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When I married my darling husband over seven years ago (!), we opted not to do a first look. We’re a very traditional couple, and we’ve never regretted that decision. Well, never might not be the best word, y’all. Between Hudson’s joyful tears after seeing Carley for the first time and her ear-to-ear smile, I might be reluctant to use that word again! Their first look under a 200+ year old magnolia tree is not the only thing that has my heart smitten. Carley and Hudson’s love and gratitude for their family, friends, and the South is evident from their large bridal party, ceremony location, and fabulous exit, complete with a Mardi Gras bead toss! It’s safe to say, I’ve got a serious crush on today’s wedding!

Gracious, we’re glad Sarah Becker shared this sweet day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went to my second appointment of the day at I Do Bridal Couture with my mom, sister, aunt, and cousin. I tried on my second dress and knew looking in the mirror that there was something special about it, but it wasn’t quite right. Before I knew it, I had the skirt of another dress over my head and around my waist, lace pinned as makeshift sleeves, and a sash tied in a bow. I looked in the mirror and to my family and we all started crying. It was beautiful! And then we all shared a laugh at the sight of my “perfect” wedding dress full of pins and extra fabric. I am so thankful to the Liancarlo team for creating the custom gown of my dreams.

We both agree that our favorite moment of the day was the first look. I walked out of the doors of Dunleith toward a stunning, 200+ year old magnolia tree, where Hudson was anxiously waiting. As we faced each other, we were able to react in full vulnerability with happy tears, loving embraces, and giant smiles. On the most important day of our lives, we were thankful to have some time to ourselves to soak it all in.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We are grateful for all of our vendors and loved the intentional details we incorporated throughout our wedding. However, when your cousins come in from Montana with carloads of exquisite flowers to create bouquets, boutonnieres, garlands, and arrangements of your dreams, you just have to throw your arms around them and say thank you! Katalin has a true gift and we were honored to be recipients of the beauty she creates. I am also thankful for our photographer, Sarah. Several years ago, I saw her work featured on Southern Weddings and instantly adored her story and spirit. She shared in our joy, made us feel at ease, and was an essential part of the day.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional vows. It was surreal speaking those words I came to know as a little girl when attending weddings.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4: 11-19, read by my aunt and one of Hudson’s former coaches. “We love because he first loved us” was a verse that guided Hudson and I through our engagement. We wanted to take the time to practice gratitude for the ultimate, unfailing love of Christ. When we put our focus on His love, we are able to love each other with greater grace.

Both of our families have attended the First Presbyterian Church for generations. My great-grandmother worked at the church for more than 20 years and my parents were married there. Hudson and I agreed that the presence of God and many loved ones before our time would be surrounding us at our ceremony. For our reception, we wanted to share the beauty of Natchez with our guests, so we chose Dunleith Historic Inn, a stunning expression of the South. It was also the surprise dinner location when Hudson asked me to be his girlfriend and after he proposed, so it seemed fitting that we would celebrate our wedding there too.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We wanted our wedding weekend to celebrate our deep roots in Natchez, Mississippi and to reflect the love we shared. We hosted events at historical Natchez homes and gave the bridesmaids a special champagne toast and tour of Longwood, an antebellum home stopped short of completion because of the Civil War. I gifted my bridesmaids monogrammed mint julep cups to serve one of my favorite cocktails during hair and makeup. Traditions included a cake pull and a larger-than-life bridal party. To honor Mardi Gras weekend, we left our reception through a second line and guests throwing beads. However, the greatest depiction of the South was the easygoing joy and love that surrounded our wedding day.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I was a studious sophomore and Hudson was a senior football captain at our high school in Baton Rouge. He saw pictures of me on a trip to Natchez with friends for the annual historic pageant and ball. Natchez is a small town, so he messaged and asked me if I had family there. We came to find out that his grandmother was the court reporter for the judge, my great-grandfather. Our families had known each other for years! It took us a few years to get things right, but after my freshman year of college, we decided our future would be together. The next few years would consist of a lot of Skype calls to ease the difficulty of long distance, and lots of road trips to Mississippi and Texas while Hudson pursued his dream of coaching football and I finished college in Louisiana. We wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Tell us all about the proposal! Football season puts a hold on most dates or any weekend trips, so we always try to see family and spend a special weekend together after the bowl game. We traveled to Natchez to see his grandmother, but Hudson said he had something special planned for us as well. That morning, Hudson went hunting with his cousin. Little did I know, they also went to buy dozens of roses, taking off the petals one by one in preparation for that evening. When he returned, we decided to take our chances with the nearby storm clouds and went for a run downtown. As we were starting up a giant hill, it started to rain, and then pour! We trudged up the hill and laughed so hard as we stood at the top, soaking wet and out of breath. After spending the rest of the day around town and getting caught in a few more storms, we headed home to get ready. Hudson was insistent that we try to see the sunset before dinner, even though the rain continued. We walked along the bluff, looking at the Mississippi River, until he suggested we go under the gazebo. Hudson grew quiet as he led me up the steps and took me to the center, where we were surrounded in rose petals. He spoke heartfelt words as he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I said yes, of course! We shared a romantic dinner at the restaurant behind Dunleith, just the two of us, basking in our love and excitement. The next day, when we arrived to church, I saw my family standing on the steps. Sweet Hudson planned the extra surprise, followed by brunch with both of our families who had come into town to celebrate.
When did y’all get married? February 6, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 250
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I chose a four-tiered white cake with alternating caramel layers, decorated with cascading flowers. It was classic and delicious! Hudson’s grooms cake was red velvet (his favorite) and was decorated with the logos of the football programs where he had played and then coached. Fun fact: I began gifting Hudson vintage pennant flags when he started coaching. We used them around his cake, including a handmade pennant with our last name that I surprised him with on our wedding day.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We hosted my bridesmaids and many of our family at Dunleith for the wedding weekend. Overall, that was the greatest detail because we were able to enjoy the history of the home and explore the beautiful grounds (the greenhouse was my favorite!). At the reception, guests were greeted with champagne as they walked up to giant columns and a wraparound porch. When you walked into the home, it was like taking a step back in time. We couldn’t go wrong with letting the details of an antebellum home serve as decor!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed was a handkerchief embroidered with the names of each married friend. I am so happy to pass it on to my next dear friend on her wedding day! My something old was an antique brooch I pinned to my bouquet that had belonged to my great-great-great-grandmother. My first something blue was gifted by my mom, a prayer shawl knitted by the healing ministry of my church. Our family received one when my dad was in the hospital after a life-threatening accident. In our belief that we should pray through joy and pain, love and sorrow, my bridesmaids laid their hands on it and prayed with me before I walked down the aisle. The second was a diamond and sapphire ring I wore that belonged to Hudson’s great-grandmother. My something new was my dress and shoes.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our pastor graciously worked around our long distance relationship and the football season to plan premarital counseling sessions that focused on values and communication. We read The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller (a must read for anyone!). We also decided that preparing for marriage would not stop at the wedding. We continue to read books that sharpen our relationship and we plan to take marriage classes at our Fort Worth church.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We currently live in Fort Worth, Texas and love sharing life in the same city, along with our new puppy, Biscuit. We are both driven to pursue our dreams, so it’s wonderful to share ideas and offer support to each other daily. We aren’t quite sure what the future holds but we are excited for our journey together. This year, we look forward to hosting dinners for guests, deepening relationships with new friends, and the 2016 football season. Go Frogs!

Photographer: Sarah Becker Lillard | Videographer: Charity Robinson | Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church | Reception Venue: Dunleith Historic Inn | Florist: Katalin Green | Cake Baker: Edna’s Cake Creations | Band: Phat Hat | Paper Products: MADdesign | Bride’s Gown and Veil: Liancarlo | Hair and Makeup: INDē Salon | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Dessy Collection | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse | Ceremony Programs: Wiregrass Weddings | Bridesmaids Robes: SilkandMore | Welcome Basket Gift Tags and Other Personalized Details: GraciousBridal

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Sarah Becker Lillard reply

    Thank you so much for featuring Carley + Hudson’s wedding! They seriously are made of gold and such a perfect fit for SW not just stylistically but because their hearts line up with y’alls mission so well! Thank you thank you!

  2. avatar Danny Wandelt reply

    Lovely location!

  3. avatar Doree reply

    I love the book with the crest on the front! Where is that from?!

    • avatar Carley reply

      Hi Doree! Sorry just happened to see your comment. If you are speaking about the picture with the jewelry around the crest, that was our wedding program! We ordered them from WiregrassWeddings on Etsy. She creates beautiful work.

  4. avatar Hochzeitsfotograf reply

    Gorgeous bride, beautiful dress and amazing photography!

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When a wardrobe stylist/wedding planner is the bride, you can count on some amazing fashion choices at a wedding (hello, bow-back shoes and custom tulle sleeves!). Add in a floral designer mama and a horticulturist aunt, and you’re also in for a real show in the blooms department! Allann had always wanted to get married at her family’s farm, but the logistics proved to be more of a challenge than she had expected. After looking at other venues, Allann and Bill knew that none had as much meaning as the farm, so together with their families (and some incredible vendors), they hauled in everything they needed to create an elegant wedding in their family’s own space. I’m sure Allann’s grandfather, who gave tours of their beautiful property in his white cowboy hat, was tickled pink to see such a gorgeous event on his grounds!

Thanks to Kristen Kilpatrick for sharing this wedding day with us!

Finding my wedding dress was a serious task for me, because I am a wardrobe stylist and wedding planner. My mom and I went to every major bridal gown store in Houston, and I kept choosing tight-fitting, hourglass-style dresses–what I always thought I would wear. When I would put them on though, I just didn’t like how I looked in them. Our next course of action was to travel to Austin to shop with a few of my best friends, my stepmom, and my teenage sisters. As it turned out, my sisters picked out the dress I ended up buying. I kept saying, “No ball gowns!” everywhere we went, but they fell in love with a Lazaro ball gown and insisted I try it. It was stunning and so uniquely different–the layers of the skirt were made up of different tones of cream and ivory over a gold lining, so the gown glowed like spun gold. I designed thin tulle sleeves and had a custom veil made so that the dress had more of a fall feel to it, and so that I wouldn’t be as cold.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did write our own vows. We tried to write them weeks before the wedding, but both of us wrote the bulk of them alone the night before. I sat out on our back porch on the swing and was truly inspired at that moment to write my vows to Bill. I remember I told him that his arms were the safest place on earth. He said to me, “I promise I will always stand behind you when you need support, in front of you when you need defending, and next to you when all you need is a friend.” I was floored by his poetic words and I think they were the perfect vows for us.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was the custom photo booth backdrop my cousin and matron of honor made for us. She is an amazing artist and created an 8-foot-tall wooden photo booth backdrop, complete with our names, wedding date, location, and painted-on lyrics from some of our favorite songs, including our grandparents’ song, “Pledging My Love” by Johnny Ace. The wedding guests had so much fun standing in front of it taking photos, and some of our favorite wedding day pics are of us in front of the back drop.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I have known since I was a little girl that I wanted to get married on my family farm. When we started to plan the wedding and saw how tough it was going to be to turn a family farm, hay field, small house, and barn off a dirt road into an elegant wedding venue, we hesitated and tried to look at other venues. While they were beautiful, they had no meaning to me, and I didn’t feel any connection with them. We decided we would do whatever it took to make the most beautiful, rustic, elegant wedding happen there in that space, where my great-grandmother could look down upon us. My grandparents, who own the farm with my great aunt and uncle, were so generous and patient with us as we took over their farm and morphed it into a wedding venue. It was so special.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Everything about our wedding was so Southern, from the landscape in beautiful Lovelady, Texas, to the dirt road our little white farmhouse is off of. Seeing my grandfather walk around, showing everyone the property in his gorgeous white cowboy hat was a highlight for me. We loved having Southern whiskey cocktails served at our wedding, like the Whiskey Ginger and Old Fashioned. The carnival-style cocktail hour was another fun thing that we did–we loved seeing all the kids enjoying bottle toss and balloon darts! Many of our guests wore boots with their suits and dresses, and we loved two-steppin’ to George Strait at the reception!

Our florals were done by my mother, Sage, who runs the floral design part of our wedding planning firm, Belle Soul Weddings. She is so creative, and my sweet Aunt Donna is a horticulturist, so the two of them created a stunning color palette and design. Our color palette was burgundy, cream, and different tones of green. The tables and ceremony arch (built by my stepfather) were my favorites. The green boughs were taken from cedar trees on our land, and we also added some seeded eucalyptus.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. My mother baked our wedding cake, of course! She also runs the cake and pastry section of Belle Soul Weddings, our wedding design firm. Bill’s favorite cake is red velvet, and I wanted a naked cake, so she gave us just that: a red velvet naked cake with barely-there vanilla buttercream icing. It was three layers and sat on top of a round tree slice that my grandfather cut for us from a tree on our land. She decorated the cake with grape bunches, cream roses, greenery, and our wooden Mr. & Mrs. cake topper.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. When we met, we were both so drawn to each other. We flirted for months and told our friends about each other. Finally, Bill invited me to a music show that a mutual friend of ours was having. When Bill gave me his phone number, I didn’t have my phone or a pen on me, so I remembered the number by repeating it over and over as I walked to my car. I put it into my phone and texted him right then! Our first official date was on November 7, 2012 at Raven Grill in Houston. We have been together ever since, and we both knew early on that this was something different and more special than either of us had ever experienced before.
Tell us all about the proposal! We were having dinner at Bill’s mother’s house in honor of his 30th birthday, and at the end of dinner, he opened all his presents except for one, which was in a huge white box. He pushed it over to me and said, “This one is for both of us.” I thought, okay, it’s something for the apartment. I opened it, and inside the large white box with tons of tissue paper, I found a tiny black ring box. Bill reached for it, picked it up, got down on one knee, and revealed the most beautiful diamond, given to him by my grandmother. He said some of the sweetest things I have ever heard, and then asked in a shaky voice, “Will you marry me?” It was the best moment! I felt so happy, so excited, so loved, so at peace knowing how lucky I was to have Bill as my partner for the rest of my life.
When did y’all get married? November 8, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 120
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Choosing the music at our wedding was such a fun part of planning. We even made a CD of the day’s music as a favor for our guests. We are both big music lovers, and have always have had a penchant for old music. I chose to walk down the aisle to a live instrumental version of Ray Lamontagne’s “All The Wild Horses” played on violin and guitar by our dear friends. We danced our first dance to Sanders Bohlke’s, “You,” an unreleased track I only know about because he did the music on an independent film I worked on in Austin. It was such a special song and perfectly fit the mood of the night.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Our advice is try to stay connected to what it is really all about: the two of you, your love, and your commitment to your life together. It is hard to stay present during all that planning. Hire a wedding planner if you can, and let them take the weight off your shoulders so that you can just experience the good stuff. Take time for yourselves to reflect after the ceremony. We stole this idea from friends of ours, but after photos, we had dinner alone on the porch while everyone else had soup and salad at the reception. Another thing I would tell brides is to hold your ground about things, even when your family might not agree right away. They will come around, or they won’t, but it is about you and your partner planning the ceremony and celebration that makes you feel good. Honor them and remember them, but stay true to your heart.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are both entrepreneurs and love planning out the next steps in our businesses. We are so excited to share these two wonderful families that we have combined, and we feel so lucky to have just pure awesomeness coming from both sides. We can hardly wait to start a family of our own and share that experience with our extended family and sweet friends.

Photographer: Kristen Kilpatrick / Videographer: Compass Initiative / Planner, Florals, and Cake: Belle Soul Weddings / Venue: Private residence / Caterer: Larry’s Catering / Rentals: Any Occasion Party Rental / DJ: Patrick Osayande / Envelopes, Programs, and Calligraphy: Nib and Pixel / Invitations: WJ Ford and Associates / Bride’s Gown: “LZ3215” by Lazaro / Bride’s Earrings: Kate Spade / Bride’s Headpiece: Avigail Adam / Hair Stylist: Candice Hollub of Sunkissed and Madeup / Bride’s Makeup: Taylor DeClercq at Sunkissed and Madeup / Bridesmaid Makeup: Jen Marine Makeup Artistry / Bride’s Ceremony Shoes: Nina / Bride’s Reception Shoes: Michael Kors / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale, Dessy Collection, Alfred Angelo, Ceremony by Joanna August, BHLDN / Menswear: Tommy Hilfiger from Men’s Wearhouse / Groom’s Tie: Michael Kors / Photo Booth Back Drop: Jordan Ashby of Artsy Ashby

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Elisheva Golani reply

    Absolutely beautiful Allann and Sage! I loved reading what you wrote and pouring over the gorgeous photos!

  2. avatar Classic Wedding Invitations reply

    Gorgeous pop of colour!

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  7. avatar Lauren reply

    Where did you get the flower girl dress?

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  10. avatar Tiffany Stewart reply

    Hello! I’d love to know where the flower girl dress came from? Thanks so much!

    • avatar Megan reply

      Do you know where this flower girl dress is from? I didn’t see any replies to comments- I’m super curious!


    • avatar Belle Soul Weddings – Sage reply

      The Dress is from Monsoon and sorry I didn’t see these sooner :)

    • avatar allann arnold reply

      hey guys! I am so sorry I never saw your questions. the flower girl dress came from a little boutique in the Houston galleria I don’t remember the name of! it started with an “m” maybe! forgive me -allann

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  12. avatar Paperlust Wedding Invitations reply

    Amazing style, that cake looks delicious!

  13. avatar Laura reply

    I love the flower girls dress! Where is it from?

  14. avatar Jane reply

    where did you find the “Mr & Mrs” cake topper?

  15. avatar Hillary reply

    Hi, where did the flower girl dress come from? Thank you!!

    • avatar Sage reply

      It came from Monsoon UK Children’s Boutique

  16. avatar Farra reply

    hello! lovely flower girl dress. do you know where I can purchase it?
    thank you!

  17. avatar Jenine reply

    Can I have information about this flower girl dress?

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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