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There are SO many amazing venues in the South, but there’s nothing quite like a family home when it comes to adding an extra layer of meaning to a wedding celebration. Darcee and Hunter were married at the adorable chapel on Hunter’s family ranch, and as Darcee said, it’s what brought their relationship full circle–“My prayers started there, he proposed at the chapel, and we were married at the chapel!” I’m sure all 400 of their guests felt just as home as they did while they then gathered for a cocktail hour under the big Texas sky, a family-style dinner that felt as joyful as Thanksgiving, and one of the most darling pie spreads I’ve ever seen!

Hugs to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Jen Dillender for sharing this sweet day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a necklace from Hunter’s sister, which was given to her by their grandmother. It was one of the sweetest and most special details from that day. My something blue were my blue Manolo Blahnik pumps, which were a fun find with my mother-in-law! Something old was a flower pin from my mom’s side of the family that I had on my bouquet. Something new was a handkerchief from a sweet friend that was embroidered with a quote by my mom–it sure came in handy (pun intended!), as it caught a lot of tears that day!

Finding my wedding dress was the hardest part of all the planning. We had a pretty short engagement, so I was under a bit of a time crunch. I remember my bridal consultant holding up what would eventually be “the dress” and I told her I didn’t even want to try it on! Eventually, I gave in, and loved it! But the over-analyzer in me just had to see if there was something better out there. I ended up going to three more appointments, and at the last appointment, I saw the same dress, and even without trying it on again, I knew that was the one. Ironically, regardless of how stressful it was, I would do it all over again–there’s nothing quite like getting to play dress up with all the girls in your life that you love the most. Those appointments still hold some of my fondest memories.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Hunter and I decided to forgo the first look. It was one of the few things that we didn’t really have to think twice about because there was something really special to me about the thought of my dad walking me down the aisle to Hunter and I really wanted that moment to be the first time we saw each other.

Hunter and I were married on his family’s ranch. The ranch holds countless special memories for him and his family, and therefore, it’s super special to me as well. His grandmother built a chapel on the ranch a few years ago, and any chance I would get, I would go there to just sit and reflect on how grateful I was that I had met Hunter…and there were certainly many prayers said there that one day, I would become Hunter’s wife! This chapel would end up being the place where things came full circle for us: my prayers started there, he proposed at the chapel, and we were married at the chapel!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Hunter and I met a few months before my mom passed away, and unfortunately, he never got to meet her. It was the most heartbreaking time for me and it still blows me away how kind, patient, and understanding Hunter was, to be able to walk through something on that level with someone he had just met. When it came to picking out the song I would walk down the aisle to, “Mama’s Song” by Carrie Underwood summarized my feelings perfectly. Hunter is exactly what moms pray for for their daughters.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Lots and lots of prayer, honestly. Hunter is a police officer who works a lot of crazy hours, so we weren’t seeing each other much. I was working and planning a wedding, and while it was so much fun, it was hectic and left little time for us to see each other. I remember praying that I would be prioritizing my time well, seeing what was important and what was not, and that above anything else, that I was focusing on what it meant to become a wife.

I think the biggest Southern detail was our venue. During pictures, horses were sneaking up in the background. We had our reception in a barn that is typically a home to tractors and tools. We served dinner family-style, where each table passed around food to each other. While we were eating, I remembered looking up and seeing people chatting as they passed the rolls and butter and thinking, “This feels like one huge family Thanksgiving meal,” and I was so grateful for that!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Call us crazy, but neither Hunter nor I are really big cake eaters. We were extremely fortunate to not only have the best caterer around, but also one who is known for their AMAZING pies! We had a pie bar complete with a chocolate chip wedding pie, pies in mason jars, big pies, and mini pies!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We had some mutual friends who consistently told me how highly they thought of Hunter and how they really wanted us to meet, and I was just not having it. Eventually, they got us to the same place at the same time to introduce us, and I’m not saying it was love at first sight, but it was something close!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was around 8 A.M. one Saturday morning when an alarm started going off. It wasn’t my phone or my alarm clock, so I got a ladder out thinking it was the batteries in my fire alarm. It wasn’t, and I wandered around my house for five more minutes looking for the source of this noise, until I found an iPad under my dresser with a note on it from Hunter sending me on a scavenger hunt. Out of pure shock and not wanting to get my hopes up, I crawled back into bed, wondering what was going on. Eventually, I got back up, got dressed, and followed my clues. My last stop led me to find Hunter at my favorite spot at his family’s ranch. A few minutes after he proposed, his family showed up, and to my surprise, he had also gotten all of my brothers and my dad, who lives 13 hours away, there too! It was sweet, simple, and perfect.
When did y’all get married? April 9, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 400
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning a wedding without my mom. It was downright hard and super emotional not having her there for this, but thankfully, my mother-in-law and I were able to have the best time planning the wedding. She was gracious, kind, and made sure that we were always having fun, and if we weren’t, we stopped and came back to it later. I know my mom is thankful for the way she took care of me during that time, as am I, always.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t overthink it. Get to a point where you stop looking at another people’s weddings and just think about what really matters to you and your soon-to-be husband.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? What’s next for us is just slowing down and spending time together. Planning a wedding, getting married, honeymooning, moving, etc. has made for a crazy few months, and I’m looking forward to sitting outside on our rocking chairs just spending time together without a to do list.

Photographer: Jen Dillender Photography | Videographer: Rethinkvideo | Planner: Thirty Day Dash | Venue: Pegasus Ranch | Florist: Moosefeathers Florist | Caterer and Dessert Baker: Royers Cafe | Rentals: Loot Vintage Rentals and Aztec | Lighting: American Outdoor Systems | Band: Danny Ray and the Acoustic Production | Paper Products: Archer and Olive and Gracelaced | Bride’s Gown: “Severine” by Monique Lhuillier | Bride’s Accessories: Jennifer Behr | Hair and Makeup: Sunkissed and Made Up | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Aidan” by Jenny Yoo | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

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

    Could not have been more beautiful! Wedding and people!

  2. avatar Abbi Hearne reply

    This is beautiful!! What a dream. Great job Jen!

  3. avatar Julian Zacsfalvi reply

    Beautiful details and cool outfit with the cowboy hats!

  4. avatar Cindy reply

    What color are the bridesmaids dresses?

  5. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Great set of natural images. Great lighting!

  6. avatar julie reply

    What a BEAUTIFUL wedding, Darcee! I was wondering, do you know what color were your bridesmaids dresses were? Mineral? Dusty blue? Denmark blue? Gorgeous!!

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When planning a wedding, it can be seriously temping to get so caught up in Pinterest boards and magazine pages that you forget the most meaningful source of inspiration: yourselves! Every couple and love story is so unique, and turning to your own history for wedding ideas pretty much guarantees that your celebration will be a lovely reflection of what matters most to you. Lauren and Michael did a fabulous job of this–from travel-inspired details (I love their table names!), to meaningful readings, to subtle nods to Lauren’s favorite Disney movies, they weren’t afraid to fill their wedding with personal touches at every turn. As a result, their wedding a great reflection of them, and they also remember their engagement as an especially fun time!

Thank you so much to Meredith Sledge for sending this pretty day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I actually found it at the very first shop I went into. I was in Chesapeake, Virginia visiting my family and thought it would be the perfect time to begin my search, instead of having to coordinate with all of them to come up to DC. I had my squad with me: my mother, father, younger sister (my maid of honor), grandmother, older sister, and one of my nieces. They helped me pick out seven different dresses, each one so different than the next, and all within my budget. I tried on each one to tons of “oohs” and “ahhs,” but all of that stopped when I tired on the last dress. Everyone, including me, was silent. We all knew! My dress was the only A-line I tried on. I never thought I would go for a fuller dress, thinking I wanted something more form fitting. This Mikaella dress made me feel like I was floating on the wedding clouds. (Side note, after I got home from buying the dress, I was looking back through my Pinterest account and realized that I had pinned that exact same dress the month before!)

We had always wanted to do a first look so we could have a more private moment together and use that time to take more pictures. Having spoken with other friends who have gotten married, they shared either how great having a first look was in saving time, or how they regretted not doing a first look because they felt rushed to take all of the pictures right after the ceremony. Something important to Michael and I was attending our cocktail hour. Since we did a first look and took our portraits and the bridal party shots then, we only had to do family pictures after the ceremony, so we were able to attend 30 minutes of the cocktail hour. Our first look pictures are my favorite pictures of the day. Getting to have that special moment for just Michael and I was the sweetest.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Michael and I live in DC but I grew up in Southern VA and he in California. We were not tied to any spot in particular since everyone would have to travel to the wedding, no matter where we had it. That left us with tons of possibilities! We did venue research online and picked out five that were in our budget and looked like our style (although we were still trying to figure that out!)–two in DC, and three in Charlottesville, Virginia. We liked certain aspects of each venue, but didn’t have our “aha” moment until Mount Ida Farm. It was the last venue we visited, and while we were there, we were told they were also building a brand new venue. We drove over to look at the construction, and all that was up was the main barn and one chandelier, but we knew. I loved the view of the mountains, the Restoration Hardware feel of the rough cut wood and glass chandelier, and the grove area that was going to be the ceremony area. Two days later, we signed the venue and construction was finished in November 2015.

Before the ceremony, we played covers of Disney songs. I am a huge Disney fan and had to incorporate Disney somehow without it being too cheesy. It was perfect and all of the guests noticed. When I walked down the aisle, my brother played the electric ukulele and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” That song was played the morning after Michael proposed when we were in Hawaii at breakfast by the beach. When we were thinking of what song to play at the wedding, that was the first one we both wanted. It was made even more special by having my brother play it.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Michael and I wrote our own vows and read an excerpt from a poem together. Some of our favorite lines from Michael’s vows were, “If the last six years have taught me anything, I know that even the next 60 won’t be enough to show you how much I love you.” From mine: “There is something about you, an energy, presence, laugh, or smile that is electric. That is what drew me to you and hasn’t let me go. I love that you can walk into any room, make a friend, or win people over with your sweet dimples and charm. I always think to myself, wow, he is mine.” There was also a reading Michael and I said to each other before our vows, “Everything that happens is nicer with you” by Sandol Stoddard.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The best way we planned was through being open and honest with each other. We regularly discussed all aspects of our relationship and being married. This included all of our finances, expectations, dreams, ambitions, goals, etc. Even if those discussions were uncomfortable or hard to get through sometimes, we knew it was for the best and would get to a spot where we need to be, now and in the future.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We brewed our own beer that had special labels of us from Oktoberfest on it. We had a caricature artist on hand the whole evening to give our guests an even more special experience. Our guestbook was a painting of us from the Disney movie “UP,” where could sign a balloon. All of the wine and champagne we chose was from wineries we have visited in Napa and Sonoma. Instead of traditional table numbers, we named all of the tables after different countries, and the escort cards were tickets/passports to the guest’s destination (aka table). Any friend or family member could walk into the wedding and know it was ours.

Michael’s favorite dessert is pie. It doesn’t matter what type of pie, just as long as it is a pie! We had three different flavors (gooey butter, peach bourbon, and strawberry mint). We also had Georgetown mini cupcakes. Michael and I live across the river from Georgetown and always love to go to Georgetown Cupcakes. We worked with the company to design all of the fondant toppers and select four delicious flavors. For our wedding cake, we chose a simple white cake with etched-on gold. We also used a gold topper that said “You’re My Favorite,” since we say that to each other all of the time. It was simple, sweet, and delicious (honey lavender-flavored), and the sheet cake we served alongside it was champagne-flavored.

Don’t miss Lauren and Michael’s wedding film by WhiteFlair Productions below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both went to James Madison University during undergrad, but didn’t meet until our senior year. I led an alternative spring break trip, and the fall leading up to it, I got to meet my co-leader. We started to hang out and he began inviting his roommates along too. One of those roommates was Michael. During our second meeting, I became bold and gave him my number, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! To celebrate completing our Master’s degrees, Michael and I went to Maui, Hawaii with the Lee family. On June 3, 2015, we took a flight over to Kona for a night and did a five-hour night snorkel adventure to see manta rays. We were on the first part of the snorkel, when the sun was still out, and after 30 minutes or so, we began to swim closer to the boat and coral. I saw what I thought was a piece of trash on the reef and thought, wow, someone littered! I kept swimming until Michael had to ask what it was. I went back over to check it out, and on the paper was one word: “Lauren.” We swam down and got the paper, and on the back, Michael had written a note asking me to marry him. Overtaken with joy, I began to giggle and shout OKAYYYYYYYY! When we got back onto the boat, Michael gave me the ring.
When did y’all get married? April 16, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 166
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The only point of any contention while planning was the guest list. We both come from large families and have a number of friends, and we wanted to include all of them. However, due to the venue size restrictions, not everyone could be included. Working on the list and narrowing it down was a huge headache and pain in the side!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? A great feature of our venue was that we could bring in our own alcohol. Instead of doing an open bar with our caterer, Michael and I selected and bought all of the wine, champagne, liquor, beer, and specialty cocktails. Not only did this save money, but we were able to select top shelf and the drinks that we enjoy. What bottles we had leftover (since we definitely over-bought), we were able to return to Total Wine and Costco for even more savings.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We both loved wedding planning because we made decisions as a team. Drink plenty of wine and planning becomes even more fun! I would also say, don’t worry so much about hurting others’ feelings. I say this not in a selfish sense, but you will find you are more concerned about how others will feel or react than you are about your own feelings. There is a time and place to be focused on yourself, and this is one of them.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to enjoying every day as husband and wife. We also can’t wait to continue to travel the world and see and experience new things!

Photographer: Meredith Sledge | Videographer: WhiteFlair Productions | Planner: Two Byrds Events and Design | Venue: The Lodge at Mount Ida Farm | Florist: The Flower Box | Cake Baker: Arley Cakes | Caterer: The Local | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: Party Masters | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride’s Gown: Style 1959 by Mikaella | Hair and Makeup: The Spot Beauty Shop | Bride’s Shoes: “Chrissy” by J. Renee | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Styles 7289L, 7372L, 7366L, and 7257 by Alfred Angelo, Styles F15782, F15928, and F15933 by David’s Bridal | Menswear: Tuxedo by Sarno | Caricature Artist: About Faces Entertainment | Cupcakes: Georgetown Cupcakes

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    We all know I’m a classic wedding kind of girl; I love big pink blooms and puffy dresses (yes, I even wore a tiara at my own wedding!) But, y’all! Completely juxtaposed with what I traditional fawn over, there is something so lovely about Morgan and Coty’s wedding day that I am obsessed with! I’m pretty sure it’s their exuberant joy, but the handmade details, including the campfire log benches-turned-ceremony pews has a little something to do with it too! When Morgan told us about their guests singing “You Are My Sunshine” as they danced in dripping wet wedding day clothes after the rainstorm, my heart jumped right out of my chest!

    I’m sure we can all agree that big hug are in order for Michael + Carina for sharing this sweet day with us!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Coty saw me on my first day of high school as I strolled out onto the floor in my cheerleading outfit during a pep rally. Our eight-year dating anniversary actually fell three days after our wedding!

    I made my bouquet the day before the wedding. I recommend that all brides go to a flower market so you can actually see what a bloom looks like in person, rather than just in a catalog. I knew I wanted a pastel color palette, since there weren’t any set colors for our wedding, and the David Austin roses were perfect for the romantic look I wanted to achieve. The flower market was out of dahlias, so I chose white football mums for a similar texture. Ranunculus and the sweet feverfew added the perfect touch of fun and wild. I finished the bouquet with ripped strands of white fabric.

    We have been camping and kayaking at Shortbranch Farms since we were teenagers. For the past several years, we have loved to sit by the river and dream about what we each would do if we were to ever decorate it for our wedding. The owners are family friends, and it was such a blessing that they allowed us to get married on the land where we have so many memories!

    Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I am in love with our ceremony benches. I looked and looked for something I thought was appropriate, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing for the simple ceremony we desired. I didn’t want aisle or alter decorations, so I needed something that would speak for itself. The owners of the farm had small log benches around their campfire at their cabin, so we asked him if he could create something similar to seat 130-140 people! They came out perfectly!

    What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We are from Kentucky and we love our state! We had to include some Kentucky bourbon in our day, so Coty buried the bottle in his grandfather’s old ammo box, and he and his groomsmen dug it out the morning of the wedding for a toast. I have to say–it unfortunately didn’t keep away bad weather!

    We live in a very rural area in the middle of the nowhere, Kentucky. We are an hour from a (small) mall and thirty minutes from the nearest grocery. One of our biggest challenges was finding vendors that offered what we loved in our tiny area. We ended up doing a lot of items ourselves–stationery, flowers, decor–and a lot of driving and ordering to get other items.

    After the rain came, everyone grabbed a pie and ran to the covered bridge. Coty and I cut a soggy pie with our hands and fed it to one another. Everyone then sang “You Are My Sunshine” as we danced in our dripping wedding clothes. It was like being in a scene from a romantic movie.

    Tell us all about the proposal! We met the amazing Alicia of Aesthetiica Photography in the woods for a frosty winter session in the middle of December. Coty and Alicia had brainstormed for weeks before and planned a secret cue for when he should pop the question. We cuddled up in the blanket for a few photos in the perfect light, and the photographer told me to throw the blanket off to the side. When I turned back around, Coty was on his knee!
    When did y’all get married? August 23, 2014
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 130
    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did, but believe it or not, our vows were in Coty’s pocket during the rain, and both papers were smudged beyond recognition. Make sure your wedding vows are backed up somewhere so you can read them in fifty years!
    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We chose to have a banjo player for the ceremony–we love listening to modern bluegrass music and it is such a big part of our state’s history. He began playing slowly as everyone entered the ceremony, and for our exit, he played a fast tune in a manner Coty calls “pickin’ and grinnin’.”
    If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? Less than $10,000
    Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? I didn’t look at the weather on the morning of the wedding–whatever happened was going to happen, and there wasn’t any amount of worrying that could change it. It started out in the mid-nineties, but I was just beaming from ear to ear that it wasn’t raining. At our reception, as we made our way to cut our pie, the heavens opened and the rain came flooding down. Everyone ran for the covered bridge and we all stood huddled together waiting for the rain to end. It didn’t. It rained 3.75 inches by morning. We had a blast playing in the rain, and although we wish everyone hadn’t gotten soaked–especially our sweet grandparents–we were married all the same.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Our newest adventure has been getting a golden doodle puppy! We actually had a dog when we got married, and now the two of them keep us busy and entertained!

    Photographer: Michael and Carina Photography / Venue: Shortbranch Farms / Florist: Import Flowers, bouquet by the bride / Caterer: Brothers / Chairs: Brown Paper Bag of Kentucky / Band or DJ: Otis / Favors: The Succulent Source / Bride’s Gown: “9MK3576” by David’s Bridal / Hair Stylist: Riley Eskridge / Bride’s Shoes: “Jaxxon High-Back” by Gianni Bini / Groom’s Suspenders: No Slip Suspenders / Groom’s Bow Tie: Clip a Bow Tie / Groom’s Wood Wedding Band: Cool Natural Jewelry

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
    11 Comments
    1. avatar Lisa reply

      That bridesmaid breakfast looks like so much fun!

    2. avatar Erin | Elizabeth Anne Designs reply

      If I needed any more reasons to love Michael and Carina! This wedding is so fun and filled to the brim with the most gorgeous whimsy and perfectly rustic details. xo!

    3. avatar Michael and Carina reply

      Thank you so much for sharing one of our favorite weddings of 2014! Morgan and Coty are such a sweet couple and it makes us so happy to see their photos on here! xoxo M+C

    4. avatar Bonnie & Lauren reply

      My southern heart <3's Kentucky. Beautiful details (those watercolor invites!), and what a gorgeous, creative couple!

    5. avatar Michael and Carina reply

      Thank you for featuring our photos of this wonderful couple! <3 xoxo

    6. avatar Styled by Kyla: A Bountiful Pastel Farm Wedding | Kyla Mary reply

      […] by Graham Terhune via Southern Weddings, Pie bar captured by Michael and Carina Photography via Southern Weddings, Jam by Sidehill Farm captured by 822 Weddings via Snippet and Ink, Event design (ribbons) by Hey […]

    7. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

      There are so many wonderful details like the groom’s red pants and suspenders and the natural stone stage. I can’t get over their invitations, though! The watercolor and customized picture is adorable.

    8. avatar Weekly Weddings Favorites No. 7 | Kyla Mary reply

      […]   Photos by Michael and Carina Photography via Southern Weddings […]

    9. avatar Styled by Kyla: A Bountiful Pastel Farm Wedding reply

      […] by Graham Terhune via Southern Weddings, Pie bar captured by Michael and Carina Photography via Southern Weddings, Jam by Sidehill Farm captured by 822 Weddings via Snippet and Ink, Event design (ribbons) by Hey […]

    10. avatar WEDDING DAY BREAKFAST RECIPES – NUTRITIOUS MUESLI – The Bijou Bride reply

      […] sources clockwise from top left – Wedding Forward via Pinterest, Southern Weddings & Mon […]

    11. avatar Weekly Weddings Favorites No. 7 – Kyla Mary reply

      […]   Photos by Michael and Carina Photography via Southern Weddings […]

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