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Year after year, our sweet real wedding brides have proclaimed that their most memorable wedding day moments occur during their ceremonies. This year is no exception: from exchanging of specially written vows to walking back up the aisle as husband and wife, wedding ceremonies tend to hold treasured moments that are made even more special with sweet details. Everything from jaw-dropping ceremony backdrops to very special reserved seating for the parents of the bride. Our 2016 real weddings were overflowing with incredibly meaningful details and moments, and we’re excited to share ten favorites with you!

Abigail + Ben’s ceremony under the trees by Callie Davis from Nancy Ray Photography

Veronica + Patrick’s chapel ceremony by Ashley Cox Photography

Nicole + Tyler’s ceremony seating by Jennifer Blair

Katie + John’s ceremony arch by Jillian Michelle

Katie + Alex’s chapel doors designed by Blue Ridge Floral Design (Photograph by Rachel May )

Jenna + Dom’s love story walk by Molliner Photography

Oliva + Scott’s ceremony backdrop designed by Leigh Pearce (photograph by Anna Paschal)

Jessica + Zach’s wedding party signage by Simply Jessica Marie (Photograph by Perry Vaile)

Amy + Mike’s ceremony aisle designed by Sapphire Events (photograph by Arte De Vie)

Corinne + Eric’s ceremony getaway by Graham Terhune

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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Based on details alone, it’s clear that Olivia and Scott threw a Southern soirée, but amidst the bow ties, pearls, and bourbon lemonade lies much more. Olivia imagined a day that felt like an effortlessly elegant Southern dinner party, so with the help of their planner, Blue Ribbon Vendor Leigh Pearce, they planned a wedding day that focused on serving their guests well as gracious hosts and honoring the traditions of their families. While lots of newlyweds struggle to fill their new homes with thoughtful pieces, I love the way Leigh encouraged Olivia and Scott to look for decor that could be easily reused after their wedding in their home. I bet those same pieces will go on to become heirlooms for future generations to cherish!

Big hugs to Anna Paschal Photography for sharing this dreamy day with us!

My experience finding a dress was one of epic fairy tale proportion. Along with my mom and sister, I traveled to Hayden Olivia in uptown Charlotte. The consultant encouraged me to pick at least one or two gowns that I had not pictured myself in–something outside my comfort zone. I began making my selection and was lured in by the youthful, uber feminine designs of Hayley Paige. I especially loved the cascading striped silk organza of the Guindon gown, and knew it had to be my wild card pick. After a few gowns, the consultant decided it was time I tried on my “just for fun” pick. The feeling I felt as I wore the gown was transformative–I felt more myself than I had ever been. Needless to say, Guindon became a pivotal inspiration piece for the entire wedding!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, Scott and I did decide to do a first look. At first, we were a little unsure if a first look would be right for us, but after talking with Leigh Pearce, Anna Paschal, and our rabbi, we decided it would be perfect fit. We wanted to spend as much time as possible with our friends, family, and loved ones after the ceremony. The first look also gave Scott and I an opportunity to create and share a special moment alone together prior to the ceremony.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I had always dreamed of an outdoor wedding. As we began looking for wedding venues, Scott and I wanted to find a place that felt refined, yet organic. We immediately fell in love with the expansive and stately oak trees found at one of the ceremony sites at Summerfield Farm.

I looked through various issues of Southern Weddings and selected a few of my favorite phrases to create my vows. My favorite lines were: “I, Olivia, take you, Scott, as you are this day, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become. I promise to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and accept your support. I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they are my own. I will love you and have faith in your love for me through all that life may bring. May my heart be your shelter and my arms be your home. With these words, and all the words of my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours.”

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Do bow ties, pearls, and bourbon lemonade count? The whole design of our wedding was Southern. Southern design, to me, is understated elegance and effortless tradition. It is as if you went out into the backyard, gathered some flowers from your garden, went into the dining room and brought out the pressed linens and the Sunday china, grabbed the heirloom silver, whipped up a deliciously fresh meal, and lit a few candles, all while say to your guests, “Really, it was nothing. Glad you could make it”. The focus on our guests and our efforts to be gracious hosts were the most Southern parts of our wedding.

We chose a selection of small round layer cakes to accompany our main three-tiered round layer cake. The cakes ranged in flavors from strawberry buttercream, to raspberry lady cake, to chocolate mocha cake. The cakes’ decorations were very simple–we used white frosting with a beaded border around the bottom, adorned with real blooms.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Scott and I met in college in August 2008. We both remember the very first moment we laid eyes on each other, standing in the hallway of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house. Scott was a sophomore and I was a freshman. We instantly connected over whatever music was playing at the time and continued to connect over various topics in the weeks to come. However, it took Scott almost three years and a sort of happenstance meeting to officially ask me out on our first date. Our first date will forever be one of best memories, besides our wedding, of course. On both occasions, we danced and sang the entire night away.
Tell us all about the proposal! I can honestly say the proposal was a COMPLETE surprise and that it happened months before I thought it might! I grew up on a farm and have ridden and owned horses since the tender age of five. In third grade, as I started to grow not only in size, but in skill, as an equestrian, my parents gifted me with an American Quarter Horse named Sundance. I loved him from the moment I met him! In late fall 2013, as Sundance began to age and reach “old man” status (30 years old), I mentioned to Scott and my family how very much I would love to have my picture taken with Sundance as a sort of memento. On December 1 of that year, while Scott and I were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, they surprised me with a professional photography session with Sundance. As Sundance and I neared the end of our photo shoot, the photographer suggested I turn the horse around and position Scott into one of the last frames. I turned Sundance around and came to spot Scott kneeling on the ground. I immediately asked him what he was doing, reminding him it was not safe to be on the ground around horses. Well…he pulled out a little box and a gorgeous diamond ring! He nervously uttered lots of sweet and meaningful words and I said “Yes!” The whole proposal was caught on camera.
When did y’all get married? May 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Scott and I planned for our marriage by meeting with our rabbi once a month during a large portion of our engagement. We have really come to cherish those monthly meetings, and they are one of the reasons we were able to create such a deeply meaningful ceremony.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Having a custom invitation suite and calligraphed envelopes was really important to me. The invitation is the first tangible piece of the big day guests will encounter. I always look at invitations as a suggestion of all the beauty yet to come. In order to stay within my budget for invitations and paper, I decided to forgo paper items like individual menus and programs. I also decided learn the art of modern calligraphy so I could address the invitations, create the place cards, and hand-paint the table numbers and signage myself. I walked away from my wedding day with the man of my dreams and a new skill to boot!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Leigh Pearce, my planner, and Anna Paschal, my photographer, obviously! Those ladies were such a blessing and I felt so fortunate to have found them. I am really glad that I listened to every piece of their advice, especially, when Leigh advised me to look for decor items that I could also use in my home after the wedding. Many of the pieces we used during our wedding have now become heirloom-quality decor in our home.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Beyond working to build a life together, I would have to say travel and adventure. On our honeymoon, Scott and I decided that each year for our anniversary, we would plan a special trip for the two of us. We are very excited to celebrate our first anniversary in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands–we have made arrangements to stay in an eco-tent resort for the first leg of our trip. For the first time ever, we will be traveling with just a backpack filled with the bare necessities, and we simply can’t wait to see what exciting revelations come when traveling ultralight!

Photographer: Anna Pachal Photography | Planner: Leigh Pearce Weddings | Venue: Summerfield Farm | Florist: The Farmers Wife | Cake Baker: Maxie B’s | Caterer: Fresh. Local. Good. Food Group | Rentals: Party Makers Event Rentals | Lighting and DJ: K2 Productions | Paper Products: Four Things Paper | Bride’s Gown: “Guindon” by Hayley Paige | Bride’s Earrings: Haute Bride | Bride’s Custom Sash: Davie & Chiyo | Bride’s English Net Veil: Tessa Kim | Hair and Makeup: Carla White | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “D468” by Alfred Sung | Groom’s Attire: Brooks Brothers and Canali | Bow Ties: The Tie Bar | Groomsmen Attire: Brooks Brothers and Michael Kors

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

    Love her description of the reception as a Southern dinner party. Now it makes me want to throw a dinner party of my own!

  2. avatar Brooke Paris reply

    This story is SO similar to my own; it is my own Hayley Paige dress is serving as inspiration for the general look and intimate details of the reception we are planning- my groom just doesn’t know that everything comes together so well quite yet ;)!

    I have been searching for swiss dot details EVERYWHERE- do you know where those fabrics are from?

  3. avatar Leigh Pearce reply

    Thanks for the feature SW!! I just loved working with Olivia and Scott. A pair of true sweethearts!

    Brooke, email me at leigh@leighpearceweddings.come and I will see if I can hunt down that fabric source for you. Olivia’s mom sourced and created the chuppah draping. It was one of my favorite details!! xoxo

  4. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Lovely detail! Great shots

  5. avatar Doting on Dots, Part Two: People & Parties – The Dandelion PatchThe Dandelion Patch reply

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The ranks of our Blue Ribbon Vendors are swelling daily! We wanted to take a minute to introduce you to some of our newest additions, because we just know you’ll love them! Without further ado…

Andi Mans Photography is based in Orlando and has a boundless enthusiasm for life, love, photography, and her couples!

We love the selection of gowns at Bellissima, a couture shop in Salisbury, NC.

Blush by Brandee Gaar is a full-service design and coordination firm based in Orlando. She loves to pluck details from the love stories of her couples!

Eric Boneske and his team deliver beautiful images and a fun experience for their clients around the country from their home base in Wilmington, NC.

To me, there’s something about Jessica D’Onofrio’s images that feel cinematic, filled with rich colors and epic moments. She is based in Dallas.

Karen Stott and her husband have a huge heart for their couples, and it shows in their images. They travel throughout the Southeast shooting weddings.

La Gartier makes some of the most beautiful and unique garters I’ve ever seen (and psst – you have to go check out the seersucker one in their gallery!).

Lauren Rosenau is a storyteller, and a lover of light, love, and travel. She is based in Charlotte, NC.

I love that Leigh Pearce believes in wedding styles, but never themes. She is also passionate about her couples and the great state of North Carolina! (She’s based in Greensboro!)

MMD Events is a designer and producer of weddings and events – they specialize in florals, lighting, draping, lounge furniture, specialty bars, and custom event decor! They are based in Tampa, FL.

To check out all of our Blue Ribbon Vendors, just click over to the full directory! You can search by category or state to find your perfect match.

Vendors, if you’re interested in getting involved, just fill out this form and Kristin will be in touch! Ladies, we would love to hear if you’ve hired or used any of these talented folks!

emily Written with love by Emily
4 Comments
  1. avatar Sarah Dobson reply

    La Gartier is honored to be listed among such creative and unique wedding industry professionals!

  2. avatar Andi Mans reply

    I am THRILLED to be part of your amazing team and beautiful work! Thank you for having me as a blue ribbon vendor, it makes me smile cheek to cheek :) xo! – Andi

  3. avatar Carolyn reply

    Lauren Rosenau is my wedding photographer! She took absolutely beautiful pictures of my fiancé and I for our engagement session and I can’t wait to work with her on our wedding day! We were so nervous and she made us feel super comfortable. I highly recommend!

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Carolyn!! Thanks for sharing!! We are so excited for your upcoming wedding!

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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