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It takes a very special couple to commit to a relationship across the pond shortly after meeting for the first time, but after Hunter’s stepsister played matchmaker, Hunter and Heather knew they wanted to give it a shot! Many long distance phone calls and international flights later, followed by a year together in Chicago, Hunter proposed in their soon-to-be home. Even though Heather is from above the Mason-Dixon Line, I daresay her focus on creating a meaningful wedding day, her sweet perspective on what matters most, and her love for monograms make her a Southern belle at heart!

Thank you so much to Nate Henderson for sharing this lovely wedding with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Ah, the dress! I found it on the first day I went dress shopping. My mom lives about four hours away from Chicago, and it was just the two of us. During the third and final appointment of the day, I saw the dress hanging in the back of the store. It looked different than anything I had seen and I thought it could go either way–be really great or really wrong. I put it on and said, “Va va voom!” My mom cried, and then I cried, and we knew it was the one! One funny little mishap is that the alterations team mistakenly hung the dress by the straps when they packed it for my travel. The straps stretched from it hanging incorrectly, so when I put it on on the big day, the top was huge, and it was a wrinkled mess. My sister steamed the wrinkles and my maid of honor pinned it with safety pins! No one could tell and in those moments, girls, you just have to take a deep breath and say, “C’est la vie!”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? The church we were married in was the church Hunter attended growing up in Savannah. We wanted to bring our friends and family down South, as there really is nothing else like it! The oak trees covered with Spanish moss remind me of The Notebook, and created such romance and mystique.

It was really important to both of us that we did not see each other beforehand–we are traditional in that regard. I will never forget walking down the aisle with my dad and seeing the expression on Hunter’s face. Having that time, while the beautiful music played in the church, to soak in the emotion in front of our family and friends who traveled to be a part of our special day, is a priceless moment we will never forget.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My bridesmaid generously let me borrow the gorgeous earrings she wore at her wedding. My dress was new. My mother wore a royal blue lace dress and looked beautiful, so she was my blue! For old, I pinned a necklace to my bouquet which had belonged to my Grandmother, who passed away six months earlier. In that way, she was with us!

I am a firm believer that a wedding should be welcoming to your guests and should represent the two of you! My favorite details were H&H carnival lights that we ordered from Etsy, which our wedding coordinator attached to the front of the bar. We also had a beautiful monogram designed that we used on the napkins, cups, and pillows for the couches in our seating area. These pillows are now on our sofa, and we will use the monogram for the rest of our lives!

Describe your wedding flowers. The setting of the reception was already beautiful, so I wanted the flowers to enhance the natural beauty. I chose a lush white, ivory, and green palette, which I think is so elegant. We repurposed two large arrangements (hydrangeas, roses, snap dragons, bells of ireland, french tulips that loosely cascaded), hydrangea wreaths, and boxwood garland from the church to the reception. We did halos for the flower girls with willow eucalyptus and white spray roses, which could not have been any sweeter. I also added a sprig of heather to Hunter’s boutonniere!

Our first dance was to “You are the Best Thing” by Ray Lamontagne. It is less traditional than our ceremony choices, but the lyrics suited us. We took dance lessons beforehand, but in the end, we just winged it–except for one awesome, Dirty Dancing-esque dip at the beginning!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I absolutely love wedding cake and always make a point to have at least a bite at weddings I attend for good luck! I had an entire Pinterest board of stunning cakes, and in the end, I couldn’t decide between two designs, so I let our cake designer surprise me. She loved the idea and said it was a designer’s dream! It was beautiful, and it tasted as good as it looked, with vanilla bean cake filled with raspberry and white chocolate mousse.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I was living in London and my friend, Mary Allen, told me I had to meet her stepbrother, Hunter. “The two of you would be perfect together!” she told me. Hunter was living in Chicago, and when I was home visiting friends, she arranged our first date. Hunter was not feeling well and tried to hide it during the evening. I thought he was handsome, but very quiet, and I was surprised when he asked to see me again. We got to know each other more, met each other’s friends, and had a great time! He drove me to the airport at the end of my visit, and we continued to see each other every six weeks. After many trips across the pond, phone calls, and bbm messages exchanged, I moved to Chicago just over a year later. I’m not exactly sure what it was that Mary Allen saw in both of us, but she was right, and we will forever be grateful to her!
Tell us all about the proposal! From Hunter: Heather and I were planning to move in together in mid-May 2013. I decided that I’d pull the trigger on Friday, April 26, specifically because I knew Heather likes the number 26, and the anniversary of when we first met was April 27, two years prior! I talked our soon-to-be landlord into giving me access to our empty future apartment, and then had our close friend, who was also our real estate agent, call Heather “on behalf of the landlord” to go over to the apartment and meet the “repair man.” I was “in a work meeting” during that exact window of time when Heather tried calling me to see if I could meet her there. I arrived to the apartment an hour early and began arranging it the best I could with rose petals and lit candles. Upon Heather’s entry, she called for the “repair man” to see if he was there yet, then turned toward the opposite side of the apartment, for what seemed to me like ten minutes! Finally, she came down the hallway toward me, saw the rose petals, and stopped in disbelief. I then took a knee and read a note that I had prepared, which I specifically wanted to write so that she could always look back and remember what I told her that day. She said “YES!” I capped off the proposal by revealing one red rose behind my back and asking Heather if she would “accept my final rose?”–a humorous nod to our favorite TV show. We were happily married exactly one year later!
When did y’all get married? April 26, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we said traditional vows, and our minister, Edwin Chase, delivered a beautiful message. In our meetings before the wedding, he also taught us about the Five Love Languages, which I highly recommend for all couples!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Both the bridal party and I walked down the aisle to Canon in D. We had violins playing it, and when I came down the aisle, the organ played softly to intensify the song a little more. I have always loved Canon in D and wanted it to play as long as possible. The recessional was the traditional Wedding March, which felt like a celebration!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Negotiate where you can and take time to price compare between vendors. Some vendors will charge you extra fees that you can eliminate, or you can negotiate an extra service to be included in your quote. The best advice I received at the onset of planning was to make sure your vendor is committed and excited to work with you. If you don’t feel that way, chose another vendor who is appreciative of your business.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We had an amazing honeymoon in the Maldives and then settled into our new married life, but we haven’t slowed down. Hunter opened his own business and we are expecting a baby boy in May!

Photographer: Nate Henderson Photo / Ceremony Venue: Wesley Monumental UMC / Reception Venue: Oldfield Club / Florist: Harvey Designs / Cake Baker: Minette Rushing Custom Cakes / Rentals: Snyder Events / Lighting: JLK Events / Band: Sol Fusion / Paper Products: Elizabeth Grace / Save the Dates: Studio R / Bride’s Gown: Elizabeth Fillmore / Bridal Salon and Veil: Belle Vie Bridal Couture / Hair Stylist: JW Salon & Spa / Makeup Artist: SKINZIN / Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: JLM Couture / Groom’s Attire: Trunk Club / Wedding Coordinator: Posh, Petals & Pearls / Favors: Maison de Macarons / Monogram: Alison R. Banks Designs / Linens: La Tavola Linen and Marianne’s Rentals

Posh Petals & Pearls is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I know what you mean about your dress, Heather, but it is unmistakably gorgeous on! Love it!

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There is no one way to have a Southern wedding–from family farms to city halls, we love them all! It’s not the decor that makes a wedding Southern, or even necessarily the location; rather, it’s the hospitality shown and the focus on creating meaningful moments for the bride and groom and guests alike. Kaki and Jay’s Chattanooga wedding was fabulously chic and modern, and they took great strides to ensure their guests felt involved and taken care of. From the hymn everyone sang during the ceremony to the gelato and chilled towels passed around to keep guests cool in the middle of June, Kaki and Jay made sure that everyone at their wedding felt like family. What could be more Southern than that?

We’re so grateful to our Blue Ribbon Vendors, Bamber Photography, for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Jay proposed to me at my parents’ house, and it was a complete surprise! He had the ring in a small pouch tied around my dog Zoe’s collar, and after I chased her down in the yard and realized what it was, Jay got down on one knee and proposed. It was such a special moment, and it was even better that my family was there to celebrate with us!

We wanted our service to be uplifting and joyful, so we chose songs and verses that we thought went along with this theme. The guests sang “To God be the Glory” during the service. At the reception, we entered to the band playing “Oh Happy Day,” and they surprised us with special lyrics–they inserted our names, Kaki and Jay, into the song. We exited the reception to the band playing “Love Train” with their horns, and the guests leading us down to our car!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were married at the Presbyterian church where my mother was also married. My grandfather and mother have been major cheerleaders of the Hunter Museum for a number of years. I loved the beautiful river setting there, and it made for a beautiful backdrop!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? To cool the guests down at our summer wedding, we had fans and cold washcloths for the dance floor that were kept frozen in coolers. They were a big hit on such a hot day! Along with that, we had a local company, Milk and Honey, serve delicious and COLD gelato. As a shoutout to Jay’s football days in high school, I threw a football that had “You’re Next” written on it at the end of the reception!

Golf has been a big part of both of our lives, so when we were making our exit at the reception, the wedding party and guests surprised us by holding up golf clubs and making a tunnel that we ran through to our convertible!

When did y’all get married? June 21, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 250
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mom and I scheduled a number of appointments at different bridal boutiques in Atlanta. Lo and behold, after trying on just three dresses, I knew the search was over. I had found the dress I had always dreamed of! Since I found my dress in record time, my mom and I cancelled our other appointments and had a nice, long, leisurely lunch and a day of fun together.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our getaway car! A friend of my dad let us use his ’57 Bel Air Convertible that had a banner with our new married names on it as we left the church! We loved cruising to the reception with the top down–especially since a huge storm had passed through before the ceremony began!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I was so excited as the preacher pronounced us man and wife that I began to literally jump for joy! I was completely unaware I had done this until I was at the reception and guests were laughing about it!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? One of the best pieces of advice I received was from my mom, who told me, “You have to remember, it is only four hours out of your life,” which could not be more true! It is easy to get caught up in all of the details and get stressed, but it is so important to keep everything in perspective and remember what this day is truly about!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? After we returned from our honeymoon, we purchased a house, so we have been very busy settling in and doing small projects. We are just happy to be settling back into normal life, which includes lots of golf, tennis, and playing with our dog, Zoe!

Photographer: Bamber Photography / Reception Venue: Hunter Museum of American Art / Bridal Salon: Joan Pillow / Flowers: The Clay Pot / Caterer: Lee Towery Catering / Gelato: Milk and Honey / Grilled Cheese Truck: The Muenster Truck / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Prado / Band: Big Blast and the Party Masters / Paper Products: Shadow Box Paperie

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

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

    LOVE their car sign + garland – perfection!

  2. avatar Lindsey Bamber reply

    Thanks for the feature! We always love reading the Southern Weddings blog!!

  3. avatar Loverly reply

    That Chevy is just amazing- what a way to exit the most perfect day!

  4. avatar Inspiration No. 4 (Shades of Green) reply

    […] Sources from Left to Right: Getaway Car, Emerald Bridesmaids, Classic Green Tie, Magnolia Escort Cards, Candlelight Fireplace, Mint Juleps, […]

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We all know that the weather here in the South is unpredictable, to say the least–especially in Florida! After it rained for two days straight, Victoria and Marcus’ outdoor ceremony and reception at the Pebble Hill Plantation had to be moved indoors. With Mother Nature throwing a wrench in your wedding plans like that, it can be easy to get bogged down and frustrated. But, what could have dampened (pun intended!) these lovebirds’ plans instead helped craft one of Victoria’s favorite wedding day memories! She said marrying the man of her dreams in the unpretentious and charming chapel, jam-packed with their family and friends, was both genuine and incredibly beautiful. I must say, their rain plan ended up mighty lovely!

Big thanks to Chelsey Boatwright for sharing such a sweet day with us!

Four generations of women in my family came with me to look for the dress–from my grandmother to my four-year-old niece, Cassidy. While we didn’t have any luck that day, I got a feel for what I was looking for. I began searching online and found a dress that was perfect! The only shop that carried it was in Jacksonville, a four-hour drive from my home in Tampa. I convinced my fiancé to make a pit stop on our trip to Savannah and sit in the car while I tried it on one Friday afternoon. I loved it so much that I had my mom drive from Tallahassee just to see it. The staff at the White Magnolia were absolutely wonderful to work with. Luckily for me, they decided to open a shop in Tampa soon after I ordered the dress, so all of my fittings were very close by!

Marcus and I decided not to do a first look. Our families are very traditional, and we didn’t want to take that moment away from those we love, who really wanted to see it. It was one of the best decisions we made for the big day. Everyone was on pins and needles when the church doors opened and I walked in. I looked at Marcus and he was in tears…along with the entire room, who was watching our moment together. It was priceless.

Describe your wedding flowers. We wanted something that looked romantic and timeless. My colors were white and gray, but our florist convinced us to use a bit more color. He came up with some beautiful, natural arrangements, and was an absolute pleasure to work with. He was very creative and took charge of decorating an entirely new venue, just two days before the wedding.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? The decision was pretty difficult, and ultimately, we chose Pebble Hill Plantation for its simple beauty. We planned to have the ceremony and reception outside by the stables, but God had other plans for us. It rained for two days straight before the wedding, so we moved the ceremony to a local chapel down the street, and the reception to Uno Barn on the Pebble Hill property. It turned out better than we could have ever expected.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Saying my vows to the man of my dreams. The chapel was very unpretentious and charming, and we had tons of friends and family crammed into it. It just felt so genuine and unassuming, while also being incredibly beautiful. It felt like we had stepped back in time.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t be crazy! Stay flexible, remember what is most important, and give people the space to do their jobs. I think that our wedding was so successful because we gave our vendors a vision without micromanaging them. We allowed them to use their creativity to do what they do best! With the rain situation, all of our original plans went out the window. I was so happy that we all kept our heads on straight and figured out how to make it work, without over-stressing about something we couldn’t help.

After choosing to get married at a plantation, we took its Southern charm and ran with it! The most Southern aspect of our wedding was probably the menu, which started with a fried green tomato appetizer. Then we moved to the main course, which was fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, grilled pork tenderloin, roasted seasonal vegetables, and homemade biscuits with fig preserves and mayhaw jelly. Then, there were pecan bars for dessert!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met as freshmen at the University of Florida in 2007. Marcus, a new member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, volunteered to pick up a group of girls from the dorms one night for a party, and I was one of those girls. We quickly became friends, but it wasn’t until a few years later (and a great deal of persistence on Marcus’ part) that we began dating. We became inseparable and enjoyed everything from Gator game days and Greek social events to weekend beach trips and travel adventures.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was our three-year anniversary, and all I wanted was a romantic surprise date. Honestly, I wasn’t sure he was going to pull it off; little did I know just how surprised I would be! We started driving to the middle of nowhere, and when we pulled up, Marcus explained that we were at Swallowtail Farm, a farm-to-table restaurant in High Springs, Florida. We walked around the property, and I noticed a table for two in the middle of a gorgeous garden. I was shocked…and a little embarrassed that Marcus went through all of the trouble, just to fulfill my silly request for an over-the-top date night! It was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t realize what he had planned until he started pouring the champagne and I noticed his hands were shaking. Just as I was about to ask him what was wrong, he dropped to his knee and asked me to marry him. It was the most special moment of my life and I, of course, said yes! We laughed and hugged, and then I saw Lanier, Marcus’ sister, and a family friend, Brittany, waving from a barn. They had taken pictures of the whole thing! Then, Marcus told me he had another surprise. We walked along the trails of the farm and meandered over to the farmhouse. I assumed we were going to eat dinner, but then I realized that he had invited our family and close friends to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? March 29, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 220
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had a small wedding cake (pound cake) as well as mini red velvet and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and pecan bars. The groom’s cake was a giant alligator wearing a construction hat (we are Gator fans, and Marcus works in construction management).
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We chose not to give out favors. We wanted folks to enjoy the open bar, live music, great food, and safe transportation, and felt a parting gift was an unnecessary expense. $2 koozies for 220 people adds up fast!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? The dynamic Thomasville Trio: our florist, Ram Singletary, our caterer, Jeanie Bracey, and our day-of coordinator, Emily Beeson. They work with each other on a regular basis, and they made planning our big day so fun and easy. Ram’s passion for all things beautiful coupled with Jeanie’s energetic attitude and Emily’s attention to detail made our day stress-free and even better than expected. We also really enjoyed working with our photographer, Chelsey Boatwright. She was my childhood babysitter who was gracious enough to drive up from South Florida to be a part of our big day!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We have settled in together in Tampa, Florida and are looking forward to celebrating many of our friends who plan to get married soon. We are most looking forward to spending more time together and creating new memories with each other as a couple. I am also still excited about getting used to a new last name!

Photographer: Chelsey Boatwright / Videographer: Southern Blue / Planner: Emily Beeson / Venue: Pebble Hill Plantation / Florist and Lighting: Singletary’s Flowers / Wedding Cake: Sharyn Brown / Caterer: Janie Bracey / Rentals: Andrew Tent Co Inc. / Band: The Blues Factor Band / Paper Products: Sarah Anne Watson Design / Bride’s Gown: “Leah” by Modern Trousseau / Hair Stylist: Debbie Beers / Bride’s Shoes: Antonio Melani / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Watters / Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse

marissa Written with love by Marissa
4 Comments
  1. avatar chelsey reply

    So excited to see this amazing wedding featured today!

  2. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze #154 – Floridian Weddings reply

    […] a little in love with every bit of this Georgia plantation wedding from our Fave Chelsey Boatwright. Their story is a sweet reminder that you always need to have a […]

  3. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    Love the bridesmaid dresses and the huge bouquets of baby’s breath!

  4. avatar Moodboard: mariage ardoise & Slate and chalkboard wedding | Happy Chantilly reply

    […] Olives – 2: Kate Osborne via Oncewed – 3: SNC – 4:  Chelsey Boatwright via Southern weddings – 5:  Tonie Christine via Bridal Musings – 6: Faire-part mariage ardoise / […]

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