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It is so special to see a couple who celebrates their marriage in a way that is a perfect fit for them, even if that celebration is less than traditional. Morgan and Brian are a lovely example–with the help of their planner and designer, Kylie Swanson, they said their vows by the ocean in Marco Island, Florida, surrounded by just 21 of their loved ones. A few weeks later, they also celebrated with family and friends back home in Oklahoma. We were delighted to share both parts of their wedding celebration in V7, and are equally excited to share them with y’all today, starting with their romantic seaside ceremony. We hope they inspire you to think outside the box and plan your wedding in the way that is most meaningful to you!

Thanks so much to Aaron Snow for sharing Morgan and Brian’s gorgeous wedding with us!

I have always adored the ocean, so choosing a destination wedding and getting married on the beach was a dream come true. Exchanging vows by the ocean was significant for Brian as well–when he was a teenager, he felt like God had told him that one day, he was going to wake up every day by the sea. Well, my name, Morgan, actually means “by the sea.” The symbolism is beautiful.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? My favorite part about my dress was its simplicity. The fabric was Spanish tulle and silk, so it was very lightweight. The design had a delicate, feminine, free-spirited quality that fit my personality. It was ideal for a beach wedding.
Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? I let my older sisters choose a dress that they loved and felt beautiful wearing. It came in three colors: blue, blush, and mint. We chose mint!

Tell us about a date you’ll always remember. We will always remember our first date to a Tulsa Drillers minor league baseball game; Brian bought us tickets directly behind home plate. It felt as if we had the entire stadium to ourselves because there were so few people in attendance that night. It wasn’t a wildly extravagant date, but it was a precious and memorable one, filled with incredible warmth, happiness, love, and laughter. There’s something to be said about the simple things in life. All we wanted to do was spend time getting to know each other, and we truly cherished every single moment together. I pray that every moment is still deemed extraordinary, even fifty years from now. Life is made up of moments!

Exchanging our vows was the most special part of the ceremony. Those two simple words, “I do,” shaped the rest of our lives. Marriage vows are a covenant between best friends to love and cherish each other through thick and thin; they are promises to be lived out in each moment.

Did you try anything new or nontraditional? One thing in particular that stood out as nontraditional is that we decided to have everyone stand around us during the ceremony rather than bring out chairs. It made for a really magical moment.

Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? Everyone was special, but one person in particular traveled over 24 hours to celebrate with us! Brian and his parents flew my best friend, Natalie, into Florida from Zimbabwe to be a part of our special day. We surprised her with a bridesmaid dress in her hotel room, and it was a very tearful, happy moment for everybody.

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? We had a short cocktail hour at our wedding in Florida and it was a great transition for our guests while we wrapped up some portraits with Aaron.

We left the floral design up to Kylie, and after our initial meeting describing the type of design that I’m drawn to, I knew she would be able to pull together something incredibly beautiful. It was so surreal seeing my bouquet for the first time, because Kylie managed to pull together all of the colors and textures I loved and create something so spectacularly gorgeous.


Were there any family traditions you included in the reception? I don’t know if it was a family tradition necessarily, but Brian’s dad read a powerful blessing over the two of us and over every married couple present at our reception.

What was the most memorable or touching moment about your wedding day? Brian surprised me by serenading me after we exchanged vows. He sang “Happy” by The Daylights, which was “our song” during our entire engagement. It was amazing!!!

Don’t miss Morgan and Brian’s wedding film by Pen Weddings below!

When did y’all get married? May 29, 2014
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.We were introduced while hundreds of miles apart–Brian was finishing his college education in Mississippi and I was studying in Missouri. We met for the first time in person on May 19, 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after a month of long-distance courting. We would Skype for several hours every day, sharing our hearts on just about everything: hopes, dreams, desires, and fears. We discussed our strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and anything in between. Most of all though, Brian and I talked about our mutual love and passion for the Lord. All of our conversations–no matter how brief or lengthy, casual or serious–pointed to God. Beyond our compatibility, we both were deeply devoted to our faith and pursued the heart of God above all else. We honestly fell in love with the reflection of Christ that we saw in each other. We were inseparable that summer. Brian says that when he saw me for the first time, he knew I’d have his heart for the rest of his life. After six months of dating and a lot of prayer, Brian proposed. We got married a year and ten days after meeting.
Tell us about the proposal! In January 2013, Brian’s parents took us to Israel to tour the Holy Land with our church. Brian decided that there was no better place to ask me to join him as “one” than the very spot where Jesus asked to be one with us: the Garden of Gethsemane. Standing at the base of the Mount of Olives, Brian read to me from John 17, dropped to one knee, and proposed. I said YES! Along with a sparkly new engagement ring, Brian gave me a heart carved from olive wood. Olive trees hold incredible symbolism, and we were surrounded by them during the proposal. The olive tree thrives under great heat and is known for its tenacity. They live, grow, and bear fruit in any and every condition: hot, dry, cold, wet, fertile, rocky, or sandy. It is said that you can never kill an olive tree–even when cut down or burned, new shoots emerge from its roots. Like the evergreen olive tree, we pray that our marriage will withstand anything.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: It was joyful, vibrant, and blessed!

How many guests attended your wedding? 21
Who was your officiant? Why did you choose him/her? The officiant was Jason Cook, a former NFL player. He was Brian’s mentor at the University of Mississippi.

Did you try anything new or nontraditional? A fire dancer performed at the end of the night!
Did you take a honeymoon? If so, where? Since we got married in Florida, we thought it would be a great idea to start out our marriage in the Keys. After getting married in Marco Island, we rented a car and drove to Islamorada. We spent about four days at the beautiful Cheeca Lodge and Spa and stayed in a really delightful little bungalow. After our time in the Florida Keys, we drove to Miami and flew out to Turks & Caicos for eight days. We stayed at the Seven Stars Resort. The Caribbean was breathtaking!

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

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar 365 Days of us. | Morris Ministry reply

    […] Please check out this beautiful blog post of our special day: Southern Weddings Feature […]

  2. avatar Dan Biggins Photography reply

    In a word, swoon! I dream of photographing a beach wedding, but don’t get much chance living in the UK! Beautiful photos, couple & wedding :)

  3. avatar Romantic Boho Beach Themed Wedding Inspiration For Your Big Day – Stylish Wedd Blog reply

    […] via SouthernWeddings […]

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We’re officially less than a week away from our big V5 launch!

When Emily and I first saw Lauren + Jeremy’s wedding, we instantly fell in love with their cheery ceremony design — happy waving flags lining the bride’s path to the succulent-decorated altar. We’re now finding there’s much more to love, including the officiant’s surprise performance of “Come Fly With Me” as the bridal party recessed and the handsome pup donning a bow tie. Don’t forget to scroll on down to read about Jeremy’s hilarious proposal! Big thanks to Theo Milo for sharing with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I plan events for a living, so most of the wedding planning felt like a second job to me, but shopping for a dress was a blast….except the sticker shock! I started my search at the most expensive boutique in town, only because it was the closest to my mother’s house. I fell in love with many dresses there but one stood out. It was pink and I’ve always been about pushing boundaries so I loved the idea of wearing something different. Plus, I could wear the sample right off the rack which meant I’d get a good deal and that appealed to my bargain shopper sensibilities. The bridal clerk had to check on the pricing for the sample and when she called me, it was still higher than I felt comfortable spending…so I continued the search. I went home and I started scouring the internet. Lo and behold, my dress was made by Priscilla of Boston who was going out of business and they were offering significant discounts for their sample dresses. I called the closest store which was in Raleigh,NC and they had the dress! My mother and I drove the next weekend to the store and I got my dress 60% off retail. I had to do some major alterations, but with the savings, that was no issue. The moral of the story is don’t say “yes” to the dress until you let your fingers do some walking on the internet. A great deal may be awaiting you. My only regret is that I wish I had also purchased a reception dress. I love to dance and I spent a lot of time managing my dress on the dance floor.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes, we did a first look because we wanted to have the time to get good photos together but we didn’t want to miss our reception to do so. Additionally, we stayed the wedding weekend at a historic house right on the ocean that was so pretty and we wanted to use the location for our photos.
Did you write your own vows? No, we did not write our own vows but we chose the vows from some traditional ones. We got married outdoors and our ceremony was officiated by a dear friend of ours. Because of this, we had to create our whole ceremony on our own. It was a lot of work but it made our ceremony more personal.

The ceremony set-up was our favorite detail of the wedding. Our venue was often used for weddings but we were told we were the first to use the area that we did for a ceremony. The ceremony took place slightly off to the side of the reception venue in a sparse grassy area with a view of the island’s famed lighthouse behind it. It wasn’t very impressive, but we had vision for it. With the help of soft blue flags defining an aisle and a beautiful wooden table decorated with lanterns and succulents to create an altar, our vision was fulfilled. (Credit goes to Kim Fisher Designs for the décor.) Jeremy would say the cigar bar was his favorite!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings in our ceremony. I chose a reading from Les Miserables (the novel), which also happens to be my favorite Broadway musical. Jeremy chose a more traditional reading from the Book of Genesis (the popular, stylized version of 2:18).
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Since we wrote our own ceremony we were able to also choose whichever music we wanted. We hired a pianist and a violinist for the ceremony. We used traditional wedding music like Ariosa by Bach and Alla Hornpipe by Handle for the pre-ceremony and wedding party. I walked down the aisle to Ave Maria. Our favorite part, though, was that we walked out to Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me,” which to all guests’ surprise was sung by our officiant, who is an actor and singer and has performed often in a one man Sinatra show. Our first dance song was a combo. We chose “Some Kind of Wonderful,” but got the band to start by playing the slow, soulful Drifters tune for two verses and then transition into the upbeat Grand Funk Railroad version (which is not a cover or remake, but a completely different song) to allow our guests to get in on the act!

Because we had many friends in from all around the country, including a large number of New Yorkers, we wanted to expose them to some of our favorite Southern treats and the beautiful coastline. Our mothers prepared 40 batches of my mom’s homemade pimento cheese that we had delivered to all the guests’ accommodations. We also had a low country shrimp boil for our rehearsal dinner. Additionally, we chose a Southern location that is exceptionally beautiful and shows off part of what being a Carolinian is all about – amazing beaches, great weather and a laid-back lifestyle.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We planned most the wedding ourselves with a bit of help from our mothers. I am an event planner by trade so I did most of the work as a way to save on the budget and ensure things were done to our liking. We both work long hours and I started a new job two days after our engagement. Our free time was limited and we had to stay the course to get it all done. It’s important to do a little each day and when help is offered, take it. Learn to delegate. Friends and family are usually happy to help. Identify your friends and family’s strengths and use their help when offered in a way that each can best assist.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The whole wedding weekend was memorable. That’s what’s so special about having a destination wedding – you get more than just a few hours to spend with some of the most important people in your life and it’s the only time they all gather together. However, I think one of the most memorable moments of our wedding day was when we finally sat for dinner. We had just finished our first dances, which we’d chosen to keep upbeat and fun. We danced so hard and had been at so many parties all week that when I finally sat down, I was exhausted. I turned to Jeremy and said, “I don’t know how I am going to make it to the end.” He agreed. Somehow, we not only made it to the end, but closed down the after party! Thank God for second winds and adrenaline!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met playing kickball. Jeremy was subbing on a flag football team whose strengths were better displayed at the bar after the games than on the field. Come the end of the season, the grizzled vets were ready to run it back, but Jeremy had the foresight to head them off and channel their talents into a sport into adult kickball. I was recently returned from New York City to my hometown of Charlotte, NC. I was young, single, my own boss and I was looking for a way to meet new people in a city where most my friends were already married with children. One of my friends happened to be trying something new…kickball. I would have NEVER played kickball in NYC but I felt it was only just that I try something new, too, and this was a way of socializing in Charlotte. You can guess where this is going, right? So Jeremy ran short a player now and again on the kickball team and once or twice, I subbed in. It wasn’t much, but it was an entree. And those who know Jeremy well know all he needs is a chip and a chair. He made getting to know me better his goal and waited for his moment. I didn’t even realize Jeremy was pursuing me in the beginning but eventually it became clear. By the end of October, he’d found his moment and we arranged a meet up at a Halloween party. And the rest, as they say, is history. We hit it off and have been like peas and carrots ever since.
Describe the proposal. After college, I spent the better part of a decade living in New York City and, along the way, found good friends and made good memories. I really loved it, which made the task of selecting that special ‘pop-the-question’ spot (marginally) easier for Jeremy. Jeremy chose the City as a nod to my past, but wanted to find some place in the city that would speak to our personality as a couple and our future together. He hit on the idea when, on a trip to the City to keep me company while I worked an event, he and a friend went to a beer festival on the newly-opened-to-the-public Governor’s Island in New York Harbor. The place itself is neat. An ex-military base that has found new life as a city park, it’s very similar to Central Park in that it’s the last thing you’d expect to find sitting smack in the middle of New York Harbor. It enjoys the views afforded its more well-known neighbors of Liberty Island and Ellis Island, but it doesn’t have the tourist problem. Unfortunately, getting me to the chosen spot was not casual. I like to think I am a smart cookie and Jeremy is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, so for him to stick to his guns about going to a place so seemingly random as Governor’s Island was, for me, a new and different experience. So, I knew something was up. I figured this was going to be “it” but I didn’t know that Jeremy had also hired a photographer to follow us around and get that magic moment on kodachrome! Unfortunately, the person Jeremy chose was (1) not as covert as he might have been and (2) not as good at keeping up with the happy couple as he should have been. Within minutes of disembarking from the ferry, I got the inkling that the foreign-looking, bald-headed dude in the green shorts and pink shirt (yes, he was really dressed that loudly) was “following” us. This feeling (and the evidence supporting it) only got stronger as the we made our way around the southern tip of the island and the clandestine photog took a more “in your face” approach to capturing the moments leading up to THE moment, culminating in a very “Austin Powers”-like dive behind a tree when I caught him getting snap-happy while we sat in some adirondack chairs. For the rest of our lap around the island, he was at a much safer distance. Sadly, the distance proved too safe because, before we’d made it back around the island to “the” spot, we encountered a large crowd on their way to a concert. Apparently, the photographer couldn’t mark us through the crowd and we emerged on the other side sans picture-taker. Jeremy stalled and plodded for a few minutes trying to give the photographer time to catch back up to the couple, but I was hot and tired and needed a drink, so what ensued was something akin to a sitcom proposal. As it is, Jeremy forgot to kneel as he blurted out “babyiloveyoumarryme?” I thought to myself, “that cannot be my moment!” so I pulled the situation back together and made Jeremy kneel and produce a proper proposal (which I then, promptly accepted). The photographer, of course, didn’t find us in time and missed capturing any of this on film.
In what month did you get married? May 12, 2012
How many guests attended your wedding? 130
Describe your wedding flowers: I didn’t want the whole décor to be about flowers so we used a lot of lanterns, candles, cloches and succulents in addition to flowers. I got married on Mother’s Day weekend so using non-floral elements also provided some cost benefits. The flowers we did use were cool tones to complement the natural setting around us. I wanted the whole space to feel light and airy like you could just float away. My florist sourced the most beautiful greenery and finest lush flowers to go in my bouquet and the centerpieces. My bridesmaid’s bouquets were simple white hydrangeas which popped well against their coral dresses. Their bouquets were placed in vases wrapped with rope on our cocktail and café tables on the terraced lawn, which provided amazing views of the marsh behind.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Jeremy has the sweet tooth so we opted for his favorite southern treat – key lime pie. We had a local baker make individual tartlets so they’d be easy to eat and serve.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge we had was with my hair and make-up. Because the wedding was on an island only accessible by ferry, we had limited choices of professional salons. We decided to use the on-island spa, which was very nice and accommodating. They do multiple weddings on any given weekend so we expected nothing but a positive experience. The island was a four hour drive and a ferry ride from our home in Charlotte, NC, so we knew there’d be limited opportunities for tests. We started five months in advance during one of two trips prior to the wedding. The first test resulted in great makeup, but I was not pleased with my hair. The salon graciously offered me another complimentary hair test later that day but the day was windy and the ferry schedule changed which resulted in the salon closing early. The additional test was not possible, so we settled on returning in March to try again. That test went better, but then we got a call two weeks prior to the wedding informing us that the makeup artist and hair stylist had left the company so we’d have to start over. I stayed calm and agreed to the new hair test during the wedding week. The hair went over OK, but the makeup was a disaster leaving me looking orange and with no choice but to do my own makeup. Lesson learned. If possible, hire an independent contractor (who can’t leave) and schedule a long appointment to ensure you get everything right the first time. You don’t get to repeat your wedding day.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? I was happy that we splurged on our flowers and décor. I have an art degree, so the design elements were very important to me. We also were really happy that we splurged on special accommodations for our weekend. We stayed in a small historic two-bedroom house on Bald Head Island that was formerly one of the lighthouse keeper’s accommodations. Jeremy gave me a painting of the house along with a personal note in an old antique bottle as my wedding day gift.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We’ve started looking for a larger house to hold all of our registry gifts. In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying some well-deserved quality time together at a few of our friends’ destination weddings.

Theo Milo is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
4 Comments
  1. avatar Clair F. reply

    Such a beautiful wedding! love Lauren’s honesty throughout the post! She gives great advice. I’m getting married in March & this post has given me a few good ideas. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. avatar Leigh Pearce Weddings reply

    LOVE this! Kim is so talented. Those are some beautiful blooms!

  3. avatar Miles reply

    I loved the soft color theme of the wedding. The photographer did a nice job of complementing the soft colors with soft focus areas in the photography (used shallow depth of field to good effect).

  4. avatar Mindy reply

    LOVE the headband! Where is that from?

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