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The SW ladies are big fans of Southern traditions, and we love hearing how real couples incorporate them into their big day! Liz and Scott buried a bottle of bourbon before their ceremony to keep the rain away, but the weather had a different plan! When they had to use a tent her outdoor ceremony at the last minute, Liz’s mother and her friends were able to turn the rain plan into a work of art using trees, plants and flowers from her parents’ mountain home. It may not have been part of the original plan, but I think we can all agree when you scroll down that it was the perfect backdrop for Liz and Scott’s “I Do’s.”

No amount of flowers, however, could take away from how effortlessly beautiful Liz looked in her lace applique gown and matching veil. Liz, not only were you a beautiful bride, but you were a beautiful birthday girl as well!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Julia Wade for sharing this sweet day with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met freshman year of college at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, eleven years before we would finally become girlfriend and boyfriend. During our freshman year, we grew to be great friends and were frequently each other’s date to events like cocktails and formals, but we never formally “dated.” We remained friends through college and afterwards, and there was always a lingering “what if” question. When Scott graduated from business school, he moved to NYC, where I was living. After more than a handful of fateful run-ins on the street, subway platforms, etc…we decided to grab a drink together. We’ve been inseparable since then!
Tell us all about the proposal! After work on Thursday, August 20, we went for a bike ride on the West Side Highway in New York. We decided to take a break at one of the piers; it was there that Scott pulled out the ring and started to propose, only to be interrupted by an unaware lady who was cleaning the area! With headphones in and music blaring, she had no idea that she had just interrupted him mid-proposal. When she finally walked away, we burst out laughing and he finished asking. It was a perfect New York moment.
When did y’all get married? May 21, 2016 (my birthday!)
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 260
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I searched high and low for a wedding dress in New York, but unfortunately, never found anything. My sister, who lives in Oregon, was also engaged at the time, so my mom and I flew out to Portland to spend a weekend wedding planning and dress shopping with her. At her first appointment, she found her dress, so she encouraged me to use the remaining time at her appointment to look for mine. I ended up finding the one there as well! It was a pretty surreal experience to be standing in a store in Portland next to my sister in our future wedding dresses!
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. We wanted the first moment we saw each other to be captured in front of our friends and family at the ceremony.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We knew we wanted to get married in North Carolina and loved the idea of getting married at a place filled with activities for our guests, so the mountains were a natural fit. People enjoyed golf, hiking, fishing, etc. throughout the weekend. It also helped that my parents have a home at Grandfather Mountain and Scott grew up only a few hours away in Charlotte.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings at the wedding. The first, Song of Solomon 2:10-13, was from the Bible and was read by one of my oldest childhood friends, Tim Rees. The second was a poem called “Wedding Song” by John G. C. Brainard–we found it in a wedding book that was given to the my maternal great-grandmother on her wedding day in 1915–101 years earlier!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Scott’s a music lover, so we spent a lot of time thinking about the music for our wedding. We wanted to keep things pretty classic and traditional, but we did spice things up a little bit too. Our recessional was to Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” We wanted our first dance to be romantic and slow, as well as something that our band could knock out of the park, so we picked Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Dream a Little Dream.” It was perfect with our big band full of horns! My favorite, though, may have been the father/daughter dance. My dad and I love to dance together and wanted to do something fun, so we danced to the Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”–it was a total hit. The crowd loved it, and we were smiling and laughing and catching our breath from the fast pace!
Describe your wedding flowers. Our wedding flowers were gorgeous! My mother is a fantastic gardener with an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and flowers, so I really leaned on her to help! We wanted them to be a little whimsical and natural, and not too polished. We used a mix of white peonies, ivory garden roses, green and white parrot tulips, berries, delphinium, anemone, thistle, and even lavender. Our ceremony was supposed to be outside, but due to weather, we had to use a tent. Luckily, with the help of my mom and her friends, we were able to turn a traditional, last-minute white tent into a thing of beauty. My parents were just about to re-landscape their entire yard at their mountain house, so we used the trees, plants, and flowers they had intended to use as decor. We had FULL trees and rhododendron plants inside the tent! It was gorgeous and so special to know that their yard is now filled with the plants that were used to decorate our ceremony. The rose petals used by the flower girl and thrown by friends and family during the recessional were all collected from my mother’s garden in Chapel Hill.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We ended up having three cake options! Our wedding cake was chocolate with a buttercream frosting. Our second cake was a funfetti birthday cake with sparkler candles for me! The third option was carrot cake pops.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I was able to knock out my borrowed, blue, and old in one go. My godmother lent me a family ring that has been in her family for generations. It’s a beautiful art deco sapphire and diamond cocktail ring. My shoes, dress, and everything else were new!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We buried a bottle of bourbon about six months before our wedding. I can’t believe we were actually able to find it on our wedding day, but it definitely worked! The weather report was calling for five inches of rain, but we only experienced a few little showers in the morning, with gorgeous sunshine the rest of the afternoon and evening.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved all of our vendors. We used local vendors for absolutely everything, from cake, to flowers, to catering, to makeup and hair. I loved supporting the people in the town where we were married. Besides, locals know best! My favorite vendor was P.S. Plum Social, which is owned and operated by Clarence Mills. She created all of our paper goods, from invites to menu cards, ceremony programs, our wedding logo, our welcome packets, and much, much more. She hand-paints everything and does incredible custom designs!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our ceremony. We spent a lot of time planning the actual ceremony and it was beyond what I could ever have imagined.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Relax and don’t regret or second guess the decisions you make. It will be beautiful no matter what!

Photographer: Julia Wade Photography | Planner: Events by Elizabeth Ashley | Venue and Caterer: Camp Yonahnoka at the Eseeola Lodge | Florist: Callista Designs | Wedding Cake: Christina Banner Cakes | Band: Big Blast and the Party Masters via East Coast Entertainment | Special Details: The British Taxi | Paper Products: P.S. Plum Social | Bride’s Gown: Liancarlo | Hair and Makeup: Beautiful Bride on Location | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J.Crew | Groom’s Attire: Freemans Sporting Club

Julia Wade and East Coast Entertainment are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
1 Comment
  1. avatar Liz & Scott's Eeseola Lodge Wedding – Julia Wade Photography reply

    […] Eeseola Lodge Wedding featured in Southern Weddings here. […]

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Y’all know that I cry just reading about weddings, so it should be no surprise that I have cried at every single wedding I’ve been in, plus all but one I’ve attended! However, ironically enough, neither BDK nor I cried during our own ceremony. There was such a feeling of peace and joy that we simply couldn’t stop laughing or smiling! A childhood friend of mine, also known for crying at weddings, told me afterwards that he didn’t cry at our wedding either, because we were smiling so much! I’m sure the small group of family and friends who were present at Leila and Sterling’s ceremony felt the same–I hope the photo of them laughing during their ceremony is on their favorites list! After the joyful, intimate ceremony, Leila and Sterling danced the night away at The Camp at Esseola Lodge alongside guests and the big, vibrant flowers. How amazing is that floral chandelier, y’all?

Thank you to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for sharing Leila and Sterling’s wedding day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I was adamant about only spending one day looking for my dress, because the dress was not a huge priority for me. I knew exactly what I wanted (or, rather, what I didn’t want): something with lace and a natural waist, and nothing strapless or bright white. A friend flew in from New York for a weekend in early January, and she, along with my mom, came with me to two shops in Raleigh. At the second shop, Alexia’s, we found the perfect Lela Rose gown. I had heard a few horror stories about dress shopping, but my experience was the opposite–very low key, low stress, and really fun to do with one of my best friends and mom.

We had two readings. My cousin read “The Irish Blessing,” which has special significance to my family. It has been read at many weddings on my mom’s side of the family, including my parents’. My older brother passed away a few years ago and we read it at his memorial service as well. The message is one of hope, enjoying the “simple things in life,” and the promise of heaven–great reminders on our wedding day. For our second reading, Sterling’s best friend read a poem that Sterling wrote himself. He is an English teacher and a great writer. The poem, “These Patient Rings,” speaks to our family history and the fate that brought Sterling and me together.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I grew up going to my grandparents’ house in Linville–it’s a beautiful, tiny, casual, very unique mountain town in North Carolina. Sterling and I have enjoyed spending weekends there throughout our relationship. I knew when I started dating Sterling that I wanted to marry him and that I wanted it to be in Linville! We thought it would be a fun place for our family and friends to get to visit, and since it’s so small, all of our guests spent the full weekend together with us. Since we had a big reception, we wanted the ceremony to feel more intimate, so we chose to do it at Wee Kirk Presbyterian, an adorable little white wooden church. Sterling and I loved the simple and personal “vibe” of our ceremony. It was fun and comfortable, and everyone in the chapel was a close family member or friend who had been in our lives for a long time. The reception was at The Camp at Eseeola, an indoor/outdoor pavilion overlooking a beautiful lake and golf course. It really stuck with the rustic mountain theme.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The most Southern thing about our wedding, in addition to the gorgeous location in the North Carolina mountains, was the FOOD. We felt strongly about serving filling, delicious, Southern food to our guests, and the Eseeola Lodge pulled through with an amazing menu. I don’t think anyone left hungry! At four separate stations, we served ham biscuits, mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, fried oysters, rolls with tenderloin, sliced tomatoes, and lots more.

My mom was the genius behind our beautiful flowers. The only thing I knew was that I did not want traditional, formal, pale/muted arrangements. I wanted lots of color that reflected the season and the mountain vibes–she made it happen beautifully! Our arrangements were big and vibrant, and the most amazing part was a huge “floral chandelier” hanging above the main bar right at the entrance to The Camp.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Sterling and I have known each other since we were little. Our dads went to high school together, and all four of our parents were friends in college at UNC. His mom is actually my godmother! Sterling and I lost touch as adults–though we always kept up with each other through his mom–but reconnected at a wedding about a year before we started dating. He was living in Baltimore and I was living in San Francisco at the time. When we both moved back to North Carolina a few months later, Sterling asked if I wanted to go to a concert with him, and that turned into our first date. We fell in love very quickly and were engaged nine months later.
Tell us all about the proposal! Sterling proposed to me in Freedom Park in Charlotte on a beautiful Saturday in December. I was totally surprised, since the day had been a completely regular day for us. We went to the park to walk my dog, Riggins, and he got down on one knee beside the lake and proposed with my grandmother’s engagement ring. It was the biggest surprise of my life. After I said yes, we looked across the lake and all four of our parents were hiding in the woods. We had the most fun celebration with our families for the rest of the weekend. Sterling planned a proposal that was exactly what I would have asked for – casual, thoughtful, and involved our families.
When did y’all get married? September 12, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 255
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Sterling and I decided not to have a traditional wedding cake. We did not want to pause the party to cut the cake and did not have strong feelings about a particular style or flavor, so we thought, “Why force it?” Instead, the Eseeola Lodge created a really fun dessert table with all sorts of options: cake pops, fruit, brownies, and more. Throughout the planning process, we wanted to make decisions that made sense to us, not just do things because “that’s the way it’s done.” The wedding cake was just one example of us following our hearts and breaking the mold if something didn’t fit with our personalities.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Sterling and I loved the marriage counseling we did with our minister, Christopher. He became a really important part of the engagement period and helped us think beyond the wedding towards the important part, the marriage. We learned a lot about each other and ourselves, and the sessions we did with Christopher made us even more confident in this huge step we were about to take.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Sterling and I decided early on what was important to us: a lively band, delicious Southern food and an open bar, transportation for all of our guests, and having the venue in Linville. Beyond that, our response to most decisions was, “Which is cheaper?” Sometimes, our moms had other opinions, but for the most part, we invested in the things we cared about and cut costs elsewhere. We also decided not to have a bridal party, which ended up being one of the best decisions we made. It allowed us to cut costs and save some headache around logistics (pictures, timelines, hair and makeup, dresses, gifts). But, most importantly, our amazing friends still made us feel so supported and loved throughout the whole process, and isn’t that the main reason for a bridal party? Whether or not to have a bridal party is a really personal decision, but one that proved right for Sterling and me over and over again.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? OUR BAND. Perfect 10 was everything we hoped for, and our dance floor did not clear out once throughout the night. We were so sad when the party had to end because the momentum was still soaring late into the night. The band was easy to work with and really listened to what we wanted. They interacted with the crowd the perfect amount. When we think back on our reception, we both have an amazing mental picture of a dance floor packed with guests.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Being newly married is a hopeful and joyful time in life. Sterling and I have a lot to be grateful for in this moment, and also a lot to look forward to in our future–travel, kids, more rescue dogs, careers, and the simple, special moments of marriage. We are very lucky!

Photographer: Anna Routh Photography | Second Shooter: Robyn Van Dyke | Videographer: Story Spark Films | Planner: Events by Elizabeth Ashley | Ceremony Venue: Wee Kirk Presbyterian | Reception Venue: The Camp at Eseeola Lodge | Florist: Callista Designs | Dessert Baker, Caterer, and Rentals: Eseeola Lodge | Band: Perfect 10 | Paper Products: Snow In July Designs and Taylor’s of Raleigh | Bride’s Gown: “The Forest” by Lela Rose | Bride’s Earrings: Gabrielle Jewelry

Anna Routh and Robyn Van Dyke are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Michelle Edgemont reply

    Her mama made all of the flowers herself!??! Wow! What a wonderful gift to her daughter! I particularly love the chandelier…you know me, the more color the better. :)

  2. avatar Laura reply

    These florals are some of the most beautiful wedding florals I’ve seen. I especially love how the front of the church was decorated.

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