical.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose a variety of readings–scripture, a wedding prayer I found, and a poem by E.E. Cummings. It’s very overwhelming to choose readings that represent your relationship, but we decided to choose things that spoke to us, regardless of tradition.

I think what made our wedding day special was that we were in this gorgeous space that has so much history in my family and a personality all its own. It meant that every detail of our day was so personal, and our guests could really feel that love and warmth, not only between Will and me, but the love of all the family members who have spent time in this house, and all of the happy memories that have happened there. It was a dream come true for me, and since Will knew how important it was to me, it meant a lot to him too. The best part is that we’ll get to bring our children home to THEIR grandparents’ house one day, and we’ll get to share with them about all the great times that have been had there. It’ll be such an honor to pass along that tradition.

For both of us, our ceremony was simply magical. The sun was shining down through these gorgeous old oak trees, the breeze was blowing, the birds were chirping, and we had all of our loved ones right there with us. It was truly breathtaking to feel all of that love around us, and it made our whole day magical. I think every guest felt that–many of the male guests have admitted to me that they cried during our ceremony! And, of course, during the reception, there was great music playing, amazing food, loving friends and family, and endless bottles of champagne. What more can a bride and groom really ask for during their wedding reception?

Describe your wedding flowers. First and foremost, I wanted our wedding flowers to feel like they could have been gathered out of the yard. I wanted them to be unfussy, with lots of greenery, and I wanted to include flowers that smelled nice! My bouquet included garden roses, lily of the valley, sprigs of lavender, and seeded eucalyptus, and Will’s boutonniere had roses, lily of the valley, lavender, and rosemary.

I was a very decisive bride from day one, and I knew exactly what kind of cake I wanted and where I wanted it to be in the house! We have this great photo of my parents cutting their wedding cake in the dining room, exactly where our cake was, and that picture served as my inspiration for our cake. We chose a classic, three-tiered almond cake with buttercream icing and white flowers in between the layers. It was unfussy, but elegant. Will wanted a decadent chocolate and peanut butter groom’s cake, so that’s what he got!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met at a mutual friends’ wedding! Will walked me to my seat in the church, and the rest is history. Even though we lived in different states at the time, we visited each other as often as we could, and became inseparable immediately.
Tell us all about the proposal! After asking my dad, Will knew he had to pop the question fast before the news got–secrets don’t last long in my family! He took me to our favorite restaurant in Atlanta, called ahead to secure my favorite table, and as soon as we sat down, they brought us champagne. I have no idea how he asked because my head was spinning, but I said yes! It was so special to have a few hours to ourselves before calling all of our friends and family and sharing the good news!
When did y’all get married? April 26, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 250
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had always dreamed of wearing my mother’s wedding dress, which is just the epitome of classic elegance–an a-line, off-the-shoulder satin gown. But when I tried it on soon after getting engaged, I didn’t get that magical feeling I always thought I would. I agonized over whether to look for my own gown or wear my mom’s for months, until finally, my mom convinced me to go dress shopping. If I didn’t find anything I liked better, the decision would be made for me. One weekend, my mom, mother-in-law, and I all planned to spend a Saturday trying on dresses in Atlanta, but the second I put on the first gown at our first appointment, I knew it was the one. It seemed like the entire store went quiet, and it just went perfectly with everything we’d already planned for the day. We cancelled all the other appointments we had made and never looked back!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was that we were planning a wedding in a construction zone, so it was easy to let nerves and worry creep in. A month before the wedding, the house still had a long way to go, but we just had to stay calm and decide that no matter what came together at the last minute and what had to be left off the list, we were going to run with it. Throwing a wedding in your own home is not for the faint of heart! It’s worth it, but terrifying!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? If you’re getting married in a non-traditional wedding venue, especially a private residence, throw whatever budget you may have found online out the window! You’ll have a lot of expenses most brides don’t have to worry about (like renting chairs, glasses, dinnerware, a dance floor, and lighting), but you’ll also get to save money in places, too. For example, if you get to hire your own bartenders and don’t have to go through a venue’s bar, we found a lot of savings in places like that. First and foremost, we made a point to look at all of our vendor options before making a decision, and I think that’s where we were able to be the most conscious of our budget.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? If you have the opportunity to choose a venue that you truly love and that speaks to you, it’ll pay off in spades. For one, you won’t need to do as much decorating in the space, and having a venue with personality will help guide all of the decisions you make. Our venue had gorgeous old oak trees and lush greenery everywhere, so we knew that all of the other details needed to have a similar feel. Also, if you’re getting married in your own home, you need to hire a day-of coordinator. This was an expense that my mom initially thought we didn’t need, but our coordinator, Jenna, was amazing and really enabled my parents to be parents of the bride on the wedding day, rather than owners of the wedding venue. I’m so grateful for that. Also, something WILL go wrong, and you don’t want to have to fix it yourself.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Our big project right now is turning our little 1920’s bungalow in Atlanta into our cozy sanctuary in the city. We both love creative projects, and we have big plans for our little cottage!

Photographer: Ali Harper Photography / Videographer: Mehran Moin / Day-of Coordinator: Wedding and Events by Jenna Laine / Venue: Private residence / Florist: Ron Barrett / Cake Baker: Couture Cakes / Caterer: Clifton Morrissette Catering / Rentals: Mobile Popcorn Company / Ceremony Musicians: Atkinson Duo / Band: Square One / Bride’s Gown: Reem Acra / Hair Stylist: Cameron Bush of Cara & Company / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew / Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss / Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    Such a sweet wedding! Loved the dress! one of my favorite Atlanta weddings featured. :)

  2. avatar Belinda reply

    This wedding has all the elements of an almost perfect wedding!! From the venue to the colors, flowers, cakes…everything was done so tastefully, sweetly, and comfortably…yet such a breath of sophistication…I’m sure no one in attendance will ever forget this young couple’s special day!!

  3. avatar Caroline’s proud Dad reply

    It was my honor, to be invited, to your wedding. You have always been special, but never more than the day that we gave you to Will.

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