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Southern hospitality and an undeniable focus on marriage are two wedding “details” that never, ever fail to capture our hearts. From the day they started dating, to their charming Williamsburg wedding day, to their newlywed life now, Sarah and Chris exemplify both of these important qualities beautifully. My favorite example? The handwritten notes they wrote to each and every guest at their reception (an idea they got from this Southern Weddings shoot–we’re tickled pink!), as well as their request that their guests write to them, too! To this day, Sarah and Chris are still going through the sweet memories and marriage advice that their loved ones shared with them, and the notes are a constant reminder of their wedding day and what matters most.

Big hugs to our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Rachel May, for sharing Sarah and Chris’ beautiful wedding with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. We got engaged in mid-August, and we were slated to leave for a study abroad semester at Oxford University about ten days later. Since I would be gone for almost four months, I wanted to get my dress before I left the country. My mom and I went to an adorable boutique in our hometown, The Inspired Bride in Williamsburg, Virginia. I had never tried on dresses before, but knew that I wanted my wedding look to be timeless, classic, elegant, and simple. I tried on seven or eight dresses, but the one that stole my heart was one that my mom and dad had seen in the window a few days earlier and suggested I try. Neither of us cried; we were just too happy. We toasted the great find and then headed to a 1950s diner to celebrate!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We held the ceremony in my home church, so that was incredibly special. I have spent so much time in that sanctuary and those halls! I also really love my hometown, Williamsburg, so I wanted the reception to be in a location that showed off the town. Originally, I had been thinking of doing it somewhere in Colonial Williamsburg, but they required you to use their own vendors and I wanted to do everything on my own. Instead, we choose to have our reception at Williamsburg’s Community Building, which is a beautiful breezy hall downtown. It was only five minutes from church, and the architecture matched the church’s perfectly. We loved it!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Sarah: I have two: the moment before the doors opened to the church, when I was just standing clutching my dad’s arm. I had been so emotional up to that point, and then all the sudden, a calm came over me and we just started beaming as the doors opened and Chris saw me. Also, the moment when the pastor started leading into the vows during the ceremony. That’s when it all hit me–this was really happening! We were about to say our vows! From Chris: My most memorable moment was definitely seeing Sarah for the first time. I remember that as I stood up on the platform waiting for the doors of the sanctuary to open, I was just trying to catch any glimpse I could through the little cracks in the curtains on the double doors. Finally, I saw a white shape pass by, and I knew she was about to come in. What a rush of adrenaline! The doors opened, and there she stood, looking like an angel. At that moment, I was so happy that I was the one standing there at the end of the altar. I just stood there grinning like an idiot, feeling completely overwhelmed with happiness.

I think the most Southern thing about our wedding was the hospitality. I cherish my family and friends, and was so excited to be celebrating this special day with them. Their presence and support and love are what made our day so special, so I wanted each and every guest to know that. That’s why I wrote to everyone–so that I would be sure to let them know how much they mean to me. My parents were also the perfect hosts–they thought of everything. Gusts were greeted at their hotels by welcome packets that my mom made. My dad welcomed everyone to the reception and prayed for the meal; my mom thanked all the volunteers from church with flowers and cake and handwritten notes; my little sisters (who are six) were both escorted to their seats by groomsmen.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I think my absolute favorite was the letters. I had actually seen the idea to write every single guest a handwritten note, welcoming them to the reception, in an issue of Southern Weddings! I loved the idea of communicating with each guest personally, so I wrote notes to each person coming to our reception, including all the kids. My mom thought that it would also be neat if, in turn, all the guests wrote notes to me and Chris, so at every place setting, there was a beautiful white note card for the guests to use to write to us. We still haven’t finished reading all of them! People loved the whole idea, and we have so been blessed by everyone’s kind words, advice, and prayers.

I have never liked wedding cake, so I wanted to find a delicious and pretty alternative. We opted to have ladies from our families and church bake their families’ favorite cake recipes! We ended up with a spread that included Kentucky butter cake, three-layer German chocolate cake, five flavor pound cake, lemon chiffon cake, and chocolate cake with homemade vanilla icing and fresh berries! For the centerpiece cake, I bought a simple, round, two-layer almond pound cake with vanilla buttercream icing from a bakery by my house. I stacked the layers myself and then a friend added fresh roses to the top.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met during my freshman year of college in New York City–we had classes together and a few mutual friends. We both signed up to go on a summer exchange trip to China, so we got to know each other more as we prepared for the trip. Apparently, everyone knew something was up with us, but I was oblivious! I didn’t realize I might like him until the last few weeks of the school year. On the last day of finals, Chris asked if we could go on a walk when I was done studying. We walked up Madison Avenue and over to the East River, where we watched the late night ferries to New Jersey. Finally, he summoned up the courage to say, “Well I guess you have noticed that I like you…what should we do about that?” And that’s how we started dating. :)
Tell us all about the proposal! We were on a weekend vacation with his family at Silver Beach on the Jersey Shore. He had been telling me for months about how much he loved to do time-lapse photography of the sunrise when he was at the beach, so when he started begging me to go with him, I thought it was totally normal. We planned to get up at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 11 to go set up the camera on the shore. He sweetly woke me up and brought me hot coffee in a travel mug to take with me. He also packed a bunch of quilts and sweatshirts and donuts, because the morning was so chilly and he knew I would be starving. As it started to get lighter, Chris got more and more quiet. When the sun was just about to come over the horizon, he got up and suggested that we dip our feet in the water. I happily got up and went to give him a hug…and his heart was pounding SO fast. He knelt down and pulled a ring out of his pocket and the sun burst over the horizon. I was in total shock! We spent the next hour walking in the sand and the water, talking, laughing, and calling my parents with the good news. When we finally went back to the beach house, his whole family was waiting with hot breakfast sandwiches and hugs!
When did y’all get married? May 31, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 200
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We selected our vows primarily from the Book of Common Prayer. We really like the classic “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, so long as we both shall live.” We believe that while loving your spouse is a joy, it is also sometimes a choice. We wanted our vows to reflect our belief that love should be unconditional; our marriage is for life.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We were on a mission to save money, so we did a lot of things ourselves. Family and friends provided drinks, desserts, cold foods, and appetizers. We bought wholesale flowers and made almost all the arrangements and bouquets ourselves (except for mine!). We held the ceremony in my church (free), and the reception at an affordable community building. We also had a squad of ladies searching consignment stores and yard sales for vintage milk glass in the months before the wedding!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Rachel May did an incredible job capturing our day and was such a joyful person to be around. She was also the one person who made me cry during the wedding–I didn’t cry at all (I was too happy and don’t really cry in public) until the end of our reception when Rachel came up to me with tears in her eyes saying how much she had enjoyed being a part of our day.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Remember that this is about a marriage, not a wedding, and that while all the special details are wonderful and important, they are not as wonderful or important as what you are promising to each other. Also, remember that this is a VERY special time to be able to share with family and friends. Even if it feels easier to just keep it small or go elope, take the time and effort to really concentrate on the people that love you. Soak up their love and support and allow yourself to be truly blessed by them, just as they are being blessed by your commitment and love for each other!

Photographer: Rachel May / Ceremony Venue: Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue: Williamsburg Community Building / Bride’s Bouquet: Aleen Floral Designs / Wholesale Flowers: Bunches Direct / Wedding Cake: Carrot Tree Kitchen / Caterer: Williamsburg Concession and Catering / Rentals: Williamsburg Event Rentals / Ceremony Music: Tim Seaman / Reception Music: Eclipse Jazz Quartet / China Rentals: Something Vintage / Bride’s Gown: Stella York / Bridal Salon and Veil: The Inspired Bride / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Bracelet: BHLDN / Hair Stylist: Ashley Smith / Makeup Artist: Marylyn Toney / Bride’s Shoes: Ralph Lauren / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Sung for Dessy Group / Men’s Attire: Tony Bowls

Rachel May is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Rachel May reply

    And I’m teary eyed again. Thank you SO much for sharing their wedding!! <3 <3 <3

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Sarah’s dress looked so beautiful twirling on the dance floor! I love it!

  3. avatar Erin | Elizabeth Anne Designs reply

    gorgeous! love every single detail and the bride is absolutely stunning!

  4. avatar Sarah reply

    Gorgeous! Do you have any information on the bride’s beautiful necklace?

  5. avatar Karen Roa reply

    A beautiful wedding full of intentionality and love. We were blessed to be part of Sarah and Chris’ wedding in a small way. It is a delight to see their well thought out celebration featured on Southern Weddings!

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In true Southern fashion, friends and family in attendance was the most important part of their wedding to Katie and Michael, so hosting the celebration locally in New Orleans was a given! These two wanted to create a good ol’ classic NOLA wedding, so when it came to the details of their nuptials, selecting the gorgeous interiors and formal garden of the Beauregard-Keyes House as their venue was one of the first decisions they made. I could go on and on about the beauty of this wedding, but I doubt I’ll do a better job than Katie–she said their wedding was “just a beautiful, twinkly evening full of glasses clinking and people smiling.” Sounds divine!

Big thanks to Maile Lani for sending us their day!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We went through so many options, but in the end, we realized it was important to us that our friends and family could all easily attend, so keeping it in New Orleans was the first decision we made. Michael and I both love the French Quarter with all of its charm and mystery, and the Beauregard House has beautiful interiors, a courtyard, and a formal garden! It was the perfect venue for us.

There was this one moment during the ceremony when a woman walking down the street outside of the garden with a huge beautiful voice randomly sang out, “It’s a glorious day!!” It was so New Orleans and perfect, and it set the mood for the whole evening.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We actually just let our officiant write something. The ceremony was the first time we heard it and it was lovely. Letting go of some elements of the day was hard for me, but once I did, it allowed us both to enjoy the whole experience more.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food, the weather, the music, the people…it could not have been anywhere else but in the South, ya know? Many people have told us our wedding is exactly what they picture when they think of a good ol’ classic New Orleans wedding. Love it!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Letting go of perfection and details so we could actually enjoy ourselves and remember the day fondly, instead of worrying about what was not done correctly. We succeeded! It is perfect in our memories–just a beautiful, twinkly evening full of glasses clinking and people smiling.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Michael was a friend of my roommate. I was living in New Orleans and Michael was in Jackson, Wyoming. He came to visit my roommate and we totally fell for each other. A month later, I was on a plane to Jackson to visit, and and two weeks after I left Wyoming, Michael was on a plane to New Orleans for good. Three years later, we were engaged. He proposed around the holidays at dusk out in the country. It was really sweet and funny, and I was totally surprised!
When did y’all get married? October 25, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 140
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. There is a really fun old school shop in New Orleans called Yvonne LaFleur. All of their dresses hang from the ceiling. I remember going in there as a kid and being totally enamored. My bridesmaids and I went one day to try some dresses on, not thinking I would find the one, but then I found a lace dress that made me tear up–it reminded me of my grandmother in the best way. I was comfortable, I felt elegant, and most importantly, I felt like myself.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Michael and I are working on a little house we bought in Old Metairie. He starts dental school in a few weeks and I keep myself beyond busy owning two businesses.

Photographer: Maile Lani / Venue: Beauregard-Keyes House / Florist: The Plant Gallery / Cake Baker: Haydel’s Bakery / Caterer: Martin’s Wine Cellar / Bride’s Gown: Yvonne LaFleur / Hair Stylist: Agnus at Lux / Groom’s Attire: J.Crew

Maile Lani is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    Everything about this wedding is divine and the ring bearer and flower girl are so cute!

  2. avatar Beauregard-Keyes House Wedding New Orleans • Katie and Michael | New Orleans & Nashville Wedding Photographer | Fine Art Film Photographer Maile Lani reply

    […] am so excited to finally be able to share this wedding with you guys!! It was featured on Southern Weddings today!! Katie and Michael got married last October at the historic Beauregard-Keyes House in the […]

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It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of thinking all Southern weddings are set in rolling countryside or on bucolic farms. After all, we feature a lot of lovely outdoor weddings! But I think some of our best features are actually the ones in cities and indoor spaces, because, once the natural environment is stripped away, we’re left with what really makes a wedding Southern — a focus on graciousness, hospitality, delicious food, tradition, and family. And that? Emily and Joe have it in spades. (Plus, their venue happens to be gorgeous, too!) Hugs to the very talented Blue Ribbon Vendor Haley Sheffield for sharing this Atlanta beauty with us!

Yes, Emily’s gown is stunning! Couldn’t love the bow or stripes more.

The first boutique that I visited was La Raine’s Bridal in Virginia Highlands, as a surprise for my best friend. She had been dying to go dress shopping with me since the moment I got engaged. The next weekend, I invited my mother, future mother-in-law, and aunts down to Atlanta for Mother’s Day. During their stay, we went shopping for wedding dresses at a few different local shops where I had made appointments. Even though I found some pretty gowns, there were none that compared to one of the Ian Stuart designs that I had seen the week before. Adamant that my moms and aunts could not leave without laying eyes on my dream dress, I frantically dialed La Raines in hopes that I could come in that day. Despite being slammed with appointments, they were able to fit me in to try on one dress!

Before I had a wedding date, venue, dress, or vendor, I had my somethings. Joe proposed at the end of October 2011, and other than my family, I kept it a secret for nearly a month. When I returned home for Thanksgiving, my best friend planned an engagement party for me and four of my closest childhood friends. Before my engagement ring was revealed, each girl drew a small card which had one of the following words written on it: “old”, “new”, “borrowed” or “blue.” Then they were handed an envelope which read their name and “will you be my something…” with a space to insert their drawn slip of paper. Inside was a note for each of them to read. And finally, I slipped on my ring. I am so blessed to have them in my life and because they are already so special to me it made perfect sense to give them a special and meaningful role on our wedding day.

We had planned a first look session with our photographer prior to our guests arriving, and in all of the morning chaos, I completely missed when she announced that she would let me know when to emerge. Just two steps out the door, I caught a glimpse of Joe. In a panic, I stepped backward, almost completely trampling over the train on my dress. Luckily, my bridesmaids were there to pick up the pieces before I fell apart. When I finally made it up the steps to my soon-to-be husband and turned him around, all of my nerves vanished and the tone was set for the rest of the evening. This was it… our wedding day!

Joe and I had gotten into a disagreement early on in the planning process about who should be in “the wedding party”.. a silly debate over friends or family. We reached a moment of clarity once a song came on through the car speakers, which we have since referred to as “our song,” since it seemed to make the world around us stop and remind us that we were in this together, and no matter what we decided on, it would be okay! We had the song, “Drowning” by Armin Van Buuren arranged by a conductor in affiliation with the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra. It was played by a string quartet slowly during the bridal processional, and then sped up and played for a second time during the recessional for Joe and I to walk to together as husband and wife.

With our save the dates, we asked all of our close friends and family to send us a picture from each of their weddings. Joe and I enjoyed hearing all of the love stories from our guests and seeing the excitement in their faces as they began their marriages through all of the 30+ wedding day pictures that were sent to us to display at our reception.

Describe your vision for your wedding. I based the colors and feel off of the venue. Being an interior designer, I even matched up the colors using a Benjamin Moore paint deck! Overall, the scheme was light and dreamy to contrast the bold, industrial presence surrounding the courtyard. Against the brick red railings and hard concrete slabs, all of the colors remained soft, pulling more from the sweet Southern charm of JCT Kitchen.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? My photographer, Haley Sheffield. When I came across Haley’s site and browsed through her blog, I was immediately drawn to the style and quality of her work, but it wasn’t until Joe and I met with her in person that I knew we had had found the right girl for the job. Since then, she has exceeded all of our expectations and gone above and beyond simply doing her job. She kept me in mind when she came across other vendors who seemed to fit my vision and style, as well as encouraged my creativity and offered advice in areas of planning where I had little experience. She is way more than a photographer–she is an inspirer, a planner, an artist, a genuine friend, and a vendor I was thrilled to have as part of our wedding day. I hope to continue to work with her in the future as Joe and I build our lives together.

When did y’all get married? Sunday, October 13, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Just under 100 guests
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Due to Joe’s love of electronic music, I surprised him about a month before the wedding with DJ lessons. With the help of our hired DJ, Mike Zarin of Zarin Entertainment Group, Joe compiled his own mix and revealed his talents during the reception. This turned out to be a huge hit for our guests, many of whom gathered into the courtyard to cheer him on, and even managed to get him back up for an encore. Lastly, our DJ played “Save the Last Dance for Me” as the last dance of the night, which I had reserved for my father and I. We had danced to the song together at my cousin’s wedding a couple years prior, and it held a special place in my heart ever since, so I could not resist the chance to include it in the evening. It meant so much to me to share a dance at the very end of the reception with my dad.
Describe your wedding flowers. Amy Osaba arranged beautiful centerpieces using bud vases and a mixture of stands and vessels, as well as bouquets, boutonnieres and blooms for the bridal party. She used various types of flowers, including peonies, English garden roses, ranunculus, anemones, etc. in a palette of soft muted colors with pops of blush pink, greens, and peachy salmon. She also made little flower crowns, which were a huge hit by the end of the night, as they were worn by myself, my bridesmaids, and even a few of our wedding guests.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? My biggest challenge was asking for help and coming to the realization that I could not singlehandedly plan our wedding. There were so many moving parts that in the end may not have come together as seamlessly without the assistance of friends, family, and a handful of incredible vendors.
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? One of our most memorable moments was at the ceremony, when we turned to face all of our guests who had traveled from numerous places to share in our day. There was such a rush at that moment–almost like being in a dream. While staring into Joe’s eyes, exchanging vows and sharing our first kiss as husband and wife, I felt as though we were in our own little world. When we turned around to go back down the aisle, I realized then that we were not alone, and came face to face with all of the people we love most.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My advice to anyone currently planning a wedding is to enjoy it, and if at any point in time, it is not fun anymore, reach out for assistance.

Photographer: Haley Sheffield / Venue and Catering: JCT Kitchen + Bar / Flowers & Decor: Amy Osaba / Cakes: HHDesserts / Rentals: Bash Factory / DJ: Zarin Entertainment Group / Wedding Dress: Ian Stuart / Bridal Salon: La Raine’s Bridal / Bride’s Shoes: Badgely Mischka / Paper Products: The bride / Hair and Makeup: Christy Hubbard of James Madison Hair / Bridesmaid Dresses: Asos, Anthropologie, David’s Bridal, J.Crew, BHLDN, Adrianna Pappel / Groom’s Attire: Zara / Ties: The Tie Bar

Haley Sheffield is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
15 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Oh my goodness, I love everything about this wedding! Their style, the venue, the FLOWERS–just gorgeous!

  2. avatar Stephanie reply

    This wedding just exudes genuine love!! The flowers and her striped/bow dress are simply perfection, too!

  3. avatar Jeremy Harwell reply

    Such a beautiful wedding! Amy and Haley are the best!

  4. avatar Krisstin | On the Go Bride reply

    Oh my her gown is stunning!

  5. avatar FEATURED | JOE & EMILY on SOUTHERN WEDDINGS » Haley Sheffield | Fine Art Photography reply

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  6. avatar Haley Sheffield reply

    Thank you so much. Honored to be on Southern Weddings alongside so many talented vendors!

  7. avatar Amanda {Planning It All} reply

    I love all of the family portraits!

  8. avatar Kat reply

    I just LOVE her dress, her bouquet & her sweet story for her something old, new, borrowed & blue!!! SO unique & fun!

  9. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    I love everything about this. One of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta and an amazing florist and photographer! That dress is just amazing too! Thank you for showing everyone how perfect a city wedding can be in Atlanta!

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