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Anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship can attest to how challenging it is. I’m in that boat myself, and sometimes, it is just plain hard. That is one of the many reasons I’m so encouraged by Emily and Tripper’s love story. After years of distance, they were engaged in the city where they first met and planned a gorgeous wedding in Emily’s hometown. Now that they’re happily married, they’re thrilled that they finally get to see each other every day. I can’t help but feel overjoyed for them–what a testament to “love never fails!”

Many thanks to Melissa Schollaert for sharing Emily and Tripper’s wedding with us!

Tell us all about the proposal! We planned a trip to Nashville in September 2011 to visit Tripper’s sister and brother-in-law and to go to a Vandy football game. Coincidentally (or so I thought), the Dores were playing Ole Miss that weekend, which marked the four-year anniversary of our first date. On Saturday evening after the game, Tripper and I had dinner at our favorite restaurant, Virago, and planned to meet his sister and brother-in-law at the Hutton Hotel bar for post-dinner drinks. When we got to the hotel, Tripper led me up to the penthouse suite, which was filled with candles, flowers and mementos from throughout our relationship. Getting engaged with the backdrop of the Nashville skyline was the perfect way to bring our relationship full circle!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Although I was initially hesitant about a first look, our photographer convinced me that it was necessary in order to get portraits and bridal party photos with natural light. We did our first look in a small park in Atlanta with no one else around. It was a perfect, intimate setting. Looking back, I am so happy we made that decision, because were both much more relaxed going into the ceremony.

Like many brides, I wanted romantic, lush flowers in soft colors and dreamed of peonies. Since peonies weren’t available in September, we used lots of hydrangeas, ranunculus, garden roses and spray roses to deliver the same full effect. My favorite flower is the gardenia, so we included those in my bouquet, in my hair and in the floral garland runner on the head table.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our Old Testament reading was Tobit 8:4b-8, and our New Testament reading was Colossians 3:12-17.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We were married in a cathedral and felt the music needed to match the formality of the venue, so we chose traditional songs played on the church organ. My dad walked me down the aisle to Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary” and we recessed to “Hornpipe” by Handel. For our first dance, the band played “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons. It was the perfect song for us because it started off slow, but the tempo picked up so we could have a little fun! The band’s last song of the night was Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

I just loved the overall effect when walking into the reception space. Atmosphere was extremely important to me and creating the right mood was at the top of my mind throughout the planning process. As I told our vendors, I wanted the reception space to feel warm and “glowy” and I felt strongly about choosing a venue where all our guests could be in one space together. I was thrilled with how our vendors executed my vision.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food at our wedding was Southern-influenced and included shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes. Tripper grew up in Louisiana and has a passion for Gulf oysters, so to bring a little Louisiana flair to our Atlanta wedding, we brought in over 1,000 Gulf oysters and an award-winning shucker straight from New Orleans!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our cake was delicious! Since Tripper doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, we skipped a groom’s cake and instead offered two tiers of flavors in the wedding cake–red velvet with cream cheese frosting and vanilla genoise with lemon and raspberry mousse.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Tripper and I met in college at Vanderbilt University. We had many mutual friends, but somehow, we didn’t connect until our senior year. Our first date was to the Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss football game, followed by dinner at Rotier’s–a perfect Nashville evening! After college, I moved to Atlanta and Tripper moved to Charlotte. Two years later, he started business school in Charlottesville, VA and I moved to DC. Needless to say, our love story contains many tanks of gas and hours on the phone.
When did y’all get married? September 22, 2012
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 250
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I lived in DC during our engagement and went wedding dress shopping both there and in my hometown of Atlanta. Although I didn’t know what style dress I wanted when I got engaged, I quickly realized that a lace gown with a fit-and-flare silhouette felt the most “me.” At every appointment, I kept going back to the same lace Marissa dress, so I knew it was the one.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something old was a religious medal that has belonged to my grandmother since she was a child. My something borrowed was a garter that my best friends and I each wear on our wedding day, embroidered with our monogram and the date. My something blue was a Bonnie Blue flag pin given to me by Tripper’s aunt. My something(s) new were the dress, shoes and diamond earrings that were a wedding day gift from Tripper. And I had a sixpence in my shoe!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I lived in DC for the majority of our engagement and Tripper was in business school in Charlottesville, so it was a challenge to work with all of our vendors in Atlanta while being long-distance from both them and from each other.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? That’s tough! We were lucky to have a fabulous group of vendors who worked wonderfully together and made things easy on us. I am so happy we chose Melissa Schollaert as our photographer because she captured every moment and detail of the day beautifully. We love reliving the memories through her images.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Seeing each other for the first time! That, and the amazing party on the dance floor.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? This sounds obvious, but when your wedding day finally comes after many months of planning, make sure you enjoy it together! Tripper and I made a deal beforehand that we would stay within an arm’s length at our reception. We knew from attending other weddings that the bride and groom often get pulled in different directions and get caught up talking with friends and family. It was important to us to have shared memories of the night.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are settled down in Louisiana and enjoying married life! After four years of dating long-distance, it is a thrill to wake up in the same place and be together every day.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
10 Comments
  1. avatar Amanda {Amanda Jayne Events} reply

    Beautiful venue and decor!

  2. avatar Caitlyn | The Aerialist Press reply

    What a beautiful story! Love it.

  3. avatar diana elizabeth – lifestyle + photography reply

    Huge fan of Melissa Schollaert’s work, she’s amazing! Great wedding, such a beautiful couple!

  4. avatar Stephen reply

    Nice, but where’s that handsome uncle?

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  6. avatar Dana reply

    love the reception venue!

  7. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up | Southern Weddings reply

    […] Yay for real weddings! There are few things that make my heart sing like a long distance love that turns into a beautiful marriage! Emily and Tripper’s wedding was so classic and lovely. See it here. […]

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We love every bride we have the pleasure of featuring on Southern Weddings, but today’s bride is particularly special — because we know her personally! And y’all do, too! Or at least our long time readers do. Some of you may recognize Caroline’s pretty face from V3’s hot air balloon shoot. We loved Miss Caroline so much we asked her back for a V4 shoot, and this time, her boyfriend Lionel came along, too. While we were hoping Lionel would propose at the shoot (no luck), we did hear that he had popped the question a few weeks later, and we’ve been waiting to see their wedding photos ever since!

The photos are in, and now we get to share them with you! From Caroline’s relaxed waves and adorable braid-halo to the absolutely stunning light in Melissa Schollaert’s beautiful photographs, I love the organic and fresh feeling of Caroline + Lionel’s jewel-tone nuptials. Aside from each and every pretty detail you can see on this page, I can’t pass up mentioning how fun and unique C + L’s music was! Caroline said they chose music from their favorite movies, including Legends of the Fall, Father of the Bride, The Cider House Rules, and Braveheart. Such a fun way to incorporate their personalities into the fabric of their big day!

WOAH, nelly! Can we please stop and stare at Caroline’s grandmother’s to-die-for ring she rocked on her big day?

Okay, moving on!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I knew I wanted to find something classic and fitted with some lace and also something that would look good in the fall outdoors. I went with my sister just to look at a store that was closing in the area (Priscilla’s of Boston) and I ended up purchasing a brand new dress on sale. I knew it was the one because I looked and felt like a bride! (I’m actually selling it here.)

Describe your wedding flowers: My aunt did the flowers and we went with a lot of white (roses, ranunculus, hydrangeas, lilies), touches of purples (calla lilies), and some greenery (baby’s breath). They were all so beautiful! I think my aunt has a new career!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding.  The music was very unique throughout the wedding. We played a lot of music from our favorite movies (Legends of the Fall, Father of the Bride, The Cider House Rules, and Braveheart). Growing up and listening to the Legends of the Fall soundtrack, I knew one day I would walk down the aisle to it. My sister did it too. We also had a musician perform our favorite praise and worship song, “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” by Matt Redman during the ceremony.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes, I love taking pictures and I wanted to make sure we could get as many in as possible! Lionel was thrilled too! Those were some of my favorite pictures of the entire wedding and such a special moment to watch on the wedding video. We also got to spend more time at the cocktail hour with our friends and family.

Did you write your own vows?  We didn’t state the traditional wedding vows, but we put together ones that fit us better personally. “I Caroline take you Lionel to be my best friend, my faithful partner, and my one true love.” They were more intimate because they were really geared toward us as a couple.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My little sister read Colossians 3:12-17 and my grandmother read Deuteronomy 6:5-9. It was so sweet to hear both of them speak during the ceremony, and for them to read some of my favorite verses on marriage and love. My grandparents have been married 62 years and counting. They are so special to me!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: For me, it was the ceremony. It couldn’t have been more perfect — the setting on the lake, the cross, the weather, the breeze, the music and of course, marrying Lionel! Tyler, my brother-in law who introduced us, was the officiant. He did an awesome job lightening the mood with his humor. I remember his first line: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to witness my debut as a wedding officiant!” We also loved how the tent turned out. The lighting was so beautiful along with the farm tables and mahogany chairs! We brought the ballroom outside!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: It was the best cake I ever tasted and it was very pretty too! I wanted something simple but tasty and it was perfection! We had three layers with different flavors: White chocolate with Nutella filling, chocolate pistachio with milk chocolate mocha buttercream and Italian cream with Nutella filling. We couldn’t even wait until our one year anniversary to eat our saved toped layer! It lasted about a week.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration?  What was Southern about your wedding? The food! Cheese grits and short ribs for dinner, fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls and crab cakes for appetizers. The décor was also Southern. We had hay bales, vintage window panels for seating assignments and the outdoor venue. Also, we played country music at the reception. We also had a Southern-themed rehearsal dinner the night before with hay seating, a low country boil, sunflowers, and sweet tea in mason jars.

How did the two of you meet?  Tell us your story. We meet through my brother in-law, Tyler, who was trying to play matchmaker. Tyler and Lionel had a mutual friend in the Army and would often hang out together. Both of my sisters had already met Lionel and approved so I was less hesitant. Lionel, however, thought the safest way to communicate with me was on my birthday through Facebook, a week before his deployment to Afghanistan. In Lionel’s words, “Upon Caroline accepting my friend request and looking at her pictures, I immediately regretted waiting so long to communicate with her, Tyler had obviously done a poor job describing her.” Lionel arrived in Afghanistan and was excited to have email connections so he could communicate with me. Long story short, Lionel decided to write me an email hoping for a response, and we ended up writing each other every day throughout his three-month deployment! The first weekend he got back, we met for the first time and the rest was history!
Describe the proposal.
I’m an avid golfer so the first weekend we met, I insisted that we play golf. We made a bet that if I won, then he owed me a date in Charleston where I didn’t have to make any decisions. Well I won the golf match and almost a year later I got my surprise weekend date in Charleston where Lionel proposed on the beach. It’s kind of cool to think the bet we made on our first date ended with me wining a proposal!
In what month did you get married? October
How many guests attended your wedding? 100
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I did all the planning throughout the entire engagement. There are so many details and tasks to accomplish right before the wedding that can become stressful. We did hire a coordinator/planner for the day of so that was helpful for me!
What range did your wedding budget fall into?  $25,000-$50,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The lighting, tables and chairs, videographer, and photographer!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Make a list of what’s most important for both the bride and groom. For me, it was the pictures, ambiance and food. For Lionel, it was the atmosphere, wine and the food. Also, take pictures from magazines and Pinterest to every vendor appointment so everyone is on the same page. When the caterer asks you how you want your napkins folded, you already have thought of it and have a picture!
What’s next for you as a couple?  What are you looking forward to in the future?  We are looking forward to Lionel graduating in May with his MBA. We will be moving to Houston, TX where Lionel will start work. I continue to travel a lot with my modeling career. We are seeing a house full of kids happening in a few years once we get settled.

Melissa Schollaert is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
24 Comments
  1. avatar Shannon reply

    This wedding is so so lovely! I especially love the late night milk & cookies!

  2. avatar Drew reply

    Caroline was a pleasure to work with and the final product was amazing! Melissa is such a talented photographer.

  3. avatar Kelly Taylor reply

    The colors are absolutely lovely & the gold details are stunning as well. What a beautiful wedding and even better inspiration!!

  4. avatar Jessica B reply

    Beautiful wedding! Love the Southern decor details (magnolia leaves, lanterns, etc), especially the tablescapes. Elegant without being fussy.

  5. avatar Ashley S reply

    Love this! Where was the ceremony held?

  6. avatar Dee Shore reply

    Cookie shots? Yes please!

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  8. avatar Kathy C reply

    Love the bridesmaid dresses. What is the style number of the dress with the cap sleeves? Were they added after purchase?

    • avatar Nicole reply

      Hi Kathy! That bridesmaid dress looks closest to the CHIFFON G736C style from Amsale. Hope that helps!

  9. avatar Jane reply

    what color does amsale call this??

    • avatar Kathy C reply

      Jane: They call it eggplant–the chiffon is slightly lighter than the lining because of the way the die takes, but it’s really pretty in person and seems to photograph better than darker purples.

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  18. avatar Jessica reply

    Beautiful wedding! What did you use for the venue?

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Erin + Michael buried a bottle of bourbon in the backyard before the wedding in order to bring good weather. It worked! The couple was greeted with temperatures in the mid 70s and sunny skies — the perfect setting for their designed and delightful reception. A game of cornhole and a koozie-wrapped beverage are infinitely better when the sun shines, in my opinion. Of course, after partying away at Erin’s parents’ home, the newlyweds dug up the bottle and brought it with them to the after party!

We are thankful for Melissa Schollaert for sharing this wedding this us and capturing the many happy part of the big day. I won’t spoil it all for you — scroll down and fall in love!

We held the reception under a tent on the property and carried over the concepts we established at the cocktail hour and ceremony with more natural and personal details. Each dining table had its own identity with centerpieces consisting of quirky thrift store and “attic” finds like candleholders, lanterns, old tins, bottles and other chotchkies. As a nod to my interior design background, guests found their table by fabric swatches which were used in the laser-cut table numbers and custom runners under each place setting that were made of the same fabric pattern. To tie in the outdoor setting, we used burlap potato and coffee sacks as chair covers and created a lighting installation with paper lanterns and tree limbs we found in the surrounding woods. Michael and I also have a huge connection through music. We spend so much time together enjoying live shows, so we knew that we had to have a live band — they had to ROCK and that they did! Nationwide Coverage kept the party going and people on the dance floor. Of course, it wouldn’t be a rocking party without a full bar and beer boat. Guests were able to self-serve beer and wine, and hi note created custom bottle openers and koozies as grab-and-go favors. With the help of our friend and officiant, Adam, we were able to have our very own bottled brew at the wedding. I absolutely loved custom the branding and label Michael created for it – it was a huge hit!

Briefly describe your wedding flowers: I wanted really bold, graphic florals for my wedding, but I also wanted them to feel very wild, like you picked them out of your backyard and stuck them in an old coffee tin. Angie from Birch Blooms overwhelmed me with her stunning work! Not only is she the cutest, sweetest and most excited florist I know, but she even surprised me by draping florals from the ceiling — I still tear up when I think about it. The flowers were the icing on the cake. They made all of our hard work designing and planning come to life!

What was Southern about your wedding? For starters, it was in Alabama! Alabama is a really beautiful, lush state, so having it outdoors overlooking Lake Logan Martin really capitalized on the Southern charm of our venue. The South is known for its hospitality, and our wedding was no exception. We were really fortunate to have family members and friends who contributed time, money and a whole lot of elbow-grease to our wedding day.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when planning your wedding? The VENUE! It is not easy planning a wedding at a private home. There are so many things you have to think about in addition to all the other details a wedding would have at a traditional venue — power circuits, garbage, restrooms and cleaning up the next day! It was a great accomplishment to pull it all off!

Tell us a bit about your first dance. (From the groom) Our song was ‘Harvest Moon’ by Neil Young. We both love his music and definitely have a musical connection with this tune.

We paid homage to our love for food with a custom menu from Alan Singleton that consisted of our favorite family recipes. In lieu of a traditional wedding cake, we asked our talented friend, Betsy Distler to create a small personal cake for us. Then, guests were able to enjoy bite-sized versions of our cake flavor and other delicious pastries, as well as our favorite childhood candies.

Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: I was really proud of how the laser-cut doilies turned out. They made such an impact underneath each guest’s plate.
Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? My Aunt Beth. She lives in Australia and was unable to attend, so several of my friends who helped with the wedding Skyped her in so she could be a part of our special day.
What range did your budget fall into? $25,000
Did you have a cocktail hour? (From the groom) Because the sun sets so late in May, we opted to have our cocktail hour prior to the ceremony, so folks could have a snack and cold beverage before the festivities began. Our good friend Felix created a Brat and Burrito bar to honor two of my favorite foods. We also had Erin’s mom’s famous margaritas by the pool. Guests were able to enjoy themselves lounging by the water or playing games in the yard. Our main goal was for everyone to have a blast!
What was the funniest moment? What was the scariest? (From the groom) One of the funniest and also scariest moments was when we read our vows to one another. We both couldn’t even look at them before the ceremony without getting emotional. When the time came, we were both really nervous, but after the first laugh, we were great. Our guests’ dance moves came in a close second for funniest moment.
Were there any family traditions you included in the reception? No traditions per se, but we did have an amazing caterer who took our favorite family recipes and recreated them into a fantastic spread for our buffet.
Did you try anything new or untraditional? Our whole wedding event was the epitome of untraditional, but everything we did was extremely personal and thoughtful, so with that, we created our own traditions.
Tell us about your grand exit. Having our ceremony and reception overlooking the lake, there was no better way to exit than by boat with a little fireworks show to send us off into the night.
What is the one thing that made your wedding different from anyone else’s wedding? It was at the home I grew up in. No one else has ever been married there and probably never will – that is pretty special.
Did you take a honeymoon? If so, where? (From the groom) We are saving up for a first anniversary trip to Italy and Sicily. Erin studied there for a semester in college and it is where I trace my roots back to, so it will be a special place for both of us to visit.
What advice would you give to someone planning his or her wedding? Have a plan, have a budget and STICK TO IT! You will enjoy your big day so much more if you heed this advice.
Who was your favorite vendor and why? All of my vendors are close colleagues and friends, so they are all my favorites, but the one person other than Michael that was integral to making it all happen was my mom. She worked with me every weekend for months designing and planning, tackling the biggest challenge of our lives: to pull off a wedding at her house. I also have to give kudos to Melissa, our photographer. She is one of my very best friends and she spent so much time and effort, weeks at a time, coming to help me work on the wedding.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
14 Comments
  1. avatar Kristin reply

    I still die over those lovely personalized corn-hole boards. I love the idea of yard games at a reception! So relaxed and so fun.

  2. avatar Ashleigh from Marry Me Metro reply

    I adore all of the state pride details in this wedding! Too bad between my fiancé and I we have four awesome states that mean something significant to us lol.

  3. avatar Dee Shore reply

    Ok… this is officially my new favorite wedding. The bar. The bar pulls the strings at my heart. The potato sack chair backs, genius!

  4. avatar Sarah reply

    Beautiful! Where was the burlap table runner purchased?

    • avatar Erin reply

      Sarah: Hi Sarah! My company, hi note, specializes in custom stationery and laser cut graphics, so we made custom cut our own stencil out of plastic and painted them ourselves.

  5. avatar liz reply

    Awesome koozies! What company did you use for them? I love how your initials are on the bottom!

  6. avatar Elma Mercer reply

    I loved this spread in V5! I’m a HUGE fan of bouquets… in my mind they are the centerpiece for the wedding! Midnight in the Garden is by far my fav :) The deep red, blush & creme are so rich & warm together. I’m also a huge fan of Mint Julep!

  7. avatar Joya reply

    Where can I purchase the coozie? It is The. Perfect. One!

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