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On this Memorial Day, I can’t imagine a more wonderful wedding to share with y’all! Stefanie and Kevin are as all-American as a couple can be, and their Tennessee wedding was the perfect expression of their love for each other, for their families and friends, and for their country. Military families are no stranger to hardship (Stefanie planned the wedding while Kevin was deployed abroad), but the tough times these two have endured together made their wedding day all the more joyful!

Thank you from the bottom of hearts to Kevin and Stefanie, all of the military men and women and their families who serve our great country, and to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Bamber Photography for sharing this special day with us!

Instead of having a flower girl, my matron of honor’s little girl carried our family Bible that was given to my grandmother in 1954. Every woman in my family has used the Bible in their weddings. We each chose someone in our life that had been a spiritual mentor to us, and we let them choose the scripture they read during the ceremony. They chose Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Proverbs 3:5-9. Becca stood with the bridesmaids, and as each reader came to the front of the church to read, Becca handed them the family Bible to read from.

I’m very fortunate to have a dear friend who owns Ever After Bridal in Cleveland, Tennessee, and I’m so thankful I got to experience finding my dress with her. I had found one dress in her shop that I really liked, but it didn’t give me that feeling that everyone talks about having! I had convinced myself that I was just numb to dresses because I had worn so many beautiful gowns during my time as Miss Tennessee. My mother and future mother-in-law went with me to order the dress, and when we walked into her shop, I perused the racks of beautiful gowns one last time. Since Kevin’s mom was with us, I decided to try on a few more so she could enjoy the experience with me. I randomly pulled a Maggie Sottero fit and flare, beaded lace gown with a sweetheart neckline off of the rack. Kendra helped me into the dress (that was the opposite of what I thought I was looking for), I walked out to the mirror, and I finally had THE MOMENT! I had tried to find a dress that just wasn’t my style, and I never found it. When I finally just chose something that was ME, it happened!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: People got dressed up and had a good time! Kevin and I both love to dress up, and my mother has always told me that its better to be overdressed than underdressed! I feel like weddings are getting more and more casual, and casual just isn’t in my vocabulary! In keeping with the classic military traditions of an evening wedding, and the fact that we wanted our guests to look and feel fabulous, we requested that our guests wear formal attire. Our guests looked so beautiful, and everyone said that they loved the excuse to pull out that dress they hadn’t gotten to wear in a while, or the excuse to buy something new! Because our guests felt good, they stayed, danced, and enjoyed drinks until the very end!

Describe your wedding flowers. Since we had a classic military wedding, where the men were in their uniforms and classic tuxedos and my bridesmaids wore beautiful nude gowns, we chose to go with flowers in all shades of white and ivory. They were arranged by Flowers By Gil & Curt. Flowers in the bouquets and reception centerpieces included roses, peonies, ranunculus, hydrangeas, and calla lilies.

We considered getting married at West Point in the Protestant Cadet Chapel. It’s a beautiful Gothic-style chapel with a cathedral ceiling and a gorgeous pipe organ. After thinking it through, we decided it would be too difficult to plan a wedding in New York, and it would be tough for all of our family and friends to make it. We set out to find a similar style church nearby, and discovered First Cumberland Presbyterian! It is SO similar in style to the Cadet Chapel, and it was in our hometown of Chattanooga. Before I left for Las Vegas to compete in the 2010 Miss America Pageant, my hometown and family gave me lovely going away reception at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club. The venue is historic and beautiful, and the staff was so wonderful to work with, so we decided it would be the perfect spot for our wedding reception as well.

I always remember my parents telling me how their wedding day was such a blur, so I was bound and determined to soak in every detail of our wedding–I didn’t want to miss a thing! I’m sure there are some things I missed, but I certainly remember the big parts. I remember how I felt when I woke up that morning, I remember the look on my mother and daddy’s faces when they saw me in my gown for the first time, I remember the sweet smile on Kevin’s face when he turned around and we walked toward each other during our first look, I remember the facial expressions of each guest that I looked at as I walked down the aisle, I remember the beautiful words of the prayers that were said during the ceremony, I remember saying our vows, and I remember how amazing it felt to walk arm in arm under the Arch of Sabers with my new husband! I also remember the traditional pop on my booty as one of the saber guard members welcomed me into the United States Army! It was the perfect day, and I’m so thankful that we were able to share it with the ones we love the most.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Kevin being deployed the entire year our families and I were wedding planning was challenging. It allowed me to stay busy, but it was hard because I wanted him to be a part of the decision making process in person. We made it work though! Thanks to technology, he was able to be a part of many decisions via text, FaceTime, and email. Even a world away, an eight-hour time difference, and the 200 soldiers he was responsible for, he still managed to help me so much! He’s a good man.

We wanted to make sure that not only were our cakes beautiful, they were also tasty! Breanne Hager of B’s Sweet in Chattanooga has the best cakes in town! I wanted something fairly simply, but accented with sparkle. We decided to go with a five-tiered Italian cream cake with buttercream icing. At the base of each layer were graduating strands of crystals, and on the top of the cake sat my Miss Tennessee crown with white roses tucked underneath its base. In keeping with military tradition, Kevin and I cut our cakes with his Officer saber.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Aside from the loads of hairspray that filled the bridal parlor while we were getting ready (we sure love our hairspray in the South), the main thing that stands out was the Southern music. When I won Miss Tennessee, I had sang Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” The song is about loving someone enough to let them go. The song fit my relationship with my parents perfectly, and it was a reminder of a very beautiful time we all experienced together when I won the title. They’re so happy that the time in my life has come for me to start my own family and be with the love of my life, even though it means letting go of a part of life that is very difficult to part with. Family is so important to Kevin and me, and being able to have such sentimental moments with them was the best part of our wedding.

Kevin’s groom’s cake was an edible replica of a Walther PPK handgun, which laid on top of a gun case made of chocolate cake. Kevin is a gun collector and the Walther PPK is James Bond’s gun of choice in all of the Bond films. Kevin has a rather collection, but he did not have the Walther. When it was time to do the garter toss, Kevin reached under my dress, and in my garter, he found his very own Walther PPK gun! It was his wedding gift from me. His reaction was priceless, as he had no idea his new bride was packing heat! I had sneaked out right before the toss and secured the gun in my garter, and the surprise went off without a hitch!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. As cliché as it sounds, we were high school sweethearts! I was a cheerleader and Kevin was a football player. Kevin’s dream was to serve his country, so after months of applying, interviewing, and going on recruiting trips during his senior year, he received his appointment from Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, and we decided we would give long-distance a try. Four years and thousands of frequent flyer miles later, we made it through his time at the Academy. After he graduated, he was commissioned as an officer into the United States Army. During this time, I was in college and living out a few dreams of my own. In 2009 I was crowned Miss Tennessee. It was the honor of a lifetime, and a time that I will cherish forever! On January 10, 2010 I headed to Las Vegas to compete in the Miss America Pageant, and on that same day, Kevin left the country for his first year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As I stood on the Miss America stage, my heart was full, yet heavy, knowing that he was defending the freedom that allowed me to live out my lifelong dream. I finished as second runner-up to Miss America, and a year later, Kevin made a safe return home! I spent the next few years working and finishing my business degree at Belhaven University with the scholarships I had earned through the Miss America organization. Just when we thought that he was home for a while, another deployment was on the horizon. Once we knew the exact time he was going to be returning, we set our wedding date. He was the battery commander to 200 soldiers spread throughout three different countries, and I began planning our wedding! We are so proud that we maintained a close relationship, even though, at times, we were a world apart from each other. It makes our time together now so incredibly special, and we certainly do not take that time for granted.
Tell us all about the proposal! Because we are proud Americans to the core, and its our favorite holiday, Kevin proposed on the 4th of July. Under the fireworks, where it was just the two of us with a pizza and a bottle of wine, he popped the question with a gorgeous custom-designed Henri Daussi cushion cut diamond ring from our family jeweler, Rone Regency Jewelers of Chattanoooga. Kevin is private, and I love that about him. He wanted the proposal to be a special moment between the two of us, and he planned it just perfectly.
When did y’all get married? April 11, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to speak traditional vows during our ceremony. My grandfather was a Southern Baptist minister for 49 years, and he married my parents in 1983, so we used the same vows that they used in their wedding. Both of our parents have had long, beautiful marriages, so if traditional vows were good enough for them, they’re good enough for us!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Documentation! Investing in a good photographer and videographer was the best advice I was given during planning, and it’s the best decision we made. John and Lindsey Bamber of Bamber Photography were indescribable! From the initial meeting, to the engagement shoot, to the sweet cards we received in the mail just saying they were thinking about us and praying for us along the way, they were such a blessing during our special day and in the months leading up to it. We were so comfortable with them, and they literally captured everything! Each time a guest came up to Kevin and me during the reception, either John or Lindsey was right there to capture a picture with that guest. It’s wonderful being able to send our guests that professional, beautiful picture! They truly are the best at their craft, and they’re just the best people you’ll ever meet.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Take your time if you truly want to enjoy the process. I did not hire a wedding planner because I wanted to have my hand on every detail and experience that time with my mother. Also, include your future in-laws! Kevin’s parents really enjoyed the process as much as we did, and they loved hearing all of the updates as the months progressed closer to April. I understand that not all in-laws are the easiest to deal with, (just being honest), but I am very blessed with some good ones! And they’re Yankees! We won’t hold that against them too much ;)
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? As I type this, I’m surrounded by boxes, because we are making the move from North Carolina to Kentucky! Kevin has been posted here at Fort Bragg for the past three years as a Battery Commander, and now its time for him to take a new position at Fort Knox. We couldn’t be more excited–new marriage, new town, new jobs, new adventures, and we’re four hours closer to our family and friends in Chattanooga! And thank the Lord we’re still in the South! He’s excited to be in bourbon country, and I’m already planning my wardrobe for the Kentucky Derby next year!

Photographer: Bamber Photgraphy / Videographer: Tim Curry / Day-Of Coordinators: Kendra Collins and Trinity Pearson / Ceremony Venue: First Cumberland Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue and Catering: Chattanooga Golf and Country Club / Florist: Flowers By Gil and Curt / Cake Baker: B’s Sweets / Rentals: The Meeting Company / DJ: Ted Gocke / Paper Products: David’s Bridal / Bride’s Gown: “Marianne” by Maggie Sottero / Bridal Salon and Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Ever After Bridal / Bride’s Tiara: Symphony Bridal / Hair Stylist: Gordon Robison of Gordon & Co. Salon / Makeup Artist: Angela Folmar of Luminous Beauty Boutique / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style 19931” in Nude by LaFemme / Tuxedos: Southern Charm Clothing

Bamber Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    Happy Memorial Day

    by in Main on

    Rachel Hulin

    Hello, belles! We hope you have the day off to enjoy the first unofficial day of summer (and official first day of white pants acceptability!). We’re taking the day off, too, but couldn’t leave without a few words of thanks to all of our men and women currently serving in the military, and a note of gratitude to those who have given their lives in service to our country. We are so thankful.

    To tide you over until tomorrow, we’ve rounded up a few favorite military weddings we’ve shared over the years:
    Kelly + Corey in Savannah
    Madeline + Jake in Texas
    Lindsay + Chris in Savannah
    Tara + Chris in California (here + here)
    Ashley + Judd in Florida (here + here)

    Bonus! A military proposal story.

    emily Written with love by Emily
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      Kelly + Corey’s wedding blows me away in so many ways. Yes, it’s indeed a lovely affair, but it came together under the sweetest but challenging situations. Kelly is in the Air Force and Corey is in the Army. Though their proposal was a very welcome and loving surprise, it also occurred right before Corey departed for his station in Korea! Despite the distance, K + C put together a wedding that boasts the most meaningful details and traditions (don’t forget to read about Kelly’s dress!) — and looks darn fun to boot! We are so grateful for Amy Arrington, who sent this lovely our way.

      Tell us about finding your wedding dress. 
My wedding dress was one of my favorite parts! My mom wore the same dress that my grandmother wore when she got married in 1960. I grew up saying I would never wear that dress! When it was my turn to get married, I was overcome with sentiment and knew that I was going to wear their dress. It didn’t quite fit me, so I took the dress to TK Designs in Atlanta and had the top of the dress remade. The skirt is still the original, and they used the same type lace from the skirt to create the top. I was so proud to wear my grandmother’s and mother’s 53-year-old dress and wouldn’t have had it any other way!

      My bridesmaids were SO wonderful. They made my wedding planning process so easy, and my day-of so peaceful and calm. (They were running around like crazy people dealing with issues left and right! I had no clue!) They actually helped me do my own baby’s breath bouquets. They also decorated everything the morning of, while I was getting my hair done. The only flowers I had done professionally were two large ceremony arrangements and my bridal bouquet. I wanted something simple, green, and white. My florist did exactly what I had in my head and everything was simple, yet beautiful. I also wrapped an old family handkerchief around my bouquet for my “something blue.”

      Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes! At first, Corey and I wanted to do everything very traditionally. However our photographer told us reasons it may be beneficial. We thought about it and realized that it would create an easier transition to the reception by having pictures before. We also wanted to have that one moment alone on our crazy day. I am so glad we decided to have a first look because it truly did calm my nerves for the rest of the day!

      Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. 
We did the traditional song for the entrance, Canon in D, then the traditional Bridal Chorus when my Dad and I walked in. When we walked out, the traditional Wedding March played! These were all very important to me since I wanted a very traditional church ceremony. However, to make it more personal, we had everyone stand and sing “In Christ Alone” together so that we would be a reminded to live out a Christ-centered marriage. We had our extremely talented friend Marleigh sing “Amazing Grace” to remind us of how powerful the grace that God has given us truly is.

      Did you write your own vows? We did! This was probably my favorite part of the ceremony. Corey is a wonderful writer and much better with words than I. His vows were so romantic, poetic, and intentional. Mine were more light hearted and fun. It totally described our relationship and people got to see who we really were by doing this. At the end, Corey said, “You are my moon, my love, my life.” Our big thing has always been the moon since we have always had distance between us. We both know that no matter where in the world we are, if we look at the moon, the other person could be looking at the same moon. We carried this over to the reception and danced to Frank Sinatra’s, “Fly Me to the Moon” for our first dance.
      What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? 
We had our good friend Alix read Romans 12 because it is an important reminder of how to love as an action, always! The pastor who married us was my youth pastor in high school. He made the ceremony so light and fun. Everyone was laughing one second, then crying the next. It truly was such a personal ceremony and we received many compliments about how it was so “us.” That’s exactly what we wanted!

      I believe that in the South especially, we have such a pride for our military. The fact that we had such a traditional and military wedding is what I believe made it a Southern affair. We had a traditional saber arch that we walked through, and all the military men wore their dress blues. The ceremony was at the oldest Methodist Church in Savannah and the reception was at the Savannah Yacht Club right on the bay. These two venues truly encompassed Southern charm. We also had a trolley bring all of our guests back downtown after the reception to continue the fun! Savannah, Georgia, is one of the most charming and quaint towns you’ll ever visit. There was no way our wedding wouldn’t be a Southern celebration having it there!

      What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? 
Corey is in the Army, and I am in the Air Force. Anyone who knows anything about the military knows this causes for some issues with being able to see each other. I was finishing up nursing school during the planning process and Corey was living in Korea. He saved up enough leave to take a month to come home, get married, and return to finish his tour. I would say my biggest challenge was not having Corey physically there to help with things. He proposed to me and then left for Korea one week later!

      Corey and I are not huge fans of cake and pretty much put the task on the bottom of our list. I actually just went to Publix and asked them to create two cakes, one vanilla and one chocolate. We could not have been happier with that decision and we saved a ton of money by doing so! The cakes really turned out beautifully and tasted great, too! No one could believe that they were from Publix! We also included a Korean tradition in our cake toppers. In Korea, when a couple gets married, they receive wedding ducks that resemble peace, fertility, and faithfulness. Apparently ducks are one of the few animals that mate for life and never take a second partner. We loved adding in something from the culture where Corey is currently living.

      How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. 
Corey and I met through the best man at our wedding, Mark. Mark and Corey were roommates in college. Corey visited Mark one summer and I got to know Corey better that week. We decided we liked each other and continued talking. I was quite non-committal but that summer when I went to my ROTC boot camp, Corey pursued me through the most beautiful, eloquent letters and I knew then that there was something different about this guy!
      Describe the proposal. 
Corey had just finished flight school and was getting ready to leave for his first assignment in the Army in South Korea. As excited as we both were about this endeavor, it was also very sad since we would be separated. I was convinced we were not going to get engaged before he left, but one week before his departure date, he did it! We were visiting his parents in Savannah, Georgia, and he decided to take me on a walk on the beach. We had our first kiss at a certain lifeguard stand two years prior (almost exactly to the day!) where he got on one knee and pulled out the most beautiful ring! My best friends were hiding in the sand dunes taking pictures and ran out and surprised me afterward! Corey also had a big engagement party planned back at his parents’ house where all my college roommates and friends and my parents were waiting to surprise me again! It was a wonderful day.
      In what month did you get married? 
March
      How many guests attended your wedding? 
250
      Our favorite detail of the wedding was: 
There were so many things I loved! One thing I loved was surprising Corey with an ice sculpture of the helicopter he flies, the Chinook. Corey is more than obsessed with planes and loved this! Another detail that truly made Corey and I feel like we were a prince and princess was having the Model A driven by my grandparents as our getaway car. My grandparents collect Model A’s, and ever since I saw those cars, I knew I wanted one in my wedding. They hauled the car all the way from Oklahoma to Savannah and made my wedding day complete! It was so wonderful to get in the car after the ceremony and drive around downtown Savannah and have all these people wave at us like we were royalty! It was a dream come true for sure!
      What range did your wedding budget fall into? 
$25,000-$50,000
      What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? 
One of the most important things to Corey and I are people. We love being around people and we both are very social. I knew that having a lot of guests come to the wedding would mean that I couldn’t spend as much on decorations or other things. I really do think that having all our friends and family be invited was more important than anything else I could have spent money on. The other thing that was important to us was the photography. I couldn’t have asked for a better photographer and am so happy to have spent the money on Amy Arrington! (She and her husband are incredibly talented and actually very reasonable for what you receive!)
      What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? 
It is so hard to choose just one moment. We had the most unique and hilarious speeches from our bridal party. My maids of honor did a rap that was so funny! Corey’s best man, Mark, had one of the greatest speeches of all time. We really have such talented and funny friends. Corey and I go on and on about how much we loved seeing all of our friends and family enjoying time with one another. The DJ was so great, and the dance floor was covered the whole night! We saw pure happiness in so many people and realized how blessed we are to have such wonderful, supportive people in our life.
      What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? 
Have fun! I actually miss the planning process because it really can be so fun! Choose things that you really care about and focus on those. Find a cheaper and easier way to handle things that aren’t as important so that you can spend more on the other things! Stay organized and rely on your mom or bridesmaids to help you, especially with day-of events. I was made fun of for this, but actually had schedules for each person with where they needed to be at what time. I didn’t have or need a wedding planner because of the help I got from all my girls and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
      What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? 
Corey and I are mainly excited about living in the same time zone! I am stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. Corey will be stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs starting in July. People think we’re crazy for getting married when we knew we would be apart, but it’s what was meant to be! We believe we have a love that can conquer anything and if this is the hardest thing we have to deal with then I think we’re doing OK! We look forward to the time we actually get to live under the same roof. Until then, there’s lots of traveling in our future!

      Amy Arrington is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

      nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
      12 Comments
      1. avatar Savannah, GA Wedding : Corey + Kelly reply

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

      2. avatar Shelby reply

        This has got to be one of the happiest weddings I’ve ever seen. The couple just exudes joy!

      3. avatar Kat reply

        I’m in awe of the great love they have in one another to get married and live in different states! I can’t imagine what that must be like & I really respect & value what they’re doing both for our country and each other. Thank you for your service :)

      4. avatar Lilian reply

        Ah! I love it! I am doing my own baby’s breath bouquets too! Just placed my order with Blooms by the Box this month! I hope mine turn out just like these!

      5. avatar Sarah Sommer reply

        What is the name of the color of these bridesmaids dresses? Gorgeous

      6. avatar Kelly reply

        I am also wondering what the color is of these dresses, it is beautiful.

      7. avatar Linda reply

        What a beautiful wedding. Sometimes I wish that I lived in the south so that I could photograph weddings with such beautiful backdrops like this. I love the vintage car. Very chic.

      8. avatar Carly reply

        I absolutely love this wedding! This is the post that first introduced me to the work of the lovely Amy Arrington. This wedding popped up on my RSS feed one morning and I emailed her THAT DAY! I can’t wait for her to photograph our October wedding in Charleston– re-visiting this post just reminds me how lucky I was to find her! :)

      9. avatar Best of 2013: Ceremonies – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

        […] sword arch | Kelly + Corey | Amy […]

      10. avatar Best of 2013: Photography – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

        […] groom’s serenade | Kelly + Corey | Amy […]

      11. avatar Michelle reply

        Gorgeous wedding! Nice to know you can use the wish lanterns at the Savannah Yacht Club – they look beautiful and I have yet to see them used here in Savannah.

      12. avatar diana reply

        I am in search of grayed jaded or sage bridesmaid dresses and can’t find the perfect color! You’re dresses are the perfect color! What brand and color is that?

      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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