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Bride Kara shares her Virginia Wine Country wedding.

Kara and Ryan’s Virginia winery wedding has such a storybook, romantic ambiance that it didn’t surprise me at all that Ryan proposed using a copy of Pride and Prejudice. (Much like my favorite editorial!) It only seems fitting that a warm, countryside celebration would result!

This beautiful day, full of thoughtful touches and efforts to incorporate family history, was a labor of love that ultimately served as a vehicle for quality time. Kara shared that, “Wedding planning really brought our families together. It’s extremely time-consuming, and being able to spend that time with Ryan and both of our families was the best part.” If you’re in the midst of a similarly time-consuming wedding planning process, may this serve as a sweet reminder that while your wedding is only one day, this engagement season is full of opportunities to celebrate and grow closer to your fiance and his family along the way.

Thank you to Erika Brown for these gorgeous images!

When did y’all get married? April 29, 2017.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 140.

Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. I had thought about this day since I was a little girl. I went with my mom, and I knew the second she zipped up the fifth dress of the day that I had found the dress of my dreams. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful lace, the full train, and the plunging sweetheart neckline. I couldn’t wait for Ryan to see me in it.
Did you decide to do a first look? Yes, and Looking back, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Ryan calms me; he always has. I knew I would be emotional enough that day, and we wanted to share a moment together before the ceremony to just be with each other.

What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? Seeing Ryan, as I was walking down the aisle with my dad. The emotions were everything I ever dreamed they would be. There is truly nothing like it.

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? The florals! Our wedding coordinator, Cody, went above and beyond to bring my whimsical romantic wedding vision to life!
What was Southern about your wedding? We had wedding portraits displayed from our parents and grandparents’ wedding days, honoring their love and traditions.

Early Mountain Vineyards was the first venue we visited, and we both knew the second we entered the tasting room that it was perfect for us. Ryan and I share a love of wine, and the romantic elegance of the venue was perfect!

What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? We chose to have assorted cupcakes from a local Charlottesville bakery, Sweethaus. We wanted the Charlottesville charm to show through on our special day, so we chose to keep all the vendors local.

Tell us all about the proposal! It was January 21, 2016. I was getting ready for what I thought was a birthday dinner to celebrate my parents’ January birthdays. I walked down the stairs of our Baltimore row home and saw a bottle of champagne and a Pride and Prejudice book with a single rose laying next to it. Ryan stood up, opened the book, and I saw that he had carved out a heart with a black velvet ring box laid inside. He took the box out, and beneath it, he had highlighted the word “engagement” from the text of the book. He then got down on one knee and proposed. We enjoyed a glass of champagne while we called our parents and told them the good news. We ended the night with a romantic dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, McCormick and Schmick. It was the perfect night.
What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? Ryan is a beautiful writer, so he wrote the entire ceremony himself. It meant so much to me that he wanted to make our day so personal. We chose the Irish Wedding Blessing as our reading, to honor my family’s Irish heritage. (I wanted bagpipes, but marriage is all about compromise right?)
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to Landon Austin’s “Once in a Lifetime.” I first heard it in a wedding video Ryan and I watched the night we got engaged. It brought a tear to my eye, and I knew I had to incorporate it somehow. Ryan chose our first dance song, William Michael Morgan’s, “I Met a Girl.” He wanted it to be a song about me through his eyes. I loved it!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? How much time and energy it demands, while working full-time. It truly is exhausting, and I couldn’t be more grateful for everyone that helped us out throughout that year.
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? We made a list of things that were important to us and things that we didn’t care too much about, then we budgeted more for the important things. It helped keep us from getting carried away and going over budget by too much.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Hire a wedding planner! Even if you think you’re the best planner in the world, they are professionals for a reason, and they are lifesavers!

Photographer: Erika Brown | Planner and Florist: Amore Events by Cody | Ceremony and Reception Venue: Early Mountain Vineyards | Wedding Cake Baker: Sweethaus | Caterer: The Local | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: King Studios | Paper Products: Paperwhites Press | Bride’s Gown: Allure Romance | Hair Stylist: Something Blu (Jayme Eipperle) | Makeup Artist: Emily Marcellino | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale | Menswear: Jos A Bank

Written with love by Catherine

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Bride Lauren shares her classic wedding–the first to be held in OU’s Great Reading Room!

I will never turn down an opportunity to explore a college campus, and if there’s anything I love more than a leafy quad, it’s a gothic library reading room. So as you might imagine, this on-campus marriage between two college sweethearts had me weak at the knees from the first peek. But then Lauren explained that the Great Reading Room was one of her favorite places to study in college and that, “if our future children choose to go to OU someday, I can’t help but think how cool it will be for them to study in the same spot their parents were married.” Be still my heart.

Lauren and Austin’s connection to their wedding venue doesn’t even stop there, as Austin is currently a law student on campus! As a law school grad married to a lawyer myself, I could certainly identify with Lauren’s strategically-timed wedding DIY projects. That kind of consideration on her part, coupled with his willingness to put the books down whenever possible, sounds like a great foundation for a lawyer marriage! (And their focus on their families doesn’t hurt, either!) But I’ll scoot aside and let our bride take it from here.

Many thanks to Emily Ann Hughes for sending this beauty our way!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Austin and I both graduated from the University of Oklahoma, so choosing to get married on campus was especially significant, as it was the place our love story began. We are so lucky—and honored—to be the first couple to ever be married in the Great Reading Room. When searching for a venue, we wanted something that was unique, historic, and the opposite of “cookie cutter”. OU offered us all of that (and more!) and we will be forever grateful for the rare opportunity. As a college student, the Great Reading Room was one of my favorite places to study, but I never imagined that I would marry the love of my life in that same room. If our future children choose to go to OU someday, I can’t help to think how cool it will be for them to study in the same spot their parents were married. Additionally, the historic ballroom on campus has held celebrations since the 1920s and was the perfect spot for our reception.
Did you decide to do a first look? We went the traditional route and chose not to do a first look. In our experience, forgoing a first look really added to the excitement and anticipation of the day. Not just for Austin and me (no matter what, we would have been excited!), but for our family and wedding party. The whole day felt like Christmas!

What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? My parents were so eager (in the best way possible!) and happy to be involved in the planning process—it made everything so easy and fun! Since we lived in different states, I talked to them on the phone for over an hour almost every single night. We would go over RSVPs, discuss vendor meetings and options, and talk through all of my crazy ideas. It was such a wonderful bonding experience and I’m so thankful for all the special moments we shared together throughout the wedding planning process. From dance lessons to dress fittings, they were there for it all. I will carry those memories with me for the rest of my life.
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? Austin was in his first year of law school while we were planning our wedding, so I was mindful of his school schedule (papers, mid-terms, finals, etc.) when talking about our wedding. I used finals week to start most of my DIY projects and weekends to talk about guest lists, budgets and timelines. And despite his hectic schedule, he made every effort to attend all vendor meetings and walk-throughs.

When did y’all get married? June 24, 2017.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. We are college sweethearts who have known each other since we were eleven-years-old.
Tell us all about the proposal! Austin proposed on an unsuspecting walk with our dog, Honey. I was in leggings and a t-shirt, so it’s safe to say I was taken completely by surprise, which is exactly what Austin always hoped for. We celebrated that evening with our families (our parents are actually neighbors!) in our hometown of Flower Mound, Texas. The next day we drove up to Norman, Oklahoma to tour the University of Oklahoma College of Law (where Austin is currently a 2L). After our tour, we stopped in for a drink at the dive-bar where we had our first kiss almost eight years ago!

I went wedding dress shopping for the first time with just my mom and dad. I have a close relationship with my dad, and I wanted him to be there to experience that special moment with me. All along I thought I knew exactly the type of dress I wanted, but after a few fails, the stylist at Bridal Boutique in Lewisville suggested I try something simple. She pulled a stunning Enzoani gown (which totally had Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy vibes!), and I absolutely fell in love. I had never pictured myself in something like it, but it totally fit my timeless and classic style. We paired it with a Lee-Ann Belter lace jacket and I was sold. The following weekend I returned to the boutique with my mom, sisters, and future mother-in-law and sisters-in-law (5 of us in total and 2 were there via Face-Time) and officially said yes to the dress. I truly had the best experience and was lucky to be able include all of the people I love!

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? One of my dear friends designed our invitations, programs, place cards, and welcome box details. It was fun to be so involved in the process! We exchanged about 100 emails, so I’m very thankful for her patience and kind heart. I also printed everything locally, which was really cost effective. We took on a lot of DIY projects, too. My dad and I built, stained, and painted all the wood signage for the wedding, and he constructed and hung the garden lights on the patio. I also re-purposed a lot of items from discount stores and antique shops.

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? From the black and gold tiled floor to the dramatic windows, the swinging leather doors, the old books on display, and all the ornate architectural elements, I’ll forever be in awe of all the beautiful details of the Great Reading Room. We added minimal decor, as the space didn’t need a lot. But the arrangements at the altar, the candles, the greenery on the tables, and the string quartet really made the room feel wedding-like. It was beyond my wildest dreams.
What was Southern about your wedding? Both our ceremony and reception were located on the campus of the University of Oklahoma, in buildings that were both built in the 1920s. I think historic buildings and details add a simple and elegant Southern flair. Additionally, we sipped on Southern Comfort (Austin’s favorite!) and Shiner Light Blonde all night long and line-danced to “Copperhead Road.” We also incorporated our “crest” on our wedding cake, invitations, programs, custom-made cups, and signs—and my dad even drew it in chalk along the pathway to the ceremony. We plan to incorporate it in our home someday, too!

What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? Saying our vows to each other in front of our closest friends and family will always be the moment that shines the brightest in my memory. We put a lot of thought into our ceremony, and every detail was a perfect representation of everything Austin and I love, value, and cherish.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Save everything! I’m such a pack rat for sentimental items I even saved all my to-do lists (there were hundreds), because I know one day I will love to look back and remember all the hard work we put in. Our guest room closet is now dedicated to anything that was remotely wedding-related. Additionally, hire a planner and a really good photographer. (For us, that was Blair Sims Events and Emily Ann Hughes Photography!) Trust me, it makes a difference. After that, just enjoy the experience. And always remember to be grateful during the happy times and graceful during the stressful times.

Although Austin and I are not really the mushy-gushy type, we always knew we wanted to write our own vows. We heard from so many guests that they were some of the most emotional vows they’d ever heard! My hope is that it helped our friends and family understand our hearts just a little bit more. We had our hometown church pastor marry us, who also led our pre-marital counseling sessions, too. We both felt so comfortable in his presence and it made our ceremony that much more intimate and personal. We spent our honeymoon in Italy and decided to re-read our vows to each other while we were in Rome. (We were both so nervous standing up in front of everyone that it was hard to remember every single word the other said!) Hearing them again felt as special as it did the first time. That ended up being one of the most special parts of our trip. Here’s a line from Austin’s: “No matter what we plan, or what life throws at us, I will do whatever it takes—no matter how hard—to make you feel loved. A person as amazing as you deserves nothing less than that, and I am the luckiest man in the world to be able to give that to you.” And here’s a line from mine: “Today, as I stand here in front of you, I am still captivated by your selfless, humble, caring and respectful nature as I was the day I fell in love with you. Your heart is the biggest I know. It loves unconditionally and without hesitation. It is forgiving and kind. It always seeks to find the beauty in my madness, and most of all, it loves me for me.”

One of the sweetest moments of the day was when our nieces and nephews screamed, “We’re officially cousins now!” Austin and I are both crazy lucky that our families have grown so close over the years, and on our wedding day it really felt like we were all one big happy family. Both of our parents were beaming with happiness and it made our wedding day that much more special seeing their smiling (and sometimes crying!) faces.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had both a string quartet for our ceremony and a live band for our reception. We kept it pretty traditional for the ceremony. I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” and we recessed to Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.” There is just something about those recognizable songs that just tug at your heart strings. We entered the reception to “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall & Oates (one of my all-time favorites!). Our first dance was “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison. We both felt like that was a song we could see ourselves dancing to in the kitchen when we are both old and grey. It is such a classic song that I’ll never get tired of hearing. For our last dance, we chose “If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen.
What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? For our five-tier wedding cake, Austin and I chose traditional white wedding cake, lemon cake, strawberry cake, and coconut cake with decadent buttercream frosting. For Austin’s groom’s cake he chose chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. We wanted there to be a little something for everyone! I often make sugar cookies for holidays and parties, so I thought it would mean a lot to our guests to make some for the wedding. I made 150 iced sugar cookies in the shape of the state of Oklahoma as a take-home gift (and included a print out of my recipe, too!). As stressful as it may sound, it helped take my mind off of things the week of the wedding—even if it was just for a moment.

Photographer: Emily Ann Hughes Photography | Videographer: Glorious Day Films | Planner: Blair Sims Events | Ceremony Venue: The Great Reading Room in Bizzell Memorial Library | Reception Venue: Molly Shi Boren Ballroom at the University of Oklahoma | Florist: Poppy Lane Design | Wedding Cake: Amy Cakes | Caterer: The University of Oklahoma | Rentals and Lighting: Mood Party Rentals | Band: Drive | String Quartet: Norman String Quartet | Bride’s Gown: “Janessa” by Enzoani from Bridal Boutique | Jacket: “Luna” by Lee-Ann Belter | Bride’s Veil: Alisa Brides | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Chelsey Ann Artistry | Bride’s Shoes: “Barby” by Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” in Mayan Blue by Jenny Yoo | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank

Written with love by Catherine
1 Comment
  1. avatar Morgan reply

    How did you get in contact with someone to get married in the great reading room ? That’s my friends dream and I would love to help her fulfill it! Your wedding was gorgeous!

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Abby and David deeply desire to “live their lives in a way that leaves a legacy of compassion,” and they wanted their wedding to be a reflection of intentionality and authenticity. I think it’s safe to say that this worthy goal was definitely felt throughout their sweet wedding day! Abby and David hosted their guests at Abby’s beautiful family home, where it was easy to create a comfortable and welcoming environment. Abby’s mama, the owner of Brown Eyed Girl Antiques, helped them bring their eclectic aesthetic to life while focusing on keeping guests warm and cozy, complete with family quilts, warm cider, and lots of fire pits for chatting around. If their ear-to-ear smiles are any indication, I’m sure guests were ever so grateful for this hospitality!

Thanks to Someplace Wild for sharing this lovely day with us!

Shortly after David proposed, my family traveled to St. Augustine, Florida where my mom, sister, stepdad, and I went to a few local wedding shops. Choosing my dress was one of the fastest decisions of the wedding planning process! At one store, the owner said she knew just the dress for me. I walked out wearing it, my stepdad got teary-eyed, and I knew that was the one. I had never seen him cry in my life! It was also the perfect fit–I was able to buy it off the rack, which was good because our engagement was only five months long. When we returned to our car, I looked through my wedding folder and found a magazine page of the EXACT dress I had just purchased. It was definitely meant to be!

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I loved being able to have Someplace Wild as our photographer. Christina has an amazing talent of making everyone feel comfortable. I can see every emotion in the faces of guests that she captured. Having her present during my wedding day was a complete joy. I will cherish what she created for years to come.

We had a lot of music throughout the ceremony. David is a musician so this was his area of expertise. We chose “Found a Heart” by Emily Hearn while the bridal party walked down the aisle–we love this song because it really expresses the excitement and magnitude of the wedding day.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We chose to reserve our first look for the ceremony. It took my breath away to see him as I walked down the aisle, and made that moment really special!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I think the key to saving money was keeping the guest list to an intimate size. This was difficult to do, but really helped in the end.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We got married at my family home. It created a comfortable and cherished environment for our wedding day!

My favorite detail of the wedding was having it in my family home and how much of an impact my mom’s decorative style had on the evening. She owns an antique booth called Brown Eyed Girl Antiques, so she was able to salvage and create various environments throughout the night. My favorite pieces were the lanterns with lit candles hanging in the trees! She was a part of every detail and her industrial, eclectic style shined throughout the night. We had a wonderful time working together as a family to create this weekend, with surprisingly minimal arguments :) Many guests stayed late into the night visiting and socializing, even after we had departed. This was a great aspect of having an at-home wedding.

We had a very bohemian-styled cake, courtesy of Caken’ it Easy, that was a textured, three-tiered cake in a classic white with mossy green accents. Lynn Bottoms and Betty Cox, who are local family friends, also made their specialty desserts and added variety to the selection!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The meal was provided by ROUX, a local Southern restaurant. We served cajun shrimp and grits and Lowcountry boil on vintage Blue Willow plates. My stepdad, grandfather, and a local carpenter built a wooden cross as the centerpiece for the ceremony. The wood was obtained from the floor of an old local barn. We provided hand-sewn quilts for our guests as they sat during the ceremony. I gave my bridesmaids vintage brooches to place in their bouquets. I picked them based on personality, hoping they could wear these brooches again! We also had fire pits throughout the yard for guests to sit around and enjoy watching the dancing!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. David and I met through mutual friends at a wedding. I snuck over to his table and ended up spending the majority of the night talking with him! He instantly caught me off guard with his humor and genuine demeanor–I wasn’t even afraid to tell him about my fear of wearing red at weddings or that I had almost read the COMPLETELY wrong scripture during the ceremony (John and 1 John…there is a difference). From the beginning, our friendship was simple and real. We continued to see each other at various events over the next few months. I literally lit up inside every time I saw him, but neither of us had decided to pursue one another quite yet…..until the marriage of the previously mentioned mutual friends! At their wedding, David finally asked for my number and called a few days later. Our first date was at La Fonda, where we spent hours trying to decide what to order between our endless chatter and laughter. We went with the chicken tacos, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! One of the things on our dating bucket list was to hike Stone Mountain and watch the sunrise. David picked me up one Sunday morning at 5:42. I don’t even think I brushed my hair that day…too early. We started our hike around 6:30 am. About halfway up the mountain, I began wondering if maybe we should call it a day and watch the sunrise from the bottom, but David quickly persuaded me to keep going. The view from the top was beautiful, and we picked a rock to sit on and enjoy the sunrise. At one point, I asked David if he had any water in the backpack he had carried up the mountain. He looked at me and said, “No, but you know what I do have in this backpack?” He then got down on one knee with a ring and asked me to be his WIFE! After a few seconds of elation, I turned around to find a few of our best friends, who had trekked up the mountain before dawn to surprise me! As if that was not enough, David had planned a surprise breakfast with our close friends and family when we hiked back down. I cannot tell you how many times I cried tears of joy on this day!
When did y’all get married? November 15, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We had meetings with our pastor for premarital counseling and also read the book “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller. A lot of our focus was on our marriage–we really did not fret over details of the wedding. With the help of our family, I knew it would all come together just as it was meant to.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I would say my most memorable moment was my stepfather and dad walking me down the aisle. My parents separated when I was five years old. A few years later, my mom remarried and my stepdad came into the picture. My stepdad has been a rock in my life and is the most dependable man I know. My father and him get along well, and my dad has also been very active and supportive in my life. Their relationship has always been jovial and supportive. Having these two walk me down the aisle was a great moment of healing and happiness for me and my family. Also, my stepdad is a man of few words. He has always been the provider and “go-getter” rather than the “let’s talk about it” type. He made it clear he wasn’t wanting to make a speech, and requested that my mother give the welcome speech for both of them! This was fine with me, and the planning continued. However, midway through dinner the night of the wedding, my stepdad stood up and asked for the crowd’s attention. I thought he was going to make a general statement about where to go once dinner was completed. Instead, he gave the most eloquent, authentic speech about how proud he was of me and how supportive he was of our marriage. Almost every guest was left speechless and teary-eyed. It was standing ovation-worthy. I will never forget it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We want to leave a legacy of compassion. We want to be remembered as a couple who cares and who can be dependable in a time of need. We want to be remembered as intentional and authentic. I hope the details of our wedding captured this, but we also try to live this principle out in our daily lives as well.

Photographer: Christina Devictor / Planner: Beth Miller and Laura Hintz / Venue: Private residence / Florist: Funky Mountain Flowers / Wedding Cake: Cake’n It Easy / Caterer: Roux on Canton / Rentals: Tents, Tents, Tents / Lighting and Special Details: Brown Eyed Girl Antiques / Music: Jim Drennan and Tory Fallis / DJ: Omar of Spectrum Events / Hair and Makeup: Elle Cardenas / Bride’s Shoes: Antonio Melani / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style #F15555 in Mercury by David’s Bridal / Menswear: The Black Tux

marissa Written with love by Marissa

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