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The South is absolutely full of the most dreamy outdoor venues–from ranches, to farms, to mountains, to vineyards, and so on and so forth. There are so many lovely options, I occasionally forget how many amazing indoor venues there are too, and the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga just might be one of my favorites. Betsy and Mike chose the Hunter Museum for their beautiful reception, which followed their ceremony at another incredibly special location: the historic woodland chapel near Betsy’s childhood home. Accented by plenty of natural greenery and calligraphy details that Betsy created herself, their celebration was full of nods to their personalities and favorite things!

Thank you so much to our dear friends and Blue Ribbon Vendors, Bamber Photography, for sharing this beautiful celebration with us!

My something old was my necklace–it has been passed down from my maternal grandfather’s side of the family through several generations. My something new was my wedding band. When my matron of honor, Brita, got married, she wore my sorority pin as her something borrowed. As I was getting dressed the morning of the wedding, she took out her own pin for me to wear–I was so touched she remembered that little detail–and we pinned it near my heart on the inside of the dress. I also borrowed my gorgeous mama’s pearl and diamond earrings and her tennis bracelet. My something blue was my little blue shoes!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Oh, boy. Well, my mom, sister and sweet bridesmaids took time out of their very busy lives to come all the way up to Chicago in the dead of winter to help me look for my dress (if that is not love, I don’t know what is!). Luckily, Chicago has an incredible selection of bridal shops, so we were able to schedule a lot of appointments in just a day and a half. Unfortunately for me, I loved Every. Single. Thing. that I tried on. I ended up finally choosing a dress, loving it, and then promptly freaking out and deciding I wasn’t sure. Long story short, I made best friends with the ladies at that bridal shop, bless them, because I was there about every week for months until I made my real final choice. I brought them many baked goods, tried on probably every dress they had, and ended up with the perfect dress for me. They were amazingly patient and lovely, and I’m so happy I gave myself the time to be totally certain. It’s a pretty big decision!

The florist we worked with was a genius. She listened to me prattle on in about seventeen different directions, and got it perfectly right. I wanted mostly greens, natural herbs, and very few flowers. I asked for a few specific additions: lamb’s ear, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, eucalyptus, peonies, and rosemary, and left the rest up to her. The result of our collaboration was really extraordinary. The flowers were perfectly understated at the Little Brown Church, and looked stunning atop the estate tables and rounds at the Hunter Museum. I was so happy with how all of them turned out!

The ceremony was held at the Little Brown Church. It is very small woodland chapel within walking distance of my parents’ home, where I grew up, and it’s a big part of the neighborhood’s history. It is a stunning setting, and is only open during the summer. The old trees stretch over the roof providing lovely shade, and flowers bloom all around it. I drove past it every single day of my childhood, and couldn’t think of a more special place to say our vows. We both thought it was really exciting that we would always be able to see it whenever we visited my family home.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We opted not to do a first look. We both felt pretty strongly about this tradition, and wanted to save seeing each other that day until I was walking down the aisle during the ceremony. We are both really happy we did, because it made seeing each other that moment at the chapel really special.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We did a really great job of remembering the reason for all of the planning: our marriage. It kept us grounded and put the decisions we needed to make into perspective. We trusted each other, compromised, and when one of us cared more than the other about something, that person got to make the final call.

For the reception, we chose the Hunter Museum of American Art. Chattanooga was such a major focal point of our wedding that we felt like it was the perfect venue to showcase that beautiful city. It combines both old and new in a really special way, and has the most incredible views of the water and bridges.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I do calligraphy and hand lettering, so I did the save the dates, invitation suite, envelope calligraphy, escort and place cards, table numbers, and custom wedding crest myself. I worked with a stamp maker in Chicago to make the crest into a stamp, and was able to use it on so many of the details! All of those things can really add up, so we saved some money and I was able to create something that was special and unique to us.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our wedding crest. I created it by hand with a dip pen and calligraphy ink. It incorporated our initials, a sketch of the chapel where we got married, and flowers from places we have lived. We ended up using it on everything: the invitation suite, photo booth photos, cocktails napkins, escort cards, etc.

My husband and I sampled about 16 different cakes with my parents, and all of us chose the same combination: white chocolate cake, real buttercream frosting, and raspberry filling. It was so delicious. Mike got to run wild with his groom’s cake, and went for a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and dark chocolate ganache, covered with berries. Our non-Southern friends were totally perplexed by the groom’s cake tradition–I think several of the married guests in attendance were pretty miffed they never had the opportunity to have a groom’s cake of their own! (I don’t think a single one of them minded having two cake selections, though.)

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? A few things! A lot of our wedding revolved around Chattanooga and what makes that city unique. Our venues were both on the mountain and by the water. We included Moon Pies and Coca-Cola in the guest bags, along with a list of our favorite Chattanooga spots. We served Krystal burgers and chicken sandwiches (with root beer floats!) as our surprise late-night snack. Our “Tennessee” menu included some very Southern staples: deviled eggs, chicken and waffles, and copper pennies. A lot of what makes the South so special is the hospitality and genuine love and care for others. It was very important to us that we did everything we could to ensure everyone felt welcomed and taken care of.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. What really happened is Mike was an unsuccessful travel bookstore owner in England, and I was a famous actress. We came in and out of each other’s lives for a while, despite our very different professions and lives, until I realized that I was just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her. Honestly, Mike and I met when Mike was training to be a fighter pilot with his best pal, Goose. There was a LOT of beach volleyball. No, no, no. Mike and I met when my family was vacationing in the Catskills. Mike was a bad boy dance instructor who won me over with his moves. I brought a watermelon to a party. We had the time of our lives. Nobody puts me in a corner. Okay, the real story is that Mike and I met online and went on a date. I almost chickened out because I was tired after a long work week and really wanted to go home, sit on my couch with the dog, watch Netflix and eat a pizza. I figured that I’d have one glass of wine and then call it a night. Instead, we hit it off, laughed the entire time, and ended up closing down the restaurant. Mike called me five seconds after he put me in a cab that night to ask me on a second date. We’ve been together ever since.
Tell us all about the proposal! Mike had just completed the Ironman triathlon in Louisville, Kentucky and my parents had driven up from Chattanooga to watch the race with me. Mike told my parents that weekend that he planned to propose as soon as we got back to Chicago. They didn’t give me a single hint of what was about to happen! When we returned home from our long road trip back, Mike casually suggested we go get a bite to eat somewhere in the neighborhood. We walked to a restaurant nearby, had a quick dinner, and then walked back to our apartment through a park on the Chicago River. We decided to sit on a bench for a minute to watch the birds and the city lights, when all of a sudden, I looked down and Mike was on one knee with a ring, asking me to marry him. (He said a bunch of other really great, romantic stuff, but I was in shock and have no recollection of any of it.) I said yes, emphatically. About 30 seconds later, the shock wore off and I ugly cried with happiness for probably a good ten minutes.
When did y’all get married? 
July 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We said traditional vows, but also wanted to write our own. Mike is very open with his emotions, while I’m more introverted and less of a “sharer.” Looking back, I’m so glad we did. We will have those unique words as only ours forever. One of my favorite parts of Mike’s vows was “I love you for so many reasons. I love you because you are delicate and beautiful, yet so strong and independent. I love you because you make me laugh and appreciate of all life’s little moments that can so easily pass us by. I love you because you challenge me to be a better man than I was yesterday.” From mine, “You are my best friend, my teammate, my partner in all things, my confidant, and my favorite person. I admire your kindness, your loyalty, your heart for other people, and your quiet perseverance to be the best human, partner, and friend you can be. You are the strongest person I know.”
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our photographers were truly extraordinary–we can’t imagine the day without them. They made everyone so comfortable and captured the day perfectly. (I want to be best friends with them. Is that weird?) Truly, all of our vendors were so great–we really lucked out!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t let that beautiful, time-sucking siren, Pinterest, convince you of anything you don’t actually want or need. Every single person you know will likely have an opinion of what you should do or not do. Take good care of your guests, be true to yourselves as people, never forget the real reason you are all there (to get married!), and you’ll be fine.

Photographer: Bamber Photography / Videographer: Beckett Media Productions / Planner: Soirees of Chattanooga / Ceremony Venue: The Little Brown Church / Reception Venue: The Hunter Museum of American Art / Florist: 
Humphreys Flowers / Cake Baker: Cakemakers, Etc. / Caterer: Events With Taste / Dinner Band: 251 Main Street / Reception Band: The Answer Band / Ceremony Music: Donald & Mindy Grohman / Paper Products, Custom Wedding Crest, and Monogram: Betsy Letters / Bridal Salon: Dimitras Bridal / Hair Stylist: Beck Molina / Makeup Artist: 
Make Up by Angela R / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August / Groom’s Attire: 
Black Lapel / Late Night Snacks: Krystal / Photo Booth: Photo Magic

Bamber Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    her dress is so unique! very pretty!

  2. avatar Stephanie Williamson reply

    Love this dress!!! Who is the designer?!

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One of my favorite memories of my own wedding day is when BDK took my hand and squeezed it three times right after we were pronounced husband and wife. It reminded me to stop for a second and take in that special moment, so I love that Lisa and Joe made sure to pause during such a whirlwind day, take each other by the hand, and look around together to soak it all in. I know how hard it can be to stay present, but what a sweet way to focus on what matters most…and what a beautiful scene Lisa and Joe had to see! The Farm in Georgia was exactly what they had envisioned for their shabby chic barn wedding that was sophisticated and felt like them.

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Bamber Photography for sharing this lovely day!

After much debate, we decided to do a first look. I have to say, I’m so happy we did! I went back and forth because I wanted that moment when we saw each other as I walked down the aisle to be really special. To my surprise, the more we talked to our photographer about a first look, it seemed like it would be more intimate that way. It was also very important to us to be able to enjoy the reception with our family and guests, and taking the majority of our pictures beforehand allowed us to enjoy that time with them after the ceremony!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. When it came to finding my wedding dress, I knew that I didn’t want a strapless dress–that was the one thing I was sure of! I envisioned an elegant, simple dress with delicate sleeves and a tulle skirt. I went dress shopping with my mom and sister, and we went to three different dress shops, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for! I then went back to the first dress shop and decided to try on some strapless dresses, just to see what I thought. I remember walking out in one and my sister saying, “That’s it!” It felt so perfect and made me feel like a princess. Who doesn’t want to feel like a princess on their wedding day, right?! So, lesson learned: know what you want, but don’t be too opposed to trying on other dresses. They might just surprise you!

We asked my Uncle Kelly, who we are both so close to, if he would marry us. He was so excited and honored, that he quickly got ordained! It meant so much to us to have someone so special and dear to our hearts standing there beside us as we said our vows to one another.

I wanted classic, elegant flowers in neutrals, whites, and soft pinks. Hydrangeas and peonies are two of my favorite flowers, so I definitely wanted to incorporate those! I knew I wanted my bouquet to be all peonies in a blush pink color. We then decided that the reception flowers would be white hydrangeas with pale pink snapdragons and soft-colored David Austin roses. My bridesmaid bouquets were a combination of snapdragons, David Austin roses, and beautiful wildflowers. I could not have been happier with the way the flowers turned out–they were absolutely stunning!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our ceremony and reception were both at the same venue, The Farm in Rome, Georgia. We knew we wanted an outdoor venue that was sophisticated and felt like us. I had always envisioned a shabby chic barn wedding, and The Farm was only about an hour and a half away from us in Atlanta. It was the first venue we saw, and it just felt right. We both fell in love with it, and seeing as we had both lived in Georgia for a number of years, this is where we met, and we both love being outdoors, we agreed it was the perfect venue for us.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? In Joe’s words to the grooms, learn to say “Yes dear!” I would highly recommend having a day-of coordinator. The number of last-minute details can be overwhelming, and it was extremely helpful to have someone there to help pull everything together the day-of. Other advice that was given to me prior to our wedding was to take my husband’s hand a few times throughout the night, stop, and look around together. Take it all in. You put so much work into that one day. It goes by so fast, so soak it all in the best you can!

We served very traditional Southern food to go with the Southern theme of the wedding weekend! We had various food stations at the reception where we served chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes. We wanted to infuse Southern flair into our wedding, since we’ve spent the majority of our lives in the South and met one another in Georgia!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For our first dance, we danced to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” When trying to find the perfect first dance song, we heard this song together in the car one day, and it brought tears to our eyes. It was such a beautiful song that expressed exactly how we wanted to grow old together. We immediately decided that it was the one!

Joe and I aren’t huge cake fans, so we knew we wanted a sweets table with an assortment of desserts for everyone to choose from instead! Some of the desserts we included were cupcakes from a local Atlanta cupcake shop that we love in some of our favorite flavors (white chocolate, salted caramel, and cookies and cream), macaroons, white chocolate-covered pretzels, heart-shaped mints that my Aunt Trish made, and cake pops! We also wanted a small cake that we could cut, and I love the look of the naked cakes, so we also had a six-inch naked cake with a few beautiful peonies on top. Everything was displayed on a beautiful, antique, white-washed buffet table!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Joe and I met on eHarmony! Joe reached out to me by private message, and by that point, I had almost given up on the dating scene. I almost cancelled our date because I was so nervous, but my sister talked me into going, and thank goodness she did! We met at the cutest restaurant for drinks and instantly had such a strong connection. Before we knew it, seven hours had passed and we were on our way to a second drink spot to continue the night! We both look back on that day and agree that after that first date, we both knew this was something special. We could hardly wait to see each other again!
Tell us all about the proposal! For our second date, Joe took me to Piedmont Park in Atlanta and prepared the most romantic picnic! He picked me up, we went to the park, found the perfect huge oak tree to sit under, and he laid out a blanket. He had a whole picnic basket prepared with cheese, crackers, sushi, wine–the works. I remember being so impressed! The week of our proposal, he mentioned that we hadn’t been back to the park since our second date, and suggested that we go on an impromptu casual date night picnic. I thought it was a great idea! When we arrived, we found our same oak tree, laid our blanket down, and before I could sit down, he bent down on one knee and asked me to marry him! It was the most romantic, beautiful proposal! He then told me he had planned dinner reservations at our first date spot, JCT Kitchen in Atlanta. As we drove there, I was so excited to share my news, and I tried to call my sister, my mom, and my dad, but no one answered. We arrived at the restaurant, and to my surprise, they were all there to surprise me!
When did y’all get married? May 23, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 100
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! As a traditionalist, I definitely wanted to make sure that I had something borrowed, blue, old, and new! For my something borrowed and old, my mother has the most stunning European jewelry from her Great Aunt Frieda, and I knew I wanted to wear something of hers. I found these beautiful diamond earrings that looked amazing with my wedding dress. It was important to me to incorporate something from my mother in my wedding day attire, and I’m so happy I was able to wear those! For my something blue, my mom and dad had a handkerchief made for me that was white with my name embroidered on it in blue writing. It was so perfect for my something blue! For my something new, I spoiled myself and bought Manolo Blahnik flats that I wore. They were drop dead gorgeous!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Marriage is about compromise and working together as a team. We kept this in mind as we were planning our wedding. It was important to us that this was day was about both of us. We relied on the friendship we have built and the depth of our commitment to one another, which carried us through the ups and downs of wedding planning.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We both agree our first look was our most memorable moment! I still remember walking toward Joe as his back was turned to me, feeling the butterflies, and telling him to turn around and not to cry, or I would start crying too! He later told me that as soon as he heard my voice, he started to tear up.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We look forward to creating new memories as a married couple, purchasing our first home together, and starting a family!

Photographer: Bamber Photography / Videographer: Nick Westfall / Venue: The Farm / Florist: Janet Nutt / Cake Baker: Piece of Cake / Dessert Baker: Honeymoon Bakery / Caterer: Zest Catering / Rentals: Heirloom Vintage Rentals / Band: Francisco Vidal Band / Paper Products: Lemon Meringue / Bride’s Gown: “0126174” by Alyne Bridal / Hair Stylist: Drew Delaney / Makeup Artist: Brittini Pearson / Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Megan” in Soft Peach by J.Crew / Menswear: Brooks Brothers

Bamber Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Clarisa Sian reply

    I`m out of words! I can say only that this unique wedding concept inspires me! Congrats!

    • avatar Lisa Manusakis reply

      Thank you so much Clarisa Sian for such a sweet comment! Thank you Southern Weddings for featuring us on your blog, we are very honored! Xo, Lisa and Joe

  2. avatar Katy reply

    Could you share where you go the fabulous food signs? They are beautiful!

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On this Memorial Day, I can’t imagine a more wonderful wedding to share with y’all! Stefanie and Kevin are as all-American as a couple can be, and their Tennessee wedding was the perfect expression of their love for each other, for their families and friends, and for their country. Military families are no stranger to hardship (Stefanie planned the wedding while Kevin was deployed abroad), but the tough times these two have endured together made their wedding day all the more joyful!

Thank you from the bottom of hearts to Kevin and Stefanie, all of the military men and women and their families who serve our great country, and to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Bamber Photography for sharing this special day with us!

Instead of having a flower girl, my matron of honor’s little girl carried our family Bible that was given to my grandmother in 1954. Every woman in my family has used the Bible in their weddings. We each chose someone in our life that had been a spiritual mentor to us, and we let them choose the scripture they read during the ceremony. They chose Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Proverbs 3:5-9. Becca stood with the bridesmaids, and as each reader came to the front of the church to read, Becca handed them the family Bible to read from.

I’m very fortunate to have a dear friend who owns Ever After Bridal in Cleveland, Tennessee, and I’m so thankful I got to experience finding my dress with her. I had found one dress in her shop that I really liked, but it didn’t give me that feeling that everyone talks about having! I had convinced myself that I was just numb to dresses because I had worn so many beautiful gowns during my time as Miss Tennessee. My mother and future mother-in-law went with me to order the dress, and when we walked into her shop, I perused the racks of beautiful gowns one last time. Since Kevin’s mom was with us, I decided to try on a few more so she could enjoy the experience with me. I randomly pulled a Maggie Sottero fit and flare, beaded lace gown with a sweetheart neckline off of the rack. Kendra helped me into the dress (that was the opposite of what I thought I was looking for), I walked out to the mirror, and I finally had THE MOMENT! I had tried to find a dress that just wasn’t my style, and I never found it. When I finally just chose something that was ME, it happened!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: People got dressed up and had a good time! Kevin and I both love to dress up, and my mother has always told me that its better to be overdressed than underdressed! I feel like weddings are getting more and more casual, and casual just isn’t in my vocabulary! In keeping with the classic military traditions of an evening wedding, and the fact that we wanted our guests to look and feel fabulous, we requested that our guests wear formal attire. Our guests looked so beautiful, and everyone said that they loved the excuse to pull out that dress they hadn’t gotten to wear in a while, or the excuse to buy something new! Because our guests felt good, they stayed, danced, and enjoyed drinks until the very end!

Describe your wedding flowers. Since we had a classic military wedding, where the men were in their uniforms and classic tuxedos and my bridesmaids wore beautiful nude gowns, we chose to go with flowers in all shades of white and ivory. They were arranged by Flowers By Gil & Curt. Flowers in the bouquets and reception centerpieces included roses, peonies, ranunculus, hydrangeas, and calla lilies.

We considered getting married at West Point in the Protestant Cadet Chapel. It’s a beautiful Gothic-style chapel with a cathedral ceiling and a gorgeous pipe organ. After thinking it through, we decided it would be too difficult to plan a wedding in New York, and it would be tough for all of our family and friends to make it. We set out to find a similar style church nearby, and discovered First Cumberland Presbyterian! It is SO similar in style to the Cadet Chapel, and it was in our hometown of Chattanooga. Before I left for Las Vegas to compete in the 2010 Miss America Pageant, my hometown and family gave me lovely going away reception at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club. The venue is historic and beautiful, and the staff was so wonderful to work with, so we decided it would be the perfect spot for our wedding reception as well.

I always remember my parents telling me how their wedding day was such a blur, so I was bound and determined to soak in every detail of our wedding–I didn’t want to miss a thing! I’m sure there are some things I missed, but I certainly remember the big parts. I remember how I felt when I woke up that morning, I remember the look on my mother and daddy’s faces when they saw me in my gown for the first time, I remember the sweet smile on Kevin’s face when he turned around and we walked toward each other during our first look, I remember the facial expressions of each guest that I looked at as I walked down the aisle, I remember the beautiful words of the prayers that were said during the ceremony, I remember saying our vows, and I remember how amazing it felt to walk arm in arm under the Arch of Sabers with my new husband! I also remember the traditional pop on my booty as one of the saber guard members welcomed me into the United States Army! It was the perfect day, and I’m so thankful that we were able to share it with the ones we love the most.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Kevin being deployed the entire year our families and I were wedding planning was challenging. It allowed me to stay busy, but it was hard because I wanted him to be a part of the decision making process in person. We made it work though! Thanks to technology, he was able to be a part of many decisions via text, FaceTime, and email. Even a world away, an eight-hour time difference, and the 200 soldiers he was responsible for, he still managed to help me so much! He’s a good man.

We wanted to make sure that not only were our cakes beautiful, they were also tasty! Breanne Hager of B’s Sweet in Chattanooga has the best cakes in town! I wanted something fairly simply, but accented with sparkle. We decided to go with a five-tiered Italian cream cake with buttercream icing. At the base of each layer were graduating strands of crystals, and on the top of the cake sat my Miss Tennessee crown with white roses tucked underneath its base. In keeping with military tradition, Kevin and I cut our cakes with his Officer saber.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Aside from the loads of hairspray that filled the bridal parlor while we were getting ready (we sure love our hairspray in the South), the main thing that stands out was the Southern music. When I won Miss Tennessee, I had sang Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” The song is about loving someone enough to let them go. The song fit my relationship with my parents perfectly, and it was a reminder of a very beautiful time we all experienced together when I won the title. They’re so happy that the time in my life has come for me to start my own family and be with the love of my life, even though it means letting go of a part of life that is very difficult to part with. Family is so important to Kevin and me, and being able to have such sentimental moments with them was the best part of our wedding.

Kevin’s groom’s cake was an edible replica of a Walther PPK handgun, which laid on top of a gun case made of chocolate cake. Kevin is a gun collector and the Walther PPK is James Bond’s gun of choice in all of the Bond films. Kevin has a rather collection, but he did not have the Walther. When it was time to do the garter toss, Kevin reached under my dress, and in my garter, he found his very own Walther PPK gun! It was his wedding gift from me. His reaction was priceless, as he had no idea his new bride was packing heat! I had sneaked out right before the toss and secured the gun in my garter, and the surprise went off without a hitch!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. As cliché as it sounds, we were high school sweethearts! I was a cheerleader and Kevin was a football player. Kevin’s dream was to serve his country, so after months of applying, interviewing, and going on recruiting trips during his senior year, he received his appointment from Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, and we decided we would give long-distance a try. Four years and thousands of frequent flyer miles later, we made it through his time at the Academy. After he graduated, he was commissioned as an officer into the United States Army. During this time, I was in college and living out a few dreams of my own. In 2009 I was crowned Miss Tennessee. It was the honor of a lifetime, and a time that I will cherish forever! On January 10, 2010 I headed to Las Vegas to compete in the Miss America Pageant, and on that same day, Kevin left the country for his first year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As I stood on the Miss America stage, my heart was full, yet heavy, knowing that he was defending the freedom that allowed me to live out my lifelong dream. I finished as second runner-up to Miss America, and a year later, Kevin made a safe return home! I spent the next few years working and finishing my business degree at Belhaven University with the scholarships I had earned through the Miss America organization. Just when we thought that he was home for a while, another deployment was on the horizon. Once we knew the exact time he was going to be returning, we set our wedding date. He was the battery commander to 200 soldiers spread throughout three different countries, and I began planning our wedding! We are so proud that we maintained a close relationship, even though, at times, we were a world apart from each other. It makes our time together now so incredibly special, and we certainly do not take that time for granted.
Tell us all about the proposal! Because we are proud Americans to the core, and its our favorite holiday, Kevin proposed on the 4th of July. Under the fireworks, where it was just the two of us with a pizza and a bottle of wine, he popped the question with a gorgeous custom-designed Henri Daussi cushion cut diamond ring from our family jeweler, Rone Regency Jewelers of Chattanoooga. Kevin is private, and I love that about him. He wanted the proposal to be a special moment between the two of us, and he planned it just perfectly.
When did y’all get married? April 11, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to speak traditional vows during our ceremony. My grandfather was a Southern Baptist minister for 49 years, and he married my parents in 1983, so we used the same vows that they used in their wedding. Both of our parents have had long, beautiful marriages, so if traditional vows were good enough for them, they’re good enough for us!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Documentation! Investing in a good photographer and videographer was the best advice I was given during planning, and it’s the best decision we made. John and Lindsey Bamber of Bamber Photography were indescribable! From the initial meeting, to the engagement shoot, to the sweet cards we received in the mail just saying they were thinking about us and praying for us along the way, they were such a blessing during our special day and in the months leading up to it. We were so comfortable with them, and they literally captured everything! Each time a guest came up to Kevin and me during the reception, either John or Lindsey was right there to capture a picture with that guest. It’s wonderful being able to send our guests that professional, beautiful picture! They truly are the best at their craft, and they’re just the best people you’ll ever meet.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Take your time if you truly want to enjoy the process. I did not hire a wedding planner because I wanted to have my hand on every detail and experience that time with my mother. Also, include your future in-laws! Kevin’s parents really enjoyed the process as much as we did, and they loved hearing all of the updates as the months progressed closer to April. I understand that not all in-laws are the easiest to deal with, (just being honest), but I am very blessed with some good ones! And they’re Yankees! We won’t hold that against them too much ;)
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? As I type this, I’m surrounded by boxes, because we are making the move from North Carolina to Kentucky! Kevin has been posted here at Fort Bragg for the past three years as a Battery Commander, and now its time for him to take a new position at Fort Knox. We couldn’t be more excited–new marriage, new town, new jobs, new adventures, and we’re four hours closer to our family and friends in Chattanooga! And thank the Lord we’re still in the South! He’s excited to be in bourbon country, and I’m already planning my wardrobe for the Kentucky Derby next year!

Photographer: Bamber Photgraphy / Videographer: Tim Curry / Day-Of Coordinators: Kendra Collins and Trinity Pearson / Ceremony Venue: First Cumberland Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue and Catering: Chattanooga Golf and Country Club / Florist: Flowers By Gil and Curt / Cake Baker: B’s Sweets / Rentals: The Meeting Company / DJ: Ted Gocke / Paper Products: David’s Bridal / Bride’s Gown: “Marianne” by Maggie Sottero / Bridal Salon and Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Ever After Bridal / Bride’s Tiara: Symphony Bridal / Hair Stylist: Gordon Robison of Gordon & Co. Salon / Makeup Artist: Angela Folmar of Luminous Beauty Boutique / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style 19931” in Nude by LaFemme / Tuxedos: Southern Charm Clothing

Bamber Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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