As you may know, we here at Southern Weddings have a little bit of an ongoing love affair with chickens. (Actually, all farm animals, to be perfectly honest!) So y’all know we just adore that Audrey + Zane tied the knot in her grandfather’s chicken house, and had a celebration made complete by feathered details galore!
Of course, we not only swoon for chickens in this office; we’re quite smitten with good ol’ Southern gentlemen, too! When meeting Zane for the first time, Audrey knew right off the bat he was a good one when he sweetly stood just-so to block the sun from her eyes. Way to go, Zane! For this farm-loving couple, it took just a few weeks after meeting to know they’d get married one day. Now, over four years later (yep, this one’s an oldie but goodie!), you can’t help but feel the love they have for each other right through the photos from Mark Elkins.
My sweet aunt is an amazing designer and seamstress, so I was so honored that she offered to make my dress! I wanted something a little unusual, and she was thrilled at the idea of using feathers to suit the feel of the wedding. We wanted to embrace the farm wedding, and since we were getting married in a chicken house, I thought feathers would be so fitting. My grandparents had had an egg business for years (they actually were the supplier for the first Chick-Fil-A!), so I wanted the dress to suit a farm girl! With several yards of silk dupioni and a down pillow, my Mom and I set off to South Carolina for a weekend of dress-making. My aunt, Evy Hawkins, designed and made my dress in a long weekend! It was absolutely perfect. I love the uneven textural earthiness of the ruched dupioni and the layers of feathers around the bottom. I’m so thankful my aunt volunteered her talent!
Describe your wedding flowers. Our wedding flowers were definitely a do-it-yourself project! We ordered yellow craspedia, white scabiosa, red gerrando daisies, and thistles. The boutonnieres were craspedia and feathers. We also gathered Queen Anne’s lace for arrangements at the reception. We planted wheatgrass in barnwood boxes my dad had made to go on the tables at the reception to tie in with the grass in the field. We planted a swath of red poppies along the side of the barn, and they were blooming gorgeously just in time for the wedding! A really special little detail to me was that in the sea of red poppies, there was one little sweet pink poppy that mysteriously came up. My Nannie (grandmother) had always planted those same pink poppies so it was like a little piece of her was there!
We did do a first look! We loved this! Our ceremony “aisle” wound across a ten-acre hayfield, so if we hadn’t done a first look, I wouldn’t have gotten to see the look on Zane’s face! We did a first look early that morning and I loved having that moment together, just the two of us, and our amazing photographer who captured it!
Y’all, aren’t these two just the cutest!?
Did you write your own vows? We had a good friend marry us, and he wrote most of the vows, with our input. He incorporated a song that was also sung at our wedding called “As Long as There’s You” by a bluegrass band called the Cluster Pluckers. They’re so meaningful to us because they really do capture how we feel.
Our wedding was all about life on a Southern farm, even down to the food. Since we had a morning wedding, we had a grits bar complete with various cheeses, bacon, green onions, tomatoes, etc, and biscuits with sausage, bacon, and assorted homemade jellies. We also had berries, watermelon, and homemade Southern spiced pecans from my great aunt’s trees and shelled by my great-aunts. There were mason jars in abundance, monogrammed table linens, and sweet tea of course! The favors were homemade Southern peach jam, made from local peaches from Hollandville, GA. Guests that were able sat on hay bales during the ceremony. Another detail that I felt is pretty Southern is that Zane wore khaki-colored seersucker.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We are so thankful to my parents who went above and beyond and did so much work to get everything perfect! All of our vendors were amazing. I’m so thankful for the Elkins at Mark Elkins Photography. The pictures are an amazing reminder of our wedding!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There were so many! My dad made chandeliers out of mason jars to hang in the reception barn that were amazing. I’m still using the barnwood boxes he made, too. I loved the feathers on my dress, and how we incorporated chicken feathers throughout — the flower girls threw chicken feathers instead of flower petals and when we left, everyone threw feathers instead of rice! We had some beautiful real chickens in a pen at the reception for kids to feed. Also, we had our rings placed inside blown egg shells and cracked them open when the time came to exchange them (much to the surprise of our guests!). It was nice to have a funny little lighthearted detail in the ceremony!
Our wedding cake was a big white coconut cake with strawberry jam filling. We wanted something Southern and also something to go along with the feel of the wedding. What’s more southern than an old fashioned coconut cake? Our baker used large-shredded coconut that looked feathery like my dress as well! She put a nest on top, and in it we put two pottery chickens my cousin handmade for us.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story.
My cousins had grown up with Zane, so I had always heard about him but had never actually met him until we were 17 and 18. The moment we met, I was sitting on a bench with my cousin and he very sweetly stood so the sun wouldn’t be in my eyes — a real Southern man! It was just a few weeks before we both knew we would get married one day. We dated (long distance the whole time!) for four and a half years.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was over Christmas break and we were at my parents’ house (down the road from my grandparents’ farm). Early one morning, Zane asked if I wanted to go for a walk out in the field. I was really tired but he was so intent on going on a walk, so I went. We walked through the beautiful dew-covered fields to a big oak tree that I have always loved. He had hung several vintage lanterns in the tree and they were gently swinging in the breeze. As we neared the tree, I knew it was about to happen. Then he turned around, got down on one knee, and pulled a little white box out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. It was the perfect moment! We had openly talked about getting married and we knew we would get married, but he still made the proposal special. I was so glad we got to tell my Nannie that we were engaged! She passed away a couple of weeks later. She had always said Zane was easy to love! We ended up getting married near the site of the proposal on my grandparents’ farm in their hayfield with the reception in their old chicken house, the barn.
When did y’all get married? May 16th, 2009 at 9:30 am
How many friends, family, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 200
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? No readings really. We were thankful that one of our ministers said a prayer and our friend officiating the ceremony said some really nice things.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Planning the music was Zane’s department! I thought he did the best job of it and made it so special. We really didn’t use any traditional wedding music. He found songs that fit us and the feel of the wedding beautifully. The wedding party walked in to Norman Blake’s “Fields of November” and the recessional was “Greenleaf Fancy,” both of which were played at Zane’s parents wedding as well! We are thankful to know some really talented musicians. My uncles and cousin, as well as Zane’s sisters and brother-in-law all performed. My dad and I walked in to Jerry Douglas’ “A Tribute to Peador O’Donnell,” which I think is one of the most beautiful and moving instrumental songs there is! We had a really meaningful hymn printed on the program that all our guests sang together. Zane’s sisters and brother-in-law sang, “As Long as There’s You” by the Cluster Pluckers. We looked for a long time for the perfect wedding song and when we heard that, we knew it was the one! I think they did a beautiful job. We also included cards in our invitations to all of our musically inclined friends to bring their guitars, dobros, fiddles, and mandolins for the reception and had some bluegrass picking under the trees.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was definitely finding the time to get it all done! Zane and I were both in our last year of college — we graduated one weekend and got married the next weekend. With finishing school, finding jobs, moving 600 miles away, and wedding planning, we had a lot going on in a few short weeks, especially for a predominantly DIY wedding! Thank goodness for my amazing parents who did so much work to get everything done!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? There were so many! The whole day was amazing, but I think we most remember the feeling of walking back down the aisle and actually being married!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Our advice is without a doubt to do what’s “you!” If traditions are meaningful to you, by all means do them. If they aren’t meaningful to you, create your own traditions! Don’t do anything just because “that’s how it’s done.” You’ll be happiest (and your guests, who love you, will be thrilled too) if your wedding is an expression of you as a couple. We love all things farm-related, so we went with that because that’s where we are the happiest. Some of our friends love skeet shooting, so at their wedding we threw (empty) shotgun shells instead of rice — I loved that because it was so “them!”
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? After our wedding, we honeymooned in the mountains of Montana (which is so gorgeous in the spring!). Zane had found a job in Virginia Beach, VA, so we moved up here. We are now living in Portsmouth, VA and have two sweet kids, Camden and Lark. We live in the city now, but hope to live on a farm again one day!