Y’all know all about the Sweet Tea Society, but you may be slightly less familiar with the Southern Weddings mission statement. It’s posted all over our office, so it’s something that’s always at the forefront of our minds. It goes like this: “Our mission is to inspire brides to cultivate a life full of love–celebrating their families, the culture of the South, and what matters most to them–and then to draw from that rich well to create a meaningful beginning to married life.” Reading through Toree and Forrest’s interview, I could hardly believe how much they brought this exact mission to life. From the farm-turned-venue that has been in Torree’s family for generations, to the “call to community” Forrest’s father made during their ceremony, to the oh-so-Southern “front porch” of their reception tent, and more, every moment and detail celebrated their families and overflowed with love.
Thank you so much to Mary Rosenbaum for sharing Toree and Forrest’s beautiful wedding with us!
When I started looking for wedding dresses, I wanted lace, a keyhole back, and straps or sleeves. We went to several different shops and found a few dresses that I liked, but none that screamed “That’s it!” My mom and I made a couple more appointments for the next weekend, and in the meantime I tried on her wedding dress. I loved the lace bolero she wore! We wound up going back to Olia Zavozina, where I had tried on a simple dress. I fell in love with it when I learned they would be able to incorporate the lace from my mom’s wedding dress onto mine.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes, we did! Forrest and I wanted to have some time alone together before the ceremony. It was a sweet time to calm our nerves and reflect on what the whole day was about. Also, seeing each other first allowed us to take most of the pictures before the ceremony. We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss any part of the reception we had been planning for so long.
We got married on my family’s farm, so it was very special to us! I grew up going to the farm, and in the recent years, I had often thought about how pretty it would be to get married out there. The part of the farm where we got married came through my dad’s paternal grandmother. She was born there and the ceremony took place in the orchard where she played as a little girl. My grandfather was the only child of four who stayed and carried on the farming tradition. My grandfather passed away in 1987 and the farm was rented out because no one lived there at that time. My dad purchased the farm back in 2011, in less than pristine condition. I didn’t know if it would be a possible venue, because the only structures on the farm were a century-old barn and my great-grandmother’s house that had not been occupied since 1940, but my parents embraced the idea of a farm wedding, and from then on, it was a team effort. The countless weekends and hours my parents, brothers, and friends spent working on the farm made the idea possible. Being married on the family farm embodied the ideas of legacy and community that we wanted to emphasize on our wedding day.
We didn’t have a specific Scripture reading, but Forrest’s dad led a charge to community. He explained the importance of community and how each guest at the wedding played a part in shaping who each of us is. He made statements such as “If you were at the hospital when Toree or Forrest was born, please stand up” or “If you went to school with Toree or Forrest, please stand up.” By the end of the statements, every guest was was standing and we sang a congregational hymn, “In Christ Alone.” It was a beautiful testimony to how blessed we are by the people in our lives.
Oh y’all…the next two pictures make my heart leap! So beautiful.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I think the whole wedding was Southern! The wedding took place on the family farm. Our love story was written (in short) on barn wood leading up to the wedding site. The guests were brought up to the ceremony site by hay trailers covered in quilts and pulled by my dad’s antique Ford tractor. The drink bar was made out of barn wood and we served lavender lemonade and sweet tea. Passed hors d’oeuvres included mini BLTs and sweet potato biscuits with country ham. There was a “front porch” on the tent. Dinner was a buffet of Southern fare, including squash casserole, farmer’s green salad, homegrown tomato and mozzarella, fresh seasonal fruits and berries, an assortment of homemade breads, and more. At each place setting, there was a monogrammed napkin in a burlap and lace silverware holder. The tablescapes included linen, burlap, lanterns, and family silver.
The wedding cake was white with buttercream icing. It was a round three-tiered cake, and each tier had a different pattern in the icing. We had to consider the weather when making cake decisions, and although fondant might have been the best option for the warm temperatures, I was not a fan, so the cake was the very last thing set up before the wedding began! The groom’s cake was a square, two-tiered chocolate cake with chocolate icing, covered in chocolate-covered strawberries, and it was placed on an American flag table. We also had cookies and milk as a post-dancing snack, which guests could also take them home as a favor.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved having a live band. They played a variety of music that kept all of the guests entertained on and off the dance floor. From easy listening music during dinner to songs that had our college friends and grandparents on the dance floor, the band really made the party.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The Chinese wish lanterns! After dinner and cake, all of the guests came out into the field to light the wish lanterns. Guests worked together to light and send off the lanterns into the night sky. We watched them float up and across the farm until they blended in with the stars. It was a beautiful sight!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in middle school and even “dated” for a week in eighth grade! We went to different high schools, but remained friends and kept in touch. We eventually wound up at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville together, and during November of our sophomore year, we officially became a couple. I left to study abroad that January (2010), and we were not able to talk, or even email, that often, so we kept journals. When I got home in May, we read the journals to each other, and it was amazing how similar our thoughts and entries to each other were! In the fall of 2010, Forrest and I found ourselves talking about getting married. A year later, I left for Memphis to begin pharmacy school while Forrest stayed in Knoxville. It was a hard year apart, but enduring the long distance proved our commitment to one another. In May 2012, the week after I got back from Memphis, we took a trip to the beach and he proposed!
Tell us all about the proposal! We were headed to Florida with friends for our annual May beach trip. Forrest and I got there before the other couple arrived and he asked if I wanted to go for a walk on the beach. While we were walking, I noticed he was being extra sweet. Right as I realized what was happening, he turned to me and told me how much he loved me. The next thing I knew, he was down on one knee asking me to marry him! I said “YES!!” Then, he told me to look up at the boardwalk and wave to the photographer (little did I know, it was one of my best friends), because we were going to meet him at the sailboat to take pictures. We went back to the house and got dressed for “engagement pictures,” and when we returned to the beach, both of our parents were at the sailboat! I had no clue they were in Florida! We went to the house Forrest’s parents were staying at to celebrate, and there on the porch were a dozen of our college friends and the rest of our families. I will never forget that day and week with our closest friends at the beach celebrating our engagement!
When did y’all get married? June 8, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we wrote our own vows. Our favorite phrase was “I will pursue you with a love that bears all things, believes all things, and hopes all things until we return to the garden in Christ’s promised covenant.” Christ is the foundation of our lives and marriage. Our prayer is to fiercely pursue one another with love that endures the hardships of marriage. Until the day that we walk with God, Forrest and I will strive to put one another before ourselves.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. It was very important to us that our entire ceremony was Christ-centered, so all of the songs were instrumental hymns. The moms and grandmother were seated to “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” was played while the bridal party walked down the aisle. I walked down the aisle to “Before the Throne of God Above.” “Be Thou My Vision” was played after we exchanged rings and while the congregation prayed silently for us. We walked out to “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. We felt like it was a good transition song from the seriousness of the ceremony to the party of the reception.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! I had my monogram and wedding date in blue on a patch inside my dress. My Jimmy Choo shoes were new. My grandmother’s rings were tied to my bouquet as my something borrowed, and the lace on my dress from my mom’s dress was my something old.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge was our venue. While it had lots of character and meaning to us, there were so many basic things that had to be meticulously planned to make it all work. From bathrooms to lighting to power to parking to food preparation, every detail had to be thought out.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We made several things ourselves and called in help from our friends! We made the silverware holders, the flower boxes for the aisles, and the favors, and we took old Starbucks Frappaccino bottles and turned them into personalized milk bottles. A friend monogrammed all of the dinner napkins. One friend made the chocolate chip cookies. Another friend split buying the table cloths with us so that we had enough for our wedding and then theirs. A church friend let us borrow mercury glass and another friend let us borrow burlap table toppers she had made. Many of my mom’s friends were there to help set up and decorate on the morning of the wedding.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Remember that at the end of the wedding, you will be married, and that is the most important part of the entire event!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We look forward to writing our own story through shared hobbies, outdoor adventures, and having out best friend as our roommate! Forrest is looking to start his career as an intern architect and I will be finishing my last year of pharmacy school at the University of Tennessee.
Photographer: Mary Rosenbaum / Videographer: Bryant Bural / Planner: Marcia Husband / Venue: Private residence / Florist: Cathy Miller and Jimm Wright of Spring Hill Florist and Gift Shop / Cake Baker: Barbara Owen / Cookies: Sandy’s Cookies / Caterer: Kristen Winston Catering / Rentals: Stewart’s Special Events / Lighting: Tech Works Decorative Lighting / Band: The Craig Duncan Band / Bride’s Gown: “Elegant Dream” by Olia Zavozina / Paper Products Printing: Coleman’s Printing / Hair Stylist: Premier Haircuts Cool Springs / Makeup Artist: Fern Lawson / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Rhea” in Grey Ridge by Donna Morgan / Men’s Attire: “Traveler’s Suit” in Navy by Jos A. Bank / Ties: The Tie Bar / Bathrooms: Royal Restrooms