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Although I’m sure most brides wouldn’t consider rain one of the best parts of their wedding days, with a well thought-out backup plan, it sure can make a wedding a little extra magical, don’t you think? Lauren and Brandon’s garden ceremony was moved to the stables of Belle Meade Plantation thanks to the weather, and spruced up with jewel-toned florals by Brocade Designs and seamlessly coordinated by My Bellissima, it became a perfectly cozy place for them to become husband and wife. I love Lauren’s sentiments about their ceremony (“Rain or shine, we would be just as married when the day was over.”) as much as I love that last romantic portrait under an umbrella!

Thanks so much to Melanie Gabrielle for sharing this gorgeous celebration with us!

My dad actually picked out my dress for me! My parents were in Nashville visiting, and after two boutiques, we hadn’t found anything that really stood out to us. I thought I had found the dress, but I didn’t get the response I was looking for. We decided we would look for another dress when I went home to visit them again in September. When we got to the boutique in New Jersey, my dress was on a mannequin, and my dad said that it was the one I was going to end up purchasing. I probably tried on twenty dresses, and in the end, the dress my dad picked was the winner!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, we did a first look. When we were planning out the day, it just didn’t make sense to me to not see Brandon for the majority of the day. It sounded crazy to me that I would only get to hang out with him for five hours. It was also a lifesaver for pictures–we were able to get all of our shots done without having to worry about cocktail hour and if our guests were happy or hungry. We got to enjoy the whole reception and not miss a thing!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We went to a pre-marital counseling class at our church and met with our pastor a few times prior to the wedding. It was a great way to open some discussions we hadn’t thought of or hadn’t talked about in awhile. Our favorite exercise was family mapping–neither of our families live close to us, so we talked about how we would handle holidays so that both families were included.

We originally thought we were going to get married in the garden, but we had to implement our rain plan at the last minute. We couldn’t imagine what our ceremony was going to look like in the stables. When I was walking down the aisle, I remember thinking how beautiful everything looked, and Brandon had the biggest smile on his face. It was a great reminder that, rain or shine, we would be just as married when the day was over.

Describe your wedding flowers. In one word, our flowers were ubiquitous. Hillary from Brocade brought my vision to life–I never imagined that my wedding would be so beautiful. She used dahlias, roses, chocolate cosmos, ranunculus, stock, and rosemary, just to name a few. She used lots of ruby reds, pinks, apricots, purples, and peaches. The color combination gave depth to the blank canvas of our venue, and I don’t think she could have come up with a better color scheme to fit Brandon and I.

I didn’t have the ability to take much time off of work, so Brandon took my parents around for an entire day and went to about seven different venues to narrow down the options. The next day, I went with my parents and looked at the top three that they had chosen. I was originally set on having a small wedding with just family and a few close friends. When I went to the Belle Meade Plantation, however, my whole idea was turned upside down. I imagined filling it up with family and friends who were going to fly in from New Jersey. I wanted to entertain them with a big Southern celebration. I think the biggest significance to the venue was embracing the fact that I am truly a Southerner at heart. The venue allowed us to show everyone the culture that my husband and I love so much. It was the opposite of the weddings everyone in my family had experienced before–I mean, who gets married in a stable?

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Music has always been a big part of our relationship. Brandon always has top 40 music playing while tailgating for football games or getting ready to head to the apartment pool with friends. I always have Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin on while I’m cleaning or cooking. And we both love country music. Needless to say, our wedding had a very diverse sound! For the ceremony, we chose some non-traditional songs with acoustic and fiddle instrumentation. For the cocktail hour, we stuck with your traditional dinner songs by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Michael Bublé. During the reception, we played top 40 playlist songs and mixed in a few disco songs to appeal to my side of the family. And it wouldn’t have been a wedding in Tennessee if we didn’t play “Rocky Top” at least once!

We each had our own cake. Mine was very girly and traditional: a traditional white cake with strawberry filling for two layers and lemon cake with a lemon custard for the others. I chose lemon because it’s my dad’s favorite, and it was extremely refreshing on a hot summer day! Brandon had a groom’s cake that was Tennessee-themed. It was decorated in orange and white checkerboard, and the top was the blue and white tri-star emblem that you find on the Tennessee state flag. It was a nice way to incorporate his school pride, as well as embrace our new home state.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Brandon and I met while we were out with friends. I was new to Nashville and thought it would be fun to watch some live music with the only two girls I knew in town. Brandon happened to be out with a large group of friends for one of their birthdays. We literally bumped into each other, and the rest was history! We talked for the remainder of the night and have seen each other every day since.
Tell us all about the proposal! Knowing that I have a huge love for the beach and my family, Brandon proposed to me on a trip home to see my family in New Jersey. We drove to the Barnagate Lighthouse, where he gave me a beautiful letter and had rose petals waiting at the top of the lighthouse and a burlap banner he had made reading “Mrs. Emerson?” It was so magical, as if it were out of a Nicholas Sparks book. When I was reading my letter on the staircase, the wind from overhead was blowing the petals all around me. I thought he was doing it on purpose, but he was actually panicking because the ladies who manage the lighthouse had informed him that there couldn’t be any garbage left behind! After we had a wonderful moment embracing as the sea air whirled around us, we had to pick up 300 red rose petals as we walked back down the 217 steps!
When did y’all get married? August 30, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 135
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The mini biscuit bar! We’re both big lovers of the Southern biscuit. It was a great way to show off our Southern pride to my Northern family members. My aunts raved about it, and even took some of the biscuits home because they liked them so much!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? In order to use beautiful and high-end linens in our reception space, we toned down the linens that we used in other areas. This allowed us to use some fun sequin linens on the tables in the carriage house, as well as a fun linen on our cake table.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Melanie Gabrielle was the best decision we made regarding our wedding. We were actually teammates in college, and she reached out to me via Facebook regarding photography. Unfortunately, I had already booked a photographer. Over the next few months of following her business on social media and her blog, I fell in love with her work and her vision. I ended up parting ways with my former photographer and booked Melanie. She was so thoughtful throughout the entire process–she even sent me inspiration pictures prior to the wedding and a few sneak peeks during our honeymoon!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Relax! Your engagement is a time to celebrate the marriage you’re about to enter. Take time to enjoy your family, friends, and most of all, each other. Often times, you’ll be tempted to get bogged down by all of the details. Just remember that at the end of it all, you’ll be married to your best friend!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Brandon has recently been accepted into a graduate program in Chattanooga. We just moved and are getting settled in a new city! We’re looking forward to exploring our new town and making new friends. After he graduates from his program, we’re even more excited about figuring out where our “forever” home will be. We’re also looking forward to having some land where we can grow a garden!

Photographer: Melanie Gabrielle / Videographer: PF Films / Planner and Designer: Lauren Emerson Events and Design / Day-of Coordinator: My Bellissima / Venue: Belle Meade Plantation / Florist: Brocade / Cake Baker: Dulce Desserts / Caterer: Red Pony Catering / Rentals: Music City Tents and Events / Lighting: Bright Event Production / DJ: Nashville Party Authority / Calligraphy: Script Merchant / Paper Products: Dauphine Press / Bride’s Gown: “LZ3108” by Lazaro / Hair Stylist: Rachael Holton / Makeup Artist: Cayla Poindexter / Bride’s Shoes: “Fable” by Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Heidi” in Bright Coral by J.Crew / Menswear: Street Tuxedo

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar caroline reply

    I love this! Where are the day-of pjs from?

  2. avatar Lindsay Madden reply

    An autumn wedding done right!

  3. avatar Kel Ward reply

    Such a pretty bride and wedding!

  4. avatar Marcie Lynn reply

    You captured this special day beautifully, Melanie!

  5. avatar fall carriage house wedding at belle meade plantation. featured on southern weddings. » melanie gabrielle photography reply

    […] the feature HERE on southern […]

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When you combine a dreamy blush Monique Lhuillier gown, an abundance of pastel blooms, a garden that serendipitously shares the groom’s last name, and a couple who is clearly smitten with each other, you know a wedding is going to be incredible! With the help of Sage Nines Event Production, Ellen and Brad loved planning their spring nuptials in the Wills Perennial Garden at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, a place they visited often during their dating years. Besides the lovely, spring-inspired details, the highlight of their wedding was without a doubt the love of their community that surrounded them–their most memorable moment is sweet as can be!

Hugs to Mary Rosenbaum for sending Ellen and Brad’s lovely day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The weekend of dress shopping was so much fun. My sister flew in from LA and several of my bridesmaids were able to come as well. We scheduled the weekend around a Monique Lhuillier trunk show at The Bride Room. Mine was the third dress I tried on, and as soon as I had it on, we all knew it was the one. I called my dad over for the final opinion, and he loved it. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room!

My bridal bouquet was a hand-tied bouquet of fresh lavender and lilac, pale pink garden roses, blush astilbe, white lisianthus, light blue delphinium, dusty miller, and light pink ranunculus. The bouquet was very loose and wildflower-inspired. Our centerpieces were in gold mercury glass bottles and goblets and consisted of lavender, stock, light pink spray roses, light pink sweet peas, ivory garden roses, light pink astilbe, light blue delphinium, and light blue hydrangea. They were so elegant and lovely!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had a string quartet playing songs by The Beatles for the ceremony. I walked down the aisle to “Here Comes the Sun,” which was perfect, as we could not have asked for a better day. Brad and the groomsmen came down the aisle to “With a Little Help from My Friends,” a song we thought was fitting for them. Walking back up the aisle, the string quartet played “All You Need is Love.”

Cheekwood Botanical Garden is very near our house, and we would often wind up there when Brad would come to visit our family in Nashville. Cheekwood has such beautiful gardens, and I really wanted a garden wedding and reception. We chose the Wills Perennial Garden (of course, since I was becoming a Wills!) and then tented the back of the mansion for the reception.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? That is such a hard question, as our day turned out practically perfect. But the food was especially unbelievable–Kristen Winston went above and beyond! We still hear about how good the food was at our wedding!

Our cake was a simple, textured buttercream cake, accented with lavender. One layer was chocolate chip cake with chocolate buttercream and ganache, one layer was European butter with vanilla buttercream, fresh strawberries, and lemon curd, and one layer of cinnamon red velvet with three layers of vanilla buttercream. AMAZING! The groom’s cake was made by a family friend, Chelle Baldwin of SweetAbility Bakery, who incorporated several of Brad’s hobbies and interests into an unbelievable cake!

Since Brad is from Georgia, he and his mom danced to “Georgia on My Mind.” My father and I danced to “Unforgettable.” The first dance was to an Ingrid Michaelson song, “The Way I Am.” The song is about how some of our flaws end up bringing us closer together!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The most memorable moment was when the band played “Home” as the last song. Brad and I stood at the front of the dance floor and basically sang the song to the crowd. Fortunately, they didn’t actually give us the mic! It felt like everyone there was on the dance floor, jumping up and down in unison, and having an amazing time. It was very surreal and symbolic, and we will never forget it.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Brad and I met very early in college, when we were in the same small group class. There was also a brief period when we were biology lab partners. We went through most of college seeing each other here and there, but did not really start talking again until senior year. At first I rejected Brad’s dates, but his persistence paid off, and here we are!
Tell us all about the proposal! Since we met at Sewanee, it was the perfect place to get engaged. We planned a weekend trip there to celebrate his birthday, including a hike out to KA Point, a beautiful overlook we’d been to many times before. When we arrived, he pulled roses and a book out from his backpack. He had asked several of our friends to write “proposals” to me and created a book of all of them. On the last page was a picture of Brad on one knee, and when I looked up, there he was on one knee in real life. Both sets of parents met us at the cabin afterwards for a celebratory lunch. The only thing he hadn’t planned for was the three inches of snow!
When did y’all get married? May 3, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 225
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No first look for us! At the wedding, I would be coming down a flight of stone steps into the garden, and I think we all wanted that moment to be extra special.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My Aunt Salley read Song of Solomon 2, which Brad picked out especially for us.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We met with our minister several times while planning the wedding to discuss our expectations of marriage and address potential problems. We found it extremely helpful and would encourage everyone to do it!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Try and stay calm and remember that the most important thing is that you are getting married to the person you love!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? After an amazing honeymoon in Switzerland, we moved to Birmingham, where we are doing a medical residency. I am a resident in internal medicine and Brad is in orthopedic surgery. We were in a long distance relationship prior to this residency, as we were at different medical schools, so we are most looking forward to living together and being able to see each other every day!

Photographer: Mary Rosenbaum / Videographer: Full Frame Digital Cinema / Planner: Sage Nines Event Productions / Venue: Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art / Florist: Enchanted Florist / Cake Baker: Dulce Desserts / Caterer: Kristen Winston Catering / Rentals: Liberty Party Rental and Music City Tents and Events / Lighting: Bright Event Productions / Band: The Downtown Band / Paper Products: Deirdre Zimon of Lennah Press / Bride’s Gown: “Candy” in Blush Tulle by Monique Lhuillier / Hair Stylist: Ashlea Mullins / Makeup Artist: Shannon Wright / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan / Menswear: “Classic Black Tuxedo” by Calvin Klein

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

    her dress and flowers and stunning!!!

  2. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    Beautiful wedding! I love her dress!

  3. avatar Abbey Angelle reply

    What is the round gold monogrammed item in the first picture?

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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