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We believe that preparing for your marriage is an incredibly important aspect of wedding planning, so I love how Karina and John used their time of engagement to do just that. Throughout the process, they practiced compromise, balanced priorities, and threw in a whole lot of fun along the way, all while keeping their focus on creating a strong marriage. With the help of their planner, Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs, Karina and John threw a wedding that felt like “a fun, Southern shindig,” inspired by their summers spent on the Carolina Coast!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for sharing this sweet day with us!

Wedding dress shopping was one of my favorite parts of wedding planning. My mom and I had scheduled an appointment at one of the larger wedding dress shops in town, but about a month before the appointment, I saw on Instagram that a new shop in town was having a trunk show that weekend. I called, and on a whim, my mom, two friends, and I went in for an appointment. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted and picked my dress out right off the rack. It was the third wedding dress I tried on and I knew it was the one. We bought it that day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We had our ceremony and reception at a private home along the Intracoastal Waterway. Some friends of ours were also married there and we knew it was a very special place. It meant a lot to us to get married and celebrate right along the water where we’ve made so many memories together over the years.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we used a traditional Episcopal wedding service. My uncle married us, which was extra special because he also married my parents.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We hired a ukulele player for our ceremony, which was so much fun. He played traditional wedding ceremony music with an island vibe. Our first dance was to “Magnolia Wind” by Guy Clark. That song seemed to capture our relationship perfectly and we both loved it.

We chose not to do a first look. My husband is pretty traditional and really wanted to see me for the first time when I was walking down the aisle. I’m so glad we made that decision because when our eyes met for the first time, it was such a magical moment!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We both grew up in North Carolina and wanted the wedding to feel like a fun, Southern shindig. We served all Southern foods: deviled eggs, fried chicken, bourbon-glazed pork, mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, collards, hoppin john, and cornbread. We also had boiled peanuts, mini Moon Pies, and Pepsi for a late night snack. John and his groomsmen wore seersucker suits with bow ties, and part of the groomsmen gift included an NC flag Freeker (knit koozies made here in Wilmington).

We had a four-tiered cake with textured white buttercream frosting. Each layer was a different flavor and so delicious! The cake was decorated with flowers and greenery.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I knew when we started planning an outdoor wedding that the weather would be a huge factor. The forecast looked pretty promising for our big day–just a slight chance of storms. All throughout the ceremony and cocktail hour, the weather was perfect. Just as we sat down to eat dinner though, the sky turned black and the wind really picked up. A few cocktail tables blew over and a tablecloth caught on fire! The cake almost blew over, but was saved by my quick thinking cousins! The radar showed a crazy storm headed our way. We rushed to cut the cake and prepare for the rain to come when suddenly, the sky cleared. It never rained. The light coming through the clouds as the storm passed was absolutely beautiful. Our photographer captured a picture of that sky over our tent, and it is my absolute favorite photo of the night. Once the threat of pouring rain was over, the band cranked up and we danced the night away!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. John and I met through mutual friends on July 4, 2009 at Wrightsville Beach. We spent such a fun day boating with friends, and we really hit it off. We exchanged numbers that night and spent the next day together. He cooked me dinner the following week and I was sold! We dated for close to seven years before getting married–part of that time was long distance while I attended graduate school. John was so supportive and drove to Durham nearly every weekend so we could be together. We both knew if we could survive that separation, we could survive anything together. After school, I moved home to Wilmington and we got engaged the following year.
Tell us all about the proposal! We got engaged in November 2014 at Wrightsville Beach–where we met and where we spend most weekends in the summer. It was the day after my 30th birthday, and John woke up extra early to suggest we go to breakfast and then for a walk on the beach. I could tell he was a little nervous while we were walking along the water and thought something was up. A few minutes later, he was down on one knee. Later that night, we surprised all of our friends with the news at a party. It was a perfect day.
When did y’all get married? April 23, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 175
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a pearl bracelet from my mother-in-law, which served as my something borrowed and old. I wore Duke blue nail polish on my toes for my something blue. My dress, veil, shoes, and earrings were all new.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wedding planning, in many ways, was good practice for married life. There was lots of compromising, budget discussing, and balancing of priorities. We managed to have a lot of fun throughout the process, and constantly reminded ourselves that our marriage was much more important than the wedding.
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? Right now, we’re enjoying a low-key summer with family and friends and saving for our first home.

Photographer: Anna Routh Photography | Planner: Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Fiore Fine Flowers | Wedding Cake: One Belle Bakery | Caterer: Gibbs Catering | Rentals: L&L Tent and Party Rentals | Lighting: High Performance Lighting and Power | Band: Mr. Potato Head Band | Ukulele: Kent Knorr of North Carolina Ukulele Academy | Paper Products: Reeves Engraving | Bride’s Gown: “MJ101” by Madison James | Bridal Salon and Veil: Coastal Knot Bridal | Hair Stylist: Kelli Kuperus and Megan Gregory from Sea Grass Salon and Day Spa | Makeup Artist: Amy Kennison | Bride’s Shoes: “Danya” by Naturalizer | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank | Trolley: Azalea Limo

Anna Routh, Fiore Fine Flowers, One Belle Bakery, and Coastal Knot Bridal are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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  1. avatar Karina + John » Anna Routh Photography reply

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There are countless ways to honor loved ones at your wedding, and choosing a meaningful venue is one of my favorites. It’s truly a beautiful thing to start your marriage in a place that holds sweet memories or history, and inviting your guests to experience that place too makes it all the more special! That’s exactly why Sarah and Adam chose Bald Head Island for their wedding–Sarah’s grandparents were active members of the BHI community since its development, and Sarah has countless memories of vacations and croquet games (a passion of her grandparents!) on the island. When she and Adam realized how many of their guests would have to travel to be a part of their big day, they decided to choose a place everyone would enjoy as a vacation spot. Bald Head Island was a natural fit, and I’m sure their touching ceremony and celebration added yet another layer of meaning to this special place for both them and their families!

Thanks so much to Rachel Red Photography for sharing this lovely day with us!

My mother flew from Virginia to Houston so that we could look for my dress. We blocked off two full days and booked appointments at salons all over town. Day one, we struck out, and our first appointment on day two went about the same way. I picked out and tried on several dresses, but never fell in love with one. I figured that this was going to be a repeat of the previous day, but then, the sales associate asked if she could pull a gown for me to try. When she brought it over, I was definitely skeptical, but once I saw myself in the dress, I fell in love! It was exactly what I wanted, but didn’t know how to ask for. I bought the dress immediately and couldn’t have been happier with it.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The most memorable moment from our wedding would definitely be when Adam and I saw each other for the first time. Without a doubt! I’m getting all teary-eyed just thinking about it. The look on Adam’s face was absolutely priceless. I could see and feel how much he loved me. It was the perfect way to start off our ceremony and reminded me how lucky I am to have him in my life. I’m so glad that we waited until that moment to see each other and I know that he feels the same way.

We decided not to write our own vows. As much as we love the intimacy of them, there is something about traditional vows that really spoke to us. We wanted to speak the same words that have been spoken for generations and have marked the start of so many amazing love stories. While we didn’t customize our vows, we did sit down with our officiant to discuss the ceremony. We wanted to make sure that it was an expression of our relationship. The instant we met our officiant, Kevin, it felt like we had known him for years. He did such a fantastic job infusing our personalities into the ceremony while still keeping everything classic.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Both of our families have roots in the South, but many have moved away over the years. We wanted to make sure that they were able to experience all of the best aspects of the South while they were down here. We welcomed our guests with tote bags stuffed with koozies, water, and island maps so they would be island-ready. We even included mini flashlights because it gets unbelievably dark on Bald Head Island. We wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous September weather and the fabulous setting by hosting our wedding outside. It was a bit risky considering we were on an island during hurricane season, but we’re from the South and a little weather doesn’t scare us. We did commit a pretty bad sin though–we got married on a football weekend. In our defense, we waited until Sunday afternoon, so we didn’t miss the game. Our rehearsal dinner had barbecue with all the fixin’s, homemade pimento cheese, and SEC football. Go Gamecocks! At the wedding itself, we served spicy shrimp and grits and provided rocking chairs for our guests to sit back and relax on.

There were so many different reasons why we chose to get married on Bald Head Island. Our families are scattered all across the country, and there are even members deployed overseas. We knew that people would have to travel to attend our wedding, no matter where we held it, so we wanted to host the wedding somewhere that everyone would truly enjoy. Beautiful beaches, Southern charm, and a laid back atmosphere…does it get any better? My grandparents built a home on Bald Head Island when it was first being developed, and my family and I have so many amazing memories on the island. Unfortunately, my grandparents are no longer with us, so this was one way for me to have them there and make them a part of my wedding day. We specifically chose the Bald Head Island Club for our wedding as another way to include my grandparents. They were club members for a very long time and were very active in the BHI community. They also happened to LOVE playing croquet and would travel around the country to do so. They brought that love with them to the island and played a huge role in having the croquet green added to the club. So, while we aren’t croquet players by any stretch of the imagination, we took a quick break from the wedding to play a couple of strokes. It was only a few minutes, but it really allowed us to slow down, appreciate the moment, and honor two amazing people.

Describe your wedding flowers. I absolutely loved our wedding flowers!! I wanted something soft, feminine, and romantic. The ladies at Kickstand Events did a fantastic job. They used garden roses, ranunculus, stock, hydrangea, spray roses, roses, and dusty miller in shades of peach, blush, coral, ivory, white, and gray. I really wanted the colors used in the florals to complement the beachy color palette, and they definitely did!

Our wedding cake was DELICIOUS! I am a huge cake fan. I don’t have a sweet tooth–I have an entire mouth full of sweet teeth. This was one of the wedding details that I was most excited about. I have always loved the look of big, traditional wedding cakes, but I usually hate the white cakes inside. Like my mother always says, “If it’s not chocolate, why bother?” I too subscribe to this philosophy on life. Fortunately for me, Adam doesn’t like sweets, so he let me have full control over the cake, and I couldn’t have been happier! One Belle Bakery did a fantastic job bringing everything together. They had the cutest cake names, and I’m a sucker for things like that. The top layers were a variation of their “Hey Y’all-mond” (an almond cake with chocolate fudge), the third tier was the “Lord Have Mercy” (a chocolate-chocolate chip cake with chocolate fudge), and the bottom tier was my own creation, “Orange you Sweet” (a chocolate cake with mandarin orange custard). The cake looked just as good as it tasted, and the team at One Belle Bakery got the cake from the mainland onto the ferry, then onto the island and set up at the club with no issues. I was incredibly worried that something would happen to my cake, and it didn’t! Thank goodness!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Adam: Sarah and I met about nine years ago in Richmond, Virginia through mutual friends. It didn’t take long for me to realize that she was “the” girl. We continued to hang out throughout that summer, and every chance I could, I would invite her to wherever I was. Unfortunately, we were both headed off to different college towns after the summer. There really wasn’t any communication over the next four years, but then we both returned to Richmond to start our “adult” lives. I had started working at an IT company and she started working at a jeweler. One day, I got a call from one of my clients who needed someone there ASAP to take care of an IT problem. I got there and, lo and behold, I saw Sarah. I immediately lit up inside and didn’t know what to do, so I froze. After that second, I knew that I was not going to let her go again. I asked her out to dinner and the rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! From Adam: We had decided to move to Houston for a job that Sarah couldn’t pass up, but before we left, we wanted to have a going away party. I had spent weeks prior to this trying to find the perfect ring and figure out how to propose to the love of my life before we left all of our friends and family. I decided that there was no better way than with all our friends and family in one place at the party. That night, people had started to gather, and eventually, I got everyone outside for goodbyes and speeches. After everyone had finished saying their words, it was my turn. I started to thank everyone for coming and saying that we would miss them. As I was wrapping up, I told everyone I had a story to tell. Sarah had no idea what was about to happen. I began to tell the story of the song I heard in the car when I was thinking about our future together, and as I ended the story, I looked at Sarah and dropped to one knee. She stumbled backwards as tears started to fill her eyes. I finally got the chance to get the girl I had always known I wanted…and she said yes!
When did y’all get married? September 20, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 50
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It is so hard for me to pick out a favorite detail from the wedding because I loved absolutely everything. If I had to pick one, it would be the bracelet that I wore. It says “Love you always” and was custom made for me using my stepmother’s handwriting. She passed away when I was 14 years old. She was an absolutely incredible woman and I miss her every day. I couldn’t imagine my wedding without her, so my dad and I had this bracelet made. Every time that I looked down, I was reminded that she was there with me and always would be. I haven’t taken it off since my wedding, and certainly don’t plan to any time soon.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We tried not to skimp on anything, but to make the most of our wedding budget, we reused the bridesmaids’ bouquets as floral decorations on the cake table and sweetheart table. We also split costs and extras with another bride who was getting married on the island. Sharing is caring, right?
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We’re getting settled into life as a married couple. Now that our wedding planning is done, we can finally have a life and get settled into our new house! That has been on the back burner for months, so we’re really looking forward to making it feel like home.

Photographer: Rachel Red Photography / Planner, Florist, and Paper Products: Kickstand Events / Venue and Caterer: Bald Head Island Club / Wedding Cake: One Belle Bakery / DJ: Active Entertainment / Violinist: Maura Kropke / Bride’s Gown: “Style #504” by Martina Liana / Bride’s Hair Accessories: Brickhouse Bridal / Bridal Jewelry: Hearts on Fire / Bridal Jewelry Store: Thomas Markle Jewelers / Handwriting Bracelet: Anastasia Savenko / Hair Stylist: Larry Davis / Makeup Artist: Wisp Salon & Spa / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan / Menswear: Jos A. Bank

One Belle Bakery is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and Donna Morgan is a delightful SW sponsor!

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

    Thank you so much for featuring Sarah and Adam’s wedding! It was the most gorgeous and sentimental day and I can’t imagine another couple more deserving of the spotlight. I appreciate you hard working ladies at Southern Weddings!!

  2. avatar Karen Miller reply

    With a bit of prejudice perhaps, as I am the mother of the groom, I want to say that this was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended. From the spectacular setting, and beautiful color scheme chosen by Sarah, to the incredible efficiency of the wedding planners and staff on the island, it was truly a dream wedding!!!! Thank you Rachel for capturing all of the splendor of this event in your beautiful photographs!

  3. avatar Lindsay reply

    I am obsessed with this wedding! Every details is gorgeous! And the proposal…. Precious!

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We’re just smitten with our new Blue Ribbon Vendors and we can’t wait to share them with you! Each one of these vendors was hand picked, and I’m confident working with whichever one you choose would be a joy. Get to know these ladies and gents through some of our favorite interview questions, then click through to their listings to find out more!

Name: Laura McCarty, Marked
Where you call home: Birmingham, Alabama
Favorite part of a wedding day? The sweetest and most beautiful part of any wedding day is when the groom sees his bride walk down the aisle. His face says it all… and as my sweet husband always says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing!” (Proverbs 18:22)

Name: Ashley Bateman, NOLA Flora
Where do you call home: New Orleans
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? Family traditions, family heirlooms, and family recipes

Name: Anna Echols, One Belle Bakery
Where you call home: Wilmington, NC
How I got into weddings: I helped one of my college friends set up her reception on her wedding day. I used to plan alumnae events for Meredith College after I graduated, but helping with a wedding was a whole new ball game. I enjoyed every minute of helping her that day, and although I never had the urge to be in charge of an entire wedding, I knew it would somehow become a part of my career!

Name: Rebecca Hassee, PEWS
Where you call home: Birmingham, Alabama
Favorite part of a wedding day? When the bride and groom walk back down the aisle as husband and wife for the first time. The joy, the cheers, the laughing, and the beautiful wedding party that follows them – it’s all so beautiful and joyous!

Name: Perkins Morgan & Morgan Montgomery, Paisley & Jade
Where you call home: Richmond, Virginia
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? We love the traditions and family history that Southern couples embrace and incorporate into their day!! Being curators of all things vintage ourselves, we love nothing more than a good story – whether it’s family wedding portraits on display at cocktail hour, a piece of the bride’s grandmother’s dress incorporated into her bouquet, or vows that have been spoken by generations before.

Name: Pasha Belman, Pasha Belman Photography
Where you call home: Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? The beautiful outdoors draw me to the South. There is a huge variety of perfect wedding locations, from romantic sandy beaches and elegant flower gardens to glamorous country clubs and historic plantations. Dream Southern-style wedding locations create impressive wedding photography opportunities for me. I can never get enough of this gorgeous weddingland filled with sunlight-kissed celebrations.

Name: Emily Shaya, Pret a Fete
Where you call home: New Orleans
Favorite part of a wedding day? The ceremony. Although they don’t usually last very long, the ceremony is something the bride and groom will never forget. There is something special about saying vows that your grandparents (and their parents) said before you!

Name: Angela Higgenbotham, Rocking H Ranch
Where you call home: Lakeland, Florida
Favorite part of a wedding day? The “first look,” seeing the groom catch his breath at first glimpse of his bride!

Name: Sarah Becker Lillard, Sarah Becker Photography
Where you call home: New Orleans, Louisiana and Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was born in Texas, so that great state is also home to me!
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? Meaningful traditions, tearful toasts, embroidered handkerchiefs, handwritten vows, cake pulls, second lines, brass bands, and gulping up sweet tea in between photographing all the above!

Name: Scotti Cline, Scotti Cline Designs
Where you call home: Atlanta, Georgia
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? What’s not to love about a Southern wedding?! Southern traditions, beautiful venues, lovely weather, powerful family moments, genuine people, and personal touches. No two weddings are the same and whether you’re a bride, guest, or vendor, you’re going to have an amazing experience.

Check out all of our favorite vendors in the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory! I also wanted to mention that we’re working particularly hard to expand some of our areas of slim pickings – namely, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. If you would like to recommend someone (or nominate yourself!) for any of these states, please email emily at southernweddings.com!

emily Written with love by Emily
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    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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