After reading hundreds of real wedding interviews as an editor here at Southern Weddings, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my own wedding day would feel like. But, from the moment I woke up on May 2, 2015, all of my expectations were blown out of the water in the sweetest, best way. The entire day felt like a dream–not because every detail turned out perfectly or every second of our timeline was followed to a tee (neither was the case!), but because after a journey that spanned five years, three states, and two countries, I got to marry my best friend in the world, surrounded by the people I love more than anything. I was so honored and humbled to share my and Dave’s wedding day with y’all in V8, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading a little bit more about the heart behind our inspiration and the details we included below!
I am forever grateful to Ryan Ray for capturing our day so beautifully on film. These images take me right back, and I can think of no greater gift than that!
I was SO nervous about dress shopping—I love bridal fashion, and knew I wanted a dress that I had never seen before (easier said than done for this wedding magazine editor!). I only had one weekend to shop with my mom and sisters, so we scheduled four appointments in Houston, the first being at Joan Pillow, where they were having a trunk show for my favorite designer, Monique Lhuillier. My dress ended up being the second one I tried on, and while I loved it right away, I still wanted to see what else was out there. I went to two other appointments and tried on lots of beautiful options, but ended up comparing every other dress to the Monique Lhuillier. By the time we went back to Joan Pillow the next day, I could hardly wait to get into my dress (technically, a top and skirt combo!), and when I had it on, it just made me happy. I loved the combination of lace and tulle, and the alternating raw and horsehair-edged tiers on the skirt were so unique and special. I now can’t picture our wedding without it, and it was one of my very favorite details of the day!
One of the best decisions I made for the wedding was asking Kelly Perry of Philosophy Flowers to create the bouquets, boutonnieres, and ceremony flowers. She was a dream to work with, and the arrangements she created were perfect. Pink peonies were the first flowers Dave ever gave me when we started dating, so they’re extra special to both of us, and I dreamed of including both peonies and dogwoods in my wedding flowers. When the dogwoods began to bloom a month early, I was heartbroken that they wouldn’t make it to May. Kelly told me not to worry, and I still have no idea how she did it, but sure enough, she made it happen in a bigger way than I had ever imagined! She included so many gorgeous spring flowers, including peonies and dogwoods, in all of the bouquets, and every time I smell my favorite peonies now, it brings me back to that day.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something new was my dress, and my something old was a beautiful embroidered handkerchief that had belonged to Dave’s grandmother. My something blue was my favorite! On her way to the wedding from Austin, my sister picked a few blue bonnets, and snuck them up to North Carolina in a water bottle. I tucked them into the back of my bouquet, and they made me so happy! It was really sweet to have a little piece of my home state with me all day, especially since we weren’t getting married in Texas.
What did the groom and groomsmen wear? Our number one priority for the gents was great fit. Dave chose a navy blue suit from J. Crew, and his groomsmen wore similar navy J. Crew pants that were a bit less expensive. Our dads wore navy suits from J. Crew Factory, so we technically had three slightly different J. Crew navies on the guys, but you could hardly tell, and it was great to ask everyone to pay a price they were comfortable with. As his gift to them, Dave bought all of the guys white shirts from Brooks Brothers and had the cuffs monogrammed in navy thread. They all looked so handsome, and we got multiple comments from the guys about how much they loved their outfits!
Did you include any Southern traditions in your wedding? Dave buried a bottle of bourbon at our first look location a month before the wedding, and then dug it up the morning of the wedding with his groomsmen—we credit this, plus lots of prayer, for our beautiful weather!
Did you do a first look? We did—we are admittedly both criers, and thought seeing each other before the ceremony would help us hold it together during my walk down the aisle! Even though we did a first look, we chose not to do any family or bridal party portraits during that time. It was an intimate time for just for the two of us to pray, rejoice, and thank God for the blessing of that day.
We had a traditional Catholic Mass ceremony, and it was perfect for us in every way. We spent a lot of time during our engagement praying about and preparing our ceremony so that it would truly reflect how important our faith is to us and how deeply we value the sacrament of marriage. Having our priest, Father Edward Wolanski, marry us was a huge blessing—he knows us and our story well, and did the most incredible job expressing the beauty of sacramental marriage throughout the ceremony. We were so honored that the reverence of our ceremony was the number one thing our guests commented on—God is the most important part of our lives and our marriage, and we are so happy our guests were able to recognize that on our wedding day.
We like to joke that Dave is a country boy from New York and I’m a city girl from Texas. Balancing urban and rustic is something we find ourselves doing in our day-to-day lives, and choosing just one aesthetic for our wedding didn’t seem like it would reflect us accurately enough. I love that we gave our guests a taste of downtown Raleigh through our ceremony—the church is right in the heart of the city, a block away from the state capitol. The tailored, elegant styling at our reception carried that feel throughout the day, but the reception setting provided plenty of Southern pastoral loveliness, from the gardens around Fearrington, to the barn venue, to the black and white Belted Galloway cows grazing in a field just a few yards from the party!
Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? Our guests gathered in the courtyard outside of the barn before the reception, and enjoyed our two passed hors d’oeurves (a mini BLT and a potato fritter with truffle crème fraiche), our two signature cocktails (a cucumber gin and tonic and a spiked sweet tea and lemonade), and a display of local cheeses (the one thing my Wisconsin-born and bred dad insisted on!). We also served wine and a selection of four beers, including three that were brewed in North Carolina. In the meantime, Dave and I had some champagne with our bridal party and families in the Fearrington Garden House, took family and bridal party pictures, took portraits of the two of us, and then relaxed alone together. We loved how much time we got alone together on our wedding day to soak in the moments—both during our car ride from the ceremony to the reception, and at the end of cocktail hour!
I had always wanted to be married in the spring—I think it’s the most romantic season, and all my favorite flowers are in bloom! We chose May 2 because it was the Saturday before a Catholic feast day that is meaningful to us. Choosing which state to get married in was one of our hardest decisions, since I’m from Virginia and my family lives in Texas, and Dave is from New York. We settled on our new state of North Carolina because we wanted to be married by our priest and at our parish, Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. It’s so beautiful and intimate, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t picture our future wedding the first time we set foot inside together while we were dating. We chose Fearrington for our reception because I wanted an indoor venue that was surrounded by beautiful outdoor space for portraits. There are lots of fantastic indoor venues in the Triangle, but Fearrington was the only place that checked off both of my must-haves. The vibe there is also a lovely combination of European and Southern, which nodded to both the place where we met and the place we now call home!
Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: We splurged on beautiful white draping and twinkle lights on the ceiling to make the room feel a little bit magical. Our long guest tables were covered in white linens with gray and white ticking stripe runners, handmade by my mom. Running down the tables were alternating gray and white taper candles in mismatched silver candlesticks we had collected, and silver julep cup-sized floral arrangements in pale blushes and whites with greenery that trailed onto the tables. At each place setting was a gray napkin and a crisp white menu that featured our new married monogram. Dave and I sat at a sweetheart table covered in a sparkly white linen, in white chiavari chairs decorated with garlands. Our black and white checkered dance floor was one detail my mom insisted on, and we’re so glad she did—it made the room! Our cake was displayed on a round table covered with a white, sparkly linen, and placed on a silver cake stand. We also had a dessert display that featured four of our favorite treats, arranged on all different white cake stands. Finally, we had a table for our family photo display, where we included wedding pictures of our parents, grandparents, and Dave’s siblings. That table also held our “guest book” cards—postcards from Texas (my home state), New York (Dave’s home state), and North Carolina (where our wedding was held), where our guests could write their prayers, wishes, and advice for our marriage.
Our reception was so much fun! I really wanted to dance a LOT, and am so glad that that’s exactly what I did. Dave and I started the reception with our first dance as soon as we entered. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, listened to sweet toasts from my sisters and Dave’s best man, and cut into our delicious cake. Then, my dad and I did our father-daughter dance to “Little Miss Magic” by Jimmy Buffett—he raised my siblings and me on Jimmy Buffett music, and I couldn’t imagine having our dance to anything else. He sang the whole thing in my ear, and kept me posted when my mom and sisters started bawling! Next up, Dave and his mom danced to “Say a Little Prayer for You,” which transitioned into a polka to open the dance floor! Wedding polkas are a Kirk family tradition, and since both of our families share Polish heritage, it got everyone out there! I stayed on the dance floor for most of the night, breaking only to show my Grandma her and my Grandpa’s wedding picture in our family photo display, and to sneak a few bites of our wedding cake!
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. The first time Dave and I saw each other was in January 2010 while studying abroad from Franciscan University in the Sound of Music-esque little town of Gaming, Austria. Dave had already spent the fall semester there, and was an RA for the spring, so my very first memory of Dave was that he was the handsome RA. I was a little bit excited when I was assigned to his small group to learn about things like which Austrian cleaning material was which! We officially met about a month or so later, in the cafeteria. He sat down next to me at dinner with some mutual friends, and after asking me where I was from, we found out that one of my high school friends (side note: I went to high school in Qatar) was one of his best friends. A few weeks later, we connected immediately while in Italy with a bunch of friends, and were inseparable for the rest of the semester. We made some amazing memories in Europe as friends over the next few months, but after the semester ended, I transferred schools and we didn’t keep in touch. We never stopped thinking about each other though, and three years (and a lot of growing up) later, we reconnected at the perfect time in both of our lives. We knew within a week of talking again that this was it, and Dave proposed ten months later!
Tell us about the proposal! Dave flew to North Carolina to celebrate with me at my very first Southern Weddings launch party. A few hours into the party, while I was mingling and chatting with guests, Dave told me he had a letter from my mom that she wanted me to read in private. I reluctantly agreed to go with him “in just ten more minutes,” while unbeknownst to me at the time, the rest of the SW gals were trying to cut off all my conversations! Finally, I agreed to follow Dave out of the ballroom and down the hall of The Carolina Inn to the Sun Room, where he claimed his coat was being kept. There, he gave me a letter and I sat down on the couch to read it. The first line was the answer to a promise I had made my mom when I was 7, telling her I’d never agree to a proposal without calling her and asking if it was okay first! Dave had me stand, told me the sweetest things, and then got on one knee and asked me to marry him. After a few minutes of relishing in the joy of the moment, I asked Dave what to do now—should we call our parents? Go back to the party? Should I hide the ring? He told me to “leave it on and see who notices,” which I thought was strange, but I went with it. As soon as we stepped back into the ballroom, Lara grabbed the mic to announce our engagement, and confetti filled the air. Dave pulled me onto the dance floor for a dance to our song, played by the live bluegrass band, and then we spent the rest of the night Facetiming family and friends from the hallway. It was a magical day!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Joyful, sacred, and sweet
How many guests attended your wedding? 130
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We walked back up the aisle to the Wedding March, which my parents had also used at their wedding. I wasn’t even considering it at first, but knew we had to use it when our music director played it during our meeting and I burst into tears picturing that moment! Hearing it on the organ as we exited the church, mixing with the bells chiming outside, was completely surreal.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Lisa: While our first look, walking down the aisle, and saying our vows were all incredible, memorable moments, the one that stands out the most for both of us is one we hadn’t planned or anticipated. After the last song of the night, our DJ sent all of our guests outside to get ready for our sparkler exit. I was standing at the edge of the dance floor alone, trying to take in everything just one more time, when our DJ began to play “La Vie en Rose” over the speakers. Before I knew what was happening, my new husband pulled me onto the dance floor and held me close while we had one more dance. We held each other and cried grateful tears and said “We’re so lucky” over and over again. We’ve played that song just a few times since that day and danced in our apartment, and every time, when I close my eyes, I’m right back there in that perfect moment. Dave: Our last dance. Everyone was lining up for the sparkler exit outside, and the DJ unexpectedly played one last song, “La Vie en Rose.” Lisa and I just held each other and soaked in every last second of what was the most incredible day of our lives.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. Our first dance song was a given to us: “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. We bonded over our love for the song early in our dating days, and it has seemed to follow us everywhere! We’ve danced to it at a honky-tonk in Austin, an Irish pub in Syracuse, behind the trees at an outdoor bluegrass show in North Carolina, and now, at our wedding. That said, we barely practiced for our first dance, and never got around to scheduling the dance lessons we had wanted to take. Our first dance was far from the most impressive ever, but it was really sweet to us and we just had fun with it :)
Did you toss the garter or bouquet? Neither of us is a fan of garter tosses, so we skipped that tradition, but I did toss my bouquet! I think that moment has such a sweet “rite of passage” feel, and I definitely didn’t want to miss out on it. The DJ played “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble, and my little sister caught the bouquet—can’t say my dad was super thrilled about that ;)
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? We are both passionate about the Catholic teachings on marriage and the theology of the body, so preparing for marriage was very spiritually focused for both of us. Along with an engagement retreat and meetings with our priest, we also read a number of books, including Love and Responsibility, The Theology of the Body for Beginners, Heaven’s Song, and Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Our reception venue handled the coordination, catering, cake, lighting, and reception flowers, and while such an all-inclusive place is a wonderful option for many brides, I would have preferred to choose more of my own vendors.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Give yourself a deadline for all of your wedding tasks to be done, and once that day comes, hand everything off to someone else or let it go. I was so stressed out in the month leading up to the wedding, so the week before, I decided I would do two more little tasks, but that was it. I even told my coordinator that if anything came up, she should talk to my mom to have it taken care of instead of me. Worked like a charm! As soon as I did that, I felt like the burden was lifted off of my shoulders, and I got to truly enjoy the week leading up to our wedding.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are settled into our apartment outside of Raleigh, and are loving every single second of being newlyweds. Living together and sharing every aspect of life is such a joy! We are looking forward to lots of travel, both to explore new places and to visit our families on opposite sides of the country, and we are excited to someday have a big family!
Photographer: Ryan Ray | Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films | Ceremony Venue: Sacred Heart Cathedral | Reception Venue, Reception Florals, Coordination, Catering, Cake Baker, and Lighting: Fearrington Village | Personal and Ceremony Florals: Philosophy Flowers | Bride’s Gown: Monique Lhuillier | Bridal Salon and Veil: Joan Pillow Houston | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN | Bride’s Bracelet: Kendra Scott | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Annabelle” in Mist Gray by Jenny Yoo for BHLDN | Mother of the Bride’s Dress: Watters | Mother of the Groom’s Dress: Adrianna Papell | Hair and Makeup: Lula Hair and Makeup | Groom’s Suit, Groomsmen’s Pants, and Flower Girl Dress: J. Crew | Men’s Shirts: Brooks Brothers | Invitation Suite Design and Menus: Paper Daisies Stationery | Invitation Suite Calligraphy, Escort Cards, and Bar Menu: MM Ink Studio | Watercolor Map, Programs, and Other Reception Signage: Morgan Moore | Dance Floor and Sweetheart Table Chairs: Party Reflections Raleigh | Sweetheart, Cake, and Guest Book Table Linens: La Tavola Linens | Transportation: Walter Harris | DJ: Mark McNally of Joe Bunn DJ Company
Inkspot Crow Films, Lula Hair and Makeup, and Joe Bunn DJ Company are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!