We always think of weddings as joyful here at Southern Weddings. That is, after all, part of why we love them so much. But for Ali + Austin, their happiness and excitement is evident in the details of the day. We love the fun pops of color that speckle their reception at Willow Oaks Plantation and the cute way that Austin talks about wooing his new bride! In the middle of all the fun you’re having looking through these photos from Robyn Van Dyke, you’ll also find yourself reaching for a handkerchief (or your “Pin It” button) when you come across the family moments she captured.
A few weeks after getting engaged, my mom, sister and I started looking for dresses (just for fun). After all, we had plenty of time! However, I found the dress surprisingly quickly at a boutique called Victorian Rose Bridal in downtown Raleigh. I knew I wanted something with lace on it and a sweetheart cut neckline, but other than that, I really had no idea what I wanted. It was the second store we had been to, but only the fourth or fifth dress I had tried on. When I came out of the dressing room with it on, my mom and sister told me that this was the one — it was written all over my face.
We decided not to do the “first look.” One of our favorite things about weddings is when the groom sees his bride for the first time – his look of absolute wonderment. We wanted to let the suspense build up to this special moment and wanted the first words we said to each other on this day to be our vows.
Did you write your own vows? In our ceremony, we said our traditional vows; however, before the ceremony, we had written letters to the other with our own list of vows. Austin’s favorite promise I made to him was “I promise to love you with unending grace the way God intended it.” My favorite promise Austin made to me was “I want to make you feel and believe that you are a daughter of Christ every day.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two of our Young Life kids read scripture during our ceremony. We used 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and Colossians 3:12-17.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. In our ceremony, we had a guitar, a banjo, a mandolin, and a singer. During the prelude, we played “Divine Romance” and “Before the Throne of God Above.” When the groomsmen and bridesmaids came in, we played “Come Thou Fount.” When I came down the aisle, we played “Jesus I Come” by Shelley Moore Band. During the ceremony, the guests sang “In Christ Alone” while the wedding party and family prayed over the bride and groom. For the recessional, we played “Oh Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.” For our first dance, we played “Hung the Moon” by Drew and Ellie Holcomb.
I love seeing couples incorporate a prayer into their ceremony. There’s so much power and love behind these photos from Robyn Van Dyke and I just love that Ali + Austin chose to have their guests sing.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? (From the groom) For me, the most memorable part was seeing Ali walk out from behind the shutters to begin walking down the aisle. She looked absolutely beautiful. (From the bride) I loved confidently staring into Austin’s hazel eyes, knowing I was making the greatest decision of my life, completely forgetting about my fear of having everyone watching me!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? First of all, we got married on a plantation called the Willow Oaks Plantation in Eden, North Carolina. It’s also a hunting lodge. It had the typical beautiful white house with acres of land and huge trees providing lots of shade. There was a silo and an old water tower with a wooden fence surrounding the property. Secondly, my bridesmaids and I all wore cowboy boots with our dresses! It really brought out something extra. Finally, we had lots and lots of burlap: burlap table runners, burlap wrapped mason jars, burlap wrapped novels, etc. Thirdly, we had pulled pork barbecue with sweet potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, and biscuits. Doesn’t get much more Southern than that!
This next set of photos is so beautiful! I know that if I were a guest at A + A’s wedding, I would have needed a hanky to wipe away tears.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The venue for sure. It was exactly what we had been looking for and was absolutely beautiful. We got nothing but raving reviews on how beautiful the place was. I can’t tell you how many times we got asked, “How in the world did you find this? I’ve never even heard of Eden, North Carolina!”
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. (From the groom) We met on the first day of college at NC State University on our way to Young Life. I was really into Ali, but she wasn’t having any of it. After two years of developing a great friendship and watching each other grow in our relationships with Christ (and lots of persistence), Ali finally said yes to going on a date with me. Two years later, we were engaged!
Describe the proposal. In early December of 2011, Austin told me we were going on a double date, but changed plans at the last minute and told me we were going on a surprise trip to the Outer Banks. I was extremely surprised when I found out that we would be flying on a private plane! Once we got out there, he took me for a walk on the beach (and I could tell he was very, very nervous), and at the end of the walk, he took me to a spot on the beach where he had laid out some flowers, and then he asked me to marry him (of course I said yes!). When we arrived home, I was very surprised to see that Austin had invited all of our close friends and family over to celebrate our engagement.
In what month did you get married? July
How many guests attended your wedding? 290
Describe your wedding flowers: For our flowers, we wanted to go with lots of peaches, ivories, pale pinks and champagnes. Some of the flowers included were white hydrangeas, cream and pale pink roses, mini peach spray roses, peach stock, peach and green hypericum berries, and lots of baby’s breath.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We had a four-tier ivory cake with a peach and cream floral design on each layer. We had two types of cake: Mexican vanilla cake with hazelnut chocolate filling, and chocolate cake with mint chocolate chip filling (Austin’s favorite!).
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There are two answers to this question. In terms of tangible details, we loved having vintage books as our centerpieces for the reception tables. I am a high school English teacher so it definitely matched my personality. More than anything else, our favorite detail was when our entire wedding party and family prayed over us during our ceremony while the audience sang “In Christ Alone.” It was something that really refocused the attention on what marriage is all about, beyond the physical details of it all.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The guest list was probably the hardest part. Because we have both been involved in Young Life for the last five years, there were lots of high school and college kids that we wanted to be there. I also have a huge family, so that definitely boosted numbers up. There were certainly some really hard cuts we had to make, but ultimately we wanted those who have had a significant impact on our lives to be present on that day.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Around $25,000.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t lose sight of what really matters about this day. Sure, coming up with fun ideas and planning out all the details is a blast, but at some point, something will more than likely go wrong. The singer gets sick, the cake turns out wrong, your dress rips, it pours rain… the list goes on and on. But at the end of the day, you will be professing your love for one another in front of all the people who care about you the most, and nothing is more beautiful than that.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are learning how to love and serve each other more and more every day. We’re excited about having a couple of years to truly enjoy each other’s presence and grow as a couple and someday start a family of our own!
Robyn Van Dyke is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!