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When I hear a bride say she wants a dress “big and dramatic enough for Scarlett O’Hara,” my ears instantly perk up! So of course, I was already excited to see this stunning wedding from Blue Ribbon Vendor (and personal friend of mine!), Desiree Dawn Events, and, y’all, it did not disappoint! Mary Grace and Jason incorporated meaningful traditions into their wedding to honor the past, while also celebrating their future. There was plenty of sweet Southern hospitality and lots of special details, including hosting their reception in the same ballroom at The Biltmore that held their law school orientation dinner seven years prior! Jason even had an armadillo-shaped groom’s cake in honor of their favorite movie, Steel Magnolias. So fun!

Big hugs to Flora + Fauna for capturing this beautiful day!

I wanted a dress that was big and dramatic enough for Scarlett O’Hara–something that was Southern chic, with lace, a statement back, and a classic bow. I started my search by browsing images of dresses online, and came across Sheridan by Hayley Paige. When a dress takes your breath away, like when you have your first kiss with your husband-to-be, it must be the one!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, even though I’m very superstitious! We wanted to be able to savor that first moment of seeing one another on our wedding day–just the two of us, without all of our guests watching–and having that instant reaction and tender moment documented. A first look is a unique experience for each couple, so the way we saw each other for the first time on the most important day of our lives only added to our love story.


The Biltmore Hotel is the most storied landmark in Florida, and it holds special meaning to both of us. During orientation, our law school held a dinner at the Biltmore’s Country Club Ballroom. That dinner was one of the first times Jason and I crossed paths. Our reception took place in the same ballroom seven years later!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The moment that stands out the most was our ride to and from the ceremony. Since our ride was a vintage car, the mirrors weren’t tinted, so everyone driving by could see us clearly through the glass. They tooted, waved, and hollered at us as they passed by, rolling down their windows to congratulate us. That moment, of seeing perfect strangers being joyful and genuinely excited for us on our day, has stayed fresh in our minds.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Goodness gracious! Where do I begin? I wanted to incorporate meaningful traditions with my family to honor the past while celebrating our future, so I did a first look with my daddy and presented him with his gift–an embroidered handkerchief that can be passed down for generations. We gave miniature bottles of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and mini jars of delicious Southern honey (for our youngest guests) as favors, which also doubled as escort cards. We served our signature drinks in mason jars with colorful striped straws that guests could take home. We had a family-style layout with long farmhouse tables and mismatched chairs, surrounded by round tables with lace overlays, which gave a sense of warmth and family. Our table names were common Southern sayings, which filled our wedding with nods to the South. To give our guests a taste of good ol’ fashion Southern hospitality, we served classic Southern staples during cocktail hour, including a whole hog that was served with mac and cheese and honey cornbread. And we couldn’t do without everyone’s favorite Southern tradition: the groom’s cake. Our groom’s cake was in the shape of an armadillo because we (and especially Jason) love Steel Magnolias. During cake cutting, we even gave ourselves the tail piece, just like what Ouiser served to Drum! At the end of the night, we were certain our guests felt truly hosted, and not just entertained, because through the details, our wedding was an outpouring of genuine love for our friends and family.

Our flowers were reminiscent of fall in the South, thanks to an overgrown/organic look with lots of greenery, purple and wine tones, burgundy, palest peach and blush, and pops of coral. We also incorporated blackberries into the bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces for that extra touch of Southern charm!

Check out their wedding film by Flora + Fauna here!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Jason and I started law school at the University of Miami at the same time. We lived around the corner from each other, but we didn’t meet until October. My roommates and I threw a Halloween party (we dressed up as characters from The Wizard of Oz and I was the Scarecrow). Jason came and noticed me in my costume, which was enough to light a spark!
Tell us all about the proposal! One sunny morning, Jason took me back to the UM campus. We walked by our law school and stopped at a fountain. He proposed there, and told me that was the spot where he had first seen me.
When did y’all get married? We were married on November 9, 2014, seven years from the day we went on our first date. Our Canes were on a bye week that weekend, so it was meant to be!
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Describe your wedding cake. The inspiration for our wedding cake was Southern elegance. The bottom tier was light gold with textured buttercream icing and the other tiers had smoother icing with some texture and were a similar shade of ivory to my dress. Our florist incorporated fresh flowers, red berries, and blackberries around the cake. The top tier of our cake was spice cake with apple cheesecake filling–perfectly appropriate for a fall wedding! The second tier was marble cake with chocolate Godiva filling, and the third was half chocolate and half vanilla cake with cappuccino filling. The bottom tier was Jason’s favorite: vanilla rum. We tried each flavor during our tasting, and they were all slices of heaven!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes, to all of the above! My something old was my pearl necklace, which Jason helped me pick out when we were dating. My something new was my pearl bracelet, a wedding gift from my parents. My something borrowed was my sister’s Tory Burch perfume, which was literally and figuratively near and dear to my heart! My something blue was a sparkling blue crystal on the sole of my shoes. To complete my look, The White Magnolia sent me a sixpence for my shoe.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? When you’re planning your wedding, YOGMO–you only get married once! If you’re on a budget, but there is something that tugs at your heartstrings, do it and figure out where you can save money in other places. After the cake is cut and the last guest leaves, you’ll look back on your day without any regrets.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We were so busy planning our wedding that we didn’t have time to plan our honeymoon! Waiting until after we said “I do” turned out for the best because we both had the post-wedding blues, and planning our honeymoon has filled that void. We’ll be glamping in Montana in a honeymoon tent at The Resort at Paws Up this September.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? A little rain became a downpour. We got wet, and so did our guests, but it didn’t put a damper on our day, and actually added a bit of romance to the air. So brides, have no fear of some rain, because there’s something about it that’ll make your day beyond magical!

Photographer and Videographer: Flora + Fauna / Planner: Desiree Dawn Events / Ceremony Venue: St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church / Reception Venue and Caterer: The Biltmore Hotel / Personal Flowers: Julia Rohde Designs / Reception Flowers: Petal Productions / Cake Baker: Elegant Temptations / Rentals: Hitched Event Rentals / Vintage Rentals and Table Runners: Unearthed Vintage / Lighting and Band: AAMusicians / Linens & Overlays: Petal Productions / Chargers: Tastebuds Catering / Cake Stand: BHLDN / Paper Products: Make Merry! / Bride’s Gown: “Sheridan” by Hayley Paige / Veil: Cynthia Kay from The White Magnolia / Jewelry: Tiffany & Co. / Hair and Makeup: Amy Palma of South Beach Makeup Studio / Bride’s Shoes: “Conrad” by Something Bleu / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Lacey” by Joanna August / Photo Booth: Sideshow Booth Co. / Late-Night Snacks: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar / Groom’s Cake Baker: Todo Dulces / Menswear: The Black Tux / Groom’s Bow Tie & Pocket Square: Everett K Handcrafted Ties & Bow Ties / Groomsmen’s Ties: The Tie Bar / Flower Girls’ Dresses: “43312” in Oatmeal by Seahorse / Choreographer: Luis Lopez of Arthur Murray Dance Center / Vintage Car: Florian’s Classics

Desiree Dawn Events and Make Merry! are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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My best friend and her husband celebrated their third anniversary on Tuesday, so I have been reminiscing about their Williamsburg wedding all week. One of my favorite memories from their wedding weekend is their rehearsal dinner at Kingsmill, so you can imagine my delight when I opened up these pictures from Courtney and Jared’s big day, at that same beautiful place! I love the sweeping Virginia scenery that framed their celebration, but I think my favorite thing about Courtney and Jared’s wedding is their use of monograms and their heart behind them. As Courtney said, “We love how a monogram serves as a unique representation of us as a couple.” Shouldn’t every wedding detail do just that?

Thank you so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Katelyn James, for sharing this joyful day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I love this sweet tradition! My something blue was my seersucker monogrammed garter. I had a lot of something news, including my dress, shoes, and jewelry. For my something old and borrowed, I incorporated all of my grandparents’ wedding rings into my bouquet. Unfortunately, all of my grandparents are no longer with us, and I thought that having their rings close to me when we said “I do” would be a great way to honor them and their long-lasting marriages.

We knew that we wanted to get married in Williamsburg since it’s where we met. We had played golf together at Kingsmill when we were in college, and once we toured the grounds again with a wedding-planning mindset, we knew that it was the perfect place for us!

Describe your wedding flowers. Flowers are one of my favorite parts of a wedding, so I knew I wanted to incorporate lots of flowers into our special day! Karen Roa of Aleen Floral Design was an absolute joy to work with–she is amazingly talented and brought all of my flower ideas to life! I love softer blooms like hydrangeas and peonies, so we tried to incorporate them as much as possible in arrangements. My favorite piece that Karen created was an ombré pink bed of hydrangeas that we used to display all of the escort cards.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to combine traditional vows with a personalized phrase at the end.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our officiant read an excerpt from “Union” by Robert Fulghum, and my sister read “I Carry Your Heart” by E.E. Cummings.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We love how a monogram serves as a unique representation of us as a couple, so we incorporated them in as many places as we could! Both of us grew up in Virginia and wanted to give our out-of-town guests a taste of the Old Dominion in their welcome bags. We included Virginia peanuts and Forbes’ saltwater taffy, made in my hometown of Virginia Beach.

We chose a traditional four-tiered wedding cake with our monogram displayed on the top layer. The cake was a vanilla cake soaked in Bailey’s with hazelnut buttercream and milk chocolate truffles between the layers. Soaking the cake made it super moist, and we were enjoying it for days after the wedding! I love the tradition of a groom’s cake, so I surprised Jared with one right after we cut our wedding cake–he loves Chipotle and the pastry chef at Kingsmill did an amazing job creating a red velvet “burrito” cake complete with chips and guacamole!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Hands down, our favorite part of the wedding was the fireworks show we surprised our guests with towards the end of the evening! Only five people knew about it leading up to the big day, and it was so much fun to have something unexpected for our guests.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in the fall of 2010 when we were both students at the College of William and Mary. We had both been roaming the halls of the business school for several years, but had never crossed paths until we were both chosen by a professor to participate in a special 10-person class that competed in a national tax competition at the end of the semester. We have been together ever since, and our professor and his wife attended the wedding!
Tell us all about the proposal! In the summer of 2012, Jared organized a long weekend getaway in Virginia wine country so we could celebrate his last few weeks of freedom before starting a full-time job. We love visiting this area together, and I was ecstatic to be spending a few nights at the beautiful Clifton Inn! After visiting a few wineries during the day and having an amazing dinner at the Boar’s Head Inn, we decided to go for a walk around Clifton’s property. I had just purchased a new camera, so I was eager to snap some pictures, so I handed Jared my black lens cap as we made our way onto the dock of the lake. After snapping a few pictures down on the water, I asked for my lens cap back, and instead, Jared placed a black velvet box in my hand! He clasped my hands and then proceeded to get down on one knee and ask me to marry him!
When did y’all get married? May 17, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 175
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? About six months before our wedding, we were informed that the LPGA was changing the date of its annual tournament at Kingsmill from its usual weekend to the weekend of our wedding. Hearing that tens of thousands of people would be roaming the property and the Golf Channel would be live broadcasting while we were saying “I do” was more than a little unnerving. After working closely with Kingsmill management, we took some extra precautions to ensure that our wedding ceremony wouldn’t be affected. The entire evening went off without a hitch!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mother is a talented calligrapher, so we were able to save costs on addressing all of our invitations and place cards ourselves.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? All of our vendors were truly great to work with throughout the entire planning process, but we were most eager to work with our photographer, Katelyn James! I instantly fell in love with her work and knew she would be perfect for our most special day. To top it off, Katelyn and her husband, Michael, are one of the sweetest, most genuine couples we have ever met. We couldn’t be happier with our wedding pictures and will cherish them for the rest of our lives.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Take the time to enjoy being engaged! We chose to have a long engagement so that we could have more time to plan and secure all of the vendors that we wanted. Even after almost two years of planning, I thought it all went by so quickly and I wish I could relive it all over again!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? A week after we returned from our honeymoon, we put an offer in to buy our first home, and shortly thereafter, we became homeowners! We are enjoying the process of making our first house a home and tackling DIY projects together.

Photographer: Katelyn James / Videographer: Jason Faulkner / Planner: Brittany Richardson / Venue, Catering, Rentals, Lighting, and Cake: Kingsmill Resort / Florist: Aleen Floral Design / Band: The Jangling Reinharts / Monogrammed Bouquet Ribbon: Oatmeal Lace Designs / Paper Products: William Arthur / Bride’s Gown: “LZ3018” by Lazaro / Bridal Salon: Hannelore’s of Olde Town / Bride’s Jewelry: Thomas Knoell / Hair Stylist: Chelsea Styles / Makeup Artist: Kristine Marie French / Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers, Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Heidi” by J.Crew / Men’s Attire: Vera Wang for Men’s Wearhouse / String Quartet: Fitz Pro Musicians / Fireworks: Virginia Skypainters

Katelyn James is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
8 Comments
  1. avatar Finley / Engagement Rings reply

    What a pretty color combination! Love this!

  2. avatar Loverly reply

    Those tablescapes are divine!

  3. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] Steve loved introducing their family and friends to Nolan’s romantic New Orleans hometown. Courtney and Jared incorporated meaningful monograms into their big […]

  4. avatar Leon Bailey reply

    Lovely wedding! Love the blue color that was used.

  5. avatar Find your seat: unique escort card ideas that will entertain and delight your wedding guests! – Wedding Party reply

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  6. avatar Wedding Colors Trends For 2017 Spring: Pink Yarrow Color Combos | Stylish Wedd Blog reply

    […] Photo Credits: Photo 1,3,5 via Heart Love Always/via Southern Weddings/ […]

  7. avatar Dahlia reply

    I am in dire need of a seersucker garter set! Where did you get it?

  8. avatar Party Decoration Theme with Unique and Glamorous Style – Hupehome reply

    […] Southern wedding chevron linens. Source : southernweddings.com […]

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Oh, New Orleans. If I had to pick one place in the South to attend a wedding in, it would be this romantic, historic city in Louisiana, and Nolan and Steve’s secret garden-esque wedding is only making that desire stronger! The New Orleans Botanical Garden was the perfect place for our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Elyse of Tying the Knot, to bring Nolan and Steve’s vintage, organically glamorous vision to life. Emily and I are headed to Bridal Market this week, and I must say, Nolan’s striking Claire Pettibone dress has me more excited than ever!

Thank you kindly to Ashleigh Jayne for sharing this lovely day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew I wanted something off-white or gold, and I wanted it to scream vintage and delicate. I had done a lot of research, so I knew Claire Pettibone was my best bet. As soon as I put my dress on, I knew it was the one. Luckily, Claire was visiting from California and she worked with me to ensure that the dress would fit my petite frame perfectly. Her meticulous attention to detail and that lace truly set the tone for the wedding. I see my dress as a piece of art. It is currently on a vintage form in our house so I can see it every day!

Describe your wedding flowers. Kim Starr Wise and her team added our pop of color. My florals included camellia foliage (my ode to the South), olive branches (to symbolize peace), peonies, ranunculus, dahlias, and green amaranthus. Kim also created this amazing garland that draped the large tree at our ceremony to create an ethereal effect. It was gorgeous!! She also created several organic wreaths that lined the aisle and were repurposed on the reception walls.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes! Steve and I have so many mutual friends and we are so close to each other’s families, so we wanted to get pictures out of the way so we could spend time with them. I was most looking forward to the cocktail hour because it was around a koi pond with string lights at dusk, and I didn’t want to miss that! It was so lovely to see each other prior to the ceremony.

Instead of writing our own vows, we are going to say vows at a personal ceremony on our first anniversary. I think a lot of growth occurs in the first year of marriage, and it is important to look back over the year and see how you can improve, communicate more effectively, and grow as an individual to better your marriage. One thing we changed in our ceremony was the wording at the end of our ceremony from, “You can now kiss the bride” to “You can now kiss the love of your life,” to make it less traditional and more about the union between the two of us.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? New Orleans is the perfect place to represent the South’s diverse culture and our delicious cuisine. The soundtrack of our souls fill the cobblestone streets and the old oaks covered in Spanish moss paint every background. The French aura, old architecture, and richness are the definition of romantic. My husband and I don’t plan on moving down South anytime soon, so I knew this was my one chance to show our friends and family where I come from. We wanted an ethereal, natural setting that complimented our vintage glam theme, and we could not have found a better venue than the New Orleans Botanical Gardens situated in the heart of City Park. We wanted it to feel like a secret garden wedding, where people could roam the gardens into the dark hours and enjoy the scenery beyond the wild dance floor. The Botanical Gardens were the perfect backdrop to our day of love.

I worked with an outstanding team of vendors, and of course, my wedding planner, Elyse, was our glue. My vision changed several times, but I always stuck to my core: it had to be vintage, feel organically glamorous, be in a garden, integrate the oaks, and have epic music. Like most things in my life, I wanted to create an imperfect medley of the old and the new. I randomly found Steve’s lion cufflinks at a flea market, ordered vintage stamps that illustrated the states we have lived in, wore my great grandmother’s ring as my “something blue,” and found wedding photos from the 1800’s to add rich history to our tables.

Our first dance was “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison, as it depicts the journey that marriage truly is. Music is life’s soundtrack, so we also made an album that our guests can listen to forever.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Over ten years ago, I dug up my firmly planted Southern roots and ventured out west to Colorado. In exchange for the hundred-year-old oaks, I was surrounded by rugged Rocky Mountains and narrow aspens that rained gold in autumn. Looking back on it now, I’d say giving up that sweet tea was worth it because I found the one soul that makes mine complete. Steve and I met during the first week of college, and it was not love at first sight. I was straight out of LA, “Lower Alabama,” and he was a too-cool-for-school Southern Californian. As a petite lil’ lady, I saw him and immediately jumped into his lap for a bear hug. Not. So. Fast. He had boundaries and I crossed them. It took many months for our friendship to blossom and we did not start dating until two years into college. I told him I’d marry him after the seven-year itch and we got married a month shy of our eight-year anniversary.
Tell us all about the proposal! We went to college together in Boulder, Colorado. We didn’t hike often, but when we did go, we always went on one particular trail. After college, we moved to San Diego and then relocated to Denver. One Saturday morning, Steve planned a hike to go on “our” mountain, and we packed a bottle of wine and cheese, remembering that it as a long, hard hike. It only took us 30 minutes! We were at the top of the mountain in no time, and I wasn’t about to start drinking at 10 A.M., so we each had our coconut water instead. He had me pour it into a dixie cup (which was odd) and then we said a toast. We toast with something we’re grateful for for every drink or meal, so this wasn’t unusual, but then he went pale. I asked him if he was okay and stepped away to look at the view of Boulder. Seconds later, he came up behind me and presented the ring. Of course, when he asked, I said yes!
When did y’all get married? April 12, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I had the bridal party walk down the aisle to Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” I think this song is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and it is also so meaningful–our entire wedding party consisted of mutual friends who have been with me and Steve since day one. I approached my soon-to-be husband to “Fools Rush In” with the irony that it took us eight years to tie the knot.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Cheryl at Bittersweet Confectioners made the most delicious and gorgeous cake a bride could ask for. I wanted a simple, textured, tiered cake so that when we added florals, they would pop! It was the best cake I’ve ever had!! I ate it for days following the wedding.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My biggest advice is to plan ahead and find help. So many decisions can get overwhelming and it’s great to have various perspectives. Take it day by day, and don’t get bogged down in the details. People appreciate details, but they don’t pay nearly as much attention to them as you do.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We bought a home! We are looking forward to some down time this winter, to cooking, to spending time together without the wedding planning stress, and to our honeymoon in Japan next fall.

Photographer: Ashleigh Jayne / Videographer: Bride Film and Street Car Films / Planner: Elyse Skansi of Tying the Knot / Venue and Catering: New Orleans Botanical Gardens / Florist: Kim Starr Wise / Cake Baker: Bittersweet Confections / Rentals and Lighting: Event Rentals / DJ: Larry DeWitt Music Source / Ceremony Music: Harry @ New Orleans Classical and Jazz / Paper Products: Paper Source / Bride’s Gown: “Eloquence” by Claire Pettibone / Bridal Salon: Little White Dress / Bride’s Jewelry: Nordstrom / Hair and Makeup: Kiss and Makeup / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Transportation: Alert Transportation

Tying the Knots is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    What a stunning gown!! I love it paired with the bridesmaid dresses!

  2. avatar Dana reply

    the back of her dress is so gorgeous! so are the flowers!

  3. avatar Robyn Van Dyke reply

    Oh that DRESS!!! *swoon*

  4. avatar Valerie reply

    Wow, simply gorgeous! Her gown is incredible.

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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