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Mountain settings have always played a special role in Brigitte and Terry’s relationship, from their first date (hiking in wild and wonderful West Virginia) to their engagement (at the Biltmore in Asheville). It was only natural, then, that they needed a beautiful mountain setting for their spring wedding, and after a long search, Pleasant Hill Vineyards in East Tennessee ended up being the perfect fit. With the help of Jennifer Laraia, Brigitte and Terry brought their vision of an elegant, Southern-inspired, family-focused celebration to life, giving these two yet another beautiful mountainside memory!

Thank you so much to Watson Studios for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. After looking at tons of bridal magazines, I was fairly confident that I wanted a lace, strapless, trumpet-style gown, but was open to trying on anything. My future sister-in-law came dress shopping with me, and although I liked every gown I tried on, none of them were quite right. Then I tried on the last gown, a lace, strapless, trumpet gown, and it was perfect! I teared up, my future sister-in-law teared up, and I knew that my dream dress was exactly what I had imagined!

We both love singer-songwriter music and I have always loved the banjo. After debating between a string quartet, a harp, or other traditional ceremony music, we chose to have a bluegrass band, Bluebilly Grit, play for our wedding ceremony. They were phenomenal! They played some traditional music, as well as some contemporary music, in a romantic, gentle bluegrass style. The wedding party processional was a version of “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, and I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D.” Bluebilly Grit also played during our cocktail hour, and of course, played our home state anthem, “Country Roads.”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We both grew up in the beautiful, mountainous state of West Virginia, and we enjoy hiking, camping, and most outdoor activities. Our first date was even a hike through the mountains! We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding with a view of the mountains and a reception under a big tent, and it was important to us to be able to choose each vendor and aspect of our wedding. After traveling all over East Tennessee, we finally decided on Pleasant Hill Vineyards. The venue sits in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and there was plenty of space for a big tent! Pleasant Hill Vineyards was very flexible with our use of the space and had minimal restrictions on outside vendors. We had a perfect April day for our outdoor wedding!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Since we had a difficult time deciding on a ceremony and reception venue, we planned most of the rest of the wedding in a little over three months. It was very busy and each week had a long list of to-dos. I could have never done it without the help, inspiration, and ideas of my amazing wedding planner and stylist, Jennifer Laraia! She took our vision and gave us our dream wedding!

Our wedding theme, rustic elegance, embraces all that is Southern. Invitations and welcome gifts were packaged in cotton muslin bags. The decorations were rustic, yet refined and romantic. We had church pews for seating and a chandelier in the trees at our outdoor ceremony. A bluegrass band provided music inspired by Appalachia for the ceremony and cocktail hour. We had a warm, welcoming reception with elegant wire chandeliers. Tables were named after our favorite mountain peaks in the Smoky Mountains and West Virginia, tying in our love of the mountains and our outdoor location. Dinner was served family style and condiments were served in mini mason jars. We loved the idea of guests passing dinner around the table, sharing conversation, and getting to know each other.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It is hard to pick one detail of the wedding that was our favorite, but what stands out most is the beautiful mountain scenery and the starry sky!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Terry and I met while working together in our hometown. A mutual friend introduced us and separately encouraged us to go out. I was planning on moving in a few months and Terry had recently become single after a serious relationship, so neither of us was all that interested. Since we were both hesitant to start a relationship, our friend arranged for a small group of us to spend a day on the lake together. Despite both mine and Terry’s resistance, we really enjoyed each other’s company. The next week, we had our first date, hiking at a nearby state park in the mountains of West Virginia. Our second and third dates came the following two days, and we’ve been together ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! While spending the weekend at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville to celebrate Terry’s birthday, we planned to experience as much of the Biltmore as possible. We spent the first day touring the inside of the home, leaving the second day for touring the exterior, grounds, and gardens. Midway through our tour of the house exterior, it started to sprinkle and we could see dark clouds in the distance. Terry kept saying, “I can’t believe it’s going to rain.” I kept telling him it was fine, and there were plenty of other things to see and do, but he kept on worrying about the rain. After waiting out the rain showers in the greenhouse, the skies cleared and we headed to the gardens and pond. While strolling around the pond, we stopped and sat on a bench to enjoy the beautiful views. Terry began telling me how happy he has been throughout our five years of dating, then asked me to spend forever with him! Of course, I said, yes! Later that afternoon I realized this was why Terry had gotten so worked up about the rain. :)
When did y’all get married? April 12, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 115
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We thought long and hard about whether or not to do a first look, and ultimately decided to keep that part of our wedding traditional. Although we loved the moment that our eyes caught each other as I walked down the aisle, we both agree that if we had it to do all over again, we would do a first look. We would have liked to have that personal, private moment–just the two of us–to enjoy each other and have quiet time together to embrace all that the day represented.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We wrote our vows together, borrowing from various examples we found online, and adding our own touches. My favorite phrase from our vows was, “I choose you. To be joy to your heart and food for your soul. To learn with you and grow with you, even as time and life change us both.”
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Terry and I were engaged for almost three years and dated for almost five before that. We had lived in four different cities during that time and worked through most of the issues couples encounter when they start sharing a home and household responsibilities. We found, however, that planning our vows and ceremony prompted heartfelt discussions about faith, family, children, and our future. It really helped to solidify our commitment to each other.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We would encourage others to strongly consider a first look and a videographer. The day goes by so fast and is so busy. Both a first look and a video of the day give you chance to pause and cherish every detail.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We have spent most of our relationship up until now sacrificing in our personal lives in order to progress in our professional lives. Now that we have achieved most of our professional goals, we are looking forward to traveling and spending time enjoying our hobbies together. We plan to travel, hike, and enjoy all that East Tennessee has to offer, and hopefully, start a family in the next few years.

Photographer: Watson Studios / Planning and Design: Jennifer Laraia / Venue: Pleasant Hill Vineyards / Florist: Whimsical Gatherings / Cake Baker: Cheryl McMillan / Caterer: Northshore Brasserie / Rentals: All Occasions Party Rentals and Anderson Rental / Band: BlueBilly Grit / DJ: Ogle Entertainment / Paper Products: Ali-G Design / Bride’s Gown: “9102” by Alvina Valenta / Hair and Makeup: Bangs and Blush / Bridesmaid Dresses: Alfred Angelo / Menswear: Calvin Klein / Getaway Car: A Regal Carriage Company

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

    Rustic elegance–what a perfect way to describe this wedding. I love how they maximize the natural beauty of their location. The trees, the moss, even the grass looks like it was picked out and placed perfectly to go with their decor!

  2. avatar Jennifer Laraia Designs | Design, Planning, and Styling | Knoxville, TN reply

    […] You can see the entire feature and more photos in Southern Weddings HERE. […]

  3. avatar Victoria Kokenge reply

    do you know where the guest book map is from?

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Every time I’m flipping through V6 and get to Kate and Cesar’s wedding, it makes me smile. This darling couple put so much love and thoughtfulness into their big day, from the people they asked to participate in their ceremony, to the many DIY projects Kate and her family lovingly handcrafted. Each detail was meaningful to them–some reflected Cesar’s Nicaraguan heritage or Kate’s love for all things vintage, for example, but most of all, they showed their guests the utmost in Southern hospitality. We are so inspired by Kate and Cesar, and we hope you love seeing their beautiful wedding pictures by Blue Ribbon Vendor Gracie Blue Photography!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? I actually had my wedding dress for years without even knowing it. My mom got remarried a few years prior to my engagement. When we went dress shopping with her at a store that was going out of business, the shop owner invited us to have fun and try on anything. I tried on a lace wedding dress that had caught all of our attention. My mom thought it was just beyond perfect for me. Although I loved it, since I wasn’t engaged, I felt really uncomfortable buying a dress without having a fiancé first! Despite everyone’s encouragement to go for it, I said goodbye to the dress, since the time just wasn’t right. After we got engaged, that dress stuck in the back of my mind. Then Christmas came. At the end of opening presents, my mom told my sister and I we each had one last gift over at her house. When I got to her house, there it was…the dress. I was completely shocked!

We really wanted our wedding to be filled with love and just plain fun. I wanted to impart a sense of homespun nostalgia with carefully crafted details and personal touches. My grandfather was a huge part of my life. He had grown up on a farm and instilled an affection for the pure beauty of pastoral environs in me. I knew I wanted to have a wedding that honored that love of rustic settings. I melded that with colors and elements that simply seemed happy and beautiful.

What was the most memorable or touching moment about your wedding day? It was such an emotional day! There are really so many wonderful moments to choose from, but our first look definitely stands out. Cesar and I honestly couldn’t wait to see one another. Gracie, our amazing photographer, suggested we write each other short notes to exchange the moment before we turned around to see each other for the first time. Such a sweet idea! Cesar’s note to me was witty with references he knew only I would fully appreciate–it made me smile and melted my heart. Cesar’s reaction seeing me was everything I could have ever hoped for–emotional and overflowing with pure love and sincerity. I wish I could relive it again and again.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. My grandmother walking me down the aisle was one of my most special moments. My grandparents were an integral part of my upbringing and I’m honestly at a loss for words to describe how much these two incredible individuals impacted my life. My grandfather battled Parkinson’s for many years and passed away in 2005. I know he would have loved to walk me down the aisle. When my mom remarried after my grandfather passed, I suggested she carry a locket around her bouquet with Grampa’s picture so that he could “walk her down the aisle.” When my time came, I carried that same locket on my bouquet, so that Grampa was “officially” going down the aisle too. Locket or no locket, he would always be there in spirit. I also wanted to have my dad included in our ceremony, so he read a sweet poem titled “On Your Wedding Day” that I had come across. Cesar’s youngest sister, Silvia (who traveled from Amsterdam to join us) read 1 Corinthians 13 in both Spanish and English. We joined two cultures and diverse families, so it was important to us to reflect that in our ceremony by having Spanish incorporated.

As someone with an artistic background (and limited budget), we did some big-time DIY. I wanted to feel invested in every detail. I designed our escort cards and we created the large escort card backdrop with yellow gingham fabric as the perfect compliment. My mom and I acquired our own linens–light aqua runners with lace runner overlays. Butter yellow napkins encircled by light green paper vine napkin rings that my mom made finished the place settings. She hand stitched each table number on fabric featuring tiny yellow rosebuds in embroidery hoops. She also sewed lots of fabric bunting, using a combination of new and vintage fabrics I selected. In addition, circle paper garlands were created and then combined with colorful paper poms and white eyelet paper lanterns for added whimsy. My baby of all the projects had to be the very large chalkboard art that I designed and executed. I wanted it to make a sweet statement, both in its words and aesthetic.

I have had a love affair with flowers ever since I was tiny. Through the wedding planning, I fell head over heels for coral charm peonies, ranunculus, and full, ruffly garden roses (Campenella and Juliet garden roses, in particular). I adored our yellow and peach ranunculus to no end. I also love sweet pea, swirling veronica, and the soft silvery hues of dusty miller. Yellow tulips, soft peach and vibrant pink hypericum berries, Tanacetum, pretty white and apricot stock, and spray roses added to the mix of lovelies.

To send off our guests, Cesar’s mom brought handmade pottery favors crafted by Nicaraguan artisans to house votive candles. It was wonderful having something so personal and reflective of his heritage as a parting gift. They all were acquired in Nicaragua by Cesar’s mom from local markets.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We actually had five wedding cakes! Our “official” wedding cake was two tiers of deliciously moist cake with the yummiest white chocolate raspberry filling between the layers. It had white buttercream frosting in a rustic whipped style. Flanking the center two-tiered cake to either side were two beautiful single-tiered cakes with the dreamiest ruffled buttercream frosting on vintage ruffled Fenton milk glass cake stands. One of the cakes featured the yellow ruffled frosting, and inside was a delectable yellow lemon cake with fresh lemon curd and blueberries between layers. Yum! Next was a light peachy-pink frosted cake, done in a different ruffled style, made of moist chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling. This was Cesar’s flavor request and his favorite. We joked that it was his groom’s cake–the girliest groom’s cake ever, since I got the lovely look I wanted and he got the flavor he wanted! Finally, we had two small white buttercream vegan cakes for our vegan guests–one with white cake, and one with chocolate. You would never in a million years know they were vegan with how great they tasted! These were perched upon the most beautiful L.E. Smith yellow hobnail cake stands.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. It all began one evening in August 2001 in Miami, when we first met over a card game with friends and were paired up as a team. Who would have thought that my partner in cards that night would end up being my partner in life? We instantly felt a connection and chemistry. A friendship developed, and then I ended up leaving Miami a few short months later. Our relationship actually started as a long distance one, filled with countless phone calls, eagerly awaited plane trips, and lots of love. It’s funny that both Cesar and I lived in Savannah at the same time (and the restaurant Cesar worked at was my absolute favorite in Savannah), but we didn’t actually meet until a few months later in Miami.
Tell us all about the proposal! After years of long distance, Cesar made the move to Georgia to be with me and we’ve been inseparable ever since. He popped the question on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. He totally caught me off-guard, which made it that much better. For me, everything leading up to his proposal had been simply a wonderfully fun day, full of happiness and our favorite things. Then came the big moment and the ring. I cried an ocean of ecstatic tears. It was the most incredible and surreal feeling and I loved every second of it.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Beautiful, emotional, unforgettable
How many friends, family, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 70
Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? Yes. Cesar concocted the recipe for our “Peachy Pinguino” signature cocktail, which was a HUGE hit! It gave a nod to both our backgrounds, since the rum was from Nicaragua (where he’s from) and the peach schnapps, of course, represented the Peach State! We played music that mixed in tunes that had that retro vibe (classics from the 30’s, 40’s, & 50’s plus indie songs with a throwback sound), along with other favorites everyone loves. It was all next to a small lake outside the reception space. The great outdoors, music and mingling–an ideal combo!
What kind of food did you serve? We had an incredible buffet and received loads of compliments on how delicious everything was! Being mindful and respectful of guests’ dietary restrictions was important to us. Our caterer successfully balanced our love of cuisine with the needs of our guests, and hit it out of the park in the process! There was never ANY sacrifice on taste. Nuts and cheese were offered on the side for some dishes so that guests could avoid them if they needed to. Our buffet included fresh strawberry spinach salad tossed with raspberry vinaigrette and topped with sweet and spicy pecans, dried cranberries and crumbled Maytag blue cheese, vegan fried green tomatoes topped with vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce and fresh herbs (we advised the vegan guests that the dish was totally vegan, but other guests thought they were just super scrumptious fried green tomatoes!), baked Red Snapper courtbouillon with tomatoes and peppers over a grilled vegetable medley, Cajun-seasoned Gulf shrimp over monterey jack cheese grits (the BEST shrimp and grits I’ve ever had!), beef short ribs with Coca-Cola demi-glace (another nod to where we live, the world’s Coke capital) accompanied by rosemary roasted potatoes. This was a HUGE hit!
Tell us a bit about your first dance. Our first dance was to The Beatles’ “In My Life”–Cesar picked it; he really loves the song and it meant a lot to him to have it played at our wedding. It seemed fitting since it tells the story of one’s journey through life, and we’ve been together a long time, so we’ve had quite a journey. The lyric “In my life, I love you more” just sums it up perfectly. I remember swaying to the music with him and us both exclaiming quietly, “We did it!”
What were some of the highlights of the reception? The only thing I knew for sure (prior to becoming engaged) that HAD to be a part of my wedding was an old Johnny Mercer song, “Too Marvelous for Words,” my favorite version being sung by the jazz great Joe Williams (born in GA!). It was a song I knew must be played as a tribute to my grandfather. I asked my Uncle Dan to dance a special dance with me after the parent dances in Grampa’s honor. I think we were both a little nervous about doing it because we were concerned about how emotional it would be. As we were about to go on to the dance floor, he whispered “Let’s start from opposite sides of the dance floor, come towards each other, and I’ll twirl you around a few times.” And we just went for it! What I thought would be a struggle to get through with teary eyes actually turned out to be an upbeat, fun dance with my uncle, and then we asked everyone to come to the dance floor to join in. I knew that song would be an unforgettable moment, but I never thought it would be so happy. Knowing Grampa, a jokester, it was actually all the more fitting. “Too Marvelous for Words”–indeed he was.
Did you try anything new or untraditional? Dancing salsa was pretty new for most of my family, but with all the fun Cesar’s family was having, you couldn’t help but want to join in!
Tell us about your grand exit. Everyone lined up the hill near the reception area with extra-long sparklers for a super sparkly exit! I know more and more couples are doing that, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was so much fun and felt magically surreal. Remembering to take in as many faces as I could through the beautiful glows and sparks, we excitedly made our way up the hill. With guests hooping and hollering, and bright flares of the sparklers against the pitch-black night, it was definitely a grand exit to an evening we’ll never forget!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We believe the future holds great things. I joined Cesar as his business partner after we married, and together, we’re enjoying collaborating on films. Getting to celebrate in others’ happiest moments through filming weddings and joyous events has become so rewarding. I’m also hoping to pursue event styling for intimate gatherings. We recently got a puppy from a rescue shelter, so our furry friend, Charlie, has been a rather amusing companion and fun addition to the family. We’re hoping to further add to the family with little ones of our own and are excited for the day that happens.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Set aside date nights that don’t involve wedding planning discussions. Enjoy the time being engaged. Sometimes it’s hard with all the planning that goes on, not to mention curve balls life can throw you. I admit, I struggled with that at times, and if you are struggling with it too, you’re not alone; just take a step back and think about what truly matters. Know it will all be worth it on that beautiful day you tie the knot. Above all, trust your gut. If something seems like it’s not quite right for you, then it probably isn’t. There are so many decisions to make while planning, a lot of which can be in unfamiliar territory. Guidance from family, friends, and wedding professionals is very valuable. Just make sure it falls in line with what feels right for you and your fiancé and don’t second-guess yourself too much. Lastly, savor every wonderful minute of your wedding day to the fullest! Lots of it really does go by in a blur so try to take in everything you can with mental snapshots throughout the day to remember those incredible feelings you experience. You’ll cherish those memories forever.

Photography: Gracie Blue Photography / Venue: The Inn at Serenbe / Officiant: Dr. Rusty Edwards / Catering and Bar Service: Endive / Coordinator: carolynA Events / Floral design: Holly Bryan Floral and Botanical Design / Paper Goods and Styling: Bride, Kate Incer / Bride’s Dress: Casablanca / Alterations: Angela Vazquez / Reception Dress: Lodekka / Bride’s Hair Accessories: Twigs and Honey / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bride’s Ceremony Necklace: Nikki Haley Designs / Bride’s Clutch: Mrs. Murgatroyd’s Collection / Bridesmaid Dress: Lauren by Ralph Lauren / Hair Stylist: Keka Heron / Groom’s Suit: Jos. A. Bank / Groom’s Tie: Geoffrey Beene / Cakes: Blooming Flour Bakery / DJ: Matt Callahan of Events to Remember / Paper Poms: Pom Love / Crinkle Fans and Rosettes: BHLDN / Milk Glass Cake Stands: Vintage Fenton / Yellow Cake Stand: Vintage L. E. Smith

Gracie Blue is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
10 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    From her pink bow heels to her sweet ruffled reception dress, I love so many details of this wedding! But their lovely portraits by Gracie Blue have to be my favorite part :)

  2. avatar Dana reply

    love the peaches and pink and yellow flowers!

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