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One of the very sweetest parts of working at Southern Weddings is the people we get to meet and the relationships that are formed over the years. Jessica interned for Southern Weddings back in the day, and ever since then, it has been so exciting to watch her start and grow her business, Simply Jessica Marie. Even more so, we’ve loved getting to witness her forever love story from day one! The joy she and Zack have found in each other is palpable, and when we heard the news of their engagement (don’t miss the story below!), we couldn’t resist asking Jessica to share their wedding planning experience with us. You can catch all of their posts here if you missed them, and now, we’re overjoyed to share their special day with y’all! Jessica and Zack, thank you so much for sharing your hearts with us, not only today, but over the last year and a half–we can’t wait to see where y’all go next!

We’re so glad our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Perry Vaile, was on hand to capture every moment for J+Z!

Our favorite detail of our wedding was how we infused one of our favorite elements of our love story: the letters we wrote one another throughout our relationship. To set the tone for our wedding and visually portray our relationship as a couple, I infused portions of a love letter Zack wrote to me as an art print on the back side of our invitations for our guests to keep and frame, as our envelope liner pattern, and printed on the back flap of our invitation envelopes. We sealed our suite with a custom gold wax seal featuring our custom wedding crest design, which reminds me of old school letter writing and epic romance. Zack said the wax seals remind him of Game of Thrones, so it was a win-win with both of us! He actually added all of the wax seals to our envelopes, and I loved including him in that way. We carried our love letters through to our day-of design–we used the same wax seals on our escort cards, and displayed them on the scoreboard of the golf course with a handful of our original letters framing the escort cards. Guests then found their tables with envelope table numbers lined with a floral pattern and soft pink calligraphy numbers. We also asked our guests to fill out “advice for the newlyweds” cards as their own letters to us, which we read after our honeymoon and have displayed in a keepsake box on our coffee table. I am excited to go back and read them again throughout the years!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! The something borrowed, blue, old and new tradition is one of my favorites, and I had so much fun gathering all of these pieces! A few of my sweet bridesmaids lent me their rings, each with blue stones, for my something borrowed and something blue. I had them tied to my bridal bouquet so that I could carry a piece of them with me throughout our wedding day. My something old was a handkerchief that belonged to my maternal great-grandmother. It is one of my favorite keepsakes! I had it with me while getting ready, and carried it in my clutch throughout the day. I then had a couple of something new items! My sister gifted me with the most gorgeous Kate Spade jeweled necklace. It made the perfect statement to complete my bridal look, and I cannot wait to pass it down to my daughters and granddaughters as an heirloom in years to come. Zack also gifted me with the most beautiful, delicate diamond earrings on our wedding day, which I wore paired with the earrings I donned during our engagement session!

Shopping for my wedding dress was so much fun! My mom came to Nashville one weekend and we went to three different bridal boutiques to get a sense of what styles I loved best, which designers I was drawn to, and what I had a feeling Zack would love. We walked away from the day feeling excited that we had an idea in mind of what I wanted to look for moving forward! My mom and sister then came back into town a couple of weeks later for Easter. I knew I wanted to take advantage of the time when my sister was in town to get her opinion, so we went to a local bridal boutique, B. Hughes. I tried on a handful of gorgeous gowns, but none of them felt quite right. There was one that I didn’t know if I loved from simply seeing it on the hanger, since the style was so different than what I had been trying, but I tried it on anyway, just to see how it looked. When I stepped out of the fitting room in front of the mirrors, I could not stop beaming! I kept touching each part of the dress, from the stunning beaded floral lace to the delicate tulle skirt, twirling all the while. I remember saying that I did not want to take it off, which is when my mom, sister, and I all realized that it was the one!! I loved my dress so much that I included the floral lace detail as a pattern on our invitations and as the backdrop for our escort card display!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, we did decide to do a first look! We really wanted to have a few sweet moments to ourselves, since the rest of our day would be spent surrounded by loved ones. Those few minutes are some of the moments I remember most clearly from our wedding day. Spending that time alone helped reaffirm why we were there that day: to join together as just the two of us with God, as husband and wife, to create a unique and love-filled family of our own!

I have a huge love of color, and knew I wanted our wedding flowers to reflect that! I included watercolor florals throughout our invitation suite design and day-of artwork, and the Rebecca Rose Events team brought those same florals to life on our wedding day. We used my favorite combination of flowers: blush and fuchsia peonies, peach garden roses, white anemones with navy centers, pink ranunculus, darling little peach hypericum berries, and lots of soft silver dollar eucalyptus and dusty miller! My bridesmaids’ bouquets were some of my favorite floral elements, as they were adorned with a sweet little gift from me. I adorned their silk bouquet ribbon with navy calligraphy that read, “a single rose can be my garden, a single friend, my world.” I thought it was so fitting for them and their bouquets!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional wedding vows, and are both so happy with that decision. There is something so special about saying the same words and making the same promises to each other that our parents and grandparents vowed to one another years before!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings from the Bible during our ceremony. My sweet uncle read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. We love this reading, because it focuses on two coming together, helping one another throughout life and making each other stronger. That is how we always want to view our relationship! Zack’s sweet cousin then read Colossians 3:14-20. We chose this reading because it reminds us to always let love, peace, and thankfulness be constants in our marriage. And most importantly, to let everything we do in our marriage be done in the name of the Lord!

The biggest challenge we had to overcome while planning our wedding centered around religious beliefs and traditions. We had many conversations together, with our parents, with a priest, with Zack’s uncle who is a pastor, and with friends about how to stay true to ourselves and our religious beliefs while also keeping each of our family traditions active and be respectful of them during our wedding. It was definitely a big lesson in compromise and blending of families, and we are both so happy with the decision we made! I could not imagine having been married by anyone other than Uncle LeGrand!

We looked at a few garden venues, and then Zack mentioned the idea of getting married at a golf course. I immediately loved that idea! Zack plays golf weekly with his friends, and I loved the idea that we could incorporate something that was a part of his life into our wedding day, since he was so graciously accommodating many of my wedding ideas! When we first visited Gettysvue together, I could not get over the gorgeous rolling greenery and stunning view of the Tennessee mountains. I knew it would make the perfect backdrop for our ceremony! It also had a unique setup that allowed us to make use of the entire venue for each element of our wedding day: a beautiful bridal suite and groom’s area for getting ready, a grassy mountain view area for our ceremony, a patio for our cocktail hour, a ballroom for dinner and toasts, and an area outside under a tent overlooking the golf course for dancing!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Since our dinner was one of the details we were most excited about (it included a full mac and cheese bar with delicious toppings, a steak carving station, bacon-wrapped shrimp, and crab cakes!), we wanted to focus our food and beverage budget toward that, so we decided to save money in other portions of our food and beverage budget by opting for a simple beer and wine beverage package instead of a full bar or signature cocktails. We also saved money on our cake by only having two tiers, since we had a feeling our guests would be quite full after dinner!

While certain elements of our wedding were traditional, our wedding cake definitely was not! We knew we wanted to have fun with the design, and also include a couple of delicious flavors. We chose a delicate dusty blue for the bottom tier, with sweeping gold brushstrokes on the base tier to reflect the painted elements throughout our wedding design. To balance the more unique cake design, we kept things simple with a two-tiered cake adorned with one beautiful blush peony and a few eucalyptus leaves. The cake flavors are what really won us over with our cake designer! We selected two flavors, English toffee and strawberry. Zack loved the strawberry flavor, and I loved that it was pink! We especially loved smashing it in each other’s faces, haha! If you are on the fence about the cake smashing idea–we say go for it! It was really fun, and makes for awesome photos and video!

Don’t miss Jessica and Zack’s wedding film (by Zack’s brother and sister-in-law, Casey and Kristin!) below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Oh, our love story–it is one of my favorites to tell! It all started one Friday evening in May 2014. I was getting ready for a fun night out with my girlfriends, when I jokingly turned to my roommate and swore we were going to meet our boyfriends that night. She laughed, and we carried on getting ready. Later that evening, as we were about to head home, we stopped by one of our favorite places and I was happy to see my friend Sierra (a former SW employee!), who I hadn’t seen in months. I was even happier when I noticed that she was with a new group of friends, including a dapper boy wearing a sport coat. Something immediately drew me to him (he claims it was his sport coat!), so I walked right up to him and introduced myself! We talked and laughed for what felt like hours. We made plans to meet up the next night, and after another fun evening, planned our first date for that upcoming week. I knew that there was something extra special about him when he showed up at my doorstep with a single red rose!
Tell us all about the proposal! Fast forward eight months from the day we met–months full of fun trips, holidays spent with families, and more thoughtful and sweet date nights–to January 24, 2015. Zack, his brother, and his sister-in-law had gifted me a promo video for my business as a Christmas gift, and this was the big day that filming was supposed to take place. Little did I know, it was also the day Zack was going to propose!! The big morning came, and I got all dolled up for my “promo video.” Zack knew this was the perfect decoy, because I would be wearing a cute outfit, I would have my nails painted, my friends would be with me the whole day, and he would catch everything on both video and camera. After a morning full of girly activities with my friends, we quickly grabbed lunch while Zack, Casey, and Kristin went back to my house to set up for my “interview.” As I walked into my house, I saw Zack standing in the hallway leading to my office. He wore the same sport coat that he was wearing when we first met. I hadn’t caught on to what was happening yet–I was still so focused on what I would be saying during my interview! Zack led me into my office where he had a couple of collages set up displaying our favorite pictures together. On my desk, I saw a note that had my name on it sitting atop the journal that we keep together. As instructed by the note, I flipped to the bookmarked page, which said, “On December 17th, I bought an engagement ring.” At that moment, I was in SUCH shock! Zack led me to the middle of the room, took my hands, and said the sweetest things I have ever heard in my entire life–words that I had been so excited to hear since we first met! Once I heard the words “Will you marry me?” I immediately screamed “Of course!!” and hugged Zack, without even taking a glance at my ring! Once we started to settle down from the excitement, he told me that he promised my mom that she would be the first person we would call. The tears that started to well up upon hearing my mom’s voice turned into screams of joy as she walked around the corner and into my room!! My entire family, Zack’s mom, and my friends all followed her into the room, and I felt so surrounded by love. It was the perfect ending to the most wonderful surprise!
When did y’all get married? May 14, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? One of the things that was most Southern about our wedding was that it truly was a family affair! All of our vendors were either family, friends, or people we had previous working relationships with, which made our day feel even more special because we knew they were pouring their hearts into each detail just for us! Not only did our family and friends help bring our wedding day to life, but we also honored our family through our details. We included all five of our little girl cousins as flower girls since we simply couldn’t favorite just one, we had a table in our reception area with photos, albums, and heirlooms from our parents and grandparents on their wedding days, we used my parents’ champagne flutes during our toast, and our ceremony backdrop was made of three fabric panels, each with my parents’ first dance song, Zack’s parents’ first dance song, and our first dance song that I lovingly calligraphed on the flowing fabric. I loved the idea of creating a statement piece that tied together our families! Since the majority of my guests and some of Zack’s guests were traveling in from all across the country (and one from overseas!), making sure they felt comfortable throughout our entire wedding weekend was of the utmost importance to us. We tried our best to show true Southern hospitality, from the welcome gift boxes our guests received at their hotels, to our post-rehearsal dinner get-together, to ensuring that there was something for every age group to do during our wedding reception. We had a lounge area with games and playing cards where people could rest their feet while still having fun, corn hole for our competitive Southern friends, and a dance floor with continuously amazing music for those who simply wanted to dance the night away! Zack and I also each relived our college days through songs at our reception–my sorority sisters surprised me by singing one of our Sigma Kappa songs after our first dances were through, and Zack’s University of Tennessee friend group gathered together to sing and dance to Rocky Top!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We found it most helpful to seek counsel from our parents and friends who have been married, asking them about their marriages and what advice they would provide to us as we were going through our engagement and preparing for the years to come. We also worked together to be as open and honest as possible about not only what we love about each other, but also about how we could help each other grow. We learned how to compromise together, make decisions as a couple, and communicate better. Learning each other’s love languages early on in our dating relationship really helped with this! Growing as a couple is a continuous learning process, and I couldn’t ask for a better person to help me grow as a wife and eventually as a mother than Zack. I hope to be able to support him as much as he always supports me!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are so excited to continue planning travel adventures together! Zack and I fell in love with traveling overseas during our Italian honeymoon, and always want to be planning one major trip each year. We are currently planning a trip to Ireland with another one of our couple friends, and cannot wait to explore that part of the world together! Zack has also taken up woodworking, and has built us a new coffee table and a beautiful coat rack for our entryway. He is so talented! I cannot wait to keep these pieces in our home for years to come, and pass them down to our children and grandchildren one day.

Photographer: Perry Vaile | Videographer: Casey and Kristin | Planner and Florist: Rebecca Rose Events | Venue and Caterer: Gettysvue Polo, Golf, and Country Club | Cake Baker: Art of Cakes Bakery | Rentals: HoneyBee Events | Tent Rental and Lighting: All Occasions Party Rentals | Lighting, DJ, and Getaway Car: Music in Motion | Paper Products, Signage, Watercolor Painting, and Pocket Squares: Simply Jessica Marie | Bride’s Gown: “Heavenly Lace” by Reem Acra | Bride’s Veil: “Athena Cathedral Veil” by BHLDN | Bride’s Necklace: “Crystal Arches Necklace” by Kate Spade | Bride’s Bracelet: J.Crew | Bride’s Earrings: Kay Jewelers | Hair and Makeup: Bangs and Blush | Bride’s Shoes: “Isabella Scalloped Heel” by BHLDN | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: BHLDN, Amsale, and Lulus | Menswear: Kenneth Cole and Ralph Lauren | Ties: The Tie Bar | Vintage Stamps: Verde Studio | Silk Ribbon and Ceremony Backdrop Fabric: Adorn Company | Guitarist: Logan Murrell | Macarons: Sweet Darling Patisserie | Bridal Party Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bride’s Reception Dress: “Shined Cocktail Dress” by BHLDN

Perry Vaile and Rebecca Rose are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Dana reply

    Been waiting for this wedding to be posted! So beautiful!

  2. avatar Kirsti Cook reply

    I have been following Jessica for years and am SWOONING over how her wedding turned out – not that I am surprised! I think this is one of my favorite weddings I’ve seen in SW!

  3. avatar Amy Loochtan reply

    I absolutely love her dress. And the crest on her paper products! I wish I could go back and have a wedding do-over! Would love to meet y’all one day as I’m in Durham!

    Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins

  4. avatar Logan Murrell reply

    It was such an honor to be a part of such a loving wedding!! The real deal!!

  5. avatar Sheffield Wedding Photographer reply

    Such a lovely post. Thank you for sharing.
    Sheffield Wedding Photographer

  6. avatar Martha reply

    A great collection of wedding photos. Love them!

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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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    Many girls can probably say that their dog is one of their very best friends, but I imagine few can say their dog was also their matchmaker! Sure enough, it was Jennifer’s beloved golden, Maverick, who was responsible for her and Kerby’s meet-cute–y’all won’t want to miss the story below. Five years and a move to Charleston later, Jennifer and Kerby escaped to the idyllic Palmetto Bluff with their family and friends for their gorgeous spring wedding weekend. Along with dreamy floral crowns, fun pops of pattern, and details that nodded to their love story, Jennifer and Kerby’s celebration wouldn’t have been complete without Maverick in tow!

    Thank you so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Perry Vaile for sharing this lovely day with us!

    Kerby and I met five years ago in Washington, D.C. through my golden retriever, Maverick. I got Maverick when I graduated from college, and for many years, he was my rock during uncertain times of figuring out the next chapter in life. Little did I know, he’d also be the one to introduce me to my best friend and husband. I was going to a backyard birthday party for one of my mutual friends and brought Mav with so he could enjoy the festivities. After an hour or so, I spotted a cute boy rolling around on the ground with my dog. Naturally, I approached him and asked, “How do you know Maverick?” Kerby looked up and said, “I hung out with him the past two weekends while his owner was out of town. We’re best friends. Who are YOU?” And the rest is history.

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? My family and I grew up going to Hilton Head Island every summer, and it has always been a special place for me. Kerby grew up by the beach in Wilmington, North Carolina, so we figured somewhere near the water would be best for us. A friend of mine used to live in Bluffton, right outside of Hilton Head, and recommended that we look at Palmetto Bluff. We were swept off our feet from the first visit. The charm, natural beauty, and relaxed atmosphere–in addition to the convenience of Palmetto Bluff’s town square and cottages–could not be beat. We ended up moving to Charleston a month after our wedding, so we will be frequenting Palmetto Bluff for the rest of our lives!

    Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Kerby and I initially disagreed on a first look. He wanted the classic, tearjerker scene of seeing his bride for the first time while standing in front of his family and friends. I knew I would be anxious the day of the wedding and wanted to see him before the ceremony so I could ease my nerves. After I explained that if we got pictures out of the way before the wedding, we could party longer afterward, Kerby quickly acquiesced.

    We decided to write our own vows so we could feel like the ceremony was personalized to us. We decided on each writing “a few paragraphs,” and had my maid of honor read both ahead of time to make sure they worked well together. As I struggled to get through mine, Kerby held my hand and kept whispering to me to breathe. When I finished, he automatically went in to kiss me to make me feel better. Halfway there, he realized that wasn’t part of the plan and asked our minister, “Can we do that?” It got a good chuckle from the crowd.

    Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We had a bar set up at the entrance of our ceremony serving Moscow mules and Dark and Stormys in copper mugs. We wanted our guests to feel comfortable and start the evening off on the right foot. It was a celebration, after all! We also made sure that Maverick was a part of every aspect of the wedding. Not only did he need to be celebrated for introducing us, but his presence helped us feel relaxed and at ease. His ears flapped in the wind as the bridesmaids did a motorboat cruise to the bridal luncheon at Marshside Mama’s. He rode in the golf cart with us to the rehearsal dinner, where he got in the way of corn hole and snuck pieces of barbecue. He walked down the aisle with my maid of honor and danced the night away with us under the tent. Palmetto Bluff allowed him to be the VIP he deserved to be!

    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Look for ways to personalize your wedding. Think about who you are as a couple, what you like to do together, and what’s most important to you, and try and incorporate that into everything you decide. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is what ends up standing out to your guests and building that lasting memory in your mind.

    Our flowers were GORGEOUS! Em Creative Floral did a wonderful job of combining neutrals with pops of coral, pinks, and reds. My favorite part was the baby’s breath crowns that were made for my bridesmaids. They looked like angels floating down the aisle.

    Our wedding cake was a simple white cake with gorgeous, fresh flowers. In order to incorporate more flavors, we served cupcakes as well. One of my favorite pictures from that day is of me feeding Maverick a piece of the cake with Kerby looking on. He deserved to be a part of the wedding in every sense!

    Tell us all about the proposal! After dating for four years, I had an inkling that Kerby would pop the question sometime soon. My family has a tradition of going to Orlando every year for Braves spring training, and Kerby was coming along–his first trip to Disney World! I figured this was it. However, by the end of the trip, we only had one night left, and we were spending it on a drinking tour of the different countries at Epcot. I knew Kerby wouldn’t do it then (in public, at a theme park, after drinking, no chance!), but I had to check his pockets on the monorail anyway. Empty. We started with a beer at a pub in England, then walked over to Canada. Kerby steered me to the replica of Niagara Falls (romantic!) and dropped to one knee. I was so shocked and embarrassed that he was doing this in public at Disney World that I started pulling him to get up. Once I saw the ring, reality took over and I happily said yes! We were then able to celebrate with a few drinks in different countries (like champagne in France!) and fireworks with my parents. It was a dream proposal that I never would have planned.
    When did y’all get married? May 16, 2014
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 206
    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I have a simple, relaxed style and, for some reason, always pictured myself in a simple, sleeveless, trumpet gown. I began going to stores in D.C. with my girlfriends and thought I found the ONE. When I went to try it on for my mom at a high-end boutique in Atlanta, I realized I didn’t feel like myself in it. My mom and I drove to Kelly’s Closet and instantly felt at ease with the girls there. We were so inspired by all the flowy, unique, timeless gowns. I tried on every Jenny Packham dress they had and ultimately fell for the “Esme” because of its open back and gorgeous beading.
    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had an acoustic guitarist for the processionals and recessional. We love the casual and relaxed feel that only a single guitar can provide. The bridesmaids walked down to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and I walked down to “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. Our processional was to “Home” by Edward Sharpe. Our first dance was to Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” We wanted a song that was completely different than most first dance choices. Neither of us are great dancers and we just wanted to go out and have fun. We never practiced, but had sung the song at the top of our lungs many times before. It helped that everyone in attendance knew every lyric and was able to sing along with the band! My dad and I danced to “Carolina Girl,” and Kerby and his mom danced to “Circle of Life,” which ended up with half our friends out on the dance floor, embracing in a swaying circle of Lion King enthusiasts.
    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? It was a real treat to have our officiants be ministers from the church my family attended growing up. We were able to meet with them a few times in Atlanta before our wedding for marriage counseling sessions. It was comforting that we had already openly discussed many of the issues that we knew we could face throughout our lifetime of marriage.
    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our wedding day, as everyone says, flew by way too quickly. What stood out to us were the moments that Perry, our photographer, pulled us aside to take pictures. She had us sit by the water to stop, breathe, and take in the moment.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to soaking up our new, more relaxed lifestyle in Charleston. We recently made an addition to our family with another golden retriever–this time, a blonde female we named Sully after Sullivan’s Island.

    Photographer: Perry Vaile | Videographer: Hart to Heart Media | Planner: Ashley Rhodes | Ceremony Venue and Caterer: Palmetto Bluff | Reception Venue: Private residence | Florist: Em Creative Floral | Band: The Atlanta Showstoppers | Paper Products: Low Country Paper Co. | Bride’s Gown: “Esme” by Jenny Packham | Bridal Salon: Kelly’s Closet | Hair Stylist: Alicia Stafford | Makeup Artist: Bride’s Side Beauty | Menswear: Bonobos

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    3 Comments
    1. avatar Perry Vaile reply

      I adored this wedding, thank you so, so much for featuring it and sharing their story! Hands down, this wedding day was one of my very favorites to capture – their ease with each other and their guests was so refreshing, and the trust they put into my as the photographer meant the world! It was also kind of amazing to see Maverick the entire day! haha! I even dedicated a folder in their wedding gallery to just Maverick images because we had so many! Best Dog, for sure!

    2. avatar Kate reply

      This wedding is absolutely stunning! Love all of the details including the beautiful calligraphy on the napkins and wedding ceremony program board! The photo of the groomsmen on the bikes might be one of my all time favorites though :)

    3. avatar Dana reply

      omg I love their meet-cute! Sweet dog

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