Melanie + Cale are just full of good ideas that made their big day even more special. Dress shopping with mom was one-upped by Melanie’s talented mama who crocheted her entire dress based off a design that they both came up with. The result is not only one-of-a-kind, but perfectly detailed and gorgeous. This is the first time we’ve seen a ceremony set up like M +C’s. They sat hay bales in a spiral formation so that the bride would be able to pass by each guest on her way to the altar (LOVE!). Aside from the sweet touches, this wedding is just beautiful. You would never even guess that flowers were sourced and assembled at the very last minute! (Yikes! Read more on that below.) We’re dishin’ out big hugs to The Reason who shared M + C’s day with us.
I knew I wanted a different sort of dress. My mother happens to be very talented at crocheting, among other things. When I brought up the idea of a crocheted wedding dress, we began looking for patterns. We found our inspiration in a 1960s Vogue Crochet magazine. From that, she and I began to design a dress for my perfect day. The dress took countless hours and about eight months to finish. It was exciting and scary not knowing exactly how the dress would turn out, since neither of us had seen a crocheted wedding dress in person, not to mention this one was our personal design. When I put on the dress for the final time, about a week before the wedding, I said “yes” to the dress! I never once doubted it would be perfect, I never even tried on one single wedding dress but that one. My sister designed the sash after I showed her several pictures of inspiration. My mother also crocheted seed pearls into the top part of my dress for an extra Southern touch. I am confident in saying I had the most perfect wedding dress!
Describe your wedding flowers: We actually had a wedding flower dilemma at first. I had my flowers grown for me in a local greenhouse, but due to an unusually mild winter, they bloomed entirely too early and a week before the wedding, I did not have any flowers. A family friend (and retired florist) who putting the flowers together for me began to search online wholesale sites and we were able to get in a few Helga piaget roses, mini peach carnations, peonies, and an assortment of white flowers that included lilies, snap dragons, and anomies, and much more. We just ordered an array of flowers within budget and mixed them with borrowed greenery from a local nursery and grapevine we cut and dried. This was one mistake that turned into beautiful bliss!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes. We always said we wouldn’t, but when looking at our timeline for the day, we thought it would be best for photos. It turns out to be one of the best decisions we made. That moment of just the two of us seeing each other and getting to appreciate the look on Cale’s face was priceless. The love we both felt at that very moment was overwhelming.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We did not do any readings, but we did add a unique touch to the ceremony by watering a “unity” tree. Cale and I picked out a tree together that we would take and plant at our new home. To us, the tree symbolized our new growth together. The tree also reflected the work of marriage to both of us. We even picked a fruit tree because we wanted that to symbolize a “fruitful” marriage, and we know fruit trees require more attention. The tree also fit nicely with the overall theme of our wedding.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. We both envisioned just having an acoustic guitar for our ceremony, so we asked one of our dear and talented friends to play all of the songs during our ceremony. He played “Marry Me” by Train as the wedding party walked in. I walked down the aisle to “1000 Years” by Christina Perri. Walking back up the aisle was my favorite. I had our musician learn “She Said Yes” by Mumford & Sons. Our first dance was to “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, which was also our real first dance when we first became a couple. The daddy-daughter dance was to Willie Nelson’s “Angles Flying to Close to the Ground”, and the mother-son dance was to “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I think having our loved ones surrounding us in the spiral hay bale formation during our ceremony was the most special. Being able to walk by every person and smile at them both going down and coming back up the aisle was extremely warming.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The first look! Seeing Cale see me for the first time made my heart drop. There are no words to express the feelings we both had when we saw each other.
I think the most Southern part of our wedding was that it was truly was a family feat. We all enjoyed catching up and visiting, even though we were doing physical labor. My uncle and his son did all the electrical work and hanging of lights. Everyone tossed hay bales. We scrubbed, set up the flatbed tailor as our stage, and moved furniture, but most of all, we just enjoyed being family. Cale and I both grew up on farms, so our Southern roots run deep. The hay bales we sat on were baled right on our farm, our centerpieces on our guest tables included drift wood and sand from my family’s sandbar on the Altamaha River, where we were married. One of our party favors was a mason jar for the guest to drink out of for the evening. Our cocktail hour included mint luleps in honor of the Kentucky Derby and pink lemonade margaritas in honor of a Southern Cinco de Mayo. Our “Best Day Ever” Banner was made with burlap. We let both our bridesmaids and groomsmen wear their favorite pair of Southern boots — Cale and I even wore ours!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy it, have fun, and be yourself. Our wedding was so great because we incorporated who we were into every element. We enjoy humor and have a passion for Southern hospitality. We wanted our guests to leave feeling like they had spent good time with Cale and me, all the while enjoying good food, company, and drinks. We pictured our wedding as a place to relax, celebrate and sit in fine company.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Cale does not care for cake, and I love it!! We decided to go with a small traditional wedding cake of pound cake and buttercream icing and then a variety of other Southern cakes iced in white. Our cake designer produced key lime, double chocolate, raspberry swirl, and coconut cakes. We made most of our cake stands out of vintage plates and candle sticks that our grandparents collected for us when they went antiquing.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We literally grew up on opposite sides of the railroad tracks, about 10 miles from one another, in a small town in Georgia called Odum. We both graduated from the University of Georgia in 2009; Cale with his degree in Accounting, and myself with a degree in Nutrition Science. Cale stayed in Athens to obtain a Masters in Accounting and I went to Miami, FL to attend Barry University to obtain my Masters in Biomedical Sciences. In July of 2010, I returned back to Athens to stay with my sister for the summer months. Cale was in Atlanta doing an internship at Price Water House Coopers and saw that I was in Athens and contacted me over Facebook, suggesting we catch up. We got together for dinner one night and it was then that I noticed something was different. I just couldn’t put my finger on exactly what. We joked, had good conversation and caught up like old friends. I can remember running into him at a red light on the way back home from dinner where he rolled down his window and said that if we both were not married by thirty, we would just marry each other. I laughed, agreed and drove off. Throughout that month, we hung out a few more times. Then one day it just clicked.
Describe the proposal. Cale set up a way for me to spend the entire day “family centered,” without me noticing. I went and got my nails done with my sister, then spent the day by the pool with my mother, sisters and friends. That evening, I knew I was going to meet Cale’s grandparents for the first time and Cale promised me a fun date after they had visited. I began to get suspicious when Cale did not turn to go into the city of Jesup for dinner, instead driving toward my house in Odum. He took me out to my favorite spot on my grandfather’s farm and had packed a picnic. At the picnic, Cale began to tell me how special I was to him, and he was acting very nervous. He told me he had another surprise for me and went to the truck to get something. He asked me to stand up and close my eyes and then placed a wrapped present in my hands and told me to open it. I was ecstatic to unwrap a Bible that read, “Melanie and Cale Harris.” Cale got down on one knee and asked me if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, at the same time, unveiling a beautiful rusty nail bent into the shape of a ring. (I always joked with Cale that the type of engagement ring I wanted was just an old rusty nail.) He then revealed the “real” engagement ring, a beautiful blue sapphire, and I said YES! Cale had both family and friends waiting down at the family River house for dinner and celebration.
In what month did you get married? May
How many guests attended your wedding? 350 +
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Using The Reason as our photographers. Their raw talent for capturing all the right moments of a wedding day is priceless. At the end of the day, when everything is said and done, all you have left are photos and a video. I can say the way they documented our wedding was more than perfect.
What’s next for you as a couple? We just recently relocated from Atlanta, Georgia back to our hometown in South Georgia. Cale will be running a local accounting firm, and I will maintain my position as the Nutritional Coordinator for the Georgia Department of Agriculture. We are excited to begin our new lives together surrounded by our families in a town we hold so dear. We just recently bought a charming older home, and are looking forward to making it our own We are you looking forward to deep roots and new beginnings! Above all the wedding stuff, we are best friends, and we are just excited to see what path the Lord will lead us on as a couple.
Hands down, my favorite dress I’ve ever seen. Kudos to them. It’s truly gorgeous. I love the spiral idea too! Such a sweet and personal wedding!
I love it – honestly, the dress is AH-MAZE-ING. The entire thing though, is just gorgeous and I wish I had you to plan mine when I got hitched back in 2009.
Love it! The bride’s belt is so pretty. Love the door with the sign “No Turning Back”!
Love the corn hole lawn game boards! Is there any way to find out if they made these or purchased them somewhere???
Abby: Happy Friday Abby! The creation of the corn hole boards was a family effort, aka a fun DIY project. If you love them and are interested in a possible order email me at [email protected] Best, Melanie
Thank you for the compliments everyone! We enjoyed our day!
Melanie: Absolutely breathtaking. I cried reading this and looking at the pictures. Melanie, where did you get the wedding programs? That type of “layout” is exactly what I have been looking for!!! You can email me at [email protected] . Thanks SO much, and congratulations once again!
Your wedding looked amazing and so much fun! Your sister designed such a beautiful sash and your mom did a PHENOMENAL job on your wedding dress!! Hair, makeup, everything just gorgeous gorgeous!
What an awesome wedding! I love all the details!
[…] 1 | This wedding combines so many of my favorite things. But the best part is, hands down, the bride’s dress. Lovingly crafted by her mother, this crochet gown is a stunner. http://iloveswmag.com/2012/05/30/georgia-outdoor-chapel-wedding-by-the-reason/ […]
Coming from a small town in Wyoming, I can relate to many of these details in this wedding, which is the reason that by far, one of my all-time faves. I LOVE how the couple kept it tasteful and made it their own. They weren’t afraid to do what they wanted and all the while, celebrating their family and friends. What an amazing day – love the details.
[…] put every single picture in this post I would, but since I can’t I have to implore you to go check it out for yourselves in full detail right now. It’s absolutely one of my favorite weddings […]
I ADORE those signs on your chairs (I’m his Mrs. and I’m her Mr.), did you make those as well? This whole wedding is just an absolute dream. I love how true to yourselves you were while still making sure the guests had a good time and were part of the experience. The spiral setting is just genius!
Rebecca: Yes we did make the chair signs! A last min. craft decision :-)
[…] groom sports a brown and yellow bow tie. Get married in front of this rustic door, while guests sit on these haystacks at the wedding ceremony. Picture an evening reception in a […]
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Your wedding was absolutely beautiful!! I love your dress, it was beautiful and unique. This is a crazy question, but what did you use to write on your chalkboards? It didn’t look like chalk… I am using chalkboards that I made from silver trays and old picture frames in my wedding as well, and so far the chalk isn’t really working on them.
Ashley: I used plain ol’ chalk on the chalkboard windows, and a white paintpen on the silver trey menus.
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I love the “tree” sticker on your silverware bags. Would you mind sharing where you got those?
Where did you find your boots?? Those are amazing!
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Your dress is absolutely beautiful! My grandmother is also very talented and loves to crochet. I was wondering if you would be willing to share any information on how you made your dress! you can email me if you would like at [email protected]