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Bride Sonia’s joyful Kentucky wedding at the Winchester Opera House.

I am delighted to introduce y’all to today’s bride, Sonia! Though not a Southern gal by birth, her Winchester Opera House wedding to “Kentucky Nate” embodies all the aspects I think a good Southern wedding should have; including, but not limited to, being steeped in tradition, honoring family, and sharing Southern culture and hospitality. One of the sweetest details of their wedding is Sonia’s “something old!” Sonia chose to honor her family by wearing her paternal grandmother’s wedding gown (with a little redesign help from Donna Beth Creations!).

Another thing I can’t help but love? Their joyful ceremony! Sonia said, “Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.” That’s exactly what we wish for each one of our couples! Keep reading to learn about Nate’s nickname and how wedding planning inspired where they’ll raise their future babies.

Thanks to On A Whim Photography for sharing this lovely Kentucky wedding with us!

I had the honor of wearing my Granny Doris’s (my dad’s mom’s) wedding gown. She purchased the gown in 1954 when she married my PaPa in Virginia. My Aunt Lori, her daughter, wore the gown in 1976 for her Colorado wedding. It created such an amazing bond between the three of us ladies, and my dad was so proud. He fetched the gown from the cedar chest my Granny stored it in in her basement the day I first asked about it! I knew immediately that it was the dress for me. I had been searching for a way to bring my family into our Kentucky wedding and it was the perfect way to do so. In the foyer of the Opera House we had displayed photos of my Granny and Aunt Lori in the gown on their wedding days. It was so sweet to hear and see folks’ reaction when they realized it was the same one!

Nate’s father, Barry Bainum, was our officiant, and that was such an amazing experience. He is a Certified Lay Pastor in the Presbyterian Church and put so much thought and sincerity into our ceremony. It was very traditional, and we loved that it encouraged participation from our guests. He asked them, “Do you give your blessing to Nathan and Sonia and promise to do everything in your power to uphold them in their marriage?” It was so important to us that they knew they were invited for that reason: to help us, guide us, and love us in our marriage together. They were a part of it with us by being our witnesses. It was beautiful and joyful and we will never forget when Nate forgot “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” when saying his vows! Barry was happy to help him along through it. Our nephews who were at the wedding were our ring bearers. We had them carry a gold horseshoe for good luck! Nate’s nieces, Genna and Gabby (who helped with the proposal), walked Nate down the aisle to his spot to wait for me. My dad walked me down the aisle, of course! We had to walk down a flight of stairs to make it there! I was so nervous to do so in my heels, but he did the perfect job guiding me down. Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.

As mentioned before, Nate was born and raised in Kentucky. He grew up in a cabin built by his father on the land his grandparents owned in Fleming County. His upbringing was so unique and the reason he is the man he is today! We determined that our wedding was the best opportunity to share this amazing place that we both love with my family and the people closest to us. I researched every venue in Kentucky before we found The Winchester Opera House. The location was perfect – easy for folks to travel to from local airports and centralized for our wedding week activities. But more than that, it fit our vision perfectly. Southern, regal, and much more “derby” than “country.” After meeting with the venue owner, Vanessa Ziembroski, we were so impressed by her knowledge and experience. Her business offered so many services, and that was such a comfort to us since we were planning the wedding out of state.

Did you decide to do a first look? Yes, we did! At first, our reasoning was for logistics. We wanted to enjoy every moment of our reception with guests and thought it would be nice to get the pictures done during the day with good lighting. As our wedding planning progressed we were so grateful we had made that decision! We both looked forward to that moment of pause.

The ’61 Mercedes Benz in the photos (named Josephine) originally belonged to my Papa, who bought Josephine while he was in the Airforce. My Papa and Granny drove their four children all over Europe and the US in that car! In the 80s, my Papa gave the car to my dad who loved it just the same. He restored Josephine to her original blue color, white wall tires, and red interior. She looked like new! He drove her in a trailer to Kentucky all the way from Colorado just to have her as my “something blue.” I have so many great memories of that car, and this one tops them all.

Our vision for the decor was simple and elegant. We wanted greenery to be most prevalent in our flower arrangements to represent Kentucky’s beautiful green scenery. We chose to have garlands and wreaths of greenery throughout the decor to represent the culture of the horse races in the area. Nate’s custom tux jacket had “Kentucky Nate” embroidered in it. That is what his buddies call him. His vest had our wedding date embroidered in it.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We chose to have white garden chairs rather than gold chiavari and to have standard silverware rather than gold. We also chose not to have a videographer, and I learned to do the calligraphy on all of our personalized items: invitations, escort cards, table numbers, signs, etc. And Nate and I made all of the tassels on the 75+ champagne confetti poppers for the ceremony. Mostly me, but he helped ;)

We had a simple wedding cake, just two layers of white cake with white buttercream. In addition to this, we served carrot cake. While we wanted the tradition of cutting the cake, this wasn’t the most important thing to us. We wanted most of all for our guests to have a great seated dinner and an open bar. At the bar we served three signature drinks: The Winchester – Ale81 (Kentucky’s own soft drink) and bourbon, Le Petit Chou – named after our pug and Sonia’s preferred cocktail, vodka, sprite, and soda water with lemon, and The Augustus McCrae -named after our German Shorthair Pointer (who is named after the Lonesome Dove character, Gus) and Nate’s preferred cocktail, double Eagle Rare bourbon on the rocks.

As our guests arrived to the ceremony and when we walked back up the aisle, my brother-in-law played acoustic guitar. He played the tune from the movie Crazy Heart, “The Weary Kind.” Nate and I are big Ryan Bingham fans! The lyrics aren’t extremely romantic, but instrumentally it is so beautiful. We liked the imperfections in its story and thought it was fitting for us. Walking down the aisle, Jarrod played the instrumental version of our first dance. The song is “Diamonds and Gasoline” by the Turnpike Troubadours. I knew Nate would immediately recognize the tune and know I was on my way! Again, the lyrics weren’t typical for a wedding, but it was a song that we loved when we were discovering our love for each other. My dad picked out the song for our father-daughter dance, “I love you Because,” which is a duet between Lisa Marie Presley and her father, Elvis. My dad and I LOVE Elvis and he does the best impersonation. He sang to me in his Elvis voice while we danced. So many emotions! Nate chose to surprise his mom with the song for their mother-son dance, “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead. This song is loved by her whole family. It was played at both her parents’ funerals. It was such a sweet moment for all of the “Montana Hippies,” the DeWeese side of the family. My mom and I had a special dance together to “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard. She sings this song to me a little too often ;)

Tell us your love story in one sentence. You fall in love with the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time.
Tell us all about the proposal! Nate was born and raised in Kentucky, and I was born and raised in Colorado. In August 2015, Nate’s parents, sisters and nieces, Genna (10) and Gabby (6), visited us from Kentucky for a weekend of Colorado fun and celebration. My family hosted a barbecue for the families to meet on my 23rd birthday. The little girls made made me a special gift: a fairytale storybook, written by Genna and illustrated by Gabby. The story featured me as a princess and told of all those who traveled to see me on my birthday and how much they loved me. It then read, “One person loved her the most. His name was Nate. He had a very important question to ask her…” The story ended with Nate on one knee and me in shaky tears as he popped the big question!
When did y’all get married? October 8, 2016.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 84. It was the perfect number for us to feel connected to our guests and still have a full dance floor!
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? In lieu of a guestbook, we created bourbon cocktail-themed postcards. We asked our guests to write us a note, kind thought, or marriage advice during our wedding reception. Throughout the first year of our marriage, Nate’s mom has been sending us the postcards randomly. It has been the most amazing reminder of our love and the support they promised us! The postcards always seem to arrive at the perfect time and are so meaningful to us. We read them together every time we receive one.
What was Southern about your wedding? My dress! The lace sleeves, off-the-shoulder neckline, and the train! It was so Southern and so perfect. Also, having the wedding in Kentucky exuded the hospitality and celebration of the South. We so enjoyed sharing Kentucky’s charm with our guests. Nate’s parents and sisters hosted a welcome dinner on their farm the Wednesday before the wedding where we ate a traditional Kentucky meal with hot brown casserole, BBQ, and bourbon. On Thursday, our guests had lunch in the little town of Midway, KY before touring the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Distillery. On Friday, we attended the opening day of the Fall Horse Race Meet at Keeneland followed by our rehearsal dinner at the Jefferson Davis Inn. It was exactly what we had hoped for in sharing Nate’s home.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? The life planning that developed with our wedding planning was our favorite thing about it all. Dreaming of our wedding week spent in Kentucky and discussing the things we loved about it most brought it into a different perspective for us. Ultimately, it lead to our realization that Nate’s “Old Kentucky Home” was where we want to be and to raise our future family. We plan to move to his family farm this fall to plant our roots!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? Planning from afar! It was difficult to book vendors and trust their judgment and reliability from a different state. We were so blessed to find the Winchester Opera House – they offered so many services that it really reduced our workload.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? We both agree that our first look was the most memorable moment. Nate remembers the note and gift I had delivered to him just before. It referenced his grandparents and our goal to love the way they loved each other. And for me, I never felt more treasured by him. We cherished that moment of pause to embrace the impact of the day.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Have a day-of coordinator! We were so grateful for ours! It allowed us to truly enjoy the day. I didn’t worry about what the groomsmen were up to, and Nate knew they were right on schedule. The staff of the Winchester Opera House made the perfect environment for our wedding day, and that is so important!

Photographer: Brooke Bailey of On A Whim Photography | Planner: Vanessa Ziembroski and Natalie Johnson of The Winchester Opera House | Ceremony and Reception Venue, Caterer, Rentals, and Lighting: The Winchester Opera House | Florist: Neal Linville of The Winchester Opera House | Wedding Cake Baker: Stacey Maslin, The Cake Lady | DJ: DJ Kevin Croucher, Wed Laugh Love | Paper Products: Minted | Bride’s Gown: Vintage Redesign by Donna Beth Creations | Bride’s Veil: Donna Beth Creations | Jewelry: Kendra Scott Earrings | Hair Stylist: Erika Evans, Something Blu Lexington | Makeup Artist: Tamika Holifield, Something Blu Lexington | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade New York | Groom’s Attire: Custom Joseph Abboud | Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Champagne poppers: Oriental Trading Company | Garter: made by bride and sister | Handkerchief: embroidered by bride | Bride’s Rings: Tacori | Groom’s Ring: Sather’s Jewelers, Fort Collins, CO

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Kara B reply

    LOVE that dress! The shoes are pretty awesome too!

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This week marks one year that my boyfriend and I have been dating long-distance, so Brent and Graham’s story is extra special to me today! While I love reliving each real wedding we post through the pictures, the stories from the couple make the photos even more meaningful! Brent and Graham have the sweetest dating story, so be sure to read the story of how they met and how long they dated long-distance below. (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot longer than a year!) I’m positive I could learn a thing or two from this sweet couple on how to thrive in a long-distance relationship.

No amount of rain or chilly September air could hide the joy on their faces or the celebration in the air as you scroll through the photos below! I love how in the years ahead, the couple will be able to go back to Brent’s family’s home and relive their big day as their family grows!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for these images!

We went to Charlotte Latin School together from 5th grade onward, but hardly interacted until junior year of high school. We became good friends at the start of senior year and went on our first date the month before graduating. Because we like to make our lives *so* simple and easy, we began dating right after high school graduation – just days before he left for his summer internship in D.C. and the summer before we both headed off to separate colleges in separate states. Four years later, after racking up hundreds of Southwest Airlines miles to see each other on weekends, spending three summers in separate cities, and two study abroad semesters that resulted in us not seeing each other for six months, we both moved to New York City. Seven years and two months after we first began dating, Graham popped the question!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We recited standard vows during the ceremony; however, I made sure to write him all of my vows, both serious and not so serious, in the letter that I had delivered to him the morning of our wedding.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two! We asked Graham’s mentor and good friend to read an excerpt from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. My “other father”, the father of my best friend and maid of honor, followed with a reading from I John 4:7-8, 12. Our minister also gave a brief homily.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It’s so hard to choose! I’ll never forget the moment my dad and I had together right before we walked down the aisle. We were both teary, emotional, shaking, and overwhelmingly happy. To share in such an intimate moment together was so special. He kept whispering in my ear “this is so surreal!” as we walked down the aisle.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? From day one, we both knew we didn’t want to do a first look and I’m so glad we didn’t. The anticipation of seeing his face as the church doors opened and watching him as he watched me and my dad walk down the aisle was a moment I wasn’t willing to forfeit. It’s still one of the many decisions that I have absolutely no regrets about, and it’s a moment I’ll remember so vividly for the rest of my life.

I grew up in the North Carolina countryside with my parents’ house sitting on 344 acres of land, centered around a steeplechase course. It’s my home and such a beautiful and unique setting – there was no question that that’s where we would get married. We debated having the ceremony on the property as well versus in our church, but deep down I’d always wanted to be married in our church – Christ Church of Charlotte – which just so happens to be where Graham and I were both confirmed together in 8th grade.

Honestly, everything about the weekend was just so “us”. The flowers stood out to us as really bringing the venue to life and making it feel like the most magical place on a rainy, chilly evening in September. We also made an effort to add touches of our personalities everywhere, from “Please Don’t Take My Drink, I’m Dancing!” napkins that were distributed at the bars once the band started (there’s nothing worse than putting your drink down only to find an efficient waiter has removed it two minutes later!), to a map of our food stations so people knew where to go for what, to a lawn jockey hand-painted with our wedding logo on it to welcome our guests as they entered the reception.

All southerners know the importance of good (fried) food, so we incorporated Southern twists into our food stations. A few of our favorites were Deep South BBQ Eggrolls with Carolina BBQ inside and the Southern Pimento Mac n Cheese. We had Fried Chicken and Waffle Skewers as our passed late-night snack since a good southern hostess never lets her guests go home hungry.

My sweet tooth is unmatched, though I sadly can’t say the same about Graham’s. We knew we wanted a more traditional cake, and Kathy Allen is the woman to go to in Charlotte for elegant cakes with a twist. Ours was five tiers with alternating layers of Spice Cake and Almond Cake. At the end of the night, I gave each of my bridesmaids a sugar flower from the cake in a glass dome to remember the weekend by. We now have a few of the flowers displayed around our house and every time I walk by them, it makes me smile. I’m counting down the days until our first anniversary and I can tear open our top layer in the freezer!

Tell us all about the proposal! It was almost the proposal that didn’t happen! I was determined to get my haircut that afternoon but just two days prior, Graham called and said his parents wanted to do a family dinner that same evening to celebrate my birthday, which was a few days away. Not unusual or suspicious in the least but something I tried to get out of in order to make my desperately-needed haircut. On the day of the proposal, my lovely coworkers threw me a surprise birthday celebration late that afternoon, complete with massive ice cream sandwiches. Never one to say no to sweets, I happily partook, but was left feeling less than stellar. I called Graham once again and tried to get out of the dinner, this time claiming I really didn’t feel well and dinner was the last thing I could stomach (pardon the pun). He once again convinced me I had to come, so we agreed we would meet up and cab to Central Park together since the restaurant, The Loeb Boathouse, was in the middle of the park. The taxi dropped us off at the edge and we wandered in along the pathways until we came to the Conservatory Pond, one of our favorite spots in Central Park. Before I knew it, Graham was telling me how much I meant to him and I immediately blacked out. I got so caught up in the moment that I had to ask him later on if I had even told him “yes.” (I had!) After we soaked in the moment together, we continued on through the park to meet his family for dinner as I frantically tried to call my parents who, of course, weren’t picking up the one time I needed them to. When we got to the restaurant, not only were his parents and two brothers there waiting with champagne, but my parents had surprised me and flown up for the occasion as well!
When did y’all get married? September 26, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 284
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Walking down the aisle, back up the aisle, first dance, etc. In my piano-playing days, one of my favorite songs I played year after year was Canon in D by Pachelbel. Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed about walking down the aisle to that song. Our processional songs were Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and Trumpet Tune in D by Purcell. We walked back up the aisle to Hornpipe from Water Music by Handel – it’s so joyful and uplifting, perfect for the occasion! We both love Van Morrison so our First Dance was to “Into the Mystic”. I danced with my dad to “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor, which was fitting both because my dad shared with me his love for James Taylor from early on in my childhood, and because although I’d been a New Yorker for nearly five years, Carolina will always have my heart. Graham’s first dance with his mom was to Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. My mom and I also shared a dance toward the end of the night to The Tams’ “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I found it helpful to make a dream “wishlist” of things, from special foods to flowers to specific materials you want to incorporate into the weekend, and see it all listed out in one place. From there, it’s easier to figure out what you can afford to let go of and what’s an absolute must-have. The vendors are experts so if there’s something you don’t want to compromise on but you don’t have the budget for, they likely have another idea on how to get the same point across for less money.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I think there’s a big misconception that as the bride, you’re supposed to be glowing, happy and reveling in every minute of the planning process from start to finish. It’s OK to feel stressed and to dread certain parts of the planning (I’m lookin’ at you, list making!). Do your best to take it all in stride, and don’t be afraid to confide in and vent to your loved ones, especially the ones that have been through the process. Also, don’t take the timelines you see in all of the wedding books so literally. We found that many vendors we thought we had time with actually booked up much sooner than we would’ve thought, so be aware and start your research early!

Photographer: Anna Routh Barzin | Planner: Dina Berg Blazek Events | Ceremony Venue: Christ Church Charlotte | Reception Venue: Brooklandwood | Florist: The Place For Flowers | Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Kathy Allen Cakes | Caterer: Queen City Catering | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Lighting: Classic Party Rentals | Band or DJ: Black & Blue Entertainment through East Coast Entertainment | Invitation: Arzbergers | Save the Date: Lee Ann Clark Calligraphy | Bride’s Gown: Leanne Marshall | Hair Stylist: Jami Svay | Makeup Artist: Jami Svay | Bride’s Shoes: BHLDN | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale Bridesmaids Chiffon G787C in French Blue | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Loro Piana for J.Crew

Anna Routh and East Coast Entertainment are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
3 Comments
  1. avatar Sarah Elizabeth reply

    I love everything about this wedding! Especially that save the date & adorable picture of the flower girl & ring bearer!

  2. avatar Rhiannon reply

    This looks like the church sweet Em Thomas got married in. What a stunningly classic soiree!

  3. avatar Mary Kay reply

    What a beautiful wedding! I also appreciate Brent’s honest advice!

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Layers upon layers of fluffy tulle, the most stunning ballroom, piles of perfect white peonies…our With this Ring editorial is the stuff wedding dreams are made of, if I do say so myself! We went straight to the classics when gathering inspiration for this shoot, asking ourselves time and time again what our readers’ “fairytale wedding” looks like. We know that many of you, like us, have a soft spot for the timeless details that will never go out of style, a heart for traditions, and the desire to experience the moments on your own special day that you identify with your parents’ and grandparents’ wedding photos. We had so much fun working with one of our favorite gals, Blue Ribbon Vendor Jacin Fitzgerald, to dream up beautifully updated versions of classic wedding details for this shoot, and we hope you love it as much as we do!

Thank you so much to Sawyer Baird for capturing these dreamy photos! See the whole feature in Southern Weddings V9, on newsstands now and in the Southern Weddings Shop.

I mean, y’all. STOP. That bouquet + that dress = too good.

We couldn’t have dreamed up a more fitting exit than the traditional rice toss! Love this photo Sawyer captured!

I wish y’all could have smelled Jacin’s arrangement for the sweetheart table – it was absolutely heavenly!

Sometimes, though, an update is in order, and I’m smitten with Jacin’s new look at an old-school tulle chair bow. The feminine, floaty detail perfectly mirrors our bride’s gown!

And y’all – do NOT miss the dreamy behind-the-scenes film from Blue Ribbon Vendor The Reason! They put together the most beautiful film that perfectly captures this classic day!

Planner, stylist, and florals: Jacin Fitzgerald | Photographer: Sawyer Baird | Film processing: Richard Photo Lab | Venue: Biltmore Ballrooms | Hair and makeup: Raney O’Keefe | Cake: Lush Cakery | Catering: Sun in My Belly | Paper goods: Open Ink Stand | Linens: Nüage Designs | Rentals: Southern Vintage and Crush Events Rentals | Bride’s gown: Legends Romona Keveza | Menswear: Menguin | Maid of honor dress: Kate McDonald | Mother of the bride dress, bride’s bracelet, and ring pillow: BHLDN | Rings: Trumpet and Horn | Flower girl dress: Nordstrom

Jacin Fitzgerald and Sun in My Belly are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Meredith Sledge reply

    These took my breath away! Sawyer is AMAZING!! That second to last image is absolutely unreal!

  2. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Great framing! Lovely images.

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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