Sara and Lee’s Georgia wedding is pure and simple Southern goodness that will have me swooning for quite a few days! While I love bright colors just as much as the next girl, there is something so refreshing and romantic about their muted palette and classically styled reception under the twinkle light-draped tent at The Taylor Grady House. Let’s not even get started on Sara’s dreamy Hayley Paige ballgown–that tulle skirt! All the heart eyes, y’all! Of course, the beauty of their wedding day cannot overshadow the sweet nods to their family they incorporated throughout their day, like the pecan brittle favors in honor of Lee’s late father.
We met at work, when we happened to sit next to each other at a farewell happy hour for a coworker. We mostly talked about Georgia football. A week later, Lee sent a follow-up email reminding me of the deadline to apply for UGA season tickets, and it happened to be Valentine’s Day. I thought I was having a pretty bad Valentine’s Day so far, as I had gotten into a car accident earlier that morning. But then Lee told me that he had just returned home from a business trip and discovered that his house had been broken into and, unbeknownst to him, the thieves stole the spare key to his car and came back to steal it the night Lee returned home! After an epic email exchange that transpired over the following weeks, we went on our first date: test driving cars. Most of the salesmen during our test drives that day probably thought we had been together forever since we were “shopping” for cars together, so there was a really fun dynamic to the date. After the last dealership closed, Lee asked me to dinner and drinks at one of the most romantic restaurants in town, Canoe. Before the date was over, Lee proposed something crazy: a vacation. He told me that if I could clear three days the following week, he’d plan the rest. Next thing we knew, we were off to St. Lucia for a whirlwind of a five-day third date. It was a complete leap of faith and something neither of us had ever done before. The rest is history!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Oh, trying on dresses was so much fun! I tried on a variety of different styles, but kept daydreaming of the big, traditional, princess-style wedding gowns. The trick was to find one that would fit in with our tented outdoor reception in Athens, Georgia. I finally felt like a bride when I tried on a gorgeous Hayley Paige creation: a full-skirted gown with generous ruffles made of sculptural tulle with horsehair trim and a crossover sweetheart neckline with a natural-waisted silk radzimir bodice. My dad and I initially joked that the ruffles looked a little like tissues, so we affectionately dubbed the dress the “Napkin Dress!” I tried on a few more styles, but the night after I tried on the Napkin Dress, I stayed up until 4:00 a.m. staring at pictures of it. I knew it was the one!
A string quartet played at our ceremony. The soft sounds of the strings complimented our traditional choices, including Handel’s “Water Music-Air” for the seating of the mothers, Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” for the processional, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” for the bride’s processional, and Handel’s “Water Music-Hornpipe” for the recessional. Lee fell in love with “Canon in D” early in the engagement, so using that for my processional was very special. I’ll never forget hearing the quartet playing the first few notes as I waited outside of the Chapel doors with my dad before walking down the aisle!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? After the ceremony, Lee and I snuck to the side of the Chapel to enjoy a few moments alone and soak in the fact that we had just become Mr. and Mrs.! It was so nice to slow down and catch up after being apart for the whole day. I also got to show Lee the engraving inside his wedding band, which I secretly had done in the weeks leading up to the wedding. I engraved his ring with our wedding date and the phrase, “Forever Your Bunny,” which is our pet name for each other. Seeing his face after showing the engraving to him is a moment I will never forget!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Lee’s father passed away, so we wanted to honor him and make him a part of the day by hand-making his famous pecan brittle recipe with Georgia pecans for our wedding favors. Lee helped his dad make the pecan brittle when he was a little boy, and he continues to make it for family and friends at Christmas. We packaged the pecan brittle, labeled them “Dad’s Pecan Brittle,” and set them on a table with a photograph of Lee’s dad.
One of the biggest money-savers was the fact that the Taylor Grady House let us bring in our own alcohol! We were able to set up a full bar and had a separate bourbon bar comprised of bourbons from Lee’s prized collection. Not only did the freedom to bring our own alcohol bring down the cost, but it allowed us to incorporate Lee’s passion for bourbon and share some of his favorites with our friends and family!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our head table was a dream come true. At 32 feet long, it seated all of our bridal party and their dates. My favorite floral detail was the lush garland that ran down the entire length of the table and had tall, white candles tucked in throughout. The head table also had beautiful place cards with Sarah Ingram’s romantic and organic calligraphy and copper wax seals with a custom logo that Sarah created for us! Sarah’s calligraphy also appeared on the menus set out at each place setting. The head table was everything I had ever dreamed of and more!
Anyone in Athens knows Cecila Villaveces’ Cakes! Our three-tier wedding cake was a vanilla cake with strawberry filling, but the real treat was the Tres Leches cake (vanilla cake soaked with special milks and fresh strawberries) that had to be served from a sheet cake, since it’s too spongy to hold up in tiers!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be intentional about the vendors you choose to surround yourself with on your wedding day. In most cases, they’ll be with you for more of the day than you’ll be with your future husband! The best vendors will immediately click with you, will know your aesthetic better than you do, and will get things done even when you didn’t think it was possible. And, no matter how stressed you get, know that it’ll all melt away by the time your rehearsal dinner starts. At that point, all of your friends and family will be there ready to celebrate you, and you’ll feel such love and support and joy the second those festivities start!
Tell us all about the proposal! We went to Washington, D.C. for the weekend to attend a party hosted by my brother and sister-in-law. The day after the party, we planned to tour some of the museums and monuments. We were moving slowly after the party, and I remember that Lee didn’t say anything when I took a little longer getting ready and curling my hair for the day. We set out to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and stared at all of the breathtaking gems in the The Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, including the Hope Diamond. Lee joked that I shouldn’t get any ideas from walking through the exhibit! When the museums closed, we walked through the National Mall. After walking nearly nine miles all day (me in my 4-inch booties!), we reached the Jefferson Memorial, Lee’s favorite. We walked around the Memorial, and then Lee brought me down to the tidal basin. He held both of my hands, dropped to his knee, and proposed! Mid-proposal, a middle school sports team swarmed the Jefferson Memorial and began cheering for us and taking pictures. After we soaked it all in for a few moments, Lee pulled me back to the spot where he proposed, told me to look behind me at the Jefferson Memorial, to look ahead at the Washington Monument, and to look right at the White House. He told me to remember the exact spot, because in twenty years, when we return with our family, we’ll be able to visit the exact spot where he proposed and would be able to do so for the rest of our lives.
When did y’all get married? September 12, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 135
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Lee and I are both Double Dawgs, having attended the University of Georgia for both undergrad and law school. We wanted to share Athens, Georgia with our family and friends, so when we found out the Chapel on North Campus was available, we jumped at the opportunity. We are season ticket holders and return to Athens every fall for football games. We love that we’ll be able to walk by the place where we got married year after year when we return to the Classic City. We chose the Taylor Grady House for our reception.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We said traditional vows. There is something so sacred, beautiful, and romantic about speaking the same words as generations of couples who have made this commitment before us.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We included the Prayer of St. Francis to honor my dad’s Catholic faith.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We met with our officiant, Reverend Jonathan Spencer, throughout our engagement for marriage prep sessions. We loved making time to be intentional about our relationship and our marriage. We always walked away from our meetings feeling more connected and grounded to the things that truly mattered!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The hardest thing for me to do was to know when to stop searching for inspiration. There are so many beautiful magazines, blogs, Instagram accounts, and Pinterest boards that are wonderful during the initial planning stages and can be a real help when interviewing potential vendors to communicate your vision and aesthetic. At some point, though, I began feeling overwhelmed with all of the options and let my magazines stack up…which just made me feel more stressed about not being able to check off reading the magazines from my to do list! I relied so heavily on the support of my planner, Marilisa Schachinger of Chancey Charm. She helped move me along throughout the whole planning process when I’d get bogged down by certain details. Marilisa was SUCH a blessing and helped me trust my gut and make decisions!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I had an incredible team of vendors that truly became my friends throughout the engagement. I was very intentional about selecting folks who not only had the aesthetic I was looking for, but–more importantly–were good people who were enthusiastic about what they do and were excited to be a part of our wedding day. The very first decision I made was to hire my photographer, Anna Shackleford of Anna K. Photography. I found her through Southern Weddings and, as soon as I read on her Blue Ribbon Vendor profile that she “specialized in happy brides,” I knew I had to meet her. She invited me to her beautiful home for our first meeting, and even surprised me with a Christmas gift of the most recent Southern Weddings magazine and a Starbucks gift card to get a tasty treat while I perused the magazine for inspiration! Anna truly set the bar for everyone else I worked with–she was so patient, kind, supportive, and genuinely excited for us. Anna constantly surprised us with little (and some not-so-little) gifts throughout our engagement and beyond. Having Anna with me throughout our wedding day felt like having an old friend there, who happened to create beautiful images, keep things on schedule, and could corral an entire, crazy family!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We’re settling into our new home in Atlanta, Georgia! We are looking forward to having friends and family over for dinner parties, special celebrations and holidays. We’re also thrilled to spend time together without the stress of wedding planning. I can’t tell you how many nights we’ve been sitting on the couch and just look over at the other and say that we can’t believe how lucky we are to have found each other and that we’re actually married!
Photographer: Anna K Photography | Videographer: Rusticus Films | Planner: Chancey Charm | Ceremony Venue: University of Georgia Chapel | Reception Venue: Taylor Grady House | Florist: Martha McIntosh Creative Consulting | Wedding Cake Baker: Cecilia Villaveces Cakes | Caterer: home.made | Rentals and Lighting: Goodwin Events | Band: The Answer Band | Custom Map: Natalie Kilgore | Paper Products: Sarah Ingram | Bride’s Gown: “Londyn” by Hayley Paige | Bridal Salon: The White Magnolia | Bride’s Veil: Sara Gabriel | Hair Stylist: Tame | Makeup Artist: Becca Whitwinghill | Bride’s Shoes: Valentino | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” in Lilac by Jenny Yoo | Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss Red Label | Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Ribbon: Silk and Willow | Ceremony Music: Cobalt Strings
Anna K is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!