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Having worked with her professional photographer sister and brother-in-law, not to mention being the youngest of three girls, Gracey is no stranger to the wedding world. However, when it came to the details of her and Richard’s big day, Gracey gave her mama a bit of trouble when trying to narrow down exactly what they wanted. From one indecisive gal to another, I completely empathize with how tough those decisions can be! I love that Gracey and Richard ultimately chose to focus on making their wedding day a reflection of who they are as a couple, perfectly balanced with the desire for their wedding to be fun and unforgettable for their guests. And, Gracey’s advice for those planning a wedding is spot on! “Remember what the wedding is about: two people becoming one. Don’t lose sight of the marriage to follow that one day.”

Big SW hugs to Cassidy Dawn for sharing this sweet day with us!

Having worked in the wedding industry for years with my professional photographer sister and brother-in-law, we saw the value of doing a first look. We wanted that intimate moment to be able to see each before all eyes were on us. It was such an amazing moment. Our photographer sat us down on a bench in front of our venue with our eyes closed, told us to hold hands, and then to open our eyes on the count of three. We love these photos of our first look because of how it all went down–Richard misunderstood and thought we were to just hold hands (eyes still closed), so on the count of three, I opened my eyes as Richard just grabbed my hand! The moment was followed by quite a few laughs, and I said, “Richard, you can open your eyes.” His response and face when he saw me makes my heart melt to this day–hearing your soon-to-be husband gush over how pretty you look the moment he first sees you on your wedding day is something you will NEVER forget.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Ready to plan her last daughter’s wedding (I am the baby of three girls), my mom was just as excited as I was to start the search for the perfect wedding dress. I knew I wanted something beautiful and dreamy, but I also wanted something different than the dresses I had ever seen or worn before for styled shoots. My mom and I decided to stop by a local bridal boutique (Loretta’s Bridal) just to start getting an idea of what type of dress I would be interested in. An hour before we got to the store, a special shipment of dresses had arrived (a day early) for a weekend showcase they were hosting. I tried on dress after beautiful dress, but they didn’t quite have what I was looking for. Then, the owner, brought out the dress–a gorgeous strapless, blush Casablanca style. It was far more traditional than what I thought I would be drawn to, but I think the fact that it was blush, rather than white, is what hooked me in the end. We ordered it that day!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? My poor mother was so patient with me! I had a hard time narrowing down exactly what I wanted–it was so important to me that each and every aspect truly reflected who Richard and I are as a couple, while also balancing our desire for our wedding to be a fun and unforgettable for our guests. I don’t know what I would have done without my sweet mom there to help plan and guide me through the process. She’s just the best.

It was important to us to focus on the marriage that followed the wedding. We chose to work with a Christian counselor and go through premarital counseling to help prepare us for the changes ahead. This was a really great decision, if you ask me–it’s so important to set your relationship up for success!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Our vows were very special to us. We wanted to make sure they were centered on what we feel our life calling and vision is: loving God and loving people. Though it’s hard to choose one line as a favorite, I think “I promise to create with you a home in which the peace of God is known, and the needs of others are recognized” sums up our hearts’ desire for our marriage.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We adored ALL of the vendors for our wedding, but the most special would have to be our pastor from Florida who married us. He has been my family’s pastor for over 20 years, married all of my sisters, and is now mine and Richard’s pastor!

Travel and great food are two common threads in the history of our relationship. We knew we wanted a destination wedding and narrowed it down to Charleston, South Carolina. The Vendue fit our needs perfectly–it was the perfect embodiment of my artistic side (The Vendue is Charleston’s only art hotel), our love for mixing natural elements with industrial elements (we loved our open rooftop ceremony in the middle of a beautiful city), and of course, there was AMAZING food. We were so happy that we could have both the ceremony and reception in the same location, since all of our guest were traveling from out of town, but loved having a change of scenery by doing the ceremony on the open rooftop, dinner at the beautiful in-house restaurant (The Drawing Room), and heading back upstairs to the rooftop for dancing.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Being in Charleston, it was a no-brainer to include some Southern Lowcountry fare. Chef Jon of The Drawing Room (The Vendue’s in-house restaurant) is brilliant! Not only did he make the entire meal gluten and dairy-free, he also made us the perfect spin on Lowcountry surf and turf that included our favorite foods (grits were a must!). My family is from Kentucky originally, so blackberry bourbon lemonade with cardamom was our Southern signature cocktail. Rather than driving away in a limo or car, we opted for something a little more “Charleston,” and left the wedding in a rickshaw!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. After several years of working and traveling non-stop to build a family-owned startup, I realized I was ready for more in life. After talking to a few of my friends, I decided to join eHarmony. I filled out my profile with the parameters being focused more on the character and Godly leadership I was looking for in a husband, and less on matters like location. In the meantime, Richard also had long work hours and traveled often, and when he decided he was ready to add something more to his life, but wasn’t finding what he was looking for in his area, he signed up as well and then contacted me. Over the next week or so, we messaged back and forth before Richard took a step of faith and asked for a phone date. Though I’m not much of a “phone person,” I accepted on St. Patrick’s Day 2013. That phone call lasted 6 hours; we both quickly realized this was something worth pursuing. After three months of talking nearly non-stop, we finally met face-to-face. Richard drove 21 hours just to meet me. The moment we saw each other, we hugged and instantly knew this was it. It just felt right. That weekend, we officially started the journey of long distance dating, taking turns visiting each other for the next year. Finally, in March 2014, Richard made the big move to be with me.
Tell us all about the proposal! Years before we met, I had a favorite blue vintage bicycle that I took time to restore. Unfortunately, my bike was stolen and I never replaced it. Knowing he wanted to propose, Richard realized my upcoming birthday was the perfect stage to set up a proposal. For the six weeks leading up to my birthday, he tracked down and restored a bike that looked identical to my long-lost vintage one. He told me to be at his house early on the morning before my birthday for a day of birthday surprises. When he gave me the bike, I was so surprised and felt so loved that I was completely oblivious that this was just the beginning! We rode our bikes downtown, where we stopped at a small park for a picnic lunch. Before lunch, Richard wanted to walk around the park. We found a small gazebo, and while we were looking around, Richard asked, “Gracey, how long have we been going out?” I answered with a rough estimate. Richard replied, “How about we make that forever?” I turned around to see him down on one knee with a ring in hand, and he asked me to marry him. I couldn’t stop crying tears of joy as I shook my head yes! Did I mention, he had someone in the bushes taking pictures? Extra points for that! The rest of the day was filled with all of my favorite things. I’d say it was a birthday for the books.
When did y’all get married? March 17, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 45
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Being gluten-free and not really loving cake, we wanted to do something a little bit different. We went with a crepe bar, complete with gluten-free crepes, a variety of berries, bacon, chocolate, goat cheese, and, of course, Nutella! Our guests loved getting to mix up yummy concoctions.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We cut costs here and there by prioritizing what would truly make our wedding unforgettable and feel like us. Venue, food, music, and hair and makeup were important things for us. The key for us when cutting costs came down to a few things: we were married on a Tuesday (MEGA SAVINGS not having it on a weekend), and we used tables, chairs, and plates that the venue owned, rather than renting them.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Remember what the wedding is about: two people becoming one. Don’t lose sight of the marriage to follow that one day, and make the day as much a reflection of who you are as a couple as possible. Yes, it’s important that your guests have a good time, but they are there because they love you and support you–the more your wedding reflects who you are, the more fun they will have.

Photographer: Cassidy Dawn Photography / Venue, Catering, and Cake: The Vendue / Florist: Branch Design Studio / DJ: DJ David Fox of Bunn DJ Company / Invitations: Paradise Papers / Bride’s Gown: Casablanca / Bridal Salon: Loretta’s Bridal / Bride’s Hair Accessory: Urban Outfitters / Hair and Makeup: Ash and Co. / Bride’s Shoes: BCBG / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Wrap Front Maxi Dress” by ASOS / Groom’s Attire: “Lazio Blue Plain” by SuitSupply / Groomsmen Attire: “SlimFit Suit” in Navy by H&M / Transportation: Charleston Rickshaw

Bunn DJ Company is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Cassidy Dawn reply

    Thank you so much for the feature! Aren’t they just the best?! XOXO

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Amy and Brian met on a double blind date on election night in 2012, and as the only two Republicans in the restaurant, their night may not have ended the way they would have liked politically, but personally, it turned out perfectly! After two new jobs and a new city, Amy and Brian knew they wanted to celebrate their wedding in a familiar spot: Naples, Florida. Brian grew up visiting the beautiful beach town, and Amy quickly grew to love it too. It was just right for their Southern Florida-inspired wedding, filled with bright and bold florals, and even miniature pineapples at every place setting! I love this nod to Southern hospitality, and I completely agree with Amy’s response to what could possibly be cuter than 150 miniature pineapples: “The answer is nothing.”

Thank you kindly to Set Free Photography for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Right before we got engaged, Brian received a promotional opportunity that required relocation from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio. Since our lives were a jumbled mess of moving parts at the time, I decided to travel to New York City, where my sister and maid of honor lives with her husband, for wedding dress shopping at the one and only Kleinfeld’s Bridal. I figured if I had to fly back and forth from whereever I might be living at the time for various fitting appointments, it would be best to choose a place that came with a free weekend’s stay (coupled with some quality family time)! My mom flew in from Oklahoma (where I was born and raised), and we made a fun girl’s weekend out of the trip, filled with lots of wedding to dos, dinners out on the town, and even a Broadway show! I walked into Kleinfeld’s with a handful of photographs of wedding dresses that were all completely and utterly different styles. I had a hard time expressing what I wanted to the sales representatives. but those Kleinfeld ladies sure did hit it out of the park! I felt so beautiful when I tried on my dress–I immediately knew it was the one!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We got married in Naples, Florida, where we go every year for Thanksgiving! Brian has grown up going to Naples with his parents and grandparents. I have grown to adore the place–nothing beats the combination of sunshine, the beach, and family!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not do a first look, and it was one of the easiest decisions of the whole wedding planning process, since it was one of Brian’s only real demands! Brian wanted the first time he saw me on our wedding day to be when I was walking down the aisle to meet him. If there is one thing my husband is not, it’s emotional, but as that moment was happening and I got closer to him, I saw that he was crying. He never, ever, ever cries, and it was one of the most special moments of the day.

My something borrowed was the most special “something.” Brian’s mother passed away after a long battle with cancer a few years ago. I didn’t get the opportunity to meet her, but he raised my husband into the man he is today, so I know she must have been an incredible woman. During my bridesmaids’ luncheon the day before the wedding, my two sister-in-laws gave me her wedding band as a gift for my something borrowed. I have worn it every day since the day I received it. My something old was a coin that my Nana, my mother, my sister, and I all wore in our shoes on our wedding days. I had to tape mine on the sole, since I wore sandals!

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Everyone was incredible, but I have to say my sister, Emily Collins. She did all of the calligraphy for the wedding, from the save the dates and invitations, to the place cards, to the beverage signs, to the escort sign, to the programs, to the welcome baskets, and much more (pretty much on every piece of stationery in my wedding!) She is a high-end interior designer and architect by trade, and it was so incredible to have a little piece of her in my wedding in these ways. I love her dearly and will be eternally jealous of her amazing artistic abilities!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We had real miniature pineapples above each place setting. It was such a small, discrete detail, but I was head over heels for them! What could possibly be cuter than 150 miniature pineapples? The answer is nothing.

We had two different types of wedding cake (for chocolate and vanilla lovers), and we also had yummy desserts served at the tables immediately following dinner. The desserts were very Florida-inspired–chocolate-covered strawberries, fresh fruit tarts, Key lime pie tarts, and cannolis. The Key lime pie tart was probably my favorite!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We first met on a double blind date on the night of the 2012 presidential election. We were inadvertently set up by one of my best friends and bridesmaids, Emily, and one of Brian’s fraternity brothers, Jake (we have to give credit where credit is due!). We were the only Republicans in the entire restaurant, so we ensured all of our drinks were sent to us red, infused with grenadine. While the night didn’t end well for us politically, professionally (hello, mini market crash), or physically (work was not fun the next morning), it did work out personally!
Tell us all about the proposal! Brian proposed to me on a summer night in August. He told me that he had made dinner reservations for us at Gibson’s, a Chicago favorite. As I began hailing a cab from our apartment to the restaurant, he grabbed my hand and started walking me down the street and across the Wells Bridge that extends over the Chicago River. He led me to the front of the restaurant and bar where we had first met two years before, and we sat on the patio for a drink before heading over to Gibson’s. After a delicious meal, we walked out of the restaurant, and he started directing me to an unknown location. We ended up on the Lake Michigan beach, with the beautiful Chicago skyline lit up behind us. Before I knew it, he was on one knee, asking me to marry him. It was beautiful, private, and perfect, and one of the happiest days of my life. After the proposal, he led me to a fancy schmancy hotel in downtown Chicago, complete with an overnight bag packed by one of my best girlfriends, rose petals, and a bottle of celebratory champagne. The room faced the water, so we watched the Navy Pier fireworks go off while excitedly calling all of our best friends and family members. The next morning, Brian took me to a surprise brunch, where all of our friends were anxiously waiting for us!
When did y’all get married? April 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings: “A Marriage” by Mark Twain and Romans 12:1-2, 9-18.
Describe your wedding flowers. In one word, stunning! I might be a little biased, but they were the most beautiful florals I have ever seen! Bright, tropical, fun, flirty–exactly what I had envisioned!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Plaid bow ties and navy suits, pink champagne and whiskey ginger signature cocktails, a stocked cigar bar cart with custom labels and match sets, and Southern Florida-inspired bright and bold florals, to name a few!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We moved cities (from Chicago to Columbus), got two new jobs, purchased a home together, and moved into said home, all while we were planning our wedding! It was an extremely busy time, but all of these moving parts were true blessings!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t dwell in the details, enjoy every moment of the planning process, and approach the bumps in the road with a light heart–everything will end up as perfectly as you imagine!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Travel, settling into a new city, making new friends, and (of course) kids!

Photographer: Set Free Photography / Planner: Jet Set Wed / Venue and Caterer: LaPlaya Beach and Gold Resort / Florals: Isn’t She Lovely / Cake Baker: Ella Cakes / Rentals: Sweet Southern Charm / Lighting: O’Ryan Sound / Band: Society Hill via Brett Foreman Productions / Paper Products: DM Paper Designs and Honest to Emily / Bride’s Gown: “R4BIS” by Le Spose Di Gio / Hair and Makeup: Jamie Lyn Cintron Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Stella McCartney / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “G856U” by Amsale / Menswear: Jos. A. Bank / Trees: Foliage Factory

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Stacy Sullivan reply

    Thank you for featuring this beautiful wedding! We are doing a happy dance!! Always on honor to be featured on your inspirational wedding blog! xo

  2. avatar Pristine Chapel Lakeside reply

    This is a very beautiful wedding. The gold, pink, and white compliment each other beatifully. The groom’s blue suit goes really well with the color scheme.

  3. avatar Dana reply

    I love her flower crown!!

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