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Amy and Brian met on a double blind date on election night in 2012, and as the only two Republicans in the restaurant, their night may not have ended the way they would have liked politically, but personally, it turned out perfectly! After two new jobs and a new city, Amy and Brian knew they wanted to celebrate their wedding in a familiar spot: Naples, Florida. Brian grew up visiting the beautiful beach town, and Amy quickly grew to love it too. It was just right for their Southern Florida-inspired wedding, filled with bright and bold florals, and even miniature pineapples at every place setting! I love this nod to Southern hospitality, and I completely agree with Amy’s response to what could possibly be cuter than 150 miniature pineapples: “The answer is nothing.”

Thank you kindly to Set Free Photography for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Right before we got engaged, Brian received a promotional opportunity that required relocation from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio. Since our lives were a jumbled mess of moving parts at the time, I decided to travel to New York City, where my sister and maid of honor lives with her husband, for wedding dress shopping at the one and only Kleinfeld’s Bridal. I figured if I had to fly back and forth from whereever I might be living at the time for various fitting appointments, it would be best to choose a place that came with a free weekend’s stay (coupled with some quality family time)! My mom flew in from Oklahoma (where I was born and raised), and we made a fun girl’s weekend out of the trip, filled with lots of wedding to dos, dinners out on the town, and even a Broadway show! I walked into Kleinfeld’s with a handful of photographs of wedding dresses that were all completely and utterly different styles. I had a hard time expressing what I wanted to the sales representatives. but those Kleinfeld ladies sure did hit it out of the park! I felt so beautiful when I tried on my dress–I immediately knew it was the one!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We got married in Naples, Florida, where we go every year for Thanksgiving! Brian has grown up going to Naples with his parents and grandparents. I have grown to adore the place–nothing beats the combination of sunshine, the beach, and family!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not do a first look, and it was one of the easiest decisions of the whole wedding planning process, since it was one of Brian’s only real demands! Brian wanted the first time he saw me on our wedding day to be when I was walking down the aisle to meet him. If there is one thing my husband is not, it’s emotional, but as that moment was happening and I got closer to him, I saw that he was crying. He never, ever, ever cries, and it was one of the most special moments of the day.

My something borrowed was the most special “something.” Brian’s mother passed away after a long battle with cancer a few years ago. I didn’t get the opportunity to meet her, but he raised my husband into the man he is today, so I know she must have been an incredible woman. During my bridesmaids’ luncheon the day before the wedding, my two sister-in-laws gave me her wedding band as a gift for my something borrowed. I have worn it every day since the day I received it. My something old was a coin that my Nana, my mother, my sister, and I all wore in our shoes on our wedding days. I had to tape mine on the sole, since I wore sandals!

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Everyone was incredible, but I have to say my sister, Emily Collins. She did all of the calligraphy for the wedding, from the save the dates and invitations, to the place cards, to the beverage signs, to the escort sign, to the programs, to the welcome baskets, and much more (pretty much on every piece of stationery in my wedding!) She is a high-end interior designer and architect by trade, and it was so incredible to have a little piece of her in my wedding in these ways. I love her dearly and will be eternally jealous of her amazing artistic abilities!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We had real miniature pineapples above each place setting. It was such a small, discrete detail, but I was head over heels for them! What could possibly be cuter than 150 miniature pineapples? The answer is nothing.

We had two different types of wedding cake (for chocolate and vanilla lovers), and we also had yummy desserts served at the tables immediately following dinner. The desserts were very Florida-inspired–chocolate-covered strawberries, fresh fruit tarts, Key lime pie tarts, and cannolis. The Key lime pie tart was probably my favorite!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We first met on a double blind date on the night of the 2012 presidential election. We were inadvertently set up by one of my best friends and bridesmaids, Emily, and one of Brian’s fraternity brothers, Jake (we have to give credit where credit is due!). We were the only Republicans in the entire restaurant, so we ensured all of our drinks were sent to us red, infused with grenadine. While the night didn’t end well for us politically, professionally (hello, mini market crash), or physically (work was not fun the next morning), it did work out personally!
Tell us all about the proposal! Brian proposed to me on a summer night in August. He told me that he had made dinner reservations for us at Gibson’s, a Chicago favorite. As I began hailing a cab from our apartment to the restaurant, he grabbed my hand and started walking me down the street and across the Wells Bridge that extends over the Chicago River. He led me to the front of the restaurant and bar where we had first met two years before, and we sat on the patio for a drink before heading over to Gibson’s. After a delicious meal, we walked out of the restaurant, and he started directing me to an unknown location. We ended up on the Lake Michigan beach, with the beautiful Chicago skyline lit up behind us. Before I knew it, he was on one knee, asking me to marry him. It was beautiful, private, and perfect, and one of the happiest days of my life. After the proposal, he led me to a fancy schmancy hotel in downtown Chicago, complete with an overnight bag packed by one of my best girlfriends, rose petals, and a bottle of celebratory champagne. The room faced the water, so we watched the Navy Pier fireworks go off while excitedly calling all of our best friends and family members. The next morning, Brian took me to a surprise brunch, where all of our friends were anxiously waiting for us!
When did y’all get married? April 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings: “A Marriage” by Mark Twain and Romans 12:1-2, 9-18.
Describe your wedding flowers. In one word, stunning! I might be a little biased, but they were the most beautiful florals I have ever seen! Bright, tropical, fun, flirty–exactly what I had envisioned!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Plaid bow ties and navy suits, pink champagne and whiskey ginger signature cocktails, a stocked cigar bar cart with custom labels and match sets, and Southern Florida-inspired bright and bold florals, to name a few!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We moved cities (from Chicago to Columbus), got two new jobs, purchased a home together, and moved into said home, all while we were planning our wedding! It was an extremely busy time, but all of these moving parts were true blessings!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t dwell in the details, enjoy every moment of the planning process, and approach the bumps in the road with a light heart–everything will end up as perfectly as you imagine!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Travel, settling into a new city, making new friends, and (of course) kids!

Photographer: Set Free Photography / Planner: Jet Set Wed / Venue and Caterer: LaPlaya Beach and Gold Resort / Florals: Isn’t She Lovely / Cake Baker: Ella Cakes / Rentals: Sweet Southern Charm / Lighting: O’Ryan Sound / Band: Society Hill via Brett Foreman Productions / Paper Products: DM Paper Designs and Honest to Emily / Bride’s Gown: “R4BIS” by Le Spose Di Gio / Hair and Makeup: Jamie Lyn Cintron Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Stella McCartney / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “G856U” by Amsale / Menswear: Jos. A. Bank / Trees: Foliage Factory

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Stacy Sullivan reply

    Thank you for featuring this beautiful wedding! We are doing a happy dance!! Always on honor to be featured on your inspirational wedding blog! xo

  2. avatar Pristine Chapel Lakeside reply

    This is a very beautiful wedding. The gold, pink, and white compliment each other beatifully. The groom’s blue suit goes really well with the color scheme.

  3. avatar Dana reply

    I love her flower crown!!

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My number one favorite part of my job is hearing amazing love stories, and then having the opportunity to share them with y’all. Sarah and Andy’s story is one for the SW history books–they are a true gem of a couple and their love story is a beautiful testament to friendship, family, and faith. We are SO grateful that they shared their memories and advice with us, and we hope it warms your heart as much as it has ours!

Thank you so much to Aaron Nicholas Photography for sharing this very special wedding with us!

Andy was born in Belfast, Ireland and moved to Canada when he was six years old. He is the youngest of 13 children. He and his first wife, Joan, met in elementary school in Canada and were married after his Canadian navy tour. They had five children. I am a Charleston native and married my first husband, a Citadel grad, Tom Hemingway, who served as a career Marine and then went into Christian work. We had four kids.

Andy and I met in 1989. My husband was speaking at a conference Andy attended. Andy was impressed and asked Tom to speak at his company’s annual convention in Dallas. From that meeting came a wonderful friendship between Andy and his wife and Tom and me. In 2000, my Tom died very suddenly, and Andy and Joan drew in closer and stayed in my life, even though they were in Dallas. We called each other, wrote letters, and visited. They created a major award in their company in memory of my Tom and flew me to Dallas every year to present it at their national convention. Such generous friends! In December 2010, Joan died suddenly, and I was able to stay close to their family and encourage Andy in his grief.

In May 2012, Andy and his daughter came to visit me in Charleston, and I loved introducing them to the area. We laughed and talked and enjoyed our time together. During the next year, he called “to check on me” a little more often, and gradually, the phone calls became more frequent. We both love to laugh and we both love the Lord, so being together has always been very easy. By the next May, when he and his daughter returned for another visit, there was definitely a new dynamic in our friendship. I think we both realized there was something very special happening. We laugh and say that we went from “Nah! That would never happen!” to “Nah, probably not” to “Well, maybe?” to “Okay, we’re in love!!!!!”

This past November, we went with a group on a mission trip to Argentina. By the time I returned home, we realized that being together was God’s plan for us. In January, Andy came to Charleston and we decided to marry. At our ages, we didn’t want to waste any more time apart. We set the date for March 15 and then proceeded to surprise a lot of people who had no idea we’d even been seeing each other! It was hilarious!

What was your most memorable moment on your wedding day? There was so much joy and laughter. Andy kept thinking the pastor had forgotten to say “You can kiss the bride,” so twice, he reminded the pastor in a whisper. The pastor finally replied (over the mike), “Andy, I’ll tell you when you can kiss her. I haven’t forgotten.” Everyone burst out laughing! The other very special memory was when everyone joined in singing, “To God be the glory, great things he has done.” At our stage in life, we never expected this surprise. It was a wonderful moment!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Remember that it is the marriage that’s important, not the wedding details. Invite the Lord into your relationship and your marriage, and remember that your relationship with each other is much more important that what the caterer serves or if the flowers don’t match. It’s a sacred time, not a show. Love one another. Breathe. The rest will fall into place.
What are you most looking forward to about married life? Sharing life together. Laughing and loving, praying and planning, holding hands, eating ice cream, making a difference in people’s lives, and enjoying all that God has for us.

Photography: Aaron Nicholas Photography / Ceremony Venue: Redeemer Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue: Private residence / Floral Design: Branch Design Studio

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Kaitlin Holland reply

    Oh my goodness – this is beautiful!! This brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing story!

  2. avatar Andrea reply

    Adorable!!! I love this!

  3. avatar Kate reply

    Such a beautiful story!

  4. avatar Kristin reply

    OH MY GRACIOUS!! What a love story. Happiest tears for this sweet bride and groom. I love their advice and especially love what they are looking forward to: holding hands, eating ice cream and making a difference in people’s lives? I wish I could sit down with them and soak up all their wisdom.

  5. avatar Lisa Parker Lott reply

    I’ve followed this blog for so long — and this story just may top the rest! I got chills and teary-eyed while reading this amazing story!

  6. avatar Abby reply

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST! Her bouquet is stunning also!

  7. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    Oh my goodness!! What a beautiful, touching, meaningful, and beautiful love story! I have tears streaming down my face. THIS is what love/marriage/weddings is ALL about! This couple radiates joy & love, and thank you for sharing this wedding. (PS: Her bouquet is beyond stunning, too!)

  8. avatar Jessica reply

    What a precious couple and a sweet, sweet testament to love and marriage! Love this!

  9. avatar Kelly reply

    Southern Bride of the YEAR.

  10. avatar Nita reply

    As a bride, I appreciated her thoughtful advice. It has been so easy for met to get caught up in the stress of wedding planning over the past few months, but a wedding certainly is a sacred time and not a show.

  11. avatar sarah wetzel reply

    Sweet photographs, a lovely couple, a very inspiring story! Thank you, Southern Wedding, for sharing this with the public. And thank you, God, for writing this beautiful love story.

  12. avatar Sara Velordi reply

    I have goosebumps. This is awesome!

  13. avatar Breanna reply

    A beautiful love story and a gorgeous family. Sarah and Andy are an inspiration to all! Their story just goes to show how good people invite good things into their lives with their kindness and love. Their advice to couples planning a wedding is so perfect. Such a beautiful couple inside and out.

  14. avatar Aaron & Jillian reply

    We’re so happy y’all featured Sarah and Andy’s story and their wedding photos! The moment I met Sarah for our first photography consult, I was in love! Her story is one for the books and Aaron and I felt SUPER honored to witness their ceremony and to document such a momentous day in their lives! They really are THE GREATEST and both certainly “made a difference” in our lives after spending one single day with them!

  15. avatar Sally reply

    What a tear-jerker! God writes the most beautiful love stories. Her bouquet is divine!

  16. avatar Katie Minnick reply

    This is literally the most precious thing I’ve ever read. To God be the Glory!

  17. avatar Robin reply

    Wow, what a beautiful story and a beautiful wedding to go with it. God is good!

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When Emily and I first saw the images for Ashley + David’s wedding, we swooned over their amazing dance moves and gorgeous (and I’m assuming out-of-this-world delicious) cake. But after reading their interview, the only thing I can think of when I look through these images is the sweet scene that A + D shared one winter night when David proposed. “We were in my family’s big red truck, driving around David’s neighborhood looking at Christmas lights with our dog Gremlin. David had the ring in his pocket and just leaned over and whispered, ‘Will you marry me?’ David teases me because I responded by saying ‘Are you serious!?’ But I definitely meant it in the most excited way possible.” I love that you can see how sweet and intimate their relationship is in their proposal story and in these photos from Caroline + Ben.

Our first look let us have some time together before all of the rush of the wedding set in. We also wanted to be able to join our guests at the cocktail hour after the ceremony, so we wanted to do most of our pictures beforehand. It turned out to be a very intimate and memorable moment for both of us.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. 
My mom and I went wedding dress shopping together, and David’s mom joined us for the second day, which was wonderful. It was toward the end of summer when we started looking, and I was about to head back up to law school at Harvard, so we took two days and just went everywhere. I had some idea of what I wanted; I knew I wanted something fitted and easy to move in, and I knew David would love a more fitted dress as well, so I didn’t really consider a “princessy” gown. I narrowed it down to a more flowy, bohemian dress and the beautiful Rivini Chantilly lace and organza gown that I ultimately chose. I knew the Rivini dress was the winner when I looked at my mom after I put it on. Once I put on the veil, she really started to tear up! Once my dress was ready, my parents and I drove out to our family lake house, and my dad (a very talented photographer) shot my bridal portraits on our family boat, my waterski in my hand. It was a cold and cloudy day, but I’ll never forget how fun it was. The photos were amazing!

Describe your wedding flowers. 
We wanted our flowers to have a natural and rustic feel, and overall we went for loose and textural arrangements of earthy but bright pops of pink with more muted pinks, greens, lots of succulents, and sprigs of wheat and lavender. The pops of pink color in the bridesmaids’ bouquets really stood out against their blush-colored dresses. My bouquet was hand-tied and featured ivory hydrangea, bright pink garden roses, blush ranunculus, green millet, lavender, dusty miller, and champagne spray roses. The stems were tied with a wide burlap wrap, which was overlaid with a piece of lace from my mother’s wedding dress. We had two types of table centerpieces. The first was an arrangement of three mason jars of varying sizes with a textural mix of pink stock flowers, limonium, Queen Anne’s lace, ranunculus, and bright pink, open garden roses. The other tables had a low wooden box in the center, filled with moss and flowers similar to those on the other tables. Our favors and place cards for the evening were individual potted succulents, wrapped in burlap.

The ceremony was really important to us, and we wanted our musical choices to reflect our relationship and personalities. We had a string quartet play at the ceremony, but we mixed it up a little and didn’t go with too many classics. They played “Bittersweet Symphony” during the seating of the families and “Pachelbel’s Canon in D” for the processional. My dad and I walked down the aisle to “Stolen,” by Dashboard Confessional, a song that has special meaning for us because we listened to Dashboard Confessional together often when we were in high school. David has a deep love for Lady Gaga, so our recessional was a fun instrumental version of “Bad Romance” that got everybody up and ready to party.

Did you write your own vows? 
We did write our own vows, and we are so glad we did. It made the ceremony so special to us. David really got everyone laughing when he vowed to remove my glasses, books, pens, and computer from the bed every night. I often fall asleep working or reading a book, and David’s always there to take everything out of the bed and put it in a place where it won’t get damaged after I fall asleep.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? 
My brother read “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Munkton, and our good friend Joey read “I carry your heart” by e.e. cummings.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: 
Before we got married, David spent two years restoring a historical airplane from WWII. As a surprise for our guests, the airplane, a B-17, made a dramatic flyover just before the ceremony. It was a moment that everyone will remember, and the flight crew joined us at the reception in their vintage flying gear. We also loved our getaway car. David’s dad worked for over a year to restore the family’s old 1939 Ford. David’s parents used that car as their getaway car, and it was so special to continue the tradition. Plus, the car looked amazing after all of David’s dad’s incredible work!

Our wedding was all about love, friends and family, good food, and a good party — it’s hard to get more Southern that that! Vista West Ranch, where we got married, is a beautiful finished out barn with this spectacular Hill Country backdrop. We wanted to really embrace the venue, so we included lots of rustic Texas touches– succulents, burlap, cowboy boots, etc. Our menu was also inspired by our love of good Southern cooking. We had smoked quail nachos and fried green tomatoes as passed hors d’oeuvres and served buttermilk fried chicken with Gruyere mac and cheese as our main course. Our wedding was a celebration not only of our future together, but also of the history we share. We got married almost exactly ten years after our first date, and we wanted to incorporate the many adventures we’ve shared into our wedding. My dad worked for months to compile over a hundred photos of us with family and friends through the years. These were pinned to clotheslines hanging in the trees at our cocktail hour, for all the guests to see.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? 
Budgeting is hard. Weddings can cost a lot of money, and sometimes you wonder whether it’s worth it to spend so much on a single day. My parents were amazing and gave us a very generous budget, but we were trying to save some of that money to put toward a house down payment. We didn’t go absolutely crazy with wedding costs, but, of course, we spent more than we initially planned. Fortunately, it was such a special day, and one that so totally reflected our personalities and our love for each other, that we both feel without a doubt that it was worth it.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. 
Our wedding cake was a white sour cream cake with delicious raspberry filling. It was decorated to resemble a toasted marshmallow. Our groom’s cake, which was bittersweet chocolate with caramel filling, featured a replica of the B-17 bomber that flew over our ceremony, complete with our dog Gremlin (in flying gear!) on the wing. We also had several flavors of mini-pies displayed on old wooden crates, in all our favorite flavors — blackberry cobbler, key lime, chocolate cream, and fried peach!

Can’t you see why we swooned over the image below?

We did an Argentine tango for our first dance, which was a ton of fun and required lots of dance lessons and practice! My dad and I did our first dance to “My Girl,” by the Temptations, which we because it’s the song played when the father and daughter play basketball in one of our favorite movies, “Father of the Bride.” David and his mom danced to “It’s a Wonderful World.”

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. 
We met in high school and went on our first date on October 4, 2002. We’ve been together ever since. We are very different people, but we are extremely good for one another. We have shared so much of our lives that it’s hard to even imagine what it’s like to not be together!

Describe the proposal. 
David proposed in a very sweet and simple way. We were in my family’s big red truck, driving around David’s neighborhood looking at Christmas lights with our dog Gremlin. David had the ring in his pocket and just leaned over and whispered, “Will you marry me?” David teases me because I responded by saying “Are you serious!?” But I definitely meant it in the most excited way possible.

In what month did you get married? 

How many guests attended your wedding? 

What range did your wedding budget fall into? 

What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? 
We splurged on the food and the photographer. Both paid in spades. Our guests were so happy and full, and we have plenty of amazing photos to prove it!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? 
It’s hard to pick. Mostly, we loved having all of our friends and family there to celebrate such a special time with us. It was amazing to look around and just feel surrounded by love.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? 
Just have fun, be creative, and let your personalities shine through. Several of our guests told us that ours was the most personal wedding they’d ever been to — that it was just so “us.” That’s a real point of pride for both of us, and it’s what made our wedding unique. Also, pick someone whose style/taste/decision-making you trust and enlist their help! My mom is amazing; she understands my style, she’s super organized, and somehow she managed to fit in a billion wedding-planning tasks despite her busy doctor schedule. I was studying for the bar exam for several months before the wedding, and she was an absolute lifesaver during that time, as well as the weekend of the wedding.

What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? 
We look forward to lots of future adventures together! David is currently building an airplane in the garage, and we can’t wait to travel all over the country in it!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Ken Tan reply

    What a beautiful wedding! Amazing reception venue!

  2. avatar Dorrene reply

    Great pictures! Love this wedding!

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