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We love when things come full circle! Samantha + John’s photo in our Engaged Reader Round-Up was too adorable (read their proposal story and it gets even better!) Their April wedding by the water took place just a few miles from the Southern Weddings office and was full of community-made charm. I love that Samantha’s lace dress was a Goodwill find and that she and her new hubs decided to mix their two favorite love songs together for a dream walk down the aisle. (And bonus points to Samantha for sharing one of my favorite songs, too!) We’re dishing out big hugs to our friend, Nancy Ray who captured all of S + J’s sweet moments.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: We had a very tight budget to work with ($2000), and I had just seen a feature in which the bride found her dress at a second-hand shop. I kind of scoffed and thought, “Well that would be nice, but how often does that actually happen to people?!” A week later, I was in Goodwill and saw a gown bag hanging, and thought I’d give it a look-see, preparing for 80s-style gigantic tulle sleeves. Instead, I found a lovely, simple white wedding gown. It was marked at $100 and I was alone, so I just kept walking. For months I wondered about that dress, but figured it had already been bought. Later, I went back with my roommate looking for a pie plate and left with THAT gown, which had been marked down to $50 and fit me like a glove! The manager of the Goodwill actually stopped and shook my hand, saying “We’ve been waiting for the right lady to find that dress, and you’re it!” I may not have had a boutique experience, but that was perfect!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided not to. I adore first look photographs, and think it’s a great decision for many couples! John and I both felt the same in waiting until I was coming down the aisle. I just think there is something so precious and timeless about a bride being revealed and presented as she walks down the aisle toward her husband-to-be.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Our friends made up a small acoustic ensemble of a guitar, banjo, violin, and piano. It was phenomenal and just what we wanted! John and I are both musicians so the songs we chose and the instrumentation were very important to us. I had always hoped to walk down the aisle to the theme of one of my favorite movies, Romeo + Juliet, Balcony Scene/Kissing You.” John had always dreamed that his bride would walk down the aisle to a song from his favorite movie, Braveheart, “The Secret Wedding.” We arranged both themes together in one song, and it was absolutely gorgeous and perfect for us! We recessed to the We Bought A Zoo theme by Jonsi. Our first dance was “This Magic Moment” by Ben E King and the Drifters, a la Squints and Wendy Peffercorn from The Sandlot.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did. I was actually freaking out a bit because it was the last thing we had to figure out and we did it the day before the wedding! John and I met the morning before our wedding day, prayed, developed a kind of structure we’d go with, and parted ways for a few hours. I went to the dock by the lake and prayed again and then just started writing. Later we met with our friend and officiant, Dan, who helped us make some small tweaks, but was clear to tell us how perfect our vows were! It’s hard to pick a favorite line or phrase because every line was packed with meaning. It was definitely a special moment for us and for everyone who was there to witness.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Psalm 45, which was originally written as a wedding song. It’s beautiful.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Both John and I were born and raised in Raleigh, with both of our families having a long heritage in the area. I’ve always wanted an outdoor wedding, so when we were offered the house and considered the budget, all of those quaint and lovely Southern details came about very naturally. We used hay bales for seating and decor, rocking chairs, mason jars for drinking and decor, corn hole that my brother-in-law made, and many Southern vintage touches all over.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: I asked the many Southern cake-makin’ women in my life to bring their best homemade cakes and pies for all to enjoy! We had a mix of coconut cake, pineapple cake, carrot cake, apple pies, and more. Southern women are serious about baked goods.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Food! Our good friends are amazing chefs and have experience in catering, so they purchased all the ingredients and spent two days making all of the food! It was like a good ol’ family reunion. We had potato salad, baked beans, three kinds of cole slaw, and of course, a pig pickin’.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. John and I met almost 10 years ago! He is my best friend, Jess’s little brother. The many years that I spent at their house eating meals, making music and hanging out, John was always just like my little brother — but everyone knew he had special eyes for me. I went off to college and we both dated other people and lost touch with one another. When I graduated and moved home, I was single and began working at the same Chick-fil-A as John. It was there, on our lunch breaks, that we re-kindled our friendship and I got to know John as a very wise, adventurous, loving, and handsome young man. Soon after I moved home, however, he moved to Africa for three months, leaving our relationship being a little difficult to interpret. After 10 years, we had never once spoken about any romantic feelings between us! So, I waited and hoped he was feeling the same as I was. When he came home, it was clear. He was a man on a mission to win my heart! We dated for a year and were engaged for four months.
Describe the proposal. John and I had openly talked about our intentions and had been looking at different styles of rings, so I knew a proposal was coming but had no idea how surprised I would be! One night, after falling asleep, I heard a knock on my bedroom window. Certain there was an intruder, I turned on the light prepared to run into my roommate’s room when I hear “Sam! Sam! It’s me John!” Still groggy-eyed and heart racing, I opened the door to him with a huge smile on his face. He passed me a note and said, “I’ll be out here when you’re ready.” The note had a list of things to pack: two outfits, one warm and one nice. We were off on a midnight road trip! John had made a bed for me in the back of the car, complete with blankets and pillows. Hours later, we arrived at a small cove at one of our favorite beaches. John parked the car facing the sunrise, set up the back with roses and candles, and after some sweet words, got down in the sand on one knee.
In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? Approximately 130
Describe your wedding flowers: They were a mix of tulips, stock flowers, snapdragons, and asters, cut fresh and locally grown from Homestead Flower Farms. They were arranged by family and friends.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The fact that so many of our closest friends and family came together that weekend and helped make it happen. A friend of mine told me later that it reminded her of the Amish. People just came together and brought whatever was needed to make sure it happened beautifully — and it did! Everyone loved having a hand in making it happen. When the sun went down and the trees lit up with lights and hanging lit mason jars, that was pretty magical!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Less than $10,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It’s so difficult to pick just one, but I’d have to say the whole ceremony. There was something so tangible, special and inclusive about our ceremony. I’ll never forget how blue and intense John’s eyes were as they set on me, coming toward him down the aisle. We just locked our gaze. The sun was just over us, peeking out from behind the clouds with a light breeze, and I had a peace and presence of mind the whole time to remember it all. Saying our vows was the most precious moment, and many of our guests agree that it was theirs, as well.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Embrace the craziness. A good friend of mine told me that there would be stressful moments, and no matter how great I was at planning and organizing, there was no way around it. So don’t be discouraged! Embrace the stress, craziness, and alleged “imperfections” as good, normal, beautiful things. You’re getting married — aim to enjoy it all!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? John and I love to make music and we love to travel. We’re currently set up in our cozy home in Raleigh with our instruments and dreams of living in a number of other countries as ministers. We’re also looking forward to having lots of kids! We’re not sure how those things all go together, but we’ll find out.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Lauren reply

    Everything about this wedding is absolutely perfect, right down to the shot gun shells stuffed with flowers! I dream about a wedding like this one! Thank you for sharing your special day.

  2. avatar amanda reply

    It’s not very often that a GROOM catches your attention but that groom is adorable!! He looks SO insanely happy I can’t stand it! LOVE LOVE LOVE. The pictures at the end with the bride in the short dress are my fave, they are so dreamy! It’ just a fun wedding filled with l-o-v-e! Perfection!

    • avatar Nicole reply

      Hi Amanda! I absolutely agree — I love how happy this groom is to marry his sweetie! Their engagement photo is just as adorable.

  3. avatar Victoria reply

    I think the humility and genuineness of this couple shines so much through this interview and the way they handled their wedding, so precious and inspiring!

  4. avatar Ashley reply

    What a beautiful wedding! I love Suzanna’s Antiques and I’ll definitely be shopping there for my upcoming wedding :) Such sweet details!

  5. avatar Maddison reply

    Who is that lovely man in the suspenders? Is he single? I love this wedding! I just love down to earth weddings!

  6. avatar Liz reply

    Nicole/Anyone know where the flower crown that the bride is wearing in the last couple of pictures is from?!?! I love it :)

    • avatar Samantha reply

      Liz: Hi Liz! Here is the link to this head piece

  7. avatar wedding wednesdays : 6.27.12 | beka stays reply

    […] post credit : southern weddings […]

  8. avatar Megan reply

    Hello! I was wondering where I can find a mint colored gingham shirt! I love the look but have yet to find one for my future hubby!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Megan! J.Crew is always my best source for gingham shirts. They don’t have any online right now, because they’re not really in season, but check early next spring! In the meantime, they do have this solid oxford that looks like it’s mint:

  9. avatar Lauren Shaw reply

    Hello! I love this whole look. Can you tell me where this venue was? Thanks!

  10. avatar Pamela reply

    The Wedding was beautiful …they are so cute

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What is it about ceremonies under giant trees that are so romantic? Ansley + Carlton decorated with a simple streamer backdrop and we think it’s all they need to create a lovely space. The couple looked mighty sharp with the bride in an Essence of Australia dress and the groom in a slim fitting tux, but a late night wardrobe change added a punch of fun to the getaway. We’re dishing out hugs to The Reason who shared this wedding with us!

For a bridal party that looked so sharp in the end, it was a rocky road to sartorial splendor: Two days before the wedding we went to pick up the groomsmens’ tuxedos only to find out that the tuxedo shop had gone completely out of business. We were not notified by anyone, the lights were off, and (literally) one pair of shoes and a sewing machine were all that was left behind! Luckily, after a lot of stress, a logistics miracle, and a team effort by our families (with a special “shout out” to the mother of the groom!), everyone had a tux on wedding day.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our wedding was on a pecan farm in middle Georgia. The ceremony was held in the midst of the orchard. We enjoyed our first meal on the candle lit back porch of an old Georgia home originally built in 1804. We added some Southern fun into the cocktail hour with corn hole, bocce ball, and bourbon-based Manhattans. Our guests chowed down at the grits bar, on pork tenderloin sliders on sweet potato biscuits, and on braised beef brisket with Coca Cola gravy.

From the groom: Our first dance was amazing, and a little bit surreal. We took a few lessons at Firefly Studios in Decatur and our first song was “I’m Your Man” by Michael Buble. It felt as if we were floating in time… there were several big dips and, fortunately, I didn’t drop her!

We adore these next photos because they seem to represent the best of the South, and, really, the goal of most weddings: enjoying time with the ones you love (bonus points for involving a porch and rocking chairs!). And the late night snacks of PB&J, milk shooters, and a nacho bar? THAT is gooder than grits.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We bumped into each other at Georgia Tech our freshman year of college and met again later that year through a mutual friend. We instantly became friends and were just that for three years. Gradually, our feelings grew for one another. Nights out with big groups turned into long talks, lunches, and romantic dates by ourselves. It was almost strange when we realized how much time we were spending thinking about one another and that our relationship had become more than “just friends”.
Describe the proposal: Carlton proposed in black tie, in the middle of the night while I was sleeping, in complete darkness…the only glow coming from the flashlight aimed at the ring! We then left immediately and spent the next three days in different locations throughout Georgia: The Mansion on Peachtree in Atlanta, Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville, and Cedar House Inn & Yurts in Dahlonega, where our immediate family members joined us for two days in North Georgia wine country.
In what month did you get married? October
How many guests attended your wedding? 220
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: (From the groom) The lighting from the hanging lanterns and string lights to the lamps at the bar. (From the bride) The dessert area with the antique doors, suitcases, and lace doilies followed by a really close second: our late night snack of a nacho bar with all the toppings imaginable, and Carlton’s PB&J with milk shooters.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I never would have tried on my wedding dress had my mom not insisted. After trying on what felt like hundreds, I put it on and actually used the word “love.” I changed the crystal beading in the flowers on the dress to a matte black to give it a little more personality. Knowing that I wanted to be able to let loose and dance, I had to have a short dress for the reception and was able to find the perfect one at Urban Outfitters.
Describe your wedding flowers: I don’t know a lot about flowers, but the one thing I did know was that I wanted something bright and wild flower-esque. Technically we didn’t have “colors” for our wedding so this was our way of adding a bright pop. They turned out even better than we could have imagined.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Neither one of us felt like we had to have a wedding cake, so we decided to go with cupcakes. We had red velvet, Guinness, vanilla, and carrot cake. They were out of this world!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? For Carlton, it was the band. For me, the photography and videography.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? (From the bride) I had about 15 minutes alone, sitting on the back porch of the house drinking a beer. I was watching all the guests walk down the path into the field to be seated for the ceremony and I could almost see Carlton standing at the front. It was the one moment of calm where I was really able to take it all in.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided to do a “first look” or as we liked to call it, “the Big Peek.” We thought this would calm our nerves a bit pre-ceremony and would give us time to spend together before the wedding. The biggest reason of all, though, was so that we could take pictures beforehand and start the celebration right after the ceremony.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? There is a significant amount of small details that add up quickly as the wedding approaches. Plan as much as possible as early as possible! Also, having a wedding planner, if for nothing other than the day of the wedding, will allow you to relax and live in the moment while she/he handles the many inevitable crises, large or small.

Photographer: The Reason // Videographer: The Reason // Planner: Simply Charming Socials // Design/Décor: Simply Charming Socials and Ashley Pepitone Design // Venue: Specht Farm // Florist: Birch Blooms // Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: The Little Cake Bakery // Caterer: Endive // Rentals: Don’s Special Event Rentals // Linens: Endive // Lighting: Don’s Rentals and Simply Charming Socials // Bride’s Ceremony Dress: Essence of Australia // Bride’s Reception Dress: Urban Outfitters // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Their own

Simply Charming Socials is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

We love these weddings, too!
Meg + Josh’s colorful barn wedding here and here.
Laurie Anne + Taylor’s intimate ceremony and string lights reception here and here.
Meghan + Michael’s outdoor afternoon wedding here.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Ashley Pepitone reply

    Carlton and Ansley are such a beautiful couple, inside and out, and this was such a fun wedding to be a part of. I loved being able to work with two of my very favorite vendors in the industry- Simply Charming Socials and Birch Blooms. Thank you so much for featuring this wedding, it was one I will never forget! xoxo

  2. avatar molly reply

    OHILOVETHIS! we had corn hole at our wedding, too… so i can relate to that awesomeness. but i just love the personal touches. beautiful!

  3. avatar Chris + Allie Bartelski reply

    One of our favorite weddings! Loved everything about it – the couple, vendors, details, everything! Thanks for featuring. :)

  4. avatar Featured . Southern Weddings reply

    […] loved everything about this wedding and are so glad it’s featured today on Southern Weddings. Check out the full post here! See more of Ansley + Carlton on their Engagement, Details, Wedding, and Video […]

    • avatar Caroline reply

      Featured . Southern Weddings: This wedding is beautiful!! How can I find Specht Farms as a possible location for my upcoming wedding? Is there a way you can send me contact information for the place?

  5. avatar Plum Pretty Sugar Loungerie reply

    Such a dreamy wedding!!


  6. avatar Coretta/Stella & Dot Jewels reply

    Really well done event! There is a LOT to love about this one. Congrats!

  7. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    Love the details of this wedding. The hanging lights and cupcakes were so cute!

  8. avatar Jenny (Captured Photography) reply

    What an adorable couple. Her laugh is so stinkin cute!

  9. avatar Jayson @ Jayson and Rachael Photography reply

    Beautiful wedding and the details are simply stunning. However, I would have liked to see a couple more of the bride and groom. The details are beautiful but the day is about the couple. -Jayson and Rachael

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Jayson and Rachael! Thank you so much for offering your feedback! The mix of detail and couple shots is definitely a delicate balance, and one that we’re always working on. We try to include enough couple shots so that readers can get a feel for the day, but enough detail shots so that it’s a useful feature in terms of inspiring their own planning. And of course, we couldn’t agree more that the DAY is about the couple, but the blog post is a bit more about their wedding day details! :)

  10. avatar Friday Favorites | Elizabeth Ashleigh reply

    […] hanging lights and streamers, antique pieces, Coca Cola gravy and dinner on the back porch, this Georgia wedding is dripping in southern […]

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    […] by The Reason on Southern Weddings via […]

  13. avatar Wedding Decor That Is Fun & Frugal reply

    […] Using string lights as lighting for your wedding is a simple, inexpensive way to add some sparkle. You can hang these in trees if you're having an outdoor wedding, and they also work well hung on walls or up near the ceiling. Want a more romantic look? Try using a transparent fabric in front of the lights. This will help to diffuse the light a bit (and will also work to hide the cords!). photo photo […]

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Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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