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As a December bride myself, I always feel a bit attached to fellow December couples, and I especially feel that way today. Maybe it’s nostalgia or possibly the elegant decor of holiday garlands and crisp white florals, but either way, Klaire and Carson’s wedding day roped me in from that first sweet photo of Klaire wiping a tear away, and kept me smitten all the way to their carriage exit. Be sure to read about their fun Atlanta Braves tribute before they hopped into said carriage!

Big thanks to Mark Williams Studio for sharing!

P.S. Fun fact! Does that gorgeous church look familiar? It’s the same church that was featured in the lovely Generations Past shoot from V6!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Of course! I borrowed my veil from my cousin/matron of honor, one of my garters was blue satin ribbon and ivory lace, I wrapped my Gram’s pearl rosary beads around the stems of my bouquet, and my dress and my pearl earrings (my wedding gift from Carson!) were new!

My wedding dress story is definitely not a typical one! I originally planned to wear my cousin/matron of honor’s wedding dress. When she found it, I was just as much in love with it as she was, so when she asked me if I would like to wear it, it was an obvious decision. I absolutely loved the dress and there was so much emotion and sentiment behind wearing it (not to mention, the price was right, right?!). Then one day, my mom called me to meet her at a local bridal store to help my aunt find a dress for the wedding. When I walked in, I saw a beautiful dress on one of the mannequins, but considering it was less than two months until my wedding AND I already had a dress, I ignored my instinct to go look at it. About 15 minutes later, I found myself walking over to it. I was apparently in awe because my mom walked up behind me and told me to go try it on. I was very hesitant, but with encouragement from my mom and aunts, I decided to try it. When I walked out of the dressing room, they all immediately started to cry. I walked over to the mirror to look at myself and started to cry too. For the first time, I felt like a “real bride” with my own dress. We called my soon-to-be mother-in-law and sister-in-law to come up for the final decision. When they walked in, they both cried too and said it looked like the dress was made for me. So, the decision was made and I ordered the dress. We were scared it would not arrive in time, but it came three weeks early. It was truly meant to be!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We knew that we would be living in Savannah after we got married, and we loved the idea of getting married during the most romantic time of year (Christmas) in such a romantic town. We wanted our venues to highlight the Southern charm and grace of Savannah. We had heard about the Whitefield Chapel of Bethesda, and after seeing it for the first time, we immediately knew it was the place that we wanted to exchange our vows. It was so intimate and quaint. The reception venue, Garibaldi’s, was the first place Carson and I had gone to dinner when he moved to Savannah. It is also the place where we had our first “marriage talk!” I even asked our waiter at dinner that night if they had weddings there. When we got engaged, my best friend researched venues for me, and when she mentioned Garibaldi’s, I knew it was the one!

Our wedding was very traditional and Southern in almost every way. We got ready and took pictures in the Old South streets and squares, where trolleys and horses were on every corner. Carson and the ring bearers were true Southern gentlemen in their bow ties and suspenders. I wore my uncle’s mother’s vintage fur jacket from the 1950’s–she was quite the Southern lady. We got married in a chapel surrounded by winding oak trees and beautiful Spanish moss. My mom said the blessing for everyone before the food was served and celebration began. Our reception was celebrated in the heart of downtown Savannah. Magnolia wreathes with berries accented with tiny lights were on every window to bring out the Southern elegance of the winter season.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we loved the traditional vows.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our first reading was 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, the second reading was 1 John 4: 16-19, and the gospel reading was Matthew 19:4-6
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our ceremony music was very traditional and classic. We had two close family friends play the piano during the ceremony. My high school chorus teacher sang “Ave Maria” as Carson’s mom walked down the aisle. I came down the aisle with both of my parents to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” For the reception, our goal was to have a big party full of dancing! When the bridal party was introduced, they danced in to “I’ve Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. When Carson and I were introduced, we came into “Sparks Fly” by Taylor Swift (my all-time favorite). Our first dance was to “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I loved how we tried to make each and every detail personal to us, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be our exit details. Carson and I are huge Atlanta Braves fans, so we had foam tomahawks made with our names and wedding date on them. They were handed to each of our guests as they walked out to form a tomahawk “chop line.” Everyone was “chopping” away and singing the Braves’ infamous war chant as we exited and got into our horse-drawn carriage. As we rode away in the carriage, we held up a wooden sign that said, “…and they lived happily ever after.” It was the perfect ending to a wonderful night.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was perfect. It was a three-tiered ivory cake with raised pearl dots. The second tier had our scripted monogram on it. Ranunculus and baby’s breath were arranged on the top and along the sides of the cake. It was very simple, classic, and elegant–definitely the look we were going for. Carson’s groom’s cake was one of my favorite parts of the wedding. Carson got to pick the flavor (chocolate), but he did not know what it was going to look like. Since Carson is in medical school and wants to be a surgeon, I designed an “Operation” cake. Each “operation piece” was specifically tied to him some way. For example, the heart piece said “Belongs to Klaire, 12.28.13” and the brain piece said, “Georgia on my mind, go Dawgs!” I got to show it to him at the reception and it was one of the most fun moments for us!

Don’t miss their wedding film trailer by Andrew Clark Films!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both grew up in Columbus, Georgia. Our families are friends, we went to the same high school for a year, and we had the same social circle. It was not until Carson returned home after graduating from UGA that our relationship started. We went on several dates, but nothing too serious. A few months down the road, while Carson was studying intensely for his MCAT, I made him a care package to take to his test. I realized that maybe I cared about him a lot more than I wanted to admit…and turns out, those feelings were mutual. From that day on, we started dating, and it did not take long before we knew that we had both found our perfect match!
Tell us all about the proposal! Carson planned a “birthday trip” for me to Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia. It was also his medical school spring break, so I really did not suspect anything. On the day of the proposal, Carson planned a tour around the winery and a fun wine tasting. As we were walking to the hotel to head to our dinner reservation, we stopped by the lounge. I sat down and Carson remained standing as he ordered two glasses of champagne. He then told me that we were not going to be sitting there, and the hotel staff escorted us to one of the balconies on the side of the hotel. On the door to the balcony, it said “Reserved for a Private Party.” I was immediately very hesitant and told Carson that we could not go in. He then told me that the “private party” was for us. He opened the door, and at the end of the balcony, I saw a table set for two. Tears immediately started to flow. There were rose petals leading the way, and two glasses and a bottle of wine from the winery labeled “Klaire & Carson, April 27,2013” on the table. We went to sit down, and the next thing I knew, Carson was telling me how much he loved me, and then got done on one knee and said, “Klaire Jennings Kirkland, Will you marry me?” I, of course, cried and said YES! As I looked over, Carson’s parents walked out of the back room. They had been taking pictures of the proposal, and they also had a videographer there filming the whole thing! The final surprise came when we made it to our dinner reservation, and all of our family and best friends were there to celebrate. Carson seriously thought of everything to make our engagement so perfect.
When did y’all get married? December 28, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 135
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? No, we did not. We decided to wait to see each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle to Carson. Carson and I dated for about two years before we got married, and one year of that was long distance. He had started medical school in Savannah, and I was still working at my job in Columbus, and we decided is was important to wait to live together until after we were married. During the time of living apart, envisioning Carson’s face as I walked down the aisle was what got me through the weeks of not being able to see each other, so it only seemed right to wait to see him until I walked down the aisle. It was so worth it–everything I could have ever dreamed of and more!
Describe your wedding flowers. My wedding flowers were very soft and simple. I wanted all creams, whites, ivories and blushes. My bouquet had zinnias, peonies, Juliet garden roses, ranunculus, and with a hint of winter gray dusty miller and brunia berries. The stems were exposed, wrapped in ivory satin ribbon and my grandmother’s pearl rosary beads. My bridesmaids carried hydrangeas, Juliet garden roses and babies breath, accented with dusty miller and brunia berries, wrapped in lace ribbon and pearl beads. The groom and groomsmen wore simple freesia flowers tied with gray brunia berries and dusty miller. The reception flowers were similar, but we used eclectic glass vases and small flower jars for variety throughout each table.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Staying within budget! As we all know, weddings can get expensive really quickly!
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? My wedding planner and designer, Two Peaches Design, did all of my flowers and floral design. We were able to pay for our flowers at wholesale prices, which saved a lot of money!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our photographers, Julianne and Marielle of Mark Williams Studio. They were so focused on every detail, which was so important to me, and they were so fun and easy to work with. I truly feel that having good photographers is one of the most important parts of a wedding. They were beyond wonderful!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Hands down, the most memorable part of my wedding day was when the chapel doors opened and I saw Carson standing at the end of the aisle, knowing that we were about to become husband and wife. We both radiated with happiness and true joy. It was the best feeling and moment of all time for me!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Wedding planning can be very stressful. When you start to feel that stress, remember the meaning of your wedding day and what it is all about… you and your soon-to-be husband! This time goes by fast and it only happens once, so cherish it. Have fun planning with your mom, family, and best friends. Be thankful for all the love and support that is surrounding you and your fiancé during this time. No matter what, at the end of your big day, you get to be married to the love of your life…it doesn’t get any better than that!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We will be in Savannah for the next few years until Carson finishes medical school. We look forward to continuing to grow together as a husband and wife, and we are very excited to see what God has in store for us…we definitely see little baby Stricklands in the future (when that time is right)! Until then, we are having fun just being together, watching lots of Braves games, and cheering for the Georgia Bulldogs come fall. Go Dawgs!

Photographer: Mark Williams Studio / Videographer: Andrew Clark Films / Planning and Florals: Two Peaches Design / Ceremony Venue: Whitefield Chapel of Bethesda / Reception Venue and Catering: Garibaldi’s / Cake Baker: Tier Luxury Cakes / Band or DJ: All About You Entertainment / Bride’s Gown: Oleg Cassini / Paper Products: Everly Calligraphy / Bride’s Veil: J Andrews Bridal / Hair and Makeup: Andrea Nay / Bride’s Shoes: BCBGeneration / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bari Jay / Men’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank / Wooden Signs: Michele Campbell of M. & Co. / Foam Tomahawks and Koozies: Collins Marketing

marissa Written with love by Marissa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Janine reply

    I love this wedding! So elegant! Almost everything is given credit at the bottom — but I was wondering if there was any way to find out where the bride got her robe (and bridesmaid’s robes)? I’ve seen a lot that look similar in my search, but these are perfect!

    • avatar Klaire Strickland reply

      Hey Janine! Thanks for your sweet comments! I got my robe and the bridesmaids’ robes off of “The Knot’s” website/store. They were perfect and the monogram was the perfect touch. Hope this helps!

    • avatar Janine reply

      Thank you so much!

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Their reception space looks so cozy + joyful!

  3. avatar Inna Olimpiyuk reply

    Loved this story, cried in many spots, very touching!

  4. avatar Christine reply

    We are considering Savannah for our wedding spot too. Thanks for sharing. So many great ideas and very beautiful.

  5. avatar Michelle reply

    love all the winter-themed decor! they really kept it appropriate to the South in winter rather than going over the top with it.

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It’s no secret that bow ties are one of our very favorite things, and hands down our favorite Southern groom accessory. More than one SW significant other has converted to bow tie-wearing for formal occasions at our influence, and we hope some of our lovely brides have had the same success! ;) Whether your groom can rock a bow tie any day of the week, or he’s kindly giving into your request on your wedding day, we are tickled pink to introduce a brand new program by our friends at High Cotton that we think you’re both going to love!

Just in time for wedding season, High Cotton has launched their Home Try-On program, a free service in which you can choose five bow ties that will be shipped to your door, yours to try on and test out for five days. This makes it easier than ever to coordinate bow ties with bridesmaid dresses and wedding color swatches–High Cotton has even used popular bridesmaid dress lines, like J. Crew and David’s Bridal, as inspiration, creating bow ties that will coordinate beautifully with their signature colors.

Post your options on social media with the hashtag #highcottonathome for feedback from stylish friends and the High Cotton team (and maybe even the Southern Weddings gals!). Once you’ve chosen your favorite, pack the bow ties back up in the High Cotton box, stick on the prepaid label, and buy your bow tie of choice online. Easy as pie!

To celebrate this exciting launch, High Cotton has generously offered a free bow tie to the first 50 SW grooms who choose to outfit their groomsmen in High Cotton after using the Home Try-On program! Use the code SWMAG at checkout on an order of at least four items to get the groom’s bow tie for free!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Kristin reply

    Where was this when I got married and was trying to match bow ties to the most perfect shade of peach? Love this new idea. High five, High Cotton!!

  2. avatar Inna Olimpiyuk reply

    Such a great program and bow ties are so adorable!

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Psst… have you voted in the championship round of Mason-Dixon Madness yet? We’re revealing the winner later today!

Based on your survey feedback, we know that most of you prefer real weddings over styled shoots. And I have to say, I’m with you for the most part – especially because I see piles of submissions every week that are just so clearly not a fit for what we’re about. But I’m not ready to give up on inspirational editorials completely, because I still think, when done right, they can be both useful and, yep, inspiring. We don’t want or expect you to replicate every element from every shoot – but I do believe that every shoot has at least one takeaway for almost every couple.

Maybe one will introduce you to a vendor that perfectly clicks with your style. Maybe one will show you a new way to tie your bouquet or a clever idea for numbering your tables. Maybe you’ll spot your dream dress in one, or the perfect bow tie for your groom. Or, like me, maybe you love editorials because they introduce you to a part of the South you’re not familiar with – like this one, which takes us into the orange groves of Louisiana. I didn’t even know there were such things, but I’m so glad Blue Ribbon Vendor Sarah Becker Photo has shown me!

From the event planner and stylist, Brooke: Belle Chasse, Louisiana is the epitome of a small town! Everyone knows one another, stores are family-owned and you won’t find any tall buildings blocking your view of the sunset. Born and raised here, I’ve always admired the beauty of this small town, particularly the orange groves that blossom along the main road. As I began designing weddings, I knew I would jump at the chance to showcase this area! Then enters Sarah Becker Lillard. Sarah’s bubbly personality and enthusiasm at the idea of the orange grove shoot gave me the little push I needed to say “Let’s make this thing happen.” After meeting with Sarah to brainstorm on ideas for the shoot, the rest of the vendor team seemed like such an obvious choice.

I have admired Poppy & Mint since the first day I saw Destiny’s work. Julia, owner and event designer at Mrs. Vintage, fit the mold perfectly when I was looking for the props for the shoot. Her farm table, whiskey barrel and wooden crates were a clear part of my vision since Day 1. Her vintage sugar mold was the perfect piece to complete the main floral design!

Amanda, Hattiesburg-native and owner of Fine Print Calligraphy, adds a Southern touch to many of her designs. I knew she would design something that captivated the essence of the orange groves in Southern Louisiana. Amanda created custom ink colors for the calligraphy on the envelopes as well as the watercolor for the menu and invitation that gave the shoot that personal touch.

My favorite part of the shoot has to be the modeling debut of my two pups, Jake and Levi. It is amazing what a few pieces of ham as bribery can do.

Event Planner: Southern Charm Weddings | Photographer: Sarah Becker Photo | Floral Designer: Poppy & Mint | Stationery: Fine Print Calligraphy | Bridal Salon: Wedding Belles | Hair & Makeup: Chelsea Adam with Breck & Co. | Vintage Rentals: Mrs. Vintage | Cake Designer: The Sweet Life Bakery | Groom’s Suit: John’s Tuxedos | Chairs, Plates, and Flatware: Event Rental | Orange Groves: Saxon-Becnel & Sons |

Sarah Becker Photo and Mrs. Vintage are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
21 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    The oranges in the bouquet are such a great detail!

  2. avatar Nicole reply

    That cake! Talk about gorgeous — this shoot is like my heaven.

  3. avatar Julia Hohne reply

    Hooray!! So excited to be featured, this shoot was so beautiful! Congrats to all the vendors involved!

  4. avatar Sarah Becker Lillard reply

    YIPPEEE! SO proud of all the amazing vendors involved in this shoot – definitely my favorite to date! Thank y’all so much for sharing it with the world! Who woulda thunk there are acres and acres of orange groves just 20 minutes south of New Orleans?!

  5. avatar Mary reply

    I love this shoot so much! The ribbon on the bouquet! The dress! The cake! The NAPKINS! The menu!

  6. avatar Carolyn reply

    SO lovely! I am literally drooling over that cake! and bouquet! and the pups! Beautiful work Sarah!

  7. avatar Brooke Casey reply

    Oh my goodness! So honored to be featured on Southern Weddings!! The pictures are lovely and all of the vendors did a wonderful job! Yay us!!

  8. avatar Inna Olimpiyuk reply

    The Bride’s Bouquet is simply Stunning and Wedding Cake is very Beautiful! Love this shoot!

  9. avatar Wedding Rentals Supplies reply

    Truly inspiring! Loved this beautiful wedding theme.

  10. avatar Sarah Becker Photography | Orange Grove Shoot | New Orleans Wedding Photography reply

    […] I am still on top of the world from this Orange Grove styled shoot being featured on Southern Weddings yesterday! This has been my absolute favorite wedding blog for years, and as my brides know I give […]

  11. avatar lisa freeman reply

    I’m drooling over this shoot right now. All the special touches add up to a big wow! Love the invitations by Fine Print Calligraphy.

  12. avatar Ashley Minck reply

    This wedding is everything I dream of and more!

  13. avatar Stephanie reply

    This is a beautiful shoot and is close to my heart because I am born and raised in Plaquemines Parish. The stand that they are pictured in front of is actually my grandparents house not Saxons but Saxon’s brother Hewitt. It makes me happy to see my family and our farms displayed so beautifully. Thanks for the shout out to the citrus farmers and the inspiration for my possible future wedding.

  14. avatar Abi Losli reply

    I just can’t stop smiling about this shoot! So bright, happy, and whimsical. And those pups! Just adorable. Thanks for once again providing the perfect little pop of inspiration to get me going with my day.

  15. avatar EJ reply

    How lovely – adore this colour scheme. x

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    […] Pretty | 8 -hand-drawn wedding menu from Fine Print Calligraphy, image by Sarah Becker Photo via Southern Weddings | 9 – fresh citrus centerpiece by The Floral Lab, image by Jessica Claire Photography via […]

  18. avatar Alisha reply

    Where are the beautiful blue and white napkins from??

  19. avatar Agrumi per un matrimonio invernale reply

    […] Bouquet: Kate Osborne via Snippet & Ink // Jane in the Woods // Addie Eshelman Photography via Storyboard Wedding Centrotavola: Ben Sasso via Style Me Pretty // Belathée via Snippet & Ink // Mandi Nelson Segnaposto: Lavender & Twine Photography via 100 Layer Cake // Melissa Jill Photography via Elizabeth Anne Designs // Collin Hughes via Snippet & Ink Favors: Ben Sasso via Style Me Pretty // Brett Heidebrecht via Elizabeth Anne Designs // Rebecca Arthurs via Style Me Pretty Torte: Stephanie Williams via 100 Layer Cake // Our Labor of Love by Heidi via Ruffled // Sarah Becker Photo via Southern Weddings […]

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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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