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Anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship can attest to how challenging it is. I’m in that boat myself, and sometimes, it is just plain hard. That is one of the many reasons I’m so encouraged by Emily and Tripper’s love story. After years of distance, they were engaged in the city where they first met and planned a gorgeous wedding in Emily’s hometown. Now that they’re happily married, they’re thrilled that they finally get to see each other every day. I can’t help but feel overjoyed for them–what a testament to “love never fails!”

Many thanks to Melissa Schollaert for sharing Emily and Tripper’s wedding with us!

Tell us all about the proposal! We planned a trip to Nashville in September 2011 to visit Tripper’s sister and brother-in-law and to go to a Vandy football game. Coincidentally (or so I thought), the Dores were playing Ole Miss that weekend, which marked the four-year anniversary of our first date. On Saturday evening after the game, Tripper and I had dinner at our favorite restaurant, Virago, and planned to meet his sister and brother-in-law at the Hutton Hotel bar for post-dinner drinks. When we got to the hotel, Tripper led me up to the penthouse suite, which was filled with candles, flowers and mementos from throughout our relationship. Getting engaged with the backdrop of the Nashville skyline was the perfect way to bring our relationship full circle!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Although I was initially hesitant about a first look, our photographer convinced me that it was necessary in order to get portraits and bridal party photos with natural light. We did our first look in a small park in Atlanta with no one else around. It was a perfect, intimate setting. Looking back, I am so happy we made that decision, because were both much more relaxed going into the ceremony.

Like many brides, I wanted romantic, lush flowers in soft colors and dreamed of peonies. Since peonies weren’t available in September, we used lots of hydrangeas, ranunculus, garden roses and spray roses to deliver the same full effect. My favorite flower is the gardenia, so we included those in my bouquet, in my hair and in the floral garland runner on the head table.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our Old Testament reading was Tobit 8:4b-8, and our New Testament reading was Colossians 3:12-17.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We were married in a cathedral and felt the music needed to match the formality of the venue, so we chose traditional songs played on the church organ. My dad walked me down the aisle to Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary” and we recessed to “Hornpipe” by Handel. For our first dance, the band played “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons. It was the perfect song for us because it started off slow, but the tempo picked up so we could have a little fun! The band’s last song of the night was Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

I just loved the overall effect when walking into the reception space. Atmosphere was extremely important to me and creating the right mood was at the top of my mind throughout the planning process. As I told our vendors, I wanted the reception space to feel warm and “glowy” and I felt strongly about choosing a venue where all our guests could be in one space together. I was thrilled with how our vendors executed my vision.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food at our wedding was Southern-influenced and included shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes. Tripper grew up in Louisiana and has a passion for Gulf oysters, so to bring a little Louisiana flair to our Atlanta wedding, we brought in over 1,000 Gulf oysters and an award-winning shucker straight from New Orleans!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our cake was delicious! Since Tripper doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, we skipped a groom’s cake and instead offered two tiers of flavors in the wedding cake–red velvet with cream cheese frosting and vanilla genoise with lemon and raspberry mousse.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Tripper and I met in college at Vanderbilt University. We had many mutual friends, but somehow, we didn’t connect until our senior year. Our first date was to the Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss football game, followed by dinner at Rotier’s–a perfect Nashville evening! After college, I moved to Atlanta and Tripper moved to Charlotte. Two years later, he started business school in Charlottesville, VA and I moved to DC. Needless to say, our love story contains many tanks of gas and hours on the phone.
When did y’all get married? September 22, 2012
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 250
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I lived in DC during our engagement and went wedding dress shopping both there and in my hometown of Atlanta. Although I didn’t know what style dress I wanted when I got engaged, I quickly realized that a lace gown with a fit-and-flare silhouette felt the most “me.” At every appointment, I kept going back to the same lace Marissa dress, so I knew it was the one.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something old was a religious medal that has belonged to my grandmother since she was a child. My something borrowed was a garter that my best friends and I each wear on our wedding day, embroidered with our monogram and the date. My something blue was a Bonnie Blue flag pin given to me by Tripper’s aunt. My something(s) new were the dress, shoes and diamond earrings that were a wedding day gift from Tripper. And I had a sixpence in my shoe!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I lived in DC for the majority of our engagement and Tripper was in business school in Charlottesville, so it was a challenge to work with all of our vendors in Atlanta while being long-distance from both them and from each other.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? That’s tough! We were lucky to have a fabulous group of vendors who worked wonderfully together and made things easy on us. I am so happy we chose Melissa Schollaert as our photographer because she captured every moment and detail of the day beautifully. We love reliving the memories through her images.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Seeing each other for the first time! That, and the amazing party on the dance floor.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? This sounds obvious, but when your wedding day finally comes after many months of planning, make sure you enjoy it together! Tripper and I made a deal beforehand that we would stay within an arm’s length at our reception. We knew from attending other weddings that the bride and groom often get pulled in different directions and get caught up talking with friends and family. It was important to us to have shared memories of the night.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are settled down in Louisiana and enjoying married life! After four years of dating long-distance, it is a thrill to wake up in the same place and be together every day.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
10 Comments
  1. avatar Amanda {Amanda Jayne Events} reply

    Beautiful venue and decor!

  2. avatar Caitlyn | The Aerialist Press reply

    What a beautiful story! Love it.

  3. avatar diana elizabeth – lifestyle + photography reply

    Huge fan of Melissa Schollaert’s work, she’s amazing! Great wedding, such a beautiful couple!

  4. avatar Stephen reply

    Nice, but where’s that handsome uncle?

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  6. avatar Dana reply

    love the reception venue!

  7. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up | Southern Weddings reply

    […] Yay for real weddings! There are few things that make my heart sing like a long distance love that turns into a beautiful marriage! Emily and Tripper’s wedding was so classic and lovely. See it here. […]

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    […] Photo (left) by Pat Furey Photography seen on Wedding Chicks, photo (right) by Melissa Schollaert seen on Southern Weddings […]

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Before I gush over how gorgeous Lauren + Devin’s big day is or swoon hard over that sparkly top gown, I have to tell y’all that my in-laws live in the same community where L + D’s reception took place, which makes this feature even more fun for me! I even run by the Wynlakes Country Club on the three mile loop I do when we visit BDK’s family, and it’s where we ate last Thanksgiving brunch! I love what a small world the South is!

Now, onto the loveliness. L + D met in seminary school, and Devin knew from the first day they spent together that he’d found his future wife! Heaven almighty, I adore these two! When it came to the details of their day, Lauren said, “I loved growing up in the traditional, Southern culture of Montgomery, and wanted it to be reflected in the details of our wedding.” Since my darling husband grew up just seconds from where their day took place (and I’ve spent much time there), I can assure Lauren that she did Montgomery proud!

Big SW hugs to A Bryan Photo for sharing this lovely day with us!

I loved our paper, from the save the dates to the programs and the welcome basket. One of my dearest friends and bridesmaids owns her own paper and design shop called Sweet Peach Paper, and designed most of the paper items. She created a custom emblem that was used throughout the various paper pieces. I think one reason the paper was so near and dear to me is because I got to tell a story through the various items! We included our favorite restaurants, shops and sights on the welcome basket tag for our out of town guests, a page of all our special traditions in the program and my grandmother’s famous grit recipe on the favor tag! It was so much fun being able to make all the paper details my own.

I grew up wearing beautiful French-lace dresses. My mother taught herself to sew just so she could make the dresses for us! She has trunks full of them in their attic! She would slave over each dress, making sure each piece of lace was perfectly placed. I have so many memories of her staying up until wee hours of the morning finishing our Easter dresses. When we got engaged, I thought it would be so special for my flower girl to wear one of my old dresses. Of course, our flower girl had to go barefoot also, as we always did! Growing up, I never wore shoes. I wasn’t unique…no one else did either! Montgomery is unique in that it is normal for kids to go barefoot! In fact, it wasn’t required to wear shoes at school until I was in the 5th grade. I always enjoy telling people about that unique tradition in Montgomery because it seems strange if you aren’t used to it! The tradition started when my dad was a child and still to this day you will see children running around town barefoot.

My other favorite detail was spending the entire wedding day at my parents’ house. It was really important to me to have a relaxing and stress-free day. All of my bridal party came over that morning and dear friends of my mother hosted and brought in food for us. We ate brunch, laughed, relaxed and soaked up more time together. Later, the hair and make up ladies came and the photographer met us there. The majority of my bridesmaids and house party girls live states away, so it was the most special time to have with them. I will never forget those memories! It was absolutely perfect!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. 
I knew my dress was THE dress the moment I saw it on the mannequin in the bridal shop window! A few weeks before I got engaged, my mom and I were window shopping in a small shopping village near my house. We walked past the bridal shop and our jaws instantly hit the floor. There it was. The most stunning wedding gown we had ever seen. Weeks later and I could not get that dress out of my head! Soon after I got engaged, my mother booked a flight out to Dallas and we scheduled an appointment to try it on. It was the first dress I tried on and I honestly didn’t need to try on any others! This was it! I just couldn’t believe that finding my dress would be this easy so I tried on a few others just to be safe. None compared the Ulla Maija I fell in love with and I quickly decided that I was done. I had found my dress! My mom and I both cried, hugged then screamed!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? 
Initially we decided not to do a first look. We’re both pretty traditional at heart and thought there was something so sweet in waiting to see each other at the altar. We realized, though, that if we waited to see each other until the ceremony (at 6pm) we would forfeit pictures with each other in the daylight. After going back and forth for a while, we changed our minds and decided to do a first look. Honestly, the biggest reason we changed our minds was for picture purposes. In the end, I’m so glad we decided to see each other before the ceremony. Not only do we love our first look pictures, but it really did calm our nerves and set the tone for a sweet, sweet evening.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Two of my dearest friends read from Colossians 3:12-14 and 1 John 4:7-11; 19. The passage out of 1 John was, for lack of a better term, the theme verse of our wedding and marriage. We know that only through Christ and his own sacrificial love, we are able to love one another. “We love because he first loved us” is the anthem we hope to proclaim through our marriage.

I’m really moved by how Lauren described their decision to write their own vows: she said, “Your vows are a verbal expression of the covenant you are entering into, and we wanted to be sure that our words expressed the intimacy, gravity and magnitude of our decision to enter into that covenant.” YES!

Deciding who would make our cakes was the easy part. There was no other choice than Mrs. Peggy McKinney. She makes the best peanut butter chocolate cake I’ve ever had in my life, and of course we chose that for the groom’s cake. In true Southern fashion, Devin wanted to memorialize his alma mater and got that bright orange Tennessee “T” on the top of his cake. (I have to give a big “War Eagle” here to make sure my loyalties are known :) ) The bridal cake was a traditional, white five-tiered cake with our monogram on the fourth tier. Each tier was a different flavor ranging from pound cake to strawberry. It was so good!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
 We have to admit, planning a wedding was the very last thing we anticipated when preparing to move cross-country! It wasn’t too long ago that we were living states away from each other, having never met and without a mutual friend in common! Devin’s from Tennessee; I’m from Alabama and neither of us had any desire to leave the great Southeast! Well, the Lord had a different plan in mind. (And we are so thankful He did!) In 2010, God placed a desire in each of our hearts to pursue a seminary education and by August of 2011, we packed up our bags and moved to Dallas, Texas to do just that! August 25, 2011 was our first day of class. We had both registered for Bible Exposition 101, spent every Tuesday and Thursday morning together but never crossed paths. Around the end of October, a mutual friend, convinced we would be perfect for each other and set out to make that change. In fact, he told Devin he’d found his future wife! Together with Devin, they planned a fun group outing for the sole purpose of us meeting. We hit it off that night and he asked me on a date for the upcoming weekend. Of course I said yes!
Describe the proposal. It was our seven-month anniversary and I was anticipating a fun night on the town celebrating. I had just returned from a trip to Alabama and was excited to spend some time with Devin. He told me we were going to go out for a nice dinner and to a movie we wanted to see. Lucky for me, I’d been in Alabama with family and it had been a while since I’d dressed up for something special. I was excited to put on a dress I’d never worn and spend a little extra time getting ready! The thought that tonight might be THE night had crossed my mind, but I stuffed it back down seconds later telling myself it was not happening for a few more months. When Devin picked me up he was completely cool and calm. We often walked through the many parks that surround my neighborhood so when he told me he found a new park and wanted to check it out before dinner, I didn’t really think anything of it. When we arrived at the park, I noticed a gorgeous gazebo and beautiful pond with a fountain. As soon as I got out of the car I saw a bouquet of flowers and some rose petals on the ground. At this point I was really confused! I was convinced he wouldn’t propose for at least a few more months so I was certain that this couldn’t be it! Devin says that as we started walking up to the gazebo I stopped and froze. I was in such shock and was trying to make sense of it all in my head! It’s such a surreal feeling! Devin managed to get me into the gazebo, said some really sweet and sincere things that I WISH I could remember, got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife! I was so in shock that I forgot to say yes! Of course, I eventually said yes. All of a sudden, I look up and out pops one of my dearest friends, Mary (who just so happens to be a photographer) who Devin secretly asked to capture the engagement. She literally hid in bushes in order capture the whole proposal. I was so surprised and so excited to have pictures from such a special occasion! After he proposed, we went to dinner, just the two of us, at our favorite little spot. It was such a sweet, sweet time to process things together and hear about how the plan had come into place! After dinner, Devin suggested we swing by my house and put the flowers in water before we headed out for more celebrating. I was completely SHOCKED when I opened the door and heard a roaring SURPRISE! Devin had gathered all of our friends together so we could celebrate with some of our favorite people. He knows me so well. We got the best of both worlds — special time with just the two of us, and a sweet party with our friends. Devin really did plan such a sweet and special evening that I will never forget!

In what month did you get married? March

How many guests attended your wedding? 
300

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We decided to write our own vows! This was something that was pretty special to us. Your vows are a verbal expression of the covenant you are entering into and we wanted to be sure that our words expressed the intimacy, gravity and magnitude of our decision to enter into that covenant. The first few lines of our vows were the same and followed with our own unique words and promises. The first few lines of our vows read, “With great joy, I, Lauren, created in God’s image for His glory, and saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, pledge my deepest love to you I promise to love you not only with my words, but with my actions and trust.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. This was one of the very hardest things in the wedding planning process! I had always dreamed of walking down to one of my favorite songs, with a single voice, guitar and strings. So intimate and romantic! When it came down to it, though, I decided to go with instrumental versions of my favorite hymns and classical pieces on the organ with strings. I married in a beautiful sanctuary and the acoustics called for sound that filled the whole space…hence the organ and strings! Our mothers and grandmothers walked down to “Jesu! Joy of Man’s Desiring,” the bridal party walked in to “Canon in D,” and I walked down to “Trumpet Voluntary” (talk about big sound!). We recessed to Scott’s version of “Hymn to Joy.” One of the most special moments of the entire wedding was in the middle of the ceremony. We had a dear friend sing a beautiful rendition (accompanied by breathtaking strings) of “Bless the Lord” by Matt Redman. During the song, the entire wedding party gathered around us and prayed over us. It was such an intimate, special moment that we will cherish forever. We are SO blessed to have such dear friends who love us, pray for us, challenge us and encourage us.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? 
Our wedding was Southern through and through. I loved growing up in the traditional, Southern, Montgomery culture and wanted it to reflect the details of the wedding. Perhaps the most Southern thing about our wedding were the traditions laced throughout. We decided to marry in the First Baptist Sanctuary for many reasons. Not only is it stunningly beautiful, but I grew up in that sanctuary! I was baptized there, watched my siblings get baptized there and buried my grandparents there. To top it all off, my parents got married in the exact same sanctuary, standing in the exact same spot, almost 30 years to the day earlier. There is so much emotion and history in that room that we really couldn’t have chosen anywhere else to say “I do!” My something old was my grandmother’s pearls. She was such a special woman to me. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the same town as her and spent so much of my childhood with my special Grandbubby. I have never known a more poised, classy Southern lady. My something new was a beautiful blue topaz ring that Devin gave me as a wedding gift. He wanted to give me something that we could keep in our family for years and hopes that one day our children will be able to wear it. My something borrowed was an embroidered handkerchief that I attached to my bouquet. The same handkerchief has been carried by the women in Devin’s family for over five generations! It is embroidered with a blue “C” after his great, great grandmother named Cora. My something blue was a gorgeous diamond and blue sapphire pendant that I attached to my grandmother’s pearls. It was my great grandmothers, for whom my sister is named. Mary Grayson (my sister) was given the pendant on her 21st birthday and let me borrow it for the wedding. My mother gave Devin and me the silver goblets that she and my dad used on their wedding day! She monogrammed them with our new initials. Perhaps one of my most favorite traditions was that I gave my dad one of my grandmother’s old handkerchiefs and embroidered it with a special note. He carried it as his pocket square. We also had a shrimp and grits bar! How much more Southern does it get?
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? 
I definitely have to say our photographer! Ever since my freshman year of college, sitting in my dorm room with my best friends (and future bridesmaids!) when we would drool over the photo’s on Bryan’s website, I knew I wanted him to shoot my wedding. He was one of the first phone calls I made after getting engaged!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? 
There are three moments that are unforgettable. First, the moment in the ceremony when our wedding party gathered around us and prayed over us while one of favorite worship song was sung in the background. Tears were streaming down my face as I listened to our dearest friends, encouragers and challengers pray over our marriage, while holding hands with the man for whom I had just pledged my love. It was such a surreal moment. The other memory was when I danced with my dad. I am such a daddy’s girl and love my dad to the moon and back. Up until that day, he was the number one man in my life. (He is now happily number 2!) He is so very special to me and I loved sharing such a special moment with him. Lastly, I remember this moment at the reception. I was dancing with my new husband and looked around to see our family and friends dancing up a storm. I remember thinking how special it was to have everyone that we love in one place.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? 
Planning a wedding brings out so many emotions! It’s so exciting yet can be stressful and exhausting. My advice is to remember the purpose of what you are doing. In all honesty, your wedding day isn’t really about a wedding at all – it’s about a marriage. Of course we celebrate because there is reason to! But inevitably, something won’t go as planned (The country club caught on fire at our wedding! But that’s another story for another day!), but you will still be married! Remember why it is you are doing all this planning in the first place! It’s about you and your fiancé and how God brought you together. Spend time reflecting on all He has done rather than stressing over the minor details! I got caught up in the planning madness a couple of times during the process and wish I had reminded myself in those times that this is not about my perfect fairytale wedding. It’s about making a covenant before God and celebrating what HE has done.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Devin and I are happily living in Dallas, Texas! He’s finishing up Seminary and I’m working for a church. We can’t wait to see where the Lord has in store for us!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
8 Comments
  1. avatar Kerri reply

    LOVE the bridesmaids’ dresses! So classy and a beautiful color and style

  2. avatar Lisa reply

    I love all of these elegant details, but even more, I love the stories behind them!

  3. avatar AshleyHH reply

    I also LOVE the Bridesmaids dresses… Who are they by?? I am currently shopping for my girls as my southern wedding is in November! Can’t wait!

    • avatar Lauren reply

      AshleyHH: thanks for the kind words Ashley! The bridesmaid dresses are Jenny Yoo. I was very pleased with them and so were my maids! Good luck!

    • avatar AshleyHH reply

      Lauren: Thanks so much for responding! I will look em up! ;)

  4. avatar Meredith reply

    My parents live in Montgomery and I love the venue of First Baptist Montgomery! I grew up going to church there as a kid! :) We too had a Peggy McKinney cake at our wedding and they are the best!!! Beautiful wedding!

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  6. avatar Charissa reply

    I’m just in Love with her dress – so beautiful!

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Just a few months before Caroline + John said “I do” at their garden wedding, Caroline’s sister discovered an old wedding announcement for their great grandparents which detailed their similar wedding venue, arched floral altar and silver heirloom pieces that Caroline planned for her own nuptials. I love how the bride’s family history played such a large part in the details of the big day, whether planned or not. “If we drew a family tree of my side of the family, we could point to every branch and talk about an heirloom that was included in the wedding,” said Caroline. They only made the day more romantic — and just the way I envision New Orleans weddings.

Like the bride, we fell head over heels for the paper goods and signage included in the big day that only make the details even more lovely and personal and the fun photos that resulted from their killer band! (Fun fact: Caroline found her calligrapher, Elizabeth Porcher Jones, through our Williamsburg Wedding editorial in V4!) We’re sending huge hugs to Magnolia Pair for sharing C + J’s lovely day with us.

Pure wedding day bliss! I love this photo of Caroline + John’s first look.

I had been buying Martha Stewart Weddings magazines for years (as I told John when he caught me with one when we’d only been dating six months – “If I did it before I even met you, it’s not weird that I do it now.”), but I had opinions about everything except the dress. I had no idea what I wanted. I tried on a lot (probably 30+) before I found “the one.” I liked a few mermaid-style dresses, but I ultimately chose a flowing, romantic and feminine dress with dainty cap sleeves. When else do you have an occasion to dress like a princess?

Describe the proposal. John was determined to catch me off guard with his proposal and knew I would immediately suspect something if he made a big thing of bringing me to an out-of-the-way romantic location. So last year, I walked into John’s house after a frenzied day of Christmas shopping to find John waiting with a big, goofy grin on his face. Before I’d even had the chance to put my bags down, he dropped to a knee (with a gorgeous antique engagement ring he’d picked out with one of my best friends!) and asked me to be his wife! I was elated and said yes right away but was sort of thinking, “Why did you just propose in your bedroom?” I thought he might have something else up his sleeve when he then suggested going for a celebratory cocktail at one of our favorite restaurants around the corner. When we walked into the bar of the restaurant, I found a horde of family and friends cheering their congratulations and pouring champagne. We celebrated there before heading back to John’s house, where my mom, whose family throws notoriously large and riotous tailgate parties at LSU, had a “tailgate” waiting just in time for us to watch the Tigers play (and beat!) Ole Miss. Perfection!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Walking down the aisle, walking back up the aisle, first dance? I struggled with choosing the song for my entrance because I love, love, love Pachalbel’s Canon in D on strings, but I thought it was too “boring” for the bride’s entrance. In the end, I went with my gut, and I thought it was a lovely, romantic choice for our garden wedding. John chose our recessional song, “Christmas Jig” by Natalie MacMaster. It was one of our first wedding decisions! A couple of days after John proposed, we were listening to Yo-Yo Ma’s “Songs of Joy and Peace” album while we were cooking together, and John said “I love this song. Can we play this at some point in the wedding?” It’s this beautiful, hopeful medley for a fiddle, cello and harp. Our string trio began playing softly as the minister was pronouncing us man and wife and hit our favorite part when he said “You may now kiss the bride.” After we recessed, the trio went into the festive jig of the song as guests began exiting behind us. Harry Hardin with New Orleans Finest Musicians was a peach for accommodating my crazy requests to time the music to the action. Our first dance was to “A Wink and a Smile” by Harry Connick, Jr. – a playful melody by a New Orleans-born artist.

We got married in a rose garden so I wanted our flowers to look textured and loose, like they could have been picked from the garden. My bouquet included peach Juliet roses (my favorite), pink garden roses and plum ranunculus and was wrapped with antique handkerchiefs from each of my grandmothers’ mothers. All of the vessels that held flowers at the wedding were antique family pieces. The summer before my wedding, I ventured into my parents’ attic and found a ton of silver water pitchers, champagne buckets and trays that my mom had inherited from both sides of the family. She couldn’t part with them but had no more room in the house to display them all. A wedding was the perfect excuse to polish them all up.

Caroline’s timeless taste is New Orleans perfection, y’all. Candle-lit banquet tables with a gorgeous garland running down the middle? I adore it.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? If we drew a family tree of my side of the family, we could point to every branch and talk about an heirloom that was included in the wedding — the antique handkerchiefs in my bouquet from great grandmothers, the vases we used for the flowers and several silver-plated trays engraved to commemorate things like Rotary Club honors and international dog show awards. John and I cut our wedding cake with a cake knife from my mother’s side that was engraved with a date in 1835 from the first wedding where it was used. It was really special to incorporate these pieces from my family’s history into our day. A few months before we got married, my youngest sister Laura was looking through online newspaper archives as part of a project for her summer internship. She found my great grandmother’s wedding announcement in a 1930 Vicksburg Evening Post and sent it to me. After choosing our ceremony site and deciding that I wanted to say our vows under a floral arch, I read that my great grandparents also married in October in a garden – at the home of the bride’s grandmother – beneath an “improvised altar decorated with arches of flowers.” The article, which amusingly called the affair “an outstanding event of the month,” went on to describe the décor at the reception, including a “table set with a handsome lace cover and decorated with crystal and silver appointments.” My great grandmother might have had the exact same crystal and silver pieces holding flowers at her wedding. She passed away when I was only two, but I must have inherited a little of her taste and sense of style.

The most memorable moment would probably be our last dance to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” In college, my sorority sisters and I would all sing and dance around together every time it played, and if I wasn’t out when it played at a bar, I would get late night voicemails from my friends singing the song to me – at least this was a favorite move of my friend, Taylor. Deacon John had the dance floor packed all night so when he announced the last song, John and I were surrounded by friends and family. Our guests formed a circle around us as the band started to play “Sweet Caroline” and everyone was so into it! It was so fun jumping in circles and dancing with John and my mom (who had somehow gotten her hands on a tambourine…again) and sisters and mother-in-law and friends. There’s a great shot of my mom giving me a hug during the song, and my friend Taylor is right behind us wiping a happy tear from her eye. It was the perfect send-off!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I’d have to say all of the signage. I fell in love with Elizabeth Porcher Jones’ traditional but loose calligraphy when I saw the signage featured in the V4 Williamsburg photo shoot on Southern Weddings. I eagerly contacted her to create our wedding invitations, which turned out to be even more beautiful than I had hoped, and I asked her to create some small pieces for the wedding day. I think her beautiful hand written touches added to the casual elegance we were hoping to create at our garden wedding. We carried the artful, hand-drawn style to John’s chalkboard ice cream bar menu. I tracked down the chalk artist who does these amazing menus each week at Tiny Boxwood’s, a delicious café in Houston where John and I love to go on dates. I asked him to create something sort of fun and whimsical, and he nailed it. We now have the sign hanging in our kitchen!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. John moved in with my best college guy friend, Trey, at the beginning of our junior year. That fall, we started having regular Sunday night dinners at the guys’ house. I’d cook and bring friends, and they’d provide the wine. I always thought John was nice and cute and smart, but sort of quiet. Senior year, I had a light course load for the spring semester so I tried to convince Trey to take a swing dancing class with me. Trey’s schedule conflicted, but John surprisingly told me he’d sign up. The weekend before the class started, I got my first law school acceptance letter and a bunch of us, including John, went out to celebrate. Though John and I had been casual friends for a couple of years, that was the first night I had a meaningful one-on-one conversation with him. We sat in a corner of the bar and talked all night about how I was excited but nervous about going to graduate school so far from home and about John’s plans for after graduation. I went home that night and announced to my roommates “I think I have a crush on John Wells!” After two weeks of dance classes, I was completely smitten. And after the fourth week, John asked me to his fraternity’s formal in New Orleans, where we danced all night and shared our first kiss! We’ve been together since. The first wedding vendor we booked was Deacon John and the Ivories – our wedding band and the band that played the night of that first date!
In what month did you get married? October
How many guests attended your wedding? 250
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes! John and I highly recommend it! It was really special to have an intimate moment with John before the wedding, but I was even happier that we did it when I saw Holly’s incredible pictures. She captured gorgeous, relaxed and natural photos we’ll cherish for a lifetime. I especially love the ones where John is making me laugh! Practically speaking, if you have an evening wedding, it will likely be too dark to catch those beautiful, light-filled images together after the ceremony. And after the ceremony, we were ready to laugh, eat and dance with all of our guests! We probably would have rushed through the photos to get to the reception. Taking photos with John and family before the ceremony meant that we could move right on to the party!
Did you write your own vows? No. In this regard, we’re both pretty traditional and we chose to use the vows that had marked the beginning of so many wonderful marriages before ours.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Two of my close friends read passages from Ephesians 3: 14-19 and Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12. We also included Mark Twain’s “A Marriage” on the back cover of our ceremony programs.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Our wedding cake was a traditional, tasty almond vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, but we were most excited about John’s dessert! As John is a huge fan of ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s “Chubby Hubby” in particular) we did an ice cream bar in lieu of a groom’s cake. Creole Creamery, an amazing New Orleans ice cream shop, let us choose from their hundreds of incredible flavors and even concocted a replica of John’s favorite flavor, which we dubbed the “Chubby Groom” for the occasion – an innocent play on words at which my marathon-running husband feigned offense! The ice cream bar was a huge hit with our guests. John likes to say that at one point, he looked around the room and saw that the dance floor was packed and there was a long line at the ice cream bar, and he thought, “This is awesome!”
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? My job. I’m a corporate lawyer in Houston, and Big Law and bridal don’t mix. Planning a destination wedding from out of town while being a first-year associate definitely meant I was spread a little thin. Being the perfectionist that I am, I tried to handle every detail myself at first. As the wedding got closer, I realized I had to let go and ask for help. Luckily, my mom loves throwing parties so she handled a lot of the logistics, and I focused on the décor and details. Divide and conquer!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The band! Deacon John was a little more than we wanted to spend but totally worth it. He’s a New Orleans legend, and the dance floor was never empty.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be ready to roll with the punches. A dear family friend told me the day before the wedding, “Something will go wrong, and you’ve got to be ready to brush it off because you’re marrying a wonderful man and the rest is just details.” I had to remind myself of this more than a few times on the wedding day. Our ceremony started late because half of the buses carrying our guests got lost, and then, just as I walked up the aisle and joined hands with John, I heard the not-so-distant sound of a marching band. It turns out that there was a high school football game starting in the immediate vicinity of our ceremony site. The band continued to play within earshot throughout our entire ceremony. I wanted to cry. But if you stop to pout at any moment during the wedding, you’ll miss it. The day goes by in a flash, and you don’t want to waste one second of it moping or being angry. I just kept telling myself, “You can’t see the sounds of drums and horns in pictures.” Holly’s beautiful photos from the day almost make me forget about this glitch…almost.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We’re just enjoying being married! Being engaged was fun, but kind of stressful. Now I get to wake up next to my best friend on Saturday mornings with a day full of possibilities that don’t involve wedding planning in front of us. We love to cook and have friends over so we’re looking forward to hosting more dinner parties with the aid of all of the new cooking gadgets and lovely entertaining pieces we received as wedding presents.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
12 Comments
  1. avatar Shelby reply

    Beautiful! love the family incorporation & how can you not melt over the calligraphy? The rose petal envelope is my favorite!

  2. avatar Bellenza Wedding Bistro reply

    The entire wedding setup looks so fresh and pristine! And all the florals are just gorgeous!

  3. avatar southern weddings feature reply

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  4. avatar Rose {Rose and Ruby Paper Co.} reply

    This is all just beautiful!
    x

  5. avatar Published : Southern Weddings | Magnolia Pair reply

    […] are so excited to have Caroline and John’s beautiful New Orleans wedding featured on Southern Weddings blog today. Thank you ladies for having us! This entry was posted in Press. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  6. avatar Plum Pretty Sugar reply

    Sooo pretty and sweet! Love, love the late night treats idea!

    xo

    http://www.PlumPrettySugar.blogspot.com

  7. avatar FaceForward Weddings reply

    This wedding was beautiful and so much fun and I absolutely love how Caroline thought of ways to incorporate her family heirlooms into the decoration! Thank you for letting me share your special day with you!

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