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I’m convinced that deciding where to get married is either one of the easiest or one of the hardest wedding planning decisions. I relate so much to Erin and Sean’s decision to marry in Raleigh, where they would be starting their newlywed life, because Dave and I did the exact same thing! For their classic Southern celebration, Erin and Sean brought a little bit of their hometowns to Raleigh by filling their downtown venues with nautical touches that nodded to their childhoods spent on the coast. My favorite detail of Erin and Sean’s big day? While they were introducing loved ones to their new hometown, they were also giving family and friends mementos for their own homes: “We have our oyster shell place cards displayed on our coffee table, and we’ve visited with friends who kept their place cards and have them displayed in their homes, too!”

Thank you so much to Julie Livingston for sharing this lovely day with us!

My mom, grandmother, and mother-in-law were all with me when I found my dress. I had two appointments in Raleigh and ultimately found my dress at the last place we went, Maggi Bridal. I had no clue what I wanted, so I tried on quite a few dresses, but it ended up being so easy for me to pick the dress. My dress was just so elegant, timeless, and Southern, which is what I wanted our entire wedding day to exude! My favorite part of the whole day was seeing the reactions every time I came out of the dressing room. Of course, they loved every dress I tried on!

Describe your wedding flowers. We started out with the idea of using driftwood and oyster shells as part of our arrangements and decor, as both Sean and I grew up near the coast. Our florist was so on board with our ideas, and had so many ideas of her own. It was so much fun to collaborate with her and watch her bring our vision to life in ways we couldn’t have imagined! Our flowers had a coastal theme and were all shades of creams, ivories, and whites with lots of greenery. Anna, our florist, was also able to source snowball viburnum, which was used in our bouquets and floral arrangements. This was especially important to me, as my late grandmother had a snowball bush that she was so proud of, so including the snowball viburnum was such a special way to honor her. There was even a huge vase filled with it near the entrance to the Merrimon-Wynne House–it was one of my favorite pieces!

Everything from our venue, to the food we served, to some of the traditions we kept was Southern! We buried a bottle of bourbon, which Sean and his groomsmen dug up the morning of our wedding while getting ready. To keep Sean and I from seeing each other, my brother brought me a glass of the bourbon! In addition to the tradition, the food we served was very Southern: mini chicken and waffles, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, and shrimp and grits!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Sean and I decided we wanted to get married in Raleigh. We loved Raleigh and it was where we would be starting our lives together as husband and wife, so we wanted to choose a venue that would show all of our guests just how great Raleigh and North Carolina are. We started going to Edenton Street United Methodist Church in downtown Raleigh during the summer we were engaged and we loved it. We instantly felt like we were part of a family at EUMC, so there was no question that we wanted to get married there. Our reception was at the Merrimon-Wynne House in downtown Raleigh. My mother and I went to visit the venue and as soon we we walked through the front door, we knew this was where we wanted the reception to be. The Merrimon-Wynne House was everything I could have dreamed of for our wedding–Southern, classic, gorgeous light…and the icing on the cake was that it was only a few blocks from our church and had plenty of room for all of our guests. We were able to get ready there too, and it was so fun to hang out at the house all day with some of my favorite women!

We used driftwood that my mother collected from the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia on the dinner tables, with larger pieces on the porch and the mantle. Anna did an amazing job in incorporating the driftwood into our floral arrangements. There was also a large piece of driftwood draped with greenery, flowers, oyster shells, and candles that hung over our sweetheart table–it was stunning, and now hangs over our couch in our home! We saved oyster shells from an engagement party that my aunt and uncle hosted for us, and from other oyster roasts we had as a family, and used those as place cards for our guests and throughout the decor. One and Only Stationers, who created our programs and other details, wrote each guest’s name on an oyster shell in navy ink. We have our oyster shell place cards displayed on our coffee table, and we’ve visited with friends who kept their place cards and have them displayed in their homes, too! I just loved how all of these pieces were gathered by my family and turned into special pieces that Sean and I have kept and incorporated into our home.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Time management! I work for a public accounting firm and my schedule at work is not light! Some days, I felt like I would never be able to plan a wedding because I just didn’t have time. Luckily, I was able to lean on my mom for a lot of help. I know she sacrificed a lot of time to help me plan the wedding of my dreams–but I don’t think either of us would have had it any other way!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff, because on the day of your wedding, you will forget all about the small stuff! Something will definitely happen or go wrong (like the electricity going out at church, in our case!), but at the end of the day, you will still be married and it will still be the best day ever!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Sean: Erin and I met at a JV football game in high school through mutual friends. I was playing for the varsity team at the time, but decided to stick around after practice to see some of the underclassmen play. I remember being introduced to Erin and immediately having this feeling that I knew she was the one. We started dating shortly after that memorable Thursday night some nine years ago. After enduring a few years in a somewhat-long distance relationship, with Erin at NC State and myself at East Carolina, I made the decision to move to Raleigh, where we call home today.
Tell us all about the proposal! I had just finished my Masters in Accounting at NC State University and was spending all summer studying for the CPA exam. I had just finished taking one of the exams and was meeting Sean for lunch at Player’s Retreat, near NC State’s campus. It was a gorgeous day, so after eating lunch, Sean suggested we go for a walk. We walked down Hillsborough Street towards NC State’s campus and ended up in the Court of Carolinas. As we walked out into the Court of Carolinas, I saw this little puppy next to the sidewalk sitting in a basket. I turned to Sean, a bit worried, and asked, “Is that a dog? Who would leave a puppy out here by itself in the middle of July?” Sean then proceeded to walk over to the puppy, picked him up, and said, “Erin, I’d like you to meet Murphy,” and put him in my arms. I was speechless! While I stood there wide-eyed over my new puppy, Sean turned around, grabbed the ring box out of the basket, got down on one knee, and proposed! We were both shaking and tearing up, we were so excited! It was one of the happiest days of my life–I got a fiancé and a puppy!
When did y’all get married? August 1, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows. Instead, we opted for the traditional vows, which still hold so much meaning to us and the commitment we made to each other.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My uncle Billy J read 1 Corinthians 13 and my Uncle Bill read Philippians 4:4-9. I love 1 Corinthians 13 because it not only tells how important love is in all aspects of our lives, but it also reminds us how to love one another. Philippians 4:4-9 is just a joyful passage and it was so wonderful to be reminded that the Lord was near, surrounding Sean and I, our families, and our friends with His love and grace. It was so special to have my uncles read these passages during our ceremony because I am so close to each of them, and Sean and I really look up to them!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I ended up with a multitude of borrowed, blue, old, and new items on my wedding day! I had a gold pin that my grandmother, her sister, my aunt, and my mother all wore when they were married. I also carried a handkerchief embroidered in blue given to me by a cousin on my mother’s side, who explained that all the women in our family had carried it, and I was to pass it on to the next cousin to get married. My mom and dad gave me a beautiful silver and diamond bracelet.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We attended a few marriage counseling sessions at Edenton St. United Methodist and with our pastor. Through these sessions, I realized more and more how ready and happy I was to be marrying this man.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are living and working in Raleigh with our dog, Murphy. So far, we have just enjoyed coming home to each other, running errands together, cooking dinner together, and enjoying all that Raleigh has to offer. Being big college football fans, we frequent the NC State and ECU football games, cheer for the Panthers, and can be found hanging out with each other or our dear friends and family every weekend. We are looking forward to sharing new experiences together–we’d love to travel around the US and abroad and have a few long weekend trips planned in the coming months!

Photographer: Julie Livingston Photography | Videographer: Jared Cook Films | Coordinator: Gather Together Events | Ceremony Venue: Edenton Street United Methodist Church | Reception Venue: The Merrimon-Wynne House | Florist: Simply Elegant Floral Designs | Dessert Baker: The Cupcake Shoppe | Caterer: Catering Works | Rentals: Party Reflections | Band: The Magic Pipers | Paper Products: One and Only Stationers | Bride’s Gown: Maggi Bridal | Hair Stylist: Parlor Blow Dry Bar | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Mary” Top and “Tulip” Skirt in Umber by LulaKate | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Menswear: VIP Formal Wear | Koozies: Pink House Press | Transportation: Ecostyle and Classy Transportation

Gather Together Events is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Ashlee Little reply

    Thank you so much for sharing Erin + Sean’s wedding! We’re glad you loved the driftwood chandelier as much as we loved making it. :)

  2. avatar Brenda Parker reply

    This was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever seen. I was not at the wedding but have seen all the photos. It is obvious a lot of attention was paid to every detail to achieve an elegant southern wedding with a very personal touch. I enjoyed reading the back story of all the details of their story.

  3. avatar Dana reply

    a puppy and a proposal! not bad!!!

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Very few of us are lucky enough to be able to celebrate our marriages in the same spot that we developed our relationships. There are, after all, so many things to account for like space, power sourcing, catering kitchens and bathrooms. Fay + Jon were lucky enough to be able to say their vows at Jon’s uncle’s farmland, where they got to know each other and fall in love. It makes their big day even more special to us, especially considering that many of Fay’s family and friends came from across the pond and were able to witness how their story unfolded. “The feeling of having everyone from England and America together for (probably) the only time in our lifetimes was absolutely breathtaking,” said the bride.

We’re so thankful for Katherine Miles Jones who shared this big day with us!

Isn’t Fay’s heirloom ring absolutely stunning? It was a surprise to Jon from Fay’s mother who had come to visit from England just before he popped the question.

“She’d never met Jon in person before, but knew that we’d been talking about marriage. She brought my late grandmother’s engagement ring with her (presuming she’d actually like Jon!). At one point in the week when I wasn’t around, she gave the ring to Jon and told him that if he’d like to, he should propose with it. So when Jon got down on one knee he pulled out this tattered old ring box (the original box) and proposed with my grandmother’s sapphire engagement ring, it was unbelievably special.”

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: The first few dresses I tried on got me really down because I thought I’d like and look good in certain style and I certainly did not! I also wasn’t expecting to find my dress at a chain like David’s Bridal. I’d just gone there because I’m not dress-savvy and they have so many different styles, we thought it would be a great place to get my bearings! After a few that I barely wanted to leave the changing room in, I tried one on that just gave me that feeling. I felt totally myself, and comfortable, and I hadn’t expected to feel that way in any gown. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

We created our entire ceremony with our officiant, who is wonderful and really helped us shape a ceremony that was “us.” She is a Unitarian Universalist, which was very important to me, because I wanted to be married by someone who believes that anyone can be married, no matter who they are and who they’re marrying. My favorite part of our ceremony was asking our friends and family to affirm our vows (which they did, with gusto!). I live 4000 miles away from my family and home, so my friends here have truly become my family. Jon was born and raised in Durham, so he has known many of his current friends for 30 years. For both of us for very different reasons, actively involving our congregation in the ceremony was so important.

How many guests attended your wedding? 150. The number wasn’t very flexible because we got married outside on Jon’s uncle’s farmland, where we spent a lot of time fishing in our early-dating days. We both feel like it’s where we truly got to know each other. Jon’s uncle had a dock built onto the lake especially for the wedding, and we made our altar out of a reclaimed fireplace mantle on the end of the dock.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? We did not do a first look. We flip-flopped on it for a while but in the end, we both wanted to have that moment on the aisle. I wouldn’t change it for the world. People told me to really savor that walk down the aisle, but as soon as I caught Jon’s eyes, I could not look away. It was so intense and so emotional.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had 2 readings, one chosen by each of us. Jon chose “Love” by Roy Croft and I chose “Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda from 101 Love Poems. I loved how the readings really reflected each of our personalities within our relationship.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. All of our “important” songs were by the Avett Brothers. My maid of honor grew up with the boys in this band and she introduced me to them years ago. Their music is a staple in our cars and house, and is pretty much the only music Jon and I can agree on! The pieces were arranged and played acoustically on the day by our good friend who is a guitarist. The bridal party entered to “January Wedding,” I walked down the aisle to “Pretty Girl at The Airport,” and our first dance was “Swept Away.”

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Antlers!! When I first suggested using antlers in the wedding, I got some strange looks from the florist and Chelsey, (and Jon!) But I think they worked perfectly. I’ve always had a little obsession with antlers (I just think they are beautiful) and Jon’s uncle is an avid hunter, so we had no shortage. (Although we did tell my mom they were naturally shed!) They helped tie everything together so well, especially as we didn’t have a massive budget for flowers and decorations.

We never set out with the intention of making our wedding super Southern, but because of who we are, I think it actually turned out to be a really nice blend of Southern and English. Our signature cocktail was a “Southern High Tea” made with sweet tea vodka, and lemonade. We played corn hole with boards painted as the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes. Our dining setup was four long banquet tables running parallel to each other and dinner was served family style. We fought to have this setup fiercely (budget and practicality should have meant the traditional round-table, plated food setup). I really wanted dinner to feel casual and familial, and as if you were at a garden party at the end of summer with everyone eating together. Even though we were under a tent, it felt like we were eating outdoors. I loved it, and I think it really felt like a big homey Southern garden party.

How’s this for a brilliant marriage? Fay + Jon combined their Southern and English roots to create “Southern High Tea” signature cocktails — a fun spin on the notable drink that characterizes both regions.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Neither Jon nor I like cake very much. We decided to have pies for our wedding desserts. Bourbon-pecan-chocolate chip, key lime, buttermilk-sweet potato, and rustic apple… Aren’t you drooling?!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. I went to Duke University and after graduating, had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. I kept the job I’d had through college, which was waitressing at a local restaurant. Jon’s best friend from high school owned the restaurant and he moved from Baltimore to Durham to take a job managing the bar. The rest is history!
Describe the proposal. I had planned a trip to the same cabin where we spent our first anniversary (near Grandfather Mountain), and Jon jumped on the opportunity to be at a place that meant something to both of us. He planned to propose at the Mile High Swinging Bridge at the top of the mountain when we went up there for a hike. We didn’t know that they’d just finished construction on a new visitor’s center up there, so when we got up there, we were joined by a couple hundred other folks. (Not exactly the private moment Jon had hoped for.) We decided to hike up the neighboring peak with our two dogs, instead. Jon proposed on top of a giant (terrifying) rocky outcrop that he had to beg me to climb up on in the first place!
In what month did you get married? September. We wanted to be outdoors as much as possible and you cannot beat a good September night in North Carolina! We couldn’t decide on an actual date, and ended up flipping a coin because neither of us wanted to be responsible for picking a date if it got rained on!
Describe your wedding flowers: Gorgeous! I wanted the bouquets to feel wild and loose (I hate stuffy round pompom bouquets) and our florist did a fantastic job! They were perfectly free and tangly with lots of spilling tendrils of foliage, while at the same time keeping a delicate, antique feel with the colors and blooms used.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Guest list. Having a very fixed number of guests was hard. Narrowing down our guest list was emotionally draining (not to mention time consuming). I still have palpitations thinking about it occasionally!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Our budget was $20,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? CHELSEY (our wedding coordinator). I cannot emphasize this enough. Some people told us it was a waste of money, some people told us a planner would take over and make it their wedding. These people couldn’t have been more wrong. She was invaluable. She enabled us to create a wedding we’d never have dreamt we’d be able to have, and did it while keeping us totally in control. She saved us from driving each other crazy and went above and beyond constantly. She is worth her weight in gold.
The best vendor decision you made: I adore our pictures. I didn’t know what to do at first about a photographer. I like Max Wanger and Jose Villa, and the photographers here that we looked at just don’t do that style of photography. Then I remembered my old friend from summer camp 12 years ago! I’d friended her on Facebook a while ago and though we didn’t regularly keep in contact, I’d vaguely followed her journey to becoming an independent photographer in NYC. I emailed her to ask if she’d be at all interested/inclined to come to NC (where her parents live) to photograph our wedding. I was THRILLED when she said yes! Neither Jon nor I are particularly comfortable in front of cameras and Katherine being an old friend made everything SO easy and natural! And she is so unbelievably talented. The pictures came out better than I could ever imagine!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The laughter. There was so much!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be true to yourselves, no matter what that means. You only get that day once, and it goes by so fast. Make it exactly what you want it to be.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? It’s actually going to be nose to the grindstone for the next few years. There will be a lot of school for me and a lot of work for Jon as he carries us through those student loans! But we are planning a long, adventurous honeymoon somewhere off the beaten track before my course starts.

Gather Together Events is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Ashleigh reply

    LOVE the color of the guys suits! Can you tell me where they came from? I’m having a hard time finding the perfect color for our August wedding!

    • avatar Jon Marin reply

      Ashleigh: The suits were from Jos A Bank. They took great care of us and as far as cost is concerned there isn’t a better price out there. In my opinion it was much better to pay a little more for a suit that they, my groomsmen, could keep versus a rental that they have to return.

  2. avatar sarah der reply

    Ahhhh what a darling, beautiful wedding and such a fun couple! I love, love the elegant and sophisticated–but still sweet and southern–feel to their day. So much love!

  3. avatar Arlissa Vaughn / Special Event Painter reply

    LOVE the UK and USA flag corn hole games. Fun!!

  4. avatar Katherine Miles Jones reply

    Fay and Jon are such a lovely couple–inside and out! It was a joy to work with them!

  5. avatar Emily Alice reply

    Those Avett Brothers songs are so good! I’ve always imagined Swept Away as a great first dance song! Congratulations :)

  6. avatar Valerie (Pieceful Wedding) reply

    This is such a beautiful wedding! I love the soft and natural color palette and that altar is amazing!

  7. avatar Chelsey Morrison reply

    Katherine said it best – a lovely couple inside and out! What an absolute joy this wedding was. Great couple, amazing vendors, and a perfect September day. Thank you to all and especially Southern Weddings for the feature!!!

  8. avatar Emily reply

    Such a dreamy ceremony spot, I thought it must have been from a photoshoot the first time I saw it! :)

  9. avatar Amber Housley reply

    So very pretty! And that sweet dog! Melts my heart. :)

  10. avatar Dee Shore reply

    I actually got teary eyed looking this wedding over. It’s simply beautiful and so ever romantic.

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