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It’s always such a joy to see our Southern Bride Bloggers tie the knot, and I have to confess, I was stalking Callie‘s Instagram a little bit on Melissa and Will’s wedding day in the hopes of getting a peek at this sweet celebration! Not surprisingly, Melissa was as lovely and gracious as Southern brides come, and after reading the interview she and Will filled out together, it’s so evident that they were completely present on their wedding day. That’s our biggest hope for all of you brides–that you plan well, choose your vendors carefully, and then sit back and soak in every second of getting married! We love that that’s exactly what Melissa and Will did, and they now have so many special memories to carry with them into newlywed life and the many years to follow.

Thanks so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Callie of Nancy Ray Photography, for sharing Melissa and Will’s beautiful day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had always dreamed about the kind of dress I would get married in. I knew I wanted lace, and something that was lightweight and very feminine. As soon as I got engaged, I started talking to a few gals who had recently gotten married and made a list of stores they recommended, one of which was Lana Addison Bridal in Cary, North Carolina. I decided to start with Lana Addison because it was a smaller boutique and would help me ease into “the search,” but it actually ended up being the first and only place my mom, mother-in-law, and I ventured to! After looking at my inspiration, we headed to a dressing room and were given two dresses to start with. After trying both on, I knew neither was for me and mentioned the idea of trying on a dress with a “Great Gatsby” feel. Our consultant said she knew just the dress! I was brought a beautiful lace number that had cap sleeves, an alluring V-neckline, and a vintage-inspired silver and gold brooch that I just adored. I put it on and didn’t want to take it off. That’s when I knew it was the one.

Will has been one of the strongest Christian influences in my life and prays with and for me every single day, ever since the very beginning of our relationship. For whatever reason, I’ve never felt as comfortable praying out loud like he does. This is something I’ve struggled with for years and knew I wanted to change, so on our wedding day, I did just that! Instead of Will and I doing a first look, we decided to pray together behind a tree, and I opened us up in prayer. I was nervous, and didn’t know if I would be able to get any words out, but as we held hands, the excitement started to heighten and I was able to enjoy those brief moments that we got to spend together with God as our focus. I was proud of myself and knew this was the perfect way for us to spend our last few moments together before becoming husband and wife.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did a mix of both. For the ceremony, we went with more traditional vows, but added our own words to make them more “us.” My favorite phrase from our vows was “through tears and laughter, sickness and health, hardship and plenty, I will love you faithfully, constantly, and prayerfully”.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Scripture is important to Will and I and we wanted to find something that did a good job showcasing God’s intent for what a strong Christian marriage should look like. After narrowing down our choices, we selected Mark 10:6-9 and Colossians 3:12-17 to be read by one of our bridesmaids and groomsmen during our ceremony. For our homily, we asked our officiant to focus on Ephesians 5:21-33.

We held our ceremony at Dinwiddie Chapel on the Peace College campus, where I attended college when it was an all-girls school. One of our school’s requirements was to attend chapel every week, so I grew very fond of its charm, and have so many memories that were created there. It didn’t hurt that it was also bright and airy inside, which was something I definitely wanted. For our reception venue, we knew that we wanted to find a space that had a rustic feel, exposed brick, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open floor plan that we could customize. The Cotton Room had all of the above and more. It was just what we had dreamed of!

Being born and raised in the South, I knew I wanted to have a wedding with lots of Southern details–insert mason jars, Cheerwine bottles, and plenty of wooden accents. It was important to us that all of our family and friends felt comfortable throughout the day, so we decided against having “sides” at our ceremony and asked all of our guests to sit wherever they wanted, allowing them to mingle and meet one another as soon as the festivities began. The friendly and inviting tone of the day gave it a great Southern feel. We also put a lot of thought into the menu options offered at the reception. To our surprise, the most talked-about items at our wedding were the the pimento cheese sliders with fried green tomatoes, the BBQ pork puppies, and the goat cheese smashed potatoes.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved every vendor we had the pleasure of working with, but there are a few that specifically went above and beyond in meeting our expectations. The first was Nancy Ray Photography. Photos capture moments you want to cherish forever and Callie and her team did just that. The second is, without a doubt, my wedding coordinator, Emily King of Whiskey and White Events, combined with the whole staff at The Cotton Room. Without Emily’s help, our wedding day wouldn’t have run as smoothly as it did. The staff at The Cotton Room also blew us away with the display and setup of everything used at the reception. It was magical. They even surprised us with “a pizza pie to say goodbye” that we enjoyed after the reception!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Will: At the end of January 2010, I was introduced to Melissa by some mutual friends. I knew pretty quickly after talking to her that she was something special, but after spending some time getting to know each other that night, we went our separate ways. A few days later, Melissa reached out to me over Facebook, invited me to a party her friends were hosting, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a July weekend, and we headed to the mall so Will could pick up some clothes for work. While we were at the mall, Will randomly said “Let’s go to Anthropologie so you can find a dress to wear tonight for the double date we’re going on. My treat!” After stopping at Anthro, we were headed home when Will got a “phone call” and told me he had to go into the office before our double date. About 20 minutes after Will left, one of my closest friends, Emily, arrived at my house and explained that Will had asked her to keep me company because he felt bad that he had to go into work on our date day. A few hours later, Will texted me ask if Emily could drop me off at the place where we were going to meet the other couple. We were almost at our destination when Emily pulled into a parking lot right beside Marshall Park, and in the far distance, I saw my parents and my uncle. This is the moment that I knew something was going on! My parents led me over a bridge and slowly backed away to leave me standing by myself in front of a large fountain. That’s when I spotted Will walking down a hill, looking as handsome as ever. When he finally approached me, I gave him a big hug and got a few awkward laughs out (I was nervous!), and from that point on, all I remember is Will grabbing my hands and asking me if I knew how much he loved me. All I could think about was how amazing he was for thinking through everything in great detail, and the fact he included my family meant so much to me. I said YES once he popped the question and the rest of the night was spent celebrating with our families!
When did y’all get married? June 13, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We actually decided against doing a first look for a few reasons, mainly because I wanted to do one with my dad instead. I’m an only child and “daddy’s little girl” so I knew it would be special and mean a lot to him to be able to spend a few moments together before the ceremony. Will also felt strongly about seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle, and we wanted to experience the anticipation and excitement of seeing each other for the first time at the altar.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Will and I invested a great deal of time and energy into staying focused on the fact that a wedding lasts just ONE day. A marriage is what lasts a lifetime. Before we were engaged, we went to premarital counseling at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, where we learned the best ways to communicate with one another and were able to put that into practice. After we got engaged, we did counseling with Tyler Jones of Vintage Church and were able to discover each other’s top love language, had regular conversations about the things we valued, and had open discussions about the concerns, fears, and things that we were excited about when it came to being married and growing spiritually with someone.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mom and mother-in-law are DIY-ers through and through, and went out of their way to help Will and I cut costs on our wedding. These busy bees helped make all the signs used at the ceremony and reception, helped paint mason jars and all the items that were used as centerpieces for reception tables, and helped print and prepare our wedding programs. We were also able to save money by providing our own vases for the flowers, and we reused the altar flowers and aisle markers from our ceremony on the bridal party and cocktail tables.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Will and I are renting a townhouse in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Charlotte. We’ve made friends with our neighbors and have enjoyed many nights walking to get ice cream and exploring the Queen City as much as possible. Recently, we’ve been brainstorming ideas of what we want to see and do during our trip to New York this November (I’ve never been!), and have started talking about celebrating our first anniversary overseas in Hong Kong. Will’s mom just moved there and we can’t wait to explore another part of the world together in 2016.

Photographer: Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography / Videographer: Good Earth Films / Planner: Emily King of Whiskey & White Events / Ceremony Venue: Dinwiddie Chapel / Reception Venue: The Cotton Room / Florist: MEWS Designs / Dessert Baker: The Cupcake Shoppe / Caterer: Triangle Catering / Band: The Troupers / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Gown: “Rita” by Amy Kuschel / Bridal Salon: Lana Addison Bridal / Bride’s Earrings: “Rennie” by Nina from Nordstrom / Hair and Makeup: Makeup by Ashley Mooney / Bride’s Shoes: “Forbes” by Nina from Nordstrom / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style JH5307” by Jim Hjelm Occasions / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: New York Bride and Groom / Menswear: Jos A. Bank / Ties: The Tie Bar / Cake Topper: Emily Steffen Shop / Chair Signs: The Apothecary Bee / Party Favors: Rook Design Co. / Transportation: White Horse Transportation

Nancy Ray and Good Earth Films are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    So lovely! I’ve been following Melissa’s blog for a while and was so excited to finally see the pictures. I’ve heard the proposal story before but absolutely teared up again while reading it.

  2. avatar Melissa reply

    You ladies have wrecked my heart and made my morning….my week if i’m being honest! Thank you for featuring Will and I’s special day. I can’t help but smile looking back at these photos….just amazing.

  3. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    This entire wedding is simply stunning! I love all of the personal, meaningful, and Southern details, and you can tell just how much thought and attention to detail went into it. The florals are amazing, and I’m always a huge fan of the Cotton Room!!

  4. avatar Mary-Katherine reply

    The most beautiful wedding of a dear friend with an even more beautiful heart! I loved all the special details that they made sure to include, it all came together perfectly!

  5. avatar Melissa and Will Durham, NC Film Wedding | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] thanks to Southern Weddings for featuring this lovely wedding! Click here to see the full […]

  6. avatar Emily King reply

    Melissa and Will, thank you for such kind words. It was a true pleasure to work with you both. Wishing you every happiness in your life ahead.

  7. avatar Henry Gray reply

    Nice wedding party the bide look so pretty Love the colour scheme and the beautiful photographs. Gorgeous photos.

  8. avatar Celebrating Southern Weddings | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] and Jamie’s Real Wedding featured in the Pages of Southern Weddings Magazine and on the blog Melissa and Will’s Wedding on the SW Blog Southern Newlywed: Planning a […]

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Throughout my 4+ years of writing here on Southern Weddings, I’ve written about couples BDK and I have been wedding date twins with, who have similar stories as us, and even a groom that played on the same baseball team as my beau. But, Wendla and Thomas are a very special couple to me, as they’re the very first reception venue twinsies I’ve had the pleasure of writing about! I have always adored the Lakeside Inn for its charm, location, and beautiful porch, and seeing it decked out in gold glitter is so unique! BDK and I had a very traditional reception in the lobby of this historic hotel, and seeing its front lawn transformed into Wendla and Thomas’ pretty navy celebration has me planning a trip to Mount Dora in my head. I can assure you, the adorable town is as magical as their celebration makes it look!

Thank you so much to Kt Crabb for sharing this sweet soiree with us!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The bridesmaid dresses! I knew I wanted gold sparkly dresses, but was having a hard time finding exactly what I wanted. My neighbor, who is also a seamstress, offered to help make them. We searched through many fabric stores and ordered countless fabric swatches until finally finding the winner. Each girl sent her a dress they already had that fit them well, and the seamstress recreated the dresses in my fabric. I was very nervous about how they would look all together, but it turned out perfectly. They glimmered and sparkled all day long!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We wanted our wedding to be traditional, so a first look was just not for us. I was so excited to see Thomas’ expression at the front of the church when I walked down the aisle. And I’m so glad we waited–his face at that moment was my favorite part of the day!

Knowing we would both be anxious on our wedding day, repeating traditional words seemed more realistic for us. As simple as repeating vows seems, I was so excited on our wedding day that I blurted out “I will” before the correct time, much to the amusement of our guests! Thomas’s father is a Methodist minister in Tennessee, and was able to perform half of the ceremony, along with my church’s minister. His homily was perfectly tailored to us and our relationship.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I am from Mount Dora, Florida, and my family has lived here for many generations, so it was important for us to share that with our guests. We were married at St. Edward’s Episcopal Church. My great-grandparents owned the house that used to stand on the property of the church, my grandmother played the piano there many years ago, I was baptized there, and I spent many summers and lots of time after school there with the youth group. With all of those memories, it was the perfect place for Thomas and I to say “I do.” For our reception, we went to the Lakeside Inn during our search and immediately knew that we would have our reception there. It is a historic hotel on the water in the heart of Mount Dora with a large yard in front. Our planner suggested putting a white tent there and making the place exactly what I wanted. I melted at that thought!

I absolutely love hydrangeas. My grandmother had blue ones in her garden when I was growing up, and they were always so gorgeous! I chose whites and light pinks in order to not overpower the striking bridesmaid dresses (my favorite part of my entire wedding, other than my groom). My bouquet was made of white hydrangea, light pink garden roses, and a dusty miller collar. My reception flowers were very special, because they were arranged by my mom’s good friend and nursery operator, who volunteered to make my floral dreams come true. She set up all of the white hydrangeas in my multiple tall and short vases.

We met at a coffee shop to taste cakes made by an adorable lady who works out of her home. Thomas chose two flavors for the head cake: a pink champagne cake (her custom flavor) with cream cheese filling, and white chocolate cake with raspberry filling. I chose the edible gold glitter for the outside of the cake.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in medical school in July 2012. I was an incoming second year student assigned to Thomas, an incoming first year, to be his “big.” I helped him move into his new place and get ready for his first year. I was immediately infatuated by his Southern charm and good looks. I am so grateful for my dear friend who set up the big-little matching! Soon after school began, we started studying together daily. That eventually led to me giving Thomas an ultimatum: either we go on a date, or I had gone too far beyond my big-little responsibilities. He was a true gentleman and won me over on our first date. By the end of the year, we had introduced our families to each other.
Tell us all about the proposal! Thomas completely surprised me! He got my father’s blessing and my family heritage diamond, picked out the setting, and waited for a good time. We were living in different cities and had hectic schedules, and he came into town one weekend for a local gala fundraiser. When I got home from my shift, he was already there with flowers and wine. That wasn’t too out of the ordinary, since he always went above and beyond during the times that we could see each other. He took me out to my family home’s back porch to “look at something in the backyard.” When I turned around to ask what he was looking for, he was down on one knee. I couldn’t believe it! He asked me to marry him and I said “Absolutely!”
When did y’all get married? March 21, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our parents and bridal party entered to a piano rendition of “A Thousand Years,” which we heard on the radio months before the wedding and flagged it to be a part of our big day. Our first dance was to “Come to Me” by the Goo Goo Dolls. Thomas used to sing it to me every time it came on in the car, and one day, I said “Can this be our first dance?” He was very excited!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Nothing says Southern more than family! From the pre-wedding parties to the after-reception soirée, mine and Thomas’ families mixed and mingled like old friends. The people in my hometown went above and beyond to make sure our wedding day (and the whole weekend) was just what we wanted.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Studying for medicine is a task in itself, but adding a wedding to the mix is something else. We truly learned how to communicate and listen during our engagement. We were living in different cities for rotation purposes, and had to schedule and reschedule wedding planning opportunities. This taught us a lot about each other, and even more, it taught us about balancing our careers and marriage.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? I matched into pediatrics in Orlando, so we will live together for a year. He will match next year in a military residency program, and will most likely have to move out of state to be on an Air Force base. We will live apart for a few years apart while our careers start, but eventually will be reunited to start a home together. With his military commitments, we have no idea where we will be, but we are excited for the adventures that come with that!

Photographer: Kt Crabb Photography / Ceremony Venue: St Edward’s Episcopal Church / Reception Venue and Caterer: Lakeside Inn / Florist: Terri’s Flower Shop / Cake Baker: The Cake Lady / Rentals: Grand Rental / Lighting: Grand Rental / DJ: Accent Entertainment / Bride’s Gown: Mikaella Bridal / Hair and Makeup: Pure Aveda Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Vera Wang / Groom’s Coat: itailor / Menswear: Michael Kors / Bow Ties: The Tie Bar

Kt Crabb is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Catherine Sensing reply

    Your article has captured the truly beautiful wedding that it was. The bride and groom are a perfect couple.

  2. avatar Wendla Sensing reply

    thank you Marissa for your beautiful post of our wedding day! So happy we are reception venue twinsies!

  3. avatar Jillian Pottkotter reply

    Love this wedding. The hints of navy and gold are just wonderful. As a fellow married medical school student, I know how hard juggling everything can be. Good luck on your residencies!

  4. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze #195 – Floridian Social reply

    […] If gold glitter is your bag, you'll adore this bit of lovely in Mt. Dora. […]

  5. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze #194 – Floridian Social reply

    […] If gold glitter is your bag, you'll adore this bit of lovely in Mt. Dora. […]

  6. avatar Andrew Szopory reply

    I’m loving all the bright vibrant weddings on this blog so different to what every other blog seems to be doing these days :) Keep up the great work

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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