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Do you ever have those days when you realize you need more words in your vocabulary? I, for instance, get in the habit of saying “awesome” or “perfect” when I could be saying things like “jaw-dropping” and “impeccable.” (Confession: I just used a thesaurus for that last word. That’s how bad it is! They don’t even pop into my head!)

Today, I could have used the word “sweet” to describe Holly + Chase’s wedding, but when I sat back and broke it down, there was much more to the feelings I have about their Alabama wedding. Looking through these photos from Rylee Hitchner makes me feel like I’m home. You know, that feeling you get when you know exactly how long it takes for the water to get hot, where the glasses and spoons are, and the sound of the back door creaking as your friends walk in.

Don’t you feel right at home in these photos? I love that good family friends of Holly + Chase let them use their home to host this wedding. It was also the spot where Chase popped the question, making it one of the couple’s favorite details. “Not only was the home a warm, charming and picturesque piece of art in itself, the family that lives there are the kindest of friends, and their home had truly been a haven to us both at different points apart and then together as we began to fall in love.”

We love how Holly described the Southern elements of her wedding. “I think what makes the South so iconic is it’s preservation of a sense of real community and that was a shining theme in our wedding. More than the beautiful Alabama home, more than the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the background, more than the homemade biscuits and cornbread, the most important Southern element was the way our families, friends and neighbors banded around us, offering their creative talents to make our wedding beautiful.”

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Having known each other for about five years, I don’t know that we would have started dating if we hadn’t bumped into each other several times in the span of a couple days. After those few, fortunate run-ins in the summer of 2010, we ended up spending tons of time together right before Chase left for a summer in Ireland and before I moved to South Carolina for a new job. While Chase was overseas, I made the decision to move to Uganda for six months and, no hard feelings involved, knew we probably wouldn’t date. Somewhere in those fall months before I left, we found ourselves talking all the time anyway. We fell fast, making for a very long six months apart while I was in Uganda! Chase flew to see me for 7 days in March, I got home in May and we were engaged in June. It was the best kind of whirlwind!
Describe the proposal. After I returned from Uganda, I started working at a local shop back in Alabama. Saturdays were usually slow, and one Saturday in particular it was so slow that my boss gave me the afternoon off. When I got off work, my friend suggested that we, along with some other friends, ride out to our friends’, the McMurtrie’s, house to pick blueberries, even though they weren’t quite in season yet. I was glad we were going to our friend’s house because Chase had planned to fish on their pond that afternoon. When we arrived, my friends ran out to the blueberry bushes while Robin McMurtrie and I walked out to the pond where Chase and Robin’s husband Tommy were fishing. When we got there, Tommy excused himself and Robin followed. Chase had slyly captured my Bible and read me a passage of scripture that he and Tommy had been talking about and then told me to read a note he had left me between the pages. It was a little note scribbled on a small piece of notebook paper telling me a few things he loved about me. Then, he told me there was another note in the front page. I flipped to it and saw Chase had crossed out “Holly Hereth” and written “Holly Stephenson?” From there, Chase was on one knee! We walked back to the house where friends and family were waiting to surprise me and to celebrate!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Simple, effortless and joyful!
In what month did you get married? October
How many guests attended your wedding? 200
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Well, it was the first one I tried on! I didn’t have much of an idea of what I wanted besides the fact that I wanted something simple with lace. I didn’t even know what to look for on the hanger. My mom actually found my dress. When I tried it on, it just felt like me. After putting on just two others, I was ready to put the first back on. I loved the simple fit, the low back and the scalloping lace over the shoulders.
Describe your wedding flowers: My wedding flowers were actually one of my favorite surprises of the wedding! A sweet friend of mine, Lindsay Rae, offered to arrange them for me. Being such the creative spirit that she is, I knew I could I send her a few photos of bouquets and let her run with it. She made the most beautiful, spilling bouquet for me and the sweetest little arrangements for my bridesmaids, not to mention the boutonnieres for the fellas and the table arrangements.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Our wedding cakes were made by all kinds of loving hands! My friend Grace made the biggest portion of the cake, a delicious spice cake with cream cheese frosting roughly smeared to hold the layers together. Days before the wedding, I started to get nervous that there wouldn’t be enough, so my friend Cassidy helped me make a chocolate stout cake to add to the mix. The cakes we put on display were small and simply decorated with foliage from the landscape. We served guests slices from sheet cakes that no one ever saw!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I think the biggest challenge came in remembering that the purpose of our wedding was to marry each other. Of course I wanted the day to be lovely, but letting go of my ideal in a lot of areas shifted my focus and let me enjoy the beauty, charm and sanctity of it all. After all, have you ever enjoyed something you’re micromanaging? Probably not.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Less than $10,000.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Dancing with my bridesmaids right before we walked down the aisle to Motown in our dressing room, and then dancing with Chase to the same songs at the reception.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Forget every wedding you’ve ever been to, and don’t think about the resources you don’t have. If you have a bride, a groom, a pastor and a few friends or family members who love you, you have everything you need to make the sweetest, most magical and meaningful wedding.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We now live in Nashville where we eat chocolate ice cream every night, listen to all the live music we can afford and love being married! We’re most looking forward to going to seminary in a few years, traveling together and eating big Saturday breakfasts every Saturday for the rest of our lives!

Photographer: Rylee Hitchner Photography // Planner: Lindsay Rae ([email protected]) // Venue: McMurtrie Home // Florist: Lindsay Rae ([email protected]) // Wedding Cake Baker: Grace Henderson, Cassidy Gibson // Caterer: Lyn’s Gracious Goodness // Rentals: Mullins Special Occasions // Linens: Barron’s Rental Center // Lighting: Steve Metz // Bride’s Dress: Jessica by Robert Bullock from The Something Blue Shoppe // Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil: Hairpiece from Out of Hand // Bride’s Shoes: Sundance Catalog // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Modcloth

Out of Hand is a member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Do you love this wedding? You might like these, too:
Ashley + Ross’s simple white + kraft wedding here and here.
Meredith + John’s Alabama farm wedding here and here.
Meghan + Chris’s homemade farm wedding here and here.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Laura reply

    This wedding makes me happy. I pray God’s blessings on this sweet couple.

  2. avatar Kelly Cummings (Spindle Photography) reply

    I love the bride laughing in the photo with the bridesmaids! Lovely photos Rylee!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Oh, I love that photo with the girls all in a row under the blanket! Reminds me of my sisters :)

  4. avatar Madelynne Miller reply

    This is one of those weddings that is beautiful on its own, but truly enhanced by the story told with it. I LOVE her advice. What a wise lady.

  5. avatar rylee hitchner reply

    thank you for this feature, girls!
    i love the entire post.

  6. avatar holly stephenson reply

    yes, thank you! Rylee captured the day so perfectly. I’m so honored y’all think it was as sweet and homey as we did!

  7. avatar Cory Weber reply

    Totally love the girls all in a row, that’s the kind of true expression a great photographer can evoke in their subjects. Nice work Rylee Hitchner Photography

  8. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    These photos are precious! The bride is so stunning! :)

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As much as I adore a traditional white gown, I absolutely love when brides go their own route. Claire knew she wanted something nontraditional, and worked with the ladies at White Orchid Bridal to create a custom gown. The result was a silvery dress with the most beautiful lacy detailing at the bottom. I’m impressed with Claire, who trusted each of her vendors and left them to work their creative magic. It shows, especially in these photos from Julie Roberts. She was spot-on in capturing the sweet and personal ceremony, where friends encircled the couple as they exchanged vows under an oak tree bearing their initials in moss (could the Knoxville Botanical Garden have provided a more perfect setting?!). I’m still in love with the photo of Claire + Brian right after the first look, it’s just so sweet. Come back for part II; this intimate garden wedding will not disappoint you.

Three adjectives that describe the day are: Magical, rustic, comfortable
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We’re definitely in love with food and wine, so those played a huge part in the wedding. We chose to do a really beautiful table of cheeses and charcuterie for appetizers during the cocktail hour following the ceremony. There were two tables filled with an assortment of wines that flowed all night. We didn’t pick just one or two bottles because we wanted it to feel like a dinner party at our home, so there were many different bottles open at any given moment at the wedding. The dinner was really beautiful, but I loved the cocktail hour where everyone was drinking wine and enjoying all these amazing cheeses. It was just so perfect.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The ceremony was under a big oak tree in the garden surrounded by beautiful stone walls. I love that all of our guests stood gathered around us, sipping on sparkling rose, while we said our vows. It felt less formal, and more like every guest there was really a part of our ceremony, which they were.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I wanted the dress to be special, but not necessarily traditionally bridal. Colleen from White Orchid Bridal completely understood my concept for the wedding and created this amazingly detailed dress that was a soft silvery grey color, layering multiple fabrics together to create something unique and vintage looking.
Describe your wedding flowers: I gave Brian at Cachepot free reign to create whatever he felt would be perfect for that day. He did an amazing job! It was really important for me to find people whose work I love and who I really trusted, and allow them to do their jobs. That was what allowed for so much of the uniqueness. I gave them my vision for the feel of the wedding, and basically allowed them to create from there.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The ceremony. I walked down the aisle, which was just the center of the garden, to the most beautiful strings playing “Falling Slowly.” We stood under a huge old oak tree that Brian, the florist had mounted our initials on in moss. It looked like it was just growing on the tree. The ceremony was so personal, and there was so much laughter throughout. We had both gone through so much to get to that point in our lives, and the ceremony truly reflected that and celebrated it. Everyone had told me the ceremony would be a big blur, and would be over before I knew it, so I was determined to be very present and remember it all, and I truly was. It remains my favorite memory of the wedding.

Photographer: Julie Roberts // Coordinator: Lisa Krajewski // Ceremony venue: Martha Ashe Garden at the Knoxville Botanical Garden // Reception venue: The Stone Greenhouse at the Knoxville Botanical Garden // Florist: Cachepot // Wedding Cake Baker: Magpies // Caterer: Northshore Brasserie // Bride’s Dress: White Orchid Bridal // Strings: The Lake Terrace Trio // Calligraphy: Alice Sword

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
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