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We look at hundreds of weddings a month at Southern Weddings, but no matter how many we see and share, there are some couples, stories, and celebrations that stick out in our memories, even years later. In the case of Emily and Josh’s Tennessee wedding, it’s all three. No one in the SW office will soon forget the story of their meant-to-be wedding venue–a true testament to Southern hospitality and friends who are more like family. We’ll always remember the prayerful ceremony that united Emily and Josh as husband and wife, and the latte bar at their cocktail hour that nodded to the beginning of their love story. And most of all, we’ll remember the sweet joy and pure love that radiated from them in their first moments as newlyweds. What a beautiful reminder of what a wedding is really about!

Thank you so much to Amanda K for sharing this incredible day with us in V7!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? Finding my wedding dress was overwhelming, but definitely so much fun. The first day I went to try on dresses, I went to a little shop in downtown Atlanta called The Sentimentalist. It was so darling! My mom and sister came with me and there were definitely some tears shed. Though I didn’t end up getting my dress there, it was the best time I had trying on dresses. I went to quite a few other shops and even ended up choosing a dress at one of them, feeling like I was running out of time! But all the while, I had my eye on a delicate dress from Rue de Seine and couldn’t get it out of my head. I emailed them, expecting them to not be able to make or get me the dress in time (they’re based in New Zealand), but they were so accommodating! I’m so happy I went with my gut and took the risk of ordering online, because my dress was perfect! It did take some alterations to get it just right, but the lady who helped me was the kindest woman and truly made it perfect.

Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? All the girls have amazing style, so I felt confident letting them pick their own dresses, with some hints and suggestions of what I liked, of course. I gave them the guidelines of cream and soft pink, and gave them the okay when they found something they liked. I wanted their personalities to show through what they wore, and I wanted them to feel beautiful! In doing that, they added a bohemian edge to the wedding that I loved—it really reflected who we are!

Tell us all the basics of your wedding! We got engaged in April 2013 while I was abroad and it was absolutely beautiful. I was still in school till December, so we decided to wait until the next spring to get married, to remind us of the season we got engaged in and to give me enough time to plan the wedding! It just so happened to work out that the last Saturday in April was the 26th, and since our dating anniversary is the 26th of March, April 26 seemed to be the perfect date for us. Additionally, it was Josh’s parents’ 39th wedding anniversary, which made this date extra special!

Tell us about the ceremony. The ceremony was very important to us, because at the heart of the whole thing, it’s that small moment in time when you promise yourselves to each other that matters the most. We wanted that moment to be special and to honor Christ. We asked Josh’s cousin, Matt Smallbone, to officiate our wedding, as we respect him as a man of God, the head of a wonderful family, and as a pastor. He made the ceremony very special by telling our story and sharing some funny memories of Josh as a kid, but he also led an inspiring message about the journey of marriage. We included a hymn for worship, and then we included a ceremonial foot washing and a tree planting. Both of these were very meaningful; for the tree planting, we both poured soil from each of our parents’ gardens into the plant, and the foot washing was a time for us to humble ourselves before each other. I started bawling during the foot-washing ceremony! One of my English professors would read “The Prayer of St. Francis” before every class; it became one of the most important prayers in my life. We had the prayer read over us by one of Josh’s brothers during the ceremony as a reminder of what the hope of our heart should be as a married unit. We read the prayer together now, and it is such an encouragement.

What was Southern about your wedding? Between the folk music, the food, the scenery, and the prayer, there was no escaping how Southern our wedding was. Even though Josh is Australian at heart, he is just as much Southern at heart. And me? I’m full-blown Southern. Our wedding centered around food, God, and family! Good cooking and good hosting is the Southern way to show love and celebration, and it was so important to us that we provided this to our guests.

We joke about our wedding location being heavenly and magical, but in truth, it really was! One day, before we were even engaged, when Josh and I were going for a drive in Franklin, we came across a hilltop that had a structure peeking through the trees. We indulged our curiosity, and having no idea whose property it was, we trespassed up on the hill. After experiencing the breathtaking scene, I looked at Josh and said, “Let’s get married here!” By the time the wedding planning finally came around years later, we had completely forgotten about this finding. It wasn’t until we were at our wits’ end looking for a location in our price range that someone asked us if we had looked at Josh’s doctor’s property that he had built for his daughter’s wedding. It turned out to be the same structure we had seen peeking through the trees that day! Josh’s doctor was kind enough to say that he doesn’t lease out the property, but only lets family use it, and he considers us family! Being married in Franklin was very important to us because it is not only where we met and fell in love, it’s where both of our families are, and it truly is where we feel at home. It was so fitting to be outside, breathing in the fresh green air with a view of the rolling hills of Tennessee. Cows and fields and farms surrounded us, and it felt completely like us and completely like home.

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? We did, but we did it a bit differently with Mexican Cokes, a latte bar, and some yummy basil lemonade. We spent a lot of time arranging the hour before dinner; we wanted this time to be fun for the guests while we left the site for our photos. We had lawn games, a photo booth, henna tattoos, and even Australian lollies (candy) for all of Josh’s Aussie relatives! We heard back from everyone that they had such a fun time during this part of the wedding.

What was the design inspiration for your reception? We went with a natural look for the reception. We just added a little greenery to the farm tables, some candles on tree stumps around the fireplace, and some flowers here and there, and it was beautiful! My dad chopped tree branches into tiny slices for me to write everyone’s names on for their escort cards, which added a nice touch.

Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. Our wedding cake was not only gorgeous, but also absolutely delicious! Lucy made two cakes for us: a massive chocolate cake and a medium-sized vanilla cake. She nailed the “naked cake” look and decorated it with beautiful flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a delicious cake in my life, but maybe I’m biased? We were nice to each other and didn’t smash the cake in each other’s faces, although I did manage to smear some icing on him!

We danced to a mashup of “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis and “All of Me” by John Legend. Josh’s many siblings are all extremely musically talented, and they actually played and sang live as a group with just a guitar. It was lovely. We had practiced and gone to dance lessons, yet we were kind of a disaster! But in that moment, we didn’t even think about the lessons; we just slow-danced naturally while thinking about each other and the day. It was beautiful to be dancing underneath the pavilion’s chandeliers and string lighting.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Looking back, we were so young! It didn’t feel like it then though. I was fifteen and Josh was seventeen. I was working at a little coffee shop just a few blocks away from my house. Josh came in one day and ordered a smoothie, so we struck up conversation and realized we had many mutual friends. After that, we saw each other everywhere! He started coming into the shop pretty often. Since I was fifteen, I didn’t have a license and couldn’t drive to and from work, so Josh would come in right before close and nonchalantly offer to drive me home. This friendship carried on for about a year before we actually decided to become boyfriend and girlfriend, the first time for both of us to call anyone that. Josh was gracious and patient when I moved three hours away for three years, and even when I moved to France, where he followed me and asked me to be his wife!
Tell us about the proposal! I have always had a little bit of an obsession with all things French, so when the opportunity arose to study painting abroad for a semester in the south of France, I started booking my ticket. Little did I know, Josh was booking his ticket too. He traveled to France and surprised me near the end of my two months there by sending a taxi to come pick me up and take me to a hilltop in Pujols, about fifteen minutes from where I was! I was dropped off by a rose petal trail and a sign that said “Follow this trail for an adventure.” I followed it to where Josh was on his knee with a ring in hand. He asked me to marry him (in French!), and I said yes. We cried and enjoyed a perfect picnic that Josh had set up, complete with wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, and French cheese.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Heavenly, intimate, joyful.
How many guests attended your wedding? 155
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? The scenery of the venue was our greatest design inspiration. Everything from the wedding invitations to the farm dinner tables to my bouquet were chosen and designed to reflect the true, genuine, timeless beauty of nature. We love to spend our time together doing things like hiking up to lookouts, going for scenic drives, or stargazing at the beach. We search for and find the truest form of beauty in the nature all around us, so we wanted our wedding to reflect that beauty!
Were there any family traditions you included in the reception? Josh’s family has a tradition that at every family dinner, they have apple cider and long speeches, which of course had to happen at our wedding as well!
Did you try anything new or nontraditional? From Josh: I have four brothers and since I didn’t want to pick a favorite, I made them all my best men. What was unique was that they all got up during the best men speech and each shared a word.
Tell us about a way or ways you saved money or cut costs while planning. My dad built our arch and the doors we walked through. He also helped gather wood for all kinds of things in the wedding, including tree stumps, which helped save a ton of money! We also had friends and family cover all the music. The main way we saved money was by making things ourselves, like the favors, and by assigning jobs and asking for help from family and friends. People want to help with weddings in any way they can, you just have to ask them!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? The wedding industry is amazing, but it can also be a little jaded! Don’t let any wedding vendors take the joy out of the planning process. It’s not realistic that everyone can plan their wedding a year in advance or buy their dress six months before the wedding, and that is what some people seem to expect. If someone makes you feel bad for that, don’t let them bring you down. It is hard work to put together a great wedding, but it’s also such a joy; don’t get bogged down in the details!
What’s next for you as a couple? From Josh: We are living in east Nashville, right near downtown. We plan to stay in Nashville as we settle into our new life and home, near both of our families and our nieces and nephews. We are both working to pay the bills and saving up for the future, whatever it may hold! We learned during the wedding planning process that we make a great team. Em is a great dreamer, creator, and visionary, and I am a great logistics, make-it-happen person. We long to work together and find something we can do where we can partner together each day. We’re not sure yet if that’s starting a company together or moving out of the country to be missionaries!

Photographer: Amanda K Photography / Videographer: Anchor Heart Films / Designer, Rentals, and Reception Decor: Megan Proby of 12th Table / Venue: Private residence / Florist: Lauren Atkinson / Caterer and Wedding Cake: Lucy’s Kitchen / Bride’s Gown: “Eve” by Rue De Seine / Bride’s Shoes: Klub Nico / Bride’s Jewelry: Consider the Wldflwrs and Anthropologie / Bride’s Veil: Custom by Muna Couture / Bride’s Hair Accessory: Lauren Atkinson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Empire Mesh Lace Dress” by Free People, “Embroidered Fable Dress” by Free People, and “Eagan Beige Silk Embroidered Maxi” by Joie / Hair Stylist: Jordan Byers / Makeup Artist: Jordan Byers and Rachel Shepherd / Groom’s Fashion: Zara / Groomsmen’s Fashion: Top Man / Paper Goods: Chelsea Petaja of Oh My Deer / Lettering: Jessie Early / Transportation: A Better Bus / Lighting: Matt Brady / Sound: Ralph Rivera

lisa Written with love by Lisa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Anastasia Kristina reply

    OH wow, this is probably my favorite real wedding that has been posted on here! I love everything about this, and a lot of the ideas I have already planned on using in our wedding in June! Also I love Franklin, and I love that they live in East Nashville, where we are almost weekly – maybe we will run into this lovely couple!!!!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Love hearing how much you love this wedding! It holds a special place in our hearts, too :)

  2. avatar Katelyn reply

    Beautiful wedding. Love the boho vibe of it all! Do you know where the groom’s tie was purchased? I love the personalized monogram (and that it’s a skinny tie)!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Yes! It is from a great Southern company, Otis James: http://otisjames.com/

  3. avatar S Stanton reply

    I was blessed to be a guest at this wedding as beautiful as the pictures and the words in the story are nothing can compare T feeling of love and joy and intimacy that Josh and Emily shared with all of us that day.

  4. avatar Alok Sahu reply

    nice your wedding story is very beautiful and all the photos are also very beautiful.

  5. avatar Allister Freeman reply

    Stunning photography. The colours, tones and compositions are beautiful.

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Y’all, I cannot stop staring at these pictures of Abbigail and Dylan’s incredible wedding venues! The only thing more lovely than the idyllic Tennessee farm where they said “I do” was their reception in the backyard of Abbigail’s parents’ home, which was modeled after one of their favorite houses in Charleston. That was just one of so many touching, family-oriented details at Abbigail and Dylan’s wedding–they also said a “joining of families” prayer at their ceremony (read about it below–such a great idea!), had the same poem read as Dylan’s parents had at their wedding, and drove off as newlyweds in Abbigail’s dad’s vintage truck. As if that wasn’t enough to love, did I mention their reception meal was ice cream? So fun!

Thank you kindly to Andrew Allen Morton for sharing this beautiful wedding with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The first time I went shopping, I was just trying to decide what shape/look I was going for. The second time, I tried on a few dresses and, after going back and forth between two similar dresses, decided on “Dakota” by Enzoani. I didn’t cry or anything–I just loved the dress and felt great in it!

For my something old, my aunt gave me a beautiful pearl necklace when I graduated college that was given to her by my grandmother when she graduated college. I wore it as a bracelet. My something new was my earrings! I got them on Etsy and they were white drop druzy stones. I loved the contrast between the lace in my dress and the rough stone. I borrowed a piece of my mom’s lace to wrap around my bouquet, and Dylan gave me a promise ring for my birthday that is blue turquoise. A lady at my church also surprised me with a silver penny. They were only made in 1943 when there was a shortage of copper during WWII. I didn’t wear shoes, but I had it!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We didn’t do a first look because we both liked the element of surprise. There is something so beautiful about the emotion of that moment walking down the aisle, and we knew from the beginning we wanted to go the traditional route. We didn’t see each other at all the day of, and it was definitely worth it!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? The ceremony venue immediately stood out to us. We looked at a few different places, and none of them seemed quite right, but Grace Meadows Farm had a little bit of everything–rolling hills, a beautiful white fence, and a pond. It was an easy choice! They actually have a beautiful red barn where a lot of people have their weddings and receptions, but we couldn’t pass up the beauty of the property.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My brother picked “On Love” by Kahlil Gibran to read. Only after he picked it, Dylan’s parents said they had the same poem read at their wedding–such a wonderful coincidence!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? One of the details about the ceremony that we thought had a Southern feel was having a “joining of families.” Instead of me being given away, we had all four of our parents come to the altar and pray together, celebrating the new family being created.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I can’t pick just one! Some of our favorites were the arbor we stood under, the car we left in, and the guest book. Dylan and my dad built the arbor with wood that we gathered with Dylan’s parents from their farm, and it was decorated by my mom and some ladies that have known me since I was little, so it was a collaborative effort and something we are all very proud of. The car we left in was my dad’s 1972 royal blue Ford Bronco. It was so much fun riding it to our hotel after the reception! The guest book was a handmade journal from one of our friends. She has a small business called Ink+Honey, where she makes beautiful journals and jewelry, so it’s one of a kind! Definitely a keepsake.

The reception venue was my house. My parents built our house about 13 years ago, so I did a lot of my growing up there. The original house plans were for a house in Charleston, South Carolina (which is still standing today) that my parents always loved, so it’s a very Southern-style home. Since I was little, I wanted to have either my ceremony or the reception there. It’s a beautiful place full of fond memories for me.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Andrew Morton was our photographer, and we couldn’t have been happier with him. He is incredibly talented and he was so easy and fun to work with from the beginning! Looking back through our pictures allows us to relive the day, which is awesome because it all goes by so fast! He captured the sweetest moments and all the emotion you hope to see in your wedding photos. We can’t say enough about him!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met our freshman year of college through a campus ministry group. We have always been good friends–our friend group in college was really close. I had a boyfriend at the time, but Dylan and I both knew there was something special between us. We always knew if we ever got the chance to be together, it would last. After our sophomore year, Dylan transferred to a different college, but we always kept in touch. Eventually, the timing was right, and we jumped right into dating and never looked back! We were planning our wedding practically since our first date.
Tell us all about the proposal! Dylan surprised me with a nice sushi dinner, chocolate ice cream (my favorite!), and a sunset hike up Roan Mountain. When we got to the top, there was a quilt with wine and candles set up–I actually thought someone else was having a romantic evening and we were about to ruin it, so I said, “Someone’s on a date–we have to leave!” I quickly realized it was for me when I turned back around to see Dylan on one knee. My parents were actually hidden behind a rock taking pictures of the whole thing. After I said yes, they jumped out and lots of crying/screaming followed. :) Our friends and family were waiting at my parents’ house for a surprise engagement party.
When did y’all get married? May 31, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We wrote our vows together. I think our favorite phrase was “I promise to remember that your feelings are more important than my preferences, and peace is always better than victory.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The bridal party walked out to “Out of the Woods” by Nickel Creek, which is just a beautiful song that we have both always loved. I walked in to “Heartbeats” by Jose Gonzalez, because we liked the untraditional sound and the ambiance of the guitar. We walked out to “The Valley” by The Oh Hellos, which is fun and upbeat! Our first dance was to “Ulysses” by Josh Garrels–it’s soft and beautiful and has always meant so much to us as a couple.
Describe your wedding flowers. We used silk flowers to decorate the entire ceremony so that we could save money and make all the arrangements before the big day. It was great because we didn’t have to worry about them wilting or being damaged. We used every ivory-colored flower we could find, and threw in a few tans and browns too. We decided to use real flowers at the reception and for the bouquets–we had ivory roses, baby’s breath, carnations, and a lot of greenery.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had Ben and Jerry’s catering with four types of ice cream and five different flavors of cake. Since it was a late ceremony/reception, we thought ice cream would be good for a late dessert. The bride and groom’s cakes didn’t turn out quite like we were hoping, but they tasted great!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Definitely planning for 300+ people!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I sounds cheesy, but it was definitely when we saw each other for the first time at the end of the aisle. How could it be any other moment? It’s the one we’d always dreamed of!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff! It’s easy to get overwhelmed with details and everything going perfectly, but just know that it’s impossible for every single detail to be perfect. Find peace in remembering what the day is truly about, and go for it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are moving to the Nashville area and working towards grad school. We are most looking forward to all the adventures we have ahead of us and to see what God has in store for our lives.

Photographer: Andrew Allen Morton / Videographer: Sam Pierce / Planner: Luci Jernigan / Ceremony Venue: Grace Meadows Farms / Reception Venue: Private residence / Florist: Food City, Hobby Lobby / Wedding Cake: Cakebuds / Cake and Ice Cream: Ben and Jerry’s / Rentals: Rentals Rentals of Tennessee, East TN Rentals / Lighting: Holiday Lightscapes by Chuck Bennett / Guest Book: Ink + Honey / Bride’s Gown: “Dakota” by Enzoani / Paper Products: Smarty Had A Party / Bride’s Earrings: MamacitaStudios / Hair Stylist: Savannah Young from Parlour & Juke / Makeup Artist: MAC / Bride’s Shoes: Barmine (barefoot sandals) / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: David’s Bridal, Altar’d State, JCPenney, ModCloth / Men’s Attire: H&M

lisa Written with love by Lisa
16 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    Love that porch – couldn’t be a more perfect “getting ready” spot for a Southern wedding!

  2. avatar liam smith reply

    check out that house! lovely photographs Andrew

  3. avatar Shannon Bismark reply

    Dear sweet Abbigail! You look so lovely, as always. You make such a stunning bride. Congratulations on your marriage! I hope for a long and joyous life for you both!

  4. avatar Kat reply

    That house… gorgeous!!!!

  5. avatar Dana reply

    such a beautiful wedding! the venues are amazing!

  6. avatar Nicole reply

    Where did you find these flower girl dresses from?! They are darling!

  7. avatar Margaret Sams reply

    One of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended. Everything about it could not have been more perfect. The photography is amazing and captured all its beauty. A beautiful
    evening for a beautiful and special couple.

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  10. avatar mandy reply

    I love the bridesmaid’s dress to the left of you; the one that is long, white lace with the short under slip! Where did she find it?
    Also, the little “shoes” are amazing!!! I’d love to buy some for our upcoming wedding! Where can I find those as well?
    Thank you so much for sharing your wedding with us! It’s gorgeous!!!

  11. avatar Nicole Schipplock reply

    Hi firstly just want to say how amazing your wedding looks! I live in Australia but love southern styling. My daughter is getting married next yr and has chosen the same wedding dress by chance that you did. I was wondering if you would be interested in selling your dress to us?

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  13. avatar Patty reply

    Where did you find the flower girl dress?

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