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It’s always such a joy to see our Southern Bride Bloggers tie the knot, and I have to confess, I was stalking Callie‘s Instagram a little bit on Melissa and Will’s wedding day in the hopes of getting a peek at this sweet celebration! Not surprisingly, Melissa was as lovely and gracious as Southern brides come, and after reading the interview she and Will filled out together, it’s so evident that they were completely present on their wedding day. That’s our biggest hope for all of you brides–that you plan well, choose your vendors carefully, and then sit back and soak in every second of getting married! We love that that’s exactly what Melissa and Will did, and they now have so many special memories to carry with them into newlywed life and the many years to follow.

Thanks so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Callie of Nancy Ray Photography, for sharing Melissa and Will’s beautiful day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had always dreamed about the kind of dress I would get married in. I knew I wanted lace, and something that was lightweight and very feminine. As soon as I got engaged, I started talking to a few gals who had recently gotten married and made a list of stores they recommended, one of which was Lana Addison Bridal in Cary, North Carolina. I decided to start with Lana Addison because it was a smaller boutique and would help me ease into “the search,” but it actually ended up being the first and only place my mom, mother-in-law, and I ventured to! After looking at my inspiration, we headed to a dressing room and were given two dresses to start with. After trying both on, I knew neither was for me and mentioned the idea of trying on a dress with a “Great Gatsby” feel. Our consultant said she knew just the dress! I was brought a beautiful lace number that had cap sleeves, an alluring V-neckline, and a vintage-inspired silver and gold brooch that I just adored. I put it on and didn’t want to take it off. That’s when I knew it was the one.

Will has been one of the strongest Christian influences in my life and prays with and for me every single day, ever since the very beginning of our relationship. For whatever reason, I’ve never felt as comfortable praying out loud like he does. This is something I’ve struggled with for years and knew I wanted to change, so on our wedding day, I did just that! Instead of Will and I doing a first look, we decided to pray together behind a tree, and I opened us up in prayer. I was nervous, and didn’t know if I would be able to get any words out, but as we held hands, the excitement started to heighten and I was able to enjoy those brief moments that we got to spend together with God as our focus. I was proud of myself and knew this was the perfect way for us to spend our last few moments together before becoming husband and wife.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did a mix of both. For the ceremony, we went with more traditional vows, but added our own words to make them more “us.” My favorite phrase from our vows was “through tears and laughter, sickness and health, hardship and plenty, I will love you faithfully, constantly, and prayerfully”.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Scripture is important to Will and I and we wanted to find something that did a good job showcasing God’s intent for what a strong Christian marriage should look like. After narrowing down our choices, we selected Mark 10:6-9 and Colossians 3:12-17 to be read by one of our bridesmaids and groomsmen during our ceremony. For our homily, we asked our officiant to focus on Ephesians 5:21-33.

We held our ceremony at Dinwiddie Chapel on the Peace College campus, where I attended college when it was an all-girls school. One of our school’s requirements was to attend chapel every week, so I grew very fond of its charm, and have so many memories that were created there. It didn’t hurt that it was also bright and airy inside, which was something I definitely wanted. For our reception venue, we knew that we wanted to find a space that had a rustic feel, exposed brick, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open floor plan that we could customize. The Cotton Room had all of the above and more. It was just what we had dreamed of!

Being born and raised in the South, I knew I wanted to have a wedding with lots of Southern details–insert mason jars, Cheerwine bottles, and plenty of wooden accents. It was important to us that all of our family and friends felt comfortable throughout the day, so we decided against having “sides” at our ceremony and asked all of our guests to sit wherever they wanted, allowing them to mingle and meet one another as soon as the festivities began. The friendly and inviting tone of the day gave it a great Southern feel. We also put a lot of thought into the menu options offered at the reception. To our surprise, the most talked-about items at our wedding were the the pimento cheese sliders with fried green tomatoes, the BBQ pork puppies, and the goat cheese smashed potatoes.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved every vendor we had the pleasure of working with, but there are a few that specifically went above and beyond in meeting our expectations. The first was Nancy Ray Photography. Photos capture moments you want to cherish forever and Callie and her team did just that. The second is, without a doubt, my wedding coordinator, Emily King of Whiskey and White Events, combined with the whole staff at The Cotton Room. Without Emily’s help, our wedding day wouldn’t have run as smoothly as it did. The staff at The Cotton Room also blew us away with the display and setup of everything used at the reception. It was magical. They even surprised us with “a pizza pie to say goodbye” that we enjoyed after the reception!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Will: At the end of January 2010, I was introduced to Melissa by some mutual friends. I knew pretty quickly after talking to her that she was something special, but after spending some time getting to know each other that night, we went our separate ways. A few days later, Melissa reached out to me over Facebook, invited me to a party her friends were hosting, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a July weekend, and we headed to the mall so Will could pick up some clothes for work. While we were at the mall, Will randomly said “Let’s go to Anthropologie so you can find a dress to wear tonight for the double date we’re going on. My treat!” After stopping at Anthro, we were headed home when Will got a “phone call” and told me he had to go into the office before our double date. About 20 minutes after Will left, one of my closest friends, Emily, arrived at my house and explained that Will had asked her to keep me company because he felt bad that he had to go into work on our date day. A few hours later, Will texted me ask if Emily could drop me off at the place where we were going to meet the other couple. We were almost at our destination when Emily pulled into a parking lot right beside Marshall Park, and in the far distance, I saw my parents and my uncle. This is the moment that I knew something was going on! My parents led me over a bridge and slowly backed away to leave me standing by myself in front of a large fountain. That’s when I spotted Will walking down a hill, looking as handsome as ever. When he finally approached me, I gave him a big hug and got a few awkward laughs out (I was nervous!), and from that point on, all I remember is Will grabbing my hands and asking me if I knew how much he loved me. All I could think about was how amazing he was for thinking through everything in great detail, and the fact he included my family meant so much to me. I said YES once he popped the question and the rest of the night was spent celebrating with our families!
When did y’all get married? June 13, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We actually decided against doing a first look for a few reasons, mainly because I wanted to do one with my dad instead. I’m an only child and “daddy’s little girl” so I knew it would be special and mean a lot to him to be able to spend a few moments together before the ceremony. Will also felt strongly about seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle, and we wanted to experience the anticipation and excitement of seeing each other for the first time at the altar.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Will and I invested a great deal of time and energy into staying focused on the fact that a wedding lasts just ONE day. A marriage is what lasts a lifetime. Before we were engaged, we went to premarital counseling at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, where we learned the best ways to communicate with one another and were able to put that into practice. After we got engaged, we did counseling with Tyler Jones of Vintage Church and were able to discover each other’s top love language, had regular conversations about the things we valued, and had open discussions about the concerns, fears, and things that we were excited about when it came to being married and growing spiritually with someone.
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? My mom and mother-in-law are DIY-ers through and through, and went out of their way to help Will and I cut costs on our wedding. These busy bees helped make all the signs used at the ceremony and reception, helped paint mason jars and all the items that were used as centerpieces for reception tables, and helped print and prepare our wedding programs. We were also able to save money by providing our own vases for the flowers, and we reused the altar flowers and aisle markers from our ceremony on the bridal party and cocktail tables.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Will and I are renting a townhouse in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Charlotte. We’ve made friends with our neighbors and have enjoyed many nights walking to get ice cream and exploring the Queen City as much as possible. Recently, we’ve been brainstorming ideas of what we want to see and do during our trip to New York this November (I’ve never been!), and have started talking about celebrating our first anniversary overseas in Hong Kong. Will’s mom just moved there and we can’t wait to explore another part of the world together in 2016.

Photographer: Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography / Videographer: Good Earth Films / Planner: Emily King of Whiskey & White Events / Ceremony Venue: Dinwiddie Chapel / Reception Venue: The Cotton Room / Florist: MEWS Designs / Dessert Baker: The Cupcake Shoppe / Caterer: Triangle Catering / Band: The Troupers / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Gown: “Rita” by Amy Kuschel / Bridal Salon: Lana Addison Bridal / Bride’s Earrings: “Rennie” by Nina from Nordstrom / Hair and Makeup: Makeup by Ashley Mooney / Bride’s Shoes: “Forbes” by Nina from Nordstrom / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style JH5307” by Jim Hjelm Occasions / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: New York Bride and Groom / Menswear: Jos A. Bank / Ties: The Tie Bar / Cake Topper: Emily Steffen Shop / Chair Signs: The Apothecary Bee / Party Favors: Rook Design Co. / Transportation: White Horse Transportation

Nancy Ray and Good Earth Films are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
8 Comments
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    So lovely! I’ve been following Melissa’s blog for a while and was so excited to finally see the pictures. I’ve heard the proposal story before but absolutely teared up again while reading it.

  2. avatar Melissa reply

    You ladies have wrecked my heart and made my morning….my week if i’m being honest! Thank you for featuring Will and I’s special day. I can’t help but smile looking back at these photos….just amazing.

  3. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    This entire wedding is simply stunning! I love all of the personal, meaningful, and Southern details, and you can tell just how much thought and attention to detail went into it. The florals are amazing, and I’m always a huge fan of the Cotton Room!!

  4. avatar Mary-Katherine reply

    The most beautiful wedding of a dear friend with an even more beautiful heart! I loved all the special details that they made sure to include, it all came together perfectly!

  5. avatar Melissa and Will Durham, NC Film Wedding | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] thanks to Southern Weddings for featuring this lovely wedding! Click here to see the full […]

  6. avatar Emily King reply

    Melissa and Will, thank you for such kind words. It was a true pleasure to work with you both. Wishing you every happiness in your life ahead.

  7. avatar Henry Gray reply

    Nice wedding party the bide look so pretty Love the colour scheme and the beautiful photographs. Gorgeous photos.

  8. avatar Celebrating Southern Weddings | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] and Jamie’s Real Wedding featured in the Pages of Southern Weddings Magazine and on the blog Melissa and Will’s Wedding on the SW Blog Southern Newlywed: Planning a […]

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Today’s wedding is special to us, not just because it’s meaningful and lovely, but because it took place in our neighboring city, Durham! Erika + Jon knew right away that they would get married in Erika’s mother’s back yard. The decision just “felt right” and another venue never even occurred to them! According to the bride, “With all the memories that we share in that yard, that house, that neighborhood and that town, there really was no other place that could have compared. Choosing a look or style for the wedding wasn’t quite as easy… so, I didn’t.” The hodge-podge of elements that E + J used put the groom at unease at first, but we think it came together marvelously! We’re sending out big thanks to Oh, Darling Photography for sharing this wedding with us.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Ugh, wedding dresses are the worst, right? They’re heavy, they’re uncomfortable, they all look the same and they’re so expensive. I swore to myself that I’d find an interesting dress that was comfortable, affordable, and had straps so I could dance all night and not bat an eyelash. Turns out, that doesn’t exist. After scouring the internet and even a few bridal boutiques, I settled on the next best thing. I bought a 1950s eyelet dress off of www.poshgirlvintage.com without trying it on. I worked with a seamstress to rework the bodice so it would fit me better. Comfort aside, it was all I ever wanted. It was lovely — right for the environment and right for me.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows mostly because we’re lazy but also because we’re secretly traditional. The old fashion vows are pretty good and they’ve certainly stood the test of time.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Jon’s mom is an elementary school librarian with a reading voice so sugary-sweet it’ll give you a toothache. She has a gentle, Southern tone that I could listen to all day, so she was a shoo-in for the reader position. We let (read: forced) her to choose the literature herself and she picked the perfect thing. She read Mark Twain’s letter to his fiancé Olivia about their wedding day and it made me melt.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Michael Cumella, our Antique Phonograph DJ, chose our processional and recessional songs from his library of frisky 78s. They were early 1900s tunes that were perfect for our garden-like wedding. Walking down the aisle is already an awkward moment, and having a romantic or somber song would have only amplified that for me, so I shook it up a bit with a silly song. I opted for “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Wanna Do It)” by Al Jolson for my down-the-aisle-stroll. We danced our first dance to Beirut’s “Elephant Gun” because we both love it and we never got sick of it. After much debate, my dad and I settled on “Unforgettable” by Nat & Natalie Cole. That was a good choice because we could easily sway along to it without much need for steps or fancy moves.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I call it DDIY, Delegated DIY. I have the privilege of being surrounded by a ton of truly talented, patient and inspired people. My amazing Aunt Laura spontaneously free-hand-lettered the chalkboard menu, my brother-in-law Owen designed our logo from his home in Japan, my sister-in-law revealed her hidden lettering talent when she offered to paint all the directional signs, my best friend and co-worker Theresa designed the incredible carnival cut-out, and my mom and her friends hand tied all the ribbon dancers. I’d have the say that the ultimate DIY was more of a DIN — Do It, Neighborhood! In the week leading up to the wedding, my mom posted on the neighborhood Listserv that two local lovers would be tying the knot in her backyard. She explained that people from all over the country would be visiting her home to celebrate and she wanted to show her friends and loved ones what spirit and community her neighborhood has. She asked our friendly neighbors to collect any blooming flowers from their yard and drop a bundle in the mason jars that she would be leaving on her front porch overnight. When we woke up in the morning of the wedding, the jars on the porch were filled with the most incredible array of flowers, every different kind and color imaginable. It was like Christmas morning. We used the flowers all over, in various spots. They were like little tufts of love and support scattered around. There is amazing spirit in Durham.

What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? I LOVED the Phonograph DJ, Michael Cumella. He came all the way from NYC to DJ our wedding in North Carolina and I think it was worth every penny. Having sounds from the early 1900’s emanate from those great big horns really set the mood like nothing else could. It was quirky, it was fun, it was entertaining and original and the responses from the guests confirmed our decision. The splurge with the most lasting impact was the photography. Having a great photographer to capture your day just the way you remember it is priceless. Though I’d say that the photographers were less of a splurge and more of a necessary expense.

How much do you love this next set of photos? I can just feel the warm air and the clinking of glasses as the toasts are made!

In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? 110
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Jon and I agreed that wedding cake is overrated so we went with pie. My mom, apparently, was not keen on this idea so she surprised both of us with the most incredible wedding cake imaginable. Jon’s last name is Ham, so my mom commissioned Sweet Flamingo Cakes to sculpt an anatomically perfect ham out of carrot cake and frosting. Not only was this thing a masterpiece that could fool the naked eye, but I heard it was tasty, too. (I wouldn’t know cause I gorged myself on coconut cream pie from Once in a Blue Moon Bakery all night.)
What range did your wedding budget fall into? I think we were in the middle of $25,000 and $50,000. It was totally worth it.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? At about 10pm, the gods relented, the skies opened up and the water of a thousand oceans came pouring down on the dance floor. Hot summer rain fell, off and on, for the rest of the night, but the dancing never stopped. At one point, Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” came on and the whole wet wedding party hollered “you can plan a pretty picnic BUT YOU CAN”T PREDICT THE WEATHER!” in unison. It was amazing.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My advice to women planning weddings is to do what you like, have fun and ignore the rules. Don’t fall for the idea that you can only have flowers as centerpieces. You can put whatever you want in the middle of that table. Anything. We had a crate full of toys, trinket and magic tricks because that’s what I like. As for the venue, our decision was based primarily on feelings and memories, but there were some practical elements that played a small role. We wanted a wedding that could go on all night (we didn’t want to be forced out of a venue at ten), we wanted a cozy-homey feel, and we wanted a place that had some sentimental significance to us. Fortunately, my mom’s house matched all the criteria, so we got lucky there. But the advice remains the same: do what you like.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We’re heading to Japan in September for our Honey-plus-one-y-moon. The plus one is Jon’s brother who lives in Japan… not a baby.

Oh, Darling Photo is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
2 Comments
  1. avatar Desiree reply

    I’m a big fan of the DDIY – and I’m officially stealing this phrase! Hope that’s okay with the bride. I really like her vintage dress, too! I wish I could see pictures of all the amazing flowers from the neighborhood, that sounds SO cool! :)

  2. avatar DC Wedding Photographer reply

    The last image of the couple dancing is STUNNING!

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