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I first discovered fine art wedding photography almost four years ago, when a friend of mine left a Facebook comment on someone’s wedding pictures. Being the wedding picture-stalker I tend to be, I checked out the wedding album and was floored by how gorgeous and cinematic the photography was. Their photographer? None other than Tim Willoughby of Tim Will, who photographed today’s real wedding! Since Tim could be credited with the start of my love for amazing wedding photography, I’m especially honored to be sharing Rachel and Daniel’s beautiful Chattanooga wedding today. Their wedding is overflowing with Southern elegance, and you won’t want to miss their adorable proposal story—I definitely got tears in my eyes when I read it!

Tell us all about the proposal! Daniel and I have an affinity for bluegrass music. I just listen to it, but he plays the mandolin and guitar, and suffers from a banjo addiction. The song that we have always considered “ours” is “Ocean of Diamonds” by Jimmy Martin. One Sunday night last June, I returned to Charleston from out of town. Daniel had cooked dinner since I had been traveling all day. He told me he heard a great new band that I just had to hear. I was exhausted and stuffing my face when he started playing it. It took about five seconds for me to realize that it was him singing and playing guitar, mandolin and banjo. He had recorded it for me on Garage Band. Still not convinced he was proposing, we started dancing in the kitchen, and with our chests together I could feel his heart racing… that’s when I knew what was up! He got down on one knee and I was crying so hard, I can barely remember what he said. I said yes, and he gave me his grandmother’s diamond filigree ring.

The flowers were romantic and ethereal. The pale soft roses and peonies contrasted so well with the sharp blue thistle and dark blue anemone centers. My florist also wrapped some gold wire around my bouquet and the boys’ boutonnieres. It added a fairytale whimsy to the pastels!

Cami, my bridesmaid and best friend, sang “Be Thou My Vision,” a Gaelic hymn, right before I walked down the aisle. It is so hauntingly beautiful and her voice is so angelic, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the building. It meant so much to have her sing at my wedding. She has been in my life since the beginning!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had a few. My favorite was Song of Solomon 8:6-7. It speaks of an unquenchable love. That’s exactly how I feel about my groom.

Tim Willoughby is a photographer I found in Charleston. His ability to capture timeless, breathtaking images sold me immediately. Having him in Chattanooga for the weekend made me so calm. I didn’t have to worry if he was getting all of the right images because I knew he was. He was able to see all of the things I couldn’t. Over time, memories fade, and it gave me peace of mind knowing I would have his photos to look at forever.

Seriously, y’all, I could look at pictures of Rachel’s dreamy Vera Wang gown all day. If it looks familiar to you, it might be because our very own Emily tried it on during one of her dress shopping trips almost two years ago, at the same salon where Rachel bought her dress!

One of the most Southern things about our wedding was my dad’s bluegrass band playing for our cocktail hour. They also played our first dance, which happened to be “Ocean of Diamonds,” the song Daniel proposed to me with! I think the juxtaposition of the bluegrass band in a modern art museum was such a funky twist on what “Southern” can be. Who says Southern has to be at a plantation or in a barn?

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. My cake had a subtle floral pattern inset into the buttercream icing. The roses and blue thistle floral accents really stood out against the simple design. Daniel’s cake was a real work of art. I mentioned his banjo addiction right? Well his cake was a chocolate, to scale model of a Gibson banjo. It was insanely realistic…and delicious.

You know how much we love a gentleman in seersucker! This adorable duo is actually Daniel’s grandmother and her twin brother. Aren’t they the cutest?

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Gosh, how can I pick one moment? I guess the most memorable would be the dance floor, because I spent the majority of the night there. The dance floor was packed from start to finish. Everyone was dancing like maniacs! I am a super awkward dancer, but being with old and new friends, my family and Daniel’s family all together was kind of mind blowing. I kept looking over and seeing two people from two completely separate parts of my life breaking it down together like fools. It was a once in a lifetime thing.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Daniel and I met at a football game during our junior year of high school in 2005. We dated all through the rest of high school. When college came, I was going to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and he was headed to join the crew team at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. We thought it was over from the horror stories people told us about long-distance relationships. Over those four LONG years of dating 650 miles away, we realized that no matter how hard a long-distance relationship was, it wouldn’t even be close to the pain that would come from not being in each others’ lives. Luckily we survived, and I was able to move to Charleston, SC after graduation to be with him when he started medical school.
When did y’all get married? May 25, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 325, give or take.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mom, two sisters and future mother-in-law came to Charleston one August weekend for a day of dress shopping. We started in the morning at Maddison Row in downtown Charleston. My dress was the third one I tried on, and I just knew. I tried on a few others, but kept going back to the Vera Wang Emmeline. I told them when I first walked in that I loved tulle, and this dress has TONS of tulle. I ended up buying it that morning and canceling my other dress appointments that day. My mom was disappointed that the shopping ended so quickly!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. Since I was a little girl, I have been looking forward to having my church doors swing open and my groom seeing me with the rest of my guests.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No way! I can’t write to save my life. Daniel and I wrote each other letters before the wedding. My words are best kept on a private piece of paper.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Something borrowed was a hair barrette my mother had gotten as a gift from her parents when they vacationed in Mexico. My something blue was a blue stone bracelet of my mother’s. New was a delicate lace handkerchief wrapped around my bouquet that a family friend wove on her loom! For my something old, I had my late grandmother’s costume turtle brooch peeking out of my bouquet.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge for me was narrowing down my ideas. Between reading wedding magazines and being on Pinterest all day, it is so hard to decide which direction you want to go! There are so many amazing ideas out there. Eventually I had to just close my eyes and imagine my ideal wedding. Things started to fall into place.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy it. Your engagement is a time to savor. It only lasts a short while! Don’t stress the little things. It’s easy to get wrapped up in planning a “dream wedding” and to forget that you are marrying the man of your dreams.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Daniel and I are settling into our new house in Charleston. He is continuing medical school, and I have an awesome interior design job. We just got a sweet new doggy, and we’re enjoying everyday life as a happy little family.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
20 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Love these beautiful pictures! Chattanooga holds a special place in my heart so I loved that they incorporated some of the city’s best known landmarks into the photos.

  2. avatar Emily reply

    I ADORE her gown! Tulle perfection!!

  3. avatar Wedding 101 Greenville reply

    Everything about this wedding is stunning! Beautiful photography, insanely gorgeous gown, and the texture of the flowers = to die for!!! Love this one!

  4. avatar Kat reply

    Every time I see that gown I die just a little!!!! LOVE it!

  5. avatar Kristin reply

    Transportation via bright yellow school bus AND a dress that is something straight from a fairytale? Yes, please!! Love!!

  6. avatar Lauren reply

    The pictures are gorgeous and those cookies? Amazing!

  7. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    What a beautiful dress and bride! I love the groom’s cake! Just pinned it on our Western Wedding Board.

  8. avatar Christina reply

    Love, love, love this wedding!! Does anyone know who she used for the koozies? Random, I know. But every Southern wedding needs koozies! ;)

    • avatar Rachel reply

      Christina and Jay:
      Hi from the Bride! I used Totally Koozies. My friend Emily illustrated that logo and uploaded the image in their custom section

  9. avatar Carey reply

    As a wedding guest and mother of one of the bridesmaids, I can say that this was the most beautiful and meaningful weddings I have ever attended. I have known Rachel since she was a child and Daniel since they began dating. This wedding was a celebration of two beautiful people that love each other and two special families that bring together many people who love them and who were honored to celebrate, with abandon, this special day with them. It was not only a celebration of the couple, but of their amazing love of family and our love for them and their families! We love you, Rachel & Daniel!

  10. avatar Jay reply

    Lovely wedding!! Where are the zoozies from!?

  11. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze | Floridian Weddings reply

    […] Totally love that this wedding party was carried around town in a big yellow school bus! […]

  12. avatar Taylor reply

    LOVE this! Where are the personalized drink stirrers from? I am obsessed with those!

  13. avatar Emily reply

    That dress!!!! And all of these pictures are AMAZING. I love the one of them on the dance floor with their heads together, totally perfect.

  14. avatar Sapphire Events Blog » Wedding Inspiration Board: Oh My Darling, Dixie | Sapphire Events New Orleans Wedding Planner reply

    […] Tea Photography and Petal’s Edge Floral Design, banjo groom’s cake by Tim Will via Southern Weddings, Cokes by Kate Triano via Southern Weddings, wellies by Lindsay Madden Photography via Style Me […]

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    […] ballgown | Rachel + Daniel | Tim […]

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    […] Rachel + Daniel‘s wedding by Tim Will, bouquets by Martha Kern […]

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The sparkly, winter gorgeousness continues with Molly + Ben’s romantic and warm Christmas reception. String lights and candles decorated the barn, which was even complete with a fully decorated Christmas tree! Just in case guests started to feel a bit of that winter chill, hot ginger toddies were served in addition to the Southern food fare at the buffet station. Molly kept warm in a white fur stole. I must say, it looks quite fab as the newlyweds made their way through confetti and into their horse-drawn carriage! Thanks again to Meredith Perdue for helping us get in the Christmas spirit!

See all the photos from Molly + Ben’s wedding in their Real Wedding Gallery!


What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration?
Our ceremony was held in a church, my dad walked me down the aisle and Ben and I said traditional Christian vows. I wrapped a monogrammed handkerchief made out of my mom’s wedding dress around my bouquet and wore her veil. Ben’s dad was his best man. Ben and I exchanged wedding gifts the night before and then took communion in the ceremony.
What was Southern about your wedding? The barn is the oldest surviving early twentieth-century fair exhibition hall in North Carolina. It was built in 1917 for use at the Sandhills Fair, one of the major country fairs in the Southeast from 1915 through 1925. We had a Southern station at our buffet table which included barbecue sliders, mac and cheese, fried green tomatoes and more. We served hot ginger toddies as well. Our cake was an almond pound cake.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I would probably say choosing a date. It was hard finding a time that worked for everybody. Originally, we didn’t want a winter wedding; we worried about our guests being stressed with it being the week before Christmas. In the end, I think everyone had a great time and a lot of our guests said that the wedding helped get them in the Christmas spirit! Plus we got to spend our first Christmas together on the beach in Mexico!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? For the wedding weekend, we rented two cottages for our wedding party, one house for Ben and his groomsmen and one for me and my bridesmaids. It isn’t often that all of our friends are together in one place, so this was really special and worth the cost! As for the actual wedding day, I would probably say our getaway vehicle which was a horse and carriage! It was magical and a perfect exit for a wedding held during the holiday season!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? There are two moments that really stand out in our memories. We were both really anxious about standing in front of everyone at our ceremony so we decided to see each other before our ceremony. Our “first look” eased our nerves and was a very quiet, intimate moment and a gentle reminder of the true meaning of the day! We also took communion together in our wedding ceremony which we felt was a very special, humbling way to begin our marriage.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding: It’s easy to get distracted by all the details so we had to remind ourselves that although we were planning a wedding, more importantly we were planning for a lifetime together. It really is true that money can’t buy the things you will remember the most about your wedding. Regardless of the type of flowers you have or what your cake looks and tastes like, the wedding day is a holy, special, joyful occasion; try to enjoy every minute of it!

Photographer: Meredith Perdue // Second Shooter: Graham Terhune // Planner: bride and bride’s mother // Ceremony venue: The Village Chapel // Reception venue: The Fairbarn // Florist: Aldenaye // Wedding Cake Baker: Sweet Fi’s Cakes // Caterer: Mark Elliot // Rentals: Richmond Rentals and Sales // Bride’s Dress: Priscilla of Boston, Vineyard Collection // Hair Stylist: The Spa at the Pinehurst Resort // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Champagne dresses by Anna Elyse, black cocktail dresses were bridesmaids’ own.

Meredith Perdue is one of our fabulous Blue Ribbon Vendors!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
5 Comments
  1. avatar Clair F. reply

    Wow! This is by-far my favorite wedding I’ve seen on Southern Weddings. Thanks so much for sharing. So gorgeous! Is the barn private or can other brides have their wedding there?

    • avatar amanda reply

      Clair F.: the barn is available to rent to anyone. :) http://www.thefairbarn.org/reservation.htm

  2. avatar Studiophotograf reply

    I love the action shots very much (bride’s dance and rice throwing).
    Nicely done.

  3. avatar Noted Wedding Touches « The High Life Suite | Fashion. Food. Love. reply

    […] How about offering something hot to drink at the end of the night? Coffee and donuts or a hot cocoa bar would be a nice treat. (Pictures: Martha Stewart & Southern Weddings Magazine) […]

  4. avatar Merry Christmas from Southern Weddings! – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] North Carolina Christmas wedding by Meredith Perdue […]

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