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I first discovered fine art wedding photography almost four years ago, when a friend of mine left a Facebook comment on someone’s wedding pictures. Being the wedding picture-stalker I tend to be, I checked out the wedding album and was floored by how gorgeous and cinematic the photography was. Their photographer? None other than Tim Willoughby of Tim Will, who photographed today’s real wedding! Since Tim could be credited with the start of my love for amazing wedding photography, I’m especially honored to be sharing Rachel and Daniel’s beautiful Chattanooga wedding today. Their wedding is overflowing with Southern elegance, and you won’t want to miss their adorable proposal story—I definitely got tears in my eyes when I read it!

Tell us all about the proposal! Daniel and I have an affinity for bluegrass music. I just listen to it, but he plays the mandolin and guitar, and suffers from a banjo addiction. The song that we have always considered “ours” is “Ocean of Diamonds” by Jimmy Martin. One Sunday night last June, I returned to Charleston from out of town. Daniel had cooked dinner since I had been traveling all day. He told me he heard a great new band that I just had to hear. I was exhausted and stuffing my face when he started playing it. It took about five seconds for me to realize that it was him singing and playing guitar, mandolin and banjo. He had recorded it for me on Garage Band. Still not convinced he was proposing, we started dancing in the kitchen, and with our chests together I could feel his heart racing… that’s when I knew what was up! He got down on one knee and I was crying so hard, I can barely remember what he said. I said yes, and he gave me his grandmother’s diamond filigree ring.

The flowers were romantic and ethereal. The pale soft roses and peonies contrasted so well with the sharp blue thistle and dark blue anemone centers. My florist also wrapped some gold wire around my bouquet and the boys’ boutonnieres. It added a fairytale whimsy to the pastels!

Cami, my bridesmaid and best friend, sang “Be Thou My Vision,” a Gaelic hymn, right before I walked down the aisle. It is so hauntingly beautiful and her voice is so angelic, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the building. It meant so much to have her sing at my wedding. She has been in my life since the beginning!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had a few. My favorite was Song of Solomon 8:6-7. It speaks of an unquenchable love. That’s exactly how I feel about my groom.

Tim Willoughby is a photographer I found in Charleston. His ability to capture timeless, breathtaking images sold me immediately. Having him in Chattanooga for the weekend made me so calm. I didn’t have to worry if he was getting all of the right images because I knew he was. He was able to see all of the things I couldn’t. Over time, memories fade, and it gave me peace of mind knowing I would have his photos to look at forever.

Seriously, y’all, I could look at pictures of Rachel’s dreamy Vera Wang gown all day. If it looks familiar to you, it might be because our very own Emily tried it on during one of her dress shopping trips almost two years ago, at the same salon where Rachel bought her dress!

One of the most Southern things about our wedding was my dad’s bluegrass band playing for our cocktail hour. They also played our first dance, which happened to be “Ocean of Diamonds,” the song Daniel proposed to me with! I think the juxtaposition of the bluegrass band in a modern art museum was such a funky twist on what “Southern” can be. Who says Southern has to be at a plantation or in a barn?

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. My cake had a subtle floral pattern inset into the buttercream icing. The roses and blue thistle floral accents really stood out against the simple design. Daniel’s cake was a real work of art. I mentioned his banjo addiction right? Well his cake was a chocolate, to scale model of a Gibson banjo. It was insanely realistic…and delicious.

You know how much we love a gentleman in seersucker! This adorable duo is actually Daniel’s grandmother and her twin brother. Aren’t they the cutest?

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Gosh, how can I pick one moment? I guess the most memorable would be the dance floor, because I spent the majority of the night there. The dance floor was packed from start to finish. Everyone was dancing like maniacs! I am a super awkward dancer, but being with old and new friends, my family and Daniel’s family all together was kind of mind blowing. I kept looking over and seeing two people from two completely separate parts of my life breaking it down together like fools. It was a once in a lifetime thing.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Daniel and I met at a football game during our junior year of high school in 2005. We dated all through the rest of high school. When college came, I was going to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and he was headed to join the crew team at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. We thought it was over from the horror stories people told us about long-distance relationships. Over those four LONG years of dating 650 miles away, we realized that no matter how hard a long-distance relationship was, it wouldn’t even be close to the pain that would come from not being in each others’ lives. Luckily we survived, and I was able to move to Charleston, SC after graduation to be with him when he started medical school.
When did y’all get married? May 25, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 325, give or take.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mom, two sisters and future mother-in-law came to Charleston one August weekend for a day of dress shopping. We started in the morning at Maddison Row in downtown Charleston. My dress was the third one I tried on, and I just knew. I tried on a few others, but kept going back to the Vera Wang Emmeline. I told them when I first walked in that I loved tulle, and this dress has TONS of tulle. I ended up buying it that morning and canceling my other dress appointments that day. My mom was disappointed that the shopping ended so quickly!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. Since I was a little girl, I have been looking forward to having my church doors swing open and my groom seeing me with the rest of my guests.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No way! I can’t write to save my life. Daniel and I wrote each other letters before the wedding. My words are best kept on a private piece of paper.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Something borrowed was a hair barrette my mother had gotten as a gift from her parents when they vacationed in Mexico. My something blue was a blue stone bracelet of my mother’s. New was a delicate lace handkerchief wrapped around my bouquet that a family friend wove on her loom! For my something old, I had my late grandmother’s costume turtle brooch peeking out of my bouquet.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge for me was narrowing down my ideas. Between reading wedding magazines and being on Pinterest all day, it is so hard to decide which direction you want to go! There are so many amazing ideas out there. Eventually I had to just close my eyes and imagine my ideal wedding. Things started to fall into place.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy it. Your engagement is a time to savor. It only lasts a short while! Don’t stress the little things. It’s easy to get wrapped up in planning a “dream wedding” and to forget that you are marrying the man of your dreams.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Daniel and I are settling into our new house in Charleston. He is continuing medical school, and I have an awesome interior design job. We just got a sweet new doggy, and we’re enjoying everyday life as a happy little family.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
20 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Love these beautiful pictures! Chattanooga holds a special place in my heart so I loved that they incorporated some of the city’s best known landmarks into the photos.

  2. avatar Emily reply

    I ADORE her gown! Tulle perfection!!

  3. avatar Wedding 101 Greenville reply

    Everything about this wedding is stunning! Beautiful photography, insanely gorgeous gown, and the texture of the flowers = to die for!!! Love this one!

  4. avatar Kat reply

    Every time I see that gown I die just a little!!!! LOVE it!

  5. avatar Kristin reply

    Transportation via bright yellow school bus AND a dress that is something straight from a fairytale? Yes, please!! Love!!

  6. avatar Lauren reply

    The pictures are gorgeous and those cookies? Amazing!

  7. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    What a beautiful dress and bride! I love the groom’s cake! Just pinned it on our Western Wedding Board.

  8. avatar Christina reply

    Love, love, love this wedding!! Does anyone know who she used for the koozies? Random, I know. But every Southern wedding needs koozies! ;)

    • avatar Rachel reply

      Christina and Jay:
      Hi from the Bride! I used Totally Koozies. My friend Emily illustrated that logo and uploaded the image in their custom section

  9. avatar Carey reply

    As a wedding guest and mother of one of the bridesmaids, I can say that this was the most beautiful and meaningful weddings I have ever attended. I have known Rachel since she was a child and Daniel since they began dating. This wedding was a celebration of two beautiful people that love each other and two special families that bring together many people who love them and who were honored to celebrate, with abandon, this special day with them. It was not only a celebration of the couple, but of their amazing love of family and our love for them and their families! We love you, Rachel & Daniel!

  10. avatar Jay reply

    Lovely wedding!! Where are the zoozies from!?

  11. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze | Floridian Weddings reply

    […] Totally love that this wedding party was carried around town in a big yellow school bus! […]

  12. avatar Taylor reply

    LOVE this! Where are the personalized drink stirrers from? I am obsessed with those!

  13. avatar Emily reply

    That dress!!!! And all of these pictures are AMAZING. I love the one of them on the dance floor with their heads together, totally perfect.

  14. avatar Sapphire Events Blog » Wedding Inspiration Board: Oh My Darling, Dixie | Sapphire Events New Orleans Wedding Planner reply

    […] Tea Photography and Petal’s Edge Floral Design, banjo groom’s cake by Tim Will via Southern Weddings, Cokes by Kate Triano via Southern Weddings, wellies by Lindsay Madden Photography via Style Me […]

  15. avatar Wedding Inspiration: 2 | Seeking Joy reply

    […] via Southern Weddings  […]

  16. avatar Say Hello to Southern Weddings | Your Hub for Southern Culture reply

    […] also post beautiful weddings every day on our own blog. These photos are from a recent favorite by Tim […]

  17. avatar Best of 2013: Wedding Gowns – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] ballgown | Rachel + Daniel | Tim […]

  18. avatar Southern Expert: Tips for Working With Your Florist – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] Rachel + Daniel‘s wedding by Tim Will, bouquets by Martha Kern […]

  19. avatar All You Need To Know About Grooms Cakes reply

    […] Cake by Cup a Dee Cakes, Photo by Tim Will Photo via Southern Weddings […]

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For Gabrielle + Paul, their favorite detail of their wedding was the gorgeous venue, the historic Case Feliz. For the bride, the space created a truly Southern atmosphere, surrounding the party with live oaks and warm sunshine. Not needing to make any additions to the Spanish-style house, G + P relied on the bride’s favorite peonies and flowing gray linens to dress up the outdoor space. We think it did just the trick! Big thanks to Vitalic Photo who shared this with us!

When I went wedding dress shopping, I started at The Collection in Winter Park; they have the most beautiful gowns. I tried on several designers, but I was in love with White by Vera. I felt it was the best fit for my personality and taste. I wanted it to be an intimate experience, so only my mother and my sister went with me to search for the perfect dress. I accessorized with a White by Vera jeweled belt for the ceremony and decided to do something fun for our extravaganza, changing to a big black bow. It was so much fun being able to change my look for the reception.

I decided not to do a “first look” and I’m so glad I didn’t! I wanted Paul to see me for the first time coming down the aisle.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The date was challenging since the wedding was on a Friday and we had family and friends traveling from out of town. But, we loved the idea of a Friday the Thirteenth Wedding!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Photography! I chose the best, and we are so happy we did!

Our cake was not only beautiful, but very romantic, and delicious. I wanted it to match my gown, so I requested that it look like a layer of tulle over the cake, accented with peonies made of sugar. Everyone thought they were real. It was a vanilla cake with strawberry filling and Bavarian cream. Fondant of course.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Classic love story! We met at a costume party and became friends. We started to see each other on a regular basis and then we really became best friends, fell in love as friends do and, after many years, Paul proposed!
Describe the proposal. I had anticipated a proposal for months, but as time went by, I stopped thinking about it. One day, after a long day at work, I met Paul for a quick dinner and he then insisted we go to the beach for a walk. It was moonlit and pleasant outside — very romantic! Paul let out a sigh and said, “Wow, I’m feeling like I missed an opportunity here.” I then said, “Oh I bet you are wishing you had a ring right now!” I turned away and glanced at the ocean, and as I was turning back, Paul knelt down on one knee. The whole time, I’m thinking, “He is really playing this out!” I was sure he did not have a ring. Well, suddenly he opened a ring box and the most brilliant, gorgeous ring shone. It took my breath away! I don’t remember if I screamed, but I did cry. I think we both had tears of love and excitement. Paul had not planned it this way, but when he received the ring he had been waiting for, spontaneity kicked in. He did not want to wait, and I was very happy he did not.
In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? 105
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We didn’t have a formal one, but my fabulous big sister and maid of honor Danielle, who I love so much, came to me while I was getting ready and completely surprised me by re-enacting Jennifer Lopez’s speech from the movie “The Wedding Planner.” It was priceless and I’m so glad our videographer was able to capture it. It was meant to be funny but we both ended up in tears.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. I really loved the ceremony music. We chose to have a trio of flute, cello and harp. I walked down the aisle to Canon in D, and walked back up with the wedding party to “Kissing in Rain” from the Great Expectations soundtrack. It was so romantic and climactic! For our first dance, Paul and I chose “I found a reason” by Cat Power. My father and I danced to “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks and it was definitely one of my favorite moments of the night. Paul and his mom chose “I will” by the Beatles.
Describe your wedding flowers: PEONIES, hundreds and hundreds of beautiful pink peonies. I loved my flowers!! They were displayed in fabulous Mercury glass vases.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The whole event! It really was the wedding of my dreams, but I loved the surprise Rolls Royce exit car! I was so involved in all the details, but I had no clue my mom had planned that. We loved cruising around Winter Park after the wedding, it was so much fun. It kept our party going! We were not leaving for our Honeymoon until Sunday, so we had a family and friend brunch on Saturday. It was wonderful to see everyone and delicious too.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Take your time in making choices, and try to outline important details. As the day is drawing near, have a deadline where you draw a line and if it has not been done, let it go. Try to rest and enjoy family as much as possible, it will add to the relaxed feel at your wedding. Most importantly, be present in the moment, as it happens very quickly.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Furnishing our first home together!! We moved in the day we arrived home from our Hawaiian honeymoon. We’re looking forward to traveling!

Love this wedding? Maybe you’ll love these, too:
Caitlin + Charlie’s classic peony wedding here and here.
Cee Cee + Chad’s pink and gray Florida wedding here.
Whitney + Jeff’s modern and romantic wedding here and here.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
7 Comments
  1. avatar Nancy reply

    Gorgeous wedding and fantastic photography!

  2. avatar Chrissy reply

    Such a gorg wedding and lovely cake!

  3. avatar Kelli Taylor/Daniel Taylor Photography reply

    Love this wedding! The location, bride’s dress, and flowers are all absolutely gorgeous!

  4. avatar The Friday Fresh Squeeze | Floridian Weddings reply

    […] than bold design choices and modern typography. Yup, this is definitely my new wedding crush.What a gorgeous historic venue! Love how the romantic pink & gray palette contrasted with the architecture so perfectly.The […]

  5. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    Her jewelry and shoes are stunning!

  6. avatar 2012 Year in Review » vitalicphoto.com reply

    […] her mom planned. Let’s just say it… you can’t go wrong with pale pink peonies.  Southern Weddings must have thought the same thing because they decided to feature it on their amazingly adorable […]

  7. avatar Gabrielle + Paul | Casa Feliz Winter Park Wedding » Central and South Florida Wedding Photographer reply

    […] huge thank you to Southern Weddings for featuring their dreamy Casa Feliz […]

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