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The two words that kept coming to my mind as I was admiring Samantha and Ben’s Virginia mountain wedding were striking and simple. They didn’t fill their wedding to the brim with details–they just chose a beautiful, meaningful location (Ben’s grandparents’ property, where Ben’s parents had been married years before!) and focused on creating moments for their wedding rather than things. Don’t get me wrong, there was no shortage of DIY in this day, from the flowers to the tent decor, but the most special elements of Samantha and Ben’s wedding were their emotional letter exchange, sweet ceremony, and joyful dance party celebration!

We’re so grateful to our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Perry Vaile, for sharing this lovely day with us!

It is an old family tradition for the father to place a sixpence in the left heel of the bride’s shoe the night before the wedding for good luck, so my sixpence was my something old!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my dress eight days after we got engaged…yes, embarrassingly fast. My birthday fell on a Monday (my day off), so my mother took the day off with me and we decided that we should go “play” at David’s Bridal. We were definitely not intending to purchase anything that day. Long story short, the woman helping us found out that I was an “artsy, dancer chick,” so after trying on a few of my picks, she said, “I have something a little more unique that only one other bride has purchased, wanna try it on?” My answer was, “Duh! Put me in anything!” She pulled a White by Vera Wang tulle ball gown in a two-toned ivory and beige coloring. After trying on a few more dresses and coming back to the “artsy” choice, I took multiple laps around the store, eventually finding myself saying “I think this might be my dress.” I never thought I’d be one to cry over a wedding dress, but the look on my mother’s face and the simple thought that this dress represented the fact I had finally found Ben is what did it. As my mother was hunting down tissues and our consultant was going to retrieve her “found the dress” bell, the song playing on the overhead speakers caught my ears–it was the song that Ben and I had planned for our first dance on the big day. I am not one who believes in coincidence, so I took it as a sign, and made my purchase!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We both agree that our most memorable moment was our exchange of letters. Prior to the ceremony, we separately wrote letters for each other. Just before the ceremony, Ben was led to a bench in front of a beautiful tree in the backyard and was instructed to keep his eyes closed. I then joined him on the bench back-to-back, and without actually seeing each other, we were able to hold hands and share an intimate moment as we read each other’s letters.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We are both fortunate enough to have musically talented younger siblings, who prepared and performed several duets with their guitar and mandolin while people were being seated for the ceremony. We walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of the song “A Thousand Years” and back up the aisle to “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen.

We were married on Ben’s grandmother’s property nestled in the mountains of Virginia. The location is stunning–a cozy brick house on top of a hill, surrounded by beautiful mountaintops. I’ve also always wanted to be married outside in front of a big tree, and it just so happens that there are two gorgeous maple trees sitting side by side in the front of the property. Last but not least, it is also where Ben’s parents had their wedding. :)

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We were married outside in a small, Southern, mountain town in Virginia, and we were surrounded by all of our friends and family. We both come from very large families, and everybody came together to help us set up our DIY wedding–from friends putting flowers together for the bouquets to aunts and uncles draping fabric throughout the tent, it was a grand production that everyone wanted to be a part of. Our meal was made in a homemade Southern style, and included pecan-crusted chicken, mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar, and peach sweet tea.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Our very closest friends/cousins, Carlee and Adam, helped to set us up. Carlee likes to think of this set-up as “paying it forward” since my mother was the matchmaker for her parents. Months before I met Ben, she informed me that there was a guy in Adam’s medical school class that I “just had to meet”–Ben and Adam were at Duke together and hung out in the same circle of friends. At a Duke medical school function, Carlee and I found ourselves chatting on the far end of the restaurant when I spotted this handsome guy across the way. I noticed that he was talking with another girl who looked very interested in him, when Carlee pointed and shouted “Ooooh! That’s him! That’s Ben, Sammy!” Lo and behold, who does she point to? The guy I’m already checking out. Eventually, we made our way back to a group of Adam’s friends. We were standing in a circle discussing some medical procedure that, of course, went in one of my ears and out the other, when Ben walked up to me, extending his hand, and asked confidently, “Can I introduce myself to you?” He proceeded to hold my hand for another minute (supposedly, unbeknownst to him) while he had a conversation with the guy next to him. I stood there stunned, staring at our intertwined hands, laughing to myself, thinking “This guy has moves.” To this day, when we recall the night we met, Ben states that he had no idea he had held my hand for so long!
Tell us all about the proposal! About a year before Ben’s proposal, he surprised me with the best birthday present ever: two tickets to go tandem skydiving! After we touched down, we realized that it was still super early in the day, so we asked the owner what there was to do “’round these parts.” He, like a true Southern gent, told us that there was a vineyard two minutes up the road! After an afternoon of touring the stunning, Italian-inspired Raffaldini Vineyards, tasting an array of wines and purchasing a bottle or two, we ended up on a bench that overlooked the grounds. It was there that Ben first told me he was falling in love with me; I, of course, reciprocated the feeling. A little less than a year later, we planned a trip to the mountains to get away and see my brother. On our way home, we ended up at Raffaldini Vineyards again. We spent the evening reminiscing and trying their newest wines, ending up back on the same bench where we first said “I love you.” That’s where Ben got down on one knee and asked if I would be his “teammate” for life.
When did y’all get married? May 17, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Really step back and appreciate all of the people who have gathered to support you and help you throughout your engagement and into your marriage. It is very easy to get stressed out over all the little details and get upset or be short with people close to you. You have to keep in mind when planning a do-it-yourself wedding that there are lots of hands and minds involved, and with that comes a lot of emotions. It is so much more enjoyable to be a relaxed bride, even when things aren’t going as initially planned. Also, something that a friend told me shortly after Ben and I got engaged was to make sure that the week before your wedding, and especially the day before the wedding, you should find some time to sneak off and share some time alone. This is harder than it seems, and we are so glad we did it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Just a couple of weeks after getting married, we moved out of our home state and started our new jobs in a fresh new city. Ben graduated from medical school a week before our wedding, and he has started up as a resident in Internal Medicine at a great institution. I was fortunate enough to quickly start a job at a terrific Pilates studio and have begun dancing with a local non-profit modern dance company. We have also become the proud new parents of two adorable kittens!

Photographer: Perry Vaile Photography / Venue: Private residence / Florist: Whole Foods / Caterer and Wedding Cakes: Deb’s Catering / Rentals and Lighting: Cook’s Rental / Invitations: Michaels / Bride’s Gown: “Ombre Tulle Ball Gown VW351157” by White by Vera Wang / Bridal Salon: David’s Bridal / Hair Stylists: Debra Davis and Sandy Wilson / Makeup Artist: Merle Norman / Bride’s Shoes: Tahari / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Long Strapless Chiffon Dress F15555” in Champagne by David’s Bridal / Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse

Perry Vaile is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    The photo of the couple laughing at the altar is too cute! Great shot by Perry Vaile!

  2. avatar {EventsbyElaine} reply

    That dress is truly amazing. I love how it changes shades from beige to blush depending on the light. Of course, the photos of the couple under the tree are so sweet.

  3. avatar Emily reply

    I love this bride – she’s so expressive and full of joy!

  4. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    That two tone dress was definitely the right choice! The brooch on it is also the perfect detail. Beautiful wedding!

  5. avatar Laura Nelson reply

    Beautiful, Perry! Love her gown and how happy they are together!!!

  6. avatar Dana reply

    this is beautiful! I love how they met!

  7. avatar Cecilia Iliesiu reply

    Such a wonderful love story! I wish you both all the best in the world. You don’t deserve any less.

  8. avatar Pasha Belman Photography reply

    the film photography is just wow.

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I get so excited every time I see a wedding from A Bryan Photo pop up on our blog schedule–without fail, it seems, his couples are undeniably classic, beautifully thoughtful, and as Southern as can be. Kameron and Brian fit this description to a tee! Their farm venue evoked a backyard feel that was perfect for their family-focused celebration, and from Kameron’s gorgeous Heidi Elnora gown to the bottle of bourbon they buried to keep away the rain, there was no shortage of sweet Southern touches at their Alabama wedding.

Thanks so much to A Bryan Photo for sharing this gorgeous day with us!

I stumbled upon Heidi Elnora’s Instagram and immediately fell in love with the Clara Louise dress from her fall 2014 collection. Just two days after Brian and I got engaged, I made an appointment to try it on at the Heidi Elnora Atelier in Birmingham. My Mom was the only one to come with me, and it was such a special experience. The first dress I tried on was the Clara Louise gown–I was immediately in love with it and did not want to take it off. I cried, Mom cried, even the consultant helping us cried! I was the first bride to ever try it, which made it feel even more special! The dress has a removable tulle skirt that goes over the more form-fitting dress, and I loved the versatility and style. I tried on a few (like two) other dresses to make sure, and there was just no comparison! Our consultant sealed the deal when she put me in a cathedral veil and I had a total “bride” moment.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The whole time during wedding planning I was only concerned with one thing: the weather. Having a mind full of Southern traditions, I knew we had to bury the bourbon to ward off rain. I went out and buried it at the ceremony site thirty days before the wedding on a perfectly sunny day, and prayed hard. Come our wedding morning, the skies were looking gloomy. Brian went out that morning and dug the bourbon out of the ground, and wouldn’t you know, the skies cleared up. Now I credit the good Lord for blessing us with a beautiful sky on our special day, but a little Southern tradition never hurt anyone.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? No. Brian and I both agreed we wanted to keep our wedding as traditional as possible, and that included not seeing each other until I was walking down the aisle. Our photographer loves getting images of the genuine moment that happens when a bride and groom see each other for the first time. The emotion was so real and I will never forget how Brian looked at me (and cried) when I headed down the aisle toward him.

I loved the moment of having my mom walking me down the aisle and giving me away to Brian. Having her support and encouragement meant the world. I was focused on Brian and smiling ear to ear, but I could still feel her give my hand a little squeeze as I let go to take Brian’s hand.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Pursell Farms in Sylacauga, Alabama was the perfect venue for us. We wanted a timeless setting with a home-y feeling. The beautiful plantation home, complete with a white picket fence, where we said our vows made it feel like a backyard wedding. Our families stayed in the stunning cottages on the grounds, so we were able to enjoy the special time all together.

Our photographer was hands-down the best decision we made during the whole wedding process. We both wanted classic images that will still be timeless when our grandchildren are looking at them. A Bryan Photo is unparalleled when it comes to wedding photography. The uniqueness of film photography in a digital age sets them apart in the best way. Bryan made us both feel so comfortable in front of the camera, and he really captured the emotion of the day.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was made by a family friend, and it was so chic and simple. Brian and I both decided that we wanted a “wedding cake” rather than bride’s and groom’s cakes. It was placed on a classic white cake stand and topped with a gold script “R.” We did not get to taste much, but from what we had, it was delicious! I can’t wait to eat the top layer on our first anniversary!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. As much as I hate to admit it, our mothers and my aunt actually set us up. They all went to high school together and have stayed in touch over the years, so at a get-together around Christmas in 2012, they conspired to get us together. Brian and I both found ourselves single and willing to meet up for a date around April 2013. Our first date was one for the books–Brian had planned a nice dinner at a restaurant in Birmingham, but the wait was two hours, so we decided to head to a more casual restaurant next door. We sat outside so we wouldn’t have to wait for a table. Everything was fine until we actually got to our table and realized it was freezing outside. I was too nervous and shy to say anything, and I think he was mortified! We now laugh about the fact that he made me sit outside in the freezing cold on our first date! Brian soon took a job in Scottsboro, Alabama, about two hours from Birmingham, but he came back every weekend to see me. We’ve been inseparable ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! After visiting Brian in Scottsboro a few times, I discovered a beautiful park that overlooks the Tennessee River and planned a surprise picnic date for him after work. I brought my great-grandmother’s quilt and picnic basket, along with lots of homemade goodies to snack on. We watched the sunset and everything was perfect. A few months later, Brian told me that he wanted to go on another picnic. He was always doing romantic things for me, so I didn’t suspect anything when he told me he would take care of the details, and that I just needed to be ready. When we arrived at the park, I went around to the trunk of the car to help unload, but then he grabbed my hand and led me to the picnic that was already set up. I immediately began to cry when I saw my great-grandmother’s quilt surrounded by flowers, candles, and a beautiful spread of treats. Brian got down on one knee and vowed to love me forever if I’d make him the happiest man in the world by becoming his wife, and then he presented me with a ring I could have only dreamed of. I don’t remember much, but I think I managed to say “YES!” I was overwhelmed with emotion, and when I saw my mom and future mother-in-law come out, the tears kept coming. It was a perfect day!
When did y’all get married? May 10, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 100
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, Brian and I both wanted to say the vows that couples have been vowing to each other for centuries. I love the simplicity of traditional vows.
Describe your wedding flowers. For my bouquet, I carried all-white peony blooms. It was a small bouquet, which fit perfectly in my hands and did not overwhelm me or my dress. The bridesmaids carried bouquets of white and blush pink peonies and garden roses.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail was the moment after we were finally married, and we turned, hand in hand, to face all of our loved ones. It was so surreal. We were both so giddy and could not stop smiling or kissing!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed was my beaded headpiece I wore above my veil, which my two sisters had both worn in their weddings. My something blue was a beautiful tulle garter I ordered from Etsy. My something old was so special to me–it was my great-grandmother’s handkerchief that my mother had saved for me. My something new was a beautiful David Yurman bracelet that Brian gave me as a wedding present.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We have moved to Huntsville, Alabama and are settled in with our two pups, Bailey and Harry Winston. We are looking forward to exploring this new city and enjoying life’s daily adventures!

Photographer: A Bryan Photo / Planner: Janet Naramore / Venue, Catering, and Coordination: Pursell Farms / Florist: Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market / Cake Baker: Kathy McCurry / Rentals and Lighting: Special Events / Band: Park Band / Garland and Table Flowers: Fifty Flowers / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Gown: “Clara Louise” by Heidi Elnora / Bride’s Veil: Heidi Elnora / Bride’s Earrings: BaubleBar / Hair and Makeup: Tori Crocker of The Beauty Bar / Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bridesmaids Inc. / Men’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank

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

    The black and white photo’s are absolutely gorgeous. The one of the bride in front of the open doors is breath-taking.

  2. avatar Wedding 101 reply

    Absolutely love the details of this wedding!

  3. avatar Elizabeth reply

    Hi,

    Curious where the flower girl dresses are from for this wedding?

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Just the words “Blackberry Farm” elicit a few sighs around the Southern Weddings office, and rightfully so–it is truly a breathtaking place, not to mention, an incredible wedding venue. Lindsey and Sheldon took advantage of this by hosting their guests for the entire weekend, giving everyone plenty of time to enjoy themselves and make memories. Throughout the weekend, Lindsey and Sheldon scattered postcards all over the farm, and encouraged everyone to jot down their favorite moments and stories. Their rustic welcome dinner and elegant wedding, which was made all the more special by the evening rain, gave everyone plenty to write about, and to this day, Lindsey and Sheldon love re-living this special weekend every time they receive a postcard in the mail!

We are so grateful to Clark Brewer for sharing this special wedding weekend with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I wore Vera Wang’s “Isabella” gown, which is made of layered ivory chiffon and organza, with a very simple Vera Wang veil. I bought it at B. Hughes Bridal in Nashville, and we ended up hiring Karen Kaforey, the owner of the dress shop, to plan the wedding. She was amazing.

We were blessed to have the opportunity to rent out Blackberry Farm in its entirety for the weekend. It’s one of the most magical places I’ve ever been, and the fact that the whole resort was “ours” for two and a half days was kind of mind-blowing.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Sheldon and I asked my father’s best friend Chris (who is like a second father to me) to officiate, and the three of us wrote the entire ceremony from scratch. We wanted the ceremony to reflect our deep and eclectic spirituality without drawing too much from one specific religious text. Sheldon and I wrote the vows and ring exchange statements ourselves, and also read love letters during the ceremony.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Craig Duncan, the frontman of the quintet who played at both the welcome dinner and during the ceremony, is supremely talented. Sheldon and I wanted to process to our song, “Simple Life” by The Weepies, and to recess to “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers. Craig and his team learned both songs prior to the weekend and played them perfectly.

It started to get cloudy during the outdoor ceremony, and then literally as the last musician put his instrument away and Clark snapped the last family photo, the sky broke open and it poured rain. We had to be creative with the photography and Sheldon had to carry me around all evening so that I didn’t ruin my dress! My favorite pictures from the wedding resulted from us having to “deal with” the rainy weather: all the photos taken on the swing (the tree above it provided shelter). Another amazing thing about the rain was that it continued throughout the evening and kept us all cool as we danced like crazy under the tent until 2 a.m. I don’t think we would’ve been able to dance like that if the rain hadn’t cooled the night down.

We were so lucky to have Clark and Campbell Brewer shooting photographs and video throughout the weekend. They’re incredibly gifted at what they do, but more than that, they are such precious, open, fun guys who felt like old friends from the first time we met them. They were ever-present and yet never obtrusive, and we were able to be present in our experience without feeling like we were being watched. This was vital to us because we wanted the weekend to feel, for us and everyone else, organic and whimsical and free-flowing. And it did.

We were engaged for more than three years before getting married–jobs kept changing, we kept moving cities, and the timing wasn’t right…until it was. I’m glad that everything unfolded the way that it did, because our wedding was completely perfect and completely “us.”

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in Los Angeles through mutual friends in 2008. I know it sounds silly and cliché, but we knew almost instantly that we’d end up together.
Tell us all about the proposal! Sheldon proposed on the day after Christmas, about a year after we started dating. We were visiting my parents for the holidays, and he asked their permission, like the perfect gentleman he is. On December 26, I awoke at the crack of dawn to him kneeling by the bed in my childhood bedroom with a ring. After I ran through the house screaming about being engaged, I think I went back to bed. Shel was like, “I’m sorry it’s so early–I just couldn’t wait any longer!”
When did y’all get married? August
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My mother read a prayer from Marianne Williamson’s book Illuminata, and two of my girlfriends read a passage from The Alchemist. I had asked each of them to select readings that fit Sheldon and me, but also asked that they remain a surprise until the day of the ceremony. A few minutes before the wedding began, the girls realized that they’d independently chosen the exact same passage from the exact same book, so they “winged it” with grace, splitting the selected passage right down the middle.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Instead of a traditional guest book, we asked family and members of the wedding party to collect postcards from around the country, and the stacks of blank postcards were placed around the property all weekend. My sister bought a vintage mailbox, and she and my mother decorated it. Then guests were asked to write favorite memories of us as a couple or of the weekend itself, and by the end of the weekend, the mailbox was stuffed with postcards. Every few weeks, either my mom or Jamie (my sister) mails us a few of the postcards, and we read and laugh and cry and keep them in a special box to remind us of the magical weekend.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Sheldon says that for him, it’s when he saw me for the first time before I walked down the aisle. Something small but sweet that just came to mind for me is that after the ceremony, all the guests gathered for cocktail hour and Sheldon and I hung back with Clark and Campbell to take pictures and decompress for a moment. When it was time for us all to come together for dinner, Sheldon had to carry me from the farmhouse where we were to the barn where the dinner was, because it was raining. As he did, I saw many of our guests clustered around the window sweetly “spying” on our little “over the threshold” moment.

Photographer: Clark Brewer / Videographer: Campbell Brewer / Planner: Karen Kaforey / Venue: Blackberry Farm / Florist: Clay Pots Floral / Wedding Cake: Magpies Bakery / Bluegrass Band: Craig Duncan / Reception Band: Burning Las Vegas / Bride’s Gown: “Isabella” by Vera Wang / Bridal Salon: b. Hughes Bridal / Hair and Makeup: Jordan Byers

lisa Written with love by Lisa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Loverly reply

    That getaway car… obsessed is an understatement! Beautiful wedding thanks for sharing!

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