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With a simple second chance text message, Laura + Shannon’s not-so-favorable beginnings flourished into their very own happily ever after, complete with cheek-aching smiles. And speaking from experience, I’d have to say the romantic ride on the Navy Pier’s ferris wheel might have helped a bit! I love how you can’t scroll through this post without getting caught up in Laura’s ear-to-ear grin in the portraits our friend Paul Johnson captured. That, dear ladies, is bliss.

Another thing I can’t just scroll past: the amazingly gorgeous Seaside Interfaith Chapel paired with baby’s breath decor. Laura wanted her flowers to feel light, airy, and ethereal, and I’d say she absolutely accomplished that!

Y’all, this might be my very favorite invitation suite to date!

The women in my family are very close, but live very far away. My sister, Sarah lives in Denver, sister-in-law Erika lives in New York City, while my mother and I live in Florida. I couldn’t imagine finding THE dress without them, but the logistics were a challenge. To make it work, we’d need to meet somewhere we could easily get to and back home in a weekend. Being a “Say Yes to the Dress” lover, I thought it would be amazing to have this experience at Bridals by Lori in Atlanta. So we booked hotel rooms and bought plane tickets. The trip was incredible: we celebrated the occasion with champagne and delicious food, and in the end, I got to “Say Yes to the Dress” with my favorite women by my side.

Describe your wedding flowers. Table décor included puffs of baby’s breath and Queen Anne’s lace in milkglass and cobalt containers. Baby’s breath also lined the aisles of the chapel. The bridesmaids carried simple bouquets of baby’s breath. I carried a bouquet of baby’s breath, Queen Anne’s lace, and ranunculus. I wanted it all to feel light, airy, and ethereal.

We weren’t too excited about having traditional readings in the ceremony. Too many weddings use the same texts, which often feel like they’re included only to fill space in an otherwise too-short ceremony. We wanted something more personal, but had no idea what to do. So we enlisted my brother, Matt (also a groomsman), to surprise us with a reading of his choice. He chose a passage from “The Irrational Season” by Madeleine L’Engle. “… But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take…. It is indeed a fearful gamble…. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature. To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation…. It takes a lifetime to learn another person… When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.” It was absolutely perfect.

We decided not to do a “first look.” We wanted to have that traditional moment in the aisle, and to allow it all the intensity it deserved. Instead, I had a “first look” with my father. He hadn’t seen my dress or accessories before the big day; he had wanted to be surprised. I thought capturing the moment a dad finally saw his youngest daughter as a bride would be a wonderful idea, so our photographer, Mecheal Johnson, coordinated it as our own personal first look. The photos are beautiful and emotional, creating a memory we’ll have forever.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? 
There are two. First, our huge bridal party (eight on each side). We were blessed to have all of our siblings and closest friends, most of whom live very far away, together at the same time. Second, we included communion in our ceremony. Right after we took our vows, the pastor served us, then we served the entire congregation. I served the bread and Shannon served the wine. It was incredibly special to be able to connect with every guest in such a meaningful way during our ceremony.

See! There’s simple no way to scroll past these photos of Laura and not feel the joy that’s jumping (pun-intended) right off the screen!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding?  (From the bride) The food! Townsend catering served incredible shrimp and grits, and build-your-own grouper tacos. And the setting. The reception was outside, under a canopy of beautiful live oak trees. (From the groom)There was also some seersucker being worn by a few of our guests. Love it.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We chose a round white cake (with blush flower accents), with alternating tiers of vanilla and coconut filling. It was made by Rhonda at Confections on the Coast.

I love these yummy old-fashioned cream cheese doughnuts! They’re from the Alys Beach donut truck, one of my favorites!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story.  We met in the fourth grade in Peoria, Illinois. Given the shy and awkward nature of pre-teens harboring secret crushes on each other, we had few actual interactions. After middle school, we parted ways and lost touch. Nearly 15 years later, Facebook brought us back together. We spent the winter of 2010 corresponding through email. From Florida, I would discuss my impending move to Chicago and recount all the fun I was having with friends. In grad school at LSU, Shannon would envy my revelry and describe his approaching dissertation defense. When Shannon flew to Chicago to interview for a job, he suggested to me that we meet up. I obliged, and so he made the two-hour trek from his hotel to downtown Chicago. We exchanged pleasantries as we were seated, spent a few minutes catching the other up on our lives, and discussed the few mutual friends with whom we still stayed in touch. Before the appetizer had arrived, however, the conversation began to fizzle (crickets chirping). In short, the date went poorly. I found him arrogant and self-absorbed.  He was likewise unimpressed. That seemed to be the end of that. Months later, it turns out, Shannon accepted the Illinois job. He moved to the Chicago suburbs and, trying to make new friends, decided to give me another chance. He texted me whenever he made a trip into the city, to see if I was available. I was not. I was always working and had started dating someone from Baton Rouge. Undeterred, he invited me to a Halloween party. Without any plans of my own, guilt-stricken from rejecting his many previous requests and newly single, I relented. We enjoyed the party, the night ended with a kiss, and the rest, of course, is history.
Tell us all about the proposal!  It was the fall of 2011. Just a few months after we started dating, Shannon had decided I was “The One.” Trouble was, he had accepted a job in Orlando and would move there next summer. He told me this and, when I took it in stride, asked if I would come with him. When I agreed, he knew I would one day be his wife.  As the move to Florida grew closer, we decided it a good idea to create a Chicago “Bucket List.”  One of my coworkers, after hearing of the bucket list, suggested we visit Navy Pier and ride the ferris wheel. It wasn’t on the list, but I had never been there, so it was included and plans were made: I would take photos of the Chicago skyline from the Ferris wheel at sunset. Meanwhile, Shannon received an email: The ring he ordered had been shipped from Peoria to Chicago. It was available for pick-up. He got up early the next day and sped off to retrieve it as soon as the store opened. With the ring in hand, Shannon recalled something his friend at the jewelry store had said weeks earlier: “Just so you know,” he warned, “as soon as you get it, that thing will burn a hole in your pocket.” Shannon dismissed the comment as insignificant. He figured he would hold on to the ring for a week or so while he devised a way to propose. He was wrong. As soon as he put the ring in his pocket, the mental weight of its influence weakened his resolve. He would propose today. He returned to the apartment and wondered how he was going to keep this from me all day. After a casual suggestions, we decided we would knock off a few more things from the bucket list. I mentioned the conversation I had with my coworker, and the Ferris wheel ride was included on the day’s agenda. We ate a late lunch at Pequod’s Pizza, then rode bikes along Lake Michigan to Navy Pier. We parked the bikes and walked to Harry Caray’s, where we had a beer and waited for the sun to set. Shannon didn’t talk much the entire day. For the next hour, he simply watched the crowd pass by and, when listening to me speak, offered his best (nervous) smile. When the sun had begun to set, and I determined that the light was just about right, we walked the short distance down the pier to the Ferris wheel. As the car ascended, I admired the view and snapped photos. At the ride’s peak, Shannon got down on one knee, but he couldn’t get the words out; he just knelt there, waiting for me to say yes. When I remained quiet, alternating my gaze from him to the ring, he realized he needed to say something. “Please marry me” was all he could muster. “Of course, yes!” I exclaimed. The cars on either side of us, realizing a proposal had just occurred, began to applaud. Naturally, we had to buy the official photo documenting the occasion. It would be the last image of us as single individuals.
When did y’all get married?  April 13, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding?  95

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The ceremony music was classical, and chosen to include my cousin Nick, who happens to be an incredible trumpet player. He played Trumpet Tune for the “call to worship” and Trumpet Voluntary for the procession and recession. Another of my cousins, Beth, is an opera singer. During the unity candle lighting, she sang, “O Mio Babbino Caro.” The lyrics, about a young girl begging her father to let her go marry the man she loves, seemed appropriate given our childhood history. The music was breathtaking as it filled the little Seaside Chapel.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our wedding favors. We gave our guests classic Seaside coffee mugs and old-fashioned cream cheese doughnuts (from the Alys Beach donut truck). I designed favor tag labels that said “Thank you for being a part of our happily ever after. You doughnut know how much it means to us.”
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? My older sister, Sarah loaned the earrings she received as a “push present” for the birth of her first child as my something borrowed.  Shannon’s grandmother’s ring served as my something blue. There is a china doll that has been carried by brides in my family for generations, whig was my something old. The doll rested in a pouch on my handmade bouquet wrap. The wedding dress and accessories were something new.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding?  (From the bride) My biggest challenge was trying not to overextend myself with the design details. As an event designer, I was in my element and doing what I love most, but I had to try to “keep a lid on it” so I could focus on being a bride too. (From the groom) I just tried to keep the wine chilled and the bride stress-free.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day?  (From the bride) Walking down the aisle, having all of our closest family and friends smiling at me. (From the groom) The same.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding?  (From the bride) Keep the engagement short. That way, there’s less time to worry about everything, and you’re still super excited when the wedding weekend arrives! (From the groom) Guys, if you’re not taking an active planning role, stay out of the way!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? 
Building our own family traditions. And our one-year anniversary. Shannon has promised we’ll spend it in Hawaii.

Photographer: Paul Johnson Photography| Videographer: Momentus Films | Planner: It’s a Shore Thing | Ceremony Venue: Seaside Interfaith Chapel, Seaside, FL | Reception Venue: Ruskin Place Green, Seaside, FL | Florist: Bella Flora | Wedding Cake: Confections on the Coast | Caterer: Townsend Catering | Band: Nightfire | Event Design & Stationary: Gathered Events | Bride’s Gown: Judd Waddell | Paper Products: Gathered Events | Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil/Jewelry: Laura Taylor | Hair Stylist & Makeup Artist: Bridget at Rolland’s Salon & Art Gallery | Bride’s Shoes: Vera Wang | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale, blush crinkle chiffon gowns in various styles | Groom’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Groosmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank

marissa Written with love by Marissa
9 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I adore her bouquet! And the heel kick photo is too cute :)

  2. avatar Kerri reply

    That picture on the beach is SUCH perfection! WOW!

  3. avatar Annie Turner reply

    Love!!! Whenever I see a post with Paul and Mecheal’s photos I know I just have to look. I’m never disappointed either! Always beautiful!

  4. avatar Laura Taylor reply

    Beautiful! Thank you so much!

  5. avatar Jojo Zhang reply

    Such a pretty wedding with so many beautiful details. I especially love weddings that involve being by the shore with a breathtaking backdrop of the water.

    I’m going to this wedding in Mexico later this year and my best friend/bride-to-be made this map for guests that pinpointed the marker to the exact spot the ceremony is going to be on the beach. Thought it might be helpful for future couples wanting to share their location!
    http://amap.to/beachwedding

    Thanks again for the gorgeous wedding! The couple looked so in love!

  6. avatar Betty Weber reply

    This wedding is gorgeous! Every detail! Kudos to everyone involved!

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Y’all!!! And, yes, those exclamation points were completely necessary! I knew I was going to like this wedding as soon as I saw the title; I hadn’t even clicked in yet and I was excited! (Obviously: Monograms + Alabama = MAK heaven!) Emily is such a doll for letting me introduce Morgan + Matthew’s to-die-for wedding from Amy Arrington. I’ll even let the fact that M + M are attending school at Auburn slide for the sake of this gorgeousness!

I feel like Morgan is my long lost sister! Oh, where to start? How about the things I love about this wedding: the monogrammed necklace, her gown, the location, the ceremony backdrop, the gold glitter the flower girls threw… but, let me be completely honest, as much as I die over these gorgeous details, Morgan + Matthew’s contagious joy takes the cake as my very favorite detail. And that, my friends, is what it’s really about.

How fun is Morgan’s something borrowed? It’s her sorority sisters’ membership pins!

I didn’t even have to scroll down to know that Morgan’s gown was the “Dahlia” by Amsale because it’s one of my absolute favorite gowns. Ever! And add in the fact that she got it for 55% off — work it, girl!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I fell in love with a dress that I saw on Pinterest, but upon doing further research, I found out that it was way out of my budget. I was so bummed, but I thought maybe if I just did a Google search of the style, I could find a salon carrying it for less. I stumbled upon PreOwnedWeddingDresses, which quickly became my best friend! I found the exact dress I was looking for being sold by a sweet, sweet lady in New Orleans. I ended up getting my dress for 55% off of the original price AND made a new friend!

We originally planned on not doing a first look, but upon seeing the wonderful first look photos of other couples that our photographer had done, we decided it could be pretty neat. On the day of the, among the hustle and bustle, we lost track of time. Before we knew it, we had run out of time for a first look. So, we waited until the ceremony and it ended up being perfect. I think subconsciously it was what we wanted all along. It was a beautiful moment.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? There was this small moment that I will forever remember. I surprised Matthew with a leather chair and ottoman as a wedding present. I placed it in the room where the men got ready, but he had no clue that it was for him. It just blended in with the rest of the furniture. After the ceremony, we signed our marriage license in that room and I told him the chair belonged to him. His face at that moment was priceless. It was a small detail in a busy day that meant the world to me.

How adorable are these buttons? I need that Alabama one for sure!

Describe your wedding flowers: We went all white with our flowers. My bouquet was a mixture of white hydrangeas, white roses and baby’s breath. The bridesmaid’s bouquets were all white hydrangeas and on the reception tables, we used white hydrangeas and baby’s breath.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our wedding was held at an old plantation home: big and white, with a wide front porch. There were many monograms. I wore a monogram necklace with my new initials at the reception, we had a monogram cake topper, and I had my monogram stitched into the inside of my dress. My husband threw the garter attached to a football (you can’t leave football out of anything here in the South). We also had monogrammed corn hole boards at the reception and they were a big hit!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We are still in school at Auburn University, so planning a wedding in six months and attending school at the same time was a challenge, but we are proud to say now that we have overcome and done wonderfully!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: A family friend made our cakes. We went with a simple white cakes with white butter cream icing. We originally had three cakes, a small three-tier cake and two small two-tier cakes. The morning of the wedding, there was a little mishap with the larger cake, so we smiled and moved on and enjoyed our two smaller ones. They sat on milk glass cake stands and the cake we cut was topped with a beautiful acrylic monogram.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Matthew and I met while doing mission work on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation in southern Arizona. He was 17 and I was 15. I had worked on the reservation for many years but it was his first time. I led his group during the week they were in Arizona and we quickly became great friends. As teenagers do, we continued to text each other once we had returned home and our relationship quickly grew while we were separated by two states. In November of 2008, he made the special phone call and asked me to be his girlfriend. He told me that he knew a long distance relationship could be challenging but he was willing to work hard at it if I was. We were in a long distance relationship until I joined him at Auburn University in 2011.
Describe the proposal. During the summer of 2012, Matthew planned a cross-country road trip for us. It was a dream come true. We spent two weeks journeying from Kentucky to California and back home to Alabama. Along the way, Matthew planned a stop on the reservation in southern Arizona where we met and spent so much time serving together. He proposed at sunset in the very village we served in and once again, just as he did when he asked me to be his girlfriend, he told me he knew marriage could be challenging, but he was willing to give it his all if I was.
In what month did you get married? December
How many guests attended your wedding? 75
Did you write your own vows? We wrote our own vows, but kept them simple and very similar to traditional vows. Our favorite part was how they began: “I Morgan, take you Matthew, to be my husband, loving you now and as you grow into all that God intends.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. All of our songs were hand picked by my husband. He did an amazing job! I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of “A Thousand Years” by The Piano Guys, and let me tell you, it’s a tear-jerker. We walked back up the aisle to “I Do” by Colbie Caillat and our first dance was to “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There wasn’t one particular thing, but the fact that it was very personal. We made almost every decoration by hand and put so much thought and hard work into the details.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Photography!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t get caught up in the minute details. You will feel like everything, I mean EVERYTHING has to be perfect, but I can tell you now that it doesn’t. If things go wrong the day of, or even the week before, smile and move on. You will enjoy the special time so much more.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to everything God has in store for us! We are finishing up school here in Auburn and are ready for the big, big plans He has for us after that. We are adventurous and ready to follow His lead.

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

marissa Written with love by Marissa
26 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Oh my goodness, what a sweet, sweet wedding! I love how their tables are modern, but at the same time, they fit so beautifully with all of the laid back, Southern details. Not to mention, the bride and groom are just gorgeous together! :)

  2. avatar Caitlin reply

    What a beautiful couple. I love every detail but especially the monograms! Where did the bride get the monogram for the inside of her dress?

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Caitlin! I’m not sure where Morgan got her monogram, but when I was married the seamstress who did all my alterations offered monogramming for the inside of the gown. Check with your seamstress or dress salon as they will know a great place to create the patch. xx

  3. avatar Sarah reply

    Y’all, I will have to tell you that there was a lot of modesty going on in that interview! :) I am Matthew’s sister (the groom) and now Morgan’s sister-in-law and I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you how incredibly talented this chick is! They got married on the same day that my husband and I got married 5 years ago, but I was more than happy to share that date with them! I know she scoured wedding mags and websites, and, of course, Pinterest, for all these wonderful ideas and managed to make a LOT of them herself or design them herself. There isn’t a picture of the invitation (obviously, because they had already gone out), but she did a fabulous job. She’s like Reese Witherspoon (If it’s not moving, monogram it!) and loves all things southern, but still loves the appeal of modern prints and designs. Anyway, I am SOOO happy that y’all featured their wedding!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Oh, Sarah! You’re so sweet to comment, and say such kind things about Morgan! I have to say that I agree that she is so talented. This is one of my favorite weddings we’ve featured – the monograms just put me over the edge! And congratulations to you and your hubby on your anniversary – what a sweet thing to share! xx

  4. avatar Dee Shore reply

    Gosh so pretty! What a beautiful couple.

  5. avatar Cameron reply

    Amsale, Monograms, Auburn, Theta pins, and gold glitter….I die!

  6. avatar Anna (Lover.ly) reply

    Wow! What a gorgeous wedding, particularly that dress. And the fact that it was 55% off makes it even prettier :)

  7. avatar invitation consultants reply

    can’t go wrong with a monogram! and bowties too!

  8. avatar Kiesel Park Wedding : Matthew + Morgan reply

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  9. avatar Jen @ YumYum Weddings reply

    I love monograms, and they are a staple of most weddings, but I never thought to use it as a theme…this was wonderful! They look so happy to be together, and they really took something that nearly everyone uses, and made it their own. My favorite part would have to be his monogrammed football though…classy. ha ha.

  10. avatar Dominique reply

    Where did that Merry Christmas banner come from? I would LOVE to have one for my upcoming wedding!

    • avatar Sarah reply

      Dominique: Regarding the Merry Christmas banner: Morgan made it herself a while back. It’s been a tradition of theirs for a few years to have a Christmas picture taken with it and post it as their “Christmas card.” Since they got married so close to Christmas last year, they made sure to have it included in their photos.

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  13. avatar Sarah Park reply

    Where did the Bride order the buttons from? So adorable!

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  20. avatar Mel reply

    Where did the brides monogram necklace come from? I just love it and I’m looking for a trusty site to order one from? Thanks! Gorgeous wedding!!

  21. avatar Mary Lou reply

    Your wedding was beautiful! My daughter is getting married in October and she would love to use the football idea. I have been looking but no luck.How or where did you get it?
    Thank you for your help,
    Mary Lou Crow

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