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The South is chock-full of beautiful venues, so I always love when we see a wedding at a stunning, new-to-me space! With its dreamy, architectural details, and manicured grounds, Harwelden Mansion could not have made a lovelier setting for Lauren and Tony’s wedding. Originally a private home, the mansion provided an elegant, yet cozy, atmosphere where Lauren and Tony could celebrate with the ones they love. Ever Something‘s naturally beautiful blooms perfectly accentuated the romantic space with a freshly-picked-from-the-garden feel. In addition, Lauren’s mother and grandfather lovingly tended to rosemary and lavender plants all summer so they could supplement the table arrangements with their aromatic leaves–such a sweet touch that smelled just as pretty as it looked!

Big SW hugs to Fleckography for sharing Lauren and Tony’s wedding with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I’ve never been a girly girl, so although I admire fashion, I wasn’t very into the whole process. I did a lot of research online before ever setting foot in a store, and, even when I did, I was still considering non-traditional options in the back of my mind. I went to three stores in all, once with my mom, another time with my aunt, and the last solo. I’m glad I went to the final shop because I knew when I found my dress, it was the one for me. When the dress arrived, it needed some minor alterations, so I took it to Miss Jackson’s, a Tulsa landmark and one of the only department stores in Oklahoma specializing in high-end fashion. The process was so glamorous and the attention to detail was exquisite. I’m so glad I had the experience because only one week after our wedding, the store announced it was closing its doors after “105 years of style.”

Natural beauty was a big part of our aesthetic. I knew that Ever Something here in Tulsa would create arrangements that looked freshly picked from a garden, so I was not too concerned with the specific blooms. After giving Taylor and Katie the color palette, I mentioned I would like to incorporate fresh herbs, like lavender and rosemary. They did the rest! My bouquet was lush, complex, and smelled amazing. We also envisioned a greenery garland to hang over the entrance to the mansion, which was the backdrop to the outdoor ceremony. Another garland hung gracefully from a chandelier over the buffet table. On tables, we had small arrangements that were similar to my bouquet. My sweet family asked to help with decorations, so I suggested they help supplement table arrangements. My mom knew about my love of fresh herbs, so she and my grandfather lovingly tended rosemary and lavender plants all summer, just so we could use the leaves of those plants in votive candles throughout the reception area. It was such a nice touch and, like my bouquet, smelled wonderful.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Harwelden Mansion in midtown Tulsa was built in the 1920s and is a gothic tudor-style home on the National Register of Historic Places. The original architectural details are still in beautiful condition, and the house and grounds lend themselves to a dreamy, vintage setting. Harwelden was originally a private home, so we loved the idea of having a wedding that felt simultaneously elegant and cozy.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? This was my favorite part of the ceremony. We chose several quotes and readings from Carl Sagan, Ekhart Tolle, Mark Twain, and Jim Henson. We created our own concept around how rare it is to find your soulmate, the person you love most, in the midst of such a vast universe. Our friend performed the ceremony and he wove them together so beautifully that people asked us for copies.

Our families and friends were so generous with their time. Having their help with everything from moving chairs and tables to solving a pre-ceremony sewing emergency was vital. It wouldn’t have been the same without them, and those are the gifts we’ll remember.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We are lucky enough to be involved professionally with a lot of vendors. The nonprofit organization I work for owns the venue we used, and Tony’s company (that same restaurant where we met) catered the reception. A friend sold us wine at a discount, and our beer was donated by a local brewery who worked with Tony frequently. Being able to craft a beautiful day with vendors we knew personally was amazing, not only because it saved us a lot of money, but because we got to work with our friends!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met at work! I was making ends meet during my time at the University of Tulsa by waitressing at an Irish pub downtown. Tony was bartending at the bar next door, but he moonlighted once a week at the pub. My first day happened to be on the day of his weekly shift. The first thing he said to me was, “Don’t bother remembering my name, you won’t see much of me.” We managed to get to know each other regardless! I was drawn to Tony’s charm, his sense of humor, and his love of music and books. We spent the next several years in Virginia, ultimately returning to Oklahoma. We clicked immediately and have been filling each other’s lives with laughter ever since.
Tell us all about the proposal! He always surprises me on my birthday, December 23, and I celebrated my 30th in 2014. I knew we were going to a nice dinner, and when we arrived at the restaurant, there were my best friend and her husband from out of town! I thought the surprise ended there, but after dinner, we walked a few blocks to a city park that has beautiful lights around the holiday season. My best friend’s husband, Todd (an amateur photographer), wanted to “test out his new camera” on the lights. We posed for a few photos, and the next thing I knew, Tony was down on one knee and Todd was snapping away. After spending eight years together, It turned out to be the best Christmas gift we could have given our friends and family, and my favorite birthday yet!
When did y’all get married? October 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 50 at the ceremony and 150 at the reception
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We fell in love over music, so it was important to us to incorporate it into our day. It ended up being one of my favorite details! Tony was in charge and chose a 1960s-themed soundtrack. At the ceremony, we played all Beatles and Beach Boys songs. I walked down the aisle to M. Ward’s instrumental cover of “You Still Believe in Me,” a Beach Boys original. The reception was a party from the start–we played all 1960s R&B. People loved it, especially our parents’ generation! Our first dance was to Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love.” I danced with my dad to Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways.” Music was also the theme for our party favors. Keeping with a DIY sensibility, Tony curated a mixtape, and I designed the cover art. We made and printed every detail. During those long days of wedding projects, we found that listening to and talking about possible tracks was a great way to relax and spend time together.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? After being together for eight years, we started the wedding planning process with a firm commitment to each other. Advice from family and friends kept us grounded, but planning the wedding together taught us a lot about our shared vision. Our friend married us and was great about pre-wedding sessions, so it was a fun experience to relive our relationship as we discussed the ceremony with him.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We both have family members with physical limitations, so our timeline had to accommodate people who may not be able to stand for long periods of time, or who needed to leave early. We made it work by communicating with specific vendors and making the plans for group photos and other moments early in the planning process.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Stick to your guns, but be graceful. If you have a difference of opinion, you’ll most likely be disagreeing with someone you love very much. It’s important to honor them and listen, but to be fair to yourself. If someone wants to help, delegate! Most of all, remember to have fun. At the end of the day, the details fade in comparison to the feeling of being surrounded by so much love all at once.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? For now, we are enjoying our time as newlyweds, cooking each other extravagant dinners and spending time together. We are also looking forward to future travels as a married couple!

Photographer: Fleckography | Venue: Harwelden Mansion | Florist: Ever Something | Cake Baker: Ann’s Bakery | Caterer: McNellie’s Group Catering | Rentals: ABCO Rents Tulsa | DJ: Hank Hanewinkel III | Paper Products: Tortoise Belly | Bride’s Gown: “Rosemary” by Sottero & Midgley | Bride’s Hair Accessories: Kathy Johnson | Hair Stylist: First Ward | Bride’s Shoes: “Sofia” in Blue by Betsey Johnson | Groom’s Attire: Beshara’s Formal Wear

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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    We’re never surprised to hear that a couple chooses a Southern locale for their wedding because they want to introduce their guests to a place they love. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we publish a magazine and this blog–so that brides around the world can see what makes the South such a magical place to call home! That’s exactly how Jill and Mike felt about Mike’s hometown of Hilton Head, South Carolina–they recall that one of their favorite details of their wedding was showing their families and friends Hilton Head’s beautiful landscape and undeniable Southern charm. Many guests even decided to make a vacation out of their wedding weekend and stay for the whole week! Jill says, “Every detail came together perfectly, creating a truly memorable experience not just for us, but for everyone who was there.” If that’s not Southern hospitality, I don’t know what is!

    Thank you so much to our talented Blue Ribbon Vendor Amy Arrington Photography for sharing this beautiful day with us!

    Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! My something borrowed was my bridesmaid and dear friend’s veil. I was the fourth one of our college girlfriends to wear it, so this was extremely sentimental and important to me! Not as important, my something blue was my favorite chapstick, a blue Eos ball. Lastly, my something new was everything else: shoes, dress, earrings, etc…plus, my new husband!!

    I went to several bridal salons in Philadelphia but was never captivated by anything. Finally, I visited BHLDN in NYC and was pretty much sold on a beautiful, extremely feminine, blush gown. I had an appointment at Nicole Miller the next day though and didn’t want to be rude and cancel, so I went anyways. Of course, it was at Nicole Miller that I fell in love with an extremely classic, fitted, ivory dress. It was not overly bridal and I am certain that is why I loved it–I felt like myself, and more importantly, I felt it was timeless dress that would never go out of style or be deemed trendy. That’s how it ultimately won out over the blush BHLDN gown!

    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Keep breathing! People who say planning a wedding isn’t stressful either had nothing to do with the planning or are billionaires! It will be tough at times, but it will all get done. And don’t forget what the day is about! At the end of it all, you will have married your best friend and love of your life, surrounded the people who love you most in this world.

    Our favorite detail, besides the fact that we were married, was being able to share Hilton Head with all of the people we love. Most of the guests had never been to Hilton Head and made a vacation out of the event, renting hotel rooms and houses and staying the week. Every detail came together perfectly, creating a truly memorable experience not just for us, but for everyone who was there.

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We had the ceremony at Mike’s family’s church, where they have gone since moving to Hilton Head from Colorado in 2005. The reception did not have any special significance going into the wedding, but ending up being perfect for us–it matched our personalities and provided a very unique experience for all of our friends and family. It was the last venue we visited while looking, and we almost didn’t even go because it was getting late, but once we arrived, we knew within a few minutes that we had found the perfect place.

    We wanted to show off the South a bit to everyone who had never been to South Carolina before. The venue was a wonderful example of how beautiful the Lowcountry is–we took photos on the marsh next to huge live oak trees, and the pavilion was surrounded by more massive trees covered in Spanish moss. We served traditional Southern comfort food buffet-style, including fried chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread, barbecue pork, shrimp and grits…we needed bigger plates so everyone could fit all the food! Mike also took full advantage of the Southern lifestyle–neither he nor his groomsmen wore socks with their shoes, and it ended up being a great decision.

    Describe your wedding flowers. The wedding flowers were more than just flowers! They were more of an artistic display of objects and different pieces with flowers scattered in. The flowers themselves were all blush, pinks, and white. I started to collect a bunch of different jars, bottles, vases, lanterns, mercury votives, etc. in Philly, and then we packed it all up and Mike drove it down in his pickup when he went home for Christmas. Dawn and Amanda exceeded my expectations! They took all this stuff and delicately wove in their own touches to create the most amazing display I have ever seen. Seeing all of the things I had collected in Philly put to use made all that work so worth it! It made me feel more involved and like I played an important, active role!

    We have been to a lot of weddings where we have seen cake get thrown out when people don’t eat it. We decided to get a smaller cake for us so we could still have a cake cutting, but the majority of the desserts were bite-sized treats for the guests to enjoy. The crowd favorite was definitely the mini key lime pies; they disappeared as soon as the desserts were put out.

    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Mike: Our first dance was definitely one of my favorites. We picked the song “True Believers” by Darius Rucker as our song, which is very special to Jill and me, as it came out during a difficult time for us and really spoke to us and our relationship. Despite having known this would be our song for a very long time, we never practiced the dance once. But, like always, we were in it together, had smiles on our faces, and had a blast just winging it. The dance went great and the song was perfect–it will always be a fun memory that is just one of many from the week.

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. After a series of odd and silly events, Mike and 13 of his best buds had to relocate out of their college house, and luckily, they moved in across the street from my friend’s and my house during my senior year. It was his newly close proximity, as well as the fact that he was door manager at the local watering hole, that made me begin to notice Mike more and more. His lighthearted nature, sense of humor, and subtle charm definitely sparked my interest! After several not-so-subtle inquiries to Mike’s older brother regarding Mike’s relationship status, word finally got to Mike that I was smitten. To my pleasant surprise, the feeling was mutual! After several brunches at our college cafe and a hilarious first date during which Mike’s car broke down, we officially became one another’s true love and best friend! The rest is history!
    Tell us all about the proposal! From Mike: I always wanted our engagement to be a surprise to Jill. She was busy studying for her OCN (oncology certified nurse) exam for work and was buried in a book for a few months prepping for it. She took her exam on a Saturday morning, while I went to her family’s house to ask her Dad if it was okay if I proposed to Jill in a few hours. The only catch in my plan was that she got the results of her exam as soon as she was done, and I had no backup plan if she didn’t pass her test. I got home with the ring and a big bouquet of flowers, set my GoPro up, and waited for her to call and say she was coming home. When she called, she told me she had passed the test! When she walked in the door of the apartment, she thought I was congratulating her for passing. She didn’t even have her jacket or backpack off before I was down on one knee, attempting to speak, but mostly just crying, asking her to marry me. She said yes, the ring was way too big so I put it on her middle finger, we opened a bottle of wine to try and calm us down, and then we met family and friends out at a bar. I had told Jill and everyone else I wanted to have a party to celebrate her taking her exam–no one knew it was going to be an engagement party!
    When did y’all get married? May 9, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we went with the traditional Catholic wedding vows.
    If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Jill: It’s hard to pick just one! My aunt, sister, and my cousin Kristy (a bridesmaid) bent over backwards to give me a wedding morning to remember! They had a yogurt parfait bar, yummy mimosas, and the most beautiful tablescape ever, complete with an album of Mike and I, my shower, and my bachelorette party. On top of that, my aunt secretly treated me to my hair and makeup! Amazing! Another favorite was when my Uncle Dave stopped me dead in my tracks during the reception and said “Your dad is a good man and he did an amazing job with you two.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It was simple, but striking and alarmingly true. It has been a bumpy, untraditional road for my dad, but no matter what, we have always had each other, and we will always have an amazing family!
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Mike has a pretty fierce one-year anniversary trip planned! We are going to fly to Seattle and then drive down the 101/Pacific Coast Highway, stopping to see the sites, taste some wine, smell the lavender fields, experience Oregon, and ultimately, end up in San Francisco, where my cousin Kristy lives!

    Photographer: Amy Arrington Photography / Videographer: Ryan Lindsay / Planner: Amanda Spencer / Ceremony Venue: St. Francis by the Sea Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Honey Horn Plantation / Florist: Dawn Kiritsy / Caterer and Dessert Baker: Bev & Rick / Rentals: Ranco / Lighting: Mike Wood / Band: The Voltage Brothers / Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas / Chalkboard Floral Design and Escort Card: Minted / Bride’s Gown: “Alexis” by Nicole Miller / Bridal Salon: Nicole Miller at the Bellevue Philadelphia / Bride’s Hair Accessory: Pearl Petal Halo by BHLDN / Hair and Makeup: Christi Zampino / Bride’s Shoes: “Marlow” by Harriet Wilde / Menswear: The Black Tux

    Amy Arrington is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and The Black Tux is a delightful SW sponsor!

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    5 Comments
    1. avatar Honey Horn Plantation Wedding : Mike + Jill reply

      […] you SOUTHERN WEDDINGS for featuring their […]

    2. avatar Megan reply

      a truly beautiful day for wonderful, deserving people!

    3. avatar Dana reply

      love this wedding!!! they sound like the sweetest couple!

    4. avatar Emily reply

      That red velvet cake is to die for! Love all of these sweet details!

    5. avatar ChelseaC reply

      Stunning, stunning wedding!!

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    In the Sweet Tea Society, we share a belief that simple is often better, and Rachel and Sam’s wedding day is a perfect example of this sentiment. They chose to honor God, their family, and their own love story at their sweetly simple wedding, reminiscent of Southern celebrations from times past. They held a morning ceremony at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where Rachel’s grandparents were married in 1950, followed by a brunch reception, complete with sweet tea and the buzz of good company to celebrate their day. I love how Rachel and her mom kept each other focused during their planning by asking “what kind of significance will this really have?” when considering details. What a poignant question to keep in mind.

    Big SW hugs to my friend Brooke Glassford of Colorbox Photographers for sharing this lovely day!

    I had originally decided that I wanted to wear my mom’s dress. It is a beautiful lace gown that I loved, but we knew there were a couple of things we would want to change about it. We went wedding dress shopping just to get ideas, but the girls at The White Room really did their job well! I ended up falling in love with an Anne Barge dress, and I was really torn about it, but my mom assured me that it was my dress. I am so happy with the choice. We ended up using some lace from my mom’s gown on my veil that she sewed herself, which ended up being even more special to me. It is something we will pass down for generations to come.

    Our wedding was more like the Southern weddings in times past–it was at 11:00 in the morning and we served brunch with lemonade and sweet tea afterwards. We enjoyed the company of friends and family and didn’t have anything fancy going on other than the buzz of good company.

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? My grandparents were wed at St. Paul’s in 1950. It is the church that I grew up in and that my father grew up in and that my grandfather grew up in. It was very special to my family and to Sam and I that we were married in a place with such rich history and deep meaning.

    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? This is a hard one. I think the most memorable moment of our wedding day was saying my vows to Sam. That was the moment when everything started to really sink in for me. I also really loved this moment that after we were announced as husband and wife, we turned around to face our friends and family, and the whole church joined in to sing the Doxology. It was such a joy to get to see so many loved ones and to sing praise to the Lord with them!

    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The main way that we planned for our marriage was through prayer for our future. We prayed for each other as well as ourselves in the new roles we were about to take on. Our main desire for our marriage is that the Lord be honored and glorified.

    Our wedding flowers were beyond gorgeous! The day before our wedding, I had to run by the church and ended up walking into the reception venue. I was immediately in tears because of how beautiful everything was, and because of the people who blessed me with the talent they have been blessed with. Two women who have had a big impact on my life, and especially on my walk with the Lord, were in charge of all of the flowers. They, along with a team of family and friends, created more than I could have ever asked for. The flowers certainly pointed to the beauty of the Lord and the brilliance of what He creates.

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Sam and I met in kindergarten. Although we “dated” from 7th-12th grade, we say that we truly started dating our junior year of college after we became Christians. We know that it is only because of the Lord’s great mercy on our lives and His great love for us that we are able to love each other.
    Tell us all about the proposal! October 10, 2014 is one of my most favorite memories. It was just a normal Friday, and a close friend of ours had invited us over to eat with their family at their cabin, about 30 minutes outside of Auburn. I didn’t think twice about it, even though Sam came up with a thousand excuses for why the Sheils were coming to the cabin after us. He was basically on one knee the second we stepped out of his truck and onto the porch. He recalled lots of things that had happened over our 11 years together and talked about wanting me to be his wife. I was completely shocked and so excited that I didn’t say anything for a while! He then prepared a delicious meal for us and we sat on the porch for hours, excitedly talking about our future together and thanking the Lord for allowing it all to really happen as we had always wished.
    When did y’all get married? July 18, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 250
    Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did decide to do a first look. We really wanted to have that moment to ourselves to soak in the day before all of it moved too quickly to remember. Seeing him at the end of the aisle waiting for me was still just as special and exciting as I had always dreamed it would be.
    What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? 1 Corinthians 13 was read during our ceremony by our officiant, Sam’s dad. He talked about how our home needed to be built on Godly love in order for our home to be sustained.
    What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I think the biggest challenge for us was our guest list. We knew we wanted a more intimate ceremony, and although 250 guests doesn’t seem very intimate to some people, in our small, Southern town, it is! Cutting down the guest list was definitely challenging for us.
    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My parents asked me to choose three things that were really important to us for our wedding. We chose three big, important things and tried to cut corners on everything else. My mom and I would stop each other and ask, “Is this really that important?” Or “What kind of significance will this really have?” It made the planning process a lot more enjoyable.
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My advice is to enjoy the process! It is something you will never have the opportunity to do again, and it’s neat to think that the Lord planned this specific time just for you. Praise Him for it, thank Him for it, and give it up to Him. Planning seemed like a breeze because I knew I wasn’t doing it alone.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Right after we got married, we moved to Tuscaloosa from Auburn. We both just started new jobs here and are looking forward to getting plugged into a local community in this new place.

    Photographer: Brooke Glassford of Colorbox Photographers / Videographer: David Haygood / Venue: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Carlowville / Florals: Catherine Gilmer and April Lane / Caterer and Cake Baker: Granny B Catering / Rentals: Encore Rentals / Paper Products: Kadie Smith / Bride’s Gown: “Pembroke” by Anne Barge / Bridesmaids’ Hair and Makeup: Amber Todd / Bride’s Shoes: Toms / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: David’s Bridal / Menswear: Jim Massey Formals / Ties: Landisun

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

      I love, love, love the heart and simplicity behind this wedding! It’s so refreshing to see a wedding these days that evokes the feel of weddings of the past… less focused on the details and the party and more focused on simplicity, family, community, and love. Thanks for sharing this one – it sure it gorgeous & is one to remember!

    2. avatar Brooke Glassdord reply

      Thank you SO much for featuring this wedding! It was an honor to capture AND an honor being featured by SW!

    3. avatar Southern Weddings feature: Sam + Rachel » Colorbox Photographers reply

      […] Weddings for featuring Sam + Rachel’s summer morning wedding on their blog today! Click here to see the […]

    4. avatar Jehnel Oboza-Davison reply

      Seriously, seriously beautiful wedding. I am so in love with the central focus of love, family, and God in this wedding. This reminds me of looking through your grandparents’ old wedding albums and it was just chock-full of happy pictures; a blushing bride and a dapper groom. So beautiful. Let’s return to this again, y’all!

    5. avatar Donna Harrison reply

      I watched this couple grow up…It was indeed a great day!!! A glorious day!

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