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During our team retreat, we played a Southern Weddings version of The Newlywed Game. Kristin and I lost to Emily and Lisa by just one point! However, when the question of whether your partner would rather go to Mardi Gras or the Kentucky Derby came up, KNW knew me the best! I love Mardi Gras, but I’ve never been to the Derby, and we often daydream of a Derby double date with our beaus. Lindsey and Ryan’s Derby-inspired wedding only makes me want to go more! I love how they timed their cocktail hour with the race, included mint juleps as their signature drink, and aptly named their tables after past winners, inspired by the guests at the table (be sure to read about that below!). But, despite their love for every special detail, Lindsey and Ryan said “our favorite detail was becoming husband and wife.” That’s the best detail in my book as well!

Big SW hugs to our friend Elaine Palladino for sharing this fun day!

P.S. How fun is it that Lindsey and Ryan are celebrating their first anniversary at the actual Kentucky Derby this weekend? So special!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Mutual friends of ours, Dave and Rachel Gossett, hinted for eight years that we should meet. Living in different cities, we both presumed that it was never really meant to be. Fast forward to Derby Day 2012 when Dave and Rachel were at my annual Derby party and sent Ryan his first picture of me. A little later in the evening, one text was followed by a few clever other ones, that led to a conversation that never stopped. We texted through May into June, talked on the phone for the rest of the summer, and then Ryan came to visit over Labor Day weekend. We met on my front porch for our first date, and though I will admit to being profoundly nervous, we both knew instantly that there was something special between us. We spent the next year and a half dating and being engaged long-distance, while Ryan took care of his ailing father in Jacksonville before making the big move to Miami last spring, just in time for the wedding.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did. I am exceptionally traditional in most areas of my life, and was convinced I’d never do a first look, but when we decided to time the cocktail hour so that it was during the Kentucky Derby, we knew if we wanted to see it, we’d have to do pictures beforehand. It was a good thing we did, because as soon as I was dressed, all I could think about was getting to Ryan. If I had to wait until the ceremony, I might have gone crazy! It was just us for those few moments, and it was fantastic. Well, it was supposed to be just us, until I saw the pictures later of the entire wedding party watching from inside the hotel. :)

I saw my dress on Pinterest almost a year before getting engaged. I saved the picture thinking, “I would love to find a dress like this one day.” The night of my engagement, my sister, who was so excited to start planning wedding details, asked me if I knew the kind of dress I wanted. I shared the picture, just to give her an idea of what I was looking for, but realizing it would be hard to match something to that dress. Somehow, within a couple of days, she had found the dress, identified the designer, found the only store in Miami that sold that designer, and sent me there the following Saturday. I walked in, tried on the dress, and knew it was the one. I am forever grateful to her, more than I could ever express.

We chose orchestral hymns for the seating of the mothers and the processionals. Having both been raised in the Protestant faith, the hymns we chose felt like a natural way to invite the Lord into our day, while also honoring our moms at the same time. Our close friend beautifully sang The Lord’s Prayer at the end of the ceremony for the same reasons. Our first dance was to “Amen” by Dave Barnes. The words remind us that in all things, we are thankful to God and trust in His plans for our future. As a side note, the trumpeter at the wedding decided on his own accord that the bridal processional should start with a lively “Derby” fanfare. It was a surprise to all, and a great laugh.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? It was extremely important to us and our parents that we were married in a church. Our home church doesn’t offer ceremonies on Saturdays, so we chose a beautiful church near the Biltmore Hotel, where our reception was going to be. We wanted our day to be as enjoyable and easy as possible for all of our guests, so we kept everything as convenient as we could. The Biltmore was the perfect backdrop for the feel and style of our wedding.

We encouraged our guests to embrace the theme of the Derby by wearing big hats and bow ties–and boy, did they! We also included mint juleps, pennant mason jars, and a bluegrass band. To top the night off, we opened (and emptied) a long-saved bottle of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle with all of our friends. To represent “South” Florida, we had a cigar roller at the reception.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We named our tables after horses who have won the Derby throughout history, and chose names that best represented the guests sitting at that table (for example, “Behave Yourself” was for the wedding party and “Spend A Buck” was for my parents’ table :)). We also set thank you notes on each table, which we hoped expressed to our family and friends just how much their love meant to us. Honestly though, despite our love for every special detail we included, our favorite detail was becoming husband and wife.

What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Our first anniversary! We are going to the 2015 Kentucky Derby with our immediate family. None of us have ever been and we thought it would be a wonderful way to celebrate a year of marriage with our families!

Tell us all about the proposal! Each year, my family travels with the Gossetts and all of our extended family to Sanibel for the Fourth of July. Before the weekend, Ryan met with my dad to ask for my hand in marriage. On the night of the 4th, while on the beach, we joked about being married a year from that day. I gave Ryan a hard time, saying “First, we have to get engaged!” Just 20 minutes later, while watching fireworks, Ryan whispered into my ear, “Remind me again what step one is?” I turned around in disbelief and Ryan got down on one knee! It felt like we were the only two people on the beach in those few moments, and then, we turned around to find our families and friends there to greet us with hugs and champagne.
When did y’all get married? May 3, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We exchanged traditional vows, but we tweaked one line. Instead of saying “to love, honor and cherish,” we added “care for” into the phrase. The way we take care of each other is often our greatest expression of love.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings at the ceremony: Romans 12:1-2, 9-13 and Colossians 3:12-17. Romans spoke to us about how to honor the Lord, each other, and others through our union and love. Colossians taught us how to love each other. Also, Romans 12:13 tells us to “practice hospitality.” This instruction highlights a gift we feel God has given us, as we both find joy in opening our home and hearts to others.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mom gets the glory for the DIY details. Among the countless, non-crafty details she managed, she still found time to spray paint horseshoes, assemble pennants, and sew napkin rings for nearly 300 people. As a team, we stuffed invitations, assembled programs, hand-wrote the name cards and pennant mason jars, and painted flower boxes and “happily ever after” signs.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Make it your own; tell your story. But most importantly, stay calm and remember that everything will turn out okay. It will be more perfect than you can possibly imagine, because at the end of it all, you will be married.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? In lieu of wedding favors, we made a gift to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, in honor of Ryan’s father, Douglas Franklin Parker, who passed away in April 2013. Each guest received a note from the foundation and a chocolate horseshoe from Dr. Parker’s favorite chocolatier, Peterbrooke.

Photographer: Elaine Palladino / Videographer: Michael Burgos Films / Day-Of Coordination: Claudia Glasson and Claudia Santana / Ceremony Venue: Granada Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue, Catering, and Rentals: The Biltmore Hotel / Florals, Rentals, and Lighting: Always Flowers / Wedding Cake: Todo Dulces / Ceremony Musician: Ross DeBardelaben of Miami Virtuosi LLC / Band: Tropics Entertainment / Special Details: Unearthed Vintage / Paper Products: Fresh Impression Letterpress Studio / Bride’s Gown: Watters / Bride’s Shoes: Benjamin Adams / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Sung / Menswear: Jos. A Bank

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Who Gets Married on Kentucky Derby Day | Equestrian Stylist reply

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  3. avatar Kirsti reply

    I just adore this wedding!! How precious can this be?? I love the derby theme and all of the little details they included in their special day!!

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Just the words “Blackberry Farm” elicit a few sighs around the Southern Weddings office, and rightfully so–it is truly a breathtaking place, not to mention, an incredible wedding venue. Lindsey and Sheldon took advantage of this by hosting their guests for the entire weekend, giving everyone plenty of time to enjoy themselves and make memories. Throughout the weekend, Lindsey and Sheldon scattered postcards all over the farm, and encouraged everyone to jot down their favorite moments and stories. Their rustic welcome dinner and elegant wedding, which was made all the more special by the evening rain, gave everyone plenty to write about, and to this day, Lindsey and Sheldon love re-living this special weekend every time they receive a postcard in the mail!

We are so grateful to Clark Brewer for sharing this special wedding weekend with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I wore Vera Wang’s “Isabella” gown, which is made of layered ivory chiffon and organza, with a very simple Vera Wang veil. I bought it at B. Hughes Bridal in Nashville, and we ended up hiring Karen Kaforey, the owner of the dress shop, to plan the wedding. She was amazing.

We were blessed to have the opportunity to rent out Blackberry Farm in its entirety for the weekend. It’s one of the most magical places I’ve ever been, and the fact that the whole resort was “ours” for two and a half days was kind of mind-blowing.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Sheldon and I asked my father’s best friend Chris (who is like a second father to me) to officiate, and the three of us wrote the entire ceremony from scratch. We wanted the ceremony to reflect our deep and eclectic spirituality without drawing too much from one specific religious text. Sheldon and I wrote the vows and ring exchange statements ourselves, and also read love letters during the ceremony.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Craig Duncan, the frontman of the quintet who played at both the welcome dinner and during the ceremony, is supremely talented. Sheldon and I wanted to process to our song, “Simple Life” by The Weepies, and to recess to “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers. Craig and his team learned both songs prior to the weekend and played them perfectly.

It started to get cloudy during the outdoor ceremony, and then literally as the last musician put his instrument away and Clark snapped the last family photo, the sky broke open and it poured rain. We had to be creative with the photography and Sheldon had to carry me around all evening so that I didn’t ruin my dress! My favorite pictures from the wedding resulted from us having to “deal with” the rainy weather: all the photos taken on the swing (the tree above it provided shelter). Another amazing thing about the rain was that it continued throughout the evening and kept us all cool as we danced like crazy under the tent until 2 a.m. I don’t think we would’ve been able to dance like that if the rain hadn’t cooled the night down.

We were so lucky to have Clark and Campbell Brewer shooting photographs and video throughout the weekend. They’re incredibly gifted at what they do, but more than that, they are such precious, open, fun guys who felt like old friends from the first time we met them. They were ever-present and yet never obtrusive, and we were able to be present in our experience without feeling like we were being watched. This was vital to us because we wanted the weekend to feel, for us and everyone else, organic and whimsical and free-flowing. And it did.

We were engaged for more than three years before getting married–jobs kept changing, we kept moving cities, and the timing wasn’t right…until it was. I’m glad that everything unfolded the way that it did, because our wedding was completely perfect and completely “us.”

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in Los Angeles through mutual friends in 2008. I know it sounds silly and cliché, but we knew almost instantly that we’d end up together.
Tell us all about the proposal! Sheldon proposed on the day after Christmas, about a year after we started dating. We were visiting my parents for the holidays, and he asked their permission, like the perfect gentleman he is. On December 26, I awoke at the crack of dawn to him kneeling by the bed in my childhood bedroom with a ring. After I ran through the house screaming about being engaged, I think I went back to bed. Shel was like, “I’m sorry it’s so early–I just couldn’t wait any longer!”
When did y’all get married? August
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My mother read a prayer from Marianne Williamson’s book Illuminata, and two of my girlfriends read a passage from The Alchemist. I had asked each of them to select readings that fit Sheldon and me, but also asked that they remain a surprise until the day of the ceremony. A few minutes before the wedding began, the girls realized that they’d independently chosen the exact same passage from the exact same book, so they “winged it” with grace, splitting the selected passage right down the middle.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Instead of a traditional guest book, we asked family and members of the wedding party to collect postcards from around the country, and the stacks of blank postcards were placed around the property all weekend. My sister bought a vintage mailbox, and she and my mother decorated it. Then guests were asked to write favorite memories of us as a couple or of the weekend itself, and by the end of the weekend, the mailbox was stuffed with postcards. Every few weeks, either my mom or Jamie (my sister) mails us a few of the postcards, and we read and laugh and cry and keep them in a special box to remind us of the magical weekend.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Sheldon says that for him, it’s when he saw me for the first time before I walked down the aisle. Something small but sweet that just came to mind for me is that after the ceremony, all the guests gathered for cocktail hour and Sheldon and I hung back with Clark and Campbell to take pictures and decompress for a moment. When it was time for us all to come together for dinner, Sheldon had to carry me from the farmhouse where we were to the barn where the dinner was, because it was raining. As he did, I saw many of our guests clustered around the window sweetly “spying” on our little “over the threshold” moment.

Photographer: Clark Brewer / Videographer: Campbell Brewer / Planner: Karen Kaforey / Venue: Blackberry Farm / Florist: Clay Pots Floral / Wedding Cake: Magpies Bakery / Bluegrass Band: Craig Duncan / Reception Band: Burning Las Vegas / Bride’s Gown: “Isabella” by Vera Wang / Bridal Salon: b. Hughes Bridal / Hair and Makeup: Jordan Byers

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

    That getaway car… obsessed is an understatement! Beautiful wedding thanks for sharing!

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We have a treat for y’all today–a Maryland wedding! This northernmost Southern state (it is technically below the Mason-Dixon, after all) was the perfect place for Whitney and Benjamin to gather their loved ones from Savannah, Washington DC, and everywhere in between. The pastel colors and flowers they chose were undeniably feminine, but I love that Whitney made sure to include Benjamin’s two wedding requests: a choir to sing “Oh Happy Day” as they left their ceremony (so fun!) and a fabulous live band at the reception. After reading through their sweet interview though, I can’t help but wonder if these two even noticed all of the lovely details at their wedding–they are clearly so smitten with each other and were totally focused on becoming husband and wife!

Thanks so much to Karena Dixon for sharing this pretty day with us!

My something blue was a pair of beautiful blue topaz earrings Benj gave to me as a gift on our wedding day. For something old, I carried a crystal clutch that was once my Grandma Honey’s, and I had a piece of my momma’s wedding dress and my Grandma Gretchen’s wedding headpiece wrapped around my bouquet. It was so nice to honor both of my grandmothers and my mother in that way! My shoes and perfume were my something new.

From Benjamin: My most memorable moment of our wedding day was seeing Whitney for the first time on The Strand. I am usually tight with anticipation or anxiety about big moments, but when I saw her, everything washed away and I could not have been more relaxed. She looked drop-dead gorgeous, so I also realized that I was fighting way above my weight class. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this journey was going to be incredible.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We chose our reception venue first. We wanted our reception to be close to the water near Easton, MD (where I am from), and the Tred Avon Yacht Club fit the bill! They have great spaces and delicious food as well. We didn’t want our guests to have to travel too far after the ceremony, so we started looking at churches in Oxford. After attending a service at Waters United Methodist Church and experiencing feelings of warmth and fun among the congregation (their choir is great!), I knew we had found the spot. It was also less than a mile from the Yacht Club, so it was a perfect fit!

Describe your wedding flowers. I LOVED my wedding flowers! I knew I wanted to combine the soft pastels of spring with romantic whites. I also knew I wanted to carry a full, lush, peony bouquet. The reception table arrangements alternated vases overflowing with white, pastel, peach, and pink garden flowers (hydrangeas, peonies, roses, football mums, and dusty miller), and candelabras with smaller satellite arrangements of the same pastel flowers. Everything was gorgeous!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? As a classic Southerner, Benj insisted on wearing a cream dinner jacket and a custom made houndstooth tie and cummerbund set. More importantly, we both agreed that keeping our guests limited to close family and friends would be central to our ceremony and celebration. The church felt like a giant hug and our reception was a huge party. No one celebrates like the South and very few places put so much emphasis on a family-based upbringing. Many of our guests were true Southerners, either by location or by heart, and that resonated throughout the weekend through everyone’s love and support.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Benjamin: I met Whitney in our freshman dorm at James Madison University in the fall of 2005. We immediately became great friends and partners in crime throughout our college years. Our relationship blossomed further when both of us moved to the Washington, DC area. As a native of Savannah, GA, this was quite a change of pace for me, so it was welcome news to hear that I would have my buddy in town. Eventually, we were hanging out with each other five nights a week, but we never saw each other much on the weekends, because Whitney had friends in Baltimore and Annapolis that she would visit regularly. As our relationship slowly turned into something that was more than friends, I finally convinced her to give me a weekend and go camping with me. When she started calling me “Ben” instead of “my friend, Ben,” her family knew the jig was up after months of telling her (rightfully so) that she was in love with me, and I had the same feelings.
Tell us all about the proposal! At 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 18, 2012, Benjamin woke me up saying it was time to go to the beach. I obviously protested, but my excuses didn’t work and we were out the door by 7:15. When we got to the beach, Benj pulled out a bag he had packed with blankets to lay on and get warm. We found a nice spot and sat there to watch the sunrise. As the sun peeked over the Atlantic, Benj suggested we take a walk to the water’s edge, where he got down on one knee in the early morning light and opened a box containing a gorgeous sparkling ring. I didn’t give him the chance to say anything before I emphatically said “YES!” He then got to say what he had planned, which was heartfelt and perfect, and I again gave him my answer. We returned to our blankets, popped a tasty bottle of champagne he had packed, and spent the next two hours alone with the excitement of our future life together before announcing it to our friends and family. It was a wonderful day!
When did y’all get married? May 18, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my dress was actually a LOT easier than I thought it would be! I was sure I would be indecisive and not find “the dress” on my first trip. I was in Maryland for my friend’s bridal shower the weekend I bought my dress, so many of my bridesmaids were able to come with me. We went to Betsy Robinson’s Bridal in Baltimore, and surrounded by my momma and five of my best friends, I found my dress after only trying on about six! The choice was clear when I walked out and the tears started flowing from my companions, along with the comment “You look like a BRIDE!” I knew I had found the dress I would wear walking down the aisle.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. One of Benj’s only requests for the wedding was to have a choir sing “Oh Happy Day” as we walked out of the church, so that is what we did, and it was amazing! For our first dance, we danced to Etta James’ “At Last” sang by our band. We have always loved that song and felt it spoke to our story as a couple. We had a very spirited first dance and the band was incredible!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? To save money, I kept one question in mind when making decisions: “Would I REALLY regret not having ___ for our wedding?” If the answer was not a definite yes, I moved on.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were so happy my Grandma Gretchen could be at our wedding. She passed away over Christmas and always said she wanted to live to see her only granddaughter walk down the aisle. We are so thankful she was not only able to be there, but also to dance and enjoy our wedding with us.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My most memorable moment was right before dinner, sitting at the head table and taking in everything around me. I was sitting next to the love of my life at a table with our younger brothers and best friends, surrounded by both our families and family friends who have watched us grow into the people we are today. Behind us was the river I grew up on and the band was playing some soft tunes that sounded incredible. I felt so fortunate and blessed in that moment, it still gives me chills to this day!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Try to incorporate both of you into the wedding! Benj’s only requests were for a choir at the ceremony and a large live band. Being able to see how happy he was with both of those things made the day even better for me too!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We just bought our first house! We are excited to make it our own and live and grow in it together. I asked Benj this question and he said, “I am looking forward to growth. I look forward to growing as a person, as a friend, as a husband, and eventually as a father. My wife helps me every single day to become the best version of myself. I look forward to continuing to be able to look in the mirror and see someone that is worth the woman that God brought into my life. I look forward to teaching our kids how to fish, water-ski, and sail. I look forward to continuing to be happy with what I have been blessed with; now, today, and tomorrow. I do not look forward to losing my hair.” Who wouldn’t love this guy?!

Photographer: Karena Dixon / Planner: Kari Rider Weddings and Events / Ceremony Venue: Waters United Methodist Church / Reception Venue: Tred Avon Yacht Club / Florist: Monteray Farms / Wedding Cake: Julie Bakes / Rentals: Eastern Shore Tents and Events / Band: The XPD’s / Bride’s Gown: “Mimi” by Watters / Bridal Salon: Betsy Robinson’s Bridal / Paper Products: La Paperie / Hair Stylist: Serendipidy / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Carol Hannah, Saja, Amsale / Custom Crab Mallets: Bay Imprint

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

    What a BEAUTIFUL day!!! Ahhh, everything was truly picture perfect!

    All of this southern talk makes me [a born and bred Minnesotan] want to become a southern belle! :)

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