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Today’s couple, Cristina and Drew, created a wedding weekend that truly reflected them through celebrating what they love most in a place that had become “home” for them. And after going to weddings as a young couple, creating their own special day proved to be their favorite thing about wedding planning! Dress shopping, though, was a close runner-up for Cristina. She said, “I loved my experience with Betty Bridal Atelier – my fittings and visits to Charleston were always so fun and a great way to enjoy the planning process!” Of course, I’m smitten with her dress, but I also can’t help but love how they were able to honor both of their parents by hosting their ceremony and reception at the club where Drew’s family have been members for years on Cristina’s parent’s wedding anniversary weekend.

Get scrolling for more sweet moments and planning advice from today’s bride!

Thanks for sharing, Olivia Leigh Photographie!

Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. I started my search for my dress fairly early because I knew it would take me awhile. I ended up with a total of 12 separate appointments between boutiques in Charlotte, New York, and Charleston before I was finally ready to commit to my dress! I ended up getting it at Betty Bridal Atelier in Charleston. I learned from my visits to New York that I loved Oscar de la Renta – the classic yet modern and structured look was what I gravitated towards. However, I did not love the idea of going up to New York for fittings in the months right before our wedding. Betty Bridal was a new boutique at the time, and the three-hour drive from Charlotte was a lot more manageable. I went with my mom, and knew I had found the perfect dress when I tried on the Daphne. It’s classic yet modern, with a gorgeous obi in the back that bustles into a beautiful bow detail for a second look.

Did you decide to do a first look? We did – mostly to ensure we could fit adequate photo time into the day. We also had a logistical issue with the club (their golf course was undergoing a renovation), so we needed to be creative with the location of our photos! Our amazing photographer, Olivia, commandeered some golf carts to get us and our bridal party out to an area in the middle of the course for photos – it was beautiful and serene and would definitely have not been possible to fit that in if we were rushing during a cocktail hour.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? We chose to have our ceremony and reception at Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte where Drew’s family have been members for years. After I moved to Charlotte, we often joined them for brunch or dinners at the club, and I have always loved their gorgeous ballroom. It was especially meaningful to host all of our out-of-town family and friends at a venue that was “home” for us.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For the ceremony, I walked down the aisle to “Ave Maria,” which I have always loved as such a beautiful and romantic song. After traditional music throughout the ceremony, our recessional was “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles, which was so fun played by the string quartet and perfect as we left our ceremony hand-in-hand as husband and wife. Our first dance was Ellie Goulding’s “How Long Will I Love You” – we love her and loved the song as a testament to our love being forever.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We used Myers Park’s white lawn chairs for the ceremony and patio furniture for the cocktail hour instead of renting new pieces. We also forewent draping the ceiling of our ceremony tent, since guests would only be using the tent for a max of an hour and they would most likely be looking at us at the front and not up at the ceiling :)

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? Creating our welcome boxes for out of town guests that featured our favorite snacks set a great tone for the weekend. I also loved the beautiful pillows from Number Four Eleven that we had made for our lounge area that are now in our master bedroom (and luckily no one spilled wine on them :) In lieu of favors, we provided gold flats for the ladies to change into for dancing that I assembled with hair ties color-coordinated by size. They were a hit, since they provided both a reprieve from heels and the ability to put their hair up on the sweaty dance floor!

Tell us your love story in one sentence. We were introduced by mutual friend when we were living in DC.
Tell us all about the proposal! We were engaged the third weekend in January in 2016 and Drew’s plans almost got sidelined by a very uncommon snow storm in Charlotte that caused the jeweler to be closed almost all week when he needed to pick up the ring! We both worked from home on Friday and I could tell something was up. Once the roads had cleared a bit, I went to an afternoon barre class and came home to my beloved cat, Penny, wearing a new collar that had the ring on it! We had champagne in our apartment and then went to his parents’ house who had family and friends over for cake and champagne to toast to our engagement.
When did y’all get married? June 3, 2017
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 195
What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? We chose to do traditional vows. We also asked a couple who is a dear family friend to do our two readings – they read 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (which was also read at my parents’ wedding, the same weekend 32 years prior!) and 1 John 4: 7-12.
What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? We served a cake with alternating tiers of almond and red velvet. I love almond and am pretty traditional, so that was “my flavor” and Drew’s favorite cake flavor of all time is red velvet (he loves any vehicle for cream cheese frosting).
What was Southern about your wedding? Most of our food was Southern – we had stations that featured shrimp and grits, fried chicken, a biscuit bar, and pimento cheese tarts. Our reception was soft seating and stations as opposed to a seated dinner which is more common in the South than the Northeast (where I am originally from!).
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? Getting to create a weekend and celebration that reflected me and my husband. After going to countless weddings as a young couple, it was fun to get to create our day! I also loved dress shopping and my experience with Betty Bridal – my fittings and visits to Charleston were always so fun and a great way to enjoy the planning process. Drew went with me on one trip (not to the actual fitting appointment!) and we had a great weekend together in Charleston to re-connect and enjoy time together out of town and away from all the focus on wedding planning.
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? Making decisions! I am someone who takes a long time to make a decision about anything, so with the amount of decisions needed when planning a wedding, I felt like I agonized over every little detail to ensure they all fit together perfectly.
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? Our first dance – we did a choreographed dance and ended up needing to modify it about 10 minutes prior to our reception starting since it included a lift that Drew did not feel comfortable doing after seeing the bow detail on the back of my dress. We quickly modified and practiced while our guests were in cocktail hour, and then executed perfectly! Going to dance lessons in the months leading up to the day was such a fun time for us, so it was great getting to finally show off our work to our friends and family.

Photographer: Olivia Leigh Photographie | Videographer: Seaglass Studios | Planner: Favor Me Events | Venue and Caterer: Myers Park Country Club | Florist: New Creations Flower Company | Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Wow Factor Cakes | Tent, draping, chair, and linen rentals: Party Reflections | Furniture and tent chandelier rentals: Old South Vintage Rentals | Lighting: Wink Lighting | Band or DJ:
Sol Fusion (ECE) | Favors: Rescue Flats | Pillows: Number Four Eleven | Paper Products: Elisabeth Rose Social Stationery | Bride’s Gown and Veil: “Daphne” by Oscar de la Renta | Bridal Salon: Betty Bridal Atelier | Bride’s Earrings: J.Crew | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Lindsay Regan Thorne of Be Pretty | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Groom’s Attire: Ralph Lauren | Groomsmen Accessories: High Cotton | Getting Ready Attire: Plum Pretty Sugar | First Dance Choreography: First Dance Charlotte

ECE is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa

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Boy howdy, do I have a treat for y’all today. Not only did our friend and newlywed Hope Houser send over photos of the beautiful home she shares with her husband, Michael, but we have the “before” photos to share, too! The home these two have created is cozy, inviting, cohesive, and filled with sentimental pieces, from the painting of their first look to the cactus art in honor of Michael’s home state. Add in an enviable man cave, a facade-flip worthy of Joanna Gaines, and an interview filled with sweet wisdom, and my (and probably your) Friday is complete! Please enjoy, friends!

Thanks to Sophie Brendle for the beautiful after photos of Hope and Michael’s home!

P.S. You may recognize Hope as Lysa TerKeurst’s daughter. Read more of her mama’s advice for mothers-of-the-bride here!

The couple: Hope (22) and Michael (21) Houser
Years married: 8 months
Where you live: Charlotte, NC
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Michael: I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Although I miss the dry heat at times, Charlotte has become my home. I have an older brother and sister as well as four younger siblings. I loved growing up in a big family and I hope to start my own with Hope in the next few years! Until then I am pursing a double major in business as well as working towards my career goal to become a Chick-fil-a operator/owner. Hope: My parents have lived in the same house my entire life in Charlotte, North Carolina. My dad has owned his Chick-fil-A for 25 years. My mom is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She has written 19 books and speaks all over the world! I have two older brothers and two younger sisters.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. 20 questions while driving up a mountain top was the best way for us to get to know each other – I love to ask questions, and hearing Michael’s answers made me fall in love.
What is your favorite part of being married? Hope: Watching Michael cook the yummiest dinner, jazz music playing in the background, favorite candle lit, and not having to say goodnight after :) Michael: My favorite part of being married is being able to start my day and end my day with my best friend. I can’t put into words how awesome it is to be in love with your best friend.

What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? Michael: The most surprising thing about marriage is that I never stop learning more about my wife. Marriage is a constant work in progress, and I mean that in a good way.
Tell us a little bit about where you live. We recently bought a little starter home. We would love to be here for the next five-ish years, and then move into our forever home. We are open to either building or buying a fixer-upper and gutting it! (Hope wants the fixer-upper :))

Tell us about the process of moving in together. Michael has given me such freedom to bring all my crazy ideas to life with our home. Some have totally failed, but it’s nothing a little patch-up work or paint won’t fix! The best advice we have would be to give yourself the freedom to experiment. Either you learn a lesson of what not to do next time, or it turns out great! It’s a win/win.

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Hope: Our living room — we love hosting our friends and family there! Michael: My man cave. It’s the best napping or movie room!
What most makes your house feel like home? Our wedding presents. Some of our favorite things weren’t on our registry, but they all have such sentimental meaning! Those are what we find ourselves talking about most in our home. (Examples: the painting of us during our first look, the cacti art in our kitchen representing where Michael grew up, our kitchen table that Hope grew up sitting at, etc.)

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? I like to have at least one statement piece in every room, and those are normally the splurge items: our chairs in our living room, our cowhide rugs, the House Of Belonging sign above our bed.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Hope: Our band was seriously amazing. We danced under lights in this huge glass ceiling atrium. It truly was the most magical winter wedding. Michael: My favorite memory was watching Hope walk down the aisle. I know it’s, cliche but it truly is a breathtaking moment. Along with that, I love that I’ll always be able to reminisce about the best day of my life with friends and family who were there.

How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have lots of wedding pictures all throughout the house, the Bible we had our guests sign is on our coffee table in the living room, our wedding painting is hanging in the living room, and we have an album of guest photos from our photo booth!
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? Wait a few weeks until you start spending the gift cards from either presents or reimbursements. We could have used them for so many practical items that we didn’t realize we needed until a few weeks living together in our home.

Who cooks dinner? Michael. Always. (Ha!)
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Crockpot salsa chicken, sweet potato fries, spinach salad, and avocados. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve had this meal. And then of course Chick-fil-A is a weekly/daily thing ;)
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? I watched the movie “Chef” a few weeks back and ever since I’ve been on a food truck kick. I’ll look for food truck recipes online and work them into our menu for the upcoming week. Try!

How does your family handle finances? We both love growing our savings and giving. Don’t get me wrong, spending is fun, but we want to establish good patterns early on. We’ve had to just decide what things are necessary, and what we can wait on. I would recommend using a budget sheet – once you use it for a few weeks consistently, it will become a really wonderful habit!

What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Saying no to some things has been so beneficial for us. We’d recommend allowing yourself to sometimes turn down stuff so that you can use your newlywed time to grow closer together. We’re all about that “quality time” love language! This has been an area where lots of communication is needed and we sometimes fail, but we love to learn!

Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Our favorite night would be cooking dinner at home, eating at our farm table, then venturing upstairs with a glass of wine to watch whatever show we;re hooked on at the moment. Currently, it’s “Parenthood.” So good.

What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Hope: I LOVE walking into a clean house. I travel a lot with my job, so Michael is always serving me by cleaning the house before I get home from a trip. Michael: I love when Hope sends me encouraging messages, phone calls, or notes throughout my week about stuff I forgot I told her about, like a big exam coming up, a presentation for work, or a new workout routine. It could be anything, but her intentionality always makes for a better day.

Do you have children? Both of us grew up with big families, so we would love to have a big family, too! We want to wait 3-5 years to have kids. Adoption is something we both have had our hearts set on for a while!

Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… My mom always tell us this: “When you wish for someone else’s good, you have to be able to handle the not-so-good that comes with it. It always comes as a package deal.” We knew this before we were married, but it’s something we are constantly reminding ourselves of. Comparison is so dangerous in a marriage!

This year, our family is most excited about… going to Israel together in a few months. I have been, but Michael hasn’t, and we are SO excited to experience it together as newlyweds.

Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and home with us, Hope and Michael!

A little reminder: we’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – not just folks who write blogs (though we love them, too!), but also your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Christina Morales reply

    What color are the kitchen cabinets?
    What is the quote over the bed?

  2. avatar Caroline reply

    Where did you get the bedding with the brown comforter? I love it!

  3. avatar Best Ways to Decorate Home with Cotton Stems – Botanical Deer reply

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