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I couldn’t agree more with Janie’s advice for brides: “Your special day will be magnificent in its own right. Find the one or two wow-factors that are important to you and trust that instinct. This was a budget-friendly way for us to navigate what was imperative to our vision and what was not.” In her and Adam’s case, my guess would be that the wow factors they prioritized were their floral arrangements (brought to life by the tremendously talented team at Southern Blooms) and the slate details they incorporated. The groom himself was responsible for making the slate menu cards, table numbers, and escort cards from shingles recycled from an old local school’s roof. It was such a unique and memorable detail, and the fact that they were a DIY made them all the more special!

Thank you so much to Jen Fariello for sharing this beautiful celebration with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mother, aunt, maid of honor, and matron of honor accompanied me to Bella Rosa Bridal. I tried on seven dresses with the encouragement of those accompanying me, who used paper bridal gowns on dowel rods with feedback such as “ooh la la!” and “no way.” I knew my dress was the one I had envisioned, and was convinced that I could make it the dress of my dreams with a few custom alterations.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes. In the practical sense, a first look maximized the time we had with our wedding guests. In the magical and romantic sense, most importantly, it offered us the opportunity to engage privately, prior to the ceremony. During the wedding planning process, we heard that the first look enriched the ceremony because the intimate moment together before the ceremony imparted a more robust experience of the wedding. We found this to be true for us.

Our dear friends, a married couple whom Adam and I highly regard and admire, played the processional music. For the bridal procession, “Simple Love,” a song performed by Allison Krauss, was played on the violin and guitar. We recessed to my childhood friend playing “Dancing in the Moonlight” on the guitar.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We absolutely could not have designed and executed such a stunningly beautiful wedding without the help of Shindig Weddings and Events. Meghan Streit struck the perfect and rare balance of personal interest and authentic enthusiasm for Adam and me AND effective communication, the ability to meet deadlines, and collaboration. Meghan offered incredibly creative and gorgeous ideas, which she and her Shindig team executed flawlessly. She was also budget-conscious and sensitive to our tastes, dreams, and needs. We could not possibly thank her enough!

Our venue, Gwyn Arvon, is an ancestral home, in Arvonia, Virginia. This is the place where Adam and I fell in love and spent numerous happy memories, so we hoped that adoring energy would emanate for guests at our wedding. In their own right, the home and grounds are incredibly beautiful–they was built for the purpose of showcasing Buckingham slate.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Adam’s mother died when he was sixteen years old. In her honor, we set out a chair in the first row of the ceremony. When Adam and his two brothers, who were groomsmen, walked by, they each placed a long-stemmed peony in the chair. In addition, Adam is quite handy and made slate menu cards, table numbers, and escort cards from slate shingles that once comprised the roof of a former school in Buckingham County. Anna Sisman provided calligraphy for menus, table numbers, and escort cards.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our first look was incredibly special and memorable. Having a private moment to see one other prior to the hubbub of the day and to get grounded together in the commitment that we would be making was profoundly impactful. It was at this point that the weather began to shift from rain to sunshine, which offered us more hope for the flow of the day. It was tremendously touching to see each other after so much anticipatory build-up!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Adam and I met in a history class at the University of Virginia called “Rural Poverty in Our Time.” We knew of each other from class and around the grounds and the Corner at UVA. We reconnected through work at The Discovery School of Virginia for Boys. When I began work at The Discovery School, many youth who Adam worked with expressed to me, “You’re going to love Mr. Crist!” Little did I know, this Mr. Crist was a familiar face. We are both immensely grateful for the elapsed time between our first introduction and our sparked romance, which enabled us to become better versions of ourselves, and, in turn, better partners for each other. By our wedding date, we had been together nearly four years.
Tell us all about the proposal! Adam proposed on bended knee on February 22, 2015 under the guise of taking a photograph at Pippin Hill Vineyard. Following that, we returned home to a surprise gathering of our extended families and dinner at the Smoke House Grille in Scottsville, Virginia.
When did y’all get married? May 14, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 215
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was done by the talented Riki Tanabe of Albemarle Baking Company. It was a four-tiered cake with peonies from Southern Blooms decorating each tier. The cake featured chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and praline crunch filling and textured buttercream icing. The cake also featured vanilla cake, bavarian cream filling, and marzipan icing. We placed framed photographs of loved ones on the cake table as a “sweet” reminder of those celebrating in spirit.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Sarah Wood, our beloved officiant, was my high school chaplain and one of my field hockey coaches at Christchurch School, as well as my mentor and friend. I note that she was a “special incorporation,” because her history with me and her fast friendship with Adam made our premarital counseling, preparation for the ceremony, and the ceremony itself so much richer, and more personal and robust. Sarah recommended that we read “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen and “The Art of Being Together” by Francis H. Wade.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We cut costs by choosing a family-owned venue and performing the landscaping ourselves. We spent two months, with consultation by master gardener Jan Glennie-Smith, beautifying the grounds of the house. Although we worked tirelessly, we recognized that any imperfections could potentially make the outcome even sweeter. We cut costs by having close friends play the processional and recessional music, as well as by having an iPod and speakers for music at the cocktail hour.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Your special day will be magnificent in its own right. Find the one or two wow-factors that are important to you and trust that instinct. This was a budget-friendly way for us to navigate what was imperative to our vision and what was not. Trust the creative expertise of your vendors!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are profoundly grateful for the wedding celebration and honeymoon that we were able to have. Now, we look forward to celebrating others’ and our own milestones and rites of passage. With our wedding ceremony behind us, we get to simply enjoy our marriage. We love the Central Virginia region that we live in and the hiking, canoeing, wineries, cideries, and breweries that it has to offer. We hope to celebrate our first anniversary with a trip to Europe.

Photographer: Jen Fariello | Planner: Shindig Weddings and Events | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Southern Blooms | Cake Baker: Albemarle Baking Company | Caterer: The Catering Outfit | Rentals: Festive Fare | Lighting: Skyline Tent Company | Band: The Significant Others | Paper Products: Design Corral | Bride’s Gown: “Jackie” by Paloma Blanca | Bridal Salon and Veil: Bella Rosa Bridal | Alterations: Fariba Alterations | Hair Stylist: Thairapy Salon | Makeup Artist: Carolyn Thombs | Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jim Hjelm for Bella Bridesmaid | Menswear: Jos A. Bank | Ties: Peter Blair | Transportation: Albemarle Limousine | Calligraphy: Anna Sisman

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Dana reply

    Yum chicken and waffles bites! Those flowers are WOW

  2. avatar Skylar Caitlin reply

    That headtable installation is just stunning! Love the added lighting of the hanging, geometric lanterns.

  3. avatar Sera reply

    This is gorgeous! What a beautiful backyard wedding!

  4. avatar Dougie Cameron reply

    Some great advice here for those working to a tight budget.

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Holly and Austin may have met in a rather unconventional way (through an Instagram hashtag!), but their wedding day was full of traditional Southern fare and all the classics we know and love. Inspired by Holly’s Tennessee home and deep Southern roots, one of the highlights of their Swann Plantation celebration was their tasty “breakfast for dinner,” which included country ham, eggs, chicken and waffles, and biscuits and gravy. The Southern spirit of hospitality continued throughout the reception–to keep guests extra cozy, Holly and Austin provided seating areas around fire pits that were perfect for snuggling up around under quilts, all handmade by generations of Holly’s family!

Ais Portaits captured all of this sweet day, and we’re sure glad about that!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. After searching online, I came across a dress that peaked my interest, so I printed out a copy of the details. Two days later, my mother and I decided to run into David’s Bridal to try and find it. At first, the front desk told me my dress has been discontinued, which made the first 20 minutes of my wedding dress shopping experience terrible. However, the manager saved the day by informing her employee and myself that my dress was brand new! I tried on my tea-length wedding dress and fell in love. I only tried on two dresses, the second only because the employee insisted. I was so happy that the special moment was shared between my mother and I. She hugged me, cried with me, and babied me for one of the last times before I became a Mrs. It was a shopping trip I’ll never forget.

We decided to keep it traditional and let the first time he saw me be when I walked down the aisle. We did get to exchange cards and say a prayer together first (with his eyes shut). When he did see me walking down the aisle, it was priceless. Definitely worth not having a first look!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I got my Bachelor’s degree in music, so this was a very important part of the service to me. We had a small choral ensemble, a trumpeter, and a pianist/organist. The trumpet and organ played “Canon in D” when I walked into the church, which was special for me because my mother also used this song in her wedding. After the ceremony was over, we wanted to let people know the party was starting, even though they had to make a little drive to the reception site. As the church bells were chiming and we were standing in front of the congregation, the song “Everybody Dance Now” started playing. At this point, I surprised my new husband by taking a selfie (because we met on Instagram), and then the entire bridal party danced out of the church and onto the bus to head to the party!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I loved the traditional aspect of the church where our ceremony was held. There are lots of beautiful stained glass windows, and it’s one of the only churches in the area with just a center aisle. Our reception venue just captured the feel I was aiming to achieve. I’m Southern and I wanted that to be a part of our day, and this plantation was perfect because it had a charm and elegance to it. It allowed my guests to experience the Southern charm in the way I wanted it to be displayed.

Tennessee is home to me, and I wanted a wedding that I felt took me back to my roots. Our guests were given small homemade sweet potato pancakes with their choice of toppings and our signature drink, McMosas (mimosas). We served breakfast for dinner, including country ham, eggs, chicken and waffles, gravy and biscuits, potatoes, and anything you would consider traditional Southern breakfast. We offered a fall orange and cranberry juice, and our bar included McWilliams wine, Samuel Adams Octoberfest, and Angry Orchard, which all contributed to our vision for an elegant, fall, Southern wedding. Being a Tennessee Volunteer fan and alumnus of the college, we had both the original version of “Rocky Top” by the Osborne Brothers played, immediately followed with a recording of The Pride of the Southland band playing the football team’s version. The deck, which provided the dance floor, was shaking because of the excitement the guests had during this joyous, classic Tennessee moment. When the sun went down, in case guests were not staying warm with our open bar services or the dance floor, we provided couches around fire pits for them to sit and relax at, snuggling up with their dates or families under handmade quilts from generations of my family.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Austin and I met in one of the most unique ways. Austin was browsing Instagram and decided to search for photos under the hashtag #Dexter, because the series finale was set to air that week. The first photo that popped up was a photo of a young, bubbly, wide-eyed girl named Holly (that’s me!) who was super stoked about the series finale. He liked my photo…and maybe one or two more. I liked a photo of him. He followed me. I followed him. After a month or two of casual liking of photos and commenting, I decided to make sure he was a real person! No one wants to be “catfished,” so I added Austin on Facebook. He approved my friend request and our messaging continued. After a week or two of messaging and texting, Austin wanted to call me. I, however, did not want my illusion of the perfect man to be broken, so every time he called, I made up excuses of having too much homework, being at work, or being on the phone with someone else. The reality: I was at home by myself watching Netflix. :) Finally, on Christmas Eve, I answered a phone call from him. We ended up talking for hours that night and I have not gone a day since without talking to him. In January, when I had a date function to attend, I asked Austin, sure he wouldn’t drive ten hours to go to with me. To my surprise, he decided to drive up and meet me in person for the first time! We dated long distance for about four months before I moved down to Florida for a summer to get to know his family a little more. After the summer ended, Austin moved up to Tennessee to be closer to my family and me as I finished up college. The summer after college, I was accepted for an internship position in Orlando, Florida. This was my last move to Florida as a single lady.
Tell us all about the proposal! Before I moved to Florida for my summer internship, I took a week off work to go visit Austin and figure out where I would live for the summer. That Friday, Austin surprised me with tickets to see the Pentatonix (my favorite music band!) in Atlanta the next day! We drove eight hours to Atlanta early that morning. That night, he told me he wanted to go out to a nice dinner. We had a great time, and when we were going back to the car, he said, “I need you to put this bandana on to cover your eyes, or I need your promise to not look.” I chose the bandana, now knowing something was up. Austin drove me around the long way to my house, led me out of the car, and said, “Open your eyes.” He had filled the barn in my backyard with hanging lights, salt lamps, and pictures of us. I immediately started crying as he led me to a seat with an iPad and some speakers and told me to watch a video. It was a 20-minute video of all of my friends and family telling me how excited they were I was getting married!! At the end of the movie, it said, “Turn Around,” and there was Austin, on his knee. He told me he didn’t know what the future held, but that he wanted it to be with me. He said, “Will you marry me?” and I jumped into his arms and said “Heck yes!” He then pointed out that he had a photographer who had been taking pictures of the entire thing, along with a video recorder recording everything! When we walked back into my house to tell my family, all I heard was “SURPRISE!” Austin had gotten all of my family and close friends to come to the house to participate in an engagement party.
When did y’all get married? October 17, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Approximately 200
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We enjoyed our special dances for each other. My father-daughter dance was filled with special memories my dad and I shared–the medley included, “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble,” “Come On, Feel the Noise,” “Night at the Roxbury,” “Eye of the Tiger,” “Gullah Gullah Island,” and “My Girl.” It ended with a sweet song for my dad and I to dance to normally, “Edelweiss.” Austin surprised me later in the evening with a “boy band dance tribute to my musical preferences through the ages.” This included “It’s Gonna Be Me” by NSYNC for the boy band phase, then “Beautiful Soul” by Jesse McCartney for the boy phase, a Blink 182 song for the punk rock/dating age phase, “Can’t Touch This” for the daddy patrol phase, “Single Ladies” for my college/single life phase, “O Babbino Caro” for my opera singer phase, and finally, the “Disney Dudez” version of “Let it Go” for the “let it go and date Austin” phase. Austin was accompanied by four of his groomsman for a synchronized dance.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We met with both a marriage counselor and our pastor at least every other week. We have always heard that marriage is tough, and we know we are both different, so we faced the challenges head on. It has been so great to step into this beautiful relationship with the tools to create a lasting marriage!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We’re looking forward to just spending the next phase of life together. I’ll continue to grow my music teaching business and Austin is planning on going to graduate school. Most importantly, no matter what happens in life, we’ll have each other for support.

Photographer: Aislinn Bailey | Videographer: Viola Cinematics | Planner: Amanda Graves of Southern Bliss | Ceremony Venue: Second Presbyterian Church of Knoxville | Reception Venue: Swann Plantation | Florist: Sassafras | Cake Baker: Cheryl McMillian Cake Design | Caterer: Luxe | Rentals: Campbell Rentals and Tents | DJ: Premier Party Machine | Paper Products: The Happy Envelope | Bride’s Gown and Accessories: David’s Bridal | Hair and Makeup: Porsha Kimble Adams | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Aislinn Bailey reply

    We are always so thrilled to see our work published, but having it on Southern Weddings is a dream come true. Thank you!

  2. avatar Faith reply

    Such a sweet story!! Congrats to the newlyweds!

  3. avatar Amanda Graves reply

    Thank you so much for featuring/publishing Holly and Austins wedding!! We are beyond thrilled!

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One of my favorite memories of my own wedding day is when BDK took my hand and squeezed it three times right after we were pronounced husband and wife. It reminded me to stop for a second and take in that special moment, so I love that Lisa and Joe made sure to pause during such a whirlwind day, take each other by the hand, and look around together to soak it all in. I know how hard it can be to stay present, but what a sweet way to focus on what matters most…and what a beautiful scene Lisa and Joe had to see! The Farm in Georgia was exactly what they had envisioned for their shabby chic barn wedding that was sophisticated and felt like them.

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Bamber Photography for sharing this lovely day!

After much debate, we decided to do a first look. I have to say, I’m so happy we did! I went back and forth because I wanted that moment when we saw each other as I walked down the aisle to be really special. To my surprise, the more we talked to our photographer about a first look, it seemed like it would be more intimate that way. It was also very important to us to be able to enjoy the reception with our family and guests, and taking the majority of our pictures beforehand allowed us to enjoy that time with them after the ceremony!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. When it came to finding my wedding dress, I knew that I didn’t want a strapless dress–that was the one thing I was sure of! I envisioned an elegant, simple dress with delicate sleeves and a tulle skirt. I went dress shopping with my mom and sister, and we went to three different dress shops, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for! I then went back to the first dress shop and decided to try on some strapless dresses, just to see what I thought. I remember walking out in one and my sister saying, “That’s it!” It felt so perfect and made me feel like a princess. Who doesn’t want to feel like a princess on their wedding day, right?! So, lesson learned: know what you want, but don’t be too opposed to trying on other dresses. They might just surprise you!

We asked my Uncle Kelly, who we are both so close to, if he would marry us. He was so excited and honored, that he quickly got ordained! It meant so much to us to have someone so special and dear to our hearts standing there beside us as we said our vows to one another.

I wanted classic, elegant flowers in neutrals, whites, and soft pinks. Hydrangeas and peonies are two of my favorite flowers, so I definitely wanted to incorporate those! I knew I wanted my bouquet to be all peonies in a blush pink color. We then decided that the reception flowers would be white hydrangeas with pale pink snapdragons and soft-colored David Austin roses. My bridesmaid bouquets were a combination of snapdragons, David Austin roses, and beautiful wildflowers. I could not have been happier with the way the flowers turned out–they were absolutely stunning!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our ceremony and reception were both at the same venue, The Farm in Rome, Georgia. We knew we wanted an outdoor venue that was sophisticated and felt like us. I had always envisioned a shabby chic barn wedding, and The Farm was only about an hour and a half away from us in Atlanta. It was the first venue we saw, and it just felt right. We both fell in love with it, and seeing as we had both lived in Georgia for a number of years, this is where we met, and we both love being outdoors, we agreed it was the perfect venue for us.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? In Joe’s words to the grooms, learn to say “Yes dear!” I would highly recommend having a day-of coordinator. The number of last-minute details can be overwhelming, and it was extremely helpful to have someone there to help pull everything together the day-of. Other advice that was given to me prior to our wedding was to take my husband’s hand a few times throughout the night, stop, and look around together. Take it all in. You put so much work into that one day. It goes by so fast, so soak it all in the best you can!

We served very traditional Southern food to go with the Southern theme of the wedding weekend! We had various food stations at the reception where we served chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes. We wanted to infuse Southern flair into our wedding, since we’ve spent the majority of our lives in the South and met one another in Georgia!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For our first dance, we danced to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” When trying to find the perfect first dance song, we heard this song together in the car one day, and it brought tears to our eyes. It was such a beautiful song that expressed exactly how we wanted to grow old together. We immediately decided that it was the one!

Joe and I aren’t huge cake fans, so we knew we wanted a sweets table with an assortment of desserts for everyone to choose from instead! Some of the desserts we included were cupcakes from a local Atlanta cupcake shop that we love in some of our favorite flavors (white chocolate, salted caramel, and cookies and cream), macaroons, white chocolate-covered pretzels, heart-shaped mints that my Aunt Trish made, and cake pops! We also wanted a small cake that we could cut, and I love the look of the naked cakes, so we also had a six-inch naked cake with a few beautiful peonies on top. Everything was displayed on a beautiful, antique, white-washed buffet table!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Joe and I met on eHarmony! Joe reached out to me by private message, and by that point, I had almost given up on the dating scene. I almost cancelled our date because I was so nervous, but my sister talked me into going, and thank goodness she did! We met at the cutest restaurant for drinks and instantly had such a strong connection. Before we knew it, seven hours had passed and we were on our way to a second drink spot to continue the night! We both look back on that day and agree that after that first date, we both knew this was something special. We could hardly wait to see each other again!
Tell us all about the proposal! For our second date, Joe took me to Piedmont Park in Atlanta and prepared the most romantic picnic! He picked me up, we went to the park, found the perfect huge oak tree to sit under, and he laid out a blanket. He had a whole picnic basket prepared with cheese, crackers, sushi, wine–the works. I remember being so impressed! The week of our proposal, he mentioned that we hadn’t been back to the park since our second date, and suggested that we go on an impromptu casual date night picnic. I thought it was a great idea! When we arrived, we found our same oak tree, laid our blanket down, and before I could sit down, he bent down on one knee and asked me to marry him! It was the most romantic, beautiful proposal! He then told me he had planned dinner reservations at our first date spot, JCT Kitchen in Atlanta. As we drove there, I was so excited to share my news, and I tried to call my sister, my mom, and my dad, but no one answered. We arrived at the restaurant, and to my surprise, they were all there to surprise me!
When did y’all get married? May 23, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 100
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! As a traditionalist, I definitely wanted to make sure that I had something borrowed, blue, old, and new! For my something borrowed and old, my mother has the most stunning European jewelry from her Great Aunt Frieda, and I knew I wanted to wear something of hers. I found these beautiful diamond earrings that looked amazing with my wedding dress. It was important to me to incorporate something from my mother in my wedding day attire, and I’m so happy I was able to wear those! For my something blue, my mom and dad had a handkerchief made for me that was white with my name embroidered on it in blue writing. It was so perfect for my something blue! For my something new, I spoiled myself and bought Manolo Blahnik flats that I wore. They were drop dead gorgeous!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Marriage is about compromise and working together as a team. We kept this in mind as we were planning our wedding. It was important to us that this was day was about both of us. We relied on the friendship we have built and the depth of our commitment to one another, which carried us through the ups and downs of wedding planning.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We both agree our first look was our most memorable moment! I still remember walking toward Joe as his back was turned to me, feeling the butterflies, and telling him to turn around and not to cry, or I would start crying too! He later told me that as soon as he heard my voice, he started to tear up.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We look forward to creating new memories as a married couple, purchasing our first home together, and starting a family!

Photographer: Bamber Photography / Videographer: Nick Westfall / Venue: The Farm / Florist: Janet Nutt / Cake Baker: Piece of Cake / Dessert Baker: Honeymoon Bakery / Caterer: Zest Catering / Rentals: Heirloom Vintage Rentals / Band: Francisco Vidal Band / Paper Products: Lemon Meringue / Bride’s Gown: “0126174” by Alyne Bridal / Hair Stylist: Drew Delaney / Makeup Artist: Brittini Pearson / Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Megan” in Soft Peach by J.Crew / Menswear: Brooks Brothers

Bamber Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Clarisa Sian reply

    I`m out of words! I can say only that this unique wedding concept inspires me! Congrats!

    • avatar Lisa Manusakis reply

      Thank you so much Clarisa Sian for such a sweet comment! Thank you Southern Weddings for featuring us on your blog, we are very honored! Xo, Lisa and Joe

  2. avatar Katy reply

    Could you share where you go the fabulous food signs? They are beautiful!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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