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When planning a wedding, it can be seriously temping to get so caught up in Pinterest boards and magazine pages that you forget the most meaningful source of inspiration: yourselves! Every couple and love story is so unique, and turning to your own history for wedding ideas pretty much guarantees that your celebration will be a lovely reflection of what matters most to you. Lauren and Michael did a fabulous job of this–from travel-inspired details (I love their table names!), to meaningful readings, to subtle nods to Lauren’s favorite Disney movies, they weren’t afraid to fill their wedding with personal touches at every turn. As a result, their wedding a great reflection of them, and they also remember their engagement as an especially fun time!

Thank you so much to Meredith Sledge for sending this pretty day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I actually found it at the very first shop I went into. I was in Chesapeake, Virginia visiting my family and thought it would be the perfect time to begin my search, instead of having to coordinate with all of them to come up to DC. I had my squad with me: my mother, father, younger sister (my maid of honor), grandmother, older sister, and one of my nieces. They helped me pick out seven different dresses, each one so different than the next, and all within my budget. I tried on each one to tons of “oohs” and “ahhs,” but all of that stopped when I tired on the last dress. Everyone, including me, was silent. We all knew! My dress was the only A-line I tried on. I never thought I would go for a fuller dress, thinking I wanted something more form fitting. This Mikaella dress made me feel like I was floating on the wedding clouds. (Side note, after I got home from buying the dress, I was looking back through my Pinterest account and realized that I had pinned that exact same dress the month before!)

We had always wanted to do a first look so we could have a more private moment together and use that time to take more pictures. Having spoken with other friends who have gotten married, they shared either how great having a first look was in saving time, or how they regretted not doing a first look because they felt rushed to take all of the pictures right after the ceremony. Something important to Michael and I was attending our cocktail hour. Since we did a first look and took our portraits and the bridal party shots then, we only had to do family pictures after the ceremony, so we were able to attend 30 minutes of the cocktail hour. Our first look pictures are my favorite pictures of the day. Getting to have that special moment for just Michael and I was the sweetest.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Michael and I live in DC but I grew up in Southern VA and he in California. We were not tied to any spot in particular since everyone would have to travel to the wedding, no matter where we had it. That left us with tons of possibilities! We did venue research online and picked out five that were in our budget and looked like our style (although we were still trying to figure that out!)–two in DC, and three in Charlottesville, Virginia. We liked certain aspects of each venue, but didn’t have our “aha” moment until Mount Ida Farm. It was the last venue we visited, and while we were there, we were told they were also building a brand new venue. We drove over to look at the construction, and all that was up was the main barn and one chandelier, but we knew. I loved the view of the mountains, the Restoration Hardware feel of the rough cut wood and glass chandelier, and the grove area that was going to be the ceremony area. Two days later, we signed the venue and construction was finished in November 2015.

Before the ceremony, we played covers of Disney songs. I am a huge Disney fan and had to incorporate Disney somehow without it being too cheesy. It was perfect and all of the guests noticed. When I walked down the aisle, my brother played the electric ukulele and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” That song was played the morning after Michael proposed when we were in Hawaii at breakfast by the beach. When we were thinking of what song to play at the wedding, that was the first one we both wanted. It was made even more special by having my brother play it.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Michael and I wrote our own vows and read an excerpt from a poem together. Some of our favorite lines from Michael’s vows were, “If the last six years have taught me anything, I know that even the next 60 won’t be enough to show you how much I love you.” From mine: “There is something about you, an energy, presence, laugh, or smile that is electric. That is what drew me to you and hasn’t let me go. I love that you can walk into any room, make a friend, or win people over with your sweet dimples and charm. I always think to myself, wow, he is mine.” There was also a reading Michael and I said to each other before our vows, “Everything that happens is nicer with you” by Sandol Stoddard.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The best way we planned was through being open and honest with each other. We regularly discussed all aspects of our relationship and being married. This included all of our finances, expectations, dreams, ambitions, goals, etc. Even if those discussions were uncomfortable or hard to get through sometimes, we knew it was for the best and would get to a spot where we need to be, now and in the future.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We brewed our own beer that had special labels of us from Oktoberfest on it. We had a caricature artist on hand the whole evening to give our guests an even more special experience. Our guestbook was a painting of us from the Disney movie “UP,” where could sign a balloon. All of the wine and champagne we chose was from wineries we have visited in Napa and Sonoma. Instead of traditional table numbers, we named all of the tables after different countries, and the escort cards were tickets/passports to the guest’s destination (aka table). Any friend or family member could walk into the wedding and know it was ours.

Michael’s favorite dessert is pie. It doesn’t matter what type of pie, just as long as it is a pie! We had three different flavors (gooey butter, peach bourbon, and strawberry mint). We also had Georgetown mini cupcakes. Michael and I live across the river from Georgetown and always love to go to Georgetown Cupcakes. We worked with the company to design all of the fondant toppers and select four delicious flavors. For our wedding cake, we chose a simple white cake with etched-on gold. We also used a gold topper that said “You’re My Favorite,” since we say that to each other all of the time. It was simple, sweet, and delicious (honey lavender-flavored), and the sheet cake we served alongside it was champagne-flavored.

Don’t miss Lauren and Michael’s wedding film by WhiteFlair Productions below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both went to James Madison University during undergrad, but didn’t meet until our senior year. I led an alternative spring break trip, and the fall leading up to it, I got to meet my co-leader. We started to hang out and he began inviting his roommates along too. One of those roommates was Michael. During our second meeting, I became bold and gave him my number, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! To celebrate completing our Master’s degrees, Michael and I went to Maui, Hawaii with the Lee family. On June 3, 2015, we took a flight over to Kona for a night and did a five-hour night snorkel adventure to see manta rays. We were on the first part of the snorkel, when the sun was still out, and after 30 minutes or so, we began to swim closer to the boat and coral. I saw what I thought was a piece of trash on the reef and thought, wow, someone littered! I kept swimming until Michael had to ask what it was. I went back over to check it out, and on the paper was one word: “Lauren.” We swam down and got the paper, and on the back, Michael had written a note asking me to marry him. Overtaken with joy, I began to giggle and shout OKAYYYYYYYY! When we got back onto the boat, Michael gave me the ring.
When did y’all get married? April 16, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 166
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The only point of any contention while planning was the guest list. We both come from large families and have a number of friends, and we wanted to include all of them. However, due to the venue size restrictions, not everyone could be included. Working on the list and narrowing it down was a huge headache and pain in the side!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? A great feature of our venue was that we could bring in our own alcohol. Instead of doing an open bar with our caterer, Michael and I selected and bought all of the wine, champagne, liquor, beer, and specialty cocktails. Not only did this save money, but we were able to select top shelf and the drinks that we enjoy. What bottles we had leftover (since we definitely over-bought), we were able to return to Total Wine and Costco for even more savings.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We both loved wedding planning because we made decisions as a team. Drink plenty of wine and planning becomes even more fun! I would also say, don’t worry so much about hurting others’ feelings. I say this not in a selfish sense, but you will find you are more concerned about how others will feel or react than you are about your own feelings. There is a time and place to be focused on yourself, and this is one of them.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to enjoying every day as husband and wife. We also can’t wait to continue to travel the world and see and experience new things!

Photographer: Meredith Sledge | Videographer: WhiteFlair Productions | Planner: Two Byrds Events and Design | Venue: The Lodge at Mount Ida Farm | Florist: The Flower Box | Cake Baker: Arley Cakes | Caterer: The Local | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: Party Masters | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride’s Gown: Style 1959 by Mikaella | Hair and Makeup: The Spot Beauty Shop | Bride’s Shoes: “Chrissy” by J. Renee | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Styles 7289L, 7372L, 7366L, and 7257 by Alfred Angelo, Styles F15782, F15928, and F15933 by David’s Bridal | Menswear: Tuxedo by Sarno | Caricature Artist: About Faces Entertainment | Cupcakes: Georgetown Cupcakes

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    I’ll be honest, when I learn that a couple meets at a philanthropic event for children, I’m going to have high hopes that their wedding is sweeter than sugar. Allison and Patrick did not disappoint! With the help of their planner, Molly McKinley, these two University of Florida alum (I see that chop, y’all!) planned a traditional wedding with plenty of heart. Allison and Patrick realized that this may be the only day where every person they love was in one room, so they wanted to take advantage of the chance to make each and every guest feel loved and important. They even took the time to write a personalized note to each of their guests, filled with words of love, gratitude, and memories, that was incorporated into their place settings. Such a kind gesture that I’m sure guests were touched by!

    Big SW hugs to Morning Light by Michelle Landreau for sharing this lovely day with us!

    Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something old was gold and pearl drop earrings that once belonging to my Italian great-grandmother, Nonni Catherine. Our something new was a set of beautiful coupe toasting glasses given as a gift to us from our wedding planner. We borrowed the cake cutter Patrick’s parents had used at their wedding. My something blue was a sorority tradition, a knotted turquoise ribbon, sewn into my dress.

    There were many aspects of our wedding that we wanted to remain very traditional with, including not having a first look. We both wanted the traditional moment of seeing each other for the first time during our ceremony. It was even more special to us because all our friends and family were able to be a part of that moment too.

    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We used traditional vows, but our ceremony was very personalized because it was officiated by a college friend, Joe, who was in seminary school at the time. He also happens to be married to the mutual friend who first introduced Patrick and I. Joe added many personal touches (we made vows both to God and each other) and tailored the sermon to our favorite Bible verses (Romans 12). He also read Louis Evan’s wedding prayer–a personal favorite of mine–which includes beautiful advice for a Christian marriage, such as, “May they never take each other’s love for granted, but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims: Out of all this world, you have chosen me!”

    Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It was really important to us that every single one of our guests knew how much it meant to have them celebrating with us on our wedding day. We realized that our wedding day may be the only day in our lives where every person we love was in one room. We spent the weeks leading up to the wedding writing personalized notes to each of our guests containing words of love, gratitude, and memories. Those notes were then placed in hand-calligraphed envelopes and incorporated into each of the guests’ place settings.

    Our wedding cake was composed of alternating tiers of almond cake with raspberry filling and cinnamon cake with cream cheese filling. It was covered in fresh flowers and rough buttercream frosting. We also had wedding favors of raspberry and coconut French macarons. While the only bite of cake we ate was during the cake cutting, we arrived home from our honeymoon to a freezer full of macarons and were eating them for months!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Patrick and I met through Dance Marathon at the University of Florida, a philanthropy benefiting Children’s Miracle Network.
    When did y’all get married? August 15, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
    What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? In my opinion, part of being Southern is an emphasis on food, family, and the Lord. Each was highlighted in some way throughout our wedding day. I’d also have to say the way in which our wedding date was chosen adhered to some strict Southern norms. We only had August or December to choose from because we knew that holding a Saturday evening wedding during football season, would result in some pretty angry (and distracted) friends and family!
    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Instead of having a professional photo booth vendor, we provided polaroid cameras for the guests to take photographs with. Our family and friends had a lot of fun capturing moments throughout the cocktail hour and reception. The photos were either taped into our guest book or taken home by guests as sweet mementos.
    What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved every single vendor who was a part of our wedding, but hiring our wedding planner, Molly McKinley, was the best decision we made. I wrestled back and forth over whether I needed a professional planner for the year leading up to the wedding, but looking back, I literally could not be happier with our decision. I can’t imagine the planning process without Molly. She is an advisor, artist, and friend, all in one. Every other vendor who exceeded our expectations were by her suggestion. She spun my ideas into a reality that was even better than I had imagined.
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t get so wrapped up in planning the wedding that you forget to plan for the marriage. The wedding is one day. The marriage lasts all the rest. Surround yourself with people who can not only give you advice and guidance, but also some loving perspective when you need it.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We currently live in Atlanta, Georgia (with our cat Lilly) and are loving newlywed life. Every day is an adventure and we look forward to growing our love for each other for many years to come. We both look forward to all the little things that come with living with your best friend, such as trips to the farmer’s market, lazy Friday nights, and learning more about each other. Marriage is a wonderful gift and we’re thankful to be sharing it with each other.

    Photographer: Morning Light by Michelle Landreau | Planner: Molly McKinley | Venue: Foxhall Sporting Club | Florist: Bloomin’ Bouquets | Cake Baker: Confection Perfection | Caterer: Home.Made | Rentals: Unlimited Party and Event Rentals, Event Rentals Unlimited, and Southern Vintage | DJ: Black Tie Events | Paper Products: Plain Jane Designs | Bride’s Gown: Style L318 by Legends by Romona Keveza | Bride’s Veil: The Sentimentalist | Hair and Makeup: Jennifer C Nieman | Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Dessy in Topaz | Linens: I Do Linens | Calligraphy: Lydia Whitener

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
    5 Comments
    1. avatar Elizabeth reply

      Everything about this wedding is elegant, simple, with details in all the right places. Truly swoon-worthy, (& pin worthy!)

    2. avatar Elle reply

      So very soft and beautiful!

    3. avatar Casey reply

      I live in Georgia and I am looking for this exact dress, where did you find a retailer around this area that carried the designer?

      • avatar Marissa reply

        Hi Casey! Romona Keveza Legends (the designer of this gown) is available at two Georgia salons: Bridals by Lori and BlueBell Bridal. I hope you find your dress! xx, MAK

    4. avatar Allison & Patrick: The Wedding at Foxhall Resort – Fine Art Wedding & Portrait Photography Serving Atlanta & Destinations Worldwide reply

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    Y’all, I am so excited to share today’s beautiful wedding with you!! As you may remember, Ashlyn was our Southern Bride of the Summer, and she generously shared her super Southern, magnolia-filled, Alabama wedding plans with us a few months ago. We have been waiting on eggshells to see how her and Wes’ day played out, and as you can easily see in their photos by Holland Williams Photography, it was just as lovely as we know Ashlyn hoped it would be. Even more than that, their day was focused on what matters most to them–their faiths, their families, and starting their marriage on the firmest footing possible. Be sure to read Ashlyn’s interview below to learn about the heart and intention she and Wes poured into this sweet day!

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I’m a girly girl, but I’ll be honest, the food and band seemed like more fun decisions to plan! The dress was too much pressure. Mama, my sister Kristen, and I made four appointments in Atlanta one Saturday. You think you don’t care until you turn around and see yourself in the mirror in “the one.” Changes everything! I loved my dress–it was all lace and had hook-and-eye buttons down the entire back. I was also staunch on a bow or a sash–funny enough, that pretty shade of ivory on the bow is called “magnolia!”

    As soon as we started planning, one of the only things Wes was really vocal on was not seeing me before the ceremony! I loved that. Our photographer, Holland, was so fantastic, it didn’t hinder the day or put a hitch in timing one bit. We prayed together without seeing each other, and then we both got that “church doors swing open” moment. I’ll never forget it!

    I saw my florist, Melissa Kendall, write “Southern elegance” on her worksheet–if there was a theme, I told her the theme could be magnolias! Charming and gracious, they’ve always said “home” better than any other flower or tree to me. I love their scent, glamour, and beauty. I even had a blog when I traveled for ADPi called Miss Magnolia! Gardenias weren’t plentiful in August, but loads of other white flowers and roses complemented all the greenery. We also wanted a magnolia-covered cross at the ceremony. My sweet daddy built it, and it was one of my favorite touches! The bridesmaids’ bouquets were wrapped in monogrammed hankies.

    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I had a running iPhone list for a year of hymns that struck me! I pieced those together for the ceremony. The prelude included “In Christ Alone” and “The Power of the Cross.” My grandfather was a Southern Baptist music minister, and I had the grandfathers be seated to his favorite hymn, “Crown Him with Many Crowns”–he teared up telling me that surprise made him so happy! I gave Wes a couple of options, and after playing it, he said he wanted me to come down the aisle to “Trumpet Voluntary.” We sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as a congregation.

    I loved the vows we used. They’re updated, traditional, Biblical vows that Pastor David Platt wrote. Many people kindly let us know they really enjoyed that part of the ceremony. We found them in “The Christ Centered Wedding” by Catherine Parks. My favorite line is “I will join with you in the mission God has entrusted to us.” We’re a few short weeks into marriage, and already see how life’s challenges do not stop just because you get your fairy tale wedding, cute little house, and some pretty crystal! We were thrown curveballs early, and partner in encouraging each other to fight the good fight.

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? It was fairly easy: First Baptist is the church I grew up in, and my parents are tremendously involved. We wanted a Christ-exalting ceremony, but I don’t necessarily believe that can ONLY happen in a church! I’m just the type of girl who gets rain on her birthday every year, so we needed something indoors. I also wanted to respect my parents and pay homage to nostalgia–I have so many sweet memories in that gorgeous building. It’s a beautiful, old, Southern church. Montgomery Country Club ended up being the winner for a reception. I have a lot of memories from growing up going there–plus, I’m the biggest Zelda Fitzgerald fan you’ll meet. I have about 18 books about the Montgomery girl who won F. Scott Fitzgerald’s heart, and they met at Montgomery Country Club in 1918. Only fitting, right?

    With a Montgomery wedding, there isn’t much that won’t end up covered in Southern-ness! I wore pearls, and magnolias were everywhere. Family keepsakes like silver goblets, mint julep cups, and old wedding photos made appearances. My sorority sisters wanted to sing, of course. And then that menu, gracious. We had shrimp and grits, pimento cheese finger sandwiches, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, and Arnold Palmers–you know, health food. And as an Auburn fan, I had to salute the plains: Momma G’s nachos came out for “late night!”

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Samford University is a small school tucked away in the hills of Birmingham. I was a junior when Wes waltzed in as this cute former-high-school-QB freshman and joined Sigma Chi, which happened to be the guys I hung out with. I confessed my crush to my close friend Ryan, his fraternity brother. Ryan told me he’d “endorse me like Nike” to Wes. Fast forward, and my best friend and I were walking toward Wes and Ryan one day after class. Paths crossed, and there was a brief hi-and-shake-hands moment. We walked off, and Ryan turned around and yelled “Like Nike, Ash!” Embarrassing for me. Fortunately, Wes took it as “game on.” We were fire and dynamite from that time on!
    Tell us all about the proposal! Wes wrestled my type-A planner habit away from me by staking claim to a January Saturday as his date to plan. Kindly, he let me make the brunch reservation, so naturally, I still thought I was planning things. What a guy. He picked me up Saturday morning, and we laughed and chatted over coffee, eggs, and gravy-covered biscuits at no. 246 off the Decatur square. Side note–I had the stomach bug the night before, y’all. Poor Wes didn’t sleep a wink as me and my germs almost wrecked his plans! After brunch, he wouldn’t tell me what was next as we drove down Peachtree Street toward Buckhead. ANY notion I had of “maybe this is it” was null and void–surely he wouldn’t ask me since I was sick! Wes’ nerves set in and he got quiet as he pulled over to Duck Pond Park. He led me to a bench and told me he wanted to talk about something important. God washed a peace over us, and we had the sweetest next few moments together worshiping: Wes led us in a time of prayer, and then read from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (chapter 5) about biblical marriage, and said he wanted this with me. Next thing I knew, he was grinning on one knee while–duh–I cried. Wes drove us back to my little Buckhead townhouse, where my three roommates and about 25 friends and family members had the Veuve Clicquot ready to pop! He thought of everything, and having dear ones there to celebrate was so special. Wes is the most thoughtful man I’ve ever met.
    When did y’all get married? August 15, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 325
    Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Everyone knows Peggy McKinney’s desserts in Montgomery. She’s the best! I don’t adore traditional wedding cake, so I opted for strawberry cake with white icing. Wes went with Miss Peggy’s good ol’ chocolate cake! We have a crystal cake stand that was cut around 1890 and belonged to my great-great-grandmother. It’s been used in weddings and at family parties for generations, so it had to make an appearance at ours, too.
    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wes and I read through “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller and were counseled through our church. Wes also had us both read Francis Chan’s “You and Me Forever.” I think we stayed the course throughout planning, knowing that the day we woke up after our wedding, THAT was really day one!
    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mama was the best, free wedding planner I could have ever “hired.” :) My family did a lot of crafty, DIY things, from baking sugar cookies in the shapes of Alabama and Georgia to asking the Visitor’s Bureau for hotel bag goodies. We opted for the country club as it offered an all-in-one event space–rental fees rack up! Third, I have said it before and I’ll say it again: you CAN spend only $1,000 on a wedding dress and get it ordered during your six-and-a-half month engagement, regardless of what the industry or experts tell you.
    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I had a “first look” with my daddy, which was really special. I was having a lot of anxiety issues that day, and mama’s two best friends came and put hands on me and prayed over me–that was a precious gift. Other then that, the whole blur of standing in the MCC ballroom right next to my best friend as an endless string of family and friends came to hug us was my favorite memory. They flew in from all over! It’s so humbling to know people love you, but maybe more humbling to see people love on your spouse–it made me fall more in love with Wes to see all his fraternity brothers and family friends drive all the way to my hometown because they love him.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? A HONEYMOON! Halfway through planning, Wes scored a dream job at Delta Air Lines. Tremendous blessing–but training started the Monday after our wedding! Those flight benefits will behoove us well into the future though. ‘Til then, we’re two of a kind working on a full house. I have the handiest husband, and our cute little Decatur home by East Lake Country Club is enjoying its facelift–and Wes is enjoying learning about things like my fall decoration, pumpkin, and mum budget.

    Photographer: Holland Williams / Ceremony Venue: First Baptist Church of Montgomery / Reception Venue: Montgomery Country Club / Florist: Melissa Kendall / Cake Baker: Peggy McKinney / Band: Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces / Paper Products: Virginia Noblin / Bridal Salon: Bel Fiore / Hair Stylist: Amplify Salon / Makeup Artist: Hope Wallace / Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style 8472 in Navy by Sorella Vita / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Getting Ready Venue: PARISH by Ashley Gilbreath

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    1 Comment
    1. avatar Caroline Nelson reply

      Can you please tell me where the adorable floral romper she is getting ready in is from? Also, where the cute Alabama cookie with the gorgeous AW monogram welcome tag came from?

      Thank you!
      Caroline

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