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Small town life is a beloved part of Southern culture–I’m certain many of y’all can relate to Molly’s pride in her quaint hometown! Molly loved growing up in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, and although she and Aaron met in Chapel Hill, they couldn’t resist the opportunity to dig into Molly’s roots and welcome their loved ones to Saxapahaw for their big day. Complete with hearty Southern cuisine, an abundance of family heirlooms, and many nods to their heritages, Molly and Aaron’s celebration held all the charms of a small town itself. Molly says, “The sense of small town community during our celebration was the most natural part for us, and by default, it was the most Southern part!”

Thank you so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor A. J. Dunlap for sharing this lovely day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Before flying home for winter break, my mom encouraged me to try on dresses in Austin with my best friend. I found the most wonderful secondhand/consignment designer dress shop, Second Summer Bridal. We had a great time while I tried on every style of dress, just for fun, until I tried on THE ONE. I knew I couldn’t buy a dress without showing my mom anything, so I tried to let it go. Back in North Carolina for Christmas, I tried on many more with my mom, but couldn’t get that one dress out of my mind. Knowing it was a one-time sale, I called back in January with the slightest bit of hope it was still in the store. It was fate–no one had bought it yet! I went in the first week I was back in Austin and sealed the deal! After all the dresses I tried on, this was the one that made me feel like a bride!

Our florist was Pine State Flowers. They only use locally grown, North Carolina flowers. This meant we had to be flexible to what type and colors of flowers were in season locally, and we had a beautiful and sustainable end result!

We were so grateful to have family friends who took part in our wedding and helped us save money. A dear friend did bridesmaids’ hair, family friends were the musicians, a church friend made our cake, my best friend designed the invitations and ceremony programs and wrote on all the windows and chalkboards, a dear friend directed the ceremony, and a family friend was our amazing DJ.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? YES! Knowing we wanted space and time to ourselves to be mindful, present, and soak in the powerful commitment we were about to make was of the utmost importance to us. Having that time for just the two of us to reflect, laugh, cry, joke around, and be ourselves was essential.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I am from the small town of Saxapahaw, and all of my maternal family is from small mill towns along the Haw River. In fact, my grandmother worked third shift in the Saxapahaw Mill while attending business college! Once the heart of the community, the Saxapahaw Cotton Mill closed in 1994 due to tornado damage. In high school, I would drive past it and admire the dilapidated and boarded up building. Over the past decade, the Mill has been renovated into a thriving, central part of the Saxapahaw community, and houses the Haw River Ballroom. My family has fallen in love with the rejuvenated sense of community in Saxapahaw, so the Ballroom was a natural first choice for Aaron and I. Fun side note: the wedding was the first time my grandmother had returned to the Mill since working in it.

The BEST part about our entire wedding was how community-centered and relationship-based it was. Aaron and I are both from small towns and value community, so we made it our goal to create a “church” within the ballroom, and to honor and celebrate the relationships and connections with our own church families, friends, individual families, extended family, and the community. All of the cotton used throughout the wedding was grown by a North Carolina farmer in Tarboro. The seating assignment windows were composed of various antique windows–the four-pane window came from Aaron’s great-grandparents’ homestead house that is over 150 years old, and the six-pane windows came from Aaron’s maternal grandfather’s historic shop. The handkerchief were gifted to my maternal grandmother on her wedding day. She recently found them, unopened! The drawers for cards came from my maternal great-grandmother’s Singer sewing machine. She taught my mom to love sewing, and I am named after her. The ring bearer pillow was sewn by my mom from her dad’s old jeans, and the smallest ring tied to the pillow was my baby ring! Aaron’s nephew, one of the ring bearers, carried my grandmother’s family Bible down the aisle. My veil was made from my mom’s blusher wedding veil. All the bud vases and bottles were collected during my engagement by my mother and grandmother. My grandfather passed away last winter, and these have been a blessing and the perfect project for my grandmother. There were also photos of our parents and grandparents on their wedding days displayed at the reception!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The sense of small town community during our celebration was the most natural part for us, and by default, it was the most Southern part! On top of the family heirlooms used, we also incorporated the best kinds of Southern food! Served in small plates to encourage mingling and conversation during the reception, guests feasted on meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans, shrimp and grits, and macaroni and cheese with collards and black eyed peas. All catering was from the local “five star restaurant in a gas station,” the Saxapahaw General Store. There’s nothing more Southern than getting married in an old cotton mill, eating good Southern food, being surrounded by the community that raised you, and getting to spend the rest of your life with your best friend!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met the first month of college at UNC Chapel Hill, living in the same dorm. Aaron helped Katie, my suitemate, carry some packages down to our rooms one day. Katie introduced me to this cute guy who helped her, and the rest was history! For the next four years of college, we were inseparable–study rooms, basketball games, football games, dance performances, the Varsity theater, Carver Street, He’s Not Here, Brown Summit, and Saxapahaw. After graduating, Aaron moved off to Charlotte, and I headed to the tiny town of Eden. During Christmas of 2011, we realized we couldn’t stand being apart any longer, and we haven’t been since. Fast forward to August 2013, and Aaron and I moved to Austin, Texas so I could attend graduate school at UT-Austin. Aaron found a corporate recruiting job here and graduated from Western Carolina’s online graduate school. We have been in Austin for over two years and are embracing the Texan way of life for now!
Tell us all about the proposal! We were so excited to return to UNC for homecoming in November 2014. Once we were back in Chapel Hill, Aaron suggested we walk through campus and visit the UNC Basketball Museum. While we were walking towards the museum, I thought I would be so romantic and suggested a stop at Craige, our freshman dorm, where it all started. After sitting on the front steps of the dorm where we fell in love, we stood up, I blinked, and Aaron was on one knee! After his proposal, we continued on to the basketball museum without calling anyone. #goheels
When did y’all get married? November 7, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows–we used the less traditional vows from the United Methodist Church’s liturgy. A favorite line included: “I take you to be my husband/wife, from this time onward, to join with you and to share all that is to come.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My brother and two dear friends read at our ceremony–a task with more significance to us than being in the wedding party. They read three scripture passages: Song of Solomon 2:10-14, 16a; 8:6-7a, Romans 12:9-18, and Colossians 3:12-17.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. A family friend made a gorgeous four-tiered pound cake with buttercream icing, with the top layer saved for our first anniversary! You can’t beat a good ol’ Southern pound cake!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We felt it was very important to keep our relationship at the center of the wedding planning and were mindful of discussing not only the details of the big day, but also what we wanted our future to look like together. Premarital counseling with our minister, readings books together, and spending the majority of our time together not wedding planning helped enormously with this!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? One very special thing to me was having my brother walk me down the aisle to meet my father. My brother, Peter, and I have an incredible relationship and I wanted to honor that in this way.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We will stay in Austin, Texas for the next few years before returning home to North Carolina. We are so excited to make our new house a home together and continue to explore and enjoy this unique Southern town as partners in a new, married light!

Photographer: A.J. Dunlap Photography / Videography: Olivia Wilkes / Videography and Sound: Ana Caicedo Macia / Video Editing: Anna Norwood / Venue and Planner: Haw River Ballroom / Florist: Pine State Flowers / Wedding Cake: Brenda Moss / Caterer: Saxapahaw General Store / DJ: Jason Barnes of JMB Marketing / Bridal Salon and Hairpiece: Second Summer Bride / Gown Alterations: Kira Kouture / Bride’s Earrings: Judith Bright / Hair and Makeup: Tease and Blush / Bride’s Shoes: Toms / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: RenzRags / Menswear: Combatant Gentlemen / Groomsmen Ties: The Tie Bar / Invitations, Ceremony Programs, and Calligraphy: Linsey Gray Creative

A.J. Dunlap is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar A.J. Dunlap reply

    Oh, how I loved this wedding! Thank you so much for sharing their day and their story!!! xoxo~A.J.

  2. avatar Anna Norwood reply

    Check out this video feature of Molly and Aaron’s special day!

  3. avatar Laura reply

    What a beautiful wedding and sweet couple! Love the small town feel!

  4. avatar Ryan reply

    Could anyone provide more details on the bridesmaid dresses? My fiancée and I are very interested in several of these dresses but cannot find the specific dresses on Renz Rags

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Can y’all believe there are just TWO sleeps until Christmas? I still have a few more gifts to wrap, but a few days ago, I spent the evening wrapping gifts and watching Gone with the Wind with my mama–it was the perfect #SouthernHoliday evening! Given my love for Gone with the Wind, it’s no surprise that I’m a huge fan of plantation weddings, and Jillian and Marc tied the knot at one of my very favorites, Boone Hall! With a venue that is so lovely on its own, it’s a joy to see this understated decor style, complete with sweet Southern details. As an interior designer, Jillian sure knew how to visualize the space, and I’m certain they made the right decision to go with natural accents to complement the gorgeous surroundings.

Cheers to Paige Winn for sharing this beautiful day with us!

I decided I wanted Marc to be my something blue, since he was in a blue suit. My something old was my vintage beaded clutch from the 1950’s that I received as a bridesmaid gift at my best friend’s wedding. My something borrowed was an embroidered handkerchief from my mother that had belonged to my grandfather’s aunt. Last but not least, my something new was a ring my mother gave me that she had made. She has one made for her too, so we have matching mother-daughter rings.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Marc: As Jillian and her mother started their walk, the music changed and my emotions overcame me. The moment was ideal and the weather was perfect. I will never forget watching her walk towards me and thinking about spending the rest of our lives together.

We wanted to have a destination wedding that was still intercontinental. We planned a trip to Charleston to check out some places and fell in love with Boone Plantation. We loved that it was rustic, on the water, and told a story.

Marc and I are definitely a traditional couple in terms of design. We wanted everything to look natural and complement the gorgeous surroundings of the Plantation. Our flowers were a mix of succulents, dusty miller, silver brunia, crane kale, white chrysanthemums, lots of magnolia leaves, and some cotton.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge was being in Buffalo, New York, planning a wedding in Charleston. As an interior designer, I am able to visualize a space, but I still wanted to be at the Cotton Dock all the time, thinking about draping, seeing flowers in person, etc. Thankfully, we had a great team of people who we worked with closely to bring our vision come to life. Marc and I were able to make a few trips to Charleston for tastings and meetings–we couldn’t possibly miss a tasting, especially when it came to our cake!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We served fried green tomatoes, a raw bar, shrimp and grits, mac and cheese, and mini chicken and waffles, and Firefly sweet tea vodka and lemonade was passed at the guests arrived. Since we had a destination wedding, we wanted our food to reflect the South and really create an experience for our guests.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Marc: I had just joined Facebook when I came across a post from a college friend. I “liked” it, and one other person did as well: Jillian. We were not friends, but I clicked on her picture from my phone. There were a few visible pictures, and one in particular was a great picture of her holding a live octopus from the ocean. I messaged her about how neat I thought it was and we started up a conversation. A week later, we met in person, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! We went skiing in our neighboring ski town, Ellicottville, NY, on December 23, 2012. It was a crisp, clear winter night, and after a few hours of skiing, we stopped at the top of a mountain. It seemed Marc was just looking for chapstick, but once he started talking about love, I knew something was up. The next thing I knew, he was down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of our lives together. Marc had skied for two hours with the ring in his pocket, but after the proposal, we were both extremely nervous to get down the hill safely–I actually took it off, put it back in the box, and made Marc carry it down!
When did y’all get married? October 10, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 60
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went to NYC for the weekend with my mom to look for a dress–it was a good excuse for a girls weekend in New York, and a chance to see one of my best friends. We had a ton of appointments crammed into a few days, and I ended up with a dress I never thought I would like. It seemed so busy, but my consultant was right. I knew it was the one when I put it on, even if I didn’t want to admit it at first!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We didn’t do a first look. I really wanted Marc to see me for the first time on the day of our wedding when I was walking down the aisle. It just felt very romantic and sweet to me, and I am happy we didn’t do a first look.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had our close friend read a poem, “The Art of Marriage,” by Wilferd Arlan Peterson.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was a simple and delicious two tier-ed cake, decorated with fondant. It was vanilla and alternate layers were filled with hazelnut filling and white chocolate mousse.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are enjoying being married and looking forward to starting a family.

Photographer: Paige Winn / Planner: Natalie Knox of Boone Hall Plantation / Venue: Boone Hall Plantation / Florist and Rentals: Tailor and Table Event Design & Styling / Catering and Cake: DuVall Catering and Events / DJ: DJ Ben Felton / Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas / Bride’s Gown: “Sofia” by Matthew Christopher / Hair Stylist: Carly Militello / Bridesmaid Hair Stylist: Ash & Co Bridal / Makeup Artist: Makeup by Nicole / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “7243” in Emerald by Alfred Angelo / Menswear: Kenneth Cole

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Nicole reply

    The photo of them dancing is the sweetest :) And I LOVE her necklace!

  2. avatar Caleb reply

    Beautiful photos! I love the venue.

  3. avatar Nicole reply

    I was lucky enough to watch these two beautiful people get married in this amazingly gorgeous location! I’m getting married soon and only hope my wedding turns out half as successful as theirs did!

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As y’all know, Southern weddings have a very particular style. Sure, they range from the rustic and laid back to the classic and formal, but inherent in celebrating our unique culture is a common thread pulling them all together. At times, it’s really difficult to combine two cultures that are both vibrant and specific, which is why we were pleasantly surprised when we saw Eva + Neil’s wedding.

The couple planned a day that incorporated both of their backgrounds into a Southern hometown soiree, finding that there are a few themes natural to all backgrounds (like an appreciation for family) and a few surprising things that they have in common (fried okra, anyone?). We love looking through these images from White Rabbit Studios and admiring E + N’s favorite detail of the big day: “Getting married to each other.”

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Neil and I have known each other for ten years now. After college we both moved to Washington, DC (me from Alabama, Neil from L.A.) and met through mutual friends (DC is really like a small town where everyone meets eventually). We were friends for years, and were always running into each other at parties and coffee shops and would have a great time talking. When I went away to grad school, Neil stayed in touch by mailing me articles he had written about wonky things like environmental regulation with little post-it notes attached. I moved back to DC and eventually he won me over through a somewhat more romantic combination of singing, playing guitar and cooking for me. Now every year at Valentine’s Day he makes me the same dish he made the first time he made me dinner, which we now call “wooing pasta.” He still plays guitar all the time and surprised me at the wedding by singing and playing “I’ll be your Mirror” by the Velvet Underground.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? We decided not to do a first look because we both wanted to see each other for the first time that day right before the ceremony. It was the right thing for us because it made the whole thing that much more exciting.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? The first was Song of Songs 8:6-7, read by my cousin. My sister read a passage from Marcel Proust’s book Swann’s Way, which is Neil’s favorite book. Neil’s sister read the lyrics to the song, “Heaven” by Jani Lane (Warrant).

We said traditional vows, but also included some Indian wedding rituals like putting garlands over each other’s heads (similar to exchanging rings in an American ceremony) and feeding each other during the ceremony (good when you’re too nervous to eat much beforehand!). One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was actually right after we were officially pronounced as married and we went to all the elders on both sides of the family to show our respect to them–this is a traditional part of a Gujarati (Indian) ceremony, and it was important to us to start our married life letting our families know how important they are to both of us.

So many of our guests were traveling to the South for the first time for the wedding, so we wanted to really show off my home state of Alabama, while also incorporating elements from our families’ backgrounds (Indian on Neil’s side and Bolivian on mine). We made welcome bags that I hand stamped with Alabama and a heart over Crossville, filled with moon pies and guides of things to do in north Alabama. We also had local letterpress shop make a similar print for us to use as a guest book. I think the most Southern thing about the wedding was really how the community pulled together to make everything happen, from the flowers to the horse Neil came in on. We got married on my grandparents’ farm, which has been in the family for generations and where my parents, grandparents, great grandparents were also married. We also had Southern music (bluegrass, Southern rock, Southern soul), and kept the food and drink local: BBQ, cornbread, fried okra (the surprise cross-cultural food hit), wine from Wills Creek Winery where we had the reception, Straight to Ale beers from Huntsville (my hometown) and Back Forty Beers from Gadsden (where I was born) and local cheeses from Belle Chevre, among other places.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. We had bluegrass music at the ceremony and asked them to play a few family favorites like Wayfaring Stranger (when the families walked in) and Wildwood Flower (for the flower girls). At the reception, we really wanted everyone to dance, and wanted to heavily feature great music from the South (Wanda Jackson, Drive by Truckers, Alabama, Lynard Skynard, Sam Cooke, Alabama Shakes) and sentimental favorites. We started out by giving the first dance to my grandparents to celebrate their 60th anniversary, which was that week, and they requested a song by Vaughn Monroe, who was popular when they were dating. Our first dance was “Stand by Me” by Otis Redding. The mother/son dance was “Sailing” by Rod Stewart. Our father/daughter dance was a song called “El Reloj” (the clock) by Trio Los Panchos, a song about the passing of time that was a favorite of my Bolivian grandfather. We also had another nod to my half-Bolivian roots by featuring a Bolivian traditional courting dance called the cueca. There was a good amount of hair metal, Neil’s favorite. We closed out the night with “Alabama Pines” by Jason Isbell, which is what I always listen to when I’m feeling homesick and is just a great song for any occasion.

Describe the proposal. We love to go to concerts together and for my birthday last year Neil got us tickets to see one of my favorite duos, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. The only show we could go to was in Portland, Maine over Thanksgiving weekend, which was a little further than we usually travel for a concert. He proposed after the show at the cozy B&B we were staying at and we had glasses of champagne by the fireplace to celebrate (after a few excited texts to my best friend and family). Neil told me later that a Gillian Welch show in DC years ago was the first time he saw me out at a concert and realized we had something in common. The friend who had taken him to that show ended up marrying us.
In what month did you get married? October, right around my grandparents’ 60th anniversary.
How many guests attended your wedding? Around 100
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I was traveling a lot before the wedding and looked at dresses in some of the places I was in, which meant that I had looked on three continents (Birmingham, Washington, DC, New York, London, Cape Town) and the search was feeling ridiculous. I sew and my mother has always made all my formal dresses for me, and I just wasn’t finding anything that I didn’t think we could make better and with nicer fabric for less money. I was about to give up and found out about a place in New York called the Sample Room that has a roomful of beautiful sample dresses at a huge discount. I found my dress there and it fit perfectly with just a few simple alterations that my mother was able to do.
Describe your wedding flowers: My mother picked cotton and wired it onto stems for bouquets and centerpieces and also made boutonnieres out of it. We ordered Queen Anne’s lace and ranunculus online, and the rest of the flowers came from our dear family friend June (who grew up with my grandparents), cut from her own garden and arranged on the tables for us. We had simple hand-tied bouquets that the bridesmaids pulled together right before the wedding.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We had fried apple pies, peach peeling pies, chocolate cake (for the wedding cake) and carrot cake (the groom’s favorite, for his cake).
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning from a distance. We live in New York, which is far enough away, but the summer before the wedding I was in South Africa. Fortunately, we had great support from our parents, my grandparents and brides-crew, who all helped so much. We couldn’t have done it without them.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Do I have to pick just one? I’d say photos and music. Ashley and her husband (White Rabbit Studios) were so wonderful and now I can see all the parts of the wedding I couldn’t take in. We felt a little extravagant having both a band and a DJ, but it was a great decision. I loved having the band and I loved that Matt played almost exclusively records (since Neil and I spend lots of our weekends going record hunting). The party wouldn’t have been the same without all the great music.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? One of my favorite memories is the ride from the ceremony to the reception. A friend and neighbor of my grandparents has this beautiful 1953 Ford that homecoming queens in Crossville (where the wedding was) ride in for the homecoming parade. My dad and I arrived in the car and Neil and I were driven from the ceremony to the reception in it. It was the first time all day that we were alone and got to reflect on the fact that we’d just gotten married. The car was so solid feeling, and it gave us a calm time to be together.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Keep it loose and enjoy your time with all of these wonderful friends and family who have gathered to celebrate with you. Having so many loved ones in one place doesn’t happen all that often. Enjoy the day and don’t worry too much if all the little details don’t work out.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We took a short honeymoon right after the wedding, but because I had midterms, we had to get back. We’re taking a long trip in January (when I have a school break) so we’re really looking forward to having a few weeks without work or school obligations to be together. We still haven’t figured out where we’ll go yet, but it will be somewhere far away that will feel like an adventure.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Jessica Clinch reply

    I love that they gave the first dance to her grandparents for their 60th anniversary. That was such a sweet touch!

  2. avatar Kelly Cummings reply

    I love the vintage photos at the reception! And all of the gorgeous photos that Ashley took, of course! Lovely!

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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