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It’s always so much fun to see sweet people in the wedding industry tie the knot! Kara (of Kara Anne Paper) knew from the day that she and William carved their initials into a tree at her father’s lake house that they’d be married there someday. Sure enough, it proved the perfect place to become husband and wife nine years later. Family is clearly so important to this couple, and I love the way they went back to their roots and the very beginning of their love story for their Alabama wedding!

We’re so glad Kara’s friend Kim Box Photography was on hand to capture every special moment of this day!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met at a pool party at my father’s home in Pike Road, Alabama. It was the summer of William’s senior year and my junior year of high school, and it was love at first sight. We carved our initials into a tree that overlooks the pond, where we would stand nine years later to exchange vows. After high school, we continued to see each other throughout college and over many miles. With William off to school on the West Coast and me staying in-state, we agreed we never wanted to be apart from each other again, and decided to make Alabama our home.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreamed of having a simple, beautiful, backyard wedding at the home where I grew up swimming, fishing, and riding horses. William and I met at a pool party there one summer and the rest was history. When we carved our initials into one of the trees right in front of the dock that overlooks the pond, I knew that it would be the place where we would one day exchange our vows.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? From the beginning of the planning process, I knew I wanted to stay true to our Southern roots! We had a backyard ceremony in front of the pond and dock, with our horses grazing in the background. A white fence lines the property of the Southern-style home, and we had ferns hanging on the front porch. It doesn’t get any more Southern than that!

I loved working with our florist, Crystal Strickland of Southern Posies. After lots of inspiration boards and late night emails, Crystal made my vision come to life! We had soft, whimsical arrangements filled with lush greenery, white and pale blush and coral flowers, and a hint of bright pink in my bouquet and at the reception. One of my favorite things she created were the beautiful ferns that hung on the fence post around the pool area and on the front porch. We also placed ferns all around the island of the pond.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Kara: My most memorable moment was when William recited his vows. The love and emotion was so powerful and evident that everyone was in tears! It was truly the most special moment I’ve ever experienced. From William: My most memorable moment was seeing Kara at our first look. I was so careful not to see any pictures of her in her gown or even the gown itself, so I was truly surprised, and her beauty was amazing.

We were so pleased with our wedding vendors! Being in the wedding business, I have formed many great relationships with others in the business. I was fortunate to get to work with my good friends! It was so special to have Kim Box Photography, the 1717 Wedding Cinema team and the girls from Southern Posies with us on our wedding day. Hiring people I trusted and who shared my vision allowed William and I to sit back, relax, and just enjoy our wedding day!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to “Moonlight Mile” by The Rolling Stones. I really love the instrumental version, and we had a classical guitar and violinist play the procession. Our first dance was to Van Morrison’s “These are the Days” because the lyrics really connected with us. My dad and I danced to Bruce Springsteen’s “When you Need Me.” My father is a huge Springsteen fan, and again, the lyrics really captured our relationship–my father is always there for me.

Tell us all about the proposal! Our family is the most important thing in our lives and we wanted to make sure they were included in the moment. Surrounded by family and friends, William decided that dinner at the country club on his birthday was the perfect opportunity for him to pop the question. He stood up during dinner to thank everyone for being there and began to speak about the importance of family. He then asked if I would join him in starting our life as a family together! Of course, I said “yes!” My grandparents were in town and William even flew in my twin sister and mother, who live in Pennsylvania, as a surprise.
When did y’all get married? May 2, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did our first look before the ceremony. William’s back was turned at one end of the dock. As I walked closer to the pond, he turned around, and we met in the middle of the dock for a big hug and a kiss! It was the perfect moment! We wanted to have a private first look so we could take all of our pictures before the ceremony. After the ceremony, it was time to party!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! My something borrowed was my mother-in-law’s beautiful pear-shaped diamond earrings. My something old was a lace embroidered handkerchief that my great-grandmother gave me as a gift. My something new was the beautiful wedding shoes that my mother gave me the day of the wedding. They were so elegant and the perfect touch!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I am in the custom paper and stationery business, and I specialize in wedding designs. I was able to save on design fees for our paper goods, as well as work out deals with other vendors in the business with whom I have working relationships.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My advice is to hire professionals! Having vendors who know what they are doing is so important! It will allow you to relax and know that everything is in good hands. Don’t stress over the small things. Even if you think they’re a big deal, I can promise you that others will never even notice! The week of the wedding gets really busy, so try your best to have all errands done and all the little things finished by Wednesday before the wedding–that way, you can relax and just enjoy your friends and family!

Photographer: Kim Box Photography / Videographer: 1717 Wedding Cinema / Planner and Florist: Southern Posies / Reception Venue and Caterer: Wynlakes Country Club / Wedding Cake Baker: Vickie Kyser / Rentals: Brendle Rentals / Lighting: Elite Ovations Lighting and Southern Posies / Band: The Main Attraction Band / Special Details: Custom Flag and Details / Paper Products: Kara Anne Paper / Bride’s Gown: Essence of Australia / Hair Stylist: Erin Ryser / Bride’s Shoes: Klub Nico / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “G834U” in Ice by AMSALE / Groom’s Attire: Marvin Harrell at MH Custom Clothiers / Custom Shirtings: John Armstrong Clothiers / Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Ashton Dreyer reply

    The flowers are stunning!

  2. avatar Nina reply

    Kara is completely amazing. Not only does she have flawless taste with her design work, but flawless taste in LIFE! Congratulations, my sweet Kara! You deserve it! XOXO

  3. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    So pretty! I love the bridesmaid dresses!

  4. avatar Dana reply

    the seating paintings are amazing! and her invites are beautiful!

  5. avatar Christina reply

    Love the monogrammed flag! Where can I get that?

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We look at hundreds of weddings a month at Southern Weddings, but no matter how many we see and share, there are some couples, stories, and celebrations that stick out in our memories, even years later. In the case of Emily and Josh’s Tennessee wedding, it’s all three. No one in the SW office will soon forget the story of their meant-to-be wedding venue–a true testament to Southern hospitality and friends who are more like family. We’ll always remember the prayerful ceremony that united Emily and Josh as husband and wife, and the latte bar at their cocktail hour that nodded to the beginning of their love story. And most of all, we’ll remember the sweet joy and pure love that radiated from them in their first moments as newlyweds. What a beautiful reminder of what a wedding is really about!

Thank you so much to Amanda K for sharing this incredible day with us in V7!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? Finding my wedding dress was overwhelming, but definitely so much fun. The first day I went to try on dresses, I went to a little shop in downtown Atlanta called The Sentimentalist. It was so darling! My mom and sister came with me and there were definitely some tears shed. Though I didn’t end up getting my dress there, it was the best time I had trying on dresses. I went to quite a few other shops and even ended up choosing a dress at one of them, feeling like I was running out of time! But all the while, I had my eye on a delicate dress from Rue de Seine and couldn’t get it out of my head. I emailed them, expecting them to not be able to make or get me the dress in time (they’re based in New Zealand), but they were so accommodating! I’m so happy I went with my gut and took the risk of ordering online, because my dress was perfect! It did take some alterations to get it just right, but the lady who helped me was the kindest woman and truly made it perfect.

Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? All the girls have amazing style, so I felt confident letting them pick their own dresses, with some hints and suggestions of what I liked, of course. I gave them the guidelines of cream and soft pink, and gave them the okay when they found something they liked. I wanted their personalities to show through what they wore, and I wanted them to feel beautiful! In doing that, they added a bohemian edge to the wedding that I loved—it really reflected who we are!

Tell us all the basics of your wedding! We got engaged in April 2013 while I was abroad and it was absolutely beautiful. I was still in school till December, so we decided to wait until the next spring to get married, to remind us of the season we got engaged in and to give me enough time to plan the wedding! It just so happened to work out that the last Saturday in April was the 26th, and since our dating anniversary is the 26th of March, April 26 seemed to be the perfect date for us. Additionally, it was Josh’s parents’ 39th wedding anniversary, which made this date extra special!

Tell us about the ceremony. The ceremony was very important to us, because at the heart of the whole thing, it’s that small moment in time when you promise yourselves to each other that matters the most. We wanted that moment to be special and to honor Christ. We asked Josh’s cousin, Matt Smallbone, to officiate our wedding, as we respect him as a man of God, the head of a wonderful family, and as a pastor. He made the ceremony very special by telling our story and sharing some funny memories of Josh as a kid, but he also led an inspiring message about the journey of marriage. We included a hymn for worship, and then we included a ceremonial foot washing and a tree planting. Both of these were very meaningful; for the tree planting, we both poured soil from each of our parents’ gardens into the plant, and the foot washing was a time for us to humble ourselves before each other. I started bawling during the foot-washing ceremony! One of my English professors would read “The Prayer of St. Francis” before every class; it became one of the most important prayers in my life. We had the prayer read over us by one of Josh’s brothers during the ceremony as a reminder of what the hope of our heart should be as a married unit. We read the prayer together now, and it is such an encouragement.

What was Southern about your wedding? Between the folk music, the food, the scenery, and the prayer, there was no escaping how Southern our wedding was. Even though Josh is Australian at heart, he is just as much Southern at heart. And me? I’m full-blown Southern. Our wedding centered around food, God, and family! Good cooking and good hosting is the Southern way to show love and celebration, and it was so important to us that we provided this to our guests.

We joke about our wedding location being heavenly and magical, but in truth, it really was! One day, before we were even engaged, when Josh and I were going for a drive in Franklin, we came across a hilltop that had a structure peeking through the trees. We indulged our curiosity, and having no idea whose property it was, we trespassed up on the hill. After experiencing the breathtaking scene, I looked at Josh and said, “Let’s get married here!” By the time the wedding planning finally came around years later, we had completely forgotten about this finding. It wasn’t until we were at our wits’ end looking for a location in our price range that someone asked us if we had looked at Josh’s doctor’s property that he had built for his daughter’s wedding. It turned out to be the same structure we had seen peeking through the trees that day! Josh’s doctor was kind enough to say that he doesn’t lease out the property, but only lets family use it, and he considers us family! Being married in Franklin was very important to us because it is not only where we met and fell in love, it’s where both of our families are, and it truly is where we feel at home. It was so fitting to be outside, breathing in the fresh green air with a view of the rolling hills of Tennessee. Cows and fields and farms surrounded us, and it felt completely like us and completely like home.

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? We did, but we did it a bit differently with Mexican Cokes, a latte bar, and some yummy basil lemonade. We spent a lot of time arranging the hour before dinner; we wanted this time to be fun for the guests while we left the site for our photos. We had lawn games, a photo booth, henna tattoos, and even Australian lollies (candy) for all of Josh’s Aussie relatives! We heard back from everyone that they had such a fun time during this part of the wedding.

What was the design inspiration for your reception? We went with a natural look for the reception. We just added a little greenery to the farm tables, some candles on tree stumps around the fireplace, and some flowers here and there, and it was beautiful! My dad chopped tree branches into tiny slices for me to write everyone’s names on for their escort cards, which added a nice touch.

Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. Our wedding cake was not only gorgeous, but also absolutely delicious! Lucy made two cakes for us: a massive chocolate cake and a medium-sized vanilla cake. She nailed the “naked cake” look and decorated it with beautiful flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a delicious cake in my life, but maybe I’m biased? We were nice to each other and didn’t smash the cake in each other’s faces, although I did manage to smear some icing on him!

We danced to a mashup of “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis and “All of Me” by John Legend. Josh’s many siblings are all extremely musically talented, and they actually played and sang live as a group with just a guitar. It was lovely. We had practiced and gone to dance lessons, yet we were kind of a disaster! But in that moment, we didn’t even think about the lessons; we just slow-danced naturally while thinking about each other and the day. It was beautiful to be dancing underneath the pavilion’s chandeliers and string lighting.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Looking back, we were so young! It didn’t feel like it then though. I was fifteen and Josh was seventeen. I was working at a little coffee shop just a few blocks away from my house. Josh came in one day and ordered a smoothie, so we struck up conversation and realized we had many mutual friends. After that, we saw each other everywhere! He started coming into the shop pretty often. Since I was fifteen, I didn’t have a license and couldn’t drive to and from work, so Josh would come in right before close and nonchalantly offer to drive me home. This friendship carried on for about a year before we actually decided to become boyfriend and girlfriend, the first time for both of us to call anyone that. Josh was gracious and patient when I moved three hours away for three years, and even when I moved to France, where he followed me and asked me to be his wife!
Tell us about the proposal! I have always had a little bit of an obsession with all things French, so when the opportunity arose to study painting abroad for a semester in the south of France, I started booking my ticket. Little did I know, Josh was booking his ticket too. He traveled to France and surprised me near the end of my two months there by sending a taxi to come pick me up and take me to a hilltop in Pujols, about fifteen minutes from where I was! I was dropped off by a rose petal trail and a sign that said “Follow this trail for an adventure.” I followed it to where Josh was on his knee with a ring in hand. He asked me to marry him (in French!), and I said yes. We cried and enjoyed a perfect picnic that Josh had set up, complete with wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, and French cheese.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Heavenly, intimate, joyful.
How many guests attended your wedding? 155
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? The scenery of the venue was our greatest design inspiration. Everything from the wedding invitations to the farm dinner tables to my bouquet were chosen and designed to reflect the true, genuine, timeless beauty of nature. We love to spend our time together doing things like hiking up to lookouts, going for scenic drives, or stargazing at the beach. We search for and find the truest form of beauty in the nature all around us, so we wanted our wedding to reflect that beauty!
Were there any family traditions you included in the reception? Josh’s family has a tradition that at every family dinner, they have apple cider and long speeches, which of course had to happen at our wedding as well!
Did you try anything new or nontraditional? From Josh: I have four brothers and since I didn’t want to pick a favorite, I made them all my best men. What was unique was that they all got up during the best men speech and each shared a word.
Tell us about a way or ways you saved money or cut costs while planning. My dad built our arch and the doors we walked through. He also helped gather wood for all kinds of things in the wedding, including tree stumps, which helped save a ton of money! We also had friends and family cover all the music. The main way we saved money was by making things ourselves, like the favors, and by assigning jobs and asking for help from family and friends. People want to help with weddings in any way they can, you just have to ask them!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? The wedding industry is amazing, but it can also be a little jaded! Don’t let any wedding vendors take the joy out of the planning process. It’s not realistic that everyone can plan their wedding a year in advance or buy their dress six months before the wedding, and that is what some people seem to expect. If someone makes you feel bad for that, don’t let them bring you down. It is hard work to put together a great wedding, but it’s also such a joy; don’t get bogged down in the details!
What’s next for you as a couple? From Josh: We are living in east Nashville, right near downtown. We plan to stay in Nashville as we settle into our new life and home, near both of our families and our nieces and nephews. We are both working to pay the bills and saving up for the future, whatever it may hold! We learned during the wedding planning process that we make a great team. Em is a great dreamer, creator, and visionary, and I am a great logistics, make-it-happen person. We long to work together and find something we can do where we can partner together each day. We’re not sure yet if that’s starting a company together or moving out of the country to be missionaries!

Photographer: Amanda K Photography / Videographer: Anchor Heart Films / Designer, Rentals, and Reception Decor: Megan Proby of 12th Table / Venue: Private residence / Florist: Lauren Atkinson / Caterer and Wedding Cake: Lucy’s Kitchen / Bride’s Gown: “Eve” by Rue De Seine / Bride’s Shoes: Klub Nico / Bride’s Jewelry: Consider the Wldflwrs and Anthropologie / Bride’s Veil: Custom by Muna Couture / Bride’s Hair Accessory: Lauren Atkinson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Empire Mesh Lace Dress” by Free People, “Embroidered Fable Dress” by Free People, and “Eagan Beige Silk Embroidered Maxi” by Joie / Hair Stylist: Jordan Byers / Makeup Artist: Jordan Byers and Rachel Shepherd / Groom’s Fashion: Zara / Groomsmen’s Fashion: Top Man / Paper Goods: Chelsea Petaja of Oh My Deer / Lettering: Jessie Early / Transportation: A Better Bus / Lighting: Matt Brady / Sound: Ralph Rivera

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Anastasia Kristina reply

    OH wow, this is probably my favorite real wedding that has been posted on here! I love everything about this, and a lot of the ideas I have already planned on using in our wedding in June! Also I love Franklin, and I love that they live in East Nashville, where we are almost weekly – maybe we will run into this lovely couple!!!!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Love hearing how much you love this wedding! It holds a special place in our hearts, too :)

  2. avatar Katelyn reply

    Beautiful wedding. Love the boho vibe of it all! Do you know where the groom’s tie was purchased? I love the personalized monogram (and that it’s a skinny tie)!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Yes! It is from a great Southern company, Otis James:

  3. avatar S Stanton reply

    I was blessed to be a guest at this wedding as beautiful as the pictures and the words in the story are nothing can compare T feeling of love and joy and intimacy that Josh and Emily shared with all of us that day.

  4. avatar Alok Sahu reply

    nice your wedding story is very beautiful and all the photos are also very beautiful.

  5. avatar Allister Freeman reply

    Stunning photography. The colours, tones and compositions are beautiful.

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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