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If you followed along with my wedding planning posts last year, you may remember how hard it was for Dave and I to choose our venue–much like today’s bride, Ashton, I grew up moving around, so the decision of where to tie the knot was a challenge for me! For Ashton and Aaron, however, the decision was a bit easier–Charleston was always a place that Ashton returned to for family trips, no matter where in the world she was living at the time. I love that she had that special place as a constant in her life, and once Aaron proposed on nearby Fripp Island, it became all the more meaningful, and the perfect place for their wedding! With the help of the talented ladies at A Charleston Bride, Ashton and Aaron planned their gorgeous, garden-inspired celebration at the William Aiken House–the coolest historic venue hidden in the heart of downtown. Enjoy this look at their lovely day!

Thank you kindly to Catherine Ann for sharing Ashton and Aaron’s wedding with us!

I’m a self-proclaimed shopaholic, so I thought that it was going to take me forever to find the perfect dress. I started my search a couple of months after we got engaged and started shopping at a boutique in Raleigh with just my mother. I thought it was going to be a preliminary shopping experience and tried on all kinds of dresses, but the last one I tried on was the one. It didn’t wow me on the hanger, but I put it on and liked it, and then about a minute into wearing it, I started crying because it just felt right. This is who I want to be when I walked down the aisle. From the floral appliqué on my veil to the champagne color of the Italian tulle, everything about my dress was perfect and effortlessly romantic.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Kind of. Aaron was adamant about not seeing me before the ceremony, but we both agreed that we wanted to have a quick, sweet moment together. We decided to do a “first look,” but he kept a blindfold on the entire time. I’m so glad we did this because we got to keep the element of surprise, while also being able to hug each other and calm our nerves. I did do a first look with my father, because I knew it would mean so much to him.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Matthew 19:6, Song of Solomon 3:4, Ruth 1:16-17, Peter 4:8, and Ephesians 4:2. We did shorter readings throughout the ceremony because each one had a different significance.

Charleston has been my one constant place in life, so I always knew that when I got married, it would be there. The William Aiken House was significant for several reasons. Apart from being beautiful, my family is from Aiken, South Carolina, and the town is named after William Aiken. Aaron works in the railroad industry and William Aiken created one of the first railroad companies in South Carolina. Also, I always wanted to get married outside, but have an admiration for the grandeur of old architecture after living in England. The William Aiken House was the perfect combination.

I wanted my wedding to look like an English garden with lots of rose gold and sage and champagne hues. Our wedding planner and florist did an amazing job coming up with the perfect arrangements. There were topiaries for some rich dark greens around the lounge area and the bouquets had pale pinks and lots of undone greenery, with a few burgundy flowers to break up all of the pastels. I didn’t want the flowers to look too “done” and perfect; I wanted them to look romantic, but not fussy.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? What was Southern about our wedding was the location, the families, the history, the pecan pie, the boiled peanuts (my favorite!), the bourbon tasting bar (also my favorite!), and the sense of hospitality.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I cut out a lot of the florals because as much as I love flowers, the venue was pretty enough that we could save some money on those. The florist was very good about helping me come up with options to cut costs, which was much appreciated. We also did stations instead of a sit-down meal to cut costs with table settings and serving.

For our first dance, Aaron and I danced to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Aaron didn’t really care about the wedding details, but this was one thing he had an opinion about. We made a playlist of five songs that were contenders for our first dance and then we danced to all of them, and he got to decide which one he enjoyed dancing with me to the best!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Aaron and I met on New Year’s Eve at a bar in downtown Richmond, Virginia. I was in Richmond for law school and Aaron worked with with CSX in Richmond. Aaron was working night shifts when we first met, so our dates consisted of random, intermittent hang outs, often involving him stopping by in the morning (on his way home from work) to say hi and hang out while I got ready to go to class for the day. Our relationship progressed very quickly because the time we did get to spend together was so precious that we ended up opening up to each other more quickly than normal.
Tell us all about the proposal! I have moved around ever since I was little, so I never really had a constant hometown, but both of my parents are from Aiken, South Carolina and used to go to Fripp Island and Charleston for vacations. When they got married, they kept the tradition alive by scheduling week-long family vacations at Fripp Island every summer. Aaron knew how important Fripp was to me, and my family planned a beach week a year after he and I started dating. My family, our close family friends, and Aaron’s family all came to Fripp that week for vacation. One night, Aaron took me on a golf cart ride right before sunset, and then we went for a walk on the beach. He proposed to me amidst the big sand dunes. Everyone had a big celebration waiting for us when we got back to the house. My ring is so special–it was made with my mother’s diamond and Aaron helped design it himself.
When did y’all get married? June 13, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I am not a sweets person at all. I do, however, have a soft spot for pecan pie, so we had a pie station in addition to a cake. Aaron, on the other hand, has a sweet tooth big enough for both of us and then some. He was in charge of picking the cake, while I was in charge of decorating it. Since the cake was not something I really cared about, I wanted it to go with the decor and be simple and fun. I asked them to do a pale blush solid background with random pieces of gold leafing all over it.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I am very involved in the nonprofit sector, so we had three areas throughout the reception in honor of different charities that we donated to for the wedding, as well as little favors to help bring awareness to the different causes.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? When Aaron and I got back to the hotel after the wedding and he couldn’t stop saying how happy he was that I was his wife. That was when we finally got to have a moment alone and just bask in the happiness and excitement that had been building all day.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? I moved down to Charlotte with our chocolate lab, Campbell, so the three of us are all together under the same roof! We are excited to explore our new city together and to make memories with our new little family.

Photographer: Catherine Ann Photography / Planner: A Charleston Bride / Venue: The William Aiken House / Florist: STEMS via A Charleston Bride / Caterer and Baker: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group / Rentals: Snyder Events / Lighting: Technical Event Company / Ceremony Music: Bob Williams Duo / Reception DJ: Natty Heavy / Paper Products: Studio R / Bride’s Gown: “Style 5867” by Liancarlo / Bridal Salon: Alexia’s Bridal / Bride’s Veil: “Style 9847” by Liancarlo / Hair Stylist: Kacie Faulling Pecora / Bride’s Shoes: Michael Kors / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Tadashi Shoji / Menswear: Jos. A. Bank / Bow Ties: Collared Greens

A Charleston Bride is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Edgar Vs. Surrey wedding videographer reply

    Beautiful wedding and very interesting story!

  2. avatar Elegant Southern Wedding at the William Aiken House | Ashton + Aaron reply

    […] wedding has been featured on the Southern Weddings […]

  3. avatar Meg @ GalaPal.com reply

    That memorable moment is perfection. Seriously tearing up just reading that. Congrats to the couple!

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Anyone who has experienced a long distance relationship can attest to how tough it can be, but if there’s one plus side, it’s that the time when you and your love are together becomes all the more special! Kristan and Jason are college sweethearts whose post-grad jobs brought them apart for a year before they were reunited in Houston and engaged shortly thereafter. For their Texas wedding, they drew inspiration from their seven years of dating by writing their vows together, serving their favorite bundt cake flavors, and even naming their reception tables after places that were sentimental to them. Their planner, Lauren at Something to Celebrate, and florist, Maxit Flower Design, took these sweet details from Kristan and Jason’s love story and helped them tie it all together–topped off with the prettiest coral charm peonies!

Thank you kindly to Sarah McKenzie for sharing this special day with us!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? While we love the tradition of the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time when the bride walks down the aisle, we decided to do a first look based on the recommendations of married friends. All of our friends who had done one talked about how nice it was to have that special moment together without everyone watching, and how, from a logistical perspective, it just made the day run smoother. Having now done a first look at our wedding, we could not agree more! It really was perfect and allowed us to have a very special, intimate moment together, and to take plenty of pictures of just the two of us, without missing out on the reception!

Our flowers were, without a doubt, one of our favorite aspects of our wedding! We are so thankful that we had the chance to work with Maria Maxit–her work was absolutely breathtaking and we feel like the beautiful arrangements and decor that she crafted truly helped to make our wedding everything that it was. Maria captured our vision perfectly, finding ways to integrate vibrant color and gorgeous flowers (so many peonies!) throughout every element of our special day.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From the incredibly meaningful and touching words of our officiants, to the exchanging of personal vows, to the sun setting in the background as we took communion together as our first act as husband and wife, we will forever treasure every second of our wedding ceremony.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did write our own vows, and we are so glad that we did! We co-wrote five promises that we each wanted to say to one another, and then we each added another promise and additional words about what the other person means to us. One of our favorite lines from the five promises that we co-wrote stated, “I promise to love you selflessly, as you have loved me, and as Christ has loved us.”

We knew we had found our venue the moment that we arrived to visit Balmorhea last fall. It is breathtaking and unique and felt every bit “us.” We were so drawn in by the amazing owners (who built the venue themselves!) and the incredible staff (we worked with Alison McIntyre, who was phenomenal!). We could not have dreamt of a more perfect place to celebrate our special day. It captured the essence of Southern charm by beautifully combining rustic design with classic elegance, and creating a welcoming, down-to-earth atmosphere that truly felt like home to us and our guests.

Did you pull any wedding inspiration from memories you have together? Tell us about it! We decided that instead of doing table numbers for our reception, we wanted to name the tables after cities that were significant to us. Katy & Co. helped us craft a seating chart, as well as a corresponding display board which explained why each city meant something to us. Each of the 17 cities were places that had become very special throughout our seven years of dating–from Waco, where we first met at Baylor, to Houston, the city we now call home. We made sure each table had a picture of us in the city represented by that table.

We have always loved Nothing Bundt Cakes and were thrilled to find out that they could cater our wedding. We decided to give guests the choice of our favorite flavors: lemon and red velvet.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met at Baylor University’s summer camp for incoming freshman. We dated throughout college and the beginning of our professional careers. After seven years of long distance dating and many hours of travel, we are so ecstatic to finally be able to call each other husband and wife, and to have the opportunity to do life together each and every day in the same city!
Tell us all about the proposal! After a year of long distance, I was so excited to be reunited with Jason in July 2014 when I moved back to Houston. We knew that we were ready to get engaged at some point soon, and while part of me wanted to be surprised, the other part of me wanted to know EVERYTHING about the proposal! After much persistence on my part, Jason gave me four weekends to block off. The first weekend rolled around and Jason sweetly arranged for me to meet up with my dear friends from college to do brunch and get our nails done. It was a fantastic day, but I had convinced myself that he wasn’t going to propose until the last of the four weekends he had told me to block off. The next weekend, Jason told me that I needed to be ready at 3:30 in the afternoon, and when 3:30 rolled around, my cousin Brianne showed up at my house and said that she was going to be my coffee date. When we arrived at Starbucks, my brother and his girlfriend Ashley, who had come home from Baylor in Waco and were inside! They handed me a handmade mug and a note from Jason that told me what the next few hours had in store–Brianne would be taking me across Houston to various locations that were representative of things about our relationship. At each stop, there would be a clue and a puzzle piece that I would collect. While I could read the clue, I was not allowed to open the puzzle pieces. After stops at the Houston airport, IHOP (a place where Jason and I had many a breakfast), a movie theatre (one of mine and Jason’s favorite things to do is see movies), and my favorite store (Nordstrom in the Galleria, where Jason had chosen a dress for me), we drove over to the beautiful fountain wall at the Galleria. Brianne dropped me, and when I saw Jason in the middle of the field, I ran towards him! I had accidentally left the puzzle pieces in Brianne’s car, so without hesitation, he bolted off after Brianne, who was driving away, and caught her just in time. He proceeded to tell me about the significance of each piece as he unwrapped it and placed it on a board. The pieces spelled out “will you marry me” on top of a collage of pictures from us from the past seven years–he said so many amazing, wonderful things, and then got on one knee and proposed with the most beautiful ring I had ever seen in my life!
When did y’all get married? June 6, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 170
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My grandmother passed away when I was younger, and not having her to celebrate with us on our special day was so tough. However, I have no doubt at all that she was there in spirit, and to honor her, we integrated her brooch into my bouquet as my something old.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We were so blessed to be surrounded by friends and family throughout the wedding planning process who consistently helped us focus on what matters most. Rather than getting caught up in the details of the wedding day, they reminded us of the importance of investing in and preparing for the marriage that followed. In addition to the great advice we received from friends, family, and our officiant, we attended premarital counseling at our church in downtown Houston.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? One of our best decisions was to hire a day-of coordinator. Our coordinator, Lauren, was fantastic–she kept us on track in the weeks leading up to the wedding, provided fantastic vendor recommendations, and perfectly executed all of the details we had planned on the day-of. We highly recommend that everyone get a day-of coordinator to make sure that you have the chance to truly let the logistics go and focus on enjoying all of your hard work on the day of the wedding.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are currently having so much fun getting settled into our first home together just outside of downtown Houston. We are so excited for all of the adventures in store for us in the coming years–from getting the chance to enjoy all of the small, simple joys of life while at home in Houston, to hopefully having the chance to travel the country and the world with friends and family. We could not be more thankful for all that lies ahead.

Photographer: Sarah McKenzie Photography / Videographer: Brad and Monica Eggerton / Planner: Something to Celebrate / Venue: Balmorhea Events / Florist: Maxit Flower Design / Dessert Baker: Nothing Bundt Cakes / Caterer: Cafe Natalie / Linens: House of Hough / DJ and Lighting: Johnny Black Productions / Favors: Laura Baartmans / Paper Products: Katy & Co / Bridal Salon: Mia Bridal Couture / Hair and Makeup: April Thompson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style F15810” in Black by David’s Bridal / Menswear: The Black Tux / Calligraphy: Cypress Calligraphy / Ties: Knotty Tie Co.

Sarah McKenzie is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    So beautiful! I love the pops of coral against the black bridesmaid dresses!

  2. avatar Dana reply

    that is some proposal story! wow!

  3. avatar Cafe Natalie reply

    It was an absolutely beautiful wedding. So happy for Kristan and Jason! Thank you for letting us be a part of your big day.

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One of my favorite memories of my own wedding day is when BDK took my hand and squeezed it three times right after we were pronounced husband and wife. It reminded me to stop for a second and take in that special moment, so I love that Lisa and Joe made sure to pause during such a whirlwind day, take each other by the hand, and look around together to soak it all in. I know how hard it can be to stay present, but what a sweet way to focus on what matters most…and what a beautiful scene Lisa and Joe had to see! The Farm in Georgia was exactly what they had envisioned for their shabby chic barn wedding that was sophisticated and felt like them.

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Bamber Photography for sharing this lovely day!

After much debate, we decided to do a first look. I have to say, I’m so happy we did! I went back and forth because I wanted that moment when we saw each other as I walked down the aisle to be really special. To my surprise, the more we talked to our photographer about a first look, it seemed like it would be more intimate that way. It was also very important to us to be able to enjoy the reception with our family and guests, and taking the majority of our pictures beforehand allowed us to enjoy that time with them after the ceremony!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. When it came to finding my wedding dress, I knew that I didn’t want a strapless dress–that was the one thing I was sure of! I envisioned an elegant, simple dress with delicate sleeves and a tulle skirt. I went dress shopping with my mom and sister, and we went to three different dress shops, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for! I then went back to the first dress shop and decided to try on some strapless dresses, just to see what I thought. I remember walking out in one and my sister saying, “That’s it!” It felt so perfect and made me feel like a princess. Who doesn’t want to feel like a princess on their wedding day, right?! So, lesson learned: know what you want, but don’t be too opposed to trying on other dresses. They might just surprise you!

We asked my Uncle Kelly, who we are both so close to, if he would marry us. He was so excited and honored, that he quickly got ordained! It meant so much to us to have someone so special and dear to our hearts standing there beside us as we said our vows to one another.

I wanted classic, elegant flowers in neutrals, whites, and soft pinks. Hydrangeas and peonies are two of my favorite flowers, so I definitely wanted to incorporate those! I knew I wanted my bouquet to be all peonies in a blush pink color. We then decided that the reception flowers would be white hydrangeas with pale pink snapdragons and soft-colored David Austin roses. My bridesmaid bouquets were a combination of snapdragons, David Austin roses, and beautiful wildflowers. I could not have been happier with the way the flowers turned out–they were absolutely stunning!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our ceremony and reception were both at the same venue, The Farm in Rome, Georgia. We knew we wanted an outdoor venue that was sophisticated and felt like us. I had always envisioned a shabby chic barn wedding, and The Farm was only about an hour and a half away from us in Atlanta. It was the first venue we saw, and it just felt right. We both fell in love with it, and seeing as we had both lived in Georgia for a number of years, this is where we met, and we both love being outdoors, we agreed it was the perfect venue for us.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? In Joe’s words to the grooms, learn to say “Yes dear!” I would highly recommend having a day-of coordinator. The number of last-minute details can be overwhelming, and it was extremely helpful to have someone there to help pull everything together the day-of. Other advice that was given to me prior to our wedding was to take my husband’s hand a few times throughout the night, stop, and look around together. Take it all in. You put so much work into that one day. It goes by so fast, so soak it all in the best you can!

We served very traditional Southern food to go with the Southern theme of the wedding weekend! We had various food stations at the reception where we served chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes. We wanted to infuse Southern flair into our wedding, since we’ve spent the majority of our lives in the South and met one another in Georgia!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For our first dance, we danced to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” When trying to find the perfect first dance song, we heard this song together in the car one day, and it brought tears to our eyes. It was such a beautiful song that expressed exactly how we wanted to grow old together. We immediately decided that it was the one!

Joe and I aren’t huge cake fans, so we knew we wanted a sweets table with an assortment of desserts for everyone to choose from instead! Some of the desserts we included were cupcakes from a local Atlanta cupcake shop that we love in some of our favorite flavors (white chocolate, salted caramel, and cookies and cream), macaroons, white chocolate-covered pretzels, heart-shaped mints that my Aunt Trish made, and cake pops! We also wanted a small cake that we could cut, and I love the look of the naked cakes, so we also had a six-inch naked cake with a few beautiful peonies on top. Everything was displayed on a beautiful, antique, white-washed buffet table!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Joe and I met on eHarmony! Joe reached out to me by private message, and by that point, I had almost given up on the dating scene. I almost cancelled our date because I was so nervous, but my sister talked me into going, and thank goodness she did! We met at the cutest restaurant for drinks and instantly had such a strong connection. Before we knew it, seven hours had passed and we were on our way to a second drink spot to continue the night! We both look back on that day and agree that after that first date, we both knew this was something special. We could hardly wait to see each other again!
Tell us all about the proposal! For our second date, Joe took me to Piedmont Park in Atlanta and prepared the most romantic picnic! He picked me up, we went to the park, found the perfect huge oak tree to sit under, and he laid out a blanket. He had a whole picnic basket prepared with cheese, crackers, sushi, wine–the works. I remember being so impressed! The week of our proposal, he mentioned that we hadn’t been back to the park since our second date, and suggested that we go on an impromptu casual date night picnic. I thought it was a great idea! When we arrived, we found our same oak tree, laid our blanket down, and before I could sit down, he bent down on one knee and asked me to marry him! It was the most romantic, beautiful proposal! He then told me he had planned dinner reservations at our first date spot, JCT Kitchen in Atlanta. As we drove there, I was so excited to share my news, and I tried to call my sister, my mom, and my dad, but no one answered. We arrived at the restaurant, and to my surprise, they were all there to surprise me!
When did y’all get married? May 23, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 100
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! As a traditionalist, I definitely wanted to make sure that I had something borrowed, blue, old, and new! For my something borrowed and old, my mother has the most stunning European jewelry from her Great Aunt Frieda, and I knew I wanted to wear something of hers. I found these beautiful diamond earrings that looked amazing with my wedding dress. It was important to me to incorporate something from my mother in my wedding day attire, and I’m so happy I was able to wear those! For my something blue, my mom and dad had a handkerchief made for me that was white with my name embroidered on it in blue writing. It was so perfect for my something blue! For my something new, I spoiled myself and bought Manolo Blahnik flats that I wore. They were drop dead gorgeous!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Marriage is about compromise and working together as a team. We kept this in mind as we were planning our wedding. It was important to us that this was day was about both of us. We relied on the friendship we have built and the depth of our commitment to one another, which carried us through the ups and downs of wedding planning.
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? We both agree our first look was our most memorable moment! I still remember walking toward Joe as his back was turned to me, feeling the butterflies, and telling him to turn around and not to cry, or I would start crying too! He later told me that as soon as he heard my voice, he started to tear up.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We look forward to creating new memories as a married couple, purchasing our first home together, and starting a family!

Photographer: Bamber Photography / Videographer: Nick Westfall / Venue: The Farm / Florist: Janet Nutt / Cake Baker: Piece of Cake / Dessert Baker: Honeymoon Bakery / Caterer: Zest Catering / Rentals: Heirloom Vintage Rentals / Band: Francisco Vidal Band / Paper Products: Lemon Meringue / Bride’s Gown: “0126174” by Alyne Bridal / Hair Stylist: Drew Delaney / Makeup Artist: Brittini Pearson / Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Megan” in Soft Peach by J.Crew / Menswear: Brooks Brothers

Bamber Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Clarisa Sian reply

    I`m out of words! I can say only that this unique wedding concept inspires me! Congrats!

    • avatar Lisa Manusakis reply

      Thank you so much Clarisa Sian for such a sweet comment! Thank you Southern Weddings for featuring us on your blog, we are very honored! Xo, Lisa and Joe

  2. avatar Katy reply

    Could you share where you go the fabulous food signs? They are beautiful!

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