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When planning a wedding, it can be seriously temping to get so caught up in Pinterest boards and magazine pages that you forget the most meaningful source of inspiration: yourselves! Every couple and love story is so unique, and turning to your own history for wedding ideas pretty much guarantees that your celebration will be a lovely reflection of what matters most to you. Lauren and Michael did a fabulous job of this–from travel-inspired details (I love their table names!), to meaningful readings, to subtle nods to Lauren’s favorite Disney movies, they weren’t afraid to fill their wedding with personal touches at every turn. As a result, their wedding a great reflection of them, and they also remember their engagement as an especially fun time!

Thank you so much to Meredith Sledge for sending this pretty day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I actually found it at the very first shop I went into. I was in Chesapeake, Virginia visiting my family and thought it would be the perfect time to begin my search, instead of having to coordinate with all of them to come up to DC. I had my squad with me: my mother, father, younger sister (my maid of honor), grandmother, older sister, and one of my nieces. They helped me pick out seven different dresses, each one so different than the next, and all within my budget. I tried on each one to tons of “oohs” and “ahhs,” but all of that stopped when I tired on the last dress. Everyone, including me, was silent. We all knew! My dress was the only A-line I tried on. I never thought I would go for a fuller dress, thinking I wanted something more form fitting. This Mikaella dress made me feel like I was floating on the wedding clouds. (Side note, after I got home from buying the dress, I was looking back through my Pinterest account and realized that I had pinned that exact same dress the month before!)

We had always wanted to do a first look so we could have a more private moment together and use that time to take more pictures. Having spoken with other friends who have gotten married, they shared either how great having a first look was in saving time, or how they regretted not doing a first look because they felt rushed to take all of the pictures right after the ceremony. Something important to Michael and I was attending our cocktail hour. Since we did a first look and took our portraits and the bridal party shots then, we only had to do family pictures after the ceremony, so we were able to attend 30 minutes of the cocktail hour. Our first look pictures are my favorite pictures of the day. Getting to have that special moment for just Michael and I was the sweetest.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Michael and I live in DC but I grew up in Southern VA and he in California. We were not tied to any spot in particular since everyone would have to travel to the wedding, no matter where we had it. That left us with tons of possibilities! We did venue research online and picked out five that were in our budget and looked like our style (although we were still trying to figure that out!)–two in DC, and three in Charlottesville, Virginia. We liked certain aspects of each venue, but didn’t have our “aha” moment until Mount Ida Farm. It was the last venue we visited, and while we were there, we were told they were also building a brand new venue. We drove over to look at the construction, and all that was up was the main barn and one chandelier, but we knew. I loved the view of the mountains, the Restoration Hardware feel of the rough cut wood and glass chandelier, and the grove area that was going to be the ceremony area. Two days later, we signed the venue and construction was finished in November 2015.

Before the ceremony, we played covers of Disney songs. I am a huge Disney fan and had to incorporate Disney somehow without it being too cheesy. It was perfect and all of the guests noticed. When I walked down the aisle, my brother played the electric ukulele and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” That song was played the morning after Michael proposed when we were in Hawaii at breakfast by the beach. When we were thinking of what song to play at the wedding, that was the first one we both wanted. It was made even more special by having my brother play it.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Michael and I wrote our own vows and read an excerpt from a poem together. Some of our favorite lines from Michael’s vows were, “If the last six years have taught me anything, I know that even the next 60 won’t be enough to show you how much I love you.” From mine: “There is something about you, an energy, presence, laugh, or smile that is electric. That is what drew me to you and hasn’t let me go. I love that you can walk into any room, make a friend, or win people over with your sweet dimples and charm. I always think to myself, wow, he is mine.” There was also a reading Michael and I said to each other before our vows, “Everything that happens is nicer with you” by Sandol Stoddard.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The best way we planned was through being open and honest with each other. We regularly discussed all aspects of our relationship and being married. This included all of our finances, expectations, dreams, ambitions, goals, etc. Even if those discussions were uncomfortable or hard to get through sometimes, we knew it was for the best and would get to a spot where we need to be, now and in the future.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We brewed our own beer that had special labels of us from Oktoberfest on it. We had a caricature artist on hand the whole evening to give our guests an even more special experience. Our guestbook was a painting of us from the Disney movie “UP,” where could sign a balloon. All of the wine and champagne we chose was from wineries we have visited in Napa and Sonoma. Instead of traditional table numbers, we named all of the tables after different countries, and the escort cards were tickets/passports to the guest’s destination (aka table). Any friend or family member could walk into the wedding and know it was ours.

Michael’s favorite dessert is pie. It doesn’t matter what type of pie, just as long as it is a pie! We had three different flavors (gooey butter, peach bourbon, and strawberry mint). We also had Georgetown mini cupcakes. Michael and I live across the river from Georgetown and always love to go to Georgetown Cupcakes. We worked with the company to design all of the fondant toppers and select four delicious flavors. For our wedding cake, we chose a simple white cake with etched-on gold. We also used a gold topper that said “You’re My Favorite,” since we say that to each other all of the time. It was simple, sweet, and delicious (honey lavender-flavored), and the sheet cake we served alongside it was champagne-flavored.

Don’t miss Lauren and Michael’s wedding film by WhiteFlair Productions below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both went to James Madison University during undergrad, but didn’t meet until our senior year. I led an alternative spring break trip, and the fall leading up to it, I got to meet my co-leader. We started to hang out and he began inviting his roommates along too. One of those roommates was Michael. During our second meeting, I became bold and gave him my number, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! To celebrate completing our Master’s degrees, Michael and I went to Maui, Hawaii with the Lee family. On June 3, 2015, we took a flight over to Kona for a night and did a five-hour night snorkel adventure to see manta rays. We were on the first part of the snorkel, when the sun was still out, and after 30 minutes or so, we began to swim closer to the boat and coral. I saw what I thought was a piece of trash on the reef and thought, wow, someone littered! I kept swimming until Michael had to ask what it was. I went back over to check it out, and on the paper was one word: “Lauren.” We swam down and got the paper, and on the back, Michael had written a note asking me to marry him. Overtaken with joy, I began to giggle and shout OKAYYYYYYYY! When we got back onto the boat, Michael gave me the ring.
When did y’all get married? April 16, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 166
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The only point of any contention while planning was the guest list. We both come from large families and have a number of friends, and we wanted to include all of them. However, due to the venue size restrictions, not everyone could be included. Working on the list and narrowing it down was a huge headache and pain in the side!
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? A great feature of our venue was that we could bring in our own alcohol. Instead of doing an open bar with our caterer, Michael and I selected and bought all of the wine, champagne, liquor, beer, and specialty cocktails. Not only did this save money, but we were able to select top shelf and the drinks that we enjoy. What bottles we had leftover (since we definitely over-bought), we were able to return to Total Wine and Costco for even more savings.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We both loved wedding planning because we made decisions as a team. Drink plenty of wine and planning becomes even more fun! I would also say, don’t worry so much about hurting others’ feelings. I say this not in a selfish sense, but you will find you are more concerned about how others will feel or react than you are about your own feelings. There is a time and place to be focused on yourself, and this is one of them.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to enjoying every day as husband and wife. We also can’t wait to continue to travel the world and see and experience new things!

Photographer: Meredith Sledge | Videographer: WhiteFlair Productions | Planner: Two Byrds Events and Design | Venue: The Lodge at Mount Ida Farm | Florist: The Flower Box | Cake Baker: Arley Cakes | Caterer: The Local | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: Party Masters | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride’s Gown: Style 1959 by Mikaella | Hair and Makeup: The Spot Beauty Shop | Bride’s Shoes: “Chrissy” by J. Renee | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Styles 7289L, 7372L, 7366L, and 7257 by Alfred Angelo, Styles F15782, F15928, and F15933 by David’s Bridal | Menswear: Tuxedo by Sarno | Caricature Artist: About Faces Entertainment | Cupcakes: Georgetown Cupcakes

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    Our Southern Bride Blogger Brittany and Eric’s classic Texas wedding was absolutely lovely! From their vows in front of a plantation-style home to a barn reception complete with fried chicken and pie pops, there’s no doubt that their day was undeniably Southern. Beyond the details, however, was a sense of love and community that truly made their day special. On top of that, Brittany’s outlook on their wedding day has me all, “Amen, sister!” over here! She said she won’t remember the small snafus, but “I’ll remember my husband’s face as my dad walked me down the aisle. I’ll remember the tiny raindrops that fell from the sky towards the end of our vows. I’ll remember dancing the night away with the people who mean the most to us.”

    Big thanks to Elizabeth Carol for sending Brittany and Eric’s wedding our way!

    I was so nervous about wedding dress shopping that I put it off for the first several months of our engagement! When I decided that it was time to bite the bullet, I researched boutiques in the area and chose two to make appointments at. Before the shopping day, I went online and looked at the designers that each store carried, just to get a feel for the styles. While I was on one of their websites, I found a dress that was everything that I had pictured for myself. Being a little overeager, I called the shop to make sure that they had “the dress” available to try on–and they did! I took off work on a Tuesday and invited my mom, grandmother, and future mother-in-law to come with me. We were the first appointment in the store, and had the entire floor to ourselves. My consultant had pulled the dress from the internet before we got there, and we then picked a few other dresses to try on. I put on “my dress” first, and instantly knew that I was done. However, in order to make the most of the appointment, I tried on a few others. Once I put on the last dress that we had pulled, I knew that it was time to put “my dress” back on, but this time, with a veil. A few tears later, I had a wedding dress! We canceled our second appointment and finished the day by meeting Eric for lunch!

    Daydreaming about florals was actually one of my favorite aspects of the entire wedding planning process! I really wanted loose, lush, and organic looking arrangements with an ample amount of greenery mixed in. Since we were going with a more classic look, we stuck to blush pink and white flowers. Garden roses and peonies are my favorites, so we made sure to include those as well. The ladies at The Southern Table did an amazing job of bringing my vision to life, and I really think that the florals stole the show!

    What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Stressing about the weather! When we decided on an April wedding date, we knew that the Texas weather would probably have some crazy surprises for us, but that didn’t stop me from checking the forecast almost daily two weeks out. We buried our bourbon, prayed a little, and knew that our wedding day would be amazing no matter what, but since almost everything was supposed to be outside, I became a little worried when the rain chances increased throughout the week. On the day-of, we all kept waiting for the rain to come, and although it sprinkled a little towards the end of our ceremony, it never did. I suppose God, and the bourbon, were on our side, because we woke up the next morning to a terrible downpour, and the rain continued for several days!

    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows, and we actually used vows that we saw in the Southern Weddings Planner! Our favorite line was “I take you as you are, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become.” Since we started dating when we were 19 and 21, we have seen each other grow and change so much already, and I think that one of the most fun parts of marriage will be watching each other continue to do so–and loving the other no matter what.
    What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our good friend, Daniel, read “The Art of Marriage” by Wilfred A. Peterson.

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were actually extremely lucky when it came to our ceremony and reception venues! When we first began wedding planning, our close family friends mentioned that they were building a sort of guest house/event center on their land, and that if we would like, we could host our wedding there. Throughout our engagement, we were able to watch everything be built from the ground up, and even help with projects along the way. This was extra special to us because we had the luxury of hosting our wedding party and closest friends all weekend.

    What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We buried bourbon exactly one month out (and on the most beautiful day) in hopes that it wouldn’t rain on our wedding day. We were married in front of a plantation-style home, had dinner in a barn, and danced the night away under string lights and the Texas stars. We served fried chicken, and gave our guests caramel apple, peach, and blackberry pie pops as favors. The thing that was the most “Southern” though, was the love and community that we felt from everyone there. We were lucky enough to have our wedding party and closest friends stay with us in the house for the weekend, so it felt like one big slumber party. After the rehearsal dinner, we set up tables and chairs for the reception the following night. At one point I stopped and looked around at 25 of our closest friends and family who were all helping put our reception together, and I all but melted.

    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? No matter what happens, your day will be perfect. It sounds so cheesy and cliché, but when things don’t go exactly how you want them to, remember what it’s all about. I kept this close to my heart all through the wedding planning process, and I am so glad that I did. If something goes wrong, it can be fixed–and if it can’t, then chances are it won’t matter much in the end. After our ceremony, I realized that I had completely forgotten to put on my veil, and while that was slightly disappointing, it won’t be what I remember about our wedding day. I’ll remember my husband’s face as my dad walked me down the aisle. I’ll remember the tiny raindrops that fell from the sky towards the end of our vows. I’ll remember dancing the night away with the people who mean the most to us.

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. While I was home on summer break from the University of Arkansas, I resumed my part-time job in the Employee Services Office at Six Flags Over Texas. A few weeks after returning, some of my coworkers convinced me to join the summer softball league, which Eric was also playing in. After one of the games, a few of my friends convinced me to go to a post-game party that Eric was throwing at his apartment. We met, bickered a little, and became fast friends. When I was home a few months later for fall break, we started dating. After two and a half years of being in a long distance relationship, I finally graduated and moved home to Texas, where we have been inseparable ever since.
    Tell us all about the proposal! I had been planning on running the Tower of Terror 10-Miler at Walt Disney World for quite some time, and although I had convinced my mom and sister to make the trip with me, Eric couldn’t. A few weeks before we were set to leave, he told me that he had to go on a work trip during that time, and definitely would not be able to make it. On the day that we got to Florida, I hadn’t heard from him at all, but I still tried to enjoy my time with my mom and sister. We had tickets to go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (where adults can dress up for Halloween too!), and although my mom and sister tried to convince me to wait, I put on my cat ears and eagerly went to the Magic Kingdom dressed as Toulouse from the Aristocats. We walked around the park, not doing anything for what seemed like hours, until my mom finally said that we should go take our picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle. As we were walking up to the rose garden, I noticed Eric standing there waiting for me. Thinking that he had come to surprise me, I ran up and started talking to him. He got really serious (which never happens), said some of the sweetest things, and dropped to one knee. After I said yes and finally came back to reality, I noticed that my dad was there too! Eric had arranged for my whole family to be there, and we spent the rest of the weekend celebrating at one of my favorite places on the planet, Walt Disney World!
    When did y’all get married? April 16, 2016
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 75
    Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided to do a first look and it turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the whole day! We knew that seeing one another before the ceremony would free up time after, which was something that we really wanted. We were unsure of how we would react when seeing the other for the first time, so we felt it was important to experience these emotions by ourselves, instead of in front of all of our guests.
    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We planned for our marriage by attending premarital counseling once a week for eight weeks. We were also gifted Getting the Love You Want and Making Marriage Simple, both by Harville Hendrix. We read these books and followed along with the workbooks that went with them. What really helped us prepare for marriage was having serious conversations about the future and what we want for our life together.
    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We knew from the beginning that we wanted a small wedding with just our closest friends and family, and although our decision had nothing to do with cost, it ultimately did help out quite a bit. Since we had a much smaller guest list, it became easier to put the emphasis on the quality of the experience rather than the quantity of guests in attendance.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? On our wedding day, Eric surprised me with a pair of Groom Mickey and Bride Minnie ears as a way of telling me that we are going to Disneyland this summer! We will also be traveling to a few other destinations before the year is over, and since a lot of our friends have started relocating across the country, it’s safe to say that these newlyweds will be spending quite some time traveling!

    Photographer: Elisabeth Carol Photography | Month-Of Coordination: Borrowed and Blue Occasions | Venue: Thunder Creek Ranch | Florist: The Southern Table | Cake Baker: Sugar Bee Sweets | Caterer: Babe’s Chicken | Rentals: Celebration Event Rental | DJ: DJ Frank Young | Paper Products: Clara Doyle Designs | Bride’s Gown: Style 1959 by Mikaella | Bride’s Jewelry and Shoes: Kate Spade | Hair and Makeup: Tracy Melton Artistry | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style 852 by Watters WTOO | Menswear: Express | Signage: Fox and Sparrow Design

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
    4 Comments
    1. avatar Elisabeth Carol reply

      Love!!! Thanks SO much for the feature! It looks amazing!

    2. avatar Paige reply

      I would love to see the vows she referenced in their entirety! Would you mind sharing the rest of the vows that include “I take you as you are, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become.”
      Thanks!

    3. avatar Thunder Creek Ranch Wedding by Elisabeth Carol | Wedding Trends By Drawde reply

      […] post Thunder Creek Ranch Wedding by Elisabeth Carol appeared first on Southern […]

    4. avatar Celebration Event Rental reply

      Amazing photos and we were truly honored to be a part of this special day.
      Burying bourbon to help ward off a rainy wedding day? I LOVE it!
      Thanks for including us in the post and Best Wishes!

    Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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