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Liz + Josh created a beautiful Asheville wedding — somehow the magical marriage of springy and bright and rustic mountain style. Their invitation serves as the perfection introduction to a night full of family heirlooms, fun signage and pretty flowers and fruits.

As a UNC grad, I’m head over heels for L + J’s proposal story — a sunset proposal at the picturesque Old Well on campus. Biggest thanks to Angela Cox for sharing this gorgeous wedding with us!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes, we did. Mainly because I love the way the photos of those moments look, and I love how they help to tell the story of a wedding day: the photos of that intimate moment between an almost-husband and wife are so powerful and emotional. I loved the idea of capturing that feeling on our wedding day.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Planning the content of the ceremony was really important to us. We chose one reading that our officiant incorporated into her sermon, and then two others that were read by my first cousins, as well as a final blessing from Rumi to end the ceremony.

Describe your wedding flowers: Oh my gosh, how do I begin? This was by the far the most important part of the décor to me. I love and adore the work of one Asheville’s best florist, Jessica Gregory with Aria Floral, and as soon as we got engaged I knew I had to work with her! My color palette was to be light robin’s egg blue, with neutral accents in the burlap tablecloths and the guy’s linen suits. We used the florals to pop in lots of beautiful coral, hot pink, peach, pale yellow, cream, white, light pink, orange, and bright lime green as well as deep waxy green. I had this dream of using lots of fruit – peaches, Ranier cherries, cut pink grapefruits for their beautiful color, lots of vines, river rocks, and plenty of candle light throughout. I wanted a few tall pieces with hanging candles and then lots of the fruit and flower/orchard feeling carried throughout. I also found photos online of these amazing hanging flower boxes, which were just sort of a fantasy, but Jessica surprised me and made one out of a vintage planter that hung above the vintage mantle Josh and I had hunted around for and found on craigslist. It was GORGEOUS!

We’re seeing more and more of these chalkboard ceremony programs. I love the effect — graphic signage in place of paper goods (though y’all know how much we love paper).

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. This was a really important part for me!! My good friend Lauren and a family friend from my parent’s church played flute and hammered dulcimer as the bridal party and mothers processed in. Then we had two songs specifically that we had played for my processional and for the recessional. I walked in to the first 3 minutes of the Fleet Fox’s “The Shrine/An Argument” The lyrics and song were sort of inspirational for us as we planned our entire ceremony, and helped us envision the kind of hushed, intimate, and meaningful feeling we wanted everyone to leave with. We even used the lyrics to create a chalkboard hanging banner that we hung in one of the trees near the ceremony entrance, so everyone could read them. The moment when I started walking and could hear the song filling up the silence in the little mountain glade near a stream – it was perfect and so meaningful, just what I dreamed it would be. We recessed out to “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” by the Beach Boys. We just LOVE how that song starts and

Our wedding was designed to be a tribute to our beautiful Southern mountain home, where Josh and I were both raised. I absolutely loved the assortment of Appalachian quilts we used in our ceremony – Josh’s 90 year old grandmother is a life-long quilter and had created many of them. Her eyes lit up when she saw the brown horse-themed quilt she had made almost 34 years ago for Josh’s nursery. The china plates were also a tribute to our traditional Southern families. We used my mom’s pattern, my maternal grandmother’s pattern, Josh’s grandmother’s and great aunt’s pattern, Josh’s mother’s pattern, my Aunt’s pattern, and my great grandmother’s pattern. Not a single one was broken, to our relief! It was such a treat to see people admiring them. One guest was so excited that her late mother’s pattern was the plate that just happened to be placed at her seat. One detail that wasn’t photographed, unfortunately, was an old wheelbarrow we found in my dad’s garage and set up half-way up the rather steep hill that all our guests had to “hike” through the vineyard, between the ceremony and reception site. We filled it with ice and bottled water and beer, with a barnwood sign we made directing guests to take a little break, grab some refreshment, and enjoy the view! A lot of guests seemed grateful that we thought of it!

Oh how romantic is this photo? Sweet kisses, string lights and a night of celebration? Perfection.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Josh and I were both born in Western NC, he in Franklin and I in Asheville. His family moved to Asheville when he was in the fifth grade, and we attended the same high school. However, he was three years older than I, so I only knew of him by name. Years later, after we’d both graduated from college and lived elsewhere, we both found ourselves back in our hometown. We had a pair of mutual friends who’d begun dating, and they would often tell each of us that they wanted to introduce us. One evening in June of 2008, the meeting was finally facilitated, along with several other friends, and I found myself have a great conversation with Josh. At the end of the evening, I was excited about the possibility of getting to know him better; he’d gotten my phone number and a few nights later, he called and invited me along with a group of friends to 80’s Night at Broadway’s, one of our favorite little dive bars in Downtown Asheville. It’s a big-time dance party to all the music of our mutual childhoods. After five hours of dancing non-stop, we both knew we would be together. We had our first kiss that night when he dropped me off at home.
Describe the proposal. I am a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and though Josh went to UNC-Greensboro, he has several UNC alums in his family, so we are both die-hard Tar Heel fans. Every year, it’s our tradition to get each other basketball tickets to see a few UNC home games for Christmas. In February 2011, we headed down to Chapel Hill for the weekend to see a Sunday basketball game. I had some sort of weird premonition while packing for the weekend away that something big might happen, like a proposal. When no proposal happened Friday and nothing happened Saturday, I decided it was just a fluke with no real basis. We attended the basketball game on Sunday (Heels won!) and as the sun was setting, Josh wanted to do one last walk around Carolina’s beautiful campus before we got in the car to drive back to the mountains. We wandered around, heading toward one of the two main quads on campus. The Old Well is a small columned rotunda in the middle of campus, with a beautiful Carolina blue domed roof and white Doric columns surrounding a marble drinking fountain in the middle. It’s one of UNC’s most beloved symbols and a prominent icon on our campus. Legend has it that anyone who drinks from the fountain (or “well”) will have good luck. As we approached it, Josh suggested we each drink some water there for luck. I kind of laughed, but agreed. As I turned around, Josh was kneeling behind me with my beautiful vintage engagement ring in his palm. There are always a small smattering of tourists and students around the Old Well, so needless to say, his proposal had a little audience! Of course I said “Yes!!” as soon as I figured out what was going on.
In what month did you get married? We got married June 2.
How many guests attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: One of my best friends also got engaged within months of Josh and me, and she and I decided to take a little impromptu trip to Atlanta to start our wedding dress search. I really had no idea what I wanted – I had never imagined myself a bride, and couldn’t imagine what would be flattering on me and what I would be comfortable in. My friend and I both agreed we might even get simple white eyelet sundresses – maybe we’d forego the typical wedding dress route. As soon as we each tried on our first “real” wedding gown, that idea went out the window! We went to lots and lots of boutiques, just to see what options existed. A Swiss-dotted tulle drop-waisted dress from James Clifford stuck in my mind over all that I tried. When I returned to Asheville, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, even though the trip had been intended as just exploratory. I started calling around to shops in NC to see if anyone near us carried the dress I’d found. The designer was only available in two boutiques in North Carolina! My mom had seen a picture of it online, but of course I wanted her to see me in it, in person, to make sure she agreed that it might be “the dress.” We called the boutiques, and just one of them happened to have the actual dress in the shop to try on – as part of a trunk show that ended the next weekend! So, we left at lunchtime on a Friday to drive to Raleigh together to try the dress before the trunk show ended. She loved it, and on second sight, I loved it even more! I bought it that day.then builds with a drum into the first chorus! It just makes me smile! There was no other option.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: This was another thing that I had a specific vision for. I am a person who lives for the details, so I had so much fun planning these specific visual elements, like the look of the cake. I wanted something that go with our Appalachian mountain feel – nothing too perfect or clean – so fondant was definitely out (plus I don’t like that it’s not all that good to eat. Cake should be edible!) I worked with the amazing Tiffany Goode of Tiffany’s Baking Co. and we decided that shaved white chocolate would give a beautiful, rustic, free-flowing texture to the three-tier round cake. I definitely wanted a few big sugar flowers, too. We went with three big peonies that were soft blush pink. It turned out just beautifully and was delicious as well.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: A few of my top favorites were our vintage mantle with the rows of multi-height hurricanes on top, the moss covered trays I created with corks and beautiful tea-stained tags and calligraphed names that we used for our escort cards, the beautiful chalk board menu and “program” which my friend, the very talented Mandylynn Holt created, the vintage plates we used for dinner and dessert, the strawberry plants that Jessica used to decorate some of the feasting tables, and the alternating hay bale rows and farm benches we used for our ceremony seating. We covered all the bales with vintage quilts collected over many years by the women in Josh’s family and a few close friends.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? With two parents who are small business owners, it just wasn’t possible to have a “dream wedding” budget. When we first started playing with numbers, I admit I experienced a few weeks of disappointment that it seemed there was no way we could afford to do the beautiful Southern mountain wedding that I wanted. But, with some creativity, Josh and I worked out a savings plan and got creative and DIY with as many details as we could. I didn’t want to sacrifice any of the little touches that are so important to me, so we took lots of time and planning energy to find a way to make them all happen, despite a limited budget. I ordered all the fabrics wholesale, and my mom sewed all 30 of the burlap tablecloths and almost 100 feet of linen runners! We scoured yard sales and flea markets and estate sales for over a year to find deals on more dinner plates and dessert plates. We were successful in never paying more than $3 a plate, while using real china for all our pieces. My now-husband, both of our fathers and several of my best girl friends spent two days setting everything up. It was so gratifying to have everyone pitch in to make such a beautiful, memorable, special day.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? We spent between $10,000 and $25,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The flowers, hands down! They were really the one area I spent “above average” on, and it was SO worth it. I feel flowers and candles and lanterns just MAKE an event, and Jessica’s work was exactly what I wanted – I loved every little vine and cherry.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Walking down the aisle, hearing the beautiful and haunting Fleet Foxes song, and looking at all our friends and family surrounding us in the beautiful mountain meadow, with my new husband waiting just ahead of me at the end of the aisle.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Take your time! Try to be organized and disciplined with your lists of what you need to do and when you’d like to do it. Share the calendar somewhere you can both see it. Know yourself and build your wedding vision around what you’ll enjoy spending your time on. I was SO glad the entire time that I hadn’t taken on a bunch of crafts or décor projects myself — that’s just not what I love to spend my time on. Instead, I did a few big things and found great talented friends and artists on Etsy to help with the rest. Josh and my Mom were also BIG helps. Use your mother and fiancé – they want to be involved!!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? I’m not sure yet! We’ll see where life takes us! We’re both busy with our jobs and looking forward to a trip to NYC to visit my sister this fall. We have some projects around the house we’re looking forward to working on when life settles down, and I can’t wait to celebrate the holiday season as a married couple, finally!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
15 Comments
  1. avatar Mollie reply

    Gorgeous wedding!

  2. avatar Carlene R.D. reply

    I love that they use southern produce in their centerpieces! I adore it. When I got married last fall, I had produce in my bouquet (I’m a dietitian). I have a super soft spot for it! Love your site!

  3. avatar Rose {Rose and Ruby Paper Co.} reply

    Love it – especially the DRESS!! Gorgeous!
    xx

  4. avatar Ceremony Programs, a necessary evil when planning a wedding? « A Connecticut Wedding & Event Planner's Blog reply

    […] YES. Yes, I do think your guests care. Yes, I do think they actually read them. And yes, they do all end up in the trash/recycle bin at the end of the night.  So great! What now? Enter- the chalkboard!!!! The perfect quick fix for this dilemma of magnitude proportion (insert gross exaggeration here). The chalkboard is not a newcomer to weddings- they are enormously popular and enormously useful. Whether shabby chic, retro glam, or black tie elegant, they are incredibly versatile to fit your style. And let’s face it, you can find anything on Etsy. But what about this clever use at this fabulous wedding found on a recent post of Southern Weddings? […]

  5. avatar Elizabeth reply

    I am obsessed with the bridesmaid dress color. What is the specific designer and color?

    • avatar Nicole reply

      Hi Elizabeth! Aren’t they lovely? Those dresses are B2 by Jasmine Bridal and Liz customized the color with a seafoam lining and powder blue chiffon for the outer layers.

  6. avatar Leah Hatton reply

    Would you mind telling me what specific color the Jasmine bridesmaid dresses were?

    • avatar Nicole reply

      Hi Leah! Those dresses are B2 by Jasmine Bridal. Liz customized the color with a seafoam lining and powder blue chiffon for the outer layers.

  7. avatar Five Fun Ways to Use Chalkboards reply

    […] menu via Southern Weddings  |  drink menu via Style Me Pretty  |  drinks via Ruffled  |  good eats via Style Me […]

  8. avatar Linda reply

    I am from Asheville, I would love to know where this venue is? Gorgeous wedding!

  9. avatar Taylor reply

    Hello! I am wondering if you could let me know what color the bridesmaids dresses are! And, where they were purchased? Thanks!

    • avatar Liz (the bride!) reply

      Hi Taylor, these dresses were B2 by Jasmine. I got them at Wedding Inspirations in Asheville. You could call and order them remotely if you’re not in the area. Google them. The dresses are a custom color: Seamist satin lining, with the Powder Blue chiffon outer layer. Style B2078. Hope that helps!

  10. avatar Elinor reply

    What a beautiful Asheville wedding! Love the wedding flowers! Xo.

  11. avatar Spring Wedding Flowers :: Wedding Tips and Trends reply

    […] delicate and airy and make a perfect bridesmaids bouquet to compliment the bride’s. You can see these flowers looked gorgeous together at the wedding of Liz and Josh, captured by Angela […]

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Sometimes when I sit down to write these posts, I see so many wonderful details that I don’t even know where to start! Jillian + Marcus’s wedding was lovely, combining unique touches with the tried-and-true details that we never fail to love over and over again. Hay bale ceremony seating? We always love it. But a flower girl in plaid and lace carrying a galvanized steel bucket? Double brownie points! Scroll down and you’ll see more images by Dave Lapham to fawn over — include the bride’s and bridesmaids’ bouquets and the sweet notes J + M left at each place setting.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I found the one the week after I was engaged! Don’t be tricked by the tears. I cried with my second try-on, but the reality of it all was just settling in! When I tried on my dress, I was all smiles and twirls. I never wanted to take it off! That’s how I knew!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? We couldn’t wait to see each other but we wanted the thrill of the reveal.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Walking down the aisle, walking back up the aisle, first dance? Oh, I agonized over picking the perfect songs that were unique but appropriate! I ended up just picking my absolute favorite songs and it turned out so perfectly. I don’t know why that didn’t dawn on me sooner. The groomsmen/groom processional was to “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Billie Holiday, the bridesmaid processional was to “C’est La Mort” by The Civil Wars, my processional was to “Till Kingdom Come” by Coldplay (the most beautiful song ever!), the recessional was to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys and our first dance was to “Forever and Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis. We were also VERY clear that “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins be played at least three times throughout the reception.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The most Southern characteristic was the pure atmosphere of celebration we wanted to create! We also had BBQ pork sandwiches with sweet potato fries served with homemade blackberry pie and sweet tea, a live band with string lights over the dance floor to encourage all night boogie-ing, and a ceremony with our friend and groomsman singing a hymn while our loved ones sat on hay bales.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Everything was so us. So many people at the wedding came up and just gushed about the fact that there was no denying that this wedding was ours! It had our name written all over it! From the wildflowers, the stripes and the glitter to the local and delicious buffet spread, kettle corn booth, and home-made pie, the day was definitely a celebration made for the people we love!
Describe your wedding flowers: They turned out SO beautifully, but boy was it a lot of work. Marcus and I picked up the boxes of uncut wildflowers from a wholesale florist on Thursday morning. By Thursday night, the middle of my apartment was converted into a full-fledged florist’s workshop with what felt like millions of flowers and mason jars to fill up! With friends, who are the hardest working angels in the whole world, we potted plants and arranged flowers ‘til the cows came home. We may or may not have danced a little, too.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We decided to go nontraditional in SO many areas of our wedding and this was one. Wedding cakes can be such a huge part of the budget and we didn’t feel strongly that we even wanted it! Also, the whole shoving-cake-in-your-new-spouse’s-mouth thing baffled us. We wanted something yummy, inexpensive, and simple to serve, but still wanted it to feel special. There is an Amish bakery in our hometown that we both grew up on that literally makes every flavor of pie in the whole world. We decided to order a bunch of those and call it a day. They were such a huge hit that we didn’t even get to taste it!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We had been friends for a few years before it dawned on us that we were madly in love with each other. It happened when I was in my best friend’s wedding and he was in the audience. We couldn’t stop looking at one another! We haven’t stopped since :)
Describe the proposal. I had been expecting it to happen soon, but then when Marcus actually asked me it was so unexpected! We were walking through some gardens on our way to the downtown farmer’s market, our Saturday morning ritual. Marcus led me down a different path, but I was impatient to get to my coffee! When I turned around, he was on his knee and I was speechless! It is the most beautiful ring in the world and from the best man I’ll ever know. Obviously, I said yes.
In what month did you get married? March
How many guests attended your wedding? 175
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I am so bad with long term goals! We had a four and a half month engagement, but it felt like a lifetime to me! If it weren’t for our planner, Laura, I would have quit half-way through. By the end, there were multiple details that I simply deferred to Laura. Other than my short-sightedness, it was wonderful and smooth. I prayed a lot.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000 – $50,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? I really don’t feel like we splurged on anything! Every single thing was under budget when it came down to it. I tried SO hard to be realistic with all of the budgeting! The only thing I thought we splurged on was a live band. So many people go with a DJ because of the lower price, but it was so worth it! Every single person was on the dance floor by the end of the night. They were like pied pipers!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? So many great moments! My mom and I crying together when my pastor was praying before the ceremony, giggle-crying my way through our vows, our Footloose dance-off, the car ride home with us exclaiming, “Whoa!” and “That was awesome!” We had the time of our lives.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? So many people say to enjoy it, but really some people just don’t like planning weddings. That’s ok! There were so many aspects I enjoyed, but I am so glad I never have to do it again! My best advice is to keep sight of the reason for all of the decisions and hard-work! You are about to marry your best friend, the best man you know, and the person that will always love you and point you to Christ. It is the most exciting thing in the world! If everything fell apart and nothing went right, at the end of the day, Marcus would be my husband and I would be his wife. That kept me going and kept me calm!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are currently packing our apartment up and taking off to Australia for the next six months so that I can attend culinary school in Perth. We can’t wait to make adventures together!

Ashton Events is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
16 Comments
  1. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    I love that bouquet and the lavender!!! The striped ribbon is SO fab. I love her dress and I love the decor hanging from the trees. What a sweet and personal wedding! I can’t believe they planned it in such a short period of time! Very impressive!

  2. avatar C. Lapham reply

    Love the photos – Proud Dad

  3. avatar C. Lapham reply

    David – Great settings and original looks.

  4. avatar DC Wedding Photographer reply

    AMAZING! Truly inspiring images!

  5. avatar Kelly reply

    GORGEOUS. I love love love the pie tin signs, the striped ribbon, his gingham shirt… I could eat this wedding up!

  6. avatar naomi reply

    This wedding is just adorable. I love the programs, and the centerpieces are just perfect! Not one detail was overlooked. So lovely!

  7. avatar wedding wednesday : 6.13.12 | beka stays reply

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  8. avatar Nashville Wedding Invitation | Jam + Toast Wedding Inspiration reply

    […] Chic Barn Wedding, Nashville Welcome Bag, Chalkboard sign, Nashville Wedding Invitation by Jam + Toast, DIY Record […]

  9. avatar Featured on Southern Weddings: Jillian & Marcus reply

    […] just plain tickled to be able to share our news with you: Jillian & Marcus’ wedding is featured on Southern Weddings today! As much fun as we had styling their engagement shoot- their wedding was one of our all-time […]

  10. avatar Inspire. Palette #129: Lovely Dots | Anastasia Marie reply

    […] sweet on these floating flowers (image source unknown); this bouquet via Southern Weddings, photo by Dave Lapham; this sorbet via Country Living; these hanging frocks via Flickr: […]

  11. avatar Inspiration Board: Copper & Ostrich Egg reply

    […] napkin {Skinny laMinx}; copper wrapped boutonniere {Wedding Artists Collective/Gloria Wong Design}; hanging copper tins {Dave Lapham/Laura Helm at Ashton Events}; cake on copper cake stand {A Fabulous Fete on […]

  12. avatar Krystal reply

    This is BEAUTIFUL!!! I would love to get a hold of J&M Ranch (where the venue is, right?) but I can’t find any contact info! Do you have any? Planning a country wedding for next November :) Thanks!

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Hi Krystal! Congratulations on your engagement! :) I couldn’t find the venue’s contact information either, so I emailed Laura from Ashton Events to see if she has it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find it soon and get back to you!

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Hi again! Laura just let me know that J&M Ranch is privately owned and no longer rents to the public. If you’re looking for some other great ranches in Central FL though, Laura said she’d be happy to recommend some! You can email her at [email protected] Hope this helps! :)

    • avatar Krystal reply

      Lisa: Thanks so much! I will E-mail her :)

  13. avatar Chic Barn By Ashton Events And Dave Lapham Wedding | Wedding Idea Spot reply

    […] Wedding Idea was found by: Anne415 Wedding Idea From: http://iloveswmag.com/2012/06/12/chic-barn-wedding-by-ashton-events-and-dave-lapham/ Photography: Dave […]

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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.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
32 Comments
  1. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    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!

  2. avatar Stephanie @ Our Marriage Adventure reply

    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.

  3. avatar Cheryl Cannington reply

    Love it! The bride’s belt is so pretty. Love the door with the sign “No Turning Back”!

  4. avatar Abby reply

    Love the corn hole lawn game boards! Is there any way to find out if they made these or purchased them somewhere???

    • avatar Melanie reply

      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

    • avatar Melanie reply

      Thank you for the compliments everyone! We enjoyed our day!

    • avatar Heather Flint reply

      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!

  5. avatar Melissa Vause reply

    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!

  6. avatar Lorri Adair reply

    What an awesome wedding! I love all the details!

  7. avatar Friday Favorites: 06/01/12 | | Brazos Valley Bride reply

    […] 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/ […]

  8. avatar Heather Gardner reply

    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.

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  10. avatar Rebecca reply

    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!

    • avatar Melanie reply

      Rebecca: Yes we did make the chair signs! A last min. craft decision :-)

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  18. avatar Ashley reply

    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.

    • avatar Melanie reply

      Ashley: I used plain ol’ chalk on the chalkboard windows, and a white paintpen on the silver trey menus.

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  24. avatar Brenda Harris reply

    I love the “tree” sticker on your silverware bags. Would you mind sharing where you got those?

  25. avatar Lauren reply

    Where did you find your boots?? Those are amazing!

  26. avatar Go Out With A Bang |Wedding Exit Ideas » Lace and Loyalty reply

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  27. avatar Carlie Stump reply

    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]

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