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For these high school sweethearts, growing up in the same small town in East Tennessee was full of 4H, FFA, sheep showing, and countless memories of growing up together and falling in love! After Matthew left for the Navy, he wrote love letters to Jessica promising he’d come home and marry her one day–y’all, can we stop and swoon for a second? Delivering on his promise, Matthew married Jessica on a day rich with the history of their love story and the South at the Museum of Appalachia. With the help of beautiful blooms arranged by their family friend Whimsical Gatherings, Jessica and Matthew threw a wedding day that was the perfectly Southern, vintage-feeling, and naturally beautiful. And exactly what they had hoped for!

Big SW hugs to Dixie Pixel for sending along the sweet day!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in high school. He was a Southern born-and-bred farm boy. His family raised sheep and lives on a beautiful farm on the Clinch River in East Tennessee. He and I were involved with agriculture together in high school, so I spent a lot of time with his family learning the basics of 4H, FFA, and, of course, sheep showing. We have countless memories growing up together and falling in love. During college, he left for the Navy. I still have his old love letters from the military, in which he always promised he’d come back home and marry me one day.

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I am totally inspired by all things vintage, so I knew I wanted a simple, lace dress. I found the perfect dress at White Lace and Promises in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was from the Stella York collection, and featured a sweetheart neckline and trumpet silhouette.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our wedding crest and invitations designed by Lydia Sellers of The Darling Type. They laid the groundwork for our overall theme, vision, and color palette, which helped inspire the design for the entire event.

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Matthew is very traditional, which I absolutely adore. He wanted to save that first look moment for our wedding ceremony when I walked down the aisle. It was captured by Dixel Pixel, and the photos turned out to be some of most spectacular ones of the entire day.

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What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were both raised in the same small town of Clinton in East Tennessee, so we knew we wanted to get married in a place that captured the essence and history of the area. The Museum of Appalachia was perfectly fitting and beautifully displayed the heritage of the South, while also capturing the incredible landscape of our hometown area.

Our flowers came from Whimsical Gatherings of Alcoa, Tennessee. The owner, Leah McCall, is a long-time family friend, and her lead designer, Colby West, is brilliantly gifted. Matthew and I shared our inspirations with their team, and they made our dreams come to life. The wedding flowers were lush, colorful arrangements of garden roses, peonies, clematis, cosmos, hydrangea, and ranunculus, mixed with foraged lavender, pears, willow, and honeysuckle. My favorite details were the blue jay feathers, antlers, and bird nests throughout the centerpiece arrangements. It was perfectly Southern, vintage, and natural. The overall design plan was inspired by our wedding crest, designed by Lydia Sellers of The Darling Type.

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What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Matt and I share a love of entertaining others. We were raised in homes with big arms, open doors, and full tables. Coming from the same small hometown, we sincerely wanted to invite everyone we knew to share in this celebration with us. The biggest challenge was finding the balance between inviting everyone we knew (which we both wanted to do), while, at the same time, maintaining an intimate enough setting with those who share life with us.

Tell us all about the proposal! It was Easter weekend in April 2015 and we were sharing a Bible study and coffee in our sun room. It’s one of our favorite things to do on Saturday mornings. At the end, Matthew prayed over our relationship. It was the most sincere prayer, asking God to give us guidance and wisdom in the days and years to come. I felt a comfort and peace like I’ve never felt before. It was an unforgettable moment. A few minutes later, I got up to take our coffee back to the kitchen, when he asked me to come to the front porch. As I opened the door, I noticed a chalkboard where he had written, “Will you marry me?” I turned around to the front steps and he was down on one knee. It was the best surprise of my life.
When did y’all get married? August 22, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes. From me to Matthew: “I vow to submit myself unto Jesus and unto you as we are one, because a strand of three chords is not easily broken. I choose to encourage you joyfully, forgive you freely, and love you unconditionally, possibly only by the power of God’s grace in me.” Matthew to me: “I will faithfully and courageously pursue you with a Christ-centered heart as our Shepherd with faith and love.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My brother represented my dad by reading a letter from him, since it wasn’t possible for him to be present on this day. Matthew’s niece also read scripture from Isaiah 61:10-11.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Oh, of course! My something “new” was my wedding dress and shoes my mother bought me. Something borrowed was my matron of honor’s jewelry. Something old was a ring which my mom had specially designed at Markman’s Jewelers. It includes two princess cut sapphires, my birthstone, on either side of the center stone, which is my grandmother’s wedding diamond. Something blue was the fun part! I wrote a cute poem to each of my closest girlfriends which read, “So, now is the time to share and celebrate. My wedding day is near, I simply can’t wait! I have something old and my something new. I even borrowed something, but not something blue. I just have one thing to ask, to be a part of our special day with one small task. Please, please be my beautiful ‘something blue!’ Just wear the dress that inspires you.”
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Premarital counseling was really awesome for us. It was a neutral ground for us to share about our strengths as well as our differences. It was great for us to have an older couple walk with us through the real aspects of marriage and to give us advice on how to love each other through our differences.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We wanted to celebrate at our reception, so we opted to cut out the timeline of events, such as the cake cutting and bouquet toss, to focus on fun! We saved big bucks by not having wedding cakes, and opted for a dessert bar designed by Echo Bistro instead.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Dream about the day. Create a vision together. Set a planned budget. Stay organized (your vendors will appreciate that!). At the end of the day, stay focused on the purpose of the marriage, not the day of the wedding. Plan for fun and fellowship at your ceremony and forget the details. You’re getting married!!!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We look forward to having children, growing a farm, raising sheep and building a home on his family’s land. Most importantly, we want to serve our church and give back to the organizations that impacted our childhood, such as FFA and local 4H groups.

Photographer: Dixie Pixel | Videographer: Kati Baird | Venue and Planning: Museum of Appalachia | Florist: Whimsical Gatherings | Caterer and Baker: Echo Bistro | Rentals: All Occasions | Lighting: Tennessee Lighting | Band: Pink Cadillac | Paper Products and Makeup Artist: The Darling Type | Bride’s Gown: Stella York | Bridal Salon: White Lace and Promises | Bride’s Jewelry: Stella and Dot | Hair Stylist: Amy Anderson | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank

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

    Beautiful wedding! Love the little details, especially the framed reserved card; so pretty! The foliage table runner is to die for !

  2. avatar Victoria Chris reply

    Love these, such a clean pure look!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    What a great place to have your wedding!

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When the setting of your wedding day is as naturally gorgeous as Dunaway Gardens, it’s hard to go wrong with decor. Meredith and Tyler worked with the team at Tailor and Table to fill their wedding with lush, organic blooms that complemented the surrounding greenery perfectly! For these two, who love to go on walks and hikes, the outdoor amphitheater and gardens made their wedding day feel like “something out of a fairy tale.” Meredith’s words, not mine, but I’d have to agree with her! Top off the day with fun corn hole games, a sweet ceremony, and yummy Southern comfort food from Sun in My Belly, and you’ve got a wedding any guest would be thrilled to attend!

Big hugs to Amy Arrington Photography for sharing this pretty day with us!

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I was so lucky to get to go wedding dress shopping with my awesome mother, mother-in-law, and one of my best friends. We were the perfect team and ended up finding the dress pretty quickly, after I tried on just two other gowns. We had already chosen our gorgeous garden venue, so I when I tried on THE gown, I knew it would look perfectly in-place among the trees at Dunaway Gardens. I loved the interesting back detail, Queen Anne neckline, and, of course, the delicate Southern lace.

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Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Tyler and I did decide to do a first look. We wanted to make sure we carved out a special time for us to see each other before the ceremony, and to step away from all of the chaos for a moment. The first look was one of our favorite moments of the day and resulted in some of our favorite photographs, too!

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We knew we wanted an outdoor ceremony and reception, and we wanted to hold the wedding a little further outside of Atlanta to make the weekend feel like a mini vacation for all of our guests. As soon as we saw Dunaway, we both fell in love with the property, its natural feel, lush trees, and outdoor amphitheater. It felt like something out of a fairy tale.

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Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Tyler’s dear family friend married us, which was incredibly special. The ceremony was a combination of traditional vows, personal touches, and tributes to our relationship, written by our awesome officiant.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We were honored to have to have two of our brothers read during the ceremony: my brother read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Tyler’s brother read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

We wanted our wedding to be a fun, Southern celebration of the outdoors! For cocktail hour, we set up custom corn hole boards for our guests to play while sipping on wine and local Atlanta beer from Monday Night Brewery. We also had some Southern comfort food on our menu, courtesy of Sun in My Belly: buttermilk fried chicken skewers, meatloaf sliders with sun-dried tomato mayo, and a salad with fried Vidalia onions.

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Describe your wedding flowers. I knew I wanted to reflect the natural beauty of the garden by featuring heavy greenery, white anemones, and blue thistle. Luckily, I had the BEST design team to make it happen–Natalia Scott Perkins and Bart Scott of Tailor and Table. They created the most beautiful reception space, with a hanging statement at the head table, thick green garlands with soft white rose accents, and touches of blue from the anemones and thistle. The bouquets and boutonnieres also featured sprigs of rosemary, bay laurel, nigella, and chocolate cosmos.

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“Marry Me” (Train) is on my list of most fun songs of the night, because I got to sing it with my college a cappella group, UGA Noteworthy, as part of a deep-rooted Noteworthy wedding tradition of the bride singing her solo at the reception. That particular song, as cheesy as it was to sing at my own wedding, was my solo on our 2012 album, Ladies First (available on iTunes!), and is always a blast to sing with my closest friends beside me. At the last Noteworthy wedding, I caught the bouquet at the reception. At my wedding, the Noteworthy girl that caught my bouquet was proposed to the following weekend, and is getting married in April! We can’t wait to see who’s next!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Tyler and I met on the school bus during our freshman year of high school. We became close friends, and since our families lived down the street from each other, we went on tons of walks and hikes together. At some point, these outdoor adventures started to feel more like fun dates, and we became inseparable. After high school, I went off to the University of Georgia and he left for Georgia State. We weren’t used to being so far from each other, but we definitely made it work! Needless to say, after our many years together and all we had been through, we (and our families) could not possibly have been more excited about our wedding!
Tell us all about the proposal! Tyler proposed at our favorite high school hiking spot at the Roswell Mill. It’s a beautiful place off of the Chattahoochee River where there are still remnants of an 1800 cotton mill and a still-functioning old dam. The evening of his proposal, I was feeling pretty down because my two best friends, with whom I was supposed to have dinner that night, had cancelled last minute. Tyler suggested a walk through the trails at Roswell Mill to cheer me up. At the top of the dam, he asked me to be his wife–I think I said yes at least 27 times! Still giddy with excitement, I rode with Tyler to a restaurant down the road, where he said he had made a reservation for the two of us. When we got through the door, I saw that my family, his family, and my two best friends were there to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? September 20, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 130
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We created a lot of the details ourselves–Tyler made the programs, and my mom and I made my veil and the basil seed favors.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? It is so hard to pick one! I’m going to have to go with the combination of Amy Arrington Photography and Tailor and Table Design Studio, without whom I would not have the gorgeous photos of our wedding, laden with the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. I am beyond grateful to them for how perfectly everything turned out!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Lean on your families and friends and delegate! Tyler and I definitely had a clear vision for our wedding, but we could not have done it (physically or emotionally) without the support of our awesome families and our close friends.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are loving married life so far! We are currently most looking forward to bringing home a new puppy in a few months!

Photographer: Amy Arrington Photography / Venue: Dunaway Gardens / Florist: Tailor and Table / Wedding Cake: Publix / Caterer: Sun in My Belly / DJ: Spectrum Entertainment / Paper Products: Paper Snaps / Bride’s Gown: “Erin” by Watters / Hair Stylist: Lindsay at NV Hair Studio / Bride’s Shoes: BHLDN / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Kami” by J. Crew / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

Amy Arrington and Sun in My Belly are delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
13 Comments
  1. avatar liam smith reply

    stunning location, love the colour and clarity of the images

  2. avatar Emily reply

    I love all of the greenery at the reception, and Meredith’s lace dress is beautiful!

  3. avatar Dunaway Gardens Wedding : Meredith + Tyler reply

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  4. avatar Marilisa S. reply

    Bravo Natalia & Bart on the stunning florals! Congrats to the beautiful couple!

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  10. avatar Elizabeth reply

    Where was the adorable cornhole board purchased?!?

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  12. avatar Woodstock Corn Hole Games reply

    The Monogram corn hole set in article was custom made by Woodstock Corn Hole Games.

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