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When I married my darling husband over seven years ago (!), we opted not to do a first look. We’re a very traditional couple, and we’ve never regretted that decision. Well, never might not be the best word, y’all. Between Hudson’s joyful tears after seeing Carley for the first time and her ear-to-ear smile, I might be reluctant to use that word again! Their first look under a 200+ year old magnolia tree is not the only thing that has my heart smitten. Carley and Hudson’s love and gratitude for their family, friends, and the South is evident from their large bridal party, ceremony location, and fabulous exit, complete with a Mardi Gras bead toss! It’s safe to say, I’ve got a serious crush on today’s wedding!

Gracious, we’re glad Sarah Becker shared this sweet day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went to my second appointment of the day at I Do Bridal Couture with my mom, sister, aunt, and cousin. I tried on my second dress and knew looking in the mirror that there was something special about it, but it wasn’t quite right. Before I knew it, I had the skirt of another dress over my head and around my waist, lace pinned as makeshift sleeves, and a sash tied in a bow. I looked in the mirror and to my family and we all started crying. It was beautiful! And then we all shared a laugh at the sight of my “perfect” wedding dress full of pins and extra fabric. I am so thankful to the Liancarlo team for creating the custom gown of my dreams.

We both agree that our favorite moment of the day was the first look. I walked out of the doors of Dunleith toward a stunning, 200+ year old magnolia tree, where Hudson was anxiously waiting. As we faced each other, we were able to react in full vulnerability with happy tears, loving embraces, and giant smiles. On the most important day of our lives, we were thankful to have some time to ourselves to soak it all in.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We are grateful for all of our vendors and loved the intentional details we incorporated throughout our wedding. However, when your cousins come in from Montana with carloads of exquisite flowers to create bouquets, boutonnieres, garlands, and arrangements of your dreams, you just have to throw your arms around them and say thank you! Katalin has a true gift and we were honored to be recipients of the beauty she creates. I am also thankful for our photographer, Sarah. Several years ago, I saw her work featured on Southern Weddings and instantly adored her story and spirit. She shared in our joy, made us feel at ease, and was an essential part of the day.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional vows. It was surreal speaking those words I came to know as a little girl when attending weddings.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4: 11-19, read by my aunt and one of Hudson’s former coaches. “We love because he first loved us” was a verse that guided Hudson and I through our engagement. We wanted to take the time to practice gratitude for the ultimate, unfailing love of Christ. When we put our focus on His love, we are able to love each other with greater grace.

Both of our families have attended the First Presbyterian Church for generations. My great-grandmother worked at the church for more than 20 years and my parents were married there. Hudson and I agreed that the presence of God and many loved ones before our time would be surrounding us at our ceremony. For our reception, we wanted to share the beauty of Natchez with our guests, so we chose Dunleith Historic Inn, a stunning expression of the South. It was also the surprise dinner location when Hudson asked me to be his girlfriend and after he proposed, so it seemed fitting that we would celebrate our wedding there too.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We wanted our wedding weekend to celebrate our deep roots in Natchez, Mississippi and to reflect the love we shared. We hosted events at historical Natchez homes and gave the bridesmaids a special champagne toast and tour of Longwood, an antebellum home stopped short of completion because of the Civil War. I gifted my bridesmaids monogrammed mint julep cups to serve one of my favorite cocktails during hair and makeup. Traditions included a cake pull and a larger-than-life bridal party. To honor Mardi Gras weekend, we left our reception through a second line and guests throwing beads. However, the greatest depiction of the South was the easygoing joy and love that surrounded our wedding day.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I was a studious sophomore and Hudson was a senior football captain at our high school in Baton Rouge. He saw pictures of me on a trip to Natchez with friends for the annual historic pageant and ball. Natchez is a small town, so he messaged and asked me if I had family there. We came to find out that his grandmother was the court reporter for the judge, my great-grandfather. Our families had known each other for years! It took us a few years to get things right, but after my freshman year of college, we decided our future would be together. The next few years would consist of a lot of Skype calls to ease the difficulty of long distance, and lots of road trips to Mississippi and Texas while Hudson pursued his dream of coaching football and I finished college in Louisiana. We wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Tell us all about the proposal! Football season puts a hold on most dates or any weekend trips, so we always try to see family and spend a special weekend together after the bowl game. We traveled to Natchez to see his grandmother, but Hudson said he had something special planned for us as well. That morning, Hudson went hunting with his cousin. Little did I know, they also went to buy dozens of roses, taking off the petals one by one in preparation for that evening. When he returned, we decided to take our chances with the nearby storm clouds and went for a run downtown. As we were starting up a giant hill, it started to rain, and then pour! We trudged up the hill and laughed so hard as we stood at the top, soaking wet and out of breath. After spending the rest of the day around town and getting caught in a few more storms, we headed home to get ready. Hudson was insistent that we try to see the sunset before dinner, even though the rain continued. We walked along the bluff, looking at the Mississippi River, until he suggested we go under the gazebo. Hudson grew quiet as he led me up the steps and took me to the center, where we were surrounded in rose petals. He spoke heartfelt words as he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I said yes, of course! We shared a romantic dinner at the restaurant behind Dunleith, just the two of us, basking in our love and excitement. The next day, when we arrived to church, I saw my family standing on the steps. Sweet Hudson planned the extra surprise, followed by brunch with both of our families who had come into town to celebrate.
When did y’all get married? February 6, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 250
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I chose a four-tiered white cake with alternating caramel layers, decorated with cascading flowers. It was classic and delicious! Hudson’s grooms cake was red velvet (his favorite) and was decorated with the logos of the football programs where he had played and then coached. Fun fact: I began gifting Hudson vintage pennant flags when he started coaching. We used them around his cake, including a handmade pennant with our last name that I surprised him with on our wedding day.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We hosted my bridesmaids and many of our family at Dunleith for the wedding weekend. Overall, that was the greatest detail because we were able to enjoy the history of the home and explore the beautiful grounds (the greenhouse was my favorite!). At the reception, guests were greeted with champagne as they walked up to giant columns and a wraparound porch. When you walked into the home, it was like taking a step back in time. We couldn’t go wrong with letting the details of an antebellum home serve as decor!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed was a handkerchief embroidered with the names of each married friend. I am so happy to pass it on to my next dear friend on her wedding day! My something old was an antique brooch I pinned to my bouquet that had belonged to my great-great-great-grandmother. My first something blue was gifted by my mom, a prayer shawl knitted by the healing ministry of my church. Our family received one when my dad was in the hospital after a life-threatening accident. In our belief that we should pray through joy and pain, love and sorrow, my bridesmaids laid their hands on it and prayed with me before I walked down the aisle. The second was a diamond and sapphire ring I wore that belonged to Hudson’s great-grandmother. My something new was my dress and shoes.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our pastor graciously worked around our long distance relationship and the football season to plan premarital counseling sessions that focused on values and communication. We read The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller (a must read for anyone!). We also decided that preparing for marriage would not stop at the wedding. We continue to read books that sharpen our relationship and we plan to take marriage classes at our Fort Worth church.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We currently live in Fort Worth, Texas and love sharing life in the same city, along with our new puppy, Biscuit. We are both driven to pursue our dreams, so it’s wonderful to share ideas and offer support to each other daily. We aren’t quite sure what the future holds but we are excited for our journey together. This year, we look forward to hosting dinners for guests, deepening relationships with new friends, and the 2016 football season. Go Frogs!

Photographer: Sarah Becker Lillard | Videographer: Charity Robinson | Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church | Reception Venue: Dunleith Historic Inn | Florist: Katalin Green | Cake Baker: Edna’s Cake Creations | Band: Phat Hat | Paper Products: MADdesign | Bride’s Gown and Veil: Liancarlo | Hair and Makeup: INDē Salon | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Dessy Collection | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse | Ceremony Programs: Wiregrass Weddings | Bridesmaids Robes: SilkandMore | Welcome Basket Gift Tags and Other Personalized Details: GraciousBridal

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Sarah Becker Lillard reply

    Thank you so much for featuring Carley + Hudson’s wedding! They seriously are made of gold and such a perfect fit for SW not just stylistically but because their hearts line up with y’alls mission so well! Thank you thank you!

  2. avatar Danny Wandelt reply

    Lovely location!

  3. avatar Doree reply

    I love the book with the crest on the front! Where is that from?!

    • avatar Carley reply

      Hi Doree! Sorry just happened to see your comment. If you are speaking about the picture with the jewelry around the crest, that was our wedding program! We ordered them from WiregrassWeddings on Etsy. She creates beautiful work.

  4. avatar Hochzeitsfotograf reply

    Gorgeous bride, beautiful dress and amazing photography!

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I don’t even know where to start when it comes to introducing y’all to sweet Catherine and Hunter’s big day–so many of my favorite wedding things are present here! Gorgeous couple with an adorable love story? Check. A super chic gown and lovely, memorable flowers? Y’all don’t get me started on those ruffles or persimmon-colored blooms! A moving church ceremony complete with family heirlooms? Catherine’s family Bible, which their ceremony readings were read from, dates back to 1824. A joyful community to share in the celebration? Catherine and Hunter’s family and friends look almost as excited as they do, and her most memorable moment made me tear up. Y’all please enjoy this look back at a very special day, captured beautifully by the talented Clark Brewer!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! For my something borrowed, I was thrilled to be able to borrow one of my oldest and best friend’s veil. It had been worn by all three girls in her family, and it was such an honor to wear it! I loved the scalloped lace edge and the way it paired with my dress. Since I wasn’t able to wear my mom’s dress for the wedding, I wore an old dress of hers the night before at the rehearsal dinner. We also took a piece of my grandmother’s veil and wrapped it around my bouquet as my something old. I guess we forgot to do something blue!

I looked for a wedding dress at a few stores around Nashville, but hadn’t found anything that felt exactly right. While I was in my hometown, Birmingham, my maid of honor came to town all the way from Seattle to go with me to Ivory and White. We had the best time there with my mom. I tried on lots of dresses and finally found one that just felt perfect. I loved that it was so comfortable and didn’t weigh me down! It was exactly what I was hoping for: fun and unexpected, but still classic.

Describe your wedding flowers. Our florist, Melissa Broadwell, did a fantastic job bringing our vision for the flowers to life. We used bright coral and persimmon colored flowers mixed with fluffy white dahlias, juliet roses, hydrangea, white anemone, and touches of eucalyptus and greenery. I wanted the flowers to “pop” against the neutral color palette of dresses, and I think that’s exactly what happened! I also loved the trailing silk ribbons that she added to the bouquets.

We didn’t do a first look. We wanted to keep the tradition of not seeing each other until I was walking down the aisle with my dad, and it was perfect! We loved the moment of meeting at the front altar of the church for the first time. It felt like a way to honor the sacred covenant of marriage that we were entering into.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our readings were read by two of our dearest friends. The Scripture readings were: Romans 12:1-2, 9-18, Galatians 2:20 and 1 John 4:7-19. We used my family’s Bible for the readings, which was published in 1824 and has our earliest family marriage recorded on May 25, 1792. It was a special way to honor where we come from.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? There are many! One that stands out is our entrance at the reception. It was very spontaneous and unplanned, but right before we walked in, the venue coordinator recommended we each come down opposite stairs and meet in the middle. It was so exciting to walk into a room full of all of our favorite people as husband and wife! It felt like being in a movie! Another one of my favorite memories of the wedding weekend happened at the rehearsal dinner the night before. Several years ago, I was sitting on my grandparents’ back porch, drinking iced tea and talking about life with Mimmie and Papa. This was long before Hunter came into the picture. I thought about how much I wanted the man I would one day marry to meet my grandfather because of what an incredible man, husband, and father he is. So, I asked Papa to write a letter to my future husband, just in case they didn’t have a chance to meet. Fast forward a couple years later, and Papa read that letter to Hunter for the first time during his toast at the rehearsal dinner. He shared about what he had learned from his marriage to my grandmother for over 60 years. It was truly a magical moment and a memory I will forever treasure.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The save the dates and dinner menus were both designed by our talented friend, Martha. Both pieces were exactly what I had hoped for and to this day, whenever I look at them, I can’t help but smile!

We knew we had to find indoor venues if we wanted any guests to come to a July wedding in the South! The ceremony site was First Presbyterian Church, which is where Hunter grew up going and where my parents were married! It was so special to be married there. The reception was at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Since many of the guests were coming from out of town, I wanted the venue to be a unique Nashville spot. The Schermerhorn is absolutely breathtaking and I felt like it was exactly what we were looking for: a balance of classic architecture with both charm and modern conveniences (like air conditioning!).

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Hunter and I met through our mutual friend, Sally Ward. Sally Ward and I were roommates at the time, living in Nashville post-college in a house with five of our best friends. She had casually mentioned that Hunter and I should meet, but honestly, I really didn’t think much about it! The first time we met, though, I was immediately taken by him. Sally Ward talked me into joining a kickball team (which was an easy decision after I found out Hunter was on the team too!). Shortly after, he asked me on our first date to the Tennessee State Fair, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving and I had just finished a 12-hour day at work. Hunter and I were going to grab a quick dinner at one of our favorite weeknight spots, Fido. When we got to Fido, I noticed they were playing my favorite album over the speakers (something that had happened the first time we went there together), but I still didn’t think anything was up. We were sitting at the window looking out onto the sidewalk, just reminiscing about the past year, when all of a sudden, our good friends showed up on the sidewalk wearing our clothes from our first date! They were reenacting our date at the state fair! Immediately, I knew something was up and started giggling and laughing. Hunter grabbed my hand and said, “Come on!” We walked across the street to the Belcourt Theatre and stopped in front of the most incredible poster hanging in one of the marquee frames–Hunter designed and created to look like an ad for our story. It was the sweetest thing, and it even listed our friends and family as the “actors.” Next thing I knew, Hunter was down on one knee asking me to marry him! I said YES!
When did y’all get married? July 26, 2014
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our mothers and grandmothers were seated to “Holy, Holy, Holy.” I walked down the aisle to the hymn “All Creatures of our God and King.” Our friend Joseph Patton sang and played “Come Thou Fount” on the acoustic guitar. I loved mixing that in with the traditional organ music at the ceremony. Right after the benediction (which was given by my dad), the whole congregation sang the Doxology together a cappella, which was a perfect way end the service.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We used my uncle’s Jeep Wrangler, the beloved car I drove during college, as our getaway car! It was a fun, lighthearted contrast to the more formal details of the wedding. We hopped in the car and took it for a drive down Broadway on our way out!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I would say don’t take everything too seriously. It’s important to stay organized and to plan in advance, but I think it’s also important to be flexible and let things go when you need to. I also recommend getting references for some of your more major vendors and talking to brides who have worked with them before. That way, you know what to expect once you sign a contract, and won’t end up disappointed if something doesn’t meet your expectations.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are loving married life in Nashville! We moved into a 100+ year old home in East Nashville right after our wedding, and have enjoyed having our own space and doing some small house projects. We are looking forward to continuing to spend time with our family and friends and we are especially thankful to have several of our best friends right in our neighborhood. This fall, I’m excited about backyard bonfires, big pots of soup, and sharing cozy nights with friends!

Photographer: Clark Brewer / Videographer: Sebastian Rogers / Planner: Jessica Sloane / Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue: Schermerhorn Symphony Center / Florist: Melissa Broadwell / Wedding Cake: Billie Mochow / Caterer: Clean Plate Club / Rentals: Southern Events / Band: Scat Springs Band / Paper Products: Martha Ray / Envelope Calligraphy: Laura Daniel / Bride’s Gown: Style #4865 by Liancarlo / Bridal Salon: Ivory and White / Hair and Makeup: Jordan Byers / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style G849C in Dove by Amsale / Menswear: Street Tuxedo

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    This wedding. Wow. The note from her grandfather?! I boohooed, so sweet and sentimental.

  2. avatar Emily reply

    These two are clearly filled with so much joy! Love the way you captured them, Clark!

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When we set out to create Southern Weddings V8, one of the shoots we were most excited about was this one: The Fabric of a Southern Belle. We’ve never really done a “fashion” shoot before, and naturally, we wanted to put our own SW spin on this one–hopefully, inspiring y’all in a deeper way than just with pretty gowns. Conversations in our office and on Instagram led us to our inspiration: what is it exactly that makes a Southern belle? We all know it’s more than just an address–it’s a way of life and of looking at the world, and in honor of the belles in our own lives that we admire and look up to, we dove into the qualities that make Southern belles so special. With the help of seven Southern designers, seven darling reader models, and a tremendously talented team, we created a look for each gal that personified one of the qualities we find most prominent–we hope you see a little bit of yourself and the ladies you love in each one!

The Southern belle is gracious. She has a servant’s heart and is the first to lend a hand. Sydni looked fabulous in “Brooke Mason” by Alabama designer Heidi Elnora!

The Southern belle is elegant. While more can be more, she prefers just enough. How gorgeous is Anne Louise in “The Woodlands” by Texas designer Lela Rose?

The Southern belle is confident. She doesn’t need the approval of others, but stands firm in the truths of which she can be sure. Our own Emily’s sister, Kimberly, rocked “Barrymore” by Charleston designer Kate McDonald, and it was so much fun having her at the shoot!

The Southern belle is romantic. She believes in love at first sight, summer romances, and marriages that are strong as a Southern oak. Claire looked lovely in Style 5885 by Miami designer, Liancarlo.

The Southern belle is fun. She isn’t afraid to play, to dance, or to laugh with her head thrown back. We couldn’t get enough of our darling cover gal, Alexandra, in the “Kian” corset and “Priya” skirt by Texas designer Watters!

The Southern belle is warm. Her doors are always open and her front porch always full. Kimberly looked amazing in “Jenny” by Georgia designer, Anne Barge!

The Southern belle is strong. She exemplifies both femininity and inner fortitude. The “Bridgette” gown by Nashville designer Olia Zavozina was so striking on Megan!

Thank you SO much to the talented team and reader models who made this day possible! To see more from this shoot, pick up a copy of Southern Weddings V8, now on news stands across the Southeast, or order online in the Southern Weddings Shop.

Keep an eye out for more Southern Weddings V8 editorials coming up on the blog in the coming weeks! In the meantime, we’d love to know, which of these qualities do you most identify with? Does it match your favorite gown? I’m a “romantic” at heart, but the “elegant” gown is one of my favorites in this issue!

Photography: Eric Kelley / Film Processing: Richard Photo Lab / Venue: Tuckahoe Plantation / Stylist and Florals: Mallory Joyce / Hair and Makeup: Heidi Marie Garrett

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Victoria reply

    LOVED this feature!! The “southern belle is gracious” look with the magnolias just stopped me in my tracks- SO beautiful!

  2. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    This entire feature is pure PERFECTION. I can’t possibly choose a favorite look or favorite characteristic – every detail is exquisite and so beautifully represents a Southern belle. I’m so in love with this whole shoot.

  3. avatar Erin | Elizabeth Anne Designs reply

    the gowns… the brides… all gorgeous!

  4. avatar Dana reply

    So glad you added more photos from this shoot here! Love it even more now!

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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