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With our own long distance relationship experiences, Lisa, Kristin, and I can all relate to Sarah and Mike’s love story. We know too well the challenges being far away can cause, but also, the incredible growth it can produce in relationships! Distance absolutely can make the heart grow fonder, and these two are a wonderful example of that. Being apart from family can also be a tough, so I especially love how Sarah and Mike included their family members throughout their wedding day by including loved ones’ signature desserts on the sweets table, as well as tying the knot just around the corner from where Sarah grew up. Magnolia leaf details and hay rides around Summerfield Farm during cocktail hour round out this sweet Southern day!

Big hugs to our lovely Blue Ribbon Vendor, Robyn Van Dyke for sharing this beautiful day with us!

I wore my sister-in-law’s veil as my something borrowed. My mom’s handkerchief that she had used on her wedding day was my something blue, since it had a blue flower detail. My Maw Maw’s diamond earrings were my something old, and my something new were my shoes!

This prayer photo is so sweet, I smile every single time I scroll past it!

Y’all may not catch this “I spy,” but that adorable blonde third from the right is Mrs. Callie Pitts Davis, our friend Nancy Ray’s associate photographer!

Describe your wedding flowers. We used a wonderful florist, Stacy at The Farmer’s Wife. We were given her name by word of mouth–the only advertising they use! She was wonderful to work with and helped me make a lot of decisions along the way. Our colors were white and green, so we used hydrangeas and magnolia leaves. There were also some berries in the bouquets that added some grey/blue tones.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We both agree that our first look was the most memorable part of the day. Being able to see each other for the first time and being able to talk about how we were feeling was special. Plus, I loved being the only one who got to experience Mike’s reaction! The day goes by so fast and can be overwhelming, and those few quiet moments with the person who matters the most were the best.

After looking at several different venues all over North Carolina, my parents told me that if I got married in Greensboro, they would make sure I got a Maxie B’s cake! I started looking in my hometown, and by chance, found our venue. At the time, they were starting to do renovations, so I had no real idea what it would look like on our wedding day. I knew it was going to be special though, because it was a few miles away from everything I knew growing up–my parents’ house, the schools I attended, and lots of loved ones. Plus, my dad loved the idea of treating guests to a hay ride during cocktail hour!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional wedding vows, keeping the ceremony simple for the two of us! I had our wedding vows written in calligraphy to display on a table in our reception area and now in our home.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We each chose a reading for our ceremony. I chose Jeremiah 17:8 and Mike chose Philippians 2:5-11. Both verses were meaningful to our relationship and what we hope for in our marriage.

Growing up in Greensboro, you have to love Maxie B’s. My high school friends and I spent our nights eating cake and talking about life in the little corner of Maxie B’s, so I knew my wedding cake would come from them. We did a pumpkin chocolate chip cake for the base and their fresh strawberry cake for the top layer. I also have some wonderful grandmas who make amazing cakes, so I asked them if they would each make their signature cakes for us and they agreed. My Maw Maw made a strawberry cake and a blackberry cake, and my grandma made a coconut cake and pound cake. More family members then offered to make their signature desserts, and it all added up to one of the most delicious dessert bars!

Don’t miss Sarah + Mike’s highlight film by Jeff Brewer!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met during our freshman year of college at NC State through Young Life. We were eventually placed on the same Young Life team and became great friends. At the end of our senior year, we admitted that there were some feelings there, but since we were going to continue to be leaders on the same team, we could not date until the end of the next school year. After we finished our time as Young Life leaders, we went on our first date, which was the rehearsal dinner of two of our close friends. We began dating that summer, and in September, Mike accepted a job and moved to Napa, California. We made trips to see each other about every other month. It was really hard being in different time zones and so far apart, but we made it work with lots of FaceTiming and emailing!
Tell us all about the proposal! Mike was back from Carolina for two weeks during Christmas, and before he got home, we talked about taking some day trips to spend time together. When he mentioned a trip to Washington D.C on New Years Eve, I thought nothing out of the ordinary. We left early and spent our day sightseeing, even though it was so cold that day. As we neared the end, Mike told me he really wanted to see the Jefferson Memorial and I disagreed–I was ready to sit in the warm car! I even said, “This had better be worth it!” as we began walking over! Once we got to the memorial, Mike sat me down to tell me he was ready to begin talking about getting married and making a plan for what our future might hold. After our conversation, he prayed for us and asked if I wanted to take some pictures. While I was turned around taking a picture, I heard Mike say my name, and when I looked over, he was down on one knee. He asked me to marry him and I said yes! We had a long car ride home full of calls to our family and friends to tell them we were engaged!
When did y’all get married? November 9, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: One of the most meaningful details was our guest book. William Mangum is a local artist who lives in Greensboro, and he paints beautiful watercolors of North Carolina. He had a book called “North Carolina Beautiful” full of images familiar to both Mike and I of the state we know and love. We made a table of contents so that our friends and family could find and sign pages that were significant to them as well. There were pictures from all over the state and it was such a wonderful piece to take with us to our new home in California. Plus, William Mangum wrote a message and signed it too!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We both have family in the wine industry, so we were able to save a lot of money stocking our bar. Our florist also made great strides to make sure we stayed within budget. I made all of our place cards and programs.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t compare. With social media, blogs, and Pinterest, there is so much out there that can help or harm the wedding planning process. Our story was so different and it was so easy to compare it to what others have. I am so grateful that I married a man who does not care about all the little details and reminds me of the real truth of what our marriage means!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are now living in Napa and are happy that we are finally living our lives together. It has been challenging, but also rewarding, to live a life where we are far away from everything we know, and it has been really fun to explore the West Coast together!

Photographer: Robyn Van Dyke / Videographer: Jeff Brewer / Day-Of Coordination: Melissa Lewkowicz / Venue: Summerfield Farms / Florist: The Farmer’s Wife / Wedding Cake: Maxie B’s / Caterer: Fresh. Local. Good. Food Group / Band: JAVA / Calligraphy: Rachel Velasquez / Bride’s Gown: “5802” by Liancarlo / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Accessories: Nitsa’s / Hair Stylist: Amy Gooch / Bride’s Shoes: Born / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Custom by Maura Stewart / Men’s Attire: Jos. A Bank

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    I’m in love with those bridesmaid dresses–what a perfect color for a fall wedding, and so perfect with the magnolia leaf details!

  2. avatar featured: southern weddings » Robyn Van Dyke Photography Blog reply

    […] so honored to have Sarah & Mike‘s gorgeous wedding featured on Southern Weddings today!! Hooray!! Big hugs as always to all the lovely ladies at our favorite wedding blog and […]

  3. avatar Laura reply

    I love that guest book idea! What a treasure to keep for years to come! And as a Greensboro transplant, I definitely understand the need for Maxie B’s cake!

  4. avatar Chelsea reply

    Love love love the magnolia leaf accents! That rich green with the white hydrangea is just gorgeous!

  5. avatar Melody reply

    This is my beautiful niece and her handsome husband. The wedding was wonderful and a special day to us all. Sarah & Mike are such a sweet couple. What a surprise to see it posted and shared with others.

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  8. avatar Candice reply

    My sister is getting married on New Years Eve and we absolutely love the bridesmaid dresses! Can anyone tell me where to find these or if they were custom made? Thank you so much! This wedding was absolutely gorgeous! Love it!!!

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  12. avatar Sarah reply

    Where are the bridesmaids dresses from?

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Sarah! These lovely dresses were made custom by Maura Stewart. Have a great day! xx, Marissa

  13. avatar Ariel reply

    How do I get ahold of Maura Stewart, who made these bridesmaid gowns? I want the same ones for my wedding in June!

  14. avatar Jessica Thompson reply

    My soon to be sister in law is absolutely in love with these bridesmaids dresses!! Is there away to contact the lady that made them? Thank you in advance.

    • avatar Sarah Risk reply

      Hi all,

      Here is a link to the website of my Maura Stewart, together we picked out the pattern and I purchased the fabric and materials to make the dress.

      I believe my dress was an ivory/ivory. I also have the white version if you are interested Sarah-email me!

      Best of luck to all planning and prepping!

  15. avatar Sarah reply

    Lovely wedding!! do you know what color the liancarlo dress was? ivory/ivory? or ivory/creme?

  16. avatar Kellie reply

    Your pictures are GORGEOUS. Where did you get the bridesmaid’s dresses? They’re perfect!

  17. avatar Holly Green reply

    I have to have these dresses!! How can I find them to buy?!? Help!! Please email me [email protected]

  18. avatar Marisa reply

    I have been looking everywhere for those bridesmaids dresses! Where did you get those???

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Hi Marisa! Sarah’s bridesmaid dresses were custom made by Maura Stewart :)

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Hand painted monograms, all-white florals and the most classically perfect navy details? Yes please! Lauren and Jared worked with our darling Blue Ribbon Vendor, Jacqueline from Sweetgrass Social to use personal details that played off the gorgeous Southern scene set by the Legare Waring House. Can you tell I’m smitten? Be sure to catch Lauren’s removable tulle skirt, which added the perfect amount of drama to her look! How fun!

Big hugs to Juliet Elizabeth for sharing such a sweet day with us!

I knew I wanted a dress that had a lace bodice and a simple skirt, but it was hard to find exactly what I was looking for. I visited three stores before going to Modern Trousseau in Charleston, where I was able to combine two dresses to make my custom dress. I also had a two-layer detachable tulle skirt that I decided to wear for only the ceremony and first dance. The first time I tried my dress on, both my mom and I cried–we knew it was perfect.

Describe your wedding flowers. In my mind, the flowers were one of the most important parts of the wedding! I wanted the flowers to be very Southern and match with our color scheme of greens, ivories/creams, and navy. I went to Whitney at Branch Design Studio with my ideas and she created the most beautiful bouquets and arrangements. We decided to use a mix of different arrangements for the tables and incorporated gardenias, magnolias and magnolia leaves, hydrangeas, ranunculus, and navy anemones. We also used a variety of jars, vases, and candle holders in cobalt, mercury glass, and milk glass. All of the flowers were beyond breathtaking!

Y’all may not know this, but I’m completely obsessed with these first touches! They make my heart skip a beat!

The Legare-Waring House was actually the only wedding venue we looked at. We immediately fell in love with the historic Charleston and Southern charm. We especially loved the beauty of the Avenue of Oaks. After visiting, I knew there was nowhere else I could imagine getting married!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had one of our closest friends read Matthew 19:4-6, because we felt it was very important to incorporate Scripture into our ceremony.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Jared chose “Canon in D” for me to walk down the aisle to because that is his favorite classical song. As a couple, we choose to recess to “I and Love and You” by The Avett Brother, because they are our favorite band and that song has been special to us since we first started dating. Our first dance song was also by The Avett Brothers, and was called “Swept Away (Sentimental Version).” We chose this song after hearing The Avett Brothers perform it at one of their concerts, and we immediately knew it would be our song.


The Southern details in our celebration included the food, monograms, favors, and decorations. The food was buffet-style and consisted of quintessential Southern foods, like barbecue with baked beans, shrimp and grits, and a macaroni and cheese bar. Our appetizers were mini crab cakes, fried green tomato and pimento cheese cornbread sandwiches, and scallop lollipops. I love anything monogrammed, just as any Southern girl does, so I made sure to incorporate that everywhere we could! The favors, which also served as the seating cards, were okra from my dad’s garden that he pickled himself in mason jars.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Hire a planner, whether it be a full-time planner, part-time planner, or a week-of planner! I do not know how I would have gotten everything done without the help of Jacqueline. It will all go by so quickly, so try as hard as you can to relax the week of the wedding and take all of it in! Don’t let yourself get too stressed out about the little things, focus on the fact that you are getting to marry the love of your life! If your parents are paying for your wedding, be sure to thank them and be grateful for everything they do for you. My wedding would not have been possibly without my gracious and loving parents’ help.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. The wedding cake was everything I could have ever dreamed of! I went to Molly of D’lish with my ideas for the cake and she sent me a few sample drawings. It was so difficult to choose one because I loved each of the designs she created, so she decided to create a cake design based on all of the sketches. I was a little nervous, but I knew the cake was in excellent hands! On the day of the wedding, when I saw the cake, I almost started crying because it was absolutely perfect. It was also so delicious!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met through a friend and bonded over our mutual love of the The OC. After being friends for a few months, Jared asked me to go out for coffee with him. I left for a trip the next day and came back with strep throat, so we did not end up seeing each other for almost a month after our first coffee date! Jared waited that entire time to take me out on our first official date. I knew he was a special guy when he called me every day to check on me. Within two months of dating, we fell in love and knew we were going to get married.
Tell us all about the proposal! Christmas is my favorite holiday and Jared knew I had always wanted to go to the Biltmore Estate at Christmas. We were visiting his parents in South Carolina, and on December 21, we decided to go to Greenville for the day. Outside of Greenville, I asked Jared if we were going the right way, and he said, “I don’t know, why don’t you look at the directions?” I looked down at the directions, and at the bottom, it said Biltmore Estate. We spent the whole day doing various things at the estate, and it even snowed a little bit, which made it even more special. After a candlelight tour of the house, Jared said he wanted to go take a picture of the huge Christmas tree on the lawn. We walked out to it and as he was getting his “camera” out (really the ring), all the lights all over the estate went out! They were out for around ten minutes and then the Christmas tree lights never came back on, so we decided to walk back towards the house. He told me to get my phone out so I could take a picture of the house. Once I looked back over at him, he was on his knee holding the ring. I immediately started crying, and then he proposed and I said yes! The ring is extremely special because the diamond was given to us by my grandmother, who I am very close with. I couldn’t stop smiling. The next thing I knew, his sister popped up and started taking pictures of us. It was a magical, perfect day despite the Christmas tree losing power and changing his proposal plan.
When did y’all get married? March 1, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided not to do a first look. We liked the idea of having a very traditional wedding and agreed that we had always wanted to see each other for the first time when I first walked down the aisle. Even though we did not get as many pictures of the two of us together, I will always cherish the moment I first saw Jared at the end of the aisle waiting for me.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We used traditional vows, and it was very special to use the same vows our parents and grandparents said when they got married.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge we had to overcome while planning our wedding was the guest list. We originally wanted to have a smaller wedding, but the guest count just kept going up, for many reasons. We had to adjust our plans and budget and reach an agreement.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? One way we saved money was by not renting a custom bar–instead, we had a bar created out of tables and linens. It ended up looking custom because Marisa of Blue Glass Design hand painted our monogram on a navy blue runner. We also saved money by not doing full draping under the tent. We went with partial navy draping, which ended up being beautiful!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I loved having my mom help me put on my wedding dress and spending time with my bridesmaids while getting ready. However, my most memorable moment was walking down the aisle with my dad and seeing Jared at the end waiting for me. It was also very special to have my first dance with Jared and then dance with my dad afterwards.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Jared is continuing to work as a pharmacist for the VA. I am going to be starting my final year of college in the fall and will be graduating in May 2015 with a degree in Elementary Education. After graduating, I hope to find a job at an elementary school in Charleston. We are most looking forward to traveling together and getting to experience new places and things as a couple.

Photographer: Juliet Elizabeth Photography / Planner: Jacqueline Volz of Sweetgrass Social / Venue: The Legare-Waring House at Charles Towne Landing / Florist: Branch Design Studio / Cake Baker: D’lish Discriminating Desserts / Caterer: Newton Farms Catering / Rentals: Eventworks / Lighting: Technical Event Company / Band: Charleston Groove Factory / Bride’s Gown, Belt, and Veil: Modern Trousseau / Paper Products: Blue Glass Design / Hair Stylist, Headband, and Makeup: Ash & Co. / Bride’s Shoes: “New York Cayman Flats” by Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “165” in Navy by Bill Levkoff / Men’s Attire: Calvin Klein / Tuxedo Rentals: Jean’s Bridal

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Igor – Wedding Photographer reply

    That photo of the veil and the veil itself are absolutely stunning!

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Southern Stems: Magnolia

by in Inspirations on

We were a little bit shocked when we realized that we hadn’t yet posted about one of the most commonly recognized and most beloved Southern stems–magnolias! Since their leaves are just as lovely as their blooms, there are countless ways to incorporate magnolias into a wedding day, and we love just about every one of them.

The most commonly grown magnolia in the South, Magnolia grandiflora, blooms in late spring and early summer. Since the flowers can grow so large, just a few can make a big statement in bouquets and arrangements. We love the idea of carrying a single bloom, as shown in one of our most popular images ever–the back cover of V4.

Clockwise from top left: Hanlie Joubert, Melissa Schollaert via Southern Weddings, Jose Villa via Southern Weddings

Magnolia leaves are incredibly versatile, and depending on the type of magnolia trees in your area, you may be able to find them year-round. Their thick, glossy leaves–dark green on one side and brown on the other–look gorgeous in garlands, wreaths, and more, and they’re impressively durable. It also looks oh so Southern, don’t you think?

Clockwise from top left: Tory Williams via 100 Layer Cake, KT Merry via Style Me Pretty, Melissa Schollaert via Southern Weddings, Matt Edge via Style Me Pretty, Sean Money & Elizabeth Fay via Southern Weddings, Landon Jacob via Snippet & Ink

Even if you have your heart set on other flowers in your bouquets and arrangements, magnolia-inspired details can serve as a recognizable “welcome to the South” for your guests, especially for brides in Louisiana and Mississippi–they’re lucky to have magnolias as their state flower!

Clockwise from top left: Jarrad Lister via Southern Weddings, Diana Elizabeth via Elizabeth Anne Designs, Oak and Orchid

What’s your favorite Southern stem? Don’t miss past posts on dogwood, gardenia, bluebonnets, wisteria, jasmine, and camellias!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] We announced the champion of Mason-Dixon Madness! We admired the beauty and versatility of magnolias in Southern Stems. We love real […]

  2. avatar Dana reply

    the cake with all the magnolias is awesome! such a beautiful flower!

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