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As I read through Emily and Matthew’s interview, “relationships” was the word that kept coming to my mind. Along with making sure their wedding was a great opportunity for their loved ones to connect (“there were plenty of places for the guests to dance, eat, or catch up with friends and family, whether that was on the dance floor, in the barn, in rocking chairs by the outdoor fireplace, or while playing cornhole in the grass”), Emily and Matthew also carved out time during the day for just the two of them. Their first look and private dinner, both right by the river, look like such special moments that I know they’ll cherish forever!

Thanks so much to Clark Brewer and Invision Events for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Laura McCarty did an AMAZING job on all of the florals. The inspiration for my bouquet was white-toned garden flowers, including white cloud, majolica roses, peonies, Juliet roses, and pops of blush peonies and dahlias. We also loved the greenery she used around the chandelier in the barn and on the wedding party table.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! We wanted to do a first look for two reasons. One, it was more practical to see each other before the ceremony so we could get the majority of our pictures taken. We wanted to enjoy the reception and time with our family and friends without having to worry about formal photos right after the ceremony. Second, Matt and I wanted to have as many shared memories of the day as we could. Getting to do a first look allowed us to spend some sweet time together before the ceremony, and since we did it down by the river with just Clark and Chris (the photographers), we got to get away from the hustle and bustle of venue prep for a few quiet moments.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we went with the classic vows. Matt’s co-best man and one of our dear friends, Alex, performed our ceremony, and he did a fantastic job. For the message, Alex focused on the story of Hosea, which is one of our favorite images of the Lord’s love for us. We knew we wanted that to be the main focus of the ceremony.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Most of the readings came from the biblical book of Hosea, but we also included Isaiah 43:4–7, Romans 3:10-18, Romans 5:6-11, and a few others in the ceremony.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Clark Brewer did a fantastic job photographing the day. Two of our favorite parts of the day were our first look and the private dinner we enjoyed down by the river. Clark documented both of those occasions so well, and they truly captured how beautiful the entire day was!

Picking the venue wasn’t as hard as picking the city. Matt and I went through many destination options before settling on my hometown of Birmingham. Once we knew we wanted to have it in Alabama, I was immediately drawn to Swann Lake Stables. It had the look and feel of being somewhere in the East Tennessee mountains (one of the destinations we considered), and we knew that in late October, it would be beautiful. It was laid-back, comfortable and naturally gorgeous, which was what we were going for in terms of style.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food was deliciously Southern. Shindigs did a fantastic job serving up delicious dishes including everything from miniature quail and waffles, to shrimp and grits, to cornmeal-crusted okra. Everything about our venue also made the wedding quintessentially Southern. We enjoyed that there were plenty of places for the guests to dance, eat, or catch up with friends and family, whether that was on the dance floor, in the barn, in rocking chairs by the outdoor fireplace, or while playing cornhole in the grass.

When we first started the wedding planning process, I knew I wanted to have a “naked” cake. I don’t care much for heavy icing, and I like the rustic look of naked cakes. Kim did an awesome job turning that inspiration into a reality, and since it was simple and clean, Laura was able to add some flowers to make it a focal point of the reception.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Matt and I met in Austin in 2011. I had just graduated from college and moved to Austin, barely knowing anyone. A few weeks after I moved there, I ran into a guy I had gone to college with, who invited me to his bible study–that’s where I first met Matt. We were casual friends for a year or two, but as we got to know each other better through Friendsgivings, birthday parties, church activities, weekend trips, and TV nights, we developed (major) secret crushes. It took a night of karaoke and dancing out with friends in early 2014 for us to finally realize the major crushing was mutual. Timing was not on our side (Matt was moving to Dallas for a job at the end of the summer), but we decided to take a chance on our friendship and start dating anyway. It worked out in our favor!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was the Saturday before Easter 2015. Matt was living in Dallas and I was living in Austin. He was coming down for the weekend, and our plan was to go to the Texas Capitol building on Saturday morning for a tour and then meet up with his parents afterward for lunch. This wasn’t an unusual weekend plan because I was planning on moving to Dallas sometime in the coming months, and visiting the Capitol was on our Austin bucket list. His parents being in town wasn’t unusual either because they had come to spend Easter with his grandparents, who lived close by. Matt was able to hook us up with a private tour with Rod, the Sergeant-at-Arms for the House, through a mutual friend. Rod showed us around the Capitol, and as we were wrapping up, he asked if we wanted to make the trek up to the dome, where other tourists didn’t have access. Matt and I weighed whether we should do it or not since we were running late for our lunch, but Rod convinced us to make the climb, since this was a one-time chance sort of thing. When we got to the tip top of the dome, we were able to exit outside onto a small wraparound patio. When Rod said he had to “take a call” and stepped back in, I knew something was up. A few seconds later, Matt grabbed my hand, said my name, and I knew this was it! He got down on one knee and proposed right there. Rod was in on the whole thing, so after his “call,” he came back out and took a few pictures for us. Afterward, we did in fact meet up with Matt’s parents for lunch, but both of our families were there to celebrate with us, as well!
When did y’all get married? October 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 165
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The week after we got engaged, I was visiting one of my bridesmaids in New York City, so we decided to do a brief shopping trip. It was unsuccessful, but I was able to get my feet wet and start to feel more like a bride. A few weeks later, I planned a dress shopping trip with three of my close girlfriends in Austin. I tried on probably 10-15 dresses and honestly loved most of them. We eventually narrowed it down to two favorites and took pictures to share with my mom and sister, since they lived too far to see them in person. My mom, my sister, and my dad all picked the same dress as their favorite, so I went with that one! It was exactly the dress I had had in mind: simple, classic, and not too glam for an outdoor wedding.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail was the wedding party table. It was forty feet of farm table that sat our closest friends. It was a joyful picture to see everyone from every phase of our lives in one place!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We went through premarital counseling with a couple at our church. It was important to us to learn from people who had gone through this season and could guide us through conversation and conflict in preparation for marriage.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We didn’t have to hire an officiant or ceremony musicians since we had our friends play those parts!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Enjoying dinner by the river immediately after the ceremony was a sweet and memorable moment. Having a few minutes alone to relax, eat good food, and revel in our new marriage was a special time for us.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Knock all of the big stuff out first! We jumped into wedding planning the week after we got engaged, and that allowed us to book most of our vendors in the first month of our engagement. The last two to three months before the wedding, we were able to take our time preparing for our marriage, not just finishing up last minute wedding details.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Matt and I reside in Dallas, where he’s an attorney and I’m working for a healthcare startup. The big challenge we’re tackling as a couple right now is keeping our new fiddle leaf fig tree alive.

Photographer: Clark Brewer | Planner: Invision Events | Venue: Swann Lake Stables | Florist: Laura McCarty | Cake Baker: Kimberly Wiggins | Caterer: Shindigs | Rentals and Lighting: Event Rentals Unlimited | Band: The Neons | Special Details: Prophouse | Paper Products: Katie Roden | Bride’s Gown: “Cassidy” by Amy Kuschel | Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott | Hair Stylist: Joanna Ballentine | Makeup Artist: Molly Stilley | Bride’s Shoes: Tory Burch | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nouvelle Amsale | Groom’s Attire: Sid Mashburn | Ice Cream Sandwich Cart: Big Spoon Creamery

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    Although I don’t know Laura and Michael personally, aside from a few emails exchanged, reading their interview made me feel like they were old friends! I loved reading about everything from the dress Laura dreamed of as a little girl (and how her real-life Anne Barge beauty compared!), the meaningful ways they honored Laura’s father’s memory throughout their celebration, their goal of hosting a Southern dinner party-inspired reception in Laura’s childhood backyard, and so much more. As it’s easy to see in these photos by our talented Blue Ribbon Vendor Amy Arrington Photography, everything came together so beautifully for their day, and along with being sweet, prayerful, and intentional, it also looks like it was so much fun!

    Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! I wore my mom’s pearl earrings and earring jackets that my dad gave her (old). My shoes (new) were a gift from my mom and sisters. But the most special surprise was my dad’s signature, which my mom had stitched in blue onto one of his old shirts and then sewn into my wedding gown (blue, old, and new). I did not put a sixpence into my shoe–it’s hard enough walking in heels without a coin rolling around in there. Something even older than my dad’s signature or my mom’s earrings was the ring bearer’s pillow and the cameo on my bouquet. The pillow was made from my paternal grandmother’s lace wedding gown. All of the cousins who have gotten married in our family so far have had their rings carried on Grammy’s lace pillow. The cameo was hand carved by my maternal great-grandfather. Both my sister and I had the cameo attached to our bouquets on our wedding day.

    I was definitely one of those little girls who drew pictures of my future wedding dress with my little sisters. At one point, we even signed a contract (when we were around eight years old) to not steal each other’s ideas! We loved to draw and imagine our “one day as a princess!” My dream dress was a full gown with lace, a giant bow, and a train as long as the church! (Like I said: little girl, big dreams!) My mom and I went to The White Room the week before Christmas. I was in a sea of gorgeous, flowing dresses, some with bows, others with trains. My mom found this layered Anne Barge trunk show dress (with no lace, no bow, and a short train), and I was surprisingly drawn to it! When I tried it on, the dress was absolutely gorgeous! We started playing around with the skirt, and when we pulled the top two layers back, it created a beautiful, ribbon-like peplum (of sorts) at the back of the dress. It was architectural and romantic. I was in love! Carolyn made a delicate, scallop-edged lace top, which was sewn over the bodice of my dress, and she hemmed, stitched, and pinned the back to recreate the ribbon effect. It was perfect in every way!

    Describe your wedding flowers. My dad used to grow garden roses for my mom. If I could keep a plant alive, I would grow roses for Dad. Our wedding flowers were the garden I wish I could grow and cultivate and love on every day! When I first met with Carole to pick out our flowers, she let me read through several books she had. I learned about (what seemed like) hundreds of flowers! It was so hard to narrow it down for our wedding. Ultimately, it was the succulents, the garden roses, and the peonies that won my heart. Carole did such an incredible job making every little idea we had come to life. I especially loved how she wrapped the columns of the tent with grapevines to complement the trees surrounding the tent in our yard.

    Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! With such a late ceremony, we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to capture the day and to preserve the reception for spending time rejoicing with our family and friends!

    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We both love music, so it was probably one of the hardest things to nail down. We could always think of another song we wanted to add or knew there was one trapped in the back of our minds that we had to remember to play. Ultimately, it took a little pushing from our wedding planner, Emma. For the ceremony, we decided to have a string quartet, as Michael grew up going to the symphony with his family. The soft sound of the strings complimented the pieces in our ceremony beautifully!

    Our vows were the most memorable moment of my life. In that moment, I truly did feel everything else melt away around me. It was like everything went quiet, and I could only hear Michael and me making our covenant with God. It is the clearest moment I have ever had. If my memory ever goes, I think even the deep, unknown feeling of this day would make Michael known to me.

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I have always wanted to have my wedding reception at home (again, part of the sister wedding pact). It was truly a dream to have it all come together in a place that holds so many beautiful memories, especially of the time Michael and my dad got to know each other in the last few years before he passed away.

    One of our favorite things to do together is to share a meal. I love to cook, and Michael loves to eat, so it’s a pretty good combination. Sometimes, it is so hard to slow down life and really take the time to talk to and know the people around you. When I think of the South, I think of taking that time to slow down and to share something that you have (tea, cookies, a meal, etc.) with your guests, while taking a moment to really know them. That’s what we wanted for our reception. We wanted our guests to share a meal together. We set the table like you would when all of your family comes over for Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas–you run out of china and silverware, so you mix and match, pull everyone up to your longest farm tables, and lay out a delicious meal (and some yummy Southern cocktails).

    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I would say remember to have fun. Your marriage is the beginning of a lifetime with your best friend. The wedding is a celebration of that defining moment where it all begins–a short time to have all of your family and friends together. Do you know how rare that moment will be? Can you think of another time in your life when you will be able to have all of those people you love so dearly together at one time? It is so beautiful. It is a time to be treasured. Don’t cloud the preparation with anxiety. You’ll miss out on a rare moment in your life. Something will always go against the perfect plan you had. Let it go. It’s nothing compared to the joy around you!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Michael and I met in college. It took him a few days to ask me out because he was looking for a girl with the wrong name. Once he got that cleared up, he asked me out. Then, life got real: I studied abroad, he graduated from graduate school, my dad passed away, he moved to Houston for work, I moved to Austin for my Masters…lots of craziness, but love is hard, yet easy. I cannot imagine walking through life with anyone who could love me better or challenge me more.
    Tell us all about the proposal! We were in Memphis, Tennessee celebrating Thanksgiving with Michael’s family. All week, we had woken up early to go on jogs before the day got under way. He came in to wake me up on Friday morning and was all excited to run (in the freezing cold weather). We were getting dressed and he tried to pull off shorts and a t-shirt, because he knew we wouldn’t be out there long, but I–the ever weather-wary runner–would not let him leave without some layers. One hooded sweatshirt and some knee high socks later, Michael was ready to go. I sported an old hoodie, which I tied securely around my face with a bow. Michael tried to help me by untying it but I was insistent (for warmth, of course!). So, off we went to jog the green belt. It was ABSOLUTELY gorgeous. Everything a fall day can offer. The leaves literally rustled in the wind and dispersed at our feet as we happily trotted along. About a quarter of a mile into our jog, Michael paused, knelt, and pulled a deep burgundy pocket square out of his shorts (I didn’t even know there were pockets in his shorts!). The whole thing was a blur of joy! Next thing I knew, I am trying to figure out which hand I was supposed to hand over. Michael knew what he was doing, though, and slipped his mother’s engagement ring onto my left hand. When we got home, I discovered his entire family had worked all morning to throw an engagement party for us. To my surprise, when we opened the door, my family was there, too! He had planned ahead with my mother and they drove up from Birmingham early that morning to celebrate with us!
    When did y’all get married? June 27, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
    What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Michael’s favorite bible verse is Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I struggle to write anything more, because how could I possibly elaborate on something so beautiful and so fierce?
    Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Cake! Noms! Cake tasting was a day I was so excited for, and it lived up to my expectations!! I just wanted a simple cake with some flowers on top. On the other hand, the groom’s cake was designed to reflect Michael. The oak tree stump was for his childhood dog, Oakley, who was Michael’s “brother” growing up. The bike was a tribute to Michael’s devotion to and completion of Ironman Florida just a few months before our wedding, and the spotted cutie was our pup, Eli.
    Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Aside from the flowers, the rain. Gosh, I just love a summer rain. It cools you off and also kind of makes you just sit and take it in, you know?
    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Father Bob was our team coach. We had a huddle. He gave the plan. We walked down the aisle.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Who knows. We are a crazy bunch, Michael, Eli (the pup), and me. We’ll find ourselves on an adventure soon. For now, we are enjoying pulling together our home.
    Is there anything you’d like to add that our readers might be interested in? My third cousin, Abbot Richard, performed our nuptial blessing. He is a Norbertine Abbot, O. Praem at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania. It was so special having a little bit of the past tying together the present and the future. We are excited to live our marriage as witness to the loving marriages that formed the generations before us and gave us the beautiful and loving families that we grew up with.

    Photographer: Amy Arrington | Videographer: Alan Harned | Planner: Mariee Ami | Ceremony Venue: The Cathedral of Saint Paul | Reception Venue: Private residence | Florist: Lagniappe Designs, Inc. | Cake Baker: Barb’s Cakes, LLC | Caterer: Hot and Hot Fish Club | Rentals: Event Rentals Unlimited | Lighting: Design Productions | Band: The Pat Patrick Band | Bride’s Gown: Anne Barge | Bridal Salon and Bride’s Veil: The White Room | Hair and Makeup: Celine Russell | Bride’s Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “In Perpetuity Camisole” and “Anika Tulle Skirt” by BHLDN | Menswear: Mr. Burch Formal Wear | Calligrapher: Jan Pruitt | Ceremony Musicians: Angela Franklin, Bruce Ludwick, Deborah Flax

    Amy Arrington is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    3 Comments
    1. avatar Matt Selby reply

      What a stunning set of photographs! Love the mono shots, the couple must be thrilled with these :)

    2. avatar Brooke Paris reply

      “Our vows were the most memorable moment of my life. In that moment, I truly did feel everything else melt away around me. It was like everything went quiet, and I could only hear Michael and me making our covenant with God. It is the clearest moment I have ever had. If my memory ever goes, I think even the deep, unknown feeling of this day would make Michael known to me.”

      …Holy WOW. I’m in tears, this is one of the most beautiful descriptions of the wedding ceremony I’ve ever heard.

    3. avatar Mountain Brook, AL Wedding : Laura + Mike reply

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