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When planning a wedding, it can be seriously temping to get so caught up in Pinterest boards and magazine pages that you forget the most meaningful source of inspiration: yourselves! Every couple and love story is so unique, and turning to your own history for wedding ideas pretty much guarantees that your celebration will be a lovely reflection of what matters most to you. Lauren and Michael did a fabulous job of this–from travel-inspired details (I love their table names!), to meaningful readings, to subtle nods to Lauren’s favorite Disney movies, they weren’t afraid to fill their wedding with personal touches at every turn. As a result, their wedding a great reflection of them, and they also remember their engagement as an especially fun time!

Thank you so much to Meredith Sledge for sending this pretty day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I actually found it at the very first shop I went into. I was in Chesapeake, Virginia visiting my family and thought it would be the perfect time to begin my search, instead of having to coordinate with all of them to come up to DC. I had my squad with me: my mother, father, younger sister (my maid of honor), grandmother, older sister, and one of my nieces. They helped me pick out seven different dresses, each one so different than the next, and all within my budget. I tried on each one to tons of “oohs” and “ahhs,” but all of that stopped when I tired on the last dress. Everyone, including me, was silent. We all knew! My dress was the only A-line I tried on. I never thought I would go for a fuller dress, thinking I wanted something more form fitting. This Mikaella dress made me feel like I was floating on the wedding clouds. (Side note, after I got home from buying the dress, I was looking back through my Pinterest account and realized that I had pinned that exact same dress the month before!)

We had always wanted to do a first look so we could have a more private moment together and use that time to take more pictures. Having spoken with other friends who have gotten married, they shared either how great having a first look was in saving time, or how they regretted not doing a first look because they felt rushed to take all of the pictures right after the ceremony. Something important to Michael and I was attending our cocktail hour. Since we did a first look and took our portraits and the bridal party shots then, we only had to do family pictures after the ceremony, so we were able to attend 30 minutes of the cocktail hour. Our first look pictures are my favorite pictures of the day. Getting to have that special moment for just Michael and I was the sweetest.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Michael and I live in DC but I grew up in Southern VA and he in California. We were not tied to any spot in particular since everyone would have to travel to the wedding, no matter where we had it. That left us with tons of possibilities! We did venue research online and picked out five that were in our budget and looked like our style (although we were still trying to figure that out!)–two in DC, and three in Charlottesville, Virginia. We liked certain aspects of each venue, but didn’t have our “aha” moment until Mount Ida Farm. It was the last venue we visited, and while we were there, we were told they were also building a brand new venue. We drove over to look at the construction, and all that was up was the main barn and one chandelier, but we knew. I loved the view of the mountains, the Restoration Hardware feel of the rough cut wood and glass chandelier, and the grove area that was going to be the ceremony area. Two days later, we signed the venue and construction was finished in November 2015.

Before the ceremony, we played covers of Disney songs. I am a huge Disney fan and had to incorporate Disney somehow without it being too cheesy. It was perfect and all of the guests noticed. When I walked down the aisle, my brother played the electric ukulele and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” That song was played the morning after Michael proposed when we were in Hawaii at breakfast by the beach. When we were thinking of what song to play at the wedding, that was the first one we both wanted. It was made even more special by having my brother play it.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Michael and I wrote our own vows and read an excerpt from a poem together. Some of our favorite lines from Michael’s vows were, “If the last six years have taught me anything, I know that even the next 60 won’t be enough to show you how much I love you.” From mine: “There is something about you, an energy, presence, laugh, or smile that is electric. That is what drew me to you and hasn’t let me go. I love that you can walk into any room, make a friend, or win people over with your sweet dimples and charm. I always think to myself, wow, he is mine.” There was also a reading Michael and I said to each other before our vows, “Everything that happens is nicer with you” by Sandol Stoddard.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The best way we planned was through being open and honest with each other. We regularly discussed all aspects of our relationship and being married. This included all of our finances, expectations, dreams, ambitions, goals, etc. Even if those discussions were uncomfortable or hard to get through sometimes, we knew it was for the best and would get to a spot where we need to be, now and in the future.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We brewed our own beer that had special labels of us from Oktoberfest on it. We had a caricature artist on hand the whole evening to give our guests an even more special experience. Our guestbook was a painting of us from the Disney movie “UP,” where could sign a balloon. All of the wine and champagne we chose was from wineries we have visited in Napa and Sonoma. Instead of traditional table numbers, we named all of the tables after different countries, and the escort cards were tickets/passports to the guest’s destination (aka table). Any friend or family member could walk into the wedding and know it was ours.

Michael’s favorite dessert is pie. It doesn’t matter what type of pie, just as long as it is a pie! We had three different flavors (gooey butter, peach bourbon, and strawberry mint). We also had Georgetown mini cupcakes. Michael and I live across the river from Georgetown and always love to go to Georgetown Cupcakes. We worked with the company to design all of the fondant toppers and select four delicious flavors. For our wedding cake, we chose a simple white cake with etched-on gold. We also used a gold topper that said “You’re My Favorite,” since we say that to each other all of the time. It was simple, sweet, and delicious (honey lavender-flavored), and the sheet cake we served alongside it was champagne-flavored.

Don’t miss Lauren and Michael’s wedding film by WhiteFlair Productions below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both went to James Madison University during undergrad, but didn’t meet until our senior year. I led an alternative spring break trip, and the fall leading up to it, I got to meet my co-leader. We started to hang out and he began inviting his roommates along too. One of those roommates was Michael. During our second meeting, I became bold and gave him my number, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! To celebrate completing our Master’s degrees, Michael and I went to Maui, Hawaii with the Lee family. On June 3, 2015, we took a flight over to Kona for a night and did a five-hour night snorkel adventure to see manta rays. We were on the first part of the snorkel, when the sun was still out, and after 30 minutes or so, we began to swim closer to the boat and coral. I saw what I thought was a piece of trash on the reef and thought, wow, someone littered! I kept swimming until Michael had to ask what it was. I went back over to check it out, and on the paper was one word: “Lauren.” We swam down and got the paper, and on the back, Michael had written a note asking me to marry him. Overtaken with joy, I began to giggle and shout OKAYYYYYYYY! When we got back onto the boat, Michael gave me the ring.
When did y’all get married? April 16, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 166
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The only point of any contention while planning was the guest list. We both come from large families and have a number of friends, and we wanted to include all of them. However, due to the venue size restrictions, not everyone could be included. Working on the list and narrowing it down was a huge headache and pain in the side!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? A great feature of our venue was that we could bring in our own alcohol. Instead of doing an open bar with our caterer, Michael and I selected and bought all of the wine, champagne, liquor, beer, and specialty cocktails. Not only did this save money, but we were able to select top shelf and the drinks that we enjoy. What bottles we had leftover (since we definitely over-bought), we were able to return to Total Wine and Costco for even more savings.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We both loved wedding planning because we made decisions as a team. Drink plenty of wine and planning becomes even more fun! I would also say, don’t worry so much about hurting others’ feelings. I say this not in a selfish sense, but you will find you are more concerned about how others will feel or react than you are about your own feelings. There is a time and place to be focused on yourself, and this is one of them.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to enjoying every day as husband and wife. We also can’t wait to continue to travel the world and see and experience new things!

Photographer: Meredith Sledge | Videographer: WhiteFlair Productions | Planner: Two Byrds Events and Design | Venue: The Lodge at Mount Ida Farm | Florist: The Flower Box | Cake Baker: Arley Cakes | Caterer: The Local | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: Party Masters | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride’s Gown: Style 1959 by Mikaella | Hair and Makeup: The Spot Beauty Shop | Bride’s Shoes: “Chrissy” by J. Renee | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Styles 7289L, 7372L, 7366L, and 7257 by Alfred Angelo, Styles F15782, F15928, and F15933 by David’s Bridal | Menswear: Tuxedo by Sarno | Caricature Artist: About Faces Entertainment | Cupcakes: Georgetown Cupcakes

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    There are so many things to decide on when planning a wedding, and whether or not to do a first look can be a tough choice for many couples. For Rachel and Tyler, however, it was easy as pie! Rachel shared that they chose to do a first look because “we wanted nothing more than to be together that day.” While the decision of a first look may be different for many couples, I would venture to guess that spending as much time together on your wedding day is something everyone hopes for. One thing I always tell my engaged friends is to stay together at the reception–hold hands and don’t let go! It’s easy to get separated with hosting duties, but nearly seven years later, I still remember visiting with all our guests hand-in-hand with BDK. I am sure Rachel and Tyler can say the same!

    P.S. How stunning are these florals by Magnolia Alley? Rachel’s bouquet might be one of my favorites ever!

    I’m so glad that Love, Chloe Lane not only orchestrated Rachel and Tyler’s meeting, but was also on hand to capture their sweet day!

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My grandmother was sick from liver cancer, so she, my mom, and I went dress shopping together, just the three of us. I wasn’t expecting to find anything the first time looking, but then I fell in love with the first dress I tried on. It ended up being the only time my grandmother got to see my in my dress, and it was the sweetest moment.

    My flowers were the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen! Our florist included my favorite flowers, peonies, along with some pops of burgundy to match the wedding colors.

    Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, we did. We wanted nothing more than to be together that day, so seeing each other before the ceremony just made sense for us to make our day more special.

    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did write our own vows. My favorite line Tyler read to me was, “As I look at you, words cannot describe how blessed I am to have such a beautiful bride looking back.” Tyler’s favorite line I read to him was, “I am so thankful that we were best friends before we were together–that made falling in love with you so easy.”

    What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I’m a Southern belle, so every detail, in my opinion, had some Southern class to it, from the flowers, to the cakes, to the country music. All the people who attended were pretty Southern, too!

    My dad and I did a crazy dance for our father-daughter dance. We took everyone by surprise because NO ONE knew about it! People are still telling me how great that dance was!

    Describe your wedding cake or dessert. My mother and I decided to please everyone and serve a variety of cakes. We had white, chocolate, strawberry, red velvet, and Italian cream. They were all delicious!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Four years ago, my best friend, Chloe (our wedding photographer!) tried to convince me to go to prom because her friend Tyler was dateless. Chloe worked her magic and convinced Tyler to ask me. Since then, we have been best friends!
    Tell us all about the proposal! Tyler and I had just gotten back from a family vacation on a cruise. We had so much fun that we decided to book another one for the very next month. One night, we were walking around the back of the ship watching the sunset when Tyler knelt down, poured his heart out, and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes! It was so hard not having any communication with family or friends right away to tell them the big news, but it made those few days before we arrived home all the more sweet for just the two of us!
    When did y’all get married? October 10, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 250
    Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My sweet grandmother gave me the most beautiful handkerchief embroidered with lace before she passed, knowing I would need it on our special day. My mom also let me borrow the first ring my granddaddy gave to my grandmother to wear on my right hand.
    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? During our engagement, Tyler and I started going to church together. It’s so important to keep Christ number one in your life and marriage, so we made sure to make that part of our relationship.
    If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy every moment through this process. It’s so easy to be stressed out, but just take a step back and breathe. I wish so badly I could do it all over again, because the wedding seriously was the best day of my life!
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Our honeymoon has been postponed until December because I’m currently in school, so we are looking forward to that…as well as having babies, of course!!

    Photographer: Love, Chloe Lane / Videographer: Equilateral Productions / Venue: A Barn Affair at Turkey Trot Farms / Florist: Magnolia Alley / Cake Baker: Barbra Overstreet / Caterer: Bobby Marcum / Rentals: M & H Rentals / DJ and Lighting: Shawn Boon / Paper Products: How Lovely Paper / Bride’s Gown: “Londyn” by Hayley Paige / Bridal Salon: Twirl Boutique / Bride’s Veil: Sara Gabriel / Hair Stylist: Donna Wolford at Visions Salon / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Tricks of the Trade” Maxi Dress by LuLu’s / Menswear: Mitchell’s Menswear

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
    14 Comments
    1. avatar mark mcf reply

      it was a beautiful wedding. we had a great time

    2. avatar Amber Hart reply

      Loving everything about this wedding but specifically the dress. Where is the lace overlay top from?

    3. avatar Krista reply

      I would also love to hear where you got the lace top from. I am looking for the same style for my dress!

    4. avatar Jasmine reply

      Love thdress!! Where is the lace overlay top?

      • avatar Marissa reply

        Hi Jasmine! That lace bolero designed by LaSposa. Current Twirl Boutique designer, Justin Alexander, has one that is nearly identical. The style number is A085. xo!

    5. avatar Ashley reply

      Beautiful wedding! Do you know where the bride purchased her earrings? I am looking for something similar!

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    13. avatar Gosia reply

      The bride is stunning! And this dress…

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    It’s my delight to unveil our final Southern Weddings V8 editorial for this week! Love Preserved was built around a couple who met as kids competing in 4-H and share a deep love for their hometown–its farming history and its rustic charms–and their desire to see this special place flourish led them to plant their own roots where their story began. They married on a plot of farmland where they’ll build their forever home and introduced their guests to many of the things they hold most dear — including handmade pickled goods and a little pink pig!

    Big hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendors Nancy Ray Photography and Hey Gorgeous Events, who brought this story to life alongside a heap of talented folks! (See them all below!)

    Coral Pheasant designed this pastel wedding invitation suite, complete with a map of the couple’s farmland. It points out key wedding day locations as well as the site of their future home!

    We love the ways Rhiannon played with blushes and lavenders in this shoot, splitting them out for the bridesmaid bouquets and then combining all of the hues together for our bride’s.

    Caitlin has the best bangs, doesn’t she? We loved working with her and her sweet fiance Tyler on this editorial!

    This photo captures all of the most adorable participants on our shoot day — three little flower girls who drove all the way from Alabama to be a part of our story, and a little pink pig named Gumdrop! Gumdrop stole everyone’s heart on set, not least because of the story of how he found his way to his owner. Christin bought him as a present for her maid of honor, Savanna, since she had wanted a pig for years! Christin now considers herself Gumdrop’s agent :)

    We pulled in vintage items from Paisley & Jade for the outdoor ceremony, including a gorgeous rug and mantle, to represent pieces the couple would repurpose in their home after their wedding day. The thought of a couple walking across the rug where they said “I do” every time they enter their home makes me giddy!

    One of my favorite details from this shoot was the favor display, filled with pickled favorites canned by the bride and groom. I had a very specific vision for how I wanted this shot to look, and Nancy (plus the streaming sun!) knocked it out of the park!

    We filled the center of the reception table with beautiful blooms from Rhi along with cut vegetables and crusty bread for guests to nibble on. Each guest was treated to an individual pickle plate — a prelude to their delicious favor!

    Last but certainly not least, we finished the evening on a sweet note with a trio of white wedding cakes from Ashley Cakes. The floral collar on the largest is so delicate and perfect for spring – it stole my heart!

    For more from this shoot, check back soon for behind-the-scenes photos and a BTS video! And, as always, if you haven’t picked up your copy yet, you can do so here or on newsstands near you!

    Photographer: Nancy Ray Photography | Film processing: Indie Film Lab | Videographer: Heart Stone Films | Stylist and florals: Hey Gorgeous Events | Hair stylist and makeup artist: Lula Hair and Makeup | Cakes: Ashley Cakes | Paper goods: Coral Pheasant | Map illustration: Social Alchemy | Linens: Nuage Designs | Runners: Silk & Willow | Table and charger rentals: Party Reflections | Vintage rentals: Paisley & Jade | Glassware, china, flatware: Vintage Charlotte | Marble cutting boards: Pizitz Home & Cottage | Wooden cutting boards: AK Woodburning | Wooden menu: AT Home Decor | Teal shelf: World Market | Bride’s gown: AH6200 by Saja | Bridesmaid dresses: Joanna August | Menswear: The Black Tux

    Nancy Ray Photography, Heart Stone Films, Hey Gorgeous Events, Lula Hair and Makeup, Ashley Cakes, and Paisley & Jade are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and Joanna August and The Black Tux are delightful SW sponsors!

    emily Written with love by Emily
    14 Comments
    1. avatar Rhiannon reply

      This was such a fun day, everyone! Thank you so much for letting me be a part. And Goodie! Oh he was just the sweetest part of it all :)

    2. avatar Emily reply

      Love the color palette for this shoot! Can you all share where the beautiful floral ribbon is from? Thanks!

      • avatar Rhiannon reply

        Hi Emily! Some of it is from my wholesaler, some from various Etsy sources and some from Silk and Willow or Frou Frou Chic! Adding ribbons to my bouquets is one of the most exciting things for me so I have a pretty big stock pile of trims and ribbons in all colors and finishes to pick from. But those are my sources above. Good luck!

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      […] than a magazine and I highly recommend snagging more than one copy for yourself! You can catch our Love Preserved feature over on the SW blog or sit tight until next week when I plan to blog my favorite scans from […]

    4. avatar Dana reply

      this shoot is so beautiful! love the paper, the flowers, and the pig, of course!

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      […] team captured it all perfectly. The idea behind the shoot is shared a little over here in this post and there’s nothing more intentional than editorial or even better, wedding day details that […]

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      […] South­ern Wed­dings: “Love Pre­served was built around a cou­ple who met as kids com­pet­ing in 4-H and share […]

    8. avatar Ashley reply

      I would love to know where the flower girl’s dresses are from! They are adorable!

      • avatar Lisa reply

        Hi Ashley! The flower girls all brought their own dresses, so we’re not sure exactly where they’re from. Strasburg Children has some lovely, classic options that are similar though! https://www.strasburgchildrens.com/

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      […] These flower girl dresses are among my most favorite, and the jar display is beautiful! My sweet friend Nancy shot this editorial when she was 9 months pregnant and it’s as full of heart as the team that made it happen! View the original post here. […]

    12. avatar Happy 10th Anniversary Southern Weddings! My 10 Favorite Editorials – Kyla Mary reply

      […] These flower girl dresses are among my most favorite, and the jar display is beautiful! My sweet friend Nancy shot this editorial when she was 9 months pregnant and it’s as full of heart as the team that made it happen! View the original post here. […]

    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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