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Today’s wedding is special to us, not just because it’s meaningful and lovely, but because it took place in our neighboring city, Durham! Erika + Jon knew right away that they would get married in Erika’s mother’s back yard. The decision just “felt right” and another venue never even occurred to them! According to the bride, “With all the memories that we share in that yard, that house, that neighborhood and that town, there really was no other place that could have compared. Choosing a look or style for the wedding wasn’t quite as easy… so, I didn’t.” The hodge-podge of elements that E + J used put the groom at unease at first, but we think it came together marvelously! We’re sending out big thanks to Oh, Darling Photography for sharing this wedding with us.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Ugh, wedding dresses are the worst, right? They’re heavy, they’re uncomfortable, they all look the same and they’re so expensive. I swore to myself that I’d find an interesting dress that was comfortable, affordable, and had straps so I could dance all night and not bat an eyelash. Turns out, that doesn’t exist. After scouring the internet and even a few bridal boutiques, I settled on the next best thing. I bought a 1950s eyelet dress off of without trying it on. I worked with a seamstress to rework the bodice so it would fit me better. Comfort aside, it was all I ever wanted. It was lovely — right for the environment and right for me.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows mostly because we’re lazy but also because we’re secretly traditional. The old fashion vows are pretty good and they’ve certainly stood the test of time.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Jon’s mom is an elementary school librarian with a reading voice so sugary-sweet it’ll give you a toothache. She has a gentle, Southern tone that I could listen to all day, so she was a shoo-in for the reader position. We let (read: forced) her to choose the literature herself and she picked the perfect thing. She read Mark Twain’s letter to his fiancé Olivia about their wedding day and it made me melt.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Michael Cumella, our Antique Phonograph DJ, chose our processional and recessional songs from his library of frisky 78s. They were early 1900s tunes that were perfect for our garden-like wedding. Walking down the aisle is already an awkward moment, and having a romantic or somber song would have only amplified that for me, so I shook it up a bit with a silly song. I opted for “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Wanna Do It)” by Al Jolson for my down-the-aisle-stroll. We danced our first dance to Beirut’s “Elephant Gun” because we both love it and we never got sick of it. After much debate, my dad and I settled on “Unforgettable” by Nat & Natalie Cole. That was a good choice because we could easily sway along to it without much need for steps or fancy moves.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I call it DDIY, Delegated DIY. I have the privilege of being surrounded by a ton of truly talented, patient and inspired people. My amazing Aunt Laura spontaneously free-hand-lettered the chalkboard menu, my brother-in-law Owen designed our logo from his home in Japan, my sister-in-law revealed her hidden lettering talent when she offered to paint all the directional signs, my best friend and co-worker Theresa designed the incredible carnival cut-out, and my mom and her friends hand tied all the ribbon dancers. I’d have the say that the ultimate DIY was more of a DIN — Do It, Neighborhood! In the week leading up to the wedding, my mom posted on the neighborhood Listserv that two local lovers would be tying the knot in her backyard. She explained that people from all over the country would be visiting her home to celebrate and she wanted to show her friends and loved ones what spirit and community her neighborhood has. She asked our friendly neighbors to collect any blooming flowers from their yard and drop a bundle in the mason jars that she would be leaving on her front porch overnight. When we woke up in the morning of the wedding, the jars on the porch were filled with the most incredible array of flowers, every different kind and color imaginable. It was like Christmas morning. We used the flowers all over, in various spots. They were like little tufts of love and support scattered around. There is amazing spirit in Durham.

What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? I LOVED the Phonograph DJ, Michael Cumella. He came all the way from NYC to DJ our wedding in North Carolina and I think it was worth every penny. Having sounds from the early 1900’s emanate from those great big horns really set the mood like nothing else could. It was quirky, it was fun, it was entertaining and original and the responses from the guests confirmed our decision. The splurge with the most lasting impact was the photography. Having a great photographer to capture your day just the way you remember it is priceless. Though I’d say that the photographers were less of a splurge and more of a necessary expense.

How much do you love this next set of photos? I can just feel the warm air and the clinking of glasses as the toasts are made!

In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? 110
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Jon and I agreed that wedding cake is overrated so we went with pie. My mom, apparently, was not keen on this idea so she surprised both of us with the most incredible wedding cake imaginable. Jon’s last name is Ham, so my mom commissioned Sweet Flamingo Cakes to sculpt an anatomically perfect ham out of carrot cake and frosting. Not only was this thing a masterpiece that could fool the naked eye, but I heard it was tasty, too. (I wouldn’t know cause I gorged myself on coconut cream pie from Once in a Blue Moon Bakery all night.)
What range did your wedding budget fall into? I think we were in the middle of $25,000 and $50,000. It was totally worth it.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? At about 10pm, the gods relented, the skies opened up and the water of a thousand oceans came pouring down on the dance floor. Hot summer rain fell, off and on, for the rest of the night, but the dancing never stopped. At one point, Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” came on and the whole wet wedding party hollered “you can plan a pretty picnic BUT YOU CAN”T PREDICT THE WEATHER!” in unison. It was amazing.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My advice to women planning weddings is to do what you like, have fun and ignore the rules. Don’t fall for the idea that you can only have flowers as centerpieces. You can put whatever you want in the middle of that table. Anything. We had a crate full of toys, trinket and magic tricks because that’s what I like. As for the venue, our decision was based primarily on feelings and memories, but there were some practical elements that played a small role. We wanted a wedding that could go on all night (we didn’t want to be forced out of a venue at ten), we wanted a cozy-homey feel, and we wanted a place that had some sentimental significance to us. Fortunately, my mom’s house matched all the criteria, so we got lucky there. But the advice remains the same: do what you like.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We’re heading to Japan in September for our Honey-plus-one-y-moon. The plus one is Jon’s brother who lives in Japan… not a baby.

Oh, Darling Photo is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Desiree reply

    I’m a big fan of the DDIY – and I’m officially stealing this phrase! Hope that’s okay with the bride. I really like her vintage dress, too! I wish I could see pictures of all the amazing flowers from the neighborhood, that sounds SO cool! :)

  2. avatar DC Wedding Photographer reply

    The last image of the couple dancing is STUNNING!

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Y’all, long distance is hard — I mean both long distance relationships and long distance wedding planning. I am in awe of how beautifully Audrey + Jordan’s turned out considering that they planned it while overseas in Asia working for a college ministry AND while they were both five hours apart from each other. Their wedding day came together with what looks like the ease, comfort and elegance of the best Southern soirees. These photos by Caroline Joy convinces us that not only are Audrey + Jordan a gorgeous couple, but that they must also be superheroes.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I went shopping three months before the wedding because for the first 2 months of our engagement, I was overseas and couldn’t shop yet! My mother and stepmother and I went to some stores in Birmingham, found one dress I loved. We made the decision to get that one, but decided to wait and look around more that day. My mom urged me to go to a shop in Hartselle, Alabama, the next day just to look. When I went in, the first dress I tried on was the exact dress I had been looking for! We bought that one immediately! It had a sash that tied around my waist, which matched the ivory dress, but when I went for my dress fitting, I realized it just wasn’t the look I wanted — it was all too white and shiny. I wanted a softer, more natural look so a family friend dyed the sash a tan/light cocoa color and it was perfect!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes, we wanted our first time to see each other to be an intimate setting without people around- and it was way more practical as far as picture-taking goes.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our food! We had pulled pork, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, corn pudding, black eyed pea slaw, apple crisp, pecan pies and mint sweet tea with vodka. Our decorations included quilts, hat boxes, mason jars, dough bowls, rustic wooden serving pieces that looked like they came from a barn. And the outdoor barn setting was Southern!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Our cake was two gigantic round layers with a collection of flowers similar to our bouquets on top of the cake. The cake was placed on a giant wooden stand and had a messy buttercream frosting that looked rustic!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met in college at the University of Alabama. I saw Jordan onstage playing music for a college ministry we both were going to. I had a crush on him for a few weeks before we met at a concert. We hit it off instantly and spent every day together after that.
Describe the proposal. We were in East Asia, working for a college ministry there. I had gone to visit Jordan in his city and we were supposed to go to a friend’s house for dinner that night. I was called to go to someone else’s apartment to grab some wine for the dinner. Upon arrival, I found Jordan on a rooftop garden with flowers and candles everywhere. We wrote our names on some Chinese lanterns and were going to set them off, when I found the engagement ring tied to the bottom of one! He asked me to marry him then!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Emotional, peaceful, natural.
In what month did you get married? October
How many guests attended your wedding? About 300
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The ceremony began at sunset and we were married under a giant oak tree on my family farm.
Describe your wedding flowers: They were pastel colors- peaches, greens, creams, a lot of dahlias and some berry looking plants. I wanted them to have a wildflower look. I pretty much gave our florist/decorator my wedding invitation from Rifle Paper Co. and told them to use the flowers illustrated. The flowers were tied with some lace, and my bouquet was tied with an old piece of knitted fabric I found at a second hand store.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000 -50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Over-communicate about details to be sure you have everything taken care of and know who is doing what!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Establishing our life together in Birmingham and enjoying each other as husband and wife. We are looking forward to knowing each other more intimately and having more and more fun every day.

Photographer: Caroline Joy Photography // Planner: Randy Roper // Venue: Private residence // Florist: In Bloom, Huntsville, Alabama // Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Cake by Cakes, etc, Desserts by Mary Lynn Carlton // Caterer: Mary Lynn Carlton // Rentals: Limestone Bay Trading Company // Lighting: In Bloom // Paper Products: Invitations from Rifle Paper Company // Bride’s Dress: Robert Bullock via Something Blue Bridal Shoppe // Bride’s Shoes: Pour Le Victoire // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Urban Outfitters

If you love this wedding, might we suggest these?
Holly + Chase’s homemade Alabama wedding here
Melissa + Eric’s peach, green and grey wedding here and here
Lauren + Tommy’s outdoor ranch wedding here and here

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar NatalieG reply

    I love the BM dresses!!!! Please share!!!!! :)

    • avatar Nicole reply

      Hi Natalie! I love those bridesmaids’ dresses, too! They’re from Urban Outfitters :)

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Love those mini pecan pies – so cute!

  3. avatar Madelynne Miller reply

    SO wonderfully southern! And what a handsome couple! Congrats to y’all for a beautiful wedding and for the start of a beautiful life together!

  4. avatar Marissa, Foldable shoes reply

    wow! what cute wedding! love the photos :)

  5. avatar Kristine {In Love, Engaged} reply

    I love the feel of the outdoor venue. So relaxed, peaceful, and fun. All the antique details are so fun too. What a great wedding!

  6. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    Love love love the her dress and the bridesmaids dresses! What a cute couple!

  7. avatar Natalie reply

    Wow! This was an absolutely gorgeous wedding! And the pictures… Beautiful!

  8. avatar Honey reply

    Love the pics- looks like a great wedding! Where did y’all find the getaway car?

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Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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You know a Southern bash is good when the cops get called for a noise complaint! Mary + Austin’s reception was full of sweet love, good food and acoustic guitar jam sessions! Now that’s a wedding I’d love to be a guest at. Aside from being a hootin’ and hollerin’ good time, the reception was full of beautiful details. The horseshoes appear again, scattered on the tables, propped up by mason jar vases and in the form of the couple’s initials on the Swiss dotted cake by Annette Marcus. Y’all know I’m string light’s biggest fan, and the chandeliers hanging from these above M + A’s celebration just knock my socks off. Kudos to Ali Harper Photography who captured this pretty wedding and my two favorite shots at the bottom of the post.

See all the photos from Mary + Austin’s wedding in their Real Wedding Gallery!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We were married in a beautiful Methodist church, the very same place where we met and attended preschool. At the reception, mason jars were filled with flowers and candles. We served shrimp and grits, Brunswick stew shooters and mac-n-cheese. My father and I danced to “Georgia on My Mind”. Plus, we had self-serve kegs and acoustic guitar jam sessions. It was so noisy the cops were called!
Describe your wedding cake: It had white pearl dots and custom fondant horseshoe initials designed by me. The inside was yellow cake with buttercream icing and fresh strawberry filling – delicious! The cake topper was actually a pair of cufflinks designed by Alexandra Fenzl, our talented fashion designer friend. Austin also wore them to the rehearsal dinner.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning the wedding long distance was quite a challenge, but the help and coordination of our parents was unwavering and made it all possible.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $15,000-$20,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The invitations! Top-quality printing, multiple pieces and multiple colors really added up…but they truly expressed our energy as a couple and set the tone for the day. Plus, the memory of printing them will last a lifetime.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Playing music together and seeing our loved ones dance along.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes! Austin’s favorite line was, “You have always been my best friend.” Mine was, “Children adore you, which is why I know you will be a wonderful father.”
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We can’t wait to get back to our life in NYC, where we’ll continue to build our careers and soak up all amazing energy and culture of the city. In the future we’re looking forward to tackling another city (or two!), and then settling down to raise a family.

Photographer: Ali Harper Photography // Catering & Cake: Annette Marcus // Flowers: Flowercraft and Fuji Floral Design // Paper products: Bride // Hair & Makeup: Louie Lieberman // Reception: private residence // Cake topper: Alexandra Fenzl // Bride’s dress: Lazaro // Veil: Village Bridal & Boutique // Shoes: Michael Shannon // Necklace: Groom’s family heirloom // Groom’s attire: suit by Isaia, shirt and cuff embroidery by Holland & Sherry, cufflinks by Gogo, shoes by To Boot New York // Bridesmaids’ horseshoe necklaces: Beau & Stella // Groomsmen’s ties: Supperclub // Groomsmens’ pocket squares: Jack Spade

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Shelby Till reply

    Love the horseshoes and the mason jar candle holders! Looked like a great time!

  2. avatar Stefanie reply

    Love the guestbook! How was it made!?

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    […] Mag published dear Mary & Austin’s sweet backyard wedding yesterday (part I here, part II here). Kudos again to Mary for designing and letter-pressing such a beautiful stationery suite. Being a […]

  4. avatar Fashion Boutique reply

    That cake looks absolutely marvelous, I think a touch of pearls would fit nice on it. :)

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

Reply to: