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There are SO many amazing venues in the South, but there’s nothing quite like a family home when it comes to adding an extra layer of meaning to a wedding celebration. Darcee and Hunter were married at the adorable chapel on Hunter’s family ranch, and as Darcee said, it’s what brought their relationship full circle–“My prayers started there, he proposed at the chapel, and we were married at the chapel!” I’m sure all 400 of their guests felt just as home as they did while they then gathered for a cocktail hour under the big Texas sky, a family-style dinner that felt as joyful as Thanksgiving, and one of the most darling pie spreads I’ve ever seen!

Hugs to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Jen Dillender for sharing this sweet day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a necklace from Hunter’s sister, which was given to her by their grandmother. It was one of the sweetest and most special details from that day. My something blue were my blue Manolo Blahnik pumps, which were a fun find with my mother-in-law! Something old was a flower pin from my mom’s side of the family that I had on my bouquet. Something new was a handkerchief from a sweet friend that was embroidered with a quote by my mom–it sure came in handy (pun intended!), as it caught a lot of tears that day!

Finding my wedding dress was the hardest part of all the planning. We had a pretty short engagement, so I was under a bit of a time crunch. I remember my bridal consultant holding up what would eventually be “the dress” and I told her I didn’t even want to try it on! Eventually, I gave in, and loved it! But the over-analyzer in me just had to see if there was something better out there. I ended up going to three more appointments, and at the last appointment, I saw the same dress, and even without trying it on again, I knew that was the one. Ironically, regardless of how stressful it was, I would do it all over again–there’s nothing quite like getting to play dress up with all the girls in your life that you love the most. Those appointments still hold some of my fondest memories.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Hunter and I decided to forgo the first look. It was one of the few things that we didn’t really have to think twice about because there was something really special to me about the thought of my dad walking me down the aisle to Hunter and I really wanted that moment to be the first time we saw each other.

Hunter and I were married on his family’s ranch. The ranch holds countless special memories for him and his family, and therefore, it’s super special to me as well. His grandmother built a chapel on the ranch a few years ago, and any chance I would get, I would go there to just sit and reflect on how grateful I was that I had met Hunter…and there were certainly many prayers said there that one day, I would become Hunter’s wife! This chapel would end up being the place where things came full circle for us: my prayers started there, he proposed at the chapel, and we were married at the chapel!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Hunter and I met a few months before my mom passed away, and unfortunately, he never got to meet her. It was the most heartbreaking time for me and it still blows me away how kind, patient, and understanding Hunter was, to be able to walk through something on that level with someone he had just met. When it came to picking out the song I would walk down the aisle to, “Mama’s Song” by Carrie Underwood summarized my feelings perfectly. Hunter is exactly what moms pray for for their daughters.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Lots and lots of prayer, honestly. Hunter is a police officer who works a lot of crazy hours, so we weren’t seeing each other much. I was working and planning a wedding, and while it was so much fun, it was hectic and left little time for us to see each other. I remember praying that I would be prioritizing my time well, seeing what was important and what was not, and that above anything else, that I was focusing on what it meant to become a wife.

I think the biggest Southern detail was our venue. During pictures, horses were sneaking up in the background. We had our reception in a barn that is typically a home to tractors and tools. We served dinner family-style, where each table passed around food to each other. While we were eating, I remembered looking up and seeing people chatting as they passed the rolls and butter and thinking, “This feels like one huge family Thanksgiving meal,” and I was so grateful for that!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Call us crazy, but neither Hunter nor I are really big cake eaters. We were extremely fortunate to not only have the best caterer around, but also one who is known for their AMAZING pies! We had a pie bar complete with a chocolate chip wedding pie, pies in mason jars, big pies, and mini pies!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We had some mutual friends who consistently told me how highly they thought of Hunter and how they really wanted us to meet, and I was just not having it. Eventually, they got us to the same place at the same time to introduce us, and I’m not saying it was love at first sight, but it was something close!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was around 8 A.M. one Saturday morning when an alarm started going off. It wasn’t my phone or my alarm clock, so I got a ladder out thinking it was the batteries in my fire alarm. It wasn’t, and I wandered around my house for five more minutes looking for the source of this noise, until I found an iPad under my dresser with a note on it from Hunter sending me on a scavenger hunt. Out of pure shock and not wanting to get my hopes up, I crawled back into bed, wondering what was going on. Eventually, I got back up, got dressed, and followed my clues. My last stop led me to find Hunter at my favorite spot at his family’s ranch. A few minutes after he proposed, his family showed up, and to my surprise, he had also gotten all of my brothers and my dad, who lives 13 hours away, there too! It was sweet, simple, and perfect.
When did y’all get married? April 9, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 400
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning a wedding without my mom. It was downright hard and super emotional not having her there for this, but thankfully, my mother-in-law and I were able to have the best time planning the wedding. She was gracious, kind, and made sure that we were always having fun, and if we weren’t, we stopped and came back to it later. I know my mom is thankful for the way she took care of me during that time, as am I, always.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t overthink it. Get to a point where you stop looking at another people’s weddings and just think about what really matters to you and your soon-to-be husband.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? What’s next for us is just slowing down and spending time together. Planning a wedding, getting married, honeymooning, moving, etc. has made for a crazy few months, and I’m looking forward to sitting outside on our rocking chairs just spending time together without a to do list.

Photographer: Jen Dillender Photography | Videographer: Rethinkvideo | Planner: Thirty Day Dash | Venue: Pegasus Ranch | Florist: Moosefeathers Florist | Caterer and Dessert Baker: Royers Cafe | Rentals: Loot Vintage Rentals and Aztec | Lighting: American Outdoor Systems | Band: Danny Ray and the Acoustic Production | Paper Products: Archer and Olive and Gracelaced | Bride’s Gown: “Severine” by Monique Lhuillier | Bride’s Accessories: Jennifer Behr | Hair and Makeup: Sunkissed and Made Up | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Aidan” by Jenny Yoo | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

lisa Written with love by Lisa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Michele reply

    Could not have been more beautiful! Wedding and people!

  2. avatar Abbi Hearne reply

    This is beautiful!! What a dream. Great job Jen!

  3. avatar Julian Zacsfalvi reply

    Beautiful details and cool outfit with the cowboy hats!

  4. avatar Cindy reply

    What color are the bridesmaids dresses?

  5. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Great set of natural images. Great lighting!

  6. avatar julie reply

    What a BEAUTIFUL wedding, Darcee! I was wondering, do you know what color were your bridesmaids dresses were? Mineral? Dusty blue? Denmark blue? Gorgeous!!

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Erin and Joe’s love story is a testament to the idea that “when you know, you know.” They knew after their first meeting that what they had found in each other was worth starting a long-distance relationship for. Joe knew by his first Christmas with Erin’s family that he would someday ask her to marry him. That same confidence carried into their engagement as they planned their Salt Harbor celebration, knowing that they wanted to start their marriage surrounded by community. Their big bridal party and the effort they put into caring for their guests is proof of that, and I can only imagine how palpable the love for this sweet couple was on their special day!

Thank you so much to A.J. Dunlap for sharing Erin and Joe’s wedding with us!

I traveled down to my friend’s bridal store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to find the perfect gown. I thought I wanted something with lace, but after trying some on, all of the lace dresses felt too formal for me. When I tried on my beautiful ombre gown, I knew it was the one. It had the special touch I was looking for, and the silk organza was so soft and light. It was perfect, and I knew right away that it was the dress I would wear on my wedding day.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! As my something old, I had a gold “A” brooch that belonged to my paternal great-grandmother and a gold heart charm necklace with my maternal grandparents’ names on either side that I attached to the stem of my bouquet. My grandparents were not able to make the trip to the wedding, so the necklace was in honor of them. My dress, shoes, veil, jewelry, hairpiece, and garter were new. At the last minute right before the ceremony started, my mom gave me her engagement ring to borrow for the evening–since she has such small fingers, I wore it on my pinky finger!

Our favorite detail was our GIANT wedding party, which included important people in our lives from lower school and beyond. We also had gentlemen (my brother and a friend) who stood on my side and ladies (Joe’s sister, sister-in-law, and a friend) who stood on his side.

For our ceremony and cocktail hour, we had a quartet that was led by my former high school orchestra teacher. I knew from the beginning of wedding planning that I wanted him to play for the ceremony. It was especially meaningful because our officiant, my maid of honor, and my brother are all former students of his as well, so it felt like a little reunion.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our ceremony and reception were held in the same place–we were aiming for simplicity and did not want guests to have to travel between different locations to get from the ceremony to the reception. We “flipped” the ceremony space into a reception, which was the easiest and most efficient way for us to achieve that goal. The food and the cake were provided by the country club, and having an all-inclusive experience helped us streamline our vendor list.

We planned our wedding with the emphasis on making it as easy and fun for our guests as possible. We had shuttles take our guests to and from the wedding, so drinking and driving wouldn’t be a concern. We were blessed with cool summer weather, but held our events under nautical sail cloth tents that provided shade, and created our programs in the shape of fans, just in case of warm temperatures. We had corn hole boards set up that were painted with UNC and Vanderbilt themes (in honor of our alma maters). We also had a bourbon bar (Joe is a whiskey man), where guests could sip their favorites, and my brother painted us a sign to hang over the bar that said “Franklin & Broadway” in honor of the main streets in Chapel Hill and Nashville. During the cocktail hour, the bourbon bar served mint juleps and Moscow mules for guests to enjoy.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had a simple, three-tiered wedding cake, but as a little surprise, it was a funfetti cake with strawberry cream in the middle! It’s too easy for a wedding to feel “stuffy,” so we wanted to go with a cake flavor that so many of us loved growing up. We also had a groom’s cake that was Vanderbilt-themed (because Joe loves Vanderbilt sports), with a perfect replica of a football helmet on it. The cake was Rocky Road flavor, which was definitely a guest favorite!
Did you pull any wedding inspiration from memories you have together? Tell us about it! Joe and I enjoy going to UNC and Vanderbilt sporting events together, so our exit with pom poms in our schools’ colors was a fun little addition! As we were waiting for everyone to get lined up so we could run through, we could hear people yelling the schools’ chants. It was a very memorable end to our wonderful night.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met over Memorial Day weekend in 2011 on the patio of a little bar in Topsail Beach, North Carolina. We were both in town visiting friends for the holiday weekend, and met through mutual friends. After chatting for most of the night, we realized there was something special between us and we wanted to see each other again, even though we were living five hours apart (I was in Durham, North Carolina and Joe was in Washington, D.C.). We spent the next year driving to see each other on the weekends, before we got the chance to move to Boston together for two years of grad school (yay, no more long-distance!).
Tell us all about the proposal! Joe proposed over Memorial Day weekend in 2014, at the very same beach where we had met three years prior. I had spent most of the day at the beach while Joe stayed up at my parents’ house. Later in the afternoon, Joe met me down at the beach, and we proceeded to set up our beach tent so we could enjoy some time together. I was laying on my stomach reading when he got down on the beach towel next to me and started talking about how much he loved me. He then pulled a ring box out of his pocket and asked me if I would marry him. I, of course, said yes, and then we celebrated with a bottle of my grandpa’s homemade wine, which had been given to Joe the first Christmas he spent with my family. He said he knew when he received it that it would be the wine that we would use to celebrate our engagement someday.
When did y’all get married? May 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We did not have any formal readings, but Joe’s brother recited a verse from the Old Testament and a prayer, which talked about being physically and mentally present for each other throughout our lives, especially in the first year of our marriage. It was really special.
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? We purchased a GoPro camera for guests to use to videotape the ceremony and reception. We were able to save money, and the GoPro provided more personal candid shots of the wedding, which was what we wanted. We also made our own save the dates instead of purchasing them from a paper vendor.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Use spreadsheets to track everything (budgets, guest lists, gifts received, vendor contacts), and be as organized as possible. Also, let people help you with wedding tasks–don’t try to do it all yourself. You will find that you’ll enjoy the wedding planning journey a lot more if you distribute some of the work. People will offer to help, so let them (and then thank them for making things easier for you).
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We just returned from our honeymoon in Puerto Rico, and we are excited to ease into a “normal” life of cooking together and spending our free time on the weekends together. There are many date nights in our future!

Photographer: A.J. Dunlap Photography / Planner, Florist, and Rentals: Salt Harbor / Venue, Catering, and Cake: Country Club of Landfall / Tents: Sperry Tents / Furniture Rentals: Party Suppliers / Lighting: High Performance Lighting / Band: Band: Mr. Potato Head via East Coast Entertainment / Invitations: Invitations by Dawn / Programs: Woodlark Designs / Save the Date Stickers: Social Print Studio / Bride’s Gown: Martina Liana / Bride’s Jewelry: Nadri / Bride’s Hairpiece: Richard Designs / Hair Stylist: Wedding Hair by Liz / Makeup Artist: Lauren Tedino / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan / Bridesmaids’ Necklaces: Stella & Dot / Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss / Groom’s Shoes: Ted Baker / Groomsmen Attire: Savvi Formalwear / Groomsmen’s Cuff Links: Release Me Creations / Bridal Salon: Bustle / Dress Alterations: Isabel Donnelly / Bridal Suite: The Loft on Front / Transportation: Wilmington Trolley Company and Cape Fear Transportation

Invitations by Dawn and Donna Morgan are delightful Southern Weddings advertisers. Bustle, Sperry Tents, and East Coast Entertainment are members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Yours Truly Wedding Albums reply

    Breathtaking images! What a gorgeous wedding!

  2. avatar A.J. Dunlap reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful southern wedding that we had the privilege of photographing. We are so honored to see it featured here!!! xoxo~A.J. & Kyle

  3. avatar Dana reply

    I like his sweet, low-key proposal!

  4. avatar Reece reply

    Love Social Print Studio!!! I used their photostrips and tinybooks as my save the dates. ❤️

  5. avatar Tatyana Lee reply

    That bouquet is incredible!

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When you combine a dreamy blush Monique Lhuillier gown, an abundance of pastel blooms, a garden that serendipitously shares the groom’s last name, and a couple who is clearly smitten with each other, you know a wedding is going to be incredible! With the help of Sage Nines Event Production, Ellen and Brad loved planning their spring nuptials in the Wills Perennial Garden at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, a place they visited often during their dating years. Besides the lovely, spring-inspired details, the highlight of their wedding was without a doubt the love of their community that surrounded them–their most memorable moment is sweet as can be!

Hugs to Mary Rosenbaum for sending Ellen and Brad’s lovely day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The weekend of dress shopping was so much fun. My sister flew in from LA and several of my bridesmaids were able to come as well. We scheduled the weekend around a Monique Lhuillier trunk show at The Bride Room. Mine was the third dress I tried on, and as soon as I had it on, we all knew it was the one. I called my dad over for the final opinion, and he loved it. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room!

My bridal bouquet was a hand-tied bouquet of fresh lavender and lilac, pale pink garden roses, blush astilbe, white lisianthus, light blue delphinium, dusty miller, and light pink ranunculus. The bouquet was very loose and wildflower-inspired. Our centerpieces were in gold mercury glass bottles and goblets and consisted of lavender, stock, light pink spray roses, light pink sweet peas, ivory garden roses, light pink astilbe, light blue delphinium, and light blue hydrangea. They were so elegant and lovely!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had a string quartet playing songs by The Beatles for the ceremony. I walked down the aisle to “Here Comes the Sun,” which was perfect, as we could not have asked for a better day. Brad and the groomsmen came down the aisle to “With a Little Help from My Friends,” a song we thought was fitting for them. Walking back up the aisle, the string quartet played “All You Need is Love.”

Cheekwood Botanical Garden is very near our house, and we would often wind up there when Brad would come to visit our family in Nashville. Cheekwood has such beautiful gardens, and I really wanted a garden wedding and reception. We chose the Wills Perennial Garden (of course, since I was becoming a Wills!) and then tented the back of the mansion for the reception.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? That is such a hard question, as our day turned out practically perfect. But the food was especially unbelievable–Kristen Winston went above and beyond! We still hear about how good the food was at our wedding!

Our cake was a simple, textured buttercream cake, accented with lavender. One layer was chocolate chip cake with chocolate buttercream and ganache, one layer was European butter with vanilla buttercream, fresh strawberries, and lemon curd, and one layer of cinnamon red velvet with three layers of vanilla buttercream. AMAZING! The groom’s cake was made by a family friend, Chelle Baldwin of SweetAbility Bakery, who incorporated several of Brad’s hobbies and interests into an unbelievable cake!

Since Brad is from Georgia, he and his mom danced to “Georgia on My Mind.” My father and I danced to “Unforgettable.” The first dance was to an Ingrid Michaelson song, “The Way I Am.” The song is about how some of our flaws end up bringing us closer together!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The most memorable moment was when the band played “Home” as the last song. Brad and I stood at the front of the dance floor and basically sang the song to the crowd. Fortunately, they didn’t actually give us the mic! It felt like everyone there was on the dance floor, jumping up and down in unison, and having an amazing time. It was very surreal and symbolic, and we will never forget it.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Brad and I met very early in college, when we were in the same small group class. There was also a brief period when we were biology lab partners. We went through most of college seeing each other here and there, but did not really start talking again until senior year. At first I rejected Brad’s dates, but his persistence paid off, and here we are!
Tell us all about the proposal! Since we met at Sewanee, it was the perfect place to get engaged. We planned a weekend trip there to celebrate his birthday, including a hike out to KA Point, a beautiful overlook we’d been to many times before. When we arrived, he pulled roses and a book out from his backpack. He had asked several of our friends to write “proposals” to me and created a book of all of them. On the last page was a picture of Brad on one knee, and when I looked up, there he was on one knee in real life. Both sets of parents met us at the cabin afterwards for a celebratory lunch. The only thing he hadn’t planned for was the three inches of snow!
When did y’all get married? May 3, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 225
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No first look for us! At the wedding, I would be coming down a flight of stone steps into the garden, and I think we all wanted that moment to be extra special.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My Aunt Salley read Song of Solomon 2, which Brad picked out especially for us.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We met with our minister several times while planning the wedding to discuss our expectations of marriage and address potential problems. We found it extremely helpful and would encourage everyone to do it!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Try and stay calm and remember that the most important thing is that you are getting married to the person you love!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? After an amazing honeymoon in Switzerland, we moved to Birmingham, where we are doing a medical residency. I am a resident in internal medicine and Brad is in orthopedic surgery. We were in a long distance relationship prior to this residency, as we were at different medical schools, so we are most looking forward to living together and being able to see each other every day!

Photographer: Mary Rosenbaum / Videographer: Full Frame Digital Cinema / Planner: Sage Nines Event Productions / Venue: Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art / Florist: Enchanted Florist / Cake Baker: Dulce Desserts / Caterer: Kristen Winston Catering / Rentals: Liberty Party Rental and Music City Tents and Events / Lighting: Bright Event Productions / Band: The Downtown Band / Paper Products: Deirdre Zimon of Lennah Press / Bride’s Gown: “Candy” in Blush Tulle by Monique Lhuillier / Hair Stylist: Ashlea Mullins / Makeup Artist: Shannon Wright / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan / Menswear: “Classic Black Tuxedo” by Calvin Klein

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

    her dress and flowers and stunning!!!

  2. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    Beautiful wedding! I love her dress!

  3. avatar Abbey Angelle reply

    What is the round gold monogrammed item in the first picture?

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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