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Fun fact: the Equestrian Elegance shoot in Southern Weddings V8 has actually been many years in the making! We love working with KT Merry (see past editorials she has shot for us here, here, and here), and have always known that she has a huge passion for all things equestrian. Last year, while driving through the Virginia countryside for a V7 shoot, Emily and I couldn’t stop talking about the beauty of the landscape and that we’d love to highlight it in an upcoming issue. Finally, when we connected with the talented team at Easton Events about creating something magical for V8, all the pieces fell into place for the creation of a truly incredible Virginia horse country shoot. We couldn’t be more thrilled with how it came together!

Biggest thanks to KT Merry, Easton Events, Beehive Events, the team at Pippin Hill, and so many more wonderful folks (see below for the full list!) who brought this gorgeous spring day to life!

As Emily mentioned yesterday, each of our editorials in this issue revolved around the story of a couple we dreamed up. Our Equestrian Elegance bride is an avid horseback rider, and after meeting her groom at the University of Virginia, they decided to tie the knot in Charlottesville at a celebration that highlighted the magic of this corner of the South. This stunning invitation suite by Amber Moon Design perfectly set the tone!

If many of your guests will be traveling to celebrate with you, greeting them with local treats (or simply your favorites) is a thoughtful idea. For this Virginia basket, local wine, apples, and peanuts were musts!

Y’all, how breathtaking is our bride? Beehive Events used plenty of spring blooms (including dogwoods, Virginia’s state flower) in her bouquet, and we love the way they looked against this subtly printed Romona Keveza gown. The pastel shades make a statement, but are still lovely and classic.

We were so excited to finally work at Pippin Hill Farm! The views of the Blue Ridge Mountains make a stunning ceremony backdrop–we used beautiful wicker chairs and two simple floral arrangements that set the space, but didn’t distract from the natural beauty of the venue.

Some of our favorite details from this editorial came out during cocktail hour–from treats for the horses (plus a sign illustrating proper feeding technique, of course!), to local cheeses and meats, to Virginia peanuts, to an ombré display of local wines. As a favor, guests were sent home with “horse feed”–a custom blend of granola served in classic Weck jars.

With the help of natural elements and tons of texture, our neutral color scheme had a big impact. Casa de Perrin kindly sent the most exquisite china, flatware, and glassware for us to use, which were the perfect complement to Beehive Events‘ furnishings and florals.

East West Production also made a gorgeous film to accompany this editorial–take a look below!

For more from this feature, be sure to pick up a copy of V8 online here or on news stands across the Southeast!

Photographer: KT Merry Photography | Film Processing: Richard Photo Lab | Videographer: East West Production | Planner and Stylist: Easton Events | Florals, Linens, Rentals, and Props: Beehive Events | Venue and Caterer: Pippin Hill Farm | China, Flatware, and Glassware: Casa de Perrin | Hair Stylist: Yolonda Jones | Makeup Artist: Lora Kelley | Cake: Buttercream Bakeshop | Paper Goods: Amber Moon Design | Calligraphy: Anne Robin | Illustrations: Karina Puentes | Bride’s Gown: RK6408 by Romona Keveza | Vintage Ring: Trumpet & Horn | Groom’s Suit: J.Crew | Bow Tie: Gold Coast Goods | Children’s Clothes: Petite Bebe | Vintage Helmet: Bluebird Creek Vintage

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Marion Blount reply

    This is breathtaking. Easton Events always sets the bar high! Beautiful!

  2. avatar Rhiannon reply

    This is by far one of my fave shoots in V8. It’s beautiful! Kudos to everyone involved!

  3. avatar Erin | Elizabeth Anne Designs reply

    this is absolutely breathtaking—every perfectly planned and styled detail… and captured by the lovely KT Merry!

  4. avatar Katie B reply

    Reasons why this is one of my ALL TIME favorite shoots:

    1) As a horse crazy girl who never quite grew out of it, this really speaks to my heart!
    2) The landscape, wow, I can see why you guys were inspired after driving through this countryside!
    3) Understated Elegance. The beauty of the scenery really took center stage!
    All the hearts for this one :)

  5. avatar Jessica reply

    The couple, the food, the setting is absolutely gorgeous. I love how they included the children in the wedding.

  6. avatar Bethany H. reply

    I can’t get over how gorgeous the bride is! That dress was made for her!

  7. avatar Dana reply

    this is the most perfect virginia wedding shoot in the world!

  8. avatar Southern Peach Summer Wedding Palette | Hey Wedding Lady reply

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  10. avatar Happy 10th Anniversary Southern Weddings! My 10 Favorite Editorials – Kyla Mary reply

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Chelsea + John met on Craig’s List. No really! That’s how John says they did, but with further reading, they actually met at a party thrown by Chelsea’s former roommate (whom she did find on Craig’s List!). I guess it’s a tomaydo/tomahdo thing! Either way you spin it, this adorable duo went from talking all night over tea to cheering for each other’s college football teams, to happily ever after — and that’s really all that matters. Throughout the photos from Brooke Images, you can see that this couple has a knack for focusing on what matters most. Chelsea said her favorite details of their wedding were “how we incorporated our family traditions.” What a great choice!

I love the wording on this sweet handkerchief! “Darling Mama,” too cute!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My favorite details of the wedding were how we incorporated our family traditions. We decided to make mini jars of my late grandmother’s granola recipe to use as wedding favors. The granola recipe was something she made all of the time while I was growing up and has become a staple in our family, so we really wanted to share that with our guests. Another tradition we incorporated was John’s family cheese straw recipe in our Welcome Bags. John’s parents made a huge batch before the wedding and then John and I stuffed them into little mini bags to include with the rest of the Welcome Bag gifts. We thought it was important to share these personal touches with our guests.

My mom flew up to Charlotte, NC (where I live) to come dress shopping with me. It was important to me to do the dress shopping trip alone with my mom since she and I are really close and she knows my taste the best. We planned two full days of dress shopping. On the first day, we went to three boutiques and found several dresses we both liked, but didn’t love. On the second day, we started the morning at Hayden Olivia Bridal. We knew from the moment we walked in the door that we would find my dress there, and we were right! My exact dress didn’t exist, but I was able to custom design it with the help of the boutique owner, Heather. We took the base body from one of the Modern Trousseau styes I liked the most and added the lace straps, back detail, and the train. It was absolutely my dream dress!

Tell us all about the proposal! (In John’s words) My plan to propose to Chelsea started about five months before the actual day. During Thanksgiving 2011, I spoke to my sister, brother-in-law, and my parents about the decision I was making. With help and advice from my mother and Chelsea’s close friend, Courtney, a setting was selected to accompany the family diamond from my Great Aunt Pernie. That was the easy part….trying to surprise Chelsea and keep the secret was the hardest part. Knowing that Chelsea’s birthday was soon approaching, I came up with a plan that would, hopefully, divert the surprise. Chelsea’s 30th birthday was in April, and we had planned to celebrate with a trip to Aruba. I knew this would be the perfect time to take advantage of not only a romantic setting, but also a perfect diversion. Chelsea’s father decided to come visit for St. Patricks Day, just before our trip. One morning during his visit, he and I took Cooper (our dog) for a walk. I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to ask him for permission to marry his daughter…and he approved!! The day of Chelsea’s birthday, April 12th, I planned a number of special activities. First was a relaxing morning on the beach, followed with champagne and birthday cake delivered to the room for Chelsea’s “birthday”. We spent the afternoon having couples massages in the spa before heading down to a romantic dinner for two on the beach at sunset. I was calm and collected as dinner was served but got a little anxious as dessert was ready to begin. I presented Chelsea with her “birthday” card and asked her to read it out loud. As she read through the card, she still had no idea what was about to happen. As the sun was setting and Chelsea finished reading her birthday card, I got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage…she excitedly said “YES!”

We did! When we were first trying to decide whether or not to do the first look, we discussed it with a friend of ours who had recently been married. She explained to us that on her wedding day, the first look was the only moment she and her husband got to spend together, alone, throughout the wedding day. When we looked at it that way, we realized it was more important for us to share this special moment together, alone, than it was to have the “surprise” walking down the aisle the first time. We were so glad we took her advice and decided to do the first look. Seeing John ahead of time completely calmed my nerves prior to the ceremony. We knew there was a possibility for rain later on in the wedding day, so I was a little tense in the afternoon, not sure if the weather was going to hold up for our outdoor ceremony. Seeing John before the ceremony helped calm my nerves and it really allowed me to relax. In the end, it DID end up raining so we were so happy we took all of our first look photos, otherwise, we wouldn’t have gotten a lot of outdoor photos together.

Describe your wedding flowers. Gorgeous! This was one of the areas where we splurged on the budget. Our floral designer really went over the top. My favorite flower is the peony and she coordinated that into all aspects of the wedding. My bridal bouquet was a bouquet of ivory/blush peonies. The centerpieces in the room had hydrangeas, peonies, stock and garden roses, all in ivory, peach and coral tones. The show stopper was the floral chandelier that our florist designed & hung in the center of the dance floor. It was a giant ball of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. All of the colors and textures were gorgeous together. When we saw it for the first time it took my breath away.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had two cakes: a wedding cake and a groom’s cake. The wedding cake was three tiers: Key Lime, Strawberry, & Creamsycle, all covered in buttercream frosting. The groom’s cake was a surprise for John that was made into a Clemson theme. It was actually a cupcake tower with chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and a red velvet topper.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. John likes to tell everyone we met from an ad on Craigslist, but that’s not the full story! In the summer of 2009, I was looking for a new roommate to move into the townhouse that I owned. I posted an ad on Craigslist and found my amazing roommate/friend, Carey. Soon after moving in, she and I decided to throw a party at the house to celebrate her birthday. Carey’s boyfriend at the time (now husband) came to the party and brought some of his work buddies with them, one of them being John. John and I hit it off, but at the end of the night went our separate ways. Over the next couple of months, we saw each other multiple times and became friends. Six months later, we met out to celebrate John’s birthday. Although I was coming down with a cold, I decided to go out and celebrate anyway. We were all hanging out at a friend’s house and John heard me continuously coughing from the other room. The next thing I knew, he was in the kitchen making me a cup of tea to soothe my throat. Instead of heading home early, I stayed at the house and he and I ended up drinking tea together and talking for hours. I knew at that moment I was falling for him. After that night we were inseparable!
When did y’all get married? May 11, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 82
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did. John and I thought it was important to make the ceremony unique to us and extremely personal, so we wrote our vows to each other. We each included (unknowingly) humorous parts about cheering for each other’s football teams (I am a huge FSU fan & his team is Clemson), but also included sentimental parts as well, with vows and promises to each other.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We wanted to make sure the songs we chose had meaning to us. The song we chose to be played by the violinist as I walked down the aisle was “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. We chose “Stuck like Glue” by Sugarland as the song the violinist played as we walked back down the aisle. We both love this song and it always makes us laugh when it comes on, so it was the perfect pick. John chose our first dance song, “Take Me There” by the Rascal Flatts. When John first chose it, I had never heard of it. He urged me to listen to the words and said it always reminded him of me when he heard it. I liked the idea of him choosing our first dance song and soon loved the song as much as he did. Another important song for us was the dance John did with his mother. John’s mom is a recent breast cancer survivor. When she was going through chemotherapy, John and his sister had bought his mom an iPod and uploaded inspirational songs for her to listen to as she got her treatment. One of the most memorable songs was “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw. John chose this to surprise his mom for the Mother/Groom dance. The song represented how she lived life to the fullest and overcame cancer. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed was a lace hankie John’s mom lent me that was John’s grandmothers. My something blues were my shoes and my clutch. My something old was the lace for my veil. We used the lace from my mom’s wedding dress to create the lace trim on my veil. This was very special to me and I am looking forward to passing my veil along in the family one day. My something new was my dress.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I would have to say the most Southern thing about our wedding was the setting. The venue where we had the ceremony and reception, Walker’s Landing, is located on the marsh in Amelia Island, FL. The venue is surrounded by large oak trees with Spanish moss hanging from them. It’s absolutely gorgeous!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge, by far, was planning a destination wedding and coordinating all of the extra details from a distance. Having our wedding in Amelia Island and planning from Charlotte, NC made it difficult to schedule meetings with vendors. We would take weekend trips to drive the 5 1/2 hours and try to squeeze all of our meetings on a Saturday. It was a lot of schedules to coordinate & a lot of details to confirm in a short period of time.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? It would be hard to choose just one. We felt as though we truly assembled the “dream team” of vendors while planning our wedding. Each of our vendors were amazing and went above and beyond to make their part of the wedding perfect.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It’s hard to choose just one, but one of the most memorable moments was the end of the night when John and I got on stage with the band and sang with them. I just remember looking around the room at all of our close friends and family, who were singing and dancing, and feeling so blessed and loved in that moment.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Try not to let the planning stress get to you and just enjoy the process.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We bought a house together last year, four months after we got engaged, but didn’t really have time to work on it with the wedding planning. Now that the wedding is over, we are spending our weekends decorating it together and buying new furniture. We are enjoying being married and making our house into a home with our dog, Cooper.

Photographer: Brooke Images | Videographer: House of Films | Planner: Flaire Events | Ceremony and Reception Venue: Walker’s Landing at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation | Florist: Shea Hopely | Wedding Cake and Groom’s Cake Baker: Bliss Cupcakery | Caterer: The Omni Amelia Island Plantation | Rentals: Jax Chair Boutique | Lighting: Mark Grandin | Band: The Rivertown Band | Bride’s Gown: Modern Trousseau | Invitations and Welcome Bag Tag: SMOCK from Salutations | Welcome Bag Stationary, Labels, Watercolor Map, Reception Menu, and Program: A & P Designs | Bride’s Flower and Bracelet: BHLDN | Veil: Custom Design by Hayden Olivia Bridal | Hair Stylist: Casey Does Hair | Makeup Artist: KimTasha | Bride’s Shoes: Nina Shoes | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Misha,” “Anita,” and “Mollie” Styles from J.Crew | Men’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Ceremony Musician: The String Group | Officiant: Karen Roumillat | Calligrapher: Lettering by Liz | Bridesmaid Necklaces: Versona Accessories | Bridesmaids’ Robes: Love Ophelia | Welcome Bag Orange Cake in a Jar: Edible Art | Welcome Bag Fudge: Fantastic Fudge | Cake Topper Monogram: Cotswold Marketplace | Cake Stand: Sarah’s Cake Stands | John’s Tie Patch: Dana Marie Creations | Cooper’s Bow Tie Collar and Leash: Silly Buddy | Lounge Pillows: Caitlin Wilson Design | Monogrammed Trays: Southern Belle Boutique | Guest Plate: InAGlaze

Brooke Images and Flaire Events are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    What a dapper dog! Also loving their gorgeous flowers and all of the special songs they chose!

  2. avatar Ivy Ellen reply

    This is such a beautiful wedding. I love all the intricate details especially how the menu cards are placed into the folded napkins – congratulations to you both

  3. avatar Desiree reply

    Oh my! So much amazing goodness in this wedding! LOVE Brooke Images, Shea Hopely, AND A&P Designs – oh my! Great job everyone :) I’m totally in love with this puppy and all the sweet custom details

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  5. avatar Fabio reply

    Gorgeous wedding! Loved that John likes to say you both met on Craigslist lol. If not the whole story at least it’s a funny one. Great job on the details.

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  7. avatar Cassandra reply

    Thank you so much for featuring Chelsea and John’s wedding! It was a pleasure working with them and their families on such a beautiful, happy occasion.

  8. avatar Meghan reply

    gorgeous wedding! can someone share where the bridesmaids dresses, necklaces and shoes are from? i love everything about that look!

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  10. avatar Nicoela reply

    Q: can you tell me where you purchased your pretty coffee stirs?

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