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Erin + Michael buried a bottle of bourbon in the backyard before the wedding in order to bring good weather. It worked! The couple was greeted with temperatures in the mid 70s and sunny skies — the perfect setting for their designed and delightful reception. A game of cornhole and a koozie-wrapped beverage are infinitely better when the sun shines, in my opinion. Of course, after partying away at Erin’s parents’ home, the newlyweds dug up the bottle and brought it with them to the after party!

We are thankful for Melissa Schollaert for sharing this wedding this us and capturing the many happy part of the big day. I won’t spoil it all for you — scroll down and fall in love!

We held the reception under a tent on the property and carried over the concepts we established at the cocktail hour and ceremony with more natural and personal details. Each dining table had its own identity with centerpieces consisting of quirky thrift store and “attic” finds like candleholders, lanterns, old tins, bottles and other chotchkies. As a nod to my interior design background, guests found their table by fabric swatches which were used in the laser-cut table numbers and custom runners under each place setting that were made of the same fabric pattern. To tie in the outdoor setting, we used burlap potato and coffee sacks as chair covers and created a lighting installation with paper lanterns and tree limbs we found in the surrounding woods. Michael and I also have a huge connection through music. We spend so much time together enjoying live shows, so we knew that we had to have a live band — they had to ROCK and that they did! Nationwide Coverage kept the party going and people on the dance floor. Of course, it wouldn’t be a rocking party without a full bar and beer boat. Guests were able to self-serve beer and wine, and hi note created custom bottle openers and koozies as grab-and-go favors. With the help of our friend and officiant, Adam, we were able to have our very own bottled brew at the wedding. I absolutely loved custom the branding and label Michael created for it – it was a huge hit!

Briefly describe your wedding flowers: I wanted really bold, graphic florals for my wedding, but I also wanted them to feel very wild, like you picked them out of your backyard and stuck them in an old coffee tin. Angie from Birch Blooms overwhelmed me with her stunning work! Not only is she the cutest, sweetest and most excited florist I know, but she even surprised me by draping florals from the ceiling — I still tear up when I think about it. The flowers were the icing on the cake. They made all of our hard work designing and planning come to life!

What was Southern about your wedding? For starters, it was in Alabama! Alabama is a really beautiful, lush state, so having it outdoors overlooking Lake Logan Martin really capitalized on the Southern charm of our venue. The South is known for its hospitality, and our wedding was no exception. We were really fortunate to have family members and friends who contributed time, money and a whole lot of elbow-grease to our wedding day.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when planning your wedding? The VENUE! It is not easy planning a wedding at a private home. There are so many things you have to think about in addition to all the other details a wedding would have at a traditional venue — power circuits, garbage, restrooms and cleaning up the next day! It was a great accomplishment to pull it all off!

Tell us a bit about your first dance. (From the groom) Our song was ‘Harvest Moon’ by Neil Young. We both love his music and definitely have a musical connection with this tune.

We paid homage to our love for food with a custom menu from Alan Singleton that consisted of our favorite family recipes. In lieu of a traditional wedding cake, we asked our talented friend, Betsy Distler to create a small personal cake for us. Then, guests were able to enjoy bite-sized versions of our cake flavor and other delicious pastries, as well as our favorite childhood candies.

Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: I was really proud of how the laser-cut doilies turned out. They made such an impact underneath each guest’s plate.
Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? My Aunt Beth. She lives in Australia and was unable to attend, so several of my friends who helped with the wedding Skyped her in so she could be a part of our special day.
What range did your budget fall into? $25,000
Did you have a cocktail hour? (From the groom) Because the sun sets so late in May, we opted to have our cocktail hour prior to the ceremony, so folks could have a snack and cold beverage before the festivities began. Our good friend Felix created a Brat and Burrito bar to honor two of my favorite foods. We also had Erin’s mom’s famous margaritas by the pool. Guests were able to enjoy themselves lounging by the water or playing games in the yard. Our main goal was for everyone to have a blast!
What was the funniest moment? What was the scariest? (From the groom) One of the funniest and also scariest moments was when we read our vows to one another. We both couldn’t even look at them before the ceremony without getting emotional. When the time came, we were both really nervous, but after the first laugh, we were great. Our guests’ dance moves came in a close second for funniest moment.
Were there any family traditions you included in the reception? No traditions per se, but we did have an amazing caterer who took our favorite family recipes and recreated them into a fantastic spread for our buffet.
Did you try anything new or untraditional? Our whole wedding event was the epitome of untraditional, but everything we did was extremely personal and thoughtful, so with that, we created our own traditions.
Tell us about your grand exit. Having our ceremony and reception overlooking the lake, there was no better way to exit than by boat with a little fireworks show to send us off into the night.
What is the one thing that made your wedding different from anyone else’s wedding? It was at the home I grew up in. No one else has ever been married there and probably never will – that is pretty special.
Did you take a honeymoon? If so, where? (From the groom) We are saving up for a first anniversary trip to Italy and Sicily. Erin studied there for a semester in college and it is where I trace my roots back to, so it will be a special place for both of us to visit.
What advice would you give to someone planning his or her wedding? Have a plan, have a budget and STICK TO IT! You will enjoy your big day so much more if you heed this advice.
Who was your favorite vendor and why? All of my vendors are close colleagues and friends, so they are all my favorites, but the one person other than Michael that was integral to making it all happen was my mom. She worked with me every weekend for months designing and planning, tackling the biggest challenge of our lives: to pull off a wedding at her house. I also have to give kudos to Melissa, our photographer. She is one of my very best friends and she spent so much time and effort, weeks at a time, coming to help me work on the wedding.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Kristin reply

    I still die over those lovely personalized corn-hole boards. I love the idea of yard games at a reception! So relaxed and so fun.

  2. avatar Ashleigh from Marry Me Metro reply

    I adore all of the state pride details in this wedding! Too bad between my fiancé and I we have four awesome states that mean something significant to us lol.

  3. avatar Dee Shore reply

    Ok… this is officially my new favorite wedding. The bar. The bar pulls the strings at my heart. The potato sack chair backs, genius!

  4. avatar Sarah reply

    Beautiful! Where was the burlap table runner purchased?

    • avatar Erin reply

      Sarah: Hi Sarah! My company, hi note, specializes in custom stationery and laser cut graphics, so we made custom cut our own stencil out of plastic and painted them ourselves.

  5. avatar liz reply

    Awesome koozies! What company did you use for them? I love how your initials are on the bottom!

  6. avatar Elma Mercer reply

    I loved this spread in V5! I’m a HUGE fan of bouquets… in my mind they are the centerpiece for the wedding! Midnight in the Garden is by far my fav :) The deep red, blush & creme are so rich & warm together. I’m also a huge fan of Mint Julep!

  7. avatar Joya reply

    Where can I purchase the coozie? It is The. Perfect. One!

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Very few of us are lucky enough to be able to celebrate our marriages in the same spot that we developed our relationships. There are, after all, so many things to account for like space, power sourcing, catering kitchens and bathrooms. Fay + Jon were lucky enough to be able to say their vows at Jon’s uncle’s farmland, where they got to know each other and fall in love. It makes their big day even more special to us, especially considering that many of Fay’s family and friends came from across the pond and were able to witness how their story unfolded. “The feeling of having everyone from England and America together for (probably) the only time in our lifetimes was absolutely breathtaking,” said the bride.

We’re so thankful for Katherine Miles Jones who shared this big day with us!

Isn’t Fay’s heirloom ring absolutely stunning? It was a surprise to Jon from Fay’s mother who had come to visit from England just before he popped the question.

“She’d never met Jon in person before, but knew that we’d been talking about marriage. She brought my late grandmother’s engagement ring with her (presuming she’d actually like Jon!). At one point in the week when I wasn’t around, she gave the ring to Jon and told him that if he’d like to, he should propose with it. So when Jon got down on one knee he pulled out this tattered old ring box (the original box) and proposed with my grandmother’s sapphire engagement ring, it was unbelievably special.”

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: The first few dresses I tried on got me really down because I thought I’d like and look good in certain style and I certainly did not! I also wasn’t expecting to find my dress at a chain like David’s Bridal. I’d just gone there because I’m not dress-savvy and they have so many different styles, we thought it would be a great place to get my bearings! After a few that I barely wanted to leave the changing room in, I tried one on that just gave me that feeling. I felt totally myself, and comfortable, and I hadn’t expected to feel that way in any gown. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

We created our entire ceremony with our officiant, who is wonderful and really helped us shape a ceremony that was “us.” She is a Unitarian Universalist, which was very important to me, because I wanted to be married by someone who believes that anyone can be married, no matter who they are and who they’re marrying. My favorite part of our ceremony was asking our friends and family to affirm our vows (which they did, with gusto!). I live 4000 miles away from my family and home, so my friends here have truly become my family. Jon was born and raised in Durham, so he has known many of his current friends for 30 years. For both of us for very different reasons, actively involving our congregation in the ceremony was so important.

How many guests attended your wedding? 150. The number wasn’t very flexible because we got married outside on Jon’s uncle’s farmland, where we spent a lot of time fishing in our early-dating days. We both feel like it’s where we truly got to know each other. Jon’s uncle had a dock built onto the lake especially for the wedding, and we made our altar out of a reclaimed fireplace mantle on the end of the dock.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? We did not do a first look. We flip-flopped on it for a while but in the end, we both wanted to have that moment on the aisle. I wouldn’t change it for the world. People told me to really savor that walk down the aisle, but as soon as I caught Jon’s eyes, I could not look away. It was so intense and so emotional.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had 2 readings, one chosen by each of us. Jon chose “Love” by Roy Croft and I chose “Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda from 101 Love Poems. I loved how the readings really reflected each of our personalities within our relationship.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. All of our “important” songs were by the Avett Brothers. My maid of honor grew up with the boys in this band and she introduced me to them years ago. Their music is a staple in our cars and house, and is pretty much the only music Jon and I can agree on! The pieces were arranged and played acoustically on the day by our good friend who is a guitarist. The bridal party entered to “January Wedding,” I walked down the aisle to “Pretty Girl at The Airport,” and our first dance was “Swept Away.”

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Antlers!! When I first suggested using antlers in the wedding, I got some strange looks from the florist and Chelsey, (and Jon!) But I think they worked perfectly. I’ve always had a little obsession with antlers (I just think they are beautiful) and Jon’s uncle is an avid hunter, so we had no shortage. (Although we did tell my mom they were naturally shed!) They helped tie everything together so well, especially as we didn’t have a massive budget for flowers and decorations.

We never set out with the intention of making our wedding super Southern, but because of who we are, I think it actually turned out to be a really nice blend of Southern and English. Our signature cocktail was a “Southern High Tea” made with sweet tea vodka, and lemonade. We played corn hole with boards painted as the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes. Our dining setup was four long banquet tables running parallel to each other and dinner was served family style. We fought to have this setup fiercely (budget and practicality should have meant the traditional round-table, plated food setup). I really wanted dinner to feel casual and familial, and as if you were at a garden party at the end of summer with everyone eating together. Even though we were under a tent, it felt like we were eating outdoors. I loved it, and I think it really felt like a big homey Southern garden party.

How’s this for a brilliant marriage? Fay + Jon combined their Southern and English roots to create “Southern High Tea” signature cocktails — a fun spin on the notable drink that characterizes both regions.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Neither Jon nor I like cake very much. We decided to have pies for our wedding desserts. Bourbon-pecan-chocolate chip, key lime, buttermilk-sweet potato, and rustic apple… Aren’t you drooling?!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. I went to Duke University and after graduating, had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. I kept the job I’d had through college, which was waitressing at a local restaurant. Jon’s best friend from high school owned the restaurant and he moved from Baltimore to Durham to take a job managing the bar. The rest is history!
Describe the proposal. I had planned a trip to the same cabin where we spent our first anniversary (near Grandfather Mountain), and Jon jumped on the opportunity to be at a place that meant something to both of us. He planned to propose at the Mile High Swinging Bridge at the top of the mountain when we went up there for a hike. We didn’t know that they’d just finished construction on a new visitor’s center up there, so when we got up there, we were joined by a couple hundred other folks. (Not exactly the private moment Jon had hoped for.) We decided to hike up the neighboring peak with our two dogs, instead. Jon proposed on top of a giant (terrifying) rocky outcrop that he had to beg me to climb up on in the first place!
In what month did you get married? September. We wanted to be outdoors as much as possible and you cannot beat a good September night in North Carolina! We couldn’t decide on an actual date, and ended up flipping a coin because neither of us wanted to be responsible for picking a date if it got rained on!
Describe your wedding flowers: Gorgeous! I wanted the bouquets to feel wild and loose (I hate stuffy round pompom bouquets) and our florist did a fantastic job! They were perfectly free and tangly with lots of spilling tendrils of foliage, while at the same time keeping a delicate, antique feel with the colors and blooms used.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Guest list. Having a very fixed number of guests was hard. Narrowing down our guest list was emotionally draining (not to mention time consuming). I still have palpitations thinking about it occasionally!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Our budget was $20,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? CHELSEY (our wedding coordinator). I cannot emphasize this enough. Some people told us it was a waste of money, some people told us a planner would take over and make it their wedding. These people couldn’t have been more wrong. She was invaluable. She enabled us to create a wedding we’d never have dreamt we’d be able to have, and did it while keeping us totally in control. She saved us from driving each other crazy and went above and beyond constantly. She is worth her weight in gold.
The best vendor decision you made: I adore our pictures. I didn’t know what to do at first about a photographer. I like Max Wanger and Jose Villa, and the photographers here that we looked at just don’t do that style of photography. Then I remembered my old friend from summer camp 12 years ago! I’d friended her on Facebook a while ago and though we didn’t regularly keep in contact, I’d vaguely followed her journey to becoming an independent photographer in NYC. I emailed her to ask if she’d be at all interested/inclined to come to NC (where her parents live) to photograph our wedding. I was THRILLED when she said yes! Neither Jon nor I are particularly comfortable in front of cameras and Katherine being an old friend made everything SO easy and natural! And she is so unbelievably talented. The pictures came out better than I could ever imagine!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The laughter. There was so much!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be true to yourselves, no matter what that means. You only get that day once, and it goes by so fast. Make it exactly what you want it to be.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? It’s actually going to be nose to the grindstone for the next few years. There will be a lot of school for me and a lot of work for Jon as he carries us through those student loans! But we are planning a long, adventurous honeymoon somewhere off the beaten track before my course starts.

Gather Together Events is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Ashleigh reply

    LOVE the color of the guys suits! Can you tell me where they came from? I’m having a hard time finding the perfect color for our August wedding!

    • avatar Jon Marin reply

      Ashleigh: The suits were from Jos A Bank. They took great care of us and as far as cost is concerned there isn’t a better price out there. In my opinion it was much better to pay a little more for a suit that they, my groomsmen, could keep versus a rental that they have to return.

  2. avatar sarah der reply

    Ahhhh what a darling, beautiful wedding and such a fun couple! I love, love the elegant and sophisticated–but still sweet and southern–feel to their day. So much love!

  3. avatar Arlissa Vaughn / Special Event Painter reply

    LOVE the UK and USA flag corn hole games. Fun!!

  4. avatar Katherine Miles Jones reply

    Fay and Jon are such a lovely couple–inside and out! It was a joy to work with them!

  5. avatar Emily Alice reply

    Those Avett Brothers songs are so good! I’ve always imagined Swept Away as a great first dance song! Congratulations :)

  6. avatar Valerie (Pieceful Wedding) reply

    This is such a beautiful wedding! I love the soft and natural color palette and that altar is amazing!

  7. avatar Chelsey Morrison reply

    Katherine said it best – a lovely couple inside and out! What an absolute joy this wedding was. Great couple, amazing vendors, and a perfect September day. Thank you to all and especially Southern Weddings for the feature!!!

  8. avatar Emily reply

    Such a dreamy ceremony spot, I thought it must have been from a photoshoot the first time I saw it! :)

  9. avatar Amber Housley reply

    So very pretty! And that sweet dog! Melts my heart. :)

  10. avatar Dee Shore reply

    I actually got teary eyed looking this wedding over. It’s simply beautiful and so ever romantic.

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Kristin + JJ had just two and half months to plan their wedding, but for a couple who has spent most of their relationship long distance, it was the perfect amount of time to pull together the details and say “I do.” The newlyweds filled their outdoor ceremony and reception at the Whitford Plantation with old Southern hymns and sentimental bluegrass. It was the Avett Brothers’ music, after all, who helped Kristin + JJ fall in love. We’re sending out big hugs to Scott Piner who shared this wedding with us!

Since we had only 2.5 months to plan the wedding, I knew I would not have much time to find a dress and that I would have to buy my dress right off the rack and cross my fingers for a very quick seamstress to do any needed alterations. No pressure. While calling many bridal salons in the Raleigh area, my girlfriend and I encountered many shops that would not even consider having me look at their dresses because of my time constraint. Almost defeated, we called one of our thought-to-be long shots and to our surprise, the shop manager answered and graciously welcomed us to come and see their sample dresses that day. The first dress I tried on was an ivory Chantilly lace gown by Vera Wang. I tried on several dresses after, but none compared with the first gown’s blend of the vintage ivory lace with contemporary lines. So I purchased that flawless sample dress for less than half of the marketed price because it was from a previous year’s collection.

How cool are those feather bouts? They were made in memory of Kristin’ grandfather and in celebration JJ, the family’s newest hunter.

Did you write your own vows? No way!! We both felt the same way when we asked each other about the possibility of writing our own vows. We both know how we feel about one another and there was no way either of us could verbalize those thoughts when we were so emotionally charged.

Describe the proposal. We had just finished lunch when I was making brownies for JJ to bring to work. I overheard JJ playing the guitar in the office. I put my brownies into the oven walked with my coffee in hand to sit by JJ and listen to him serenade me. He began to play and sing my beloved ballad by the Avett Brothers; and by this time I had begun to harmonize with his handsome voice. After we finished the song, he crawled over to me and we embraced. The moment was perfect, except that I felt his heart pounding very hard in his chest. As I withdrew to ask him if he was okay, I saw him holding a box out to me and then he asked me. I said yes and we embraced again. I love that our story was low key and involved all my favorite things: baking, coffee, music and my love.

I’m crazy for the antique vases and blue bell jars filled with delicate flowers that K chose as centerpieces.

My most favorite flower is the hydrangea. I have admired them since childhood, when I used to watch my grandmother water and tend to her huge hydrangea bushes in New Jersey. Instead of ornate arrangements we wanted an understated, fresh look. We chose to use a mixture of hydrangeas in blues, greens and whites along with drosophila for added texture and bells of Ireland for height all arranged in the colored canning glass jars JJ and I collected over the two months leading up to the big day.

Describe your wedding cake: Originally, I found myself drawn to the texture and structural designs of a fondant cake, but we were unwilling to sacrifice flavor for design. Our baker, Ali, helped us attain both with a very simple design of a smooth European buttercream frosting while getting the desired texture with simple dots of all sizes and rows of beading.

A sparkly dress and loose hair definitely spell “magical getaway” style to me!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Our relationship was a subject of much prayer, faithfulness of true friends and grace of the Lord. Two and a half years ago, we met through our married friends Lindsay and Bryan. And what do any two married people do when they have two single friends? Try to get them together. Unfortunately at the time, JJ lived in Lake Tahoe and only came home to visit periodically. We met at a couple of times at laid back dinner gatherings with bunches of friends, not getting much time to speak one on one. In fact, one of the first times I really spoke to him was when I was drilling a hole in his nail that he crushed in the garage door the morning prior. Shortly after this, JJ left for a voluntary deployment overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Coast Guard. He emailed me once in the first part of his deployment to fill me on his well-healing nail bed and then returned home during his mid deployment break. During his break, I saw him a couple times at Bryan and Lindsay’s, and we actually were able get to know each other a little better. He returned for the rest of his deployment for the next five months and we exchanged emails getting to know each other. We became and remained friends alone, though. I did not see him until four months after he returned from his deployment, but even through life’s twists and turns, we still ended up at a very familiar place — in Lindsay and Bryan’s backyard laughing and talking by the fire. One night, the boys were playing some familiar songs on the banjo and guitar when JJ started to sing and play my favorite love ballad by the Avett Brothers. Listening to him play and having learned his heart, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him by my side.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Fresh, serene and intimate.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I couldn’t really name just one detail of the wedding that I could call my favorite. Rather, all the crafts that we incorporated into the ceremony and reception truly made our celebration personal. Some of those crafts included the colored glassware we collected, the fan programs, the votive favors made with sea glass from beaches in Hawaii and sand from Atlantic beach, the Chinese lanterns that JJ and our crew hung the day of the wedding, boutonnières I made from duck feathers that JJ and Bryan had captured together, the veil that I bedazzled by gluing 300 Swarovski crystals onto, the flower girl basket I made and decorated, the wreath that hung on the front door to the plantation, and finally, the family pictures of both our parents and grandparents that we displayed at the entrance.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Both JJ and I tend to migrate to a style that seems to be a marriage of contemporary lines with a vintage feel. It was only natural for that to be tone of the wedding. With my affinity for my mom’s antique aqua canning jars, I chose to use a mixture of them for the centerpieces with simple hydrangeas, wild flowers and candles for the centerpieces. In memory of my beloved grandfather and in celebration of the new addition of a hunter to my family, we used of duck feathers for all the gentlemen’s boutonnieres. Even the music reached into the Southern pocket. The ceremony music was a collection of old Southern hymns played on an acoustic guitar, while the first song JJ and I danced to as a married couple was a folk bluegrass favorite by the Avett Brothers. Another Southern touch was the fans we made and gave to guests to cool themselves with during the course of the outside service. One of the largest Southern elements was the backdrop for our wedding ceremony and reception, the beautiful Whitford Plantation. The plantation is a beautifully grand and historic structure with spacious grounds that were owned by a Confederate colonel John Nathaniel Whitford.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge for sure was planning the wedding in 2.5 months. This was mainly due to finding an available venue. Our families are of utmost importance to us and we wanted to make sure that all our families were going to be able to come and be a part of our celebration. Looking back, we both would not want to do it any differently. I believe we would literally pull our hair out if we had to spread planning a wedding over any kind of extended period of time.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I think the most memorable moments of the wedding day were all the little times of respite between JJ and I, when we had a second to take in the fact that the day was actually here. 

What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to being in the same town. Our relationship, including the first two and half months of marriage, has been long distance. We have been commuting three hours to see one another, so it will be awesome just to be able come home to one another.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Everything is so lovely and elegant–the cake is my favorite! Major kudos to the bride and groom for planning such a beautiful wedding in such a short amount of time!

  2. avatar Melissa Vause reply

    BEAUTIFUL wedding for just having two months to plan it!!

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  5. avatar Jenny (Captured Photography by Jenny) reply

    Kristen! You looked amazing! And your wedding was adorable :) Congrats my dear!

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  7. avatar Allen J. reply

    I am surprised that any place would discourage you from looking at what they have. Yes, 2.5 months is not a lot of time but surly it is plenty. Your wedding turned out beautiful. I am happy things went well even with that setback.

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