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BDK and I chose very traditional vows when we got married–like many couples, we loved the history of saying those powerful words that so many generations have said before us. Vows are such an intimate aspect of any wedding, so I love when our couples share a little bit more about the ones they said with us. Lauren and Justin grew up together–meeting in sixth grade and becoming a couple in tenth. With such a vast history, I was so curious to know what they might have said to each other during their ceremony. Y’all, it’s even sweeter than I could have imagined! Together with their pastor, they customized vows that were perfect for them. Lauren vowed her “deepest love and unselfish devotion” and Justin promised his “protection and Godly leadership.” Swoon! Their favorite wedding detail makes these vows even more romantic: the arbor that they tied the knot under was built by Justin and his father. It will someday be kept in their backyard, so they can tell their future children the story of their wedding!

Big hugs to Kati Mallory for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! Each of these items is so special to me. My something old was a diamond bracelet that my grandmother gave me. It was so beautiful and perfect for the occasion. For my something new, I picked out the perfect pair of Chinese Laundry shoes–they’re heels, but are thick enough that they worked in the grass for our outdoor ceremony. For my something borrowed, Justin’s godmother lent me a handkerchief that every woman in her family has carried when they were married. The handkerchief has each bride’s name stitched on it along with their groom’s name, their wedding date, and the location of the wedding. It was really special to see our names added to it. For my something blue, I wore my blue sapphire Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority pin inside my dress.

When I started looking for my dress, I really had no idea what I wanted. I browsed online to look for ideas, but knew that I was going to be indecisive. It was important to me to have my bridesmaids, sister, and mom there to help me. The day was filled with all kinds of beautiful gowns. I came to a conclusion that I wanted a sweetheart gown, but wasn’t yet sold on a particular dress. It was important to me not to settle, even if that meant leaving empty-handed. I went back two weeks later with my mom, grandma, and aunt. After trying on a few dresses, I came across one I had seen the last time, but hadn’t tried on. It had a low back that added more flair, and I kept wanting to put it back on! We added the long cathedral veil and I was sold. I loved the lace detail and lightness of the dress. I knew that I would feel beautiful in it on my wedding day.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did decide to do a first look. I had gone back and forth on it, but after talking to other brides and our photographer, Justin and I decided it would be the best thing for us. Not only did it help the day go smoother, it also allowed us a few moments alone before the wedding. It made the first time we saw each other more intimate and we shared our excitement with laughter, tears, and prayers.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose not to write our own vows, but instead, chose to say scripture-based vows that our pastor wrote specifically for us. They were related to each of us and laid out what we wanted our marriage to look like. We each began our vows by saying that we joyfully received each other as God’s perfect gift to us. I vowed my deepest love and unselfish devotion and to always be Justin’s helper, and Justin vowed his protection and Godly leadership. While our pastor was the one who wrote the vows, they were very personal and specific to our marriage.

My favorite wedding detail would have to be the arbor that Justin and his dad built. We were married underneath it at the edge of the lake and it was absolutely beautiful. We draped it with garlands of flowers that coordinated to the bouquets and it tied the whole look together. It was perfect and we can’t wait to put it in our backyard and someday tell our children the story of our wedding.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? By having the wedding on a farm, saying our vows by a lake, and transforming a working barn into the site of our reception, we gave the whole day a Southern feel. We tied in elegant accents with tall, dramatic centerpieces, white tablecloths, and chandeliers.

My wedding flowers were one of the more important details of my wedding day to me. I wanted a romantic, organic, whimsical look for my bouquets and arrangements. My wedding planner and florist took my vision and turned it into a reality. When I couldn’t describe what I wanted, they knew exactly (if not better) what I was picturing! We chose lots of greenery mixed with pops of pink and peach, and ended up with ranunculus, peonies, and David Austin garden roses, and added in silver dollar eucalyptus and other greenery.

Our wedding cake was a traditional white wedding cake with white icing. It was a simple three-tiered cake, and I asked the florist to add a few clusters of flowers to it that coordinated with the centerpieces. It was exactly what I wanted and it was delicious! I added a gold “Mr. & Mrs. Eldridge” cake topper that we will be able to use for years to come! The groom’s cake was a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I made the platform out of a piece of wood with a natural bark edge. To make it stand out, I added greenery around the base and accented it with deer antlers. There was also a surprise later on in the night–every year for Justin’s birthday, I make him his favorite dessert, Funfetti cupcakes. His birthday was two days after our wedding, so I surprised him with cupcakes, and our entire reception paused to sing Happy Birthday as he blew out the candles!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. After the ceremony was over, we walked back up the aisle to “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates. We chose it because it’s so fun and made walking back up the aisle as husband and wife a blast. It is also a song we’ve been known to sing and dance around to–we even made a music video to it during our freshman year of college. Justin’s mom found it and played it at our rehearsal dinner, so that really tied it all together! Our first dance was to “You Are The Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne. It’s a fun and upbeat song, and we chose it because we could picture ourselves dancing to it we are old and gray!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Justin and I met in 6th grade at a church camp and instantly became friends. We went to different schools, so we would only see each other from time to time at youth group and church on Sundays. In 9th grade, our friends started becoming more mutual and we began spending more time together. Justin asked me to be his girlfriend in 10th grade and we’ve been together ever since. It really has been such a blessing and so fun to grow up together!
Tell us all about the proposal! The proposal was a complete surprise to me! While on vacation in Cozumel, Mexico, Justin and a couple of his friends went for a walk on the beach–I later found out that they had really gone to scope out a location for Justin to propose. They had walked down the beach to a private house, knocked on the door, and asked the group staying there if it would be okay for our friends to hide on their balcony and watch the proposal. They said yes and even volunteered to film and take pictures! Later that day, when Justin was ready to propose, his friends suggested that all of us go on another walk down the beach. As our friends started walking away, Justin said that he needed to go the bathroom first, and my friends told me to stay behind with him and then catch up. I was kind of concerned that my friends were okay with leaving me alone on a beach in Mexico, but luckily, I just went with it! When Justin came back, we started walking down the beach and talking about our future and how lucky we had been to grow up together. This was a normal conversation for us, so I didn’t think anything of it. We kept walking and I had no idea what was happening until Justin was down on one knee! He proposed, I immediately said yes, and he picked me and spun me around as our friends cheered from the stranger’s balcony! I was so surprised, and really have no idea how they pulled it off without me finding out. My friends know me way too well–when we started getting ready that morning, they even knew that if they dressed cute, then I would too! After the proposal, we all celebrated by going snorkeling, and Justin and I finished the day with a private dinner as our waiters sang “Happy Engagement to You!” It was the perfect day and we were so happy to share it with our closest friends!
When did y’all get married? April 25, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300+
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose two Bible verses that really expressed what marriage meant to us and the commitment we were making: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Matthew 19:4-6.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? It was really important to us to be intentional and plan for our marriage during the excitement of planning for our wedding. During the engaged chapter of our lives, we attended weekly premarital counseling and read several marriage books together. We also loved hearing insight from other married couples and learning about a marriage centered around God.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The first most memorable moment was our first look. I remember the exact look on Justin’s face when he turned around and saw me in my dress–we were both struggling to fight back tears! The second moment would have to be immediately after the ceremony. We chose to take a little time by ourselves while our guests were at our cocktail hour, so we went upstairs to the loft area of the barn, where a meal had been prepared for us. We ate, practiced our dance moves, and watched our guests from the balcony while we took in the moment! It was special to have time together and reflect on the vows that we had just made.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We just moved into our house and are working on getting it fixed up. In the next year, we hope to travel, enjoy life and each other, and raise our puppy dog!

Photographer: Kati Mallory / Videographer: Betwixt Magnolias / Planner: Anne-Claire Allen / Venue: Hidden Valley Farm / Florist: Tipton & Hurst / Cake Baker: Patti Cakes / Caterer: Simply the Best / Rentals: Confetti’s Party Rentals / Lighting and DJ: Central Arkansas Entertainment / Paper Products: Hobart’s Printing / Bride’s Gown: Casablanca / Hair Stylist: Kristen Spann of Red Beauty Bar / Makeup Artist: Lauren Benet / Bride’s Shoes: Chinese Laundry / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Allure / Menswear: Paul Morrell Formalwear

Kati Mallory is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Kati Mallory reply

    Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful day with your readers! So, so good!

  2. avatar Dana reply

    the confetti!!! I love it!

  3. avatar Rachel Nordgren reply

    Oh, I have a soft spot in my heart for arbors! Hans built one for us to use as an altar on our wedding day as well. We love seeing it every day in the backyard! It’s a great way to incorporate bits of the wedding into married life :)

  4. avatar Judy Denio reply

    What a wonderful story-gift Lauren and Justin will be able to share as they move through a life filled with God at the forefront. I was a guest at the wedding and am so glad to learn about their journey that led them to an evening filled with family, friends, things they both love and a shower of blessings to their life together. Lauren’s God-Mother, Judy Denio

  5. avatar Lauren & Justin’s Elegant Barn Wedding » Kati Mallory Photo & Design reply

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  6. avatar Looking Back and Looking Forward » Kati Mallory Photo & Design reply

    […] photography workshop in Nashville – featured online on Bridal Theory blog – featured online on Southern Weddings blog and Facebook page – featured in print with Southern Weddings Magazine, Confetti Magazine, […]

  7. avatar Sandra | Wedding Handkerchiefs reply

    Love your entire article, especially the part of the wedding hanky. I love creating custom wedding handkerchiefs.

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I think some of the best love stories begin in friendship, and Marenda and Jonathan’s story is no exception. After meeting in the dining hall during their first year of college and getting to know each over trigonometry class, they were friends for years as they each focused on growing as individuals. In time, they fell in love, and were married in a celebration that highlighted the two things most important to them: faith and family. I love the way they incorporated the traditions that were the most meaningful to them as a couple, from their sweet first look to their touching foot-washing ceremony.

Hugs to Anna K. Photography for sharing Marenda and Jonathan’s special day with us!

I had always planned to wear my mom’s dress and have it remade to fit me, but my mom insisted I find “my own.” I knew I wanted something simple and classy with some lace. I went to a place in Valdosta with my matron and maid of honor and my mama and fell in love with two dresses. After a few months had passed, I still could not get either dress out of my head, so I went back and tried both on again. The two were similar, and the one I ultimately chose had some beading on it that “sparkled.” The girls encouraged me by saying, “It’s the one day you are allowed to sparkle and shine; might as well make it count.” I absolutely loved my dress. It was perfect!

Describe your wedding flowers. My bouquet was pure Southern elegance, and it was wrapped in lace from my mama’s wedding gown. The bridesmaids’ bouquets and the flowers throughout the ceremony were very natural and vintage. We used a lot of whites (garden roses, ranunculus) with peach/blush tones, as well as succulents throughout.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes, we did! I never thought I would want to growing up, but it was what we both ended up wanting to do. I wanted time with him before we were with everyone else for the remainder of the day. We didn’t want to see each other for the first time in front of 300 of our friends and then not be able to tell each other our thoughts and express our love right away.

The venue was a farm, complete with pecan trees, horses, a stable, a farm house, a small cottage, and a pond–all of which remind me of growing up in the South. My daddy used wood from an old barn to build doors for me to walk out of and an altar. He also built the frame for a wagon that we used to pull my niece down the aisle.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Jonathan chose “Nothing Fancy” by Dave Barnes for me to walk down the aisle to, which I loved and thought was wonderful. It was a “secular” song, which I was concerned about at first, but the musicians (very dear friends) encouraged me that Jonathan and I would reflect the gospel and we didn’t have to plan on a song doing that. During the washing of the feet, we played the song “Divine Romance” by Phil Wickham. We both love this song and the display of the gospel in it.

A memorable moment was when we washed one another’s feet. Right after we had made our vows and exchanged rings, I washed his feet first and then he did mine. We chose to wash one one another’s feet because in order to wash someone’s feet or have your own feet washed, you must be humbled and in the position of prayer. Once we finished washing one another’s feet, three couples prayed over us and the guests were all asked to join in prayer. It was overwhelming to feel this love and support from so many people that are dear to us.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our venue. I believe having the wedding outdoors on a farm really set the tone for our wedding. It was like a huge family reunion and there was tons of space for people to explore.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We chose to do a smaller cake that was vanilla with buttercream frosting, decorated with rosettes, and an assortment of pies and cobblers, because it reminded us of family gatherings. Jonathan is not a huge dessert person, but he has a weakness for Oreos. I surprised him with a “groom’s cake” that was stacks of Oreos formed like a cake, accompanied by shot glasses of milk.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both attended Valdosta State University, where I joined Kappa Delta sorority and he joined Kappa Sigma fraternity during our freshman year. We met in our dining hall, eating with a huge group of pledge brothers and sisters. We then figured out we had signed up for the same trig class, which happened to follow that lunch! We sat next to one another in trig and our friendship grew. Over the next year and half, we liked one another off and on, but it was never “time.” Our junior year, Jonathan stayed home in Cumming, Georgia and commuted to a nearby school. During this year, my walk with the Lord grew more in that short time that it had in the 15 years leading up to it. In July 2010, I was the first person that Jonathan told he would be returning to Valdosta. We built a strong friendship with one another in the next few months, and Jonathan even spent Christmas day with my family when he couldn’t travel home. After this day, some of my walls started to come down. We spent more time with groups in fellowship and Jonathan began pursuing me, but I still only wanted to be friends. In June, I left for a weeklong trip to Haiti and Jonathan left for a week and half in Alaska. Once we arrived home, he drove to my parents’ house and we spent that afternoon talking about everything we had learned while overseas and on the mission field. It wasn’t until the next day that we both confessed our feelings and intentions.
Tell us all about the proposal! Jonathan and I were visiting his mom in Budapest during my week of summer break. Jonathan had been excited all week about visiting Matthias Church, so we decided to save it for the last day. That day, Mrs. Kelly joined us to go to the church, and once inside, Jonathan got a little upset because the church was being renovated. Once we had spent time in the church, we walked around the castle. I walked off from Jonathan to take some more photos of the church, which gave Jonathan time to come up with another plan. We took a walk to the park in front of the castle and decided to sit and chat while Mrs. Kelly attended to some other business. During our chat, Jonathan shared many words from his heart that the two of us will remember forever. He told me he loved me for the very first time, reached into a bag, and dropped to his knee. He told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life pursuing me as we pursued the Lord together. Then he said, “Marenda Kate Ricketson, will you marry me?” I honestly don’t remember saying “yes,” but Jonathan says I did!
When did y’all get married? September 28, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 325
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not. We thought traditional vows would be a perfect way to honor God and the ones who have taken those same vows before us.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We used Psalm 34:3, Matthew 28:18-20, Ruth 1:16-17, 1 Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 5.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed was my jewelry (earrings and bracelet). My something blue was my shoes. I used lace from my mama’s wedding dress on my wedding bouquet and in my hairpiece. My wedding dress was my something new.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We used old antiques from my family to decorate, including my great grandmother’s old piano stool, her wooden sewing board, and handmade quilts. I also gave my mama, daddy, and mother-in-law hankies with embroidered notes. I think hankies are a thing of the past, but I love them so. They remind me of my younger years with my papa, because he has always carried one in his pocket.
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? All of my vendors were PHENOMENAL! Anna Shackleford of Anna K. Photography was phenomenal. She answered countless questions and was just a true friend during the whole process. I can’t say enough about her! We also loved J&D Designs–John and Archie both know me, so they took my ideas and personality and made everything come together just as I dreamed! They made the day a fairytale and brought tears to my eyes.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Think about the words you want to use to describe your day and go from there. With Pinterest, it is so easy to get lost in all of the ideas and get confused about what you truly want. Make it yours. You don’t have to stick to tradition. This is your day, a day to worship the Lord and celebrate with family! Keep that in mind and take it all in.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are now living in Cumming, Georgia (where Jonathan is from) and working for our first year at our “real” jobs. We are looking forward to seeing how God will use us in this stage of life and where he will use the two of us now that we are married. Currently, we look forward to the weekends when we can sleep a little later, Jonathan makes breakfast, and we are able to spend a few hours just soaking in time together.

Photographer: Anna K Photography / Videographer: Andrew Lanier / Wedding Director: Wendy Cook / Planner, Florist, Catering and Dessert: J&D Designs / Venue: High Grove Farms / Rentals: Special Occasions / Lighting: Jimmy Ricketson / Bride’s Hairpiece and Alterations: Barabara Chestnut / Bride’s Gown: “Adalee” by Maggie Sottero / Bridal Salon: White Weddings Valdosta / Bride’s Veil: White Weddings / Bride’s Earrings and Bracelet: Steel’s Jewelry / Hair Stylist: Abby Hart / Makeup Artist: Brittany Wallace / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jasmine Bridal / Groom’s Attire: Suit Supply / Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank

Anna K Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Emily reply

    Love the sweet dance photos, and the Oreo cookie “cake” is perfect!

    • avatar Marenda reply

      Thank you! I wish the day would have lasted longer so we could have all danced more! :) :)

  2. avatar Shannon reply

    Beautiful wedding!! Any idea where the bridesmaids’ necklaces are from? I love them!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Shannon! Marenda said the necklaces are from – she said the shipping takes awhile but everyone love them! :)

  3. avatar Stephanie reply

    Goodness, this wedding is seriously beautiful in so many ways – I LOVE that the couple washed each others’ feet, the mint green dresses are so elegant, and I love how evident their love of each other + the Lord is!

    • avatar Marenda reply

      Hey Stephanie! Thanks soo much! It was a wonderful beginning to our marriage :) We couldn’t have asked for a better day! :)

  4. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] that nodded to their families and their love story. We especially loved the prayerful traditions Marenda and Jonathan incorporated into their ceremony. Farris and Taylor were married at the same chapel where both her […]

  5. avatar Carolyn reply

    I love the short sleeve button down bridesmaid/bride shirts worn to get hair and make up done. Do you know where they are from? Thanks!

    • avatar Marenda reply

      The shirts were from JC Penny, mens collection! I just got smaller sizes for my girls! :)

  6. avatar jennifer reply

    where did you find the cake stand for the oreos and milk. I can’t find one like that anywhere.

  7. avatar Terri reply

    I love their love and commitment to their faith. The fancy, yet down home style wedding was elegant and everything intentional. Im guessing its how they are. All the best. It looked like a beautiful ceremony. Im going to wash my husbands feet when I get married.

  8. avatar Sandra – Li’l Inspirations reply

    I love the idea of personalized wedding handkerchiefs. It’s an elegant way to dry those happy tears.

  9. avatar Jessica reply

    Everything is absolutely beautiful! Where did you get the bridesmaid necklaces???? I would love to have those for my girls !!!

  10. avatar Jen Aarni reply

    What color were your bridesmaid dresses and where did you get you get their necklaces? I’ve been looking all over for the perfect green and keep coming back to your photo! Stunning! Do you mind emailing me?

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Hi Jen! Marenda’s bridesmaids wore Jasmine Bridal dresses, and I think the color is “Seamist.” She purchased the necklaces from Hope this helps! :)

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  14. avatar Samantha reply

    Your wedding colours are similar to mine. Really beautiful photos!

    You mentioned the bridesmaid necklaces are from aliexpress in another comment. Do you have the exact listing by any chance? I would love to get these for my BMs.

  15. avatar Emily reply

    I NEED to know where to buy those bridesmaids necklaces!

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