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After reading hundreds of real wedding interviews as an editor here at Southern Weddings, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my own wedding day would feel like. But, from the moment I woke up on May 2, 2015, all of my expectations were blown out of the water in the sweetest, best way. The entire day felt like a dream–not because every detail turned out perfectly or every second of our timeline was followed to a tee (neither was the case!), but because after a journey that spanned five years, three states, and two countries, I got to marry my best friend in the world, surrounded by the people I love more than anything. I was so honored and humbled to share my and Dave’s wedding day with y’all in V8, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading a little bit more about the heart behind our inspiration and the details we included below!

I am forever grateful to Ryan Ray for capturing our day so beautifully on film. These images take me right back, and I can think of no greater gift than that!

I was SO nervous about dress shopping—I love bridal fashion, and knew I wanted a dress that I had never seen before (easier said than done for this wedding magazine editor!). I only had one weekend to shop with my mom and sisters, so we scheduled four appointments in Houston, the first being at Joan Pillow, where they were having a trunk show for my favorite designer, Monique Lhuillier. My dress ended up being the second one I tried on, and while I loved it right away, I still wanted to see what else was out there. I went to two other appointments and tried on lots of beautiful options, but ended up comparing every other dress to the Monique Lhuillier. By the time we went back to Joan Pillow the next day, I could hardly wait to get into my dress (technically, a top and skirt combo!), and when I had it on, it just made me happy. I loved the combination of lace and tulle, and the alternating raw and horsehair-edged tiers on the skirt were so unique and special. I now can’t picture our wedding without it, and it was one of my very favorite details of the day!

One of the best decisions I made for the wedding was asking Kelly Perry of Philosophy Flowers to create the bouquets, boutonnieres, and ceremony flowers. She was a dream to work with, and the arrangements she created were perfect. Pink peonies were the first flowers Dave ever gave me when we started dating, so they’re extra special to both of us, and I dreamed of including both peonies and dogwoods in my wedding flowers. When the dogwoods began to bloom a month early, I was heartbroken that they wouldn’t make it to May. Kelly told me not to worry, and I still have no idea how she did it, but sure enough, she made it happen in a bigger way than I had ever imagined! She included so many gorgeous spring flowers, including peonies and dogwoods, in all of the bouquets, and every time I smell my favorite peonies now, it brings me back to that day.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something new was my dress, and my something old was a beautiful embroidered handkerchief that had belonged to Dave’s grandmother. My something blue was my favorite! On her way to the wedding from Austin, my sister picked a few blue bonnets, and snuck them up to North Carolina in a water bottle. I tucked them into the back of my bouquet, and they made me so happy! It was really sweet to have a little piece of my home state with me all day, especially since we weren’t getting married in Texas.

What did the groom and groomsmen wear? Our number one priority for the gents was great fit. Dave chose a navy blue suit from J. Crew, and his groomsmen wore similar navy J. Crew pants that were a bit less expensive. Our dads wore navy suits from J. Crew Factory, so we technically had three slightly different J. Crew navies on the guys, but you could hardly tell, and it was great to ask everyone to pay a price they were comfortable with. As his gift to them, Dave bought all of the guys white shirts from Brooks Brothers and had the cuffs monogrammed in navy thread. They all looked so handsome, and we got multiple comments from the guys about how much they loved their outfits!
Did you include any Southern traditions in your wedding? Dave buried a bottle of bourbon at our first look location a month before the wedding, and then dug it up the morning of the wedding with his groomsmen—we credit this, plus lots of prayer, for our beautiful weather!

Did you do a first look? We did—we are admittedly both criers, and thought seeing each other before the ceremony would help us hold it together during my walk down the aisle! Even though we did a first look, we chose not to do any family or bridal party portraits during that time. It was an intimate time for just for the two of us to pray, rejoice, and thank God for the blessing of that day.

We had a traditional Catholic Mass ceremony, and it was perfect for us in every way. We spent a lot of time during our engagement praying about and preparing our ceremony so that it would truly reflect how important our faith is to us and how deeply we value the sacrament of marriage. Having our priest, Father Edward Wolanski, marry us was a huge blessing—he knows us and our story well, and did the most incredible job expressing the beauty of sacramental marriage throughout the ceremony. We were so honored that the reverence of our ceremony was the number one thing our guests commented on—God is the most important part of our lives and our marriage, and we are so happy our guests were able to recognize that on our wedding day.

We like to joke that Dave is a country boy from New York and I’m a city girl from Texas. Balancing urban and rustic is something we find ourselves doing in our day-to-day lives, and choosing just one aesthetic for our wedding didn’t seem like it would reflect us accurately enough. I love that we gave our guests a taste of downtown Raleigh through our ceremony—the church is right in the heart of the city, a block away from the state capitol. The tailored, elegant styling at our reception carried that feel throughout the day, but the reception setting provided plenty of Southern pastoral loveliness, from the gardens around Fearrington, to the barn venue, to the black and white Belted Galloway cows grazing in a field just a few yards from the party!

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? Our guests gathered in the courtyard outside of the barn before the reception, and enjoyed our two passed hors d’oeurves (a mini BLT and a potato fritter with truffle crème fraiche), our two signature cocktails (a cucumber gin and tonic and a spiked sweet tea and lemonade), and a display of local cheeses (the one thing my Wisconsin-born and bred dad insisted on!). We also served wine and a selection of four beers, including three that were brewed in North Carolina. In the meantime, Dave and I had some champagne with our bridal party and families in the Fearrington Garden House, took family and bridal party pictures, took portraits of the two of us, and then relaxed alone together. We loved how much time we got alone together on our wedding day to soak in the moments—both during our car ride from the ceremony to the reception, and at the end of cocktail hour!

I had always wanted to be married in the spring—I think it’s the most romantic season, and all my favorite flowers are in bloom! We chose May 2 because it was the Saturday before a Catholic feast day that is meaningful to us. Choosing which state to get married in was one of our hardest decisions, since I’m from Virginia and my family lives in Texas, and Dave is from New York. We settled on our new state of North Carolina because we wanted to be married by our priest and at our parish, Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. It’s so beautiful and intimate, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t picture our future wedding the first time we set foot inside together while we were dating. We chose Fearrington for our reception because I wanted an indoor venue that was surrounded by beautiful outdoor space for portraits. There are lots of fantastic indoor venues in the Triangle, but Fearrington was the only place that checked off both of my must-haves. The vibe there is also a lovely combination of European and Southern, which nodded to both the place where we met and the place we now call home!

Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: We splurged on beautiful white draping and twinkle lights on the ceiling to make the room feel a little bit magical. Our long guest tables were covered in white linens with gray and white ticking stripe runners, handmade by my mom. Running down the tables were alternating gray and white taper candles in mismatched silver candlesticks we had collected, and silver julep cup-sized floral arrangements in pale blushes and whites with greenery that trailed onto the tables. At each place setting was a gray napkin and a crisp white menu that featured our new married monogram. Dave and I sat at a sweetheart table covered in a sparkly white linen, in white chiavari chairs decorated with garlands. Our black and white checkered dance floor was one detail my mom insisted on, and we’re so glad she did—it made the room! Our cake was displayed on a round table covered with a white, sparkly linen, and placed on a silver cake stand. We also had a dessert display that featured four of our favorite treats, arranged on all different white cake stands. Finally, we had a table for our family photo display, where we included wedding pictures of our parents, grandparents, and Dave’s siblings. That table also held our “guest book” cards—postcards from Texas (my home state), New York (Dave’s home state), and North Carolina (where our wedding was held), where our guests could write their prayers, wishes, and advice for our marriage.

Our reception was so much fun! I really wanted to dance a LOT, and am so glad that that’s exactly what I did. Dave and I started the reception with our first dance as soon as we entered. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, listened to sweet toasts from my sisters and Dave’s best man, and cut into our delicious cake. Then, my dad and I did our father-daughter dance to “Little Miss Magic” by Jimmy Buffett—he raised my siblings and me on Jimmy Buffett music, and I couldn’t imagine having our dance to anything else. He sang the whole thing in my ear, and kept me posted when my mom and sisters started bawling! Next up, Dave and his mom danced to “Say a Little Prayer for You,” which transitioned into a polka to open the dance floor! Wedding polkas are a Kirk family tradition, and since both of our families share Polish heritage, it got everyone out there! I stayed on the dance floor for most of the night, breaking only to show my Grandma her and my Grandpa’s wedding picture in our family photo display, and to sneak a few bites of our wedding cake!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. The first time Dave and I saw each other was in January 2010 while studying abroad from Franciscan University in the Sound of Music-esque little town of Gaming, Austria. Dave had already spent the fall semester there, and was an RA for the spring, so my very first memory of Dave was that he was the handsome RA. I was a little bit excited when I was assigned to his small group to learn about things like which Austrian cleaning material was which! We officially met about a month or so later, in the cafeteria. He sat down next to me at dinner with some mutual friends, and after asking me where I was from, we found out that one of my high school friends (side note: I went to high school in Qatar) was one of his best friends. A few weeks later, we connected immediately while in Italy with a bunch of friends, and were inseparable for the rest of the semester. We made some amazing memories in Europe as friends over the next few months, but after the semester ended, I transferred schools and we didn’t keep in touch. We never stopped thinking about each other though, and three years (and a lot of growing up) later, we reconnected at the perfect time in both of our lives. We knew within a week of talking again that this was it, and Dave proposed ten months later!
Tell us about the proposal! Dave flew to North Carolina to celebrate with me at my very first Southern Weddings launch party. A few hours into the party, while I was mingling and chatting with guests, Dave told me he had a letter from my mom that she wanted me to read in private. I reluctantly agreed to go with him “in just ten more minutes,” while unbeknownst to me at the time, the rest of the SW gals were trying to cut off all my conversations! Finally, I agreed to follow Dave out of the ballroom and down the hall of The Carolina Inn to the Sun Room, where he claimed his coat was being kept. There, he gave me a letter and I sat down on the couch to read it. The first line was the answer to a promise I had made my mom when I was 7, telling her I’d never agree to a proposal without calling her and asking if it was okay first! Dave had me stand, told me the sweetest things, and then got on one knee and asked me to marry him. After a few minutes of relishing in the joy of the moment, I asked Dave what to do now—should we call our parents? Go back to the party? Should I hide the ring? He told me to “leave it on and see who notices,” which I thought was strange, but I went with it. As soon as we stepped back into the ballroom, Lara grabbed the mic to announce our engagement, and confetti filled the air. Dave pulled me onto the dance floor for a dance to our song, played by the live bluegrass band, and then we spent the rest of the night Facetiming family and friends from the hallway. It was a magical day!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Joyful, sacred, and sweet
How many guests attended your wedding? 130
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We walked back up the aisle to the Wedding March, which my parents had also used at their wedding. I wasn’t even considering it at first, but knew we had to use it when our music director played it during our meeting and I burst into tears picturing that moment! Hearing it on the organ as we exited the church, mixing with the bells chiming outside, was completely surreal.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Lisa: While our first look, walking down the aisle, and saying our vows were all incredible, memorable moments, the one that stands out the most for both of us is one we hadn’t planned or anticipated. After the last song of the night, our DJ sent all of our guests outside to get ready for our sparkler exit. I was standing at the edge of the dance floor alone, trying to take in everything just one more time, when our DJ began to play “La Vie en Rose” over the speakers. Before I knew what was happening, my new husband pulled me onto the dance floor and held me close while we had one more dance. We held each other and cried grateful tears and said “We’re so lucky” over and over again. We’ve played that song just a few times since that day and danced in our apartment, and every time, when I close my eyes, I’m right back there in that perfect moment. Dave: Our last dance. Everyone was lining up for the sparkler exit outside, and the DJ unexpectedly played one last song, “La Vie en Rose.” Lisa and I just held each other and soaked in every last second of what was the most incredible day of our lives.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. Our first dance song was a given to us: “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. We bonded over our love for the song early in our dating days, and it has seemed to follow us everywhere! We’ve danced to it at a honky-tonk in Austin, an Irish pub in Syracuse, behind the trees at an outdoor bluegrass show in North Carolina, and now, at our wedding. That said, we barely practiced for our first dance, and never got around to scheduling the dance lessons we had wanted to take. Our first dance was far from the most impressive ever, but it was really sweet to us and we just had fun with it :)
Did you toss the garter or bouquet? Neither of us is a fan of garter tosses, so we skipped that tradition, but I did toss my bouquet! I think that moment has such a sweet “rite of passage” feel, and I definitely didn’t want to miss out on it. The DJ played “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble, and my little sister caught the bouquet—can’t say my dad was super thrilled about that ;)
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? We are both passionate about the Catholic teachings on marriage and the theology of the body, so preparing for marriage was very spiritually focused for both of us. Along with an engagement retreat and meetings with our priest, we also read a number of books, including Love and Responsibility, The Theology of the Body for Beginners, Heaven’s Song, and Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Our reception venue handled the coordination, catering, cake, lighting, and reception flowers, and while such an all-inclusive place is a wonderful option for many brides, I would have preferred to choose more of my own vendors.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Give yourself a deadline for all of your wedding tasks to be done, and once that day comes, hand everything off to someone else or let it go. I was so stressed out in the month leading up to the wedding, so the week before, I decided I would do two more little tasks, but that was it. I even told my coordinator that if anything came up, she should talk to my mom to have it taken care of instead of me. Worked like a charm! As soon as I did that, I felt like the burden was lifted off of my shoulders, and I got to truly enjoy the week leading up to our wedding.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are settled into our apartment outside of Raleigh, and are loving every single second of being newlyweds. Living together and sharing every aspect of life is such a joy! We are looking forward to lots of travel, both to explore new places and to visit our families on opposite sides of the country, and we are excited to someday have a big family!

Photographer: Ryan Ray | Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films | Ceremony Venue: Sacred Heart Cathedral | Reception Venue, Reception Florals, Coordination, Catering, Cake Baker, and Lighting: Fearrington Village | Personal and Ceremony Florals: Philosophy Flowers | Bride’s Gown: Monique Lhuillier | Bridal Salon and Veil: Joan Pillow Houston | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN | Bride’s Bracelet: Kendra Scott | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Annabelle” in Mist Gray by Jenny Yoo for BHLDN | Mother of the Bride’s Dress: Watters | Mother of the Groom’s Dress: Adrianna Papell | Hair and Makeup: Lula Hair and Makeup | Groom’s Suit, Groomsmen’s Pants, and Flower Girl Dress: J. Crew | Men’s Shirts: Brooks Brothers | Invitation Suite Design and Menus: Paper Daisies Stationery | Invitation Suite Calligraphy, Escort Cards, and Bar Menu: MM Ink Studio | Watercolor Map, Programs, and Other Reception Signage: Morgan Moore | Dance Floor and Sweetheart Table Chairs: Party Reflections Raleigh | Sweetheart, Cake, and Guest Book Table Linens: La Tavola Linens | Transportation: Walter Harris | DJ: Mark McNally of Joe Bunn DJ Company

Inkspot Crow Films, Lula Hair and Makeup, and Joe Bunn DJ Company are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Our Wedding Morning – Something Pretty reply

    […] That story is coming on Tuesday…but if you want a sneak peek, check out our feature on the Southern Weddings blog this morning, and our video post which will be live at 10:30 EST! […]

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Magical and beautiful – all of it :)

  3. avatar Rhiannon reply

    The most beautiful wedding I ever did see :)

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Xoxoxo! The smell of the perfume you so sweetly gifted me takes me right back to it :)

  4. avatar Four years of marriage – Em for Marvelous – reply

    […] This year, I wanted to share some advice from the priest who officiated Lisa and Dave’s wedding. […]

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As I read through Emily and Matthew’s interview, “relationships” was the word that kept coming to my mind. Along with making sure their wedding was a great opportunity for their loved ones to connect (“there were plenty of places for the guests to dance, eat, or catch up with friends and family, whether that was on the dance floor, in the barn, in rocking chairs by the outdoor fireplace, or while playing cornhole in the grass”), Emily and Matthew also carved out time during the day for just the two of them. Their first look and private dinner, both right by the river, look like such special moments that I know they’ll cherish forever!

Thanks so much to Clark Brewer and Invision Events for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Laura McCarty did an AMAZING job on all of the florals. The inspiration for my bouquet was white-toned garden flowers, including white cloud, majolica roses, peonies, Juliet roses, and pops of blush peonies and dahlias. We also loved the greenery she used around the chandelier in the barn and on the wedding party table.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! We wanted to do a first look for two reasons. One, it was more practical to see each other before the ceremony so we could get the majority of our pictures taken. We wanted to enjoy the reception and time with our family and friends without having to worry about formal photos right after the ceremony. Second, Matt and I wanted to have as many shared memories of the day as we could. Getting to do a first look allowed us to spend some sweet time together before the ceremony, and since we did it down by the river with just Clark and Chris (the photographers), we got to get away from the hustle and bustle of venue prep for a few quiet moments.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we went with the classic vows. Matt’s co-best man and one of our dear friends, Alex, performed our ceremony, and he did a fantastic job. For the message, Alex focused on the story of Hosea, which is one of our favorite images of the Lord’s love for us. We knew we wanted that to be the main focus of the ceremony.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Most of the readings came from the biblical book of Hosea, but we also included Isaiah 43:4–7, Romans 3:10-18, Romans 5:6-11, and a few others in the ceremony.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Clark Brewer did a fantastic job photographing the day. Two of our favorite parts of the day were our first look and the private dinner we enjoyed down by the river. Clark documented both of those occasions so well, and they truly captured how beautiful the entire day was!

Picking the venue wasn’t as hard as picking the city. Matt and I went through many destination options before settling on my hometown of Birmingham. Once we knew we wanted to have it in Alabama, I was immediately drawn to Swann Lake Stables. It had the look and feel of being somewhere in the East Tennessee mountains (one of the destinations we considered), and we knew that in late October, it would be beautiful. It was laid-back, comfortable and naturally gorgeous, which was what we were going for in terms of style.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food was deliciously Southern. Shindigs did a fantastic job serving up delicious dishes including everything from miniature quail and waffles, to shrimp and grits, to cornmeal-crusted okra. Everything about our venue also made the wedding quintessentially Southern. We enjoyed that there were plenty of places for the guests to dance, eat, or catch up with friends and family, whether that was on the dance floor, in the barn, in rocking chairs by the outdoor fireplace, or while playing cornhole in the grass.

When we first started the wedding planning process, I knew I wanted to have a “naked” cake. I don’t care much for heavy icing, and I like the rustic look of naked cakes. Kim did an awesome job turning that inspiration into a reality, and since it was simple and clean, Laura was able to add some flowers to make it a focal point of the reception.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Matt and I met in Austin in 2011. I had just graduated from college and moved to Austin, barely knowing anyone. A few weeks after I moved there, I ran into a guy I had gone to college with, who invited me to his bible study–that’s where I first met Matt. We were casual friends for a year or two, but as we got to know each other better through Friendsgivings, birthday parties, church activities, weekend trips, and TV nights, we developed (major) secret crushes. It took a night of karaoke and dancing out with friends in early 2014 for us to finally realize the major crushing was mutual. Timing was not on our side (Matt was moving to Dallas for a job at the end of the summer), but we decided to take a chance on our friendship and start dating anyway. It worked out in our favor!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was the Saturday before Easter 2015. Matt was living in Dallas and I was living in Austin. He was coming down for the weekend, and our plan was to go to the Texas Capitol building on Saturday morning for a tour and then meet up with his parents afterward for lunch. This wasn’t an unusual weekend plan because I was planning on moving to Dallas sometime in the coming months, and visiting the Capitol was on our Austin bucket list. His parents being in town wasn’t unusual either because they had come to spend Easter with his grandparents, who lived close by. Matt was able to hook us up with a private tour with Rod, the Sergeant-at-Arms for the House, through a mutual friend. Rod showed us around the Capitol, and as we were wrapping up, he asked if we wanted to make the trek up to the dome, where other tourists didn’t have access. Matt and I weighed whether we should do it or not since we were running late for our lunch, but Rod convinced us to make the climb, since this was a one-time chance sort of thing. When we got to the tip top of the dome, we were able to exit outside onto a small wraparound patio. When Rod said he had to “take a call” and stepped back in, I knew something was up. A few seconds later, Matt grabbed my hand, said my name, and I knew this was it! He got down on one knee and proposed right there. Rod was in on the whole thing, so after his “call,” he came back out and took a few pictures for us. Afterward, we did in fact meet up with Matt’s parents for lunch, but both of our families were there to celebrate with us, as well!
When did y’all get married? October 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 165
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The week after we got engaged, I was visiting one of my bridesmaids in New York City, so we decided to do a brief shopping trip. It was unsuccessful, but I was able to get my feet wet and start to feel more like a bride. A few weeks later, I planned a dress shopping trip with three of my close girlfriends in Austin. I tried on probably 10-15 dresses and honestly loved most of them. We eventually narrowed it down to two favorites and took pictures to share with my mom and sister, since they lived too far to see them in person. My mom, my sister, and my dad all picked the same dress as their favorite, so I went with that one! It was exactly the dress I had had in mind: simple, classic, and not too glam for an outdoor wedding.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail was the wedding party table. It was forty feet of farm table that sat our closest friends. It was a joyful picture to see everyone from every phase of our lives in one place!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We went through premarital counseling with a couple at our church. It was important to us to learn from people who had gone through this season and could guide us through conversation and conflict in preparation for marriage.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We didn’t have to hire an officiant or ceremony musicians since we had our friends play those parts!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Enjoying dinner by the river immediately after the ceremony was a sweet and memorable moment. Having a few minutes alone to relax, eat good food, and revel in our new marriage was a special time for us.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Knock all of the big stuff out first! We jumped into wedding planning the week after we got engaged, and that allowed us to book most of our vendors in the first month of our engagement. The last two to three months before the wedding, we were able to take our time preparing for our marriage, not just finishing up last minute wedding details.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Matt and I reside in Dallas, where he’s an attorney and I’m working for a healthcare startup. The big challenge we’re tackling as a couple right now is keeping our new fiddle leaf fig tree alive.

Photographer: Clark Brewer | Planner: Invision Events | Venue: Swann Lake Stables | Florist: Laura McCarty | Cake Baker: Kimberly Wiggins | Caterer: Shindigs | Rentals and Lighting: Event Rentals Unlimited | Band: The Neons | Special Details: Prophouse | Paper Products: Katie Roden | Bride’s Gown: “Cassidy” by Amy Kuschel | Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott | Hair Stylist: Joanna Ballentine | Makeup Artist: Molly Stilley | Bride’s Shoes: Tory Burch | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nouvelle Amsale | Groom’s Attire: Sid Mashburn | Ice Cream Sandwich Cart: Big Spoon Creamery

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    Y’all know we absolutely love when couples incorporate meaningful details into their celebrations. We also love when those details are deeply rooted in Southern culture! Jen and Alan’s beautiful day wasn’t lacking of either, from the big oak tress adorned with heaps of Spanish moss, to one of Jen’s favorites, the magnolia garland. Jen and Alan even served boiled peanuts at their cocktail hour as a nod to a road trip when Jen had introduced Alan to the yumminess of this roadside treat! What could easily be passed over as just another fun detail to check off the list became something truly special. That’s what wedding details should be all about–taking the small things that hold meaning to you as a couple, and sharing them with the ones you love. Who knew something as simple as peanuts could become so memorable?

    We’re so thankful to Blue Ribbon Vendor Michelle March for sharing this pretty day!

    P.S. Fun fact: Michelle also shot my darling EK’s newborn session!

    Our ceremony and reception were at the same venue, Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota, Florida. In spite of our 100+ guest list, we wanted an intimate outdoor wedding and a reception under a canopy of trees and lights. Although this venue typically rents out the gorgeous historic mansion located on the property, I happened to walk by a secluded, shaded area under a large oak tree adorned with heaps of Spanish moss. It was love at first sight. Unfortunately, the park’s event coordinator informed us that the spot I had fallen in love with was not part of the area available for events. We waited patiently and found out a few weeks later that for an extra fee, we would be able to incorporate this beautiful space into our ceremony. She mentioned that it might need some cleaning up because it was completely wild, overgrown, and natural but those were the exact qualities that initially drew me to the area!

    Describe your wedding flowers. I had my heart set on a cascading bouquet with greenery spilling out of it. Choosing our flowers was probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of wedding planning for me. Mary was so generous with her time, sitting down and really listening to what I envisioned for our wedding. Our bridal bouquets consisted of tulips, ranunculus, roses, carnations, seeded eucalyptus, ivy, and sword fern. Our wedding flowers also included a whole lot of greenery and garlands. I’m a huge sucker for magnolia, which was at the top of my “want” list, but we simply couldn’t afford it. On our wedding day, Mary surprised us with a magnolia garland, which were hung throughout the ceremony and reception. I was absolutely stunned! It was the sweetest gesture and I can never thank her enough.

    Alan’s most memorable moment about our wedding day was when he saw me walking towards him with my dad. He says he couldn’t take his eyes off me or stop smiling. Since he didn’t want to do a first look, Alan says this was one of the most special moments of the day to him! The recessional was also one of my most memorable moments from our wedding day. Turning around to see all of the smiling (and some crying) faces of our guests just made me feel so special and grateful to be entering our marriage with the support of an amazing community of family and friends, near and far.

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Throughout the engagement (and let’s be honest, we could probably go back a few months before the proposal), I found myself inspired by soft, flowing fabric and light hints of texture. I knew that the vision I had for my dress did not fit the mold of your traditional/classic wedding dress, so the thought of walking into multiple bridal salons seemed incredibly intimidating at the time. Luckily for me, I found my wedding dress buried in the clearance of all clearance sections at Macy’s. Can you believe it?! Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a simple, nude, floor-length gown poking out amidst the rows of disheveled hangers, and decided to try it on. It couldn’t hurt, right? I honestly didn’t love my dress right away, at least not in its original form. Instead, I had a pretty clear vision of what the dress could look like for our wedding day, so I went with it. I worked with an amazingly talented seamstress who specializes in bridal wear. We met several times and discussed various fit and design modifications. She managed to transform my clearance Macy’s dress into a one-of-a-kind, straight-out-of-my imagination wedding dress!

    We included quite a few Southern details in our celebration, especially in the food we served. We loved the idea of barbecue and family-style dining, so we had several banquet tables pushed together to create long rows of tables for our guests. A few summers ago, Alan and I went on our first road trip together to Savannah, Georgia and Beaufort, South Carolina. On our way up there, we stopped at a boiled peanut stand, because he had never actually tried them before! We love making each other try new things, especially if it’s something we really love, and boiled peanuts are my favorite. Alan was pretty hesitant at first, but when I woke up from my nap, I noticed he had eaten the entire bag! Naturally, boiled peanuts (both regular and Cajun) made an appearance on our cocktail hour menu, served in small gold scalloped cups. I’m pretty sure I stole at least one cup before the introductions! We also served local honey from Pure Florida Apiary to go with the biscuits and jam for our cocktail hour. Our wedding favors were mini pies in various flavors, which we boxed individually the day before.

    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? While most people rent items like tablecloths and napkins for their reception, we decided to purchase instead, because we were able to buy them at a lower cost than it was to rent them. Our napkins were actually tea towels from Ikea, so we now have a lifetime supply of tea towels for our kitchen, our kids’ kitchens, and our grandkids’ kitchens! The table we used to display the wine and bread for communion, as well as our welcome table, are both mine from home. We tried our best to be creative and resourceful with the ways we cut costs at our wedding!

    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Lots of prayer, reading, and conversation about everything we could possibly anticipate. I don’t think anyone ever feels 100 percent prepared for marriage, and we realized that there are going to be circumstances that we won’t be able to plan for or anticipate. Our understanding of marriage is that we must always seek each other for support and accountability, and whether it is a time of growing or harvesting, lean on the Lord throughout all seasons of our life together.

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Alan and I met about five years ago when we both lived in Boston. We were introduced by one of my closest friends at her housewarming party. I was moving back home to Florida in just a couple months to start graduate school, so timing wasn’t quite on our side. We went on a few dates and kept in touch when I left, but neither of us wanted to admit our feelings for each other, especially since we now lived over a thousand miles away. Being brave with your feelings can be so scary! We didn’t see each other again until the following year when I spent a long weekend back in Boston. I remember feeling so nervous the night of a party because I knew Alan was going to be there. I changed outfits about a million times, and when I finally saw him, I couldn’t stop smiling. This night will always be close to my heart. We climbed through a window, sat on the roof, and just talked and laughed until we cried. I can remember that sweet and comforting awareness that I had finally met my person. I felt content in his presence and so full of gratitude to be right where I was.
    Tell us all about the proposal! It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just gotten off work from the hospital. Clearly, I had no idea a proposal was in store for me because when he arrived at my doorstep that evening, I welcomed him in all of my hospital-clad glory: scrubs and sneakers with my hair in a tangled mess. Little did I know, he had just spent the afternoon hanging out with my dad, asking for his blessing, and preparing for the night! Instead of letting me get my way (which would have meant a night in with take-out and a movie), he politely asked me to get ready and reasoned that this might be our only chance for a date night anytime soon, since at the time, we worked completely opposite schedules. Before I had a chance to turn towards my room, Alan grabbed both of my hands with the biggest smile on his face and… just stood there. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. What a weirdo.” After several seconds of seemingly innocent, but sort of creepy, smiling and hand holding, my thoughts slowly caught on to what was going on and progressed to “No way. This must be a joke!” No one loves a good practical joke as much Alan does, so I couldn’t tell if this was one of them until he got down on one knee with the most beautiful ring I have ever seen in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I blurted out “yes” before he had a chance to finish proposing! We spent the evening celebrating with my parents at the same restaurant that catered our barbecue dinner for our wedding. It was perfect. I still can’t believe he chose me.
    When did y’all get married? February 20, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 150
    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Since some of our wedding details were nontraditional, we decided to stick to the traditional vows. It really calmed our nerves knowing that most people can’t mess up saying “I do!”
    What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? For our ceremony, a close friend, who was also my bible study leader in college, read a few lines from Ann Voskamp’s “The Bravest and Most Beautiful Love Affair.” When I first came across this passage a few years ago, I was completely captivated by her depiction of marriage as a covenant between two people and the Lord: “This is an epic, everyday love story, one written with years and skin and the rings. My grandmother lived with true courage, the kind that made a vow and had the bravery to let it age. How she said that the bravest love is wildly faithful and it falls hard again every morning. How it puts the toilet seat down and the cap on the toothpaste and winks for those already-won eyes. It knows what we may seek may be found in what we already have. And there can always be this–the allure of vows. It’s grace and fresh gratitude that can make us strong enough to marvel in the seeming monotony of anything. And the happily married have eyes that look long enough to make the familiar new. There’s this beautiful drama’s in a long faithfulness and aged love might be heroic. God knows the passion of a covenant.” Our officiant, whom I’ve known for a long time as well, also read from Ephesians 4. It’s such an all-encompassing reminder of how we should treat each other, especially as husband and wife.
    Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was two-tiered with a cookie butter-flavored base, a nutella-flavored top, and ivory buttercream ruffles all over. Since Alan typically prefers pie over cake, we also ordered several types of pies: blueberry goat cheese, caramel apple crumble, deep dish chocolate cookie, and bourbon pecan fudge ganache. We ordered our cake and pies from the Short Giraffe, a boutique bakery in Sarasota. We were very excited to share one of our local favorites with our family and friends, especially those who traveled to Florida.
    If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
    What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Well, right now, we are responding to this from our honeymoon in Paris! I received Michelle’s email sharing this amazing news the night before our flight, so I was just too excited and couldn’t wait to respond! We decided to take our honeymoon a couple of months after the wedding to give us some time to rest and save up. Of course, starting our own little family is also on the radar. Our prayer is that in His timing, we experience the joys of adoption in the not-so-distant future. This would be a dream (prayer) come true!

    Photographer: Michelle March Photography / Planner: Kelsey Peduzzi / Venue: Phillippi Estate Park / Florist: Flowers and Designs by Mary / Cake Baker: The Short Giraffe / Caterer: Sonny’s BBQ / Rentals: Rent All City / Lighting: Marcus Peduzzi / DJ: Fairy Tale Productions / Special Details: Shannon Kirsten / Paper Products: Charley Whiskey Lettering and Design / Bride’s Gown: Anne Klein / Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott / Bride’s Hair Accessory: Beads Brooches Bridal / Hair Stylist: Ali Severson / Makeup Artist: Makeup Artistry by Corinne / Bride’s Shoes: French Connection / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Camilyn Beth / Menswear: J.Crew and Target

    Michelle March is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

      What a sweet and thoughtful wedding, and bride! I loved all her sentiments and words on marriage. You can truly see her heart and it’s as sweet as honey!

    2. avatar Mary reply

      Love that sweet proposal story that they used Ikea tea towels as napkins. Beautiful celebration! I’ll be praying for their adoption journey!

    3. avatar Tied the knot: Jen + Alan at Phillippi Estate Park – Michelle March – Wedding Photography and Films – US and Destination – Michelle March – Wedding Photography and Films – US and Destination reply

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