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I first discovered fine art wedding photography almost four years ago, when a friend of mine left a Facebook comment on someone’s wedding pictures. Being the wedding picture-stalker I tend to be, I checked out the wedding album and was floored by how gorgeous and cinematic the photography was. Their photographer? None other than Tim Willoughby of Tim Will, who photographed today’s real wedding! Since Tim could be credited with the start of my love for amazing wedding photography, I’m especially honored to be sharing Rachel and Daniel’s beautiful Chattanooga wedding today. Their wedding is overflowing with Southern elegance, and you won’t want to miss their adorable proposal story—I definitely got tears in my eyes when I read it!

Tell us all about the proposal! Daniel and I have an affinity for bluegrass music. I just listen to it, but he plays the mandolin and guitar, and suffers from a banjo addiction. The song that we have always considered “ours” is “Ocean of Diamonds” by Jimmy Martin. One Sunday night last June, I returned to Charleston from out of town. Daniel had cooked dinner since I had been traveling all day. He told me he heard a great new band that I just had to hear. I was exhausted and stuffing my face when he started playing it. It took about five seconds for me to realize that it was him singing and playing guitar, mandolin and banjo. He had recorded it for me on Garage Band. Still not convinced he was proposing, we started dancing in the kitchen, and with our chests together I could feel his heart racing… that’s when I knew what was up! He got down on one knee and I was crying so hard, I can barely remember what he said. I said yes, and he gave me his grandmother’s diamond filigree ring.

The flowers were romantic and ethereal. The pale soft roses and peonies contrasted so well with the sharp blue thistle and dark blue anemone centers. My florist also wrapped some gold wire around my bouquet and the boys’ boutonnieres. It added a fairytale whimsy to the pastels!

Cami, my bridesmaid and best friend, sang “Be Thou My Vision,” a Gaelic hymn, right before I walked down the aisle. It is so hauntingly beautiful and her voice is so angelic, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the building. It meant so much to have her sing at my wedding. She has been in my life since the beginning!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had a few. My favorite was Song of Solomon 8:6-7. It speaks of an unquenchable love. That’s exactly how I feel about my groom.

Tim Willoughby is a photographer I found in Charleston. His ability to capture timeless, breathtaking images sold me immediately. Having him in Chattanooga for the weekend made me so calm. I didn’t have to worry if he was getting all of the right images because I knew he was. He was able to see all of the things I couldn’t. Over time, memories fade, and it gave me peace of mind knowing I would have his photos to look at forever.

Seriously, y’all, I could look at pictures of Rachel’s dreamy Vera Wang gown all day. If it looks familiar to you, it might be because our very own Emily tried it on during one of her dress shopping trips almost two years ago, at the same salon where Rachel bought her dress!

One of the most Southern things about our wedding was my dad’s bluegrass band playing for our cocktail hour. They also played our first dance, which happened to be “Ocean of Diamonds,” the song Daniel proposed to me with! I think the juxtaposition of the bluegrass band in a modern art museum was such a funky twist on what “Southern” can be. Who says Southern has to be at a plantation or in a barn?

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. My cake had a subtle floral pattern inset into the buttercream icing. The roses and blue thistle floral accents really stood out against the simple design. Daniel’s cake was a real work of art. I mentioned his banjo addiction right? Well his cake was a chocolate, to scale model of a Gibson banjo. It was insanely realistic…and delicious.

You know how much we love a gentleman in seersucker! This adorable duo is actually Daniel’s grandmother and her twin brother. Aren’t they the cutest?

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Gosh, how can I pick one moment? I guess the most memorable would be the dance floor, because I spent the majority of the night there. The dance floor was packed from start to finish. Everyone was dancing like maniacs! I am a super awkward dancer, but being with old and new friends, my family and Daniel’s family all together was kind of mind blowing. I kept looking over and seeing two people from two completely separate parts of my life breaking it down together like fools. It was a once in a lifetime thing.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Daniel and I met at a football game during our junior year of high school in 2005. We dated all through the rest of high school. When college came, I was going to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and he was headed to join the crew team at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. We thought it was over from the horror stories people told us about long-distance relationships. Over those four LONG years of dating 650 miles away, we realized that no matter how hard a long-distance relationship was, it wouldn’t even be close to the pain that would come from not being in each others’ lives. Luckily we survived, and I was able to move to Charleston, SC after graduation to be with him when he started medical school.
When did y’all get married? May 25, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 325, give or take.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mom, two sisters and future mother-in-law came to Charleston one August weekend for a day of dress shopping. We started in the morning at Maddison Row in downtown Charleston. My dress was the third one I tried on, and I just knew. I tried on a few others, but kept going back to the Vera Wang Emmeline. I told them when I first walked in that I loved tulle, and this dress has TONS of tulle. I ended up buying it that morning and canceling my other dress appointments that day. My mom was disappointed that the shopping ended so quickly!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. Since I was a little girl, I have been looking forward to having my church doors swing open and my groom seeing me with the rest of my guests.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No way! I can’t write to save my life. Daniel and I wrote each other letters before the wedding. My words are best kept on a private piece of paper.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Something borrowed was a hair barrette my mother had gotten as a gift from her parents when they vacationed in Mexico. My something blue was a blue stone bracelet of my mother’s. New was a delicate lace handkerchief wrapped around my bouquet that a family friend wove on her loom! For my something old, I had my late grandmother’s costume turtle brooch peeking out of my bouquet.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge for me was narrowing down my ideas. Between reading wedding magazines and being on Pinterest all day, it is so hard to decide which direction you want to go! There are so many amazing ideas out there. Eventually I had to just close my eyes and imagine my ideal wedding. Things started to fall into place.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy it. Your engagement is a time to savor. It only lasts a short while! Don’t stress the little things. It’s easy to get wrapped up in planning a “dream wedding” and to forget that you are marrying the man of your dreams.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Daniel and I are settling into our new house in Charleston. He is continuing medical school, and I have an awesome interior design job. We just got a sweet new doggy, and we’re enjoying everyday life as a happy little family.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
20 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Love these beautiful pictures! Chattanooga holds a special place in my heart so I loved that they incorporated some of the city’s best known landmarks into the photos.

  2. avatar Emily reply

    I ADORE her gown! Tulle perfection!!

  3. avatar Wedding 101 Greenville reply

    Everything about this wedding is stunning! Beautiful photography, insanely gorgeous gown, and the texture of the flowers = to die for!!! Love this one!

  4. avatar Kat reply

    Every time I see that gown I die just a little!!!! LOVE it!

  5. avatar Kristin reply

    Transportation via bright yellow school bus AND a dress that is something straight from a fairytale? Yes, please!! Love!!

  6. avatar Lauren reply

    The pictures are gorgeous and those cookies? Amazing!

  7. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    What a beautiful dress and bride! I love the groom’s cake! Just pinned it on our Western Wedding Board.

  8. avatar Christina reply

    Love, love, love this wedding!! Does anyone know who she used for the koozies? Random, I know. But every Southern wedding needs koozies! ;)

    • avatar Rachel reply

      Christina and Jay:
      Hi from the Bride! I used Totally Koozies. My friend Emily illustrated that logo and uploaded the image in their custom section

  9. avatar Carey reply

    As a wedding guest and mother of one of the bridesmaids, I can say that this was the most beautiful and meaningful weddings I have ever attended. I have known Rachel since she was a child and Daniel since they began dating. This wedding was a celebration of two beautiful people that love each other and two special families that bring together many people who love them and who were honored to celebrate, with abandon, this special day with them. It was not only a celebration of the couple, but of their amazing love of family and our love for them and their families! We love you, Rachel & Daniel!

  10. avatar Jay reply

    Lovely wedding!! Where are the zoozies from!?

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  12. avatar Taylor reply

    LOVE this! Where are the personalized drink stirrers from? I am obsessed with those!

  13. avatar Emily reply

    That dress!!!! And all of these pictures are AMAZING. I love the one of them on the dance floor with their heads together, totally perfect.

  14. avatar Sapphire Events Blog » Wedding Inspiration Board: Oh My Darling, Dixie | Sapphire Events New Orleans Wedding Planner reply

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Welcome back to Emily Plans a Wedding, belles! I’m kind of jumping all around over here, but I trust you don’t mind. Especially since today, we’re talking hair and makeup inspiration, which is always a favorite with brides-to-be! I know that I personally can’t help pinning gorgeous updos left and right. You?

Image by Heather Kincaid, overlay by SW

Let’s get started! First, we’ll discuss my hair and makeup inspiration, and then I’ll introduce you to the lady who’s going to make the magic happen. We’ll save accessories for another day.

Right, so I was all set to come in here and tell you that I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to wear my hair up, down, or half up/half down. But then I looked at the inspiration images I’d been hoarding, and saw there was a clear pattern: they were almost all updos, as you’ll soon see. Here are a few favorites:

Credits from top: style by Naemmah Carre via Teen Vogue; unknown; hair by Hot Heads Salon and makeup by Bobbi Brown (photo by Tec Petaja via Weddingbee); photo by Jill Thomas via Style Me Pretty; photo by Tory Williams

Contrary to what these photos might be telling you, I will not be wearing a hair flower. I am, however, looking for a loose, modern updo with side-swept bangs and a bit of a Southern bump. I have fairly long hair that is naturally curly and pretty thick, so I think this is doable.

Though I think overall I prefer the look of an updo, and think it would look better with the neckline of my dress, I still haven’t completely given up on a half up/half down look. My two favorite inspiration images:

Credits: Kate Middleton photo by Getty Images via Glamour and Rachel McAdams photo courtesy of New Line Cinema

Yes, that would be Princess Kate and Rachel McAdams. I aim high. Though I love these two looks, I think I would get annoyed having my hair down all night while dancing. Thoughts, ladies who have gone with this look?

So that’s hair, and I think I have a fairly good handle on what I want. Makeup, though? That’s a whole other story. I don’t wear much makeup on a day to day basis, and it’s all pretty mysterious to me in general. (In fact, Marissa had to do my eye makeup for our last staff photoshoot!) Because I don’t wear much makeup normally, I don’t want to try anything too dramatic on our wedding day, because I still want to look like myself… but prettier :) In fact, that’s about the best direction I can give: pretty, please! Here’s what I mean:

Credits: Natalie Portman image by Tim Walker from Teen Vogue and image by Jamie Beck

I think I have similar coloring to Natalie Portman and Emma Watson, so I try to scope out what they’ve got going on. Do any of you do that? Who’s your celeb coloring twin?

Thankfully, I won’t be left to my own devices with this scanty inspiration. No, someone very talented is going to be on hand to get me prettified, and her name is Tia Reagan! Now before you all go thinking I’m crazy for flying a hair and makeup artist in from California for my big day, let me explain. Tia just so happens to be best buddies with our amazing photographer, Tanja Lippert, and the two work together all the time. Tia started out in the industry as a photographer, and she still second shoots on occasion with Tanja. When Tanja suggested Tia as the second shooter for our wedding, I jumped at the chance, knowing it meant she would be able to do our hair and makeup, as well! I’m so, SO happy it worked out like it did, and can’t WAIT to experience the dynamic duo that is T&T Dynamite! Here’s a little more of Tia’s work to give you a sense of her magical (yes, magical) abilities:

Clearly, Tia is a pro at exactly the kind of romantic, modern updo I’m looking for, not to mention soft, natural makeup. Yippee!! If anyone could set me at ease about my wedding day look, it’s her. All of these photos were shot by my girl Tanja, too. These two make beauty together!

What do you think, ladies? How are you planning to wear your hair and makeup on your wedding day? Comment and let me know!

In case you missed a post…
The main characters
Where we’re getting married
I go dress shopping
We choose a photographer
I ponder bridesmaid style
Mini food!
The music
We’re renting a tent!
We discuss bouquets + boutonnieres
We send out our save the dates

emily Written with love by Emily
16 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Emily, I love your hair inspiration pictures, the up-do’s are exactly what I want. But what I’m thinking about doing is have an up-do during the ceremony and pictures and then during the reception fix it so that it is half-up/half-down. I usually wear my hair down and free, so I understand how you want to make sure you “feel like yourself” and I thought this might be a nice middle ground. Get the best of both worlds, fancy up-do for your big-day and then be able to “let your hair down” during the reception.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Laura! I love your idea! AND, since Tia will be with us all day, I’m sure she could manage a quick fix. Must think about this…

  2. avatar Marissa reply

    LOVE the Miss Dior shoot with Natalie Portman! You’re going to be a GORGEOUS bride!!

  3. avatar Madelynne Miller reply

    Our hair inspiration is SO similar!! I love the lower down updo with the gorgeous texture – so classy, elegant, and timeless. I will also have a gorgeous headband. fave hair – http://pinterest.com/pin/259660734735099117/

    My makeup top priority is false eyelashes – my sister had some and it kicks up the glam 10 notches! I am doing very neutral taupes and browns on the eye with a shimmer highlight on the brow bone and one swipe of black liner on the top. Topping it off with some pretty bold pink lipstick! love her eyes – http://pinterest.com/pin/259660734735063192/

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Madelynne! Yes, I think I will go with false lashes, as well! I use to wear them all the time for dance performances :) Not sure if I’ll go with a full set or just individual lashes, though!

    • avatar Madelynne Miller reply

      Emily: I’m doing individual for a more natural look :)

  4. avatar Lisa Edwards reply

    I am in your same boat :) I do not wear much make up (just bronzer and light eye shadow) and for hair, I want a soft romantic look. I am thinking hair down with soft curls, or 1/2 up and 1/2 down with soft curls. However, I ike the first up do you posted. It is loose with Volume. I believe my best friend is going to do my make up because I have had bad experiences with make up artist making me look so different and like I came out of a night club. I can’t wait to see your pictures! You will look amazing!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Lisa! I know lots of people have great experience asking a friend to do their makeup – heck, if Marissa lived in Connecticut, I might consider having her do mine! :)

  5. avatar tricia reply

    i love the very last hair style… and i reallly love the dress. anyone happen to know the designer? thanks for the inspiration!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Tricia! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! That last dress is the Amsale “Calista.” You can see more from Annie’s wedding here: http://tinyurl.com/4cltltk

  6. avatar Jennifer reply

    I had a friend who had her hair half up half down for ceremony and she pulled it into a loose bun off to the side for dancing it looked great. Lucky you for having your hairdresser the entire time.

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  8. avatar Robin Mink reply

    Tia is the BEST!!!!! makes you at ease, exceptional. She styled my video shoot and another photo shoot. She let’s me be me and captures the best. I want Tia on all my shoots….. to dress me , do my make up….. and someday soon….Tia….we’ll do a photo shoot with Tia shooting film as well. Rock on Sisters.

  9. avatar Bespoke Brides Top 20 Unique Wedding Hair Styles to Inspire You! | Bespoke-Bride: Wedding Blog reply

    […] […]

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