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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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    One thing I love witnessing at weddings is the unabashed vulnerability of the couple and their guests, whether it’s a groom who just can’t contain his tears after first seeing his bride, or the emotion of the first look with the bride’s daddy. There is just something so beautiful about the raw emotions. I think that’s why I love this line from Molly and Kevin’s sweet secret letter so much. We Southern women are a strong (and strong-willed!) bunch, which makes Molly’s sweet vow to Kevin so romantic and vulnerable, all at the same time! She said “You are my leader and I will gladly follow wherever you go.” Oh my stars! I’m sure their ceremony at the beautiful Lowndes Groves Plantation was a joy to witness, and their reception looks like it was a blast, too!

    Big hugs to Caroline Ro for sharing Molly and Kevin’s wedding with us!

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. In April 2014, my sister, two bridesmaids, my mother-in-law, my mother, and I enjoyed two appointments and about 50 dresses. At the first shop, I tried on about 30. It was an amazing experience and I got very very close to saying yes to one, but then my mom told me I needed to attend both appointments before I decided. Thank goodness I listened to her, because the next morning, we showed up at White on Daniel Island. I was about 10 dresses in before I tried on the one. I knew right away that this was it, and so did my family. It’s true that you do get that feeling, “This is my dress!!!”

    My wedding flowers were absolutely stunning, filled with chocolate orchids, eucalyptus, a white rose in honor of the Thayer women (these ladies all carried 13 white roses on their wedding days), white hydrangeas, purple hellebores, dusty millers (my favorite), and ivory ranunculus. My bouquet was wrapped in my grandmother’s blue handkerchief and I pinned a picture of each of our grandmothers to the stems.

    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Kevin didn’t want me to tell him what I was walking down the aisle to, so I surprised him with my processional to Gabriel’s “Oboe.” I chose this song because it reminded me of my grandmother. She loved her instrumental music and I remember sitting in the back of her car listening to it. She was so excited for our “big Southern military wedding.” Unfortunately, she passed away just a few short weeks before Kevin and I got engaged. She and my mother were my inspirations for our entire wedding.

    We did not write our own vows, but our pastor had us write secret letters to each other prior to our wedding, and he read a few passages from each. We didn’t get to read the whole letters until right before we left on our honeymoon. My favorite line of Kevin’s was: “You have been, and will continue to be, the center and foundation of our relationship and household. Being the man of the household means nothing without a solid foundation”. Kevin’s favorite line that I wrote to him was: “You have taught me to give my heart fully and have made me realize that I cannot do this life without you. You are my leader and I will gladly follow wherever you go.”

    What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our pastor was amazing!! He is the pastor at Kevin’s church in Greenville, and we have known him for years. His passion and message brought out the true message of the day: commitment. Lowndes Grove was also amazing, and their staff, coupled with the location, made it a day we’ll never forget. The hand-rolled cigar bar was a huge hit with everyone and was an awesome way for everyone to take a break from dancing.

    Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We prioritized the flavor rather than design. We kept the design simple, and chose a lemon cake with buttercream icing and red velvet with sweetened cream cheese icing. We cut the cake with Kevin’s Marine officer’s sword, which added our own little flair to the tradition.

    Lowndes Grove Plantation was the first and only place we really looked. Kevin had been to a wedding there before, and, having grown up in Charleston, I knew how amazing of a place it was. The way the setting sun shined across the water and through the Spanish moss on the trees epitomized my mental picture of a Southern plantation. When it came to the food, we had good old Southern barbecue, shrimp and grits, bacon-wrapped scallops, and some great bourbon to bring it all together.

    There are so many moments, but the most memorable was when Kevin and I were able to break away from everything and look over our wedding as outsiders. We followed the advice of some of our friends and have passed it on to all of our friends with upcoming weddings because it meant so much to us. We went all the way to the back of the tent and stood up on the brick ledge, holding each other close and just watched everyone having a fabulous time at this beautiful setting. It was magical, and the “snapshot” in time will remain with us forever!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Kevin and I met at Clemson University in 2007. He was the big bad senior, and I was the new freshman looking for fun and adventure. We were introduced during the Sigma Nu Mountain Weekend at Camp Wayfarer by my roommate, who knew him from high school. The moment I met him, I knew he was going to be someone special in my life, but of course, we were there with different dates! We saw each other occasionally after that, and I invited him to the Alpha Delta Pi Mallard Ball. Our on and off dating continued until 2011, when he returned from his first deployment to Afghanistan and I graduated from nursing school. After being separated by so many miles and for so many months, we knew we wanted to start taking things seriously. During his second deployment to Afghanistan, he called and asked me to move with him when he was to be reassigned to Quantico, Virginia when he returned home. We have been living in Fredericksburg, Virginia since November 2012. We bought our boxer puppy, Reagan, in February 2013, and I kept hinting to Kevin to make it official–I would tell Reagan in front of Kevin how jealous I was that he had the same last name as daddy! Kevin got the hint and proposed on January 24th, 2014!!!
    Tell us all about the proposal! From Kevin: My plan: have a nice dinner, have some good convo, head back to the car, propose, go get a celebratory beer, and surprise Molly with all of our friends there. Throughout dinner, I blamed my fidgeting in my chair on being sick. The topic of conversation led to our friends who were recently engaged, which caused Molly to drop the bomb on me of “Well, I guess they know what they wanted…” Boom, the ring in my pocket got exponentially heavier while we continued to converse. Following dinner, we made our way back to the car to drop off our leftovers, and on the corner of the street, I pulled her close and told her how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. I then started to drop to a knee and grabbed her hand. Molly said, “Kevin, what are you doing? The ground is wet! What are you doing?” I pulled out the ring and asked her to marry me, to which she replied, “Kevin…what is that??? Who is that for?? What is that???” I asked the question a second time, to which she finally replied with a teary “YES!” We then went to get a celebratory beer from Capital Ale House, and Molly was surprised again with a tremendous cheer and applause from all of our friends who were waiting for us.
    When did y’all get married? December 13, 2014
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
    If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Kevin: The second I was allowed to turn around and see Molly coming down the aisle. Even as a US Marine, it took everything I had to not cry. She was so absolutely stunning as she made her way down the aisle that I was completely tunnel visioned. I can’t even remember the song that was playing for her processional.
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Even if you are not very close with your soon-to-be mother-in-law, like I am with mine, get her involved. Invite her to your dress shopping appointments, fittings, bridal showers, etc. You won’t regret it, and she will never forget it. My mother-in-law is a mother to three boys, so doing all the girly things just made her year! Also, get a videographer. I fought my mom on getting one, but she insisted. I now watch our wedding video at least once a day!
    What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Having known each other and been together for so long prior to marriage, we are ready for the ultimate big step: building our family! This is the reason we went to Africa for our Safari honeymoon–we asked ourselves prior to booking: what would we regret not doing before having kids? We had a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

    Photographer: Caroline Ro / Videographer: Dock House Digital / Planner: Megan Chandler of Ooh! Events / Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation / Florist: Out of the Garden / Catering and Cake Baker: Fish / Rentals: Snyder Rentals and Ooh! Events / Lighting: Ooh! Events / Band: Men of Distinction from EastCoast Entertainment / Paper Products: Lydia’s / Bride’s Gown: “C207” by Allure / Hair and Makeup: Charlotte Belk / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style 485” in Plum by Bill Levkoff / Ceremony String Trio: Classical Charleston

    East Coast Entertainment is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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    marissa Written with love by Marissa
    7 Comments
    1. avatar Occasions In Print reply

      Just a gorgeous wedding and I love the men in their uniforms!

    2. avatar Kimberly reply

      My beautiful daughter and now son in law are so lucky to now share a fabulous life together! The wedding day was filled with so many luscious memories for me! Everything was perfect.

    3. avatar Charmaine reply

      Grilled finger sandwiches … yes please.. Beautiful wedding

    4. avatar Charleston Wedding Videographer reply

      Such a beautiful day and beautiful couple. We were so honored to capture Molly & Kevin’s special day on film!

    5. avatar Jeffrey newton reply

      It was a beautiful wedding! Please tag us for the transportation :)

    6. avatar Megan Chandler reply

      So excited to see this stunning wedding shared! Love this couple!

    7. avatar Molly+Kevin // Married // Charleston » CarolineRo // Blog reply

      […] to top everything off, Southern Weddings kindly featured Molly and Kevin’s day […]

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    While the bride’s choice of attire is typically the most talked-about on a wedding day, this year’s gents certainly held their own! From seersucker suits to gingham shirts and jeans, these Southern grooms and groomsmen hit it out of the park in the style department.

    Alix and Dodd‘s groomsman’s seersucker suit and “moatch,” by Kat Braman

    Drew‘s navy suit and chambray shirt, by Landon Jacob

    Will and his groomsmen in dress whites, by Robyn Van Dyke

    Ray‘s groomsmen in navy pullovers and gray suits, by Sara & Rocky

    Austin and his groomsmen in tuxes and hot pink suspenders, by Love, the Nelsons

    Caleb‘s paisley bow tie, vest, baby’s breath boutonniere, and sweet patch, by Jen Dillender

    Matthew and his groomsmen in gingham and denim, by Rachel May

    Vance‘s colorful suit, by Veronica Varos

    Adam and his groomsmen in black tie on the beach, by Kaytee Lauren

    Jonathan‘s sherrif’s badge, by Flora & Fauna

    Landon Jacob, Robyn Van Dyke, Jen Dillender, and Rachel May, are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    2 Comments
    1. avatar Fashion for the Fellows: Wedding Season Room by Room reply

      […] Seersucker! Photo via Southern Weddings. […]

    2. avatar Inspiration: I do…beside the seaside | Hanami Dream | Cotswold wedding inspiration reply

      […] (right from top to bottom) Suit – by Kat Braman via http://southernweddings.com/2014/12/30/2014-memorable-menswear/ […]

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