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I’m sure that none of our love stories happened exactly the way we may have grown up expecting them to, and in Elisa and Craig’s cases, Instagram certainly wasn’t where they imagined they’d someday meet their future spouse! When they finally met face to face, however, their connection was undeniable–Craig knew as soon as he asked Elisa to be his girlfriend that he’d someday ask her to be his wife. While these two are no stranger to the challenges of a long distance relationship, it made their Gatsby-inspired Chapel Hill wedding day all the more special and sweet…though their chocolate wedding cake, passed cupcakes, and milkshake shooters certainly contributed to the sweetness factor, too!

P.S. If Elisa and Craig look familiar, it may be because they’re gracing the back cover of V8! So fun!

Thank you so much to Grain & Compass for sharing this gorgeous day with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I don’t think either one of us expected to meet in such a unique way. In 2013, my husband, Craig, and I met on Instagram, as crazy as that sounds. He was living in Los Angeles at the time and I was interning in New York City. We had one mutual acquaintance on Instagram, and from the follow, to likes, to comments, our interest grew. In fact, we still have the screenshot of our first exchange. After texting turned into phone calls and phone calls turned into “FaceTime dates”, Craig flew from Los Angeles to NYC to meet me in person and take me on our first real date. That weekend was its own fairy tale. Without a dull moment, we spent our days exploring museums, going to a Mets baseball game, kayaking on the Hudson River, and eating our way through the Big Apple. Craig asked me that weekend to be his girlfriend. I would later find out that in that moment, he knew he was going to marry me. After a year of dating 3000 miles apart, I finished school and moved to Los Angeles to be with him. Our long distance journey to marriage has given us such beautiful perspective, because we now know that simply being in each other’s company is a blessing to treasure each day we are together.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my wedding dress was something I had always imagined doing with my mom. However, my living across the country from her in Los Angeles did not make this easy, as traveling back and forth was not very ideal or cost-effective. Since we got engaged right before Thanksgiving, Craig and I spent the holiday in North Carolina and my mom was able to reserve just one bridal appointment at Tre Bella in Durham, an hour before our engagement session was to begin. At one point, I tried on the dress I had not pulled and was weary about, stepped out, and saw my mom’s face. This dress was so classic, elegant, and simple in comparison to what I has walked in thinking I would want. But from the classic silhouette, to the soft, flowing fabric, to the Gatsby-esque beading up the back and on the shoulders, I realized this was it. I never expected to find my wedding dress after only 45 minutes of looking!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We chose to do a first look and we wouldn’t have had it any other way! To be able to share an intimate moment before the wedding just talking, laughing, and treasuring the time leading up to becoming husband and wife allowed us to share the whole day together. It also allowed us to take most of our formal pictures before the ceremony, which gave us more time to sneak away after and share a quiet moment eating some small appetizers and sharing our first drink as a married couple together. It was perfect.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My mom handmade two amazing wreaths for the doors we stood in front of for the ceremony out of gold-painted magnolia leaves she collected from the yard. She put so much love and time into them and they were stunning!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I knew that I wanted to walk down the aisle to a song that pointed to the reason for our marriage and the importance of the covenant we were about to make. Craig’s talented groomsmen, Justin Gaston and Ben Schofield, performed the song “I am Set Free” by All Sons and Daughters. After the unity candle lighting, we had both families, as well as the bridal party, surround us in prayer. During this moment, Craig’s brother and sister-in-law performed Craig’s favorite hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” reminding us and everyone that our faithfulness to each other is based on how ever faithful God is to us. We were so thankful to have so many friends share their amazing musical talents with us to make our day so special.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Using my parents’ vows as a guide, we wrote our own version of their wedding vows. We really value those vows because we admire both sets of our parents’ commitment and love for each other, and also how their marriage points to their individual relationships with God. A line from our vows that I love is, “to give my life to you by listening and empathizing with you, encouraging and enabling you, believing in you and in what Christ is doing through you.”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were both raised in the South–Craig in New Orleans and me in North Carolina. We really wanted a venue with rich Southern history and beautiful grounds for our guests to enjoy! With guests traveling from all over, many from LA, we also wanted to minimize any travel between hotels and venues. We decided on the most amazing place that has it all: The Carolina Inn. As soon as we stepped into the Old Well Room (after we booked it from LA, I might add–another win for pictures and my amazing mom!), we knew it really was perfect for our elegant, Gatsby affair!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Craig has an amazing friend and pastor from college who really walked us through the goal and meaning of marriage leading up to our wedding. We were challenged to identify how our parents influenced us, as well as our own experiences, habits, and expectations. The greatest thing we focused on was preparing to become a unified team founded on love and respect–when a wife is loved, she feels respected, and when a husband is respected, he feels loved.

Tell us all about the proposal! From Craig: I knew I wanted to create a really special moment for the proposal. We had been planning on going to a Christmas tree lighting at the Grove here in LA with a few friends when one of them mentioned that they do an epic fireworks show there, too. If anyone knows my wife, they know she LOVES fireworks. Since there was a group of us going, I told a few of our friends my plan: distract her for long enough to get in position, pull out the ring, and drop on one knee in front of everyone as soon as the fireworks started to go off. I knew this was going to be really tough because we would be hanging out for a while and I didn’t want anyone to break down and give it away–not to mention, being a wreck trying to keep the secret myself. The night came and went like a flash. Before I knew it, the tree was lit and it was time for the fireworks show. There I was, in the center of a sea of thousands with booming lights all around, asking the girl of my dreams to marry me. Several stutters later and not without plenty of iPhone photos and videos from both strangers and friends, I was an engaged man.
When did y’all get married? April 17, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Just under 200
Describe your wedding flowers. My vision for the day was a classic, elegant, Gatsby affair. We chose black, gold, and white as our colors–this made my husband and in-laws, who are from New Orleans, very happy, because they just so happen to match the New Orleans Saints colors. It was a win-win for everyone in my book! I knew I wanted to keep the florals elegant and simple, with light yellow and white bouquets and a touch of greenery.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I wanted our wedding cake to be classic and match our aesthetic, but most importantly, I wanted the inside to be chocolate! We designed a two-tiered cake with a hand-painted gold base and a white top, joined by a fondant black stripe and white geometric piping. In addition, we passed out plates and plates of chocolate and yellow cake cupcakes with white frosting and gold dust sprinkled on top, letting everyone know it was party time! Our love of desserts did not stop there–milkshake shooters and hot cookies were enjoyed by all to keep the sugar rush high and the feet on the dance floor!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed my sister-in-law’s veil, as well as my bridesmaid’s earrings. I also had my grandmother’s diamonds with me. We had always talked about my wedding when I was growing up, and she passed away the day after my wedding.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Our greatest advice would be to trust the experience of the vendors you have chosen and give them freedom to shine in their skills. Our vision was clear for each selection that was made, but the results of our planning, decoration, hair, makeup, photography, florals, stationery, etc. was because we let our vendors run with our ideas instead of keeping them bound by only are ideas or concepts.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? For us right now, it’s building our life together in Los Angeles. We are both pursuing our passions and there’s no telling what the future holds. I’m sure there will be many trips back to our Southern roots in Louisiana and North Carolina, as well as abroad–we are excited for our 2016 trip to Europe!

Photographer and Videographer: Grain and Compass / Planner: Erin McLean Events / Venue and Caterer: The Carolina Inn / Florist: Barbara Long / Cake Baker: Once in a Blue Moon / Rentals: CE Rental / DJ: The Local DJ / Paper Products: Alissa Bell Press / Bride’s Gown: “Selia” by St. Patrick / Bride’s Hair Accessories: Yes Dear & Co. / Hair and Makeup: Lula Hair and Makeup / Bride’s Shoes: Nina / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Sleeveless Lace Cocktail Dress” by Aidan Mattox / Menswear: “Slim Fit Tuxedo” in Black by Calvin Klein

Erin McLean Events and Lula Hair and Makeup are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Dana reply

    The Carolina Inn looks like the perfect venue for a Gatsby inspired wedding!

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Navy gingham, the perfect amount of cotton bolls, and the sweetest couple! Lisa told me ahead of time that I’d love today’s wedding and interview, and boy was she right–Alyson and Nick are exactly the kind of people BDK and I want to be couple friends with! I adore everything from the way Nick asked Alyson to be his wife (“Alyson, will you do me the honor of changing your monogram?”) to Alyson’s advice on wedding planning (“Focus on the marriage and not the wedding. If you stay focused on that, everything will fall into place as it should.”) Now throw in meaningful details, like the cross Alyson’s father made for their altar out of wood from their family farm, to the corn hole boards Nick’s father made, and I’ve officially fallen in love!

SW hugs to Danielle Nichol for capturing all the goodness of this day!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Nick had conspired with my best friend and maid of honor to have her deliver notes from him to me throughout the day of the wedding. The first one came as soon as I woke up. It was a note that said the best day ever had to start with my favorite thing ever: donuts! It included a Dunkin Donuts gift card. The next note came after we got our hair done, and I remember crying in the salon because the note said he loved me just as I was, with or without makeup and fancy hair (#nofilter). But I think the most memorable moment of the day for me was when my best friend handed me the last note, a long, really sweet and sentimental one. While I was desperately trying not to cry and ruin my makeup, my best friend hugged me, pointed to the note, and said, “You get to marry that today.” All the nerves and anxiety disappeared in that moment. I was surrounded by my favorite people in the whole world and about to walk down the aisle and say “I do” to the man of my dreams. It was all excitement and happiness from that moment on.

I actually fell in love with my wedding dress about a year before Nick proposed. I was on J. Crew’s website looking for a dress to wear to a cousin’s wedding and happened to stumble across a beautiful silk chiffon gown with an illusion neckline and beautiful appliquéd flowers across the chest. It was the definition of understated Southern elegance and I immediately fell in love. However, I wasn’t engaged and had no idea when that might happen, so as tempted as I was to just buy it and wait, I couldn’t. A year or so later, when we got engaged, I hopped online to purchase the dress, and it was gone. I reached out to J. Crew’s customer service team to see if there was any way they had an extra one around somewhere. They had two in a warehouse–both of which were 4+ sizes too big for me. I ordered the smallest one and crossed my fingers that I could find a seamstress who could make my dress dreams come true. I took the gown to an incredible seamstress in Atlanta who made it fit like a glove. She was a miracle worker and I will recommend her to anyone for as long as I live!

We decided to do a first look for a couple of reasons. For one, our wedding was in early October and the days were beginning to get shorter and shorter, so we wanted to make sure we got enough photographs while it was still light out. Also, I knew we would both be a bundle of nerves, anxiety, and excitement, and that seeing each other and getting a chance to pray together before the ceremony would be something that would really calm our hearts.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I think it was all the little meaningful details that really made the day special. My father made our cross out of wood from our family farm, Nick’s father made our corn hole boards, the corn in the corn hole sacks was from corn grown on our farm, and one of my dearest friends designed all the paper elements for the wedding. I also loved our spin on a guest book. We bought cutting boards in the shapes of Florida and Georgia to represent where we met and where we got married and have started our life together, and we asked guests to sign them. We now have them hung in our new home along with the knot we tied during the ceremony.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows, but the vows we said were a little different than the traditional vows we’ve heard throughout the years. My favorite line was in my vows to Nick: “I promise God and I promise you that I will cherish you and respect you, I will love you with a Godly love, and I will serve the Lord with you.”

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Oh, there were so many. The venue alone was full of Southern charm and hospitality. Our reception was inside a beautiful barn and The Wheeler House has a rich history in North Georgia. The cotton throughout the wedding, rustic florals, gingham bow ties, gilded magnolia leaf escort cards, wood from our family farm, sugared and peppered pecan favors, and personal touches from family and friends is what made our wedding so Southern. I think that’s what living and growing in the South is all about–coming together as family and celebrating something in a genuine, heartfelt way, before God and each other.

When we got engaged, I decided to incorporate raw cotton stalks and bolls into the floral arrangements and decor, so my family went out and picked cotton! LOTS of it! I’ve also always loved the fullness of garden roses and the wild feeling of ranunculus, so I wanted to make sure they were incorporated as well. We didn’t want every table arrangement to be the same, so we decided to have a wood log arrangement on every other table. My father cut wood of varying sizes and heights from pine trees on our farm in West Georgia, and our florist arranged them with hydrangeas and cotton spilling around them and candles in mason jars sitting on top. It added a touch of home and created the perfect romantic ambiance for the tables.

Our first dance was to Michael Buble’s version of “Crazy Love,” a song that I fell in love with about the time we started dating. Nick heard me listening to it all the time, so he taught himself how to play it on the guitar. I think the moment I fell in love with him was when he played it for me–either then or the first time he cooked for me. :) The father-daughter dance was also a special moment in the day. Growing up, my father would always ask me, “Have I told you lately that I love you?” And I’d roll my eyes and say, “Yes, Daddy.” Now as an adult, I realize just how important it is to hear your daddy say “I love you.” My dad also took me to school every morning until I was old enough to drive, and we would often listen to oldies in the car. For our father-daughter dance, we began dancing to “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You,” which broke into “Chantilly Lace” by Big Bopper halfway through–that’s when I learned my dad can jitterbug! Nick’s family is from Louisiana, and his grandparents are Cajun dance instructors, so we couldn’t have a wedding without getting them out on the dance floor to show us all how it’s done. The DJ put on the song “Jambalaya” and the two of them immediately started two-stepping. About 30 seconds into the song, his grandfather pulled me in and the three of us danced together!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Nick and I met in a broadcast journalism class at Florida State University. He was behind the camera and I was in front of it. We were paired together to do a story on Christian Ponder, FSU’s quarterback at the time. Before our interview with him, Nick asked if I wanted to get together to talk about the project. I agreed, so he picked me up that evening and we went to Mellow Mushroom for dinner, where we proceeded to talk about everything EXCEPT our story on Christian Ponder. Afterwards, he paid for dinner and dropped me off at home, I told my roommates, “I think I just went on a date.” After we wrapped up the story, I told Nick he should buy me dinner again, so he did. After over four years of dinners, laughs, two cross-country moves, and many wonderful memories, he proposed on a trip to Charleston with some of our very favorite people there to celebrate with us. My favorite part of our story, though, is what I learned long after we started dating. Before we met, Nick was helping a friend of his in our college program with some video editing of a sports story. When I came into the frame to do my on-camera stand-up, he asked the editor who I was. When she told him, he said, “I’m going to marry her.” Not long after, we officially met when we were paired up on our story.
Tell us all about the proposal! We have some good friends that live in Charleston, and their daughter was turning one over Labor Day weekend. Nick and I, along with some of our best friends from Florida, headed over to Charleston to celebrate. On the second day of our trip, we spent the day walking around the city and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Nick suggested we take a walk on the Battery and take a look at the park before we met up with everyone. I happily agreed, as it was on my list of things to do while in town and the weather was absolutely perfect. We walked around the perimeter of the park looking at all the gorgeous homes, and as we walked up to the large gazebo, I saw candles, flowers, and a sign lining the steps on each side. We were still too far away for me to see clearly what it was, and my first thought was, “Oh my gosh, it’s a shrine. Someone died.” So I told Nick that we should walk around it to be respectful. He insisted we walk right up to it, and as we got closer, I saw that it was a framed sign that read, “Alyson, will you marry me?” I instantly started crying tears of joy as he got down on one knee and said, “Alyson, will you do me the honor of changing your monogram?” He had recruited our friends to set up the romantic spot, and they were hiding behind trees taking pictures of the whole proposal. It was so nice being able to celebrate with loved ones on such a momentous occasion, and we laughed and celebrated the night away with all the oysters we could eat.
When did y’all get married? October 3, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 85
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our pastor suggested Ephesians 5:21-23 and we’re so glad he did. We love the message of love and respect, how God designed men and women to desire each of these things differently, and how He calls us to meet those needs in our partners.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Providing the cotton and wood logs for the floral and decor arrangements was one way we drastically cut costs. We also decided to do a big chalkboard program instead of purchasing paper programs. Our venue allowed us to provide our own alcohol, so we were able to cut out the middleman and save some money that way as well.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Keep your eye on the prize. Focus on the marriage and not the wedding. If you stay focused on that, everything will fall into place as it should. You won’t be nearly as worried about if it will rain, if the menu cards look just right, or if the cake plate arrives on time. And have fun!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We’ve moved into our new home and are enjoying the “nesting” process. I’m almost done with my MBA program and we’re looking forward to having more time to spend together on new adventures. Our photographer and friend expressed our sentiments towards marriage so well. She said, “Being married makes even the most mundane things fun.” It’s so true. Grocery shopping has never been more fun. :)

Photographer: Danielle Nichol Photography / Planner: Winey Blonde Events Co. / Venue: The Wheeler House / Florist: Tony Whitlock Designs / Wedding Cake: Cake Envy / Caterer: Coast to Coast Catering / Ceremony Musicians: Amber and Jared Humphries / DJ: Nice Guys DJ / Paper Products and Makeup: Ashley Brooke Designs / Bride’s Gown: “Violette” by J.Crew / Hair Stylist: Danielle Bianco / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Men’s Suits: Jos A. Bank / Men’s Shirts: Banana Republic / Men’s Ties: Brooks Brothers / Groom’s Shoes: Cole Haan / Bow Ties: High Cotton Ties

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

    Very creative idea using leaves as table placecards. Beautiful wedding, great details. Congrats!

  2. avatar Nick + Ally| Atlanta Georgia Wedding Photographer | Danielle Nichol Photography reply

    […] are two kindred hearts. All the sweet southern details (Southern Weddings featured it on their site here!), the perfect mingling of friends and family,loads of perfect October Georgia weather, ah. It was […]

  3. avatar Stacey reply

    Beautiful! Do y’all know where those bridesmaid dresses are from? They are so precious and classy!

    • avatar Alyson reply

      Hi Stacey! The bride here! The bridesmaid dresses are from a small bridal store in Roswell Georgia called Wedding Angels boutique. I’m not sure what the style name is or the designer, but I bet if you emailed them with one of these pictures, they’d be able to help you! :)

  4. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze #166 – Floridian Weddings reply

    […] out this cute Florida-Georgia wedding and the awesome wooden state shaped […]

  5. avatar Uplighting Rental reply

    Love the rustic look, so classic and such great tone.

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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