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When you combine a family farm, fluffy spring blooms, and a couple that is clearly smitten with one another, you know a wedding is going to be a good one, and that is certainly the case for Julie and Jonathan! Even though they were planning their wedding during a super busy season of life, they were dedicated to preparing for marriage and incorporating as many intentional moments into their celebration as they could. Some of those were planned, like their first look and foot washing ceremony, while others were a surprise–Julie was shocked when she and her parents rounded the corner to find Jonathan singing and playing her processional song on guitar at the other end of the aisle!

Thanks so much to Bella Grace Studios for sharing this lovely day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. A few months after the engagement, Jonathan’s parents invited my parents and I to a short vacation in Destin, Florida. That week, we had so much fun cooking meals together and relaxing on the beach. Later on in the week, when rain came our way, I decided that I wanted to go dress shopping while I had both my mom and my soon-to-be mother-in-law in one place. It was such a sweet time together. I only tried on three dresses, and the last dress (which my mother-in-law picked off the rack for me) was everything I had ever wanted. I never thought I would pick a dress that quickly, but my mother-in-law knew me better than I had expected!

Jonathan and I chose to do a first look. It was just us and our photographer on a nearby road nestled under a tunnel of trees. In all honesty, I was very skeptical about the first look, because I thought it would take the “wow factor” away when I walked down the aisle. But oh, how wrong I was! It ended up being one of the best decisions we made during the day and made everything so stress-free. Plus, little did I know that the “wow factor” wasn’t missing in the least–as I turned the corner to walk down the aisle, my groom was singing/playing my favorite song to me as I walked closer to becoming his wife.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our song is “My Only Love” by Matt Maher, and we had planned on Andrew, the best man playing and singing it as I walked down the aisle. But Jonathan surprised me, and he sang and played it instead! Oh my heart!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The best detail of our wedding was the two old doors and rug that served as our “spot” at the ceremony. We loved how the doors and floral arrangements on top framed us perfectly and contrasted so well with the lush green trees behind them. We get to keep those doors in our family now, and the rug sits in our apartment. We plan for that to always be in our home as a sweet reminder of where we stood when we became husband and wife.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Jonathan’s favorite part of my vows was, “I promise to always set my affection and devotion on you as we both pour out our love on the feet of Jesus together for the rest of our lives.” My favorite part of Jonathan’s vows: “Julie, my bride, my dear, to God and to you, I vow to say yes to you for the rest of my life. To dream with you not only of places we want to go, but also of the miraculous things we want to see God do.”

The most memorable moment of our wedding day for both of us was washing each other’s feet during our ceremony. Not only because Jonathan’s feet stunk (SO BAD), but mostly because of the symbolism it was for us and our relationship. We were following the example that Jesus left for His disciples when he humbled Himself to wash their feet, to serve them, and love them when they didn’t deserve to experience that type of love from the King of Kings. We feel that way about our relationship; we have done nothing to deserve the sweet love and affection God has given us for each other, so we want to be good stewards of that gift and serve each other in love for the rest of our lives. When I was washing his feet, I began to weep, and realized what a gift Jonathan really has been to me, and he felt the same. Such a sweet moment.

Describe your wedding flowers. Our wedding flowers were soft and full with a muted color palette that matched the atmosphere we created perfectly. I had white and peach roses with soft green dusty miller greenery in my bouquet, while the bridesmaids had assorted white roses and soft greenery in theirs. My sweet florist made a flower crown for me to wear for the reception as well. The men wore eucalyptus boutonnieres and Jonathan had a white rose added to his, which contrasted so well with his scruffy beard. In addition to the bridal party flowers, a close friend and I arranged a huge assortment of flowers on top of two old painted doors that we used at the ceremony. That was such a fun DIY to tackle together.

Our ceremony and reception were both held at a family farm outside of Lexington, Kentucky. It was significant because it was in my hometown, and family and friends from college were all close by. The reason we chose the venue was because we knew and trusted the family that owned the farm, and it would allow us to have the outdoor wedding and barn reception that we wanted, all in the same place. We were very happy that it was away from the city as well, so there were no loud noises or distractions.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Jonathan and I met through mutual friends during my first week of college. He is a year older than me, and I thought that the group of guys he ran around with were so funny–there is never a dull moment with that crew. He grew up in the Nashville area and came to Kentucky for college, so we had so much to talk about and learn from each other. Neither of us was looking for anything serious, but I knew that he wasn’t just any guy. As we spent more and more time together, we became best friends. He asked me to be his girl and the rest is history. Three and a half years later, I still get butterflies when I’m on my way to see him!
Tell us all about the proposal! We spent our last summer in college apart–Jonathan was working at Spring Hill Camps in Cincinnati, Ohio and I was an intern at Compassion International in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While we were both living out dreams and having the best summers of our lives, we would talk over FaceTime each night and say “I miss you” way too many times to count. At the end of the summer, I was about to start my journey back to Kentucky, so Jonathan flew out to help me with the 20-hour drive! Before we left Colorado, I told him that I wanted to take him to my favorite spot I had explored over the summer, Dream Lake in Estes Park. We had the best day talking about our summers and just enjoying each other’s company as we hiked up to the magical spot that I was so in love with. We got to the lake, and after taking in the view, I turned around and he was on his knee asking me to marry him. I cried and said yes! Little did I know that two sweet friends I made that summer were recording and photographing the entire thing! Jonathan had been planning it for months. He is just the best.
When did y’all get married? May 28, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275 sweet friends and family!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had four flavors of wedding cake served at our reception: lemon, chocolate mousse, strawberry, and bourbon, of course, since we were in Kentucky!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We are so blessed to have amazing examples of marriage in both of our lives, so we felt very prepared going into all of this! We went through marriage counseling with our mentors, who we have know for our entire season of dating. They walked us through “The Mingling of Two Souls” by Matt and Lauren Chandler and had endless conversations with us covering principles of marriage that you might not always see from the outside. They prayed with us and over us and continue to challenge and encourage us!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? One thing I did to save money was to do all of the hair and makeup myself! The morning of the wedding was so fun–we relaxed and the bridesmaids did each other’s makeup while I curled everyone’s hair, including my own. I’ve always been notorious for playing with my friends’ hair while hanging out, so why would I do it any differently on my wedding day?
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Spread out the planning so you can enjoy it! I had so much fun slowly checking things off my list–setting deadlines in a planner (I used the Southern Wedding Planner!) is great way to not get overwhelmed. Also, allow people to help. I’m a designer, so I love making things by myself, but some of my favorite memories were painting old doors with friends and going shopping with my mom and making decisions with her. Wedding planning can and should bring you closer to the people around you–they want to celebrate this season of your life with you and your fiancé!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are making our home in Franklin, Tennessee, where we both work and live. We are looking forward to traveling together, learning from our mistakes and victories, and serving the community around us as our marriage and family grow. We also can’t wait to see Tennessee beat Kentucky in football for years to come.

Photographer: Bella Grace Studios | Venue and Catering: Gilkison Farm | Florist: Chambliss Designs | Wedding Cake: Sweet Lilu’s Catering | Rentals: Bryant’s Rent-All | DJ: Chase Scott | Vows Books: Seliz Design | Bride’s Gown: “KP3695” by David’s Bridal | Veil: “WPD16266M” by David’s Bridal | Bride’s Shoes: “Kivah” by INC International Concepts | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Midi Bandeau” by ASOS | Groom’s Attire: Levi’s | Bow Ties: “BC578ST” by The Tie Bar

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

    What a sweet proposal story!

  2. avatar Josh Merideth reply

    Thank you so much for sharing… Such a sweet beautiful couple!!

  3. avatar Amy reply

    Such an adorable bride and groom, Loved all the photos!

    We at http://poemstogo.tv wish them a lifetime of love and happiness xxxoo

  4. avatar Julie Hay reply

    here is our proposal video too! :)

  5. avatar Skylar Caitlin reply

    Bella Grace Studios did a fantastic job capturing this couple! I can feel their genuinely sweet spirits flowing off the screen.

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When planning a wedding, it can be seriously temping to get so caught up in Pinterest boards and magazine pages that you forget the most meaningful source of inspiration: yourselves! Every couple and love story is so unique, and turning to your own history for wedding ideas pretty much guarantees that your celebration will be a lovely reflection of what matters most to you. Lauren and Michael did a fabulous job of this–from travel-inspired details (I love their table names!), to meaningful readings, to subtle nods to Lauren’s favorite Disney movies, they weren’t afraid to fill their wedding with personal touches at every turn. As a result, their wedding a great reflection of them, and they also remember their engagement as an especially fun time!

Thank you so much to Meredith Sledge for sending this pretty day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I actually found it at the very first shop I went into. I was in Chesapeake, Virginia visiting my family and thought it would be the perfect time to begin my search, instead of having to coordinate with all of them to come up to DC. I had my squad with me: my mother, father, younger sister (my maid of honor), grandmother, older sister, and one of my nieces. They helped me pick out seven different dresses, each one so different than the next, and all within my budget. I tried on each one to tons of “oohs” and “ahhs,” but all of that stopped when I tired on the last dress. Everyone, including me, was silent. We all knew! My dress was the only A-line I tried on. I never thought I would go for a fuller dress, thinking I wanted something more form fitting. This Mikaella dress made me feel like I was floating on the wedding clouds. (Side note, after I got home from buying the dress, I was looking back through my Pinterest account and realized that I had pinned that exact same dress the month before!)

We had always wanted to do a first look so we could have a more private moment together and use that time to take more pictures. Having spoken with other friends who have gotten married, they shared either how great having a first look was in saving time, or how they regretted not doing a first look because they felt rushed to take all of the pictures right after the ceremony. Something important to Michael and I was attending our cocktail hour. Since we did a first look and took our portraits and the bridal party shots then, we only had to do family pictures after the ceremony, so we were able to attend 30 minutes of the cocktail hour. Our first look pictures are my favorite pictures of the day. Getting to have that special moment for just Michael and I was the sweetest.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Michael and I live in DC but I grew up in Southern VA and he in California. We were not tied to any spot in particular since everyone would have to travel to the wedding, no matter where we had it. That left us with tons of possibilities! We did venue research online and picked out five that were in our budget and looked like our style (although we were still trying to figure that out!)–two in DC, and three in Charlottesville, Virginia. We liked certain aspects of each venue, but didn’t have our “aha” moment until Mount Ida Farm. It was the last venue we visited, and while we were there, we were told they were also building a brand new venue. We drove over to look at the construction, and all that was up was the main barn and one chandelier, but we knew. I loved the view of the mountains, the Restoration Hardware feel of the rough cut wood and glass chandelier, and the grove area that was going to be the ceremony area. Two days later, we signed the venue and construction was finished in November 2015.

Before the ceremony, we played covers of Disney songs. I am a huge Disney fan and had to incorporate Disney somehow without it being too cheesy. It was perfect and all of the guests noticed. When I walked down the aisle, my brother played the electric ukulele and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” That song was played the morning after Michael proposed when we were in Hawaii at breakfast by the beach. When we were thinking of what song to play at the wedding, that was the first one we both wanted. It was made even more special by having my brother play it.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Michael and I wrote our own vows and read an excerpt from a poem together. Some of our favorite lines from Michael’s vows were, “If the last six years have taught me anything, I know that even the next 60 won’t be enough to show you how much I love you.” From mine: “There is something about you, an energy, presence, laugh, or smile that is electric. That is what drew me to you and hasn’t let me go. I love that you can walk into any room, make a friend, or win people over with your sweet dimples and charm. I always think to myself, wow, he is mine.” There was also a reading Michael and I said to each other before our vows, “Everything that happens is nicer with you” by Sandol Stoddard.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The best way we planned was through being open and honest with each other. We regularly discussed all aspects of our relationship and being married. This included all of our finances, expectations, dreams, ambitions, goals, etc. Even if those discussions were uncomfortable or hard to get through sometimes, we knew it was for the best and would get to a spot where we need to be, now and in the future.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We brewed our own beer that had special labels of us from Oktoberfest on it. We had a caricature artist on hand the whole evening to give our guests an even more special experience. Our guestbook was a painting of us from the Disney movie “UP,” where could sign a balloon. All of the wine and champagne we chose was from wineries we have visited in Napa and Sonoma. Instead of traditional table numbers, we named all of the tables after different countries, and the escort cards were tickets/passports to the guest’s destination (aka table). Any friend or family member could walk into the wedding and know it was ours.

Michael’s favorite dessert is pie. It doesn’t matter what type of pie, just as long as it is a pie! We had three different flavors (gooey butter, peach bourbon, and strawberry mint). We also had Georgetown mini cupcakes. Michael and I live across the river from Georgetown and always love to go to Georgetown Cupcakes. We worked with the company to design all of the fondant toppers and select four delicious flavors. For our wedding cake, we chose a simple white cake with etched-on gold. We also used a gold topper that said “You’re My Favorite,” since we say that to each other all of the time. It was simple, sweet, and delicious (honey lavender-flavored), and the sheet cake we served alongside it was champagne-flavored.

Don’t miss Lauren and Michael’s wedding film by WhiteFlair Productions below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both went to James Madison University during undergrad, but didn’t meet until our senior year. I led an alternative spring break trip, and the fall leading up to it, I got to meet my co-leader. We started to hang out and he began inviting his roommates along too. One of those roommates was Michael. During our second meeting, I became bold and gave him my number, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! To celebrate completing our Master’s degrees, Michael and I went to Maui, Hawaii with the Lee family. On June 3, 2015, we took a flight over to Kona for a night and did a five-hour night snorkel adventure to see manta rays. We were on the first part of the snorkel, when the sun was still out, and after 30 minutes or so, we began to swim closer to the boat and coral. I saw what I thought was a piece of trash on the reef and thought, wow, someone littered! I kept swimming until Michael had to ask what it was. I went back over to check it out, and on the paper was one word: “Lauren.” We swam down and got the paper, and on the back, Michael had written a note asking me to marry him. Overtaken with joy, I began to giggle and shout OKAYYYYYYYY! When we got back onto the boat, Michael gave me the ring.
When did y’all get married? April 16, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 166
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The only point of any contention while planning was the guest list. We both come from large families and have a number of friends, and we wanted to include all of them. However, due to the venue size restrictions, not everyone could be included. Working on the list and narrowing it down was a huge headache and pain in the side!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? A great feature of our venue was that we could bring in our own alcohol. Instead of doing an open bar with our caterer, Michael and I selected and bought all of the wine, champagne, liquor, beer, and specialty cocktails. Not only did this save money, but we were able to select top shelf and the drinks that we enjoy. What bottles we had leftover (since we definitely over-bought), we were able to return to Total Wine and Costco for even more savings.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We both loved wedding planning because we made decisions as a team. Drink plenty of wine and planning becomes even more fun! I would also say, don’t worry so much about hurting others’ feelings. I say this not in a selfish sense, but you will find you are more concerned about how others will feel or react than you are about your own feelings. There is a time and place to be focused on yourself, and this is one of them.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to enjoying every day as husband and wife. We also can’t wait to continue to travel the world and see and experience new things!

Photographer: Meredith Sledge | Videographer: WhiteFlair Productions | Planner: Two Byrds Events and Design | Venue: The Lodge at Mount Ida Farm | Florist: The Flower Box | Cake Baker: Arley Cakes | Caterer: The Local | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: Party Masters | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride’s Gown: Style 1959 by Mikaella | Hair and Makeup: The Spot Beauty Shop | Bride’s Shoes: “Chrissy” by J. Renee | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Styles 7289L, 7372L, 7366L, and 7257 by Alfred Angelo, Styles F15782, F15928, and F15933 by David’s Bridal | Menswear: Tuxedo by Sarno | Caricature Artist: About Faces Entertainment | Cupcakes: Georgetown Cupcakes

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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I’ll never grow tired of blush bridesmaid dresses, and according to the number of weddings we see with bridesmaids wearing them, neither will many of you! I personally think it’s the perfect shade for brides who are going for a sweet, romantic aesthetic, and it looks beautiful with every skin tone and hair color. We were so excited to learn about the new Wonder by Jenny Packham collection from David’s Bridal, because not only do they offer a gorgeous new assortment of styles for blush-loving gals, they also fit the high quality at an affordable price point standard that David’s Bridal is known and loved for. We asked a few sweet Florida readers to model some of our favorite styles for us, and our Blue Ribbon Vendor Elaine Palladino captured them to perfection so we could show you how lovely they are in today’s post!

There are really no “cons” to a mismatched bridal party look–every girl gets a dress she loves and that works with her body type, and it creates an interesting, layered look in your bridal party photos. There are a few ways to pull it off seamlessly:

1. Same color, fabrics, and length, different styles
2. Same color and fabrics, different lengths and styles
3. Same color, different fabrics, lengths, and styles
4. Same color and length, different fabrics and styles

As you can see in these photos, we went with option four, choosing all long dresses from the Wonder by Jenny Packham collection in “Petal.” The dresses come in 10 different colors, and are made of a variety of fabrics, including Chantilly lace and chiffon, so you can mix and match as much or as little as you’d like!

The Wonder by Jenny Packham collection is brand new–it just launched this season, and is available exclusively at David’s Bridal stores and on DavidsBridal.com. Along with six bridesmaid styles (that we pulled from for this shoot), the collection also includes nine bridal gowns, four mother of the bride dresses, two flower girl dresses, and accessories.

One of the best things about choosing David’s Bridal bridesmaid dresses is that with over 300 stores nationwide, it’s practically a guarantee that each and every one of your best gals will be able to visit a location and try on her dress in person to make sure it’ll be a perfect fit, no matter where she lives. Can’t figure out where to start your search? Use David’s Bridal’s Bridesmaid Dress Style Finder Tool to pull up all of the options that will be the best fit for your venue, color palette, and preferences, and then email the winning looks to your bridesmaids to weigh in on!

We’d love to know, which of these dresses is your favorite? I’m torn between those delicate lace sleeves and jeweled neckline!

Photographer: Elaine Palladino Photography | Venue: Social House | Flowers: Julia Rohde Designs | Dresses: David’s Bridal | Hair and Makeup: Courtney Martin for Jennifer Cruz Beauty Group and GS Makeup Artistry and Hair Styling | Styling Assistance: Desiree Dawn Events

This post is brought to you by David’s Bridal-–thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Bridesmaid Dress Editorial For Southern Weddings | Elaine Palladino Photography | South Florida Portrait And Wedding Photographer reply

    […] the intensity of an actual wedding day. Be sure to check out the article on Southern Weddings HERE. A special thanks to Marissa and Southern Weddings for the opportunity and for being so fun to […]

  2. avatar Christine reply

    I had such a blast working with you guys! Everybody was so sweet! xoxo
    -Christine

    http://ccaseyphotography.com/blog

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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