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Based on details alone, it’s clear that Olivia and Scott threw a Southern soirée, but amidst the bow ties, pearls, and bourbon lemonade lies much more. Olivia imagined a day that felt like an effortlessly elegant Southern dinner party, so with the help of their planner, Blue Ribbon Vendor Leigh Pearce, they planned a wedding day that focused on serving their guests well as gracious hosts and honoring the traditions of their families. While lots of newlyweds struggle to fill their new homes with thoughtful pieces, I love the way Leigh encouraged Olivia and Scott to look for decor that could be easily reused after their wedding in their home. I bet those same pieces will go on to become heirlooms for future generations to cherish!

Big hugs to Anna Paschal Photography for sharing this dreamy day with us!

My experience finding a dress was one of epic fairy tale proportion. Along with my mom and sister, I traveled to Hayden Olivia in uptown Charlotte. The consultant encouraged me to pick at least one or two gowns that I had not pictured myself in–something outside my comfort zone. I began making my selection and was lured in by the youthful, uber feminine designs of Hayley Paige. I especially loved the cascading striped silk organza of the Guindon gown, and knew it had to be my wild card pick. After a few gowns, the consultant decided it was time I tried on my “just for fun” pick. The feeling I felt as I wore the gown was transformative–I felt more myself than I had ever been. Needless to say, Guindon became a pivotal inspiration piece for the entire wedding!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, Scott and I did decide to do a first look. At first, we were a little unsure if a first look would be right for us, but after talking with Leigh Pearce, Anna Paschal, and our rabbi, we decided it would be perfect fit. We wanted to spend as much time as possible with our friends, family, and loved ones after the ceremony. The first look also gave Scott and I an opportunity to create and share a special moment alone together prior to the ceremony.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I had always dreamed of an outdoor wedding. As we began looking for wedding venues, Scott and I wanted to find a place that felt refined, yet organic. We immediately fell in love with the expansive and stately oak trees found at one of the ceremony sites at Summerfield Farm.

I looked through various issues of Southern Weddings and selected a few of my favorite phrases to create my vows. My favorite lines were: “I, Olivia, take you, Scott, as you are this day, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become. I promise to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and accept your support. I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they are my own. I will love you and have faith in your love for me through all that life may bring. May my heart be your shelter and my arms be your home. With these words, and all the words of my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours.”

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Do bow ties, pearls, and bourbon lemonade count? The whole design of our wedding was Southern. Southern design, to me, is understated elegance and effortless tradition. It is as if you went out into the backyard, gathered some flowers from your garden, went into the dining room and brought out the pressed linens and the Sunday china, grabbed the heirloom silver, whipped up a deliciously fresh meal, and lit a few candles, all while say to your guests, “Really, it was nothing. Glad you could make it”. The focus on our guests and our efforts to be gracious hosts were the most Southern parts of our wedding.

We chose a selection of small round layer cakes to accompany our main three-tiered round layer cake. The cakes ranged in flavors from strawberry buttercream, to raspberry lady cake, to chocolate mocha cake. The cakes’ decorations were very simple–we used white frosting with a beaded border around the bottom, adorned with real blooms.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Scott and I met in college in August 2008. We both remember the very first moment we laid eyes on each other, standing in the hallway of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house. Scott was a sophomore and I was a freshman. We instantly connected over whatever music was playing at the time and continued to connect over various topics in the weeks to come. However, it took Scott almost three years and a sort of happenstance meeting to officially ask me out on our first date. Our first date will forever be one of best memories, besides our wedding, of course. On both occasions, we danced and sang the entire night away.
Tell us all about the proposal! I can honestly say the proposal was a COMPLETE surprise and that it happened months before I thought it might! I grew up on a farm and have ridden and owned horses since the tender age of five. In third grade, as I started to grow not only in size, but in skill, as an equestrian, my parents gifted me with an American Quarter Horse named Sundance. I loved him from the moment I met him! In late fall 2013, as Sundance began to age and reach “old man” status (30 years old), I mentioned to Scott and my family how very much I would love to have my picture taken with Sundance as a sort of memento. On December 1 of that year, while Scott and I were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, they surprised me with a professional photography session with Sundance. As Sundance and I neared the end of our photo shoot, the photographer suggested I turn the horse around and position Scott into one of the last frames. I turned Sundance around and came to spot Scott kneeling on the ground. I immediately asked him what he was doing, reminding him it was not safe to be on the ground around horses. Well…he pulled out a little box and a gorgeous diamond ring! He nervously uttered lots of sweet and meaningful words and I said “Yes!” The whole proposal was caught on camera.
When did y’all get married? May 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Scott and I planned for our marriage by meeting with our rabbi once a month during a large portion of our engagement. We have really come to cherish those monthly meetings, and they are one of the reasons we were able to create such a deeply meaningful ceremony.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Having a custom invitation suite and calligraphed envelopes was really important to me. The invitation is the first tangible piece of the big day guests will encounter. I always look at invitations as a suggestion of all the beauty yet to come. In order to stay within my budget for invitations and paper, I decided to forgo paper items like individual menus and programs. I also decided learn the art of modern calligraphy so I could address the invitations, create the place cards, and hand-paint the table numbers and signage myself. I walked away from my wedding day with the man of my dreams and a new skill to boot!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Leigh Pearce, my planner, and Anna Paschal, my photographer, obviously! Those ladies were such a blessing and I felt so fortunate to have found them. I am really glad that I listened to every piece of their advice, especially, when Leigh advised me to look for decor items that I could also use in my home after the wedding. Many of the pieces we used during our wedding have now become heirloom-quality decor in our home.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Beyond working to build a life together, I would have to say travel and adventure. On our honeymoon, Scott and I decided that each year for our anniversary, we would plan a special trip for the two of us. We are very excited to celebrate our first anniversary in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands–we have made arrangements to stay in an eco-tent resort for the first leg of our trip. For the first time ever, we will be traveling with just a backpack filled with the bare necessities, and we simply can’t wait to see what exciting revelations come when traveling ultralight!

Photographer: Anna Pachal Photography | Planner: Leigh Pearce Weddings | Venue: Summerfield Farm | Florist: The Farmers Wife | Cake Baker: Maxie B’s | Caterer: Fresh. Local. Good. Food Group | Rentals: Party Makers Event Rentals | Lighting and DJ: K2 Productions | Paper Products: Four Things Paper | Bride’s Gown: “Guindon” by Hayley Paige | Bride’s Earrings: Haute Bride | Bride’s Custom Sash: Davie & Chiyo | Bride’s English Net Veil: Tessa Kim | Hair and Makeup: Carla White | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “D468” by Alfred Sung | Groom’s Attire: Brooks Brothers and Canali | Bow Ties: The Tie Bar | Groomsmen Attire: Brooks Brothers and Michael Kors

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Love her description of the reception as a Southern dinner party. Now it makes me want to throw a dinner party of my own!

  2. avatar Brooke Paris reply

    This story is SO similar to my own; it is my own Hayley Paige dress is serving as inspiration for the general look and intimate details of the reception we are planning- my groom just doesn’t know that everything comes together so well quite yet ;)!

    I have been searching for swiss dot details EVERYWHERE- do you know where those fabrics are from?

  3. avatar Leigh Pearce reply

    Thanks for the feature SW!! I just loved working with Olivia and Scott. A pair of true sweethearts!

    Brooke, email me at leigh@leighpearceweddings.come and I will see if I can hunt down that fabric source for you. Olivia’s mom sourced and created the chuppah draping. It was one of my favorite details!! xoxo

  4. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Lovely detail! Great shots

  5. avatar Doting on Dots, Part Two: People & Parties – The Dandelion PatchThe Dandelion Patch reply

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After reading hundreds of real wedding interviews as an editor here at Southern Weddings, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my own wedding day would feel like. But, from the moment I woke up on May 2, 2015, all of my expectations were blown out of the water in the sweetest, best way. The entire day felt like a dream–not because every detail turned out perfectly or every second of our timeline was followed to a tee (neither was the case!), but because after a journey that spanned five years, three states, and two countries, I got to marry my best friend in the world, surrounded by the people I love more than anything. I was so honored and humbled to share my and Dave’s wedding day with y’all in V8, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading a little bit more about the heart behind our inspiration and the details we included below!

I am forever grateful to Ryan Ray for capturing our day so beautifully on film. These images take me right back, and I can think of no greater gift than that!

I was SO nervous about dress shopping—I love bridal fashion, and knew I wanted a dress that I had never seen before (easier said than done for this wedding magazine editor!). I only had one weekend to shop with my mom and sisters, so we scheduled four appointments in Houston, the first being at Joan Pillow, where they were having a trunk show for my favorite designer, Monique Lhuillier. My dress ended up being the second one I tried on, and while I loved it right away, I still wanted to see what else was out there. I went to two other appointments and tried on lots of beautiful options, but ended up comparing every other dress to the Monique Lhuillier. By the time we went back to Joan Pillow the next day, I could hardly wait to get into my dress (technically, a top and skirt combo!), and when I had it on, it just made me happy. I loved the combination of lace and tulle, and the alternating raw and horsehair-edged tiers on the skirt were so unique and special. I now can’t picture our wedding without it, and it was one of my very favorite details of the day!

One of the best decisions I made for the wedding was asking Kelly Perry of Philosophy Flowers to create the bouquets, boutonnieres, and ceremony flowers. She was a dream to work with, and the arrangements she created were perfect. Pink peonies were the first flowers Dave ever gave me when we started dating, so they’re extra special to both of us, and I dreamed of including both peonies and dogwoods in my wedding flowers. When the dogwoods began to bloom a month early, I was heartbroken that they wouldn’t make it to May. Kelly told me not to worry, and I still have no idea how she did it, but sure enough, she made it happen in a bigger way than I had ever imagined! She included so many gorgeous spring flowers, including peonies and dogwoods, in all of the bouquets, and every time I smell my favorite peonies now, it brings me back to that day.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something new was my dress, and my something old was a beautiful embroidered handkerchief that had belonged to Dave’s grandmother. My something blue was my favorite! On her way to the wedding from Austin, my sister picked a few blue bonnets, and snuck them up to North Carolina in a water bottle. I tucked them into the back of my bouquet, and they made me so happy! It was really sweet to have a little piece of my home state with me all day, especially since we weren’t getting married in Texas.

What did the groom and groomsmen wear? Our number one priority for the gents was great fit. Dave chose a navy blue suit from J. Crew, and his groomsmen wore similar navy J. Crew pants that were a bit less expensive. Our dads wore navy suits from J. Crew Factory, so we technically had three slightly different J. Crew navies on the guys, but you could hardly tell, and it was great to ask everyone to pay a price they were comfortable with. As his gift to them, Dave bought all of the guys white shirts from Brooks Brothers and had the cuffs monogrammed in navy thread. They all looked so handsome, and we got multiple comments from the guys about how much they loved their outfits!
Did you include any Southern traditions in your wedding? Dave buried a bottle of bourbon at our first look location a month before the wedding, and then dug it up the morning of the wedding with his groomsmen—we credit this, plus lots of prayer, for our beautiful weather!

Did you do a first look? We did—we are admittedly both criers, and thought seeing each other before the ceremony would help us hold it together during my walk down the aisle! Even though we did a first look, we chose not to do any family or bridal party portraits during that time. It was an intimate time for just for the two of us to pray, rejoice, and thank God for the blessing of that day.

We had a traditional Catholic Mass ceremony, and it was perfect for us in every way. We spent a lot of time during our engagement praying about and preparing our ceremony so that it would truly reflect how important our faith is to us and how deeply we value the sacrament of marriage. Having our priest, Father Edward Wolanski, marry us was a huge blessing—he knows us and our story well, and did the most incredible job expressing the beauty of sacramental marriage throughout the ceremony. We were so honored that the reverence of our ceremony was the number one thing our guests commented on—God is the most important part of our lives and our marriage, and we are so happy our guests were able to recognize that on our wedding day.

We like to joke that Dave is a country boy from New York and I’m a city girl from Texas. Balancing urban and rustic is something we find ourselves doing in our day-to-day lives, and choosing just one aesthetic for our wedding didn’t seem like it would reflect us accurately enough. I love that we gave our guests a taste of downtown Raleigh through our ceremony—the church is right in the heart of the city, a block away from the state capitol. The tailored, elegant styling at our reception carried that feel throughout the day, but the reception setting provided plenty of Southern pastoral loveliness, from the gardens around Fearrington, to the barn venue, to the black and white Belted Galloway cows grazing in a field just a few yards from the party!

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? Our guests gathered in the courtyard outside of the barn before the reception, and enjoyed our two passed hors d’oeurves (a mini BLT and a potato fritter with truffle crème fraiche), our two signature cocktails (a cucumber gin and tonic and a spiked sweet tea and lemonade), and a display of local cheeses (the one thing my Wisconsin-born and bred dad insisted on!). We also served wine and a selection of four beers, including three that were brewed in North Carolina. In the meantime, Dave and I had some champagne with our bridal party and families in the Fearrington Garden House, took family and bridal party pictures, took portraits of the two of us, and then relaxed alone together. We loved how much time we got alone together on our wedding day to soak in the moments—both during our car ride from the ceremony to the reception, and at the end of cocktail hour!

I had always wanted to be married in the spring—I think it’s the most romantic season, and all my favorite flowers are in bloom! We chose May 2 because it was the Saturday before a Catholic feast day that is meaningful to us. Choosing which state to get married in was one of our hardest decisions, since I’m from Virginia and my family lives in Texas, and Dave is from New York. We settled on our new state of North Carolina because we wanted to be married by our priest and at our parish, Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. It’s so beautiful and intimate, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t picture our future wedding the first time we set foot inside together while we were dating. We chose Fearrington for our reception because I wanted an indoor venue that was surrounded by beautiful outdoor space for portraits. There are lots of fantastic indoor venues in the Triangle, but Fearrington was the only place that checked off both of my must-haves. The vibe there is also a lovely combination of European and Southern, which nodded to both the place where we met and the place we now call home!

Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: We splurged on beautiful white draping and twinkle lights on the ceiling to make the room feel a little bit magical. Our long guest tables were covered in white linens with gray and white ticking stripe runners, handmade by my mom. Running down the tables were alternating gray and white taper candles in mismatched silver candlesticks we had collected, and silver julep cup-sized floral arrangements in pale blushes and whites with greenery that trailed onto the tables. At each place setting was a gray napkin and a crisp white menu that featured our new married monogram. Dave and I sat at a sweetheart table covered in a sparkly white linen, in white chiavari chairs decorated with garlands. Our black and white checkered dance floor was one detail my mom insisted on, and we’re so glad she did—it made the room! Our cake was displayed on a round table covered with a white, sparkly linen, and placed on a silver cake stand. We also had a dessert display that featured four of our favorite treats, arranged on all different white cake stands. Finally, we had a table for our family photo display, where we included wedding pictures of our parents, grandparents, and Dave’s siblings. That table also held our “guest book” cards—postcards from Texas (my home state), New York (Dave’s home state), and North Carolina (where our wedding was held), where our guests could write their prayers, wishes, and advice for our marriage.

Our reception was so much fun! I really wanted to dance a LOT, and am so glad that that’s exactly what I did. Dave and I started the reception with our first dance as soon as we entered. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, listened to sweet toasts from my sisters and Dave’s best man, and cut into our delicious cake. Then, my dad and I did our father-daughter dance to “Little Miss Magic” by Jimmy Buffett—he raised my siblings and me on Jimmy Buffett music, and I couldn’t imagine having our dance to anything else. He sang the whole thing in my ear, and kept me posted when my mom and sisters started bawling! Next up, Dave and his mom danced to “Say a Little Prayer for You,” which transitioned into a polka to open the dance floor! Wedding polkas are a Kirk family tradition, and since both of our families share Polish heritage, it got everyone out there! I stayed on the dance floor for most of the night, breaking only to show my Grandma her and my Grandpa’s wedding picture in our family photo display, and to sneak a few bites of our wedding cake!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. The first time Dave and I saw each other was in January 2010 while studying abroad from Franciscan University in the Sound of Music-esque little town of Gaming, Austria. Dave had already spent the fall semester there, and was an RA for the spring, so my very first memory of Dave was that he was the handsome RA. I was a little bit excited when I was assigned to his small group to learn about things like which Austrian cleaning material was which! We officially met about a month or so later, in the cafeteria. He sat down next to me at dinner with some mutual friends, and after asking me where I was from, we found out that one of my high school friends (side note: I went to high school in Qatar) was one of his best friends. A few weeks later, we connected immediately while in Italy with a bunch of friends, and were inseparable for the rest of the semester. We made some amazing memories in Europe as friends over the next few months, but after the semester ended, I transferred schools and we didn’t keep in touch. We never stopped thinking about each other though, and three years (and a lot of growing up) later, we reconnected at the perfect time in both of our lives. We knew within a week of talking again that this was it, and Dave proposed ten months later!
Tell us about the proposal! Dave flew to North Carolina to celebrate with me at my very first Southern Weddings launch party. A few hours into the party, while I was mingling and chatting with guests, Dave told me he had a letter from my mom that she wanted me to read in private. I reluctantly agreed to go with him “in just ten more minutes,” while unbeknownst to me at the time, the rest of the SW gals were trying to cut off all my conversations! Finally, I agreed to follow Dave out of the ballroom and down the hall of The Carolina Inn to the Sun Room, where he claimed his coat was being kept. There, he gave me a letter and I sat down on the couch to read it. The first line was the answer to a promise I had made my mom when I was 7, telling her I’d never agree to a proposal without calling her and asking if it was okay first! Dave had me stand, told me the sweetest things, and then got on one knee and asked me to marry him. After a few minutes of relishing in the joy of the moment, I asked Dave what to do now—should we call our parents? Go back to the party? Should I hide the ring? He told me to “leave it on and see who notices,” which I thought was strange, but I went with it. As soon as we stepped back into the ballroom, Lara grabbed the mic to announce our engagement, and confetti filled the air. Dave pulled me onto the dance floor for a dance to our song, played by the live bluegrass band, and then we spent the rest of the night Facetiming family and friends from the hallway. It was a magical day!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Joyful, sacred, and sweet
How many guests attended your wedding? 130
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We walked back up the aisle to the Wedding March, which my parents had also used at their wedding. I wasn’t even considering it at first, but knew we had to use it when our music director played it during our meeting and I burst into tears picturing that moment! Hearing it on the organ as we exited the church, mixing with the bells chiming outside, was completely surreal.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Lisa: While our first look, walking down the aisle, and saying our vows were all incredible, memorable moments, the one that stands out the most for both of us is one we hadn’t planned or anticipated. After the last song of the night, our DJ sent all of our guests outside to get ready for our sparkler exit. I was standing at the edge of the dance floor alone, trying to take in everything just one more time, when our DJ began to play “La Vie en Rose” over the speakers. Before I knew what was happening, my new husband pulled me onto the dance floor and held me close while we had one more dance. We held each other and cried grateful tears and said “We’re so lucky” over and over again. We’ve played that song just a few times since that day and danced in our apartment, and every time, when I close my eyes, I’m right back there in that perfect moment. Dave: Our last dance. Everyone was lining up for the sparkler exit outside, and the DJ unexpectedly played one last song, “La Vie en Rose.” Lisa and I just held each other and soaked in every last second of what was the most incredible day of our lives.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. Our first dance song was a given to us: “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. We bonded over our love for the song early in our dating days, and it has seemed to follow us everywhere! We’ve danced to it at a honky-tonk in Austin, an Irish pub in Syracuse, behind the trees at an outdoor bluegrass show in North Carolina, and now, at our wedding. That said, we barely practiced for our first dance, and never got around to scheduling the dance lessons we had wanted to take. Our first dance was far from the most impressive ever, but it was really sweet to us and we just had fun with it :)
Did you toss the garter or bouquet? Neither of us is a fan of garter tosses, so we skipped that tradition, but I did toss my bouquet! I think that moment has such a sweet “rite of passage” feel, and I definitely didn’t want to miss out on it. The DJ played “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble, and my little sister caught the bouquet—can’t say my dad was super thrilled about that ;)
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? We are both passionate about the Catholic teachings on marriage and the theology of the body, so preparing for marriage was very spiritually focused for both of us. Along with an engagement retreat and meetings with our priest, we also read a number of books, including Love and Responsibility, The Theology of the Body for Beginners, Heaven’s Song, and Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Our reception venue handled the coordination, catering, cake, lighting, and reception flowers, and while such an all-inclusive place is a wonderful option for many brides, I would have preferred to choose more of my own vendors.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Give yourself a deadline for all of your wedding tasks to be done, and once that day comes, hand everything off to someone else or let it go. I was so stressed out in the month leading up to the wedding, so the week before, I decided I would do two more little tasks, but that was it. I even told my coordinator that if anything came up, she should talk to my mom to have it taken care of instead of me. Worked like a charm! As soon as I did that, I felt like the burden was lifted off of my shoulders, and I got to truly enjoy the week leading up to our wedding.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are settled into our apartment outside of Raleigh, and are loving every single second of being newlyweds. Living together and sharing every aspect of life is such a joy! We are looking forward to lots of travel, both to explore new places and to visit our families on opposite sides of the country, and we are excited to someday have a big family!

Photographer: Ryan Ray | Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films | Ceremony Venue: Sacred Heart Cathedral | Reception Venue, Reception Florals, Coordination, Catering, Cake Baker, and Lighting: Fearrington Village | Personal and Ceremony Florals: Philosophy Flowers | Bride’s Gown: Monique Lhuillier | Bridal Salon and Veil: Joan Pillow Houston | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN | Bride’s Bracelet: Kendra Scott | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Annabelle” in Mist Gray by Jenny Yoo for BHLDN | Mother of the Bride’s Dress: Watters | Mother of the Groom’s Dress: Adrianna Papell | Hair and Makeup: Lula Hair and Makeup | Groom’s Suit, Groomsmen’s Pants, and Flower Girl Dress: J. Crew | Men’s Shirts: Brooks Brothers | Invitation Suite Design and Menus: Paper Daisies Stationery | Invitation Suite Calligraphy, Escort Cards, and Bar Menu: MM Ink Studio | Watercolor Map, Programs, and Other Reception Signage: Morgan Moore | Dance Floor and Sweetheart Table Chairs: Party Reflections Raleigh | Sweetheart, Cake, and Guest Book Table Linens: La Tavola Linens | Transportation: Walter Harris | DJ: Mark McNally of Joe Bunn DJ Company

Inkspot Crow Films, Lula Hair and Makeup, and Joe Bunn DJ Company are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Our Wedding Morning – Something Pretty reply

    […] That story is coming on Tuesday…but if you want a sneak peek, check out our feature on the Southern Weddings blog this morning, and our video post which will be live at 10:30 EST! […]

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Magical and beautiful – all of it :)

  3. avatar Rhiannon reply

    The most beautiful wedding I ever did see :)

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Xoxoxo! The smell of the perfume you so sweetly gifted me takes me right back to it :)

  4. avatar Four years of marriage – Em for Marvelous – reply

    […] This year, I wanted to share some advice from the priest who officiated Lisa and Dave’s wedding. […]

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One of the questions in our company About Us interview is about our favorite college classes–mine, obviously, is the one I met BDK in. Though both Kristen and Chris were pursuing science degrees, they met in their just-because-I-love-it history class, so I’m sure they’d both agree that said class was their favorite! With a shared appreciation for history and tradition, it’s no surprise that they chose to vow their lives to each other at the beautiful Historic Smithfield Plantation in their college town of Blacksburg. Though rain tried put a damper on their plans, with the help of their planner, Ashley Baber Weddings, Kristen and Chris welcomed their family and friends from Philadelphia and Atlanta respectively with sweet Southern hospitality and a fun, Georgia peach-inspired theme!

We’re pleased as punch that Adam Barnes and Katie Stoops shared Kristin and Chris’ pretty day with us in our latest issue, V8!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? Thank goodness for my genius consultant at Kelly’s Closet who was smart enough to put me in my Lela Rose gown! I will say, it looks terrible on the hanger! However, my consultant knew that my wedding was outdoors, that I was going with a Southern theme, and that I wanted something classically elegant. I feel that my gown, “The Coast,” was all of that and more. It is a silk fit and flare style with an off-the-shoulder sleeve. I remember the moment I stepped out of the fitting room and felt the way the train swirled when I moved. I had never felt more glamorous in a gown. I did my due diligence and kept other appointments for the day, but in the end, came back for the Lela Rose gown. My mother could not have been happier with my choice, which was just the icing on the cake.

What was the weather like on your big day? Oh boy…well, I guess it ended up being better than it could have been! The day started off beautifully, but sadly, the weather was calling for flash floods later in the day. Chris had felt VERY strongly leading up to the wedding that he did not want to have a “first look,” and he wanted the first time he saw me to be when I was walking down the aisle. Fortunately, the weather changed our plans. Our planner let us know that if we wanted photos together outside, we needed to do them before the wedding. It ended up being the best thing we could have done! We were able to have time together just the two of us, and it really relaxed us and set the tone for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, it poured during our ceremony, so it had to be moved to under a pavilion. However, our guests described it as “romantic,” and in the end, part of me is glad it rained since I know it is supposed to be good luck! Before the ceremony ended, the skies cleared, the temperature cooled off, and guests were able to move to the tent and dance the night away.

We wanted our ceremony to be very personal. Our officiant was wonderful and sent us each a 10-page questionnaire to get to know us. She created our ceremony from that. It was a surprise for us both, and our guests raved about how personal and special our ceremony felt.

We chose to have our wedding in Blacksburg, on Virginia Tech’s campus, for many reasons. First, it is the place we met and the place we were engaged. Second, while there are so many BEAUTIFUL and historic venues in Philadelphia, none of them felt like us. In the end, we decided that no matter where we lived or where we were from, Virginia Tech is the place that both of us will always think of as home. I had always wanted to be a June bride, plus we knew that our guests would be able to enjoy the campus more if classes were out of session. I wanted to have my wedding at 5:00, but a coworker in Atlanta let me know it needed to start on the half hour, so that the hand on the clock would only go up, and therefore, so would the marriage. I loved that, so we moved the ceremony start time to 5:30 P.M. Smithfield Plantation was a natural choice for us as a venue. It is on the campus of Virginia Tech and is historic and beautiful with a gorgeous lawn and scenery. The rolling mountains, green fields, and history were right at your fingertips.

I had always wanted my favorite flowers, peonies and roses, to be a large part of my wedding day. I let my florist know this even before I hired her. Closer to the day of the wedding, Amanda and my florist, Amy, collaborated on an inspiration board, showing many of the flowers Amy planned to use. One thing I learned is that your bouquet is at the mercy of what flowers are in season and how many are available that year! As we neared the wedding, I really let go of special requests for my flowers. I knew that Amy and Amanda would make me the most beautiful bouquets and centerpieces that they could with the flowers available at that time, and it might be fun to be a little surprised. They certainly delivered! I absolutely loved my bouquet and every floral arrangement Amy created.

What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? Since my family is from Philadelphia, we live in Atlanta, and the wedding took place in Virginia, I really wanted to have fun with a Southern theme. I wanted my family to have the true Southern experience! My design inspiration came from the Georgia peach–the perfect muse for our theme.

Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. We had several cakes, including red velvet, of course, to go with our Southern theme! I absolutely loved the cake stand Paisley & Jade created for us. I had never seen anything like it and we received so many compliments on it.

Don’t miss Kristen and Chris’ wedding film by Shaking Hands Productions below!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Chris and I met in a history class. Once we got to know each other, we realized we had almost lived parallel lives to that point (creepy!) and one of the many things we had in common is that we were both in Virginia Tech’s Dual Degree program. We were both earning a Bachelor of Science degree in something else, but were also earning a Bachelor of Arts in history because we just truly love it. I’ll never forget the first time Chris walked into our classroom. I thought, “Finally! A tall guy! Just my type!” Little did I know how much of my type he would be!
Describe the proposal: Chris and I had recently moved to Atlanta, and with his birthday falling on July 5, I planned a short surprise getaway for us to Savannah to enjoy the history and scenery. Meanwhile, Chris had apparently been planning a surprise trip to Blacksburg for us the same weekend with plans to propose. I didn’t know it at the time, but Chris felt very strongly that Blacksburg was the only place he could propose to me because of how much the town means to us both. Enter my father, the only person who had talked to us separately about our plans and knew that we were both planning to surprise each other on the same weekend. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! I knew he felt terrible, but with the weekend in question quickly approaching, he had to tell Chris that I had made plans for the two of us for his birthday. So, Chris and my dad hatched a plan they knew I would be defenseless against and. Two days before the weekend, my dad called me, CRYING, telling me how much he missed me and wanted to know if I would change my plans and meet him and my mother in Blacksburg for the weekend, as it was the exact halfway point (really, it is!) between his home in Pennsylvania and our home in Atlanta. Without question, Chris and I hopped in the car and set off to Blacksburg. That night, before my parents arrived in town (they were actually just circling the block), Chris took me out to the restaurant where we had our first date and, over dessert, asked me to marry him.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Chris and I had been in a relationship for over six years and had lived together for three by the time our wedding day came. I honestly feel that our entire relationship was preparing us for the commitment of marriage. Our relationship has always been very strong, and every time we faced adversity together, we came out on top. We always discussed what marriage meant to us, and we are very much on the same page. We always felt that marriage was not something that we HAD to do, but rather, something that we WANTED to do. We believe in fighting for each other and fighting for our marriage. Not just for us, but for the family we plan to have together.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Intimate, magical, fun
How many guests attended your wedding? 150
Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? My Wtoo bridesmaids dresses complimented my dress very well, and I loved the unique color, “Icing”. They were A-line silk taffeta gowns with a full skirt and–bonus–pockets! They photographed beautifully, too! Truthfully, they were not the style I originally had in mind, but when you take your three cousins shopping and they aren’t afraid to tell you how they really feel, they will put on what THEY like. In the end, all three of them fell in love with the dress, and I loved the smiles I saw on their faces. I remember leaving the bridal salon unsure since we hadn’t seen the gowns in the correct color, but my bridesmaids hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t have been happier with the finished product. I knew I chose them for a reason!
What kind of food did you serve at your reception? We kept to the very Southern theme and went with family-style dining. We had pulled pork barbecue, fried chicken, cole slaw, mashed potatoes, and everything in between. The food was great, and the family-style setting let everyone choose what they wanted and as much as they wanted!
Tell us a bit about your first dance. From Chris: It was very intimate, but I honestly couldn’t tell you much about the dance, as I was just looking at how beautiful and happy Kristen was. It went by so fast, and I was just trying to make sure I didn’t mess it up!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? There are so many things Chris and I are looking forward to in the future, and there are too many to list. In the shorter term, we are looking forward to more travel, both nationally and internationally, starting a family, and possibly even starting a business. Stay tuned!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Do a first look! Chris and I were very against it, as we wanted to see each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle. However, the weather left us no other choice, and it ended up being the best thing we could have done. The wedding day can be stressful, so seeing the smile and feeling the warm embrace of your best friend will only relax you and make the day even better.

Photographers: Adam Barnes and Katie Stoops | Videographer: Shaking Hands Productions | Planner and Designer: Ashley Baber Weddings | Venue: Historic Smithfield Plantation | Florals: The Arrangement Company | Caterer: Professional Catering | Cake Baker: Our Daily Bread Bakery | Bride’s Gown: “The Coast” by Lela Rose | Bridal Salon: Kelly’s Closet | Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN | Hair and Makeup: Avenue 42 | Groom’s Fashion: Brooks Brothers | Groomsmen Fashion: Jos. A Bank | Paper Goods: Rock Paper Scissors | Rentals: Paisley & Jade | Linens: Festive Fare | Transportation: Hooptie Ride and Abbott Trailways | Other: Skyline Tent Company

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Paisley & Jade reply

    Holy gorgeousness! We absolutely loved being part of this special and stunning day for Kristen and Chris! Thanks so much for the beautiful feature and kudos to all our vendor friends who helped create such a wonderful celebration!

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