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I love a couple who can tell a great story. Geneva + Luke are wonderful at this, making me burst into laughter in the office when I read the adorable story of how they met (it was in elementary school and he called her “maggot”), how he proposed, and the importance of big Southern hair. From looking through these photos from Suggs Photography, I’m positive their guests went home with wonderful memories and stories to share, too. G + L’s outdoor ceremony was not only lovely, but added a few laughs to the program. Their tented reception was complete with an artist on hand to live-paint the couple’s first dance — tres romantic, especially with the backdrop of string lights around the Oldfield Plantation house!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Luke and I decided to meet before the ceremony to help “hug out” some of the nerves. But good heavens, no, we didn’t do a first look. Luke did not see me until I descended the staircase escorted by my father. In our partial first look, Luke was blindfolded. I would have been willing to be blindfolded too, but I just could not risk messing up my hair, and that’s just the honest truth. This coif was a work of art, two hours in the making. And not even an army of bobby pins could protect her from a blindfold. We shared a hug, some kisses and two big ol’ grins. What a sweet, sweet moment, and what fantastic pictures!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Luke and I decided to write our own vows. Both of us are fairly good with a pen and we wanted so much for our wedding ceremony to be truly personal. By writing our own vows, we were able to share more of ourselves with our guests. It gave them a peek into the type of relationship we have and want to continue to build with one another. We did not practice these vows or share them with one another prior to the ceremony. It’s funny, they were remarkably similar.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose to use a modern version of “The Seven Blessings” for our ceremony. It was perfect. In fact, several guests contacted us afterwards for a copy of this reading.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. “Heavenly Day,” a country folk song was used as the processional. It was sung beautifully by a friend of the bride. Guitar accompaniment was provided by a friend of Luke’s.“One Voice” by the Wailin Jennys (another folk song) was sung in four-part harmony by my oh-so talented bridesmaids! While this played, a candle was lit, and the fire was passed from guest to guest via small beeswax pencil tapers. What a symbolic way to show support and love for the new couple!

The location of our wedding was as Southern as country ham and red-eye gravy! Our ceremony was set against the backdrop of an old Plantation River House, complete with spiral staircases and enveloped by live oak trees. The reception was held on the back lawn of the house overlooking the salt marsh of the Okatie River. Guests could stroll out onto a sprawling wooden dock to catch a glimpse of the moonlight shining across the water. Our food options were eclectic with hints of Southern inspiration. We served collard greens, rosemary grits, beef tenderloin, corn casserole, apricot salmon and more. And who could resist the adorable passed hors d’oeurve of pimento cheese on a gingersnap! YUM!

I was just absolutely in love with big lush Juliet roses in blush. Our florist blended those with creamy round ranunculus, succulents and bupleurum for a romantic, yet whimsical look. The flowers were arranged in vintage blue mason jars wrapped in twine.

Without a doubt, the best detail of the wedding was our talented artist, Elizabeth McKeever, who literally painted a scene from our first dance as the night unfolded. Guests were able to watch her create the scene in real time. What a blessing to have found her, and what a treasure we now have in our home! It’s a tremendous keepsake of the sweetest four minutes of our lives.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Ours was a vanilla cake with fresh blackberries and homemade lemon curd filling with buttercream frosting. Our baker offered the option of combining three flavors, but after we tasted the fresh blackberry and lemon curd, we couldn’t imagine anything better! I was going with a traditional tiered cake with tons of interesting texture. (The bottom layer had ruffles!) The cake was used as a centerpiece at the reception, so I wanted it to be beautiful. The texture was created with metallic ivory fondant.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Luke and I met in 1991 walking home from elementary school. He was the older brother of my childhood best friend, Amanda. Back then he had curly hair and glasses. I was red-headed, freckle faced and all knees and elbows. For about ten years, I was a permanent fixture at their house — I went on family vacations with them and everything. Rumor has it that Luke referred to me as “the maggot.” After moving away in eighth grade, I didn’t see Luke again until about ten years later at Amanda’s destination wedding in Jamaica. A huge smile spread over my face as I watched him board the plane. Although we were all grown up now, there was something so familiar there and a face I knew so well. When we de-planed in Jamaica, I leaned over the balcony, waved and shouted, “Luke Baxley, wait for me!” He just stood there confused. He was smiling, but definitely had no clue who I was. After a few seconds (and a little help), he figured it out. Then he smiled like a six year old on Christmas morning, dropped his bags and gave me a huge hug. We were inseparable that weekend. The chemistry was impossible to deny. Maybe it was the fine Jamaican rum in those bottomless pina coladas, maybe it was the romance of watching his sister get married on the beach at sunset — whatever it was, we couldn’t stop talking and didn’t stop laughing until we parted ways in the airport on the way home. The very next weekend, I flew down to Baton Rouge to see him, and we have been together ever since. We were long distance for the next two years as Luke finished his residency, and I finished school. But let me tell you, being together was worth the wait.
Describe the proposal. The proposal according to Luke: “Don’t ask. I had it all set up and laid out. It was going to be on the exact one year anniversary of when we got off the plane and ran back into each other (down to the exact hour). I knew exactly what I was going to say and everything. Then as soon as Geneva and the ring were in the same place at the same time, I couldn’t wait any longer. I got excited and proposed in the kitchen.” What Luke didn’t tell you, is that after he proposed in the kitchen (which was so sweet and adorable), he freaked out about having “blown the proposal.” I think the first words out of his mouth were, “I don’t even have any champagne!” So I let him re-do it five days later with his original plan. I gave him the ring back and we went out to dinner at an incredible restaurant. At the end of the meal (in front of the waiter) he got up and walked around the table and got down on one knee (again). I said “yes” (again). Partially because of the free dessert, and partially because of the awesome idea, we decided to plan a re-proposal dinner on our engagement every year and live the moment all over again.
In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? 135
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: My fabulous MOH set up the dress shopping appointments for me in Charleston. I knew the moment we stepped into Modern Trousseau on King Street that we had found Mecca. The aesthetic of this boutique was stunning — exposed brick juxtaposed against preppy white couches and blue floral wallpaper. We oohed and aahed through the collection of Southern-meets-modern stunners. Like all brides, I needed my wedding dress to embody so many things. I wanted sexy, classy, unique, sophisticated with a hint of vintage all in one. Lo and behold, there she was, sitting coyly on the first rack. Monroe: a fit-and-flare French lace dream. I could not get over the blush colored satin underlay that gave this dress a warm glow. The large lace pattern was unlike anything I’d ever seen, almost retro. A sweetheart neckline and drop V back made this classy gown look very, very sexy. It hugged my figure in all the right ways. This dress was made for my body, and it was just the sample! The actual dress was indeed made for my body, along with a matching bolero, which I chose to wear for the ceremony. The seamstress, (bless her, wherever she is) even stitched my initials in blue onto the inside.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We had a tough time getting an accurate head count. The cost of our food was per person, and I was also trying to finalize escort cards with the calligrapher. So, it was stressful trying to track folks down in the final weeks without losing my manners. In the end, we had far fewer guests than we anticipated, mostly due to out-of-towners. We invited 215, and had 135. My saving grace to this dilemma was Luke’s sister, Amanda, who was, bless her heart, more than happy to make about 20 phone calls for me.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000 – $50,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Our wedding planner! Jen Leiti of Embellish Events was absolutely critical to the success of our wedding day. Without her help and guidance, I would have never been able to execute my vision. Most importantly however, on the day of the wedding I didn’t have to worry a smidge about any of the details. Luke and I knew that our big day was in the hands of a true professional. We just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our ceremony was really sensational. It was creative and intimate. We involved so many of our talented friends for music. Luke’s sister wrote and recited a beautiful prayer. We had perfect weather. And most of all, everyone we cared about was literally sitting seven feet away! I think everyone in attendance laughed a little and cried a little. The groom was drop dead sexy. What more could you ask for?
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t just pick wedding colors… pick wedding feelings!! We were hoping to create an intimate, romantic, relaxed and memorable day. It helped inform the choices we made, from the bridesmaids dresses to the dinner music to the fire pit!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Luke and I are looking forward to “going on adventures,” as we call it! We hope to take a few more international trips before settling down and breeding baby Baxleys.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
6 Comments
  1. avatar Bellenza Wedding Bistro reply

    Such a lovely wedding in every way!

  2. avatar Mary Mullen reply

    I have never read a story like this couple’s.. I was smiling ear to ear and could feel the love through her description of the wedding and their story. And what a fantastic idea to have an artist to paint the first dance?! This wedding is one for the books!!

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Welcome back to the world of weddings, y’all! We have some fun posts ready to go this week. In addition to the usual real weddings, we’re excited to be presenting the finalists in our most recent Ultimate Southern Challenge over the next few days! The focus this time around was on burlap. Our finalists really went above and beyond, with several putting together full shoots involving our favorite rough and tumble material! Let’s get started!

The talented team at Cedarwood Weddings is known for their creativity, so we were not surprised to find a detail-filled submission from them! Kristyn Hogan photographed everything to perfection. Here’s a look at the unique ideas they put together:

To start, Linda and her team worked with Designs in Paper to develop a sophisticated stationery suite. We love the vertical burlap belly band – a twist on the usual horizontal version!

The Cedarwood team used large sheets of burlap (purchased from a local fabric store) to create burlap wall panels. The letters were cut from gray suede fabric and attached to the burlap with brads. The panels were installed with rods and brackets. These would be such a good idea for a Southern photobooth or ceremony backdrop, or to hide a less-than-desirable corner of your venue!

For the table tops, Cedarwood ordered French grain sacks in burlap from Online Fabric Store and stitched them together to create rustic runners. Side note: How cute are those mini cookies??

Finally, the team set up a gourmet popcorn bar in lieu of favors. They used burlap bags and suitcases from Save on Crafts as containers, and put together a handmade burlap bunting and quilted sign for the backdrop. Popcornopoly in Nashville supplied the treats!

WHEW, y’all! So many fabulous burlap ideas, and that’s just ONE entry! Thanks so much, Linda + Kristyn! Readers, if you love this idea, be sure to let us know in the comments! And remember, you’re welcome to give a vote of support to more than one concept.

Cedarwood Weddings is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
23 Comments
  1. avatar Kristyn Hogan reply

    Thanks so much for featuring this lovely little burlap inspiration. We had so much fun photographing it and are always inspired by the creativity of Cedarwood!

  2. avatar Linda at Cedarwood Weddings reply

    We are huge Southern Weddings fans and lovers of burlap. Love the contest and the inspiration it provides.

  3. avatar sara e. rose reply

    Big Fan of Burlap, Cedarwood + Kristyn Hogan!! A++ And, yes, how cute are those mini cookies? Adorable.

  4. avatar Kristal David reply

    I am getting married at Cedarwood on May 25th, and Kristyn Hogan will be capturing my wedding on film. I am so lucky that these creative minds who love what they do are involved in my very own special day (which will also include LOTS of burlap!) Thanks Southern Weddings for always posting such beautiful and inspirational things! You are by far by favorite wedding blog!

  5. avatar Stephanie reply

    Love, love, love :) Beautiful design and amazing images.

  6. avatar Alicia M reply

    I love the grain sacks they used as table runners! And the whole popcorn set up is awesome! Great job!

  7. avatar Brenda Douglas reply

    Love, love, love Cedarwood weddings! Also love the way they have used burlap! My son and his bride were married at Cedarwood about 11/2 years ago and they, too, used a lot of burlap! It was fabulous and so uniquely them! Linda and her team are masters at creating the most beautiful and unique weddings, no matter what the style!

  8. avatar Pam reply

    How creative! Great use of burlap.:)

  9. avatar Cynthia reply

    Only the most beautiful and creative work from Cedarwood, as always!!!!!! They are such a talented group and always a joy to work with on each individual wedding.

  10. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    Love the designs! That love sweet love sign is way cute!

  11. avatar Donette – Designs in Paper reply

    What a wonderful way to start off the week! It’s SO exciting to see your post — we love, love, love getting to work on inspirations like this with Cedarwood and Kristyn Hogan – they are so on-track for design and something that brides can truly incorporate into their day! Thanks so much for the post!

  12. avatar Ashleigh reply

    Love sweet love sums up this entry perfectly!

  13. avatar Lanie reply

    Adore this!!

  14. avatar Matt reply

    What splendid concepts! The lighting is gorgeous and each table is styled to perfection. Absolutely love the French burlap table runners!

  15. avatar Matt reply

    What splendid concepts! Amazing how many different burlap elements are used here to style multiple tables in such an elegant fashion. They are perfectly complimentary!

  16. avatar Linda at Cedarwood reply

    We are thrilled to hear these amazing comments….we are blushing :) Appreciate the feedback so very much!

  17. avatar Courtney H reply

    Every southern brides favorite-BURLAP, paired with the new southern staple piece- GALVANIZED STEEL! It goes together like dixie chicken and Tennessee lamb!

  18. avatar Mary reply

    Love the burlap backdrop, so creative!

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  21. avatar Floral Cotton reply

    So great! Love it!

  22. avatar Dawn reply

    Love all the burlap ideas. We are having a country chic wedding this September and several of these ideas will be used in the wedding. Thank you for sharing them with us!

  23. avatar Designed By Me | Engaged & Inspired reply

    […] (from left): Southern Weddings, […]

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