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One of the “job hazards” of working at Southern Weddings is suffering from an occasional bout of wedding guest envy, and I could definitely say that today about Liz and Jim’s lucky loved ones! First of all, they seem like such a fun couple–just read about how they met (“As it turns out, if you ask the internet for an attractive, nice guy who likes the outdoors and wouldn’t mind dating a girl in the Army, you get Jim Perkins.”) or Jim’s equally sweet and amusing recount of his proposal. Second, their ceremony looks like it was so touching, from Liz being walked down the aisle by both her parents, to the personal vows she and Jim exchanged. And last but not least? Brunch, y’all. Any wedding with a biscuit bar, a waffle bar, AND syrup that was made by the groom’s family is alright by me!

Thanks so much to Elizabeth Fogarty for sharing Liz and Jim’s lovely celebration with us!

One of my bridesmaids allowed me to borrow the veil that her mother had made for her when she got married in 2013. As my something blue, I wore my mother’s diamond and sapphire earrings. For my something old, I wore a diamond cross that has been passed down through three generations of my family as a 16th birthday gift (first to my grandmother, then my mother, then me). Just before the ceremony, I gave gifts to my bridesmaids and my mother. My mom received a small David Yurman ring, and it turned out that she had called Jim ahead of time to find out what gift I was planning to give her. Just before the ceremony, she gave me a matching ring to wear on my right hand.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did! We had a very brief ceremony, but it certainly embodied our personalities and our love for each other. Jim’s favorite line from my vows was when I declared in front of everyone “You know me better than anyone else…even Mom.” My favorite line from his vows was when he used a phrase he says almost daily: “I will keep you safe, protected, and loved.”

Did you pull any wedding inspiration from memories you have together? Tell us about it! The trail mix bar was a symbol of our love of the outdoors. The idea for corn hole came up on one of our dates after we got engaged, when we played corn hole with some of Jim’s friends before a Seattle Sounders game. We have spent lots of time with family and friends and their children, so we chose to have a “kid parade” instead of flower girls and a ring bearer, in order to incorporate all the children who attended the wedding–there were 14 of them!

We chose to get married in DC because it was halfway between our families–mine is in North Carolina and Jim’s is in Connecticut. We knew we wanted to be outside, and the venue we chose was an Audubon Naturalist Society sanctuary. It was lovely for our May wedding–green and lush.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We kept our flowers simple, and did big signs written in calligraphy instead of programs and menus for every guest.

Our favorite detail was incorporating our parents’ recipes into the reception meal. We had both a biscuit and a waffle bar for our brunch reception. The biscuits were a North Carolina recipe perfected by my parents, and the syrup for the waffles was made by Jim’s parents in Connecticut. They also made maple leaf bottle favors of the syrup that served double duty as escort cards.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I have a thing for French macarons. Our caterer was able to make pink, white, and blue macarons for our wedding, along with a ceremonial cutting cake. We love that we got that classic cake cutting picture without having a real wedding cake.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. As it turns out, if you ask the internet for an attractive, nice guy who likes the outdoors and wouldn’t mind dating a girl in the Army, you get Jim Perkins. In other words, Match.com helped us find each other.
Tell us all about the proposal! From Jim: It’s not often that a man meets a woman and knows within six months that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. It’s possibly even rarer that this happens in long distance relationships. My company was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in late April and my block leave was scheduled for late March. We planned a trip to Kentucky during that time to combine two things that we both, especially I, enjoy: rock climbing at the Red River Gorge and bourbon craft distilling around Lexington. This trip was set to be our last chance to see each other before Liz began her pediatrics residency and I started business school, so unless I wanted to propose to her at a nice brunch in Bethesda, this was my only chance to do it right. We planned to spend a few days in Raleigh en route to Lexington so that I could meet more of her friends and family, and this itinerary meant that we wouldn’t be able to drive to Lexington in a single day. We made the obvious choice to stop in Asheville for a night and I immediately knew that the Biltmore Estate would be the perfect spot to ask her to marry me. This likelihood must have been obvious to her as well, so I took extra care to act disinterested in the forced “lay-over.” As we pulled up to the Inn at Biltmore Estate, Liz began to sense that something was up. She was clearly expecting something as we rode the elevator to our floor and then opened the door to find an elegant room with a balcony, and even a bottle of wine waiting for us. Seeing this, I seized the opportunity to tease her–I poured some wine, handed her a glass, took a knee, and…helped her take off her boots. From that moment, I was dubbed “the boy who cried wolf.” I had fooled her enough and she wasn’t going to fall for it again. The next day, I slipped the ring box into my camera case and we drove over to the estate to begin the tour. As we passed through the garden, there were photographers taking pictures of all of the visitors. We finished our tour and went to pick up our picture. Liz thought it was nice, but I asked if we could get a photographer to take our picture with the house in the background. It “just so happened” that they had a “roving photographer” who could do it. We walked with him along the lawn and up the carriage ramps to a spot and chatted. As we got ready for the picture, Liz set down her purse. Pretending to set down my camera case, I knelt down and pulled out the ring. Before I could say anything, Liz looked down at me and told me to “Stop messing around, this guy is trying to take our picture!” I told her that this time, finally, I was serious, and asked her to marry me while our private photographer captured the moment.
When did y’all get married? May 16, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 115
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No first look for us. Not only did our morning wedding schedule not really allow time for it, we also wanted that moment seeing each other as I walked down the aisle. It definitely changed the time we had for portraits, but our photographer was amazing and she made it work.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My cousin became a Universal Life minister for the occasion. She wrote the ceremony and recommended a reading from E.E. Cummings, “I Carry Your Heart With Me.” One of Jim’s closest friends, who traveled all the way from Seattle for the wedding, did the reading. It was a very special moment for us.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Jim’s best man gave a really awesome speech–he created a PowerPoint similar to an Army mission briefing. It was funny, insightful, and truly touching.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are both Army officers. I am a pediatrics resident at Walter Reed hospital. Jim is an engineer officer currently earning his MBA at Georgetown. We have one more year in DC together before the Army takes Jim away for his next assignment. We plan to enjoy every minute.

Photographer: Elizabeth Fogarty / Planner: Natalie Schlosser of Atrendy Wedding / Venue: Woodend Sanctuary / Florist: Toulies / Caterer and Dessert Baker: Corcoran Caterers / Rentals: Paisely and Jade / Band: Brad Kolodner / Special Details: Just Write Studios / Paper Products: Dandelion Patch / Bride’s Gown: “Violet” by Matthew Christopher / Bridal Salon: Love Couture Bridal / Hair Stylist: DryBar / Makeup Artist: Lauren Jaber / Bride’s Shoes: Nine West / Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss / Rings: Tiffany & Co.

The Dandelion Patch, Paisley & Jade, and Atrendy Wedding are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Dana reply

    biscuits, waffles, and syrup <3 <3 <3

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I knew I was going to love Jessica and Nick’s wedding as soon as I started reading their interview–their day was completely packed with some of our very favorite things! A meaningful location full of family history? Check. Details inspired by their love story and pulled together/created by family and friends? Check. Plenty of Southern traditions and cuisine? Check! Nick even built their beautiful sweetheart table, which now lives in their new house for them to enjoy their meals at every single day. Wedding details that can literally become part of your newlywed life are so special–not only are they a great way to remind you of your wedding in the years that follow, they can also help you focus on all the good that is to come when you’re in the midst of planning. Be sure to read J+N’s interview–I wouldn’t want y’all to miss a single sweet thing!

Thank you so much to Annamarie Akins for sharing this special day with us!

One of my bridesmaids lives in Charleston, and while visiting her, we had set up an appointment to look at bridesmaid dresses. I ended up trying on wedding gowns at the same time, and completely fell in love with one! The dress fit my style so well, and embodied everything I wanted my wedding to be: classic, modern, casual, and a little bit nautical! It was such a special moment with my bridesmaid, and there was no pressure or stress–that really helped me to know I was making the right decision. The salon was kind enough to ship the dress I loved back to Virginia so I could try it on with my family; once it was dad-approved, the decision was made! I was able to meet with the designer on our next visit to Charleston, and together, we customized a few details of the dress. I was thrilled to be able to purchase a gown from a Southern designer who was just launching her wedding gown line.

Describe your wedding flowers. I am so fortunate to have a mother-in-law who happens to be a fantastic floral arranger! Nick’s mom is an active member in the local garden club, and she organized for her garden club friends to come over to the house on Friday morning to make all the arrangements for the reception. Women I had never met were bringing flowers from their own gardens to help make our day beautiful–it doesn’t get more special than that! A local florist and family friend of the groom, who had provided flowers for my now-sister-in-law’s wedding, also provided gorgeous bouquets for the bridal party. I knew I wanted a relaxed, garden-style arrangement with natural colors of predominately white and green. The florist was also able to incorporate magnolia from my parents’ house in order to make my Alabama (my home state)-meets-Virginia (groom’s home state) vision come true in a magnolia and cotton wreath for the church doors.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had a string duet play at the church for the ceremony, and they put together “The Book of Love” specifically for Nick–it’s one of his favorite songs! I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D,” the song that my mother had walked down the aisle to. We chose to sing “Be Though My Vision” as a congregation during the ceremony. A traditional hymn, this song is special to my family because we had just sang it at my sister’s wedding a year prior. Perhaps it will be a new family tradition!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional vows. There was something special about speaking the same words that our parents and grandparents vowed to one another so many years ago.

The most memorable moment was arriving to the reception by boat and seeing all our family and friends, drinks in hand, cheering and waiting for us to celebrate with them! Nick and I were so happy, and we couldn’t wait to get up to the yard and spend time with everyone. It was such a great feeling to have people from all walks of life standing in our favorite place, experiencing why we love this part of Virginia.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Nick and I spend most of our free weekends during the warmer months down on Gwynn’s Island, a remote area on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Both sets of grandparents have a history there, my parents own a summer house on the island, and Nick’s parents live a short drive away. The house has a way of drawing us all together, no matter where we are in life, to watch the sunset and share meals together on Saturday nights. We knew immediately that we wanted to share this region with our family and friends. Nick’s family is a member of a stunning historic brick church where Nick was baptized, and it was so special to have our ceremony there! The river house and the church were natural choices to meld traditions from both our families.

My favorite detail of the wedding was the sweetheart table. Nick started hand-crafting our wooden table with his dad a few months before the wedding, and it was stunning! He searched for weeks for the perfect plans and images to create the table that we now use in our dining room of our new house. It’s so special to have a handmade piece of the wedding in our everyday lives!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. This was a no-brainer for us! I have been known to eat pie for breakfast on multiple occasions, so we had an assortment of apple, pecan, and chocolate pies from our favorite Richmond bakery, Ukrops. We also had a small cake made of funfetti, the groom’s favorite! I hand-painted some oyster shells I found on the beach near the house and arranged them on top of the cake the morning of the wedding with my bridesmaids.

Our first dance was to an acoustic version of “Mean to Me” by Brett Eldredge. My dad had chosen our father-daughter dance song many, many years ago, long before I met Nick. It was so special to finally dance to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland with him after picturing this day as a little girl!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Nick and I met at Virginia Tech during our senior year; despite having many mutual friends, our paths hadn’t crossed before. We found out we lived a block apart from each other behind the football stadium, so Nick would walk his dog during the day hoping to catch me on my way to class. My big sister in my sorority had been dating one of Nick’s fraternity brothers for a while, and encouraged me to take Nick up on his offer to go to a pumpkin patch with the group on a Saturday morning. I had no idea it was a couple’s event and we would be paired up, but we had a blast, and Nick invited me over for a home-cooked meal later that week. I promptly called my dad, who works for the FBI, to get some advice (and a background check), and he gave me the thumbs up over the phone. Nick cooked a fantastic meal and we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on the couch–probably one of the best dates we’ve ever had!
Tell us about your proposal! The nearby town of Urbanna hosts an annual oyster festival, and our tradition is to attend with family and friends and then host a chili dinner, courtesy of my dad’s secret recipe. Nick and I had taken time off to celebrate our four-year anniversary by heading down on Friday to relax before the festival. We grabbed some beer and oysters at our favorite “rivah” oyster shack, Merrior, and headed back to the house for the sunset. It had started to drizzle, but Nick still wanted to take a walk out towards the water. It was then that I saw his handwriting in the sand, “Will you marry me?” Nick’s dad was hiding in the bushes to snap a few photographs, and later that evening, Nick had arranged for many of our friends from Washington D.C. to surprise me by arriving at the house to attend the festival with us the next day! It was so special to have our family and friends together for a river weekend to kick off a wonderful engagement.
When did y’all get married? June 20, 2015
How many people attended your wedding? 155
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? There were so many Southern touches to the wedding; it’s hard to them narrow down! Nick and I love to cook and eat, especially Southern food. We sat down together and made a list of all the foods we love to eat, and then handed the unorganized list to our caterer. They turned it into an amazing, Southern Virginia-inspired menu, including Virginia ham biscuits, pimento cheese, shrimp and gouda grits, scallop succotash, honey chicken, pulled pork, fried okra, and a biscuit and cornbread bar. Our signature drinks were named after our home states, a Virginia Beau and a ‘Bama Belle. During cocktail hour, we had a champagne and oyster bar from Merrior, the oyster shack Nick and I ate at the day we got engaged. True to Southern tradition, we gifted our bridal party with monogrammed gifts galore–mason jars, seersucker shorts for the gals, and fishing shirts for the gentlemen (their monograms were disguised as nautical flags!). My mother-in-law hosted my bridesmaids and house party for lunch the day before the wedding, and I surprised everyone with a delicious pound cake with cake pulls! My mother-in-law read everyone’s fortune out loud as they pulled their charms. Thank goodness we buried a bottle of bourbon (that Nick had engraved with our wedding date!)–the rain held out until the end of the reception, and as soon as the last sip of moonshine was gone, the skies opened up! The most Southern thing about our wedding though? Having all our family and friends help us work on the house and yard to prepare to host the wedding. The months and weeks before the wedding were spent with our hands in the dirt planting flowers, and my bridesmaids accompanying me to the beach to search for the perfect-shaped oysters for the place cards. The true beauty of the venue came from all the hands that tended to it; it almost brought me to tears!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge we had to overcome was the remoteness of my parents’ house and limited vendors nearby. With a background in design, I knew exactly how I wanted everything to look, but when you’re in the country, sometimes you take what you can get!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Strive for a joyful and gracious attitude throughout your engagement, and into your marriage! There are always things that might not go according to plan.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are starting our lives in Richmond, Virginia! We moved from Washington, D.C. to be closer to our families and embrace the smaller, slower city life. I will continue to work for my D.C.-based architecture firm (while writing a blog and pursuing graphic design and residential design on the side!), while Nick has started a new job in the medical information technology field. We are thrilled to live together in the downtown Fan neighborhood of Richmond and can’t wait to explore this Southern city!

Photography: Annamarie Akins / Second Shooter: Nikki Santerre / Ceremony Venue: Ware Episcopal Church / Reception Venue: Private residence / Florist: The Wild Bunch / Bride’s Gown: Kate McDonald Bridal / Cake Baker: Cakes by Graham / Catering: The White Dog Bistro / Band: JB and the Get Down Browns / Hair and Makeup: Bombshell / Rentals: Paisley and Jade, Grand Rental Station, and Distinctive Events / Coordination and Styling: Ruie and Grace / Bridesmaid Dresses: BHLDN, J. Crew, LulaKate, Nordstrom, and Revolve / Bride’s Shoes: J. Crew and Jack Rogers / Menswear: Jos A. Bank and Bull + Moose / Raw Oyster Bar: Rappahannock River Oyster Company / String Duet: Strings and Things

Lula Kate, Kate McDonald Bridal, and Paisley & Jade are all delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    Thank you so much for sharing one of my all time favorite wedding days!

  2. avatar Nick & Jess reply

    […] images can be seen as featured on Southern Weddings last […]

  3. avatar Daniel reply

    Stunning photos, love the boat picture!

  4. avatar Shore Thing | Creative Cake Toppers | Maine Wedding Venues, Photographers, Planners reply

    […] Painted oyster shells add an elegant touch to this simple white cake.  [Cakes by Graham  / Annamarie Akins via Southern Weddings] […]

  5. avatar Megan reply

    Just wondering if you could provide the name of the designer of the dress? I love the striped silk! I love the cut! Its so pretty.

  6. avatar Mike reply

    Beautiful pictures! Very interesting shell decor on the cake and the whole nautical theme is amazing!

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Though the majority of their relationship was long distance, Meredith and Ben were forever connected, starting from their very first lunch date. These two would travel to one another whenever they could, even if that was only once a month. While being away from your loved one can be challenging, these two used their dating relationship as a building block for their marriage and turned their engagement into a time of intentional planning and preparation. Their joyful celebration at Fearrington Village was filled with beautiful bright sunflowers and sweet family-inspired details, like the photo display that Meredith made with her dad. Filled with family members’ photos, it was a lovely symbol of two sides becoming one.

Big SW hugs to our friend and Blue Ribbon Vendor Graham Terhune for sharing this sweet day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Oh yes! I love this special tradition. My something borrowed was my grandmother’s ring. I was so honored to wear it. My something blue was my garter and my shoes. My something old were the forks with “his” and “hers” inscriptions on them that we used to eat our cake. My something new was a pearl beaded clutch that was given to me as a gift the day before the wedding.

Fearrington Village had everything we could ever imagine in a venue. We wanted an outdoor ceremony, and I wanted a barn setting for the reception. We also wanted our wedding to be close to Raleigh, near most of our family and friends. I have slowly fallen in love with the little village in Pittsboro, North Carolina.

Ben and I are very traditional and decided to see each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle with my dad. We did talk to each other back to back before the ceremony though. I loved being able to hear Ben’s voice and hold his hand. We talked, laughed, and prayed together. It was a moment of our wedding day I will never forget.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Ben and I chose to write our own vows. We wanted to say some of the same things to each other, so we brainstormed ideas and came up with our lifelong commitments to each other together. My favorite phrase was, “I vow to love you unconditionally and sacrificially as Christ has loved me. I vow to be your faithful wife, your biggest encourager, and your best friend.” Ben’s favorite phrase was, “I vow to be your faithful husband and the humble leader of our family.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Ben and I wanted our ceremony to reflect Christ’s love and how thankful we are for Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Walking down the aisle, we had the song “It Is Well” by Bethel Music played. The song “Lord, I Need You” was also played as Ben and I took communion and prayed together. It was a powerful moment as we prayed and asked the Lord to be with us and to help us remember that above all else, we desperately need Him.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food we served was a homestyle Southern meal–we had fried chicken, pulled pork, potato salad, cornbread, peach cobbler, and much more. Our venue added to the Southern style of our wedding as well, since we had the ceremony outside under the pecan trees and the reception was in a barn.

I loved the special display of pictures we had of our family members, showing the different sides now becoming one. This was a project I made with my dad, and it was so nice to see it come to life.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ben and I were friends in high school, but we were two years apart in age. We reconnected over Christmas break during my sophomore year at East Carolina University and Ben’s senior year at Auburn. As Ben was getting ready to leave to finish his final semester of college, he told me after our very first lunch date at Panera that we would stay in touch! I have talked to Ben every single day since and we have always and will forever be connected with each other.
Tell us all about the proposal! The majority of our relationship was long distance, and Ben and I would travel to one another whenever we could. We saw each other once a month, at most. After finishing my junior year at ECU, Ben came home for Memorial Day weekend. I was very excited because it had been a little over a month since we had seen each other. Little did I know, it was about to be the best date night of my life! We tried a new restaurant in downtown Raleigh and then went for a walk around town afterward. We made it to the Capitol building, where we stopped, and Ben asked me to marry him right there in the very place where our love began. His sister was nearby and captured the moment on camera. We went back to his house and then mine to celebrate with our families. It was by far the most special date night we have ever had!
When did y’all get married? May 23, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew exactly what I wanted in a wedding dress, and that was lace. When I added the pearl belt with a bow in the back, I knew my dress was the right choice for me.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Ben and I planned for our marriage just as much, if not more, than our wedding day. We met with spiritual leaders in both of our lives for several weeks prior to our wedding. It was a learning experience that was difficult, but rewarding. We are currently reading the book, “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Do not focus too much on the specifics; instead, enjoy and celebrate the special commitment that you have chosen to make. It will be a perfect wedding day because it will be unique to you!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Ben and I just moved into our new apartment in Atlanta. We are loving decorating our home and filling our walls with many of our wedding pictures to help us remember our very special day! We are hoping to travel as much as possible in the next few years.

Photographer: Graham Terhune Photography / Videographer: Josh Sliffe Videography / Planner: Gilda McDaniel of Fearrington Village / Venue and Caterer: Fearrington Village / Florist: Mary Stevens / Cake Baker: Fearrington Village / DJ: Joe Bunn DJ Company / Special Details: Paisley & Jade / Paper Products: Val Marie Paper / Bride’s Gown: “8627” by Justin Alexander / Bride’s Veil and Belt: Alfred Angelo / Hair Stylist: J & F Gemelli / Makeup Artist: Bobbi Brown / Bride’s Shoes and Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew / Menswear: Tommy Hilfiger

Graham Terhune, Joe Bunn DJ Company, and Paisley & Jade are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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