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What is it about farm tables that make us love them so much? I think its the sense of heritage and family. Most farm tables were handmade after all, and then passed down through the generations. I love that Ellie + Breck made the splurge on those tables, cutting down in other places in order to achieve the perfect aesthetic and homey vibe. We also love how E + B showed their appreciation for friends and family who traveled in from all over the globe by packing their wedding weekend full of fun events in order to spend more time together. Big thanks go out to Laura Gordon who shared this lovely wedding with us!

One thing that made our wedding planning tricky was that the wedding was in Southern Virginia. My parents live in DC, we live in Chicago, and I travel every week for work. Planning to meet up with my mom to shop for dresses was very difficult! I scoped things out that I liked online and made a few quick visits to boutiques with friends but I knew that I had to make my selection in a whirlwind day with my mom. She met me at the tail end of a work trip one week, and we were lucky enough to find the dress 12 hours later. Although it could have been stressful, it ended up being a great time and a good excuse for my mom to visit me.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did – one of the most important goals for us when wedding planning was to plan a fun weekend for our guests and to find a way to actually spend time with friends and family during the wedding. You hear stories about people saying the wedding went by so fast that they barely saw the people that mean the most to them, and we were determined not to let that happen. Doing a first look was a great way for us to carve out more time to visit during cocktail hour and the reception. And I think it did wonders to calm my slightly nervous groom.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We took several ceremonies that our family friend (a judge) had previously used, and we personalized and combined of few of them into one ceremony. If I had to pick a favorite quote it would be this one, “Today, you dedicate yourselves to one another formally. Tomorrow and each tomorrow thereafter, you dedicate yourselves to one another by each act, each word, each thought.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had “A Marriage” by Mark Twain and “Union” by Robert Fulghum.

I think our favorite details of the wedding was the overall mix of really eclectic, vintage details. We had mismatching flower arrangements, wine in burlap sacks as table markers, antique style card catalogs holding our seating cards, and a vintage map with photos of us during all of our travels as a couple. The mix of all those details was what I loved.

Our wedding colors were blue, grey and yellow. With that in mind, most of our flowers were a mix of hydrangea, ranunculus, garden roses and freesia with accents of dusty miller and wild flowers. I am really against anything too “matchy” so all of our tables had slightly different arrangements with antique-looking jars and vases of all shapes and sizes. It had a very rural, “just picked from our garden and thrown together from a flea market” feel.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We’ve both moved around a fair amount, yet we feel at home in Gwynn’s Island. It was important to both of us to hold the wedding there. We really made an effort to include local elements. We had local seafood (crabs, oysters, and clams), corn pudding, locally made cheese, and mint juleps. It was a very Southern meal. Some of our guests from the West Coast tried their first ever soft shell crabs!

What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The farm tables and the chandeliers. The wooden farm tables were more expensive than the normal table rentals, but they really added to the rustic aesthetic and they looked great mixed in with the traditional round tables. We also purchased the chandeliers that hung in the tent – otherwise it would have been simple globe lighting. We found a great deal for the chandeliers on Ebay. It was definitely worth the extra time to get the look and feel that we wanted in our tent. I also want to share our biggest non–splurge: the band. Our band, the Blue Tips, was absolutely amazing! They are a young, up-and-coming band in the region. They came in nicely under budget, but you would never have known that from listening to them. It actually sounded like we had found a way for Stevie Wonder to play at our wedding! People could not stop dancing.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story: We originally met the first semester of college in a history class. I sat in the front row and listened attentively. Breck usually came in late and sat in the back. I was unimpressed, to say the least, by his behavior. Fifteen months later, our paths crossed again at a leadership retreat. We bonded over their mutual boredom at the event and began to get to know each other. I mercifully laughed at Breck’s jokes, and he learned to appreciate my attitude. Over the years, we’ve moved around the country, each chasing the other to a new destination from Texas to Switzerland, Miami to Indiana, and DC to Chicago. If you can make it work across all those locations, you can make it work anywhere.
Describe the proposal: (From the groom) We had planned to spend Memorial Day weekend in Gwynn’s Island, Virginia with our families. Usually Ellie figures me out, but this time she thought it would just be a normal weekend on the Chesapeake Bay. On Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to speak with Ellie’s parents. After receiving their blessing, I waited all day for the perfect moment. Right before dinner, a giant rainbow appeared in the sky. Sensing the moment was right, I asked Ellie if she wanted to take a walk along the dock. Joined by her pesky dog, we walked to the end of the dock. The proposal was delayed a few minutes as Ellie obliviously chatted with a family friend while I fiddled with the ring in my pocket! Eventually the friend left, and I finally got to pop the question. We returned to the house and enjoyed champagne with everyone. We find it particularly special that we married at the same place where we got engaged.
In what month did you get married? May
How many guests attended your wedding? 150
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. I walked down the aisle to “What a Wonderful World” and “Here Comes the Sun.” We walked back up the aisle to “Daydream Believer.” We planned our first dance to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” (that is where Breck proposed, after all) and the mother-son/father-daughter dance to “Into the Mystic,” the band at the reception got confused and reversed our songs. It was totally fine though – we just had a good joke and laughed throughout most of our dance.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I think our biggest planning challenge was logistics. All of us who were planning were spread out across four different states. My family home is also in a very rural location with no nearby hotels. The nearest B&B or hotel was still 30 minutes away! Figuring out busses and transportation for all our guests was very tricky. We could not have done it without Lindsay Averette, our wedding planner.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? (From the groom) Immediately following the ceremony, our whole wedding party and family had a few minutes of peace and relaxation behind the house after the recessional. The caterers brought us a tray of soft shell crabs and mint juleps – it was the perfect way to breathe and enjoy the fact that we were just married and ready to celebrate. Plus, it gave Ellie an excuse to share with family and friends the embarrassing story of how I once tried to make mint juleps with flour instead of sugar (not recommended).
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Pick what matters the most to you at the very beginning and then remember to prioritize that through the whole process. For us, it was having a whole weekend of events to spend time with friends and family. We purposefully planned a weekend full of wedding events. There were welcome drinks at my parents’ house Friday night, a cookout on the beach before the wedding, the wedding and reception, and a bluegrass and BBQ party the next day. In the end, I really got to spend time with my friends who had traveled from all over the country and the world to the wedding. Several of them told me the weekend felt like a vacation to them. That was the biggest compliment I could have ever received.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? (From the groom) We are packing up and moving to Connecticut for Ellie to begin business school at Yale. We’re excited about a new adventure and a new city! But before that, we are stopping in Thailand for our honeymoon. That will give us one more travel picture to add to our map.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Featured on Southern Weddings!: Today is a good day! » Laura Gordon Photography reply

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  2. avatar Nine Photography | Dallas Wedding Photographers reply

    love, love loooooove the long wooden tables! Beautiful wedding!

  3. avatar Jennifer reply

    I am planning a wedding in Virginia and I can’t seem to find farm tables to rent. Where did you rent yours from? Thanks!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Jennifer! These farm tables were rented from Classic Party Rentals of Virginia!

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It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another Emily Plans a Wedding post! Yippee!

Wayyy back in the cold of January, I told you about some of my favorite flowers, bouquets, and boutonnieres. I also introduced you to our wonderful florist, Blush Floral Design. At the end of the post, I promised to share my ceremony and reception floral and decor inspiration next.

We-e-ell it’s now the end of April, but I’m finally ready to share, so let’s not waste another minute! To recap, I love a lush, garden (but still refined) look in my flowers, and some of my favorite varieties are garden roses, sweet peas, ranunculus, clematis, poppies, camellias, and azaleas. I also love mixing in fruit, like blackberries and crab apples.

For our ceremony, we’re keeping things super simple. Our chapel is absolutely gorgeous, in my opinion, and there’s really no need to dress it up. In fact, we might end up not doing a single thing to it. That decision was in part made by our budget, but mostly, I just don’t think it needs it. If our budget does allow, I would love to do two floral wreaths on the front doors, perhaps like one of these options:

Martha Stewart Weddings and Stacy Able via Style Me Pretty

I would also love to set two small boxwood bushes on the steps of the chapel, just like we did for a Southern Weddings shoot last year. Love the addition of white blooms! We’re looking into the option of renting bushes from a home improvement or garden store to help keep costs down.

Katie Stoops via Southern Weddings (floral by Merriment Events) and via Southern Exposures

After the ceremony, it’s on to cocktail hour! This happy event will take place on a wide porch and the lawn in front of it at our reception site (see this post again for a refresher). Here, we’ll have a few high-top tables decked out in beautiful linen from La Tavola. In fact, the linen we’re using from La Tavola is largely the basis for our color scheme. It’s a little pricy, so we’re using it sparingly, but the color is perfection – so much so, that I’ve been carrying my swatch around with me for the past eight months, so that I can whip it out at a moment’s notice to illustrate a point or judge the color of a potential purchase! Yes, I am slightly ridiculous. Prior to making a decision, I requested several samples, and our linen of choice is the one in the bottom right corner – Tuscany Ocean.

In person, it’s a bit lighter than it looks in this photo – the color is actually somewhere more in between what’s shown here and the top left linen.

I’m not positive, but I think this might be it in action:

Jose Villa via Style Me Pretty and Jonathan Canlas via Snippet & Ink

We’re going to keep things nice and simple at cocktail hour (trusting that guests will be so interested in arriving at the reception site, mingling with each other, and eating delicious food that they won’t notice much else!). We’ll put a few votive candles on each high top, and that’s it! No florals here. We’ll also have our guest book and a limited bar to keep guests interested.

Once cocktail hour is finished, we’ll invite guests into our Sperry tent (yay!). As we discussed before, we’ll be having a mix of different seating options – high-top tables, small rounds, and lounge furniture. Our florist will be putting together lovely small arrangements for the high-tops and round tables, as well as low, longer arrangements for the tables in our lounge areas. Here are a few images that are inspiring me:

From top to bottom: Michael + Anna Costa (flowers by Florette), Poppies & Posies, Virgil Bunao via Southern Weddings, Jodi Miller Photography, Lisa Lefkowitz via Snippet & Ink (flowers by Ariella Chezar), Martha Stewart Weddings

Note that these examples aren’t so much about colors, but more about styles and flowers I enjoy.

One project my family and I have been busy as bees with is collecting silver pieces to house the centerpieces. It’s been a group effort, and I’m happy to say we’re just about finished! (If you’d like the back story on how and where we’re finding these pieces, you can check here, here, and here.) I don’t want the reception to have a vintage look overall, so we’re hunting down clean, stream-lined pieces that are in good shape (i.e. no banged up teapots). Here are a few images that are inspiring me:

Thuss + Farrell, Picotte Weddings, Jessica Claire (flowers by Flowerwild), Steve Steinhardt (flowers by Holly Flora via Inspired By This)

Besides the guest areas, we’ll also have at least one bar and several food tables, and probably a favor and dessert area. Our caterer is exceptionally good at food presentation, so I’m not too worried about adding additional decor to the food tables. I will be creating some signage and other little touches, though (but you knew that already, right?). I’m also considering adding some greenery arrangements to these areas, but I haven’t discussed this yet with my florist, so I’m not sure what the pricing would be. Some inspiration:

Top and right by Adrian Tuazon via 100 Layer Cake, left by Lisa Berry (flowers by Blush Floral Design)

And that’s about that! What do you think? What sorts of flowers will you have at your reception? Are you having any decor at your ceremony?

Up next: Accessories! Shoes, veil, jewelry… fun, fun, fun!

In case you missed a post…
The main characters
Where we’re getting married
I go dress shopping
We choose a photographer
I ponder bridesmaid style
Mini food!
The music
We’re renting a tent!
We discuss bouquets + boutonnieres
We send out our save the dates
I gather hair and makeup inspiration
We talk cake and sweets
I introduce you to our videographer
We create a registry
We buy a tuxedo

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar amanda reply

    Looks fab emily! I have similar taste in flowers and I personally adore greenery as an option to decorate with because it’s less expensive than flowers and sometimes more bang for your buck! You can do a lot with it and it dresses up a space. I cannot wait to see the final product!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Totally agree! I love greenery for spots where you need a larger arrangement, especially, because it’s so much more cost-effective!

  2. avatar Madi reply

    Loving all of your ideas, Emily! With your combination of high tops, small rounds and lounge, I’m assuming you are not doing assigned seating? We’re still exploring our options with that so I’d love to hear what you’re thinking!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Madi! You are correct – no assigned seating for us! We’re having what I’d term a “strolling small plates” reception. I explained a bit more here: Hope that helps!

  3. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    The photos of the floral arrangements are so cute!

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If you fell in love with the look of Natalia + Levi’s wedding, I’m sure it was the delicate and romantic elements paired with rustic and Southern details that grabbed your attention. The couple was inspired by the idea of a Parisian flea market meeting a Southern cotton plantation and the end result was a beautiful Georgia wedding with tons of inspiration to draw. Check out their wedding here and here and read on to see how you can achieve the same look!

A. We loved how Natalia’s bridesmaids were able to incorporate some glitz and glam into their dresses. We love this Modcloth frock for the same reasons — a neutral color becomes a hit with some metallic thread.

B. Natalia’s updo was topped off with a clay anemone hair pin. We love its slight pink tone and delicate look.

C. Set the romantic tone with pretty pink invitations. We love how the Lettered Olive makes some of the collections ready to order.

D. Signature cocktails just look sweeter in mason jars, don’t they? You can find handled versions on sites like

E. Put a little pep in your step! We love these blush shoes with its chiffon petals.

F. For another romantic touch, try having a calligrapher write your table numbers on vintage china. We found this plate on Etsy, but you can also search local flea markets and antique stores.

G. Grab a cotton boll and tie it up sweetly nestled in with these blue napkins. The table is set and Southern!

H. The gorgeous moss monogram hanging from the fence at N + L’s ceremony was one of my favorite details. You can have your florist make one for you, buy one (we like these from Pottery Barn), or make your own with this DIY!

I. The pitcher at Natalia + Levi’s altar pulled our heart strings! We love this one from Anthropologie. Put it on display, stick sparklers in it, or fill it with flowers. Any way you do it, we’ll probably still love it.

J. The table runners Natalia + Levi used at their reception exuded Southern charm. They screen printed some of them. Others were made from lace doilies. Check out this DIY to easily make your own.

K. Make your altar feel like a cozy home to say your vows in! Some rugs can get expensive, so we suggest scouring flea markets and online sites for a good deal — especially if you’re using it outside. We found this rug on

L. The shabby chic frames used in Natalia + Levi’s wedding were used as chalkboards. We love how a pretty item can become practical! You can buy a frame and paint over the glass with chalkboard paint, or you can buy them already made.

What do you think of our picks? Would you try this look?

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Natalia reply

    Wow!! Love this, Nicole! Great job — you captured the feel perfectly!

    • avatar Nicole reply

      Hi Natalia! So glad you like the picks — your wedding had so many great details to choose from!

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