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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.

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Hayden and Logan met when they were just tykes, and the two grew up together, spending their Friday nights the good ol’ Southern way–at high school football games (Emily, our resident Friday Night Lights fan, will love this detail)! H + L knew they were meant for each other, and by the time their wedding came around, their marriage had been a long time coming (eight years to be exact!). The two planned a beautifully touching day at Hayden’s family farm. Of course, the venue was gorgeous, and there were even chandeliers in the tree and cows that overlooked the ceremony(!), but my favorite part of this wedding has to be Logan’s response to his favorite part of the day: “I couldn’t tell you who was in the crowd that day because my eyes were glued to the only thing that mattered. She was beautiful and perfect and about to be my WIFE! It was the best feeling in the world.” I joked with Lisa that she sent me a note about how pretty this wedding was, but didn’t warn me that I’d cry while reading their interview!

Thanks to Tucker Images for sharing such a romantic day with us!

My mom, grandmother, and two sisters flew down to Houston for a day of dress shopping. After going to two places with no luck, we finally headed to my favorite boutique. I was so sure about the style I wanted: trumpet, sweetheart neckline, and no lace. I went to that store to try on a particular dress I just knew was perfect, but when I tried it on, it just wasn’t the one. My heart was crushed that the dress I had been dreaming about wasn’t for me. I then tried on one more that my sister had found, and it was beautiful, but it had lace, so I was a little hesitant. When I came out to look in the mirror, I couldn’t stop smiling, and seeing my family’s reaction, I just knew that was the one. It was even better than what I had envisioned for myself!

Describe your wedding flowers. We went for a soft, garden-like feel with creams, whites, blushes, and peaches. We used ranunculus, Juliet garden roses, peonies, white lilac, eucalyptus leaves, O’Hara garden roses, hydrangeas, and snapdragons.

The Homeplace is my family farm, and it is so dear to our hearts. My family has been spending holidays and summers there since before I was born. Countless memories have been made, from picking out Christmas trees on the hayride with all the cousins, to hunting in the deer stand all afternoon with Logan. Logan has learned to love the farm almost as much as I do–he has been visiting it with me for seven years, after all! The ceremony was held under The Elephant Tree, a century-old oak tree that my great-great-grandmother planted years ago. Growing up, my cousins and I have climbed that tree countless times, spending hours in it. When thinking of venues, we couldn’t imagine our wedding being anywhere other than our favorite place in the world.

These two are so stinkin’ cute!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We had cafe lights strung in a zigzag fashion inside the tent and draped over the dance floor outside. Without them, our venue wouldn’t have felt as intimate as we wanted it do. Another one of my favorite details was all of the signs that were staked in the ground. Logan pulled up part of an old fence in our backyard and sawed them into arrows, and my mom and I stayed up late one night at the farm painting them all while listening to the sounds of the outdoors. That one night of peacefulness with her during a hectic week is a wonderful memory.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Since we got married in the middle of nowhere, we used this little country bakery, who had actually been on Cupcake Wars! They are so talented! I showed them a picture of what I wanted and they knew exactly how to make it, adding in a little of their own creativity. My cake was three tiers with a taller middle tier. The surface was buttercream frosting with horizontal ridges in it. There were different flavors in each layer: New York strawberry cheesecake, lemon, and (my favorite) orange Dreamscicle. I also surprised Logan with a groom’s cake. Since he is in the Air Force and is training to be a fighter pilot, we had a 3D F-16 plane made out of raspberry chocolate fudge. It was all so delicious!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I can’t remember the moment we met because we always kind of knew of each other. Even though we played in the same soccer organization and were both in middle school band, we never said much more than hi to each other. Finally, by the end of eighth grade, Logan informed our mutual friend that he thought I was cute. We instant messaged each other for a couple of months before we bumped it up a notch and went to the movies together. He asked me to be his girlfriend while we were waiting for his parents to pick us up! After that, we fell for each other fast, knowing the Lord was already preparing us for marriage at such a young age. High school consisted of watching Logan quarterback for our football team as a cheerleader on the sideline every Friday night. After we graduated from high school, we went to two separate colleges–he went to the University of South Carolina and I went to Texas A&M. We weren’t sure how we were going to handle long distance, but I’d say it worked out pretty well. :)
Tell us all about the proposal! After dating for almost seven years, Logan finally asked me to be his wife at his Air Force graduation. He had gone off to boot camp for two months, so I could only talk to him through letters. I was so diligent about writing him every day. His graduation finally came and the day couldn’t have gotten any better. Both of our families flew down for it, and we planned to take some pictures to commemorate it all with Logan in his Air Force uniform. Logan led me down a path by ourselves to scope out a good spot for us to take pictures, and I could tell something was different. He wasn’t saying much and his hands were clammy. I immediately knew it was happening and my heart started fluttering as he led me to the garden. He proceeded to tell me he had waited long enough to call me his wife and that God had prepared his heart so much after being away from each other for two months. He then got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife, and my family all came out from hiding after they watched it all! Once it was all over, Logan told me that he had no idea he was going to propose at his graduation before he left, so he had exchanged letters with my grandmother during boot camp, asking for one of her loose diamonds to make into a ring. My grandmother and his dad did everything to make sure the ring was perfect by graduation. It couldn’t have been more special.
When did y’all get married? May 3, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 220
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided not to do a first look. When we discussed it in the beginning, Logan said that he really wanted to see me for the first time walking down the aisle to be his wife, so that’s what we did. I loved building the anticipation and wondering all day what he was going to think of me. We did, however, hold hands around a corner and talk for a little while to alleviate some of the nerves, which we were so thankful we did, because it calmed us down during the hectic-ness of the day.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? One of the biggest visions we had for our wedding was to make it feel personal and intimate. We wanted our guests to feel like they were included in our relationship, which every one of them was, and for them to understand our love for each other. With that in mind, we decided to write our own vows. We each wrote our own, which was so special. My favorite vow of his was, “I promise to fight for our marriage and pursue you from this day forth. To protect you from your fears and to guard you heart.” My favorite vow of mine was, “I promise to support you as the leader of our family and follow you wherever God leads you.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had our friends play the violin, viola, and guitar throughout the ceremony. I walked down the aisle to Canon in D. I dreamed of walking down the aisle to this song since I was a little girl and knew it was perfect. During communion, they played “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and helped us center the commitment we were making on God. We played “Gone Gone Gone” by Phillip Phillips for our recessional, which kicked off the party with its upbeat rhythm. Our first dance was “You are Mine” by Spencer Combs. I had never heard of this song before, but stumbled upon it while watching wedding videos. The words were so true and meaningful for us.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! For something borrowed (and old), I wore my great-great-grandmother’s gold wedding band. For my something blue, I wore a blue topaz ring that my grandmother bought each of my sisters and my mom on our 18th birthdays. For my something new, I wore my veil (which I ripped on the day of my bridals, but superglued back together!).
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The most Southern detail about our wedding was having it at our family farm in the countryside while the cows overlooked our ceremony. Logan also built corn hole for our guests to play during the reception. And the night wasn’t complete without lots and lots of sweet tea!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge for me, besides trying to stay within budget, was planning a wedding while finishing nursing school. I was five hours away from my family and six hours away from where we were getting married. It was so hard to stay focused and be diligent with my studies, while at the same time, needing to make decisions on napkins and meet with vendors. My grandmother really stepped up and helped me by constantly calling me and seeing what needed to be done. She would call me at least three times a week and tell me what she had done, and it just felt like such a relief each time she would say something was marked off. She really was my wedding go-to girl and I’m so thankful for my Nanners! Our wedding wouldn’t have been possible without her.
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? We cut costs by having the wedding at our farm. This saved us by avoiding a venue fee and being able to choose our own catering company. We have a family friend who owns a yummy Mexican restaurant, so he helped us out a lot! I also had my high school friend DJ for us, which made it so much more personal and fun.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were so thankful for our photographers, Britney and Ben Tarno, from Tucker Images. We had met them right after we got engaged and knew that they were so talented, but we had no idea what down-to-earth, Jesus-loving, kind people they were. The wedding day wouldn’t have been the same without them. They kept us comfortable and sane all day and gave us amazing direction when it came time to take pictures. To us, it is most important to spend your money on great photographers, because that’s what you’re going to have to remember your day by. And let me just tell you, we were so impressed by ours. Britney and Ben just completely made our day.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Hayden: It is so hard to pick one most memorable moment, but I would have to say it was driving away in our little car after everything was over, and being able to step back and realize that we were finally husband and wife after eight years! It was the first time no one else was around and we could replay all of the wonderful, intimate moments of our day. From Logan: Hands down, it was seeing her come through the curtains and walk down the aisle to me. The anticipation had been built up so much, and after years of imagining what that moment would be like, it was finally here. She looked stunning and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I couldn’t tell you who was in the crowd that day because my eyes were glued to the only thing that mattered. She was beautiful and perfect and about to be my WIFE! It was the best feeling in the world.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff! I would get so bogged down in little details that didn’t matter or that would work themselves out. I was so nervous that no one would know where to put my decorations on the wedding that I actually sticky-noted each and every little thing and told them where to put it. In the end, that stuff didn’t even matter. I would also advise taking the time to really talk to your fiancé, and I don’t mean going on dates and talking about the wedding. Make a pact that you will only talk about wedding details for a certain amount of time each day. This way, you can focus on the commitment you are about to make and get your heart and your mind ready.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are living in Dallas and I just got a job as a nurse at UT Southwestern Hospital. Logan works at SBM Management at Bell Helicopter and is in the South Carolina Air National Guard, training to be an F-16 fighter pilot. We are praying fervently that God will open up a position for him within the year, which could possibly take us anywhere in the US. Coming from big families and long distance, it was hard for us to get any alone time together. After eight years of dating, we finally have a place to call ours where we can make our life together. We love getting into a daily routine and figuring out where to grocery shop, what church we want to join, and all of the little decisions a family makes. We are so excited to see where God takes us!

Photographer: Tucker Images / Venue: Private residence / Florist: La Tee Da / Cake Baker: The Luscious Crumb / Caterer: Carmona’s Tex-Mex and Cantina / Rentals: All American Party and Tent Rentals and Iron Inspired / Bride’s Gown: “Sabrina” by Matthew Christopher / Bride’s Veil: Patsy’s Bridal Boutique / Hair and Makeup: Micaela Soto / Bride’s Shoes and Bridesmaid Dresses: J. Crew / Men’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank

Tucker Images is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    So beautiful! I love their proposal story, and all of their portraits are absolutely dreamy!

  2. avatar Kat reply

    Loving her centerpieces! Gorgeous!

  3. avatar Mario Valtierra reply

    I’m really liking the groom’s suit. Could you provide me with details on where to find it? It looks like it’s light blue. Is this correct? What’s the name of that color? I’m getting married late this year, and we’re doing a beach wedding. Thanks!

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After working ten feet away from each other for six months, Lori remembers a moment when picking sour apples off the little tree behind her apartment as the first time she really “saw” Ryan. I love how this seemingly unremarkable moment of post-date fun will forever be imprinted in her mind. Not to overshadow such a wonderful memory, I’m sure Lori and Ryan’s wedding was full of moments they’ll remember forever, including their first look. Due to their very short time frame at their venue, Lori said “it was imperative that we focused on only the things that really mattered.” Focusing on what really matters? Yep, we’re all for that!

Big hugs to Mark Eric for sharing such a fun day with us (especially the second line)!

P.S. Looking for some memory-making dates for you and your beau? Check out our Spring Doins!

We had just arrived in Bluffton, South Carolina to visit Ryan’s dad and stepmom’s new home. He asked me to go check out the backyard with him, but he didn’t want to bring our dog, Squeaky, so that struck me as strange. He reasoned that the grass was high and there was no fence, so Squeaky was likely to run off in the woods. Made sense. When we had gotten about fifty yards from the house, Squeaky came bounding toward us with a neon green bow on his neck. When Ryan started untying the bow, I saw that my great-great grandmother’s ring (the one I had blatantly set on the dresser after we decided we wanted to pick out a diamond together) was tied to it. Ryan dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him. His dad, stepmom, brother, and sister-in-law were inside taking photos and waiting for us with champagne. It was simple, sweet, and it involved our fur baby. It was our idea of perfection.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes, a couple of each, actually! Old: On my right hand, I wore the ring that Ryan proposed to me with, which had been the wedding band of my great-great-great grandmother. New: My earrings, bracelet, and necklace were all new. Borrowed: My maid of honor borrowed a bracelet of mine at her wedding, so I asked to borrow something of hers. Around my bouquet, I entwined a necklace of hers with a locket that had been given to me by my childhood best friend, who passed away in high school. Blue: I wore royal blue shoes, as well as a label with my initials and the date in baby blue thread sewn into my dress. Also, right before I headed out, one of my bridesmaids grabbed my shoe and taped a penny in it. I had done the same for her a few years earlier, so she made sure to bring a penny to return the favor!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes, we did, no hesitation and no regrets! We had a very short time frame at our venue, so to me, it was imperative that we focused on only the things that really mattered once the clock started ticking. Even if your time is a bit more flexible, why waste time standing around when you could be enjoying your guests and this fabulous event you spent so much time planning? Nothing could have been more intimate and special than experiencing that first look alone, when we could talk, laugh, hug, and just take our time enjoying the moment and appreciating each other.

We chose New Orleans because we wanted a place that was easy for my family and friends to get to, but that our friends in Michigan, New York, and Virginia would be excited to travel to as well–NOLA was an easy choice! Probably about 70 percent of our guests had never been to New Orleans, so I wanted to give them a true taste of the South. I looked at a dozen venues over the course of a weekend trip, and not only was Houmas House extraordinarily beautiful and set up perfectly to host weddings, they also allowed dogs–which was what really sold us, since we wanted to have Squeaky at our big day!

We had a violin and guitar duo, and for the family processional, they played “Ashokan Farewell” (because it’s beautiful and Ryan loved the Ken Burns Civil War documentary!). For the bridesmaids, they played “Falling Slowly” from the movie/musical Once, and then I walked down the aisle to “Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison, because we both love Van and it’s just such a hopeful song. For the recessional, they played “Louisiana Fairytale,” which, besides having a perfect name for the situation, is just such a dreamy song, like something you would hear in a beautiful, sunny daydream!

I have to note that “Falling Slowly” is one of my very favorite songs, thanks to BDK! We saw Once in theaters on one of our first dates!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I used a lot of crowns throughout the wedding decor, so a vintage crown made the perfect cake topper. The cake itself was four layers of almond cake with praline hazelnut filling (can Southerners ever get enough pralines?) and white icing with white, gold, and champagne-colored beads. We placed it on a 17th century baker’s table that the venue’s owner had purchased in France. As for the groom’s cake, my husband is a huge Washington Redskins fan, so Royal Cakery made an adorable three-tiered red velvet cake decorated like a football field in Redskin colors.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met at a small-town newspaper, the Battle Creek Enquirer, in southwestern Michigan. Ryan was fresh out of grad school, and I was looking a six-month stint to hold me over before beginning grad school in Wales. We actually applied for the same job, which I didn’t realize until a few months later–I got the job and they just liked him so much that they hired him too! I figured this had to be the reason he never spoke to me, ever. We owe our first real conversation to a Taco Bell craving. I stood up in the newsroom one day and declared that I was going to run for the border. He offered to join me. What I thought would be a painfully awkward lunch turned into the first spark of friendship that continued for several months after each of our respective relationships at the time dissipated. Our first date was a tennis game, where Ryan mercilessly schooled me and I had no fun whatsoever, but later in the evening, he agreed to go with me to pick sour apples off the little tree behind my apartment. I can still see him, Cubs hat on backwards, jumping up to try to pick the biggest apple on the tree for me. A seeming unremarkable moment, but I remember feeling a little flutter. I had worked 10 feet from him for six months at that point, but I’ll always remember that as the first time I really saw him.
When did y’all get married? November 9, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. When I initially tried on my dress, I liked it, but thought it was too big. I literally said, “I think it will scare my fiancé,” so I didn’t even write down the designer’s name. Thankfully, the sales assistant took a picture. When I later scrolled through photos of the day’s hunt, I kept coming back to that one. Turns out, it was perfect for the venue and the festive atmosphere I wanted at the wedding–not to mention, I saved $1,500 by buying the floor model! I wouldn’t have bought it had I not taken a picture, so I would advise any bride to do whatever it takes to get snapshots of the dresses you try on. Mirrors and fancy store lighting can be so deceiving, but when the wedding is over, all you have left is your pictures, and to me, it was critical to know how the dress photographed. If your sales associate insists that no photos be taken, then I promise, you’ll find just as good options elsewhere.
Describe your wedding flowers. I wanted something that played into my “sophisticated swamp” theme that complimented the venue and used the natural flora of Southern Louisiana. My florist, Erik of Bee’s Wedding Designs and Florals, was amazing and created such a stunning, poetic look. There was lots curly willow intertwined with greenery–ferns, moss, jasmine vine, eucalyptus, succulents, scabiosa pods–for the rustic element, counterbalanced with metallic accents. The flowers themselves were a mix of white hydrangeas, white anemones, roses, brunia berries, and dusty miller.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I’m not sure if it gets more Southern than having a wedding at an old sugar plantation, but I tried to incorporate as many tastes of the South and local traditions as possible. We had a second line, complete with a brass band, hankies, and Mardi Gras masks, that paraded through the French Quarter. The moment guests stepped off the bus, they were offered mint juleps as welcome drinks. Much of the food we served was Southern and Cajun, such as fried jumbo gulf shrimp, crawfish bisque, and shrimp étouffée. Before the cake cutting, we did a traditional New Orleans cake pull with all the ladies in my wedding party. Speaking of wedding party, I had both bridesmaids and a house party, which I’ve never seen anywhere above the Mason-Dixon!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Definitely distance and the limited setup window. I went to New Orleans a few times before the wedding to pick the venue and do food tastings, but other than that, I had to rely heavily on the advice of my coordinator and the internet to pick vendors. Also, the venue only gave us a two-hour window to set up, and everything had to come down immediately after. It took a lot of logistical skill to pull it off, which is why it’s so important to hire people you trust!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? The first was buying the floor model of my dress. It needed hardly any alterations and I saved $1,500! I also saved about $600 by doing my own programs. I used a custom stamp I had made, bought some nice paper and card stock, and made them on my computer. I actually liked them much more than just about everything else I saw!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Without hesitation, our planner, Elyse Skansi of Tying the Knot Wedding Coordination. From designing the reception to following up with vendors, from sticking up for me when I needed it to providing Ryan and I with Colgate wisps to brush our teeth after our meal, she thought of everything, including things I never would have dreamed to plan for. Most importantly, she was a voice of calm and reason, support and levity for me. She had thoughtful advice for every question I raised, and no concern of mine was ever too small. This would have been a completely different wedding and experience in every way possible without her, and I can’t sing her praises enough!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Pick one thing a day to focus on, move on when you’re done, and don’t look back. Carefully choose your vendors, communicate well, and then let them do their thing. Hire a coordinator that is excited about their job and who you can be honest with. This person needs to be your advocate and ally, and the right person will listen to you and see that your dream is seen through. Take care of the small things NOW–whether it be writing notes to your bridesmaids or picking out a lipstick color, taking care of the small things sooner keeps them from piling up later. Put your money towards the things that matter most to you and skip the rest. And finally, have a receiving line! I spent so much time running around trying to make sure I got face time with everyone that I hardly spent any time on the dance floor. Shake everyone’s hand once early on, and then you’re free to enjoy the rest of the evening as you please!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Hopefully adopting another dog and moving to an apartment with direct sunlight. But that aside, I think it’s looking at everything in a “we” context. Even though we had been together for six years, we still kept separate bank accounts and didn’t talk too much about future planning. We’ve always been a good team, but now it’s like a whole new frontier, and it’s exciting and comforting to know that we chose such great partners to explore it with.

Photographer: Mark Eric / Planner: Tying the Knot Wedding Coordination / Venue and Catering: Houmas House Plantation and Gardens / Florist: Bee’s Wedding and Event Floral Design / Wedding Cake: Royal Cakery / Lighting: Luminous Events / Ceremony Musicians: Courtyard Kings / Band: Rockin Dopsie Jr & the Zydeco Twisters / Second Line Band: Smitty Dee’s / Ring Book: Secret Safe Books / Bride’s Gown: “Alcantara 119” by Rosa Clara / Invitations: Lucky Luxe / Bride’s Earrings and Bracelet: BHLDN / Bride’s Necklace: Tiffany & Co. /Bride’s Veil: Sposabella Lace / Hair and Makeup: Kiss and Makeup Beauty Services / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J.Crew / Groom’s Attire: Sebastien Grey Clothiers / Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux / Favors: Pralines By Jean

marissa Written with love by Marissa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Hillary Greene reply

    Hi! Does anyone know where the flower girl’s dress is from? It’s so adorable!

  2. avatar Kristy reply

    I loved reading this article, even though I’ve been married for 22 years! If we could get married again I would model our wedding after this one. From the location at Houmas House plantation to the ” classy swamp” florals I loved it all!
    Congratulations!

  3. avatar Sponsored Post: Jewelers Mutual – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] Lori + Ryan | Mark Eric […]

  4. avatar Lori & Ryan Tied the Knot | Tying the Knot BlogTying the Knot Blog reply

    […] When we started the design process, her vision was an Elegant Swamp Theme! Sounded like a contradiction at first, but then our team and I knew just what to do! And we loved designing something different- organic and glamorous! Turned out to be the perfect combination and Southern Weddings Blog loved it and featured it, too! See their national post here! […]

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