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Ellie and Nick met in a fraternity house in college, and while their love story might not have started in the most romantic way, their wedding is another story! Ellie and Nick worked with their florist, Botanica, to take the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts from a monochromatic museum into a romantic reception full of lush blooms, and of course, lots of Southern details! During their wedding planning, they not only focused on planning for their marriage, but on being hospitable and throwing a party guests would enjoy just as much as they did. I can’t help but love that they included a generational blessing given by their fathers and grandfathers. Such a sweet way to not only honor their family, but also to include them in their celebration.

So wonderful of Kristen Weaver to share this lovely day with us!

Tell us all about the proposal! During September 2013, I was in my last year of law school at the University of Chicago and Nick had just started his first year of medical school at the University of Florida. I made a trip to Gainesville for the weekend to see Nick and attend the UF-UT football game. On Friday, Nick suggested that we visit Paynes Prairie, a state park just south of Gainesville. We had the prairie all to ourselves and enjoyed seeing the wildlife and hiking the trails. Toward the end of our trip, we climbed to the top of a three-story watch tower and relaxed on the porch swing. Before heading back down, he got down on one knee to propose. After his very sweet speech, he reached into his pocket to pull out the ring, but accidentally pulled out the car keys instead! He had taken the ring out of the ring box so he could stealthily fit it into his athletic shorts pocket, but it had gotten caught up in the keychain. After a good laugh, I said yes!

I’ll admit, finding my wedding dress was harder than I anticipated. I bought a dress at the first boutique I went to–my mom, grandmother, and my three best friends were all there, and I foolishly let the excitement get to my head. Afterwards, I had some regrets, but assured myself that I would be happy when the dress arrived and I could try it on again. Well, it turned out that the boutique ordered it two sizes too small and then told me I must have gained weight (in fact, I had lost weight). I left in tears and tried to avoid talking about wedding dresses for as long as I could. Thankfully, my mom sensed my anguish and booked a trip to visit me in Chicago so we could go shopping for THE dress. We went to a few places, but we knew the search was over when I tried on the Esther dress at Vera Wang. We all cried (even our sweet bridal consultant!) and then celebrated with champagne and mini cupcakes. It was total redemption from our first experience and one of my favorite memories from wedding planning.

Describe your wedding flowers. We worked with Ian and Zoe at Botanica and they totally nailed it. I brought in pictures of loose, cascading bouquets and arrangements, but only had a vague idea of what colors I wanted. It was Ian’s idea to use more neutral tones for the ceremony and then pump up the color for the floral arrangements at the reception, which was in a rather monochromatic room.

We chose to have a first look. Those few minutes when it was just the two of us were the most peaceful moments of the whole day and a feeling I’ll remember forever. Even though we saw each other beforehand, nothing could have taken away the thrill of seeing him at the end of the aisle. It was the best of both worlds! Plus, we were much more relaxed in our pictures before the ceremony–after the ceremony, we were itching to get in there and celebrate with our friends and family!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We found out a few months before the wedding that there would be a huge evening festival in the same park where we were going to hold our ceremony. Thankfully, the music wouldn’t start until an hour after the ceremony, and the wonderful people at Botanica assured us that they could create a wall of greenery to stand between us and the event. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the wall created so much privacy that the ceremony felt much more intimate than it would have otherwise, festival or not!

To begin the ceremony, my cousin sang the praise and worship song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman. Nick and I love the song and thought that it would set the ceremony off on the right foot. I chose “Dawn” from Pride and Prejudice to walk down the aisle to. I’ve always loved the book and the movie, and I thought it was a beautiful arrangement. Nick and I walked back up to aisle to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” We wanted something fun to let everyone know that the party had started!

We chose the Museum of Fine Arts with our guests in mind. Most of our guests were coming from out of town, so we wanted them to be able to enjoy their weekend without worrying about the logistics of driving, parking, and all that good stuff. The museum fit the bill of being close to a major airport, within walking distance of a ton of great restaurant and hotel options, and large enough to hold 180 people.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? To me, being Southern is all about family and hospitality. To honor our families, we featured pictures of our parents and grandparents at the ceremony and cocktail hour, we chose my uncle to officiate our ceremony, he read out of a Bible that has been passed down from my great-grandmother, and we had our fathers and my grandfather come up during the ceremony to give a generational blessing. We got to keep the handwritten notes from my grandfather’s blessing, and they are among our greatest treasures. In all of the wedding plans, we tried to focus on being hospitable and throwing a party our guests would enjoy just as much as we did. We had custom corn hole boards set up during the cocktail hour and on the patio during the reception. We made sure all of the children felt welcome and entertained by including a box at their seats with a coloring book, an I Spy game, and some other fun goodies. And of course, the food was Southern! Our cocktail hour appetizers included blackened alligator, fried green tomatoes, and game sausage. Dinner began with a basket of cornbread at every table and included a shrimp and grits station. Our late-night snack was BBQ pulled pork sliders on sweet potato biscuits. We made sure our guests went home with full bellies!

We had a wedding cake (lemon cream cake with raspberry filing and simple buttercream frosting) and a late-night dessert bar of fried Oreos, Twinkies, and Snickers with raspberry sauce!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Our love story didn’t start in a very romantic way–we met at his fraternity house during our sophomore year at the University of Florida. My friend had just finished an exam and was planning a low-key night in with her friend, Michael, and she invited me to tag along. Turns out, Michael was Nick’s best friend and fraternity brother (he even ended up being the best man at our wedding). Nick wandered into Michael’s room at some point during the night, we started talking, and we hit it off right away. We exchanged numbers and kept talking, even when I moved to Italy for a summer abroad. He asked me to be “official” from 5,117 miles away over Skype.
When did y’all get married? November 22, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 180
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Nick and I tried to keep in mind that the real event was committing ourselves to each other in front of God, our friends, and our family. All of the other stuff was just icing on the cake. With that in mind, we tried to be conscious of how we dealt with each other during the process, because we knew we were setting the foundation for our marriage.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We got really lucky with an incredible team of vendors, but I will say that we just adored Bryan and Tracey from Lucky Lemon Films. They really took the time before the wedding to get to know us as people, not just as a generic bride and groom, and to let us get to know them. Nick and I are both camera shy, but they made us feel so at ease. Their work is incredible and we really felt like they captured who we are in the wedding film they created. We can’t stop watching it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are enjoying settling into our first home together in Gainesville with our dogs. 2014 was a hugely busy year for us, so we are taking it easy and cherishing our first year of marriage!

Photographer: Kristen Weaver / Videographer: Lucky Lemon Films / Planner: Nancy Cotto / Venue: St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts / Florist: Botanica / Cake Baker and Caterer: Olympia Catering / Rentals: Botanica / Lighting: Encore Lighting / Band: Brett Foreman Band / Paper Products: Invitation Consultants / Bride’s Gown: “Esther” by Vera Wang / Bride’s Accessories: BHLDN / Hair and Makeup: Rachel Reumann / Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nordstrom / Groom’s Attire: J. Crew / Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Dog Sketch: DM Creative Studios

marissa Written with love by Marissa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Bridget reply

    What a delightful wedding. Her wedding ring is one of the prettiest I’ve seen.

  2. avatar Kristen Weaver reply

    I can’t say enough about how much I adored Ellie and Nick, and photographing their wedding was definitely an honor for us! They are a beautifully wonderful couple and I’m so happy to see her wedding published on Ellie’s favorite blog!

  3. avatar Michelle reply

    Wow, this place looks so amazing !

  4. avatar Kristin reply

    Where are the flower girl dresses from?

  5. avatar ashley reply

    Hi i was just wondering who the designer was for the bridesmaods dreses

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Y’all are in for a real treat! While we Southern Weddings ladies pick the confetti out of our hair and revel in the amazingness that we were able to celebrate with so many of y’all last night at the launch party, you get to enjoy this super fun wedding! Before I gush over all the goodness, I have to say that Kristin Vining, the photographer of this gorgeous soirée, and I share a common bond. Both of our darling husbands actually played on the same baseball team in Charlotte, though sadly, at different times! I’m tickled to know her!

Now to gush over Rachel + Zack’s day. Lisa and I kept looking at the photos and saying how fun this wedding looked! Maybe it’s R + Z’s outlook on life: “We want to live like the world is our playground, even though the farm will always be home.” Or maybe its’s that Rachel’s outlook on flowers: “go big, or go home” (my personal theory on hair and eyelashes). Either way, we can’t help but smile when we scroll through this wedding!

Big hugs to Kristin for sharing it with us!

We were so honored to have LulaKate outfit us for the Launch Party–we didn’t want to take our fun frocks off! I imagine these gals felt the same way!

For flowers, we used the concept “go big, or go home.” My bouquet was a monster, but an insanely gorgeous monster. I wanted peonies, and a whole lot of them. Our florist spared no expense at making each table feel lush, with the most beautiful flowers. My mother and my grandmother have always loved flowers, and we managed to knock even their socks off. I will never regret our flower budget.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Absolutely. We wanted to have some time together prior to all the craziness, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. Also, we wanted to have the majority of the pictures out of the way prior to the ceremony, so were free to party with our guests after we became husband and wife.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We decided to do traditional vows, and we were very happy with that choice.

Gah, they look like they are having so much fun!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We walked down the aisle to “Marry Me.” I have loved this song since the day it came out and found it fitting to walk down the aisle too. We walked back up the aisle to “Signed, Sealed, and Delivered.” We wanted it to be fun and peppy (plus, we wanted to lighten the mood and start the party!).

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? My groom is Southern to the core. He was raised in tobacco fields and hog farms. While our venue was modern and I fancy myself a lover of all things city, the food was a nod to the South, with good ole shrimp and grits, chicken tenders, ham biscuits, etc.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I would probably say the overall design. I know that encompasses a ton of details, but a good design was what made all the “itty bitty” details happen. I think having a design board to work from (courtesy of Katrina, our planner) and to provide to all the vendors was one thing that made our wedding unique. Every detail fell into our overall design. There was an “image” or “look” we were going for, and I think it was achieved in the end.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Why have one cake when you can have three? We had three wedding cakes, all with different flavors. The cakes were absolutely amazing and one of the focal points of the wedding.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met during our first year of college at North Carolina State University. One of my sorority sisters was having a party at her house and she was hoping to introduce me to one of her male friends from her hometown. Upon arriving to the party, I immediately knew that there was no connection between myself and the gentleman that she had “picked out” for me. Instead, a dark-haired, tall fellow wearing a pink polo shirt had caught my eye. We spent the night getting to know one another and exchanged numbers at the end of the evening. Zack called the next day to invite me to a movie, but I was too studious to ditch class, so I turned down his offer. Luckily, he didn’t get scared off too easily and invited me to lunch at a little Italian restaurant the next week. After a wonderful lunch and a kiss on the cheek goodbye, I called my mom and told her that he was the one. The rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! Zack proposed Christmas Day of 2010. After spending the day with family and friends, we were purportedly headed back to my uptown Charlotte apartment that I was living in at the time, but instead, we made a wrong turn. Before I knew what was happening, we were turning into the Ritz Carlton. Zack said we were stopping just to have a few drinks, which I didn’t think to be unusual, so I got out of the car and proceeded inside without any suspicions of what was coming. From there, I learned we were not only going to have a couple of drinks, but we were also spending the night. After checking into our room and coming back down to grab drinks, I noticed the staff to be more than attentive than usual and very chatty. I just assumed everyone was in the Christmas spirit! What I didn’t know at the time was that our suite upstairs was being turned into a candle-filled space that would become the scene of our engagement. At one point, I was so tired that I begged Zack to take me back to the room, but he kept stalling. I think he walked me around every inch of the hotel. Finally, when he allowed me to go back to the room, I opened the door to find more candles than I had ever seen in one place in my life, and out of my peripheral vision, I saw a little box on the corner of the bed. Before I had time to process what was happening, my love was down on one knee popping the question. Of course, I said a resounding YES. I should add to this story that throughout all of this, it was snowing. Yes, snowing in the South on Christmas. It was a breathtaking view looking over the candles in our room to the window of one of the top floors of the Ritz Carlton to see the snow falling outside.
When did y’all get married? April 13, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 200
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my wedding dress was easy, as I found it on the very first day we went dress shopping. I had seen a picture of the dress in a magazine and found a place in Charlotte, North Carolina that carried it. Upon trying it on, I knew it was the one, but allowed myself to try on a few others and go to one other bridal boutique. By the end of the same day, my mom and I were back at the first store buying my dress and the beautiful sash to go with it.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? During the wedding planning, I transitioned from law student to new lawyer. My time was so consumed with my career that I felt like the wedding was going to be put on the back burner. By hiring a wedding planner, I was able to let someone else make sure all the details were accounted for and all the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? There are actually three people that I could not have done without: my planner, my photographer, and my hair/make-up artist (who also did the fashion styling). They were the perfect trifecta. Together, they made my day absolute perfection (at least in my eyes).
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The one thing I will never forget is rounding the corner of the aisle and seeing Zack standing at the end with tears running down his face. It was at that moment that everyone and everything else slipped to the back of my mind and I was focused on getting to Zack and becoming his wife.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I believe going at it alone is a HUGE mistake. I think hiring a good team is essential to having your day go seamlessly and having peace of mind that all hands are on deck to take care of the details. It is worth the extra money to have less stress in the long run.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? As a married couple, we want to live like the world is our playground, even though the farm will always be home. We want to sneak in as many vacations as possible prior to starting a family. We also look forward to building our very first home in Eastern North Carolina.

marissa Written with love by Marissa
8 Comments
  1. avatar Kristin Vining reply

    Eeeeekkk!! This lights up my heart and tickles me pink!!! My sweet, Marissa…love you and that little family beyond words. Thank you for sharing this amazing wedding…start to finish it was designed beautifully by Come + Together Events (Katrina Hutchins) and little Rach and Zach have imprinted on my heart forever. THANK YOU to you…AND the entire SW Team for putting together the most perfect story of this day! HUGS!!! ~ K

  2. avatar Rachel Sholar reply

    Thank you for the absolutely beautiful feature. It will forever be one of the very best days of our lives. We couldn’t be more thankful to all those that made it happen. R + Z

  3. avatar Featured: Southern Weddings » come+together events reply

    […] so much to Southern Weddings for featuring Rachel+Zacks’ big day. I can’t do it with out the amazing vendors that I am […]

  4. avatar Katrina Hutchins (Come+Together Events) reply

    Thank you ladies so much for featuring this sweet wedding! You are the best! xo

  5. avatar Emily reply

    Love their rooftop ceremony, and of course love their mini food! :)

  6. avatar Corinna Hoffman reply

    Love how they paired gray with pink & orange.

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As much as I love the glam surroundings of Becky + Brian’s wedding at a Kansas City art museum, it’s the sweet heartfelt sentiments in their film that stuck with me. Of course, having a long dating history of my own makes me feel a kinship with these two, as well! Please enjoy these highlights from Creative Films!

P.S. More wedding films here.

Creative Films is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    Yep, this deeeefinitely just made me tear up. I LOVE the idea of this!!!

    xoxo
    Emily
    emilyannestyle.com

  2. avatar Gabriel Malgo reply

    great venue!

  3. avatar Kelley reply

    Every time I reflect back on Becky and Brian’s wedding day, I feel complete joy! It is so well captured by Maura! The fun, the love, the party! Truly a special day. The team was amazing and the families were genuinely wonderful to work for.
    I’m so excited to see it here!
    Kelley

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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