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Libby and Matt’s interview is so full of insight into how they planned for not only their wedding day, but also for their marriage, with intentionality and joy. There is no better a place to show this than during the ceremony! Knowing what a big deal it is to promise your life to someone, Libby and Matt chose to say traditional vows in front of their friends and family, and then personal vows privately during communion. From Matt protecting Libby from spiders, to Libby promising to dance with Matt “anytime, anywhere,” I love that these two wrote vows that reflected their commitment to each other and their relationship, as well as a peek into the fun that they want to carry into married life.

Thank you to Lynnsey Catron for sharing this sweet Kentucky day with us!

I thought I would try on a billion dresses and have a hard time finding “the one.” I ended up only trying on about ten! I was trying to decide between two lace gowns when my soon-to-be mother-in-law pointed to another dress and remarked about how different it was. I tried it on for fun and ended up loving it! It was so different than what I had imagined, but it far exceeded what I could have ever dreamed up!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided not to see each other before the ceremony. Matt in particular felt strongly about not seeing each other until I walked down the aisle. We are so happy that we went with tradition! We did exchange gifts without seeing each other earlier in the day. We got to hold hands and I’ll never forget the feeling. As hard as it was not being able to see each other until later in the day, the anticipation made the walk down the aisle so surreal! There was so much weight and meaning behind that first time seeing each other–it was the culmination of everything we had been through and hoped for!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My grandma read Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you,” and Ephesians 5:1: “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” This was so special because these verses are also my grandparents’ marriage verses. They have been married for over 50 years!

We recited traditional vows in front of our guests during the ceremony. Later, after a time of worship and communion, we read our personal vows to each other privately. This was our favorite and definitely the most emotional time of the ceremony! Promising your life to someone is BIG, but we both had such certainty and peace. My favorite part of Matt’s vows was when he promised to always protect me, especially from spiders. Matt’s favorite part of my vows was when I promised to scratch his neck in the car and to always dance with him, anytime, anywhere.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Two of our friends sang “In Christ Alone,” accompanied by a three-piece string section, while our wedding party processed. My dad walked me down the aisle to “The Butterfly Waltz” by Brian Crain. It sounds like the perfect garden party music–so pretty! One of my bridesmaids sang “Ever Be” by Bethel during our time of communion and personal vows. We love that song and it perfectly explains the relationship we get to have with our Heavenly Father! And finally, we celebrated to Beyonce’s “Love on Top” for the recessional because nothing says “WE’RE MARRIED!!” like Beyonce.

We included lots of Southern traditions in our wedding! We got ready in a beautiful Antebellum-style house with the original furnishings. Our wedding party was huge–the more friends and family included, the better! Our programs doubled as fans for the warm weather that accompanies a summer garden wedding in Kentucky. And most Southern of all: we had a HUGE BBQ dinner! We served brisket, barbecue chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, and sweet tea. Theres nothing more Southern than that!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Matt and I took a walk around the Whitehall gardens one evening after hearing how beautiful the venue is. I didn’t expect to get emotional over a garden, but we could both see our wedding day taking place there and it was so dreamy! There was such peace and joy in that decision; we didn’t even really look at other venues!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge was definitely the last minute details. We (cough cough Libby) found ourselves trying to add “just one more” detail on top of one more detail. With the stress of wanting everything to be just right, it was a challenge not to get caught up in the tiniest decisions. The only way to overcome this challenge was to gain some perspective. In 50 years, Matt and I won’t remember if each table had the same excessive number of votive candles. Instead, we will remember what it felt like to spend an entire day celebrating our commitment to each other and making our guests feel welcomed and loved.

Don’t miss Libby and Matt’s highlights film by Bryan Starr Cinematography below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Matt and I met in 2008 when he became friends with my brother through school and baseball. We met again in the summer of 2013 when we were both asked to lead a Bible study for high school students. We got together one day to discuss what the year of Bible study might look like, and ended up talking for four hours. From that point on, we were inseparable and became best friends. I was apprehensive to date due to past experiences, but Matt continued to pursue me with consistency, gentleness, and patience. We began dating months later and the Lord used Matt to re-align my misconstrued idea of love with Godly love and pursuit. Somewhere along the way, I became certain that he was the one I would spend my life with–the best feeling in the world!
Tell us all about the proposal! Matt and I got engaged on November 1, 2014. Matt picked me up for dinner, which he had made himself, complete with roses, candles, and appetizers. After dinner, Matt suggested we go to our favorite spot, a gazebo in historic Middletown Park. We had spent time there dreaming about a future together at the beginning of our relationship and had re-visited the gazebo on special occasions. These visits usually involved slow dancing and being silly together. The night of the engagement, I almost didn’t get out of the car (It was FREEZING outside and I had a dress on!) but Matt wanted to dance (and propose, unbeknownst to me), so I agreed. We danced and Matt told me how much he loved me and that he wanted to spend our lives together. He got on one knee and asked me to marry him! I said YES and cried like a baby. Afterwards, Matt took me to my parents’ house to tell them the news, where I was surprised by a full house of family and friends! He had even gotten my sister from Florida and one of my best friends from Alabama there to celebrate. Cue even more crying like a baby. It was the best night!
When did y’all get married? August 2, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 250
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Matt and I did premarital counseling through our church and met with mentors as our wedding day approached. We also did some at-home counseling through a study called “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. It helped us keep our focus on the importance of the marriage that follows the excitement of the wedding day. We found that we learned a lot about each other and really enjoyed the time we put in to paving the way for a healthy and God-honoring marriage!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My bridesmaids were amazing. They would come over for movie nights and sit on the floor putting programs together or helping to assemble table numbers. I would have been far more stressed and spent far more money without them! The same goes for my mom! She is an expert planner and is so good at organizing the tiniest details, which helped save so much money. I would have been lost without her! I made our “Husband” and “Wife” chair signs and our “Just Married” sign for the getaway car. We were blessed with lots of family friends who volunteered to set our reception tables and they did an amazing job. Serving dinner buffet-style instead of plate service helped save money too.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Just relax and have fun! Remember that what happens after the wedding in your marriage is the most important thing. Marriage is a gift and the time spent planning for it is special and unique! Also, definitely spend time finding a photographer/videographer that will capture the day perfectly for you. Looking back is so fun! And just remind yourself that you get to take a vacation with your best friend when it’s all over :)
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We would love to spend some time traveling in the next few years! Europe is on the top of our list but we would also love to take a trip down the coast of California on Highway 1. We dream about having a big family with lots of babies! And no matter where we are, we want to do ministry and love on people the way we have been loved!

Photographer: Lynnesy Catron | Videographer: Bryan Starr Cinematography | Planner: Aletia Thompson, Debbie Weiss, and Sally Parks | Venue: Whitehall Mansion and Gardens | Florist: Country Squire Florist | Cake Baker: Lady A Cakes | Caterer: Bootleg BBQ | Rentals and Lighting: Reliable Rental | DJ: HAY DJ | Calligraphy: Anna K. Ashley | Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride’s Gown: “River” by Blush by Hayley Paige | Bride’s Veil: “Stella” by Sara Gabriel | Hair Stylist: Hali Breitenstein of Hali B & Co. Salon | Makeup Artist: Bethany Tiesman of BEAUTY by Bethany | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style B2078 in New Shell Pink by B2 by Jasmine | String Musicians: Highland Chamber Players

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Wedding: Libby & Matt » Lynnesy Catron Photography reply

    […] seen on Southern Weddings, Libby and Matt’s day was breathtaking.  I could go on and on about how beautiful the […]

  2. avatar Kristin reply

    Would you be able to please tell me where Libby and Matt got their framed seating chart? Thank you!

  3. avatar Easy How-to Guide to Reception Seating | Cathy Nugent Weddings reply

    […] via Southern Weddings and Lynnesy Catron Photography […]

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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! :)

  11. avatar Wedding Cake Alternatives – Blush and Bowties reply

    […] image via Southern Weddings […]

  12. avatar | Foundily reply

    […] Anna K. Photography / via […]

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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!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Friends, we hope you had the most wonderful Christmas, and that you’re still relaxing and celebrating with your families (we are, too!). We’ve rounded up and narrowed down a few of our very favorite things from the past year and are looking forward to sharing them with you over the next week or so. Check back in whenever you need a break from eggnog and candy canes!

First up, ten of the most gorgeous gowns we featured on the blog this year, starting with my absolute favorite below…

Tulle ballgown | Rachel + Daniel | Tim Will

Skinny strap silk taffeta ballgown | Tori + Andrew | Armosa Studios

Blush ballgown | Grace + Daniel | Shea Christine

Lace gown with bows | Katrina + Tyler | Ben and Colleen Photography

Satin fit and flare gown | Laura + Chad | Our Labor of Love

Silk low-back gown | Candice + John | Olivia Griffin

Lace cap sleeve gown | Brittany + Matt | Rebekah Hoyt

Short vintage gown | Jessica + Burton | Dixie Pixel

Lace off the shoulder gown | Danielle + Chris | Erika Delgado

Seersucker ballgown | April + Nick | Pasha Belman

Which gown is your favorite? We’d love to hear!

Dixie Pixel and Ben and Colleen are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Kathryn reply

    The lace off the shoulder gown is my favorite! What a beautiful photo!

  2. avatar Best of 2013: Menswear – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] our Real Wedding brides are absolutely gorgeous, these dapper gents aren’t ones to be outdone. When it comes to […]

  3. avatar Victoria reply

    Love this recap of beautiful gowns! And just love seeing mine up there- wish I could wear that beauty on my errands today HA! xo ladies

  4. avatar Caitlyn reply

    Ahh, the blush ball gown is to die for! : )

  5. avatar Sharon @ Red Poppy | Pink Peony reply

    They’re all gorgeous, but I especially like the soft fluffiness of the first gown!

  6. avatar Rachel May reply

    Thank blush gown had me at hello. SWOON!!

  7. avatar Charlotte reply

    Gorgeous brides. Jessica’s gown is my favorite.

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

    […] of 2013: Wedding Gowns Best of 2013: Accessories Best of 2013: Menswear Best of 2013: Bouquets Best of 2013: Bridesmaids […]

  9. avatar Gloria Law reply

    The seersucker gown of April is my favoirite.

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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