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Bride Wenjie shares her Atlanta wedding at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History with us!

Please meet Wenjie, our lovely bride for today! And y’all, I can totally relate to the hardest part of wedding planning for her. She said, “The big choices (venue, caterer, dress, etc.) were easy, but the hundreds of small details were the hardest part about planning.” I can definitely see why their venue was easy! She and her sweet groom Futhum instantly fell in love with the natural lighting, high ceilings, and dinosaurs (!) on their initial tour of Fernbank Museum of Natural History. It provided the unique and one-of-a-kind experience they were hoping to show guests. Another unique experience I’m sure their guests loved? Wenjie and Futhum incorporated their respective Chinese and Eritrean cultures into their wedding day. This even included teaching guests traditional Eritrean wedding dances, something I’m sure won’t be easily forgotten!

Thanks to Elle Golden for sharing Wenjie and Futhum’s sweet Georgia day with us!

Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. I was #asentimentalbride! I loved the process of finding my dress at The Sentimentalist in Atlanta. It is the cutest bridal shop in little white house instead of in a mall or giant shopping center. The staff was super sweet and helpful and they had an amazing selection of designer and vintage dresses. They had a wide array of dresses including a stunning, fully beaded gown. It wasn’t the right dress for our wedding, but it was fun to try on! With the help of the staff and my bridesmaids, I found the perfect Nicole Miller gown on my first visit.

What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? The big choices (venue, caterer, dress, etc.) were easy, but the hundreds of small details were the hardest part about planning. It was difficult to foresee how it would all come together or how one small choice could affect the overall design (an ivory tablecloth vs. a slightly different shade of white). Luckily our wedding planner helped us navigate these options and even made some of the decisions for us.

Did you decide to do a first look? Yes! We wanted to have a private moment to share before all the guests arrived. It also took away some of our nerves and added to our excitement for the ceremony.

Tell us all about the proposal! We have known each other since high school. When the Georgia Aquarium first opened, Futhum bought me and my best friend tickets for Christmas. I thought it was a really thoughtful present, and he thought it was our first date. Luckily we still stayed close friends (and eventually dated). Ten years later, he surprised me with tickets to the aquarium again. This time, he took me on a special tour where we were able to swim with the whale sharks and sting rays. Afterwards, he took me to my favorite restaurant (Makan, where we later had our rehearsal dinner) and proposed!

At the last minute, Futhum asked a groomsmen to bring our dog, Roger, to the venue. He took the best pictures and stole the show!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We were originally thinking about having a larger wedding, closer to 300 guests. As we began planning, we agreed that we wanted to invite close family and friends so that when we both look into the crowd during the ceremony we would only see familiar faces. We also invited the Obamas who were not able to attend so we really saved on security costs! They did send a nice card that is now framed in our house.

We did not write our own vows, but our officiant interviewed us and incorporated our responses into the ceremony. I talked to him about how much I appreciate Futhum’s openness to trying new and exotic Chinese foods. We’re pretty sure we had the only wedding ceremony to ever mention chicken feet and stinky tofu. Additionally, my dad wrote us a poem and read it at the ceremony in both Mandarin and English. There definitely was not a dry eye in the house, including Futhum’s, which was the first time I’ve seen him cry in 15 years.

We made sure to include our favorite artists such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Outkast into our day. After the ceremony, we walked back up the aisle to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered!”

We had a brief private moment after the ceremony while our guests were enjoying cocktail hour. Our caterer brought us champagne and hors d’oeuvres. It was amazing to be able to celebrate our marriage just the two of us and take a deep breath before jumping into the reception.

We knew we wanted to get married in the city of Atlanta and Fernbank Museum of Natural History was one of the first venues that came up in our search. We instantly fell in love with the amazing natural lighting, high ceilings, and dinosaurs on our initial tour. We also knew this would be a unique and one-of-a-kind location and experience.

What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Hire a planner! It really took the stress out of wedding planning. Even though it is an extra cost, it is well worth it and your planner will help save costs elsewhere. Create the type of wedding that you would want to go to! Remember that it is a day for BOTH of you and include the groom in the planning.

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? While we planned our wedding in a more American tradition, we included small touches from our own cultures (Chinese and Eritrean). Our favors were in Chinese silk pouches and included samples of Chinese green tea and Eritrean coffee which are both very important in our culture. We also played a few Eritrean wedding songs and had a blast teaching all of our guests the traditional dances.

What was Southern about your wedding? It was hot! We did not incorporate many traditional Southern aspects into our wedding, but our wedding definitely demonstrated Southern hospitality. We had guests from literally all over the world from different backgrounds and cultures. We were so happy seeing all of our guests welcoming each other and becoming friends as the night went on.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love”. -Dr. Seuss
When did y’all get married? August 6, 2016.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000.
What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? We served a red velvet wedding cake from Sweet Hut Bakery. Sweet Hut is one of our favorite restaurants, and we love their Asian-style cakes, because the frosting is very light and subtly sweet. I guess our guests enjoyed it too, because it was devoured in a few minutes and we heard people were fighting over seconds.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? Our wedding planner! Whitney from Whitewood Events made wedding planning a breeze. We nicknamed her our magical wedding fairy because she made sure everything was perfect and even anticipated our needs. The cake and catering tastings were a favorite too!

Photographer: LeiLani Golden of Elle Golden Photography | Planner: Whitney Downs of Whitewood Events | Venue: Fernbank Museum of Natural History | Florist: Bloomin’ Bouquets | Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Sweet Hut Bakery & Cafe | Caterer:  Bold American Events | Lighting and DJ: Nice Entertainment | Paper Products: Oconee Printing | Bride’s Gown: “Janey” by Nicole Miller from The Sentimentalist | Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil/Jewelry: BHLDN | Hair Stylist: Claudia Verduzco | Makeup Artist: Dominique Doyle of So Chevon | Bride’s Shoes: “Cacique Peep Toe Pumps” by Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Kate Lace Maxi Dress” by ASOS | Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | Groom’s and Groomsmen’s socks: Sock Fancy

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Chef Aaron Butler reply

    The details of your wedding day sound amazing! I bet the wedding cake was amazing too! Red velvet cake is always a crowd pleaser!

  2. avatar Fernbank Museum Wedding | Futhum + Wenjie | Whitewood Events – Atlanta Wedding Photographer – Fine Art Film Photography – Elle Golden Photography reply

    […] and Futhum are featured on Southern Weddings. Here are a couple more quotes from their interview with the SW team. Make sure you pop over […]

  3. avatar Aram Hovsepian reply

    Refreshing and airy. Thank you for sharing!

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Classic, elegant, and rooted in place are a few words I often use to describe my favorite “type” of wedding, so I was delighted when I saw that Erika and Kenny’s Savannah celebration hit all of those nails on the head. Even though their 11-month engagement was a particularly stressful time in their lives, they pulled off a day that truly celebrated their love for one another, their families, and the traditions and culture of the South. It’s so evident that even in the midst of moving, house hunting, and more, when it came to their wedding, Erika and Kenny worked hard to be intentional and hospitable. I can only imagine their marriage will be marked with those same sentiments!

Thanks so much to Brian Flint for sharing this lovely day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had a few details of the wedding planned out in my head, but a wedding dress was not one of them. I just knew I wanted something timeless and true to myself. My first appointment was at Ivory & Beau in Savannah. After trying on only eight dresses, I went with my gut and chose a beautiful, lace Elaya Vaughn dress by Kate Pankoke. I was in and out of the store in under an hour! Easiest shopping trip ever.

A first look logistically made sense, but we never considered doing one. Every time we imagined our wedding day, our thoughts would jump to the moment when we would lock eyes as I walked down the aisle towards him. Even though I cried my way down the aisle, we have no regrets! It was such a happy and surreal moment!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had a harpist at our ceremony and he was great! He played “How Great Thou Art” for the seating of the parents and grandparents and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” for the bridal party entrance. The harp music plus the waterside setting made it so enchanting!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? A family member graciously offered to let us host our ceremony in his yard, overlooking the marsh on Wilmington Island. This site has hosted many shrimp boils, oyster roasts, and celebrations. The moss-draped oak trees and the marsh at high tide provided us with a magical and romantic backdrop for our ceremony. We rented trolleys to transport guests from the ceremony to the reception, which was in downtown Savannah at the Knights of Columbus. We wanted an indoor reception that was convenient to all the downtown amenities. We had many out-of-town guests, and it was important to us to show them all of our favorite parts of Savannah.

Joann’s Florist did such a great job with our flowers! We used a lot of seeded eucalyptus, dusty miller, cream cabbage roses, white ranunculus, white hydrangeas, and white veronica sprigs. Garlands lined the tables and hung over the mantle of the fireplace. It really transformed the reception space! We saved some of the flowers to dry and frame for our house, but the rest were taken to a local nursing home so that they could continue to be enjoyed.

Our wedding cake was from Publix and we couldn’t have been happier! It was pretty, delicious, and affordable! Instead of a groom’s cake, we opted for a flaming donut bar. Our caterer, Savannah Event Catering, fried a Krispy Kreme donut, poured bourbon in the middle, lit it on fire, and extinguished the flames with a Coke. He topped it with pralines and served it with ice cream. Amazing and so entertaining!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met while we were living in Atlanta. Kenny made the first move and invited me to coffee. I let him choose the location and, to my surprise, he chose my favorite coffee shop. It was such a beautiful day and we sipped our coffee next to the river while enjoying great conversation. It really was perfect. We’ve been together, drinking coffee, ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! Traveling is one of our favorite things to do together, so I didn’t think twice when Kenny suggested that we take a relaxing weekend trip to Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. Daufuskie is a charming little island between Savannah and Hilton Head that can only be reached by boat. A local artist told us about a great place to watch the sunset, so that night, we rode our golf cart over to the point. Kenny balanced his iPhone on the golf cart to take a timed photo of us. After a few seconds, he turned to me and started saying sweet things as we were taking in the beautiful scenery. What I thought was a special moment turned into a REALLY special moment when he dropped to one knee. I was so surprised! I didn’t believe him until I saw the ring. He then told me his iPhone had been taking a video, not a timed photo. He captured the moment for us and we were able to freeze shot pictures from it. It was beyond perfect!
When did y’all get married? March 5, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: This is tough because everything came together in such a lovely way. We both really loved our hurricane lamps, though. My dad believes every house should have one (or ten). It was one of the first things my parents gave Kenny and me when we bought our first house. We were able to use my dad’s collection at the reception and it was beautiful. It added just enough light and charm to the space.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? A week after we were engaged, Kenny’s work transferred him to another city. Our engagement was 11 months long and included wedding planning, house hunting, job searching, and moving. It was an eventful, emotional, and often challenging 11 months. We grew so much during this season of change. We learned how to effectively communicate, tackle our challenges together, and keep our relationship God-centered.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge was definitely the guest list. We both come from big families and have lived in multiple cities. We could have easily invited 500 people, but we wouldn’t have been able to have the wedding we wanted with that many guests. Cutting the list was a long and painful process, but I think it worked out well.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? With a design background, I knew exactly what I wanted for the invitations. The only issue was the cost, so I decided to take them on as a DIY project. I purchased my beautiful, deckle-edged, homemade paper off of Etsy and my dear and talented friend, Lauren Walker, designed my invites in her beautiful calligraphy. I completed the look with a monogrammed gold wax seal. It was a lot of work, but the outcome was exactly what I wanted.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Prioritize. Figure out what you would consider a successful wedding and plan accordingly. Spend your money on things that will help you reach that vision and save money in the areas that don’t matter as much. It varies couple to couple but it is the best way to figure out where to cutback and where to splurge.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We look forward to working on our historic home, spending a lot of time on our porch swing, continuing to travel the world, and experiencing life together.

Photographer: Brian Flint Photography | Planner, Rentals and Florals: Carlson Premiere Events | Ceremony Venue: Private residence | Reception Venue: Knights of Columbus | Florist: Joann’s Florist | Cake Baker: Publix | Caterer: Savannah Event Catering | Band: A Nickel Bag of Funk | Bride’s Gown: Elaya Vaughn Bridal by Kate Pankoke | Hair and Makeup: Beyond Beautiful by Heather Ferguson | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jenny Yoo, Bari Jay, and Joanna August | Alterations: Stitch | Calligraphy: Lauren Walker with Caroline & Fitz Design Co.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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With an eight-year age difference between them, Cayla never thought she and Adam would end up together. But, once they had both taken their time growing up, these two realized their long-time friendship was something more. While their relationship may have taken awhile to bloom, their venue choice certainly didn’t! Once Adam popped the question, Cayla knew exactly where she wanted to get married. She even booked the gorgeous Sweet Meadow the day after they got engaged! Sweet Meadow was a gorgeous backdrop for this self-proclaimed tomboy to mix wildflowers, unique china, and a stunning Leanne Marshall gown from our sweet friends at The Sentimentalist (remember our fancy team shoot? I got to wear a gown from them as well!).

Big hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendors, GodWink Art for sharing this fun day with us!

I’ve never worn a stitch of makeup, would cry if I was told I had to wear pink growing up, and would rather wear jean shorts and one of Adam’s t-shirts than just about anything else in the world. I definitely find the most beauty in things that are simple and unique. Being in a family with four sisters, we were all pretty excited about dress shopping, and I had a list a mile long of places people suggested I go. I went to a few websites and nothing stuck out to me until a friend suggested The Sentimentalist. I went to their website and followed them on Instagram immediately. I was obsessed, and I hadn’t even been there yet! When my mom, sisters, aunt, cousin, and I walked into the boutique, they all said, “Cayla, this place looks just like you! It’s perfect.” The ladies were so helpful and so sweet. There was one adorable room with a rack full of the most gorgeous, vintage-style dresses that fit the exact look I was going for. I think I tried on every dress at the store just for fun, but it was the third one that stole my heart. They were all beautiful, but once I decided on that one, there was no turning back.

I can’t handle it, these minis are way too cute!

Describe your wedding flowers. My mother-in-law was our florist, so that was pretty cool! From the beginning, I told her, “I just want them to be wild.” The bouquets were made up of wheat, berries, blush roses, ivory carnations, ivory hydrangea, and yellow craspedia. They were all tied up together with a piece of twine. The boutonnières were also made out of wheat and craspedia, decorated with an old vintage button, and we added a piece of cotton to Adam’s.

I saw some pictures taken at Sweet Meadow on Facebook a few years ago and knew that’s where I wanted to get married someday. Adam proposed on a Friday night. I called Sweet Meadow and booked that Saturday! I didn’t even have to look anywhere else; I just knew.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Three letters: DIY. We did so many fun DIY projects! I couldn’t have done any of it without my family and friends. My dad married us, Adam’s mom did the flowers, and I made the cake and all of the yard signs. Adam and I also made the corn hole boards and the piece that hung from the tree at the ceremony. The details just meant so much more to us after we had worked so hard on them.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Half of our seating at the ceremony was hay bales with quilts from family and friends laid across them. We served Hudson’s BBQ at the reception, as well as Southern sweet tea and lemonade. We played corn hole and checkers, and danced to all of the best Southern classics. We also had an old-fashioned popcorn bar and photo booth. We wanted everyone to be relaxed and have a great time, just like they would at any Southern backyard barbecue!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I made my wedding cake! I wanted a naked cake, so I made a yellow cake with buttercream icing and shaved almonds in between each layer. I put the red apples on top to give it a little touch of fall. I also had several other cakes, like carrot cake, cheesecake, chocolate cake, strawberry cake, and key lime cake, to name a few. I had eight pies as well!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Adam and I have known each other our whole lives because our families have always gone to the same church. However, since he is eight years older than I am, we didn’t really grow up together. Never in a million years would we (or our families) have thought that we would end up together, but thankfully, God had other plans. When we got older, my mom would always say, “Cayla, what do you think about Adam?” My response was always, “Mom, he’s cute… but he probably still thinks I’m 12 years old.” Little did I know, he realized I had grown up. Shortly after our first date, I decided that there was something different about this guy…I was pretty sure I was going to marry him. It took him a little longer, but since he had waited on me to grow up, I didn’t mind waiting on him to figure it all out. :)
Tell us all about the proposal! CrossFit is a huge part of our lives. We’ve been doing CrossFit together ever since we started dating. In January 2012, we, along with a few friends, decided to open up a gym, CrossFit92. Adam gets to the gym after work at about 5:30 every evening. Our families were there, but most of them work out at our gym, so nothing at all seemed fishy about this certain afternoon. I began my workout at about 5:30. The music was blaring, weight was being thrown around, and everything was normal. I finished my burpees, turned around, and saw Adam on one knee. I was in shock–I couldn’t believe it! He asked me to marry him, and of course, I said, “YES!” Immediately after I spoke, all of my friends and family circled around us, showing us so much love. It was perfect and I wouldn’t change one thing about it.
When did y’all get married? September 20, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 300
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes! We decided to do a first look, and I would suggest it to every bride out there–I was counting down the minutes! Getting to see him and spend time with just him before the ceremony began was something I wouldn’t trade for anything. It was such a special moment for us to be able to just hang out for a little while without being rushed or stared at. I think it calmed both of our nerves completely!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows, but my dad performed the ceremony, which was pretty special.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My very favorite detail was that we used mix and match dishes at every place setting. All of the collecting was well worth it when we saw the finished product!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? Less than $10,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Well, I’ve talked him into getting a dog, so that’s next on the list! Right now, we are just enjoying each other, but kids are definitely in our future. We are just so happy we get to enjoy this adventure together.

Photographer: Godwink Art Photography / Venue: Sweet Meadow Farms / Pies: McEntyre’s Bakery / Caterer: Hudson’s BBQ / Rentals: Top Notch Events & Rentals / DJ: Johnny Volk / Paper Products Printing: Vista Print / Bride’s Gown: “Samantha” by Leanne Marshall / Bridal Salon: The Sentimentalist / Hair Stylist: Madison Rogula / Men’s Shirts: JCPenney / Men’s Pants: American Eagle / Groom’s Vest: J. Crew

Godwink Art is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Cayla & Adam | Tallapoosa Wedding Photographer » GodWink Art Photography reply

    […] http://southernweddings.com/2014/10/20/georgia-barn-wedding-by-godwink-art/ […]

  2. avatar morgan denney reply

    This is the most beautiful and simplistic wedding i have ever seen. If my time ever comes i would imagine it to be somewhat like this! Fantastic job.

  3. avatar Emily Clair Lonon reply

    Those monogrammed handkerchiefs are a dream….do you know where she found those??

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