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Both Lisa and Emily know I’m a sucker for pink and gold weddings–I simply adore them. Kelsie and Evan’s wedding took my pink and gold love affair up a notch with their addition of bright, bold pops of coral! I’ve always professed not to be a flower person, but Kelsie’s bouquet of lush coral charm peonies, peony tulips, and David Austin roses has me wondering if the tide is changing. After dancing the night away under a ceiling of flowers, I imagine any guests with my hesitations became converts too! Silks a Bloom brought the outside in with their ornate installation, complete with Edison lights woven within the flowers to up the romantic atmosphere. A surprise late night snack of Chick Fil A nuggets just might be the only thing able to challenge those stunning blooms for the title of favorite detail from this fun celebration!

We’re sure glad Weddings by Christopher and Nancy shared this beautiful day with us!

P.S. Have you signed up for our Fruitful Summer series yet? There’s so much goodness in store whether you’re dating, engaged, newly married, or have a few years under your belt! See it all here.

I had an early morning appointment scheduled at Proposals Boutique in Little Rock, Arkansas with my mom and my older sister. It was such a special day because it was the first time I truly felt butterflies about our wedding day. We were the first customers at the store and were helped by an old family friend, Betsy. She made the day so special and memorable for us, and even shared a few happy tears! I went in with a completely open mind. Betsy had me try on all different types of dresses and materials. I had my heart set on the third dress that I tried on and thought it was the perfect one. Betsy was about to have me try it on one last time after about nine dresses, just to see if the spark and excitement were still there. At the last minute, my mom found a dress hanging on the rack and suggested I try it on, just to see what it looked like. As soon as I tried on the tenth dress, I pictured Evan’s reaction to seeing me in this dress. Betsy added the veil and the belt, and my eyes began to water. Betsy knew it was the dress for me because she commented on how I kept touching the dress, swaying in it, and moving so differently in this one compared to the others. After walking around the store a few more times, I knew I had found “the dress.” It was perfect, and even more special that it was picked out by my mom. We popped a bottle of champagne after Betsy asked me if I wanted to “say yes to the dress,” and it truly felt like my wedding planning had really kicked off!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The florals! Dancing all night under a cloud of flowers was probably one of the best parts of the day. I also loved my bouquet so much that I sent it off the day after the wedding to have it preserved in a shadowbox. I cannot wait to see how it will look in a few weeks!

We were so thrilled to do a first look! This was something we knew right off the bat that we wanted to do. I had seen one of my friends do one and saw how special it was for them. We both knew it would be a meaningful moment we could share together, and it would help calm our nerves before the ceremony. Our photographers, Christopher and Nancy, also suggested it, and we are so glad we went with our gut instincts. It was one of the most memorable moments from our wedding day.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did write our own vows! It was something we had decided on months before the wedding, although we ended up writing them a few days before/the night before the wedding. My favorite line was “I promise to continually see the good in you every day, and I will no longer roll my eyes at you, but with you.”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We had our date for May 29, 2016 already set, and knew that with it being a late spring/early summer wedding, we would want to get married outside. The Terry House was the perfect location! I had seen pictures of friends who had been married there and remembered that the set-up was so accommodating. We wanted our ceremony and reception to be close by, and having them at the same place was even better!

Our wedding colors included different shades of coral and gold. I remember meeting with my wedding planner, Anne Claire, and my florist, Dale, and telling them that I was hoping for bright, bold pops of color! They sure made this request a reality. They built us a ceiling of flowers for our tent that we danced under, which was threaded with Edison lighting to help create a romantic and whimsical atmosphere for the reception. The flowers included pink and coral charm peonies, salmon pink peony tulips, and peach David Austin roses, mixed in with roses and lisianthus. In addition, watermelon snapdragons, assorted poppies, and scabiosa were mixed in, along with maidenhair fern, variegated greenery, and hydrangeas. The flowers truly made my dream wedding come true!

We had a four-tiered wedding cake covered in textured cream cheese frosting. The bottom two layers were chocolate and vanilla, and the top two were lemon with raspberry filling. It was to die for! The groom’s cake was a little unconventional. Evan decided he wanted ice cream sandwiches instead! They were made of two chocolate chip cookies with vanilla or mint chocolate chip ice cream squished in the middle. A refreshing treat on a hot summer day!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We made sure our food reflected the best of our Southern roots. Evan and I met in Memphis, home of the best barbecue in the South! We made sure some form of barbecue was served (sliders), as well as fried mac and cheese bites. To everyone’s surprise, our biggest Southern detail of the wedding was the late night snack: Chick Fil-A nuggets!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. In 2008, Evan and I met during the summer of my sophomore year of college. He and I were the only two students selected to participate in a medical summer internship in Memphis. We had briefly met a few times during various club meetings and in passing on campus, but never had any meaningful interactions until then. Evan didn’t know this at the time, but I had a secret crush on him before we were chosen to work together that summer. I seriously believed it was fate, and now I know it truly was! About halfway through the internship, Evan asked me to go to the Memphis Zoo with him one day after work. We realized that we liked a lot of the same animals, and it was in the herpetarium when I realized Evan actually liked me! While looking at the turtles, he nervously asked me out on a date to go see a movie at the drive-in theater. I misunderstood that he was planning that for another time and not for later that evening. Oops! I insisted that we look up movie times and get dinner beforehand. That night, we sat in the hatchback of his car to watch the Disney-Pixar movie, Wall-E. Of course, something else had to go wrong on our first date, and it did–neither of us had any bug spray, so I got bitten by a ton of mosquitos! I remember we counted exactly 38 bites on my legs and arms, while Evan had maybe only five. We spent the rest of the night laughing about what happened, and soon after that was when I realized that Evan was the only one I wanted to watch all my movies with…but only indoors with air conditioning, or maybe with a can of bug spray nearby.
Tell us all about the proposal! From Evan: Kelsie was living with me in Norfolk for the month while she was doing an away rotation. To cap off a great month and celebrate our six-year anniversary, I planned a special getaway weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia. We checked into our hotel at Colonial Williamsburg, and went to explore the historical town in search for a good place for a picnic. We stopped by The Cheese Shop in downtown Williamsburg and picked up bread, cheese, and some wine. Unfortunately, it was late enough that all of the Colonial Williamsburg attractions had closed, so we adventured on to the nearby campus of The College of William & Mary. It was very reminiscent of our time at Rhodes, where we met. We picnicked in the quad and drank A LOT wine. I had researched a romantic part of the campus in the woods many weeks before, so after our picnic, we went into the woods and I somehow convinced her to follow me (I think the wine helped with this). After a small trek, we came across the Crim Dell bridge, hidden in the woods of the campus. She initially ran across the bridge, while I slowly walked to the crest, looking up something special for her to read on my phone. She came back and asked what I was doing. I had her read the story about the bridge’s significance, which said that if two lovers were to meet at the crest of the bridge and kiss, they would be together forever. After she read the story, we kissed and then I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. Little did we know that on the other side of the bridge, about a hundred yards away, was a group of college girls who witnessed the whole thing. When she said “yes,” a roar of cheers were heard. I had just become the luckiest guy in the world!
When did y’all get married? May 29, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our officiant, Chaplain West, offered to enroll us in a premarital course online called Prepare Enrich. We took a test at the beginning about ourselves and it analyzed the results so that we could discuss it with our officiant. We had weekly premarital counseling sessions with him every Wednesday night for about six months before the wedding. Because we were planning our wedding long distance, we had to have our weekly sessions over the phone, which worked out perfectly well for all of our schedules. We finally met our officiant in person a few days before the wedding and it was as if we had known him our whole lives!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was making sure we stayed within our budget. This was definitely made possible by having a wedding planner. Anne Claire was wonderful at giving us different pricing options when it came to vendors. She had things laid out for us so we could compare what we were willing to splurge on versus things we wanted to save money on. In the end, we were able to stay within our budget!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Every month, Evan and I would set aside a certain amount of money from each our paychecks into our wedding savings account. This really helped us not only learn how to save money for the future, but also allowed us to contribute as much as we could towards the wedding. This way, we could ease the burden off of our families and have more wiggle room to add on fun details at the last minute.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were so happy to have our Filipino and my Indian culture represented in our wedding. This was exemplified throughout the whole evening, from the food, to the attire, and even the ceremony and dancing. Evan and I incorporated the traditional Filipino wedding traditions into our ceremony: coins, cord, veil, and candle. We also had Filipino primary and secondary sponsors as part of our wedding, who wore the traditional Filipino clothing (barong) during the ceremony. I had traditional Indian henna done on both of my hands to represent the other side of my heritage. We served Indian samosas as passed appetizers and had traditional Filipino pancit (noodles) and lumpia (egg rolls) as part of the dinner buffet. Finally, we performed a Filipino money dance, where guests took turn dancing with Evan and I, and pinning money onto us as they did so. It was so fun to see how our guests responded to all the different traditions!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are about to get a puppy! We have been patiently waiting for this day to come and it will probably be the second happiest day of our lives! We are also looking forward to finally taking our honeymoon this August to Maui, Hawaii! We are planning for a mix of relaxing activities, as well as a lot of adventure, hiking, snorkeling, and maybe even surfing. But let’s be honest, we’re most excited about the food!

Photographer: Weddings by Christopher & Nancy | Videographer: Brad Fugere | Planner: Anne-Claire Allen | Venue: The Terry House | Florist: Silks A Bloom | Cake Baker: Sweet Love | Caterer: Simply The Best Catering | Rentals: Confetti’s Party Rentals | Lighting: Central Arkansas Entertainment | DJ: Mario Luna | Henna: Priyanka Badhwar | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride’s Gown: Style 14716 by Wtoo | Bride’s Accessories and Bridal Salon: Proposals Boutique | Hair Stylist: Kakki Jones | Makeup Artist: Lorena Somers Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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    It has been such a delight having Meg, our spring intern, with us this semester! Since her time in our office is wrapping up, we couldn’t resist asking her to introduce y’all to one of our beautiful real wedding features! – Lisa

    You know a couple is a special when an entire street shuts down to celebrate their big day! McKara and Brandon paid homage to their beloved downtown Lakeland in the best way possible–by using its streets as the venue for their reception! Ashton Events, one of our super talented Blue Ribbon Vendors, transformed N. Kentucky Avenue and Pine Street using the most darling and whimsical vintage details (I’m still swooning over those antique floral teacups), while still keeping in mind McKara and Brandon’s main desire: to highlight the strong sense of community that Lakeland has to offer. Guests enjoyed a yummy meal seated at gorgeous, community-style farmhouse tables, and the night ended with the couple inviting folks walking by to join in on the fun. How beautiful is that? McKara and Brandon really captured the sweet essence of community while fusing it with their own quirky and vintage taste. I’m completely tickled with this fun couple and their big day…and I think y’all will be, too!

    Thank you, Esther Louise Photography, for sharing this wonderful day with us!

    I had my heart set on a peach-hued gown. After looking in boutiques in Florida, I found that none of the bridal shops stocked dresses in the peachy/pink hues I had in mind. I wanted to try on the dress in the color I would be wearing, so a trip to New York City was set up. My mom and my best friend/maid of honor flew up to Manhattan with appointments set at several boutiques who had confirmed they had peach dresses in stock for me to try on. Our first stop was Kleinfeld’s. I really did not have high hopes for finding my dress at Kleinfeld’s because I had my eye on a Carol Hannah dress that I was sure was the one. But, I figured since Kleinfeld’s had the largest selection of peach dresses in stock, it would be worthwhile. Upon arriving, we were extremely impressed with the customer service. Our consultant, Judy, was helpful and attentive. She brought me a brand new style from Lazaro in a peony color–it was just in and had not even been tried on by anyone before. Judy pulled me into the dress and it was beautiful. The peony color was made from alternating layers of ivory, pale yellow, and pale pink tulle created a variation of peach hues within the skirt. The strapless sweetheart neckline was wrapped in delicate peach Chantilly lace with a little peplum over the mountain of tulle. I felt like a cupcake in the best possible way–the softest, peachiest, prettiest cupcake. But, that Carol Hannah dress was still in my mind, which Judy knew. My mom, MOH, and I toured a few more boutiques–Lovely, Reem Acra, and then finally, Carol Hannah. As I slipped into “the dress” I had been dreaming of, I waited for the feeling to know this is the one. Carol was on-site and came out to talk with me as I tried it on. As I evaluated the dress and discussed tweaks with Carol, my mom pointed out that all the changes I was asking for were to make the dress look like the Lazaro dress. She was right. I wanted the Carol Hannah gown to be the one so badly, but I had left my dress at Kleinfeld’s with Judy. The next morning, we returned to Kleinfeld’s. The sales manager saw us in the waiting area and said, “I was just talking about you during the sales meeting this meeting. I told the consultants that not every bride comes in here with red hair, wants a peach dress, and finds the perfect gown. I knew you would come back.”

    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Brandon and I wrote our ceremony together, with input from our officiant–a local community member/friend we admire. We opted to write vows we would both say together versus separate vows we would make to each other. Our completed vows are a very accurate description of the nature of our relationship. This line, in particular, really speaks to our relationship: “I vow to take on anything this world sends our way, standing back to back with you, the one I love most.” I’ve always felt a good visual of our relationship is similar to a movie where two superhero partners are standing back-to-back, with threats coming at them from every direction. We’re not focused on the same thing all of the time, and we may not see what the other sees, but at the end of the day, I feel Brandon behind me and he’s got my back. I can count on that every minute, which allows me to trust him, tackle whatever is thrown at me, jump at opportunities that arise, and always know he will be there if I turn around.

    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We really credit the time we spent while creating my engagement ring before we were engaged as the most concentrated time we spent focusing on the idea of marriage. We discussed a lot about what we wanted from the relationship, what a successful marriage looked like to each of us, and made the choice together to move forward. Although Brandon traditionally “asked” me to marry him during the proposal, it was really a joint decision we made prior to that day.

    The ceremony venue, The Loggia at Lake Mirror, is one of our favorite places in Lakeland. The 1920’s architecture overlooking the beautiful lake are right in line with our style. When discussing a ceremony venue, Brandon and I both instantly agreed about The Loggia. We wanted to be outdoors and this was the ideal venue. For the reception, we went a little outside of the box. We knew our guest list could be a little on the heavy side, eliminating most venues of our taste in the Lakeland area. We didn’t want to have to cut guests to accommodate the venue restrictions. One Saturday, while walking through the Farmer’s Market, I asked Brandon, “Why can’t we just have our reception here?” in a wishful thinking kind of way. Brandon thought about it and said, “I bet we could get the city to close the streets for us if they do for the Farmer’s Market.” From there, the ball began to roll. Our hearts were set on the streets of downtown as our reception venue. We approached the City of Lakeland for a road closure request. They had never been asked to hold a private party in the streets and were a little on the unsure side at first. From there, our wedding coordinator, Laura with Ashton Events, worked through all the red tape and permits. The finished reception result was completely worth it. For a fee at a fraction of the cost of a ballroom at a hotel, we were able to close three blocks of downtown Lakeland for our cocktail hour and reception. Cafe lights were strung between the buildings lining the street, feasting tables were brought in for a family-style BBQ dinner on vintage china, the coffee shop we frequent most mornings stayed open late to provide coffee and tea, we created a dance floor in the middle of an intersection, and our favorite wine bar around the corner hosted the after party. Ashton Events was instrumental in coordinating all the moving pieces of the party. It would have never been possible without Laura and her team.

    With the venues that we chose, we had a lot of design elements to pull in to fill the space. We essentially started with a blank canvas. For the ceremony, we used a greenery garland at the top of the aisle and vintage wood crates and boxes filled with airy baby’s breath, which I loved as a fun, ethereal filler. Both components were repurposed at the reception in the lounge area. For my bouquet, I carried a hand-tied bouquet with a variety of peach, ivory, and pale pink blooms, lots of greenery, and a few scabiosa pods. Each of the bridesmaid’s bouquets was comprised entirely of one kind of bloom that was represented in my bouquet. This, to me, represented how each of the ‘maids was a different part and sector of my life, but how they all helped make it beautiful. On each of the bouquets, I selected a variety of textiles like velvet ribbon, silk strips, and fuzzy yarns to create a streamer/tassel look hanging from the blooms. For the centerpieces, we used a variety of vintage vases and vessels with springs and sprays of various peach, cream, and pale pink blossoms with lots of greenery and some scabiosa pods.

    Our date has special significance because both Brandon’s parents and my parents were married on the same date. We incorporated this into our save the dates by having both sets of parents in the photo. We stood in front of our ceremony location at The Loggia and each couple held a sign with their wedding date, mine and Brandon’s reading October 10, 2014. We wanted guests to know the significance from the get-go, and this was a fun, visual way to share that. At the wedding, we surprised our parents with a little tribute to their anniversaries. Our cake table showcased five smaller cakes rather than one large cake. When it was time to cut the cake, we had displayed both sets of parents’ cake toppers on two of the cakes on the table, in addition to our cake with our own topper. We asked our parents to join us and we all took turns cutting our cakes. They were surprised and touched by the sentiment.

    Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We elected for five smaller cakes instead of one large cake. This allowed us to select a few different flavors and create a display that included our parent’s wedding cake toppers for their anniversaries. We (and I really mean Brandon, because this was his favorite meeting of the whole wedding planning process) chose a pink champagne cake with a whipped icing as our center cake, which was layered with fresh strawberries. Strawberries are heavily grown in the local area, so this was a nice way to incorporate a little bit more of our city into the wedding. Two of the smaller cakes were orange citrus cake with cream cheese icing–again, a nod to the large citrus industry of our city. The final two small cakes were chocolate with vanilla icing (my personal favorite when it comes to classic flavors). We used five different vintage cake plates to create a display for the beautiful cakes. Each cake was decorated differently, utilizing watercolor painting on a very thin outer layer of fondant, a rustic icing with a sugar bloom, or an application of gold foil. Our main cake that Brandon and I cut featured adorable little ivory china swans with gold foil details from BHLDN. Swans are a big part of the Lakeland community, serving as the symbol of the city, so this was one more tie in to our community.

    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? That Brandon and I were able to enjoy every single moment. I’ve always heard that your wedding day flies by–you blink and it’s over. I’m not a relaxed personality type, but the day of our wedding, we both were so laid back. We were able to savor every moment and every memory. That is my favorite part–that I am able to relive the whole day in my head and remember being 100% present for those moments, not only through the beautiful photos and video. I credit this to having such a solid conductor of events at the helm with Laura from Ashton Events. We could relax because we knew it was all taken care of and every piece was being executed as planned.

    Don’t miss McKara and Brandon’s wedding film by White in Revery!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met our freshman year at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. We were both involved in sorority/fraternity life and were serving on Greek Council together. Brandon hardly spoke–he’s the quiet, shy type. I eventually transferred to finish my degree at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Our senior year of college, we reconnected through a Facebook status I commented on. We started private messaging and the conversation continued for three months while I finished an internship in England. Brandon had promised to cook me dinner and show me all these great new places in Jacksonville that had popped up since I left–so when I returned stateside, I made a visit to Jacksonville to “visit friends,” testing if Brandon would follow through. He did. He nervously cooked me dinner with the scarce ingredients in his downtown loft and we watched SNL skits all night. The next day, we went to the beach and he pulled me into the ocean…fully dressed. From there, we took visits back and forth between Jacksonville and Tampa until our graduation the following semester.
    Tell us all about the proposal! Being that I’m in the design industry (and a Class A control freak), I’m extremely particular about, well, just about everything. When Brandon brought up the idea of marriage, the conversation naturally led to him asking about the type of ring I would like. Together, we spent about seven months sourcing the center stone (a peach seven-karat Morganite) and locating a local jeweler willing to create a custom ring. This was a very enjoyable time in our relationship–it eased us into the concept of marriage and moved us towards the future together. Finally, on August 11, 2012, I stated to Brandon that “I wasn’t going to spend the next however long on pins and needles, trying to look my cutest all the time just waiting for him to propose.” With his sheepish smile, Brandon told me “Well, just look cute today.” I didn’t get the hint and continued to playfully badger him. We went down to the Farmer’s Market, like we do every Saturday, but then Brandon split off, saying he had to drop something off and he’d catch up with me–knowing I’d head to one of our favorite vintage treasure haunts, The Black Swan Bazaar. After browsing, I was ready to move to the next shop, but one of the owners kept pulling me around the store to show me new inventory. Finally, Brandon showed at the entrance of the store. As I turned to head out, I was pulled one more time by the shop keeper who said, “Oh, have you seen one of these before?” as she touched the top of a cut-glass candy dish. I was thinking “Duh, lady, it’s a candy dish…” as she lifted the lid. Mid-thought, I saw a glimpse of the ring Brandon and I had been working on, inside the candy dish in a little box. I turned to look at Brandon and found him on one knee. Brandon muttered somethings which I don’t think my brain even heard because I was completely caught off-guard. We celebrated for a few minutes with the owners and shoppers at The Black Swan before Brandon informed me that his parents were at my parents’ house for a little celebration brunch.
    When did y’all get married? October 10, 2014
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 200
    If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? The rental fees for the venues were very low. The Loggia was about $750 for the ceremony and closing the streets cost about $250. The streets were a blank canvas, so we had to bring in all the tables, linens, chairs, etc., but we had carte blanche on which vendors to use. We created custom packages with our photographers and videographers to met our needs. The packages they had were either a little under what we were wanting or a little over, so we asked for a personalized package. Typically we would have had to pay extra for things we didn’t want/need, but our vendors were super great and worked with us to meet our needs, which saved us money. For the centerpieces, my mom and I hunted and collected vintage vessels for the two years Brandon and I were engaged. We were able to find most pieces for $1-3 at thrift stores, garage sales, or antique shops. This saved on the cost of the rental, and we were also able to resell the items after the wedding to recoup the cost.
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Hire a wedding coordinator! Hands down, it will be the best money you spend on the wedding. Don’t skimp on the hands to do the work that you plan! A lot of time, coordinators can help save you money through vendor relationships they’ve built.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Well, we found out a month after the wedding that we were expecting a baby. So we’re now enjoying the whirlwind experience of becoming parents to a baby boy! We’re looking forward to seeing where the next couple of years take us with my business, Brandon’s career, and watching our son, Rex, grow up in a city we love.

    Photographer: Esther Louise Photography | Videographer: White in Revery | Planner: Ashton Events | Ceremony Venue: City of Lakeland’s Loggia | Reception Venue: Downtown Lakeland, N. Kentucky Ave & Pine Street | Florist: FH Weddings | Cake Baker: Hands On Sweets | Caterer: Hickory Hollow BBQ | Rentals: Wish Vintage Rentals | Lighting: Tampa Lights | Band: Brian Sutherland Band | DJ: Cory Baron | China: Dishie Rentals | Paper Products: Boutique Greek | Bride’s Gown: “Style 3300” in Peony by Lazaro | Bride’s Accessories: Lazaro, Carolee, and Kate Spade | Hair and Makeup: Michelle Renee The Studio | Bride’s Shoes: Cynthia Rowley | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Fifth Avenue Showstopper Dress” by Badgley Mischka | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse, JoS. A. Bank, The Tie Bar, and Johnston Murphy | Linens: Kate Ryan Linens | Chairs: Signature Event Rentals | Bartenders: Tucker’s Southside Liquor & Package | Coffee and Tea: Mitchell’s Coffee House | Vintage Cars: MJC Classic Cars | After-Party Location: Tony’s Studio B | Photo Booth: Bash Booth

    Ashton Events is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

    Written with love by admin
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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
      5 Comments
      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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