Laura’s been a long-time Southern Weddings reader, so we were thrilled when we saw that this sweet North Carolina wedding with the loveliest pops of red was hers and Geoff’s! I absolutely love how Laura + Geoff incorporated old traditions and little tributes to family (y’all must read about their cake, which Laura baked herself!). Laura’s favorite detail from the big day is one that so perfectly describes how the pretty things can be the ones closest to our hearts. “My favorite detail was being able to finally wear my mother’s pearls. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I would wear my mother’s pearl necklace on my wedding day. It is the same necklace that my grandmother had given to my mother on her wedding day 30 years ago. Now they are mine to pass on to my future daughter.”
Just thinking about that piece of family that Laura carried with her totally changes the way you’ll see this wedding. Okay, I admit it won’t change the way you react when you see how gorgeous their budget-saving flower decision turned out, but it will make your heart full and happy! Big thanks and hugs to McDorman Photography who shared this with us.
I really wanted the bouquets to have an organic autumn feel. I found a picture of a centerpiece in a magazine, showed it to Denny and Debbie at our first consultation and said that it was exactly what I wanted. My bouquet ended up more beautiful than the picture. It was absolutely gorgeous (and heavy!). I loved how the bridesmaids’ bouquets gave a great pop of color to their neutral dresses.
I have been a reader of wedding magazines and blogs for years, so by the time I actually got engaged, I had a pretty clear idea of the kind of dress I wanted: something simple, classic, and timeless. A few months before Geoff proposed, I saw a dress that I loved in a wedding magazine and it seemed like I kept seeing the same dress popping up on different blogs. I knew it was the dress for me. The weekend after we got engaged, I met my Mom at a local bridal store that carried the dress. I tried on a couple of other dresses first just to make sure that there wasn’t one I liked better, but when I finally tried on my dream dress, my Mom and I both knew that it was “the one.” It took all of 45 minutes! Other than saying yes when Geoff proposed, choosing a wedding dress was the easiest decision I had to make in the whole wedding process.
Did you decide to do a “first look”?
Yes, we did decide to do a first look. As many other couples can attest, it really didn’t take anything away from the ceremony and seeing each other as I walked down the aisle. By seeing each other before the ceremony, we were able to relax and catch our breath before the craziness of the day began. As my wonderfully practical husband pointed out, by being able to take a majority of the pictures before the ceremony, we were able to spend more time with our guests at the reception. I’m so glad we decided to have a first look, the pictures that we took before the ceremony ended up being some of my favorites.
Did you write your own vows? We stuck with the traditional vows. Neither one of us would ever claim to be eloquent, so we knew there was no way we could do a better job at finding the words to adequately express the solemnity of the covenant that we were entering into.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony?
We were blessed to be able to have each of our mentors do a reading during the ceremony. Dave read Ephesians 2:4-9 and Mrs. Carol read Philippians 2:1-5. We really wanted to put an emphasis on grace; the grace that Christ bestowed on us and the grace that we will have to bestow on each other throughout our years of marriage.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Our processional was one of my all-time favorite orchestral pieces, “Simple Gifts from Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copeland. This piece is so beautiful and has always conveyed a sense of hope and happiness to me — perfect for our wedding. In the program, I included a verse from the song that perfectly summed up how we were feeling, “’Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free ‘tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, and when we find ourselves in the place just right, ‘twill be in the valley of love and delight.” I also wanted to make sure that congregational singing was included in the ceremony. We chose to have “Come Thou Fount,” and then during communion, “Be Thou My Vision.” During these songs, my former piano teacher played and my brother accompanied her on the acoustic guitar. I will admit that it took us a really long time to agree on which song we were going to walk back up the aisle. A week before the wedding, we finally decided on “How Sweet It Is” by James Taylor.
This next photo makes me so happy! Those cheerful pops of red throughout Lauren + Geoff’s tent are actually paper flowers!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Geoff says it was when I walked down the aisle. He says that the combination of the music and the doors opening dramatically and the sun streaming in — it was like something from a movie and he’ll never forget it. For me, I just remember how beautiful the day ended up being. October in North Carolina can be unpredictable. One day might be in the 80s and then the next day you could wake up with frost on the ground. We had prayed for months and months for the weather to be nice. With 10 days out, there was a 60% chance of rain. But the day ended up being gorgeous. We literally could not have asked for a more beautiful day. To God be the glory!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding?
Family played a huge part in our wedding, from wearing my Mom’s pearls, to having a family photo table at the reception. Of course the food was definitely Southern! Gracious, we had pimento cheese sandwiches, country ham biscuits, chicken salad sandwiches, moon pies, and about seven different other kinds of pie. And as every North Carolinian knows, October means fair time, so we had kettle corn (my favorite fair treat) during the “cocktail hour.” And of course every North Carolina shindig has to include Cheerwine and corn hole!
Describe the proposal.
We had been dating for almost three years and we had talked about marriage and the future. I knew a proposal was eventually on its way, but I had no idea when it would actually happen. It was a beautiful Saturday in April and we had a full day of fun planned. It included a trip to the Farmer’s Market, a picnic lunch, and planting flowers that afternoon. It was a wonderful day, but by that evening, I was exhausted. I took a quick shower, changed into my sweats, threw my hair up in a messy bun and was looking forward to a relaxing evening of TV viewing. I came into the living room but Geoff was nowhere to be found. I looked through the house and still couldn’t find him. As I was headed to the garage, thinking that maybe he was working on something in there, I could see what looked like candlelight coming from the back deck. Immediately I felt my knees go weak and I thought to myself, “This is it! This is it!” My second thought was, “I don’t have a lick of makeup on my face, my hair looks awful, and I’m in sweats!” But I headed outside anyway where Geoff had set up a newly purchased table and chairs (I had told him months earlier that I thought it would be nice to eat outside on the deck when the weather was nice) with candles all around. When I sat down, Geoff started chatting about nothing in particular, just shooting the breeze! It occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t it, that maybe he was just being sweet and romantic. Fortunately, before I could do too much second-guessing, Geoff was kneeling in front of me and proposing. Of course I said yes, sweats and all!
We had a dessert buffet filled with mini-cupcakes, pies, mini moon pies, and my Mom’s homemade pumpkin bread. Instead of a large cake, we decided to have a small cutting cake for the two of us, which I made, called an “Appalachian Stack Cake.” The history behind these kinds of cakes is that when the mountain people of Southern Appalachia gathered for weddings, because cakes were so expensive, neighboring families each prepared a layer of the ginger and molasses cake to donate to the celebration. The bride’s family was responsible for cooking the dried-apple butter to spread between the layers. It is said that the number of layers in a cake was a measure of the popularity of the hosting family. Although I didn’t make our guests each bring a layer of cake, I thought this would be a nice tribute to Geoff’s family who are originally from the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
I had lived in Greensboro, NC for about a year but was having difficulty meeting new people outside of work. My mom suggested that I try the singles group at a nearby church. I was a little wary of the idea since I always thought “single’s group at church” was a euphemism for “trying to find a husband,” which I wasn’t trying to do. I had come to terms with my single life; I just wanted to make some friends. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it out. I remember meeting Geoff that first Sunday and he seemed nice enough, and he was pretty cute, but he was kind of quiet and reserved — not really my type (not that I was looking!). As the most eligible bachelor in our group of mostly girls, I didn’t expect that he would take any particular notice of me anyway. But as the months went by and we started to get to know each other better, I realized that regardless of my initial impression, he was actually quite funny, but more importantly, he was a godly man. I remember emailing my friends and telling them about this guy Geoff, saying that “I don’t expect that anything will happen between us, but I know that he is the kind of man that I would like to marry one day.” Geoff says that my cheerfulness and sense of humor attracted him. We got to know each other even better through phone conversations that would last until the wee hours of the morning and eventually, we started dating. My mom claims full credit for us getting together since she was the one that suggested I visit the church in the first place.
In what month did you get married?
How many guests attended your wedding?
Our favorite detail of the wedding was:
Geoff’s favorite detail was the Coke and Cheerwine in the glass bottles. My favorite detail was being able to finally wear my mother’s pearls. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I would wear my mother’s pearl necklace on my wedding day. It is the same necklace that my grandmother had given to my mother on her wedding day 30 years ago. Now they are mine to pass on to my future daughter.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding?
Finding a reception venue. We had found a church that we loved, but there wasn’t an adequate reception venue within 15 miles. After weeks of searching, my Mom finally suggested the idea of having the reception on the lawn of the church. It took a while to work out the logistics and we had to increase our budget, but I’m so pleased with how it all turned out. It ended up being exactly what I wanted.
What range did your wedding budget fall into?
Less than $10,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on?
The tent. It wasn’t in the original budget, but it really helped to achieve the look and feel I was wanting for the reception. It was totally worth the extra expense and I would do it again for sure.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding?
Sit down and each make a list of the things that are most important to you for the wedding. It’s almost inevitable that you won’t be able to have everything you want, but by making the list, you can at least try and first take care of the things that are most important to you both. And remember, regardless of everything else, the most important thing is that you are married at the end of the day.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future?
We’re enjoying being newlyweds and working on some DIY home projects. We’re also talking about having some little ones in the next year or two. Even though my wedding is over, I can’t seem to give up my passion for weddings. I’m hoping that I can someday start working in the wedding industry.