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As I read through Emily and Matthew’s interview, “relationships” was the word that kept coming to my mind. Along with making sure their wedding was a great opportunity for their loved ones to connect (“there were plenty of places for the guests to dance, eat, or catch up with friends and family, whether that was on the dance floor, in the barn, in rocking chairs by the outdoor fireplace, or while playing cornhole in the grass”), Emily and Matthew also carved out time during the day for just the two of them. Their first look and private dinner, both right by the river, look like such special moments that I know they’ll cherish forever!

Thanks so much to Clark Brewer and Invision Events for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Laura McCarty did an AMAZING job on all of the florals. The inspiration for my bouquet was white-toned garden flowers, including white cloud, majolica roses, peonies, Juliet roses, and pops of blush peonies and dahlias. We also loved the greenery she used around the chandelier in the barn and on the wedding party table.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! We wanted to do a first look for two reasons. One, it was more practical to see each other before the ceremony so we could get the majority of our pictures taken. We wanted to enjoy the reception and time with our family and friends without having to worry about formal photos right after the ceremony. Second, Matt and I wanted to have as many shared memories of the day as we could. Getting to do a first look allowed us to spend some sweet time together before the ceremony, and since we did it down by the river with just Clark and Chris (the photographers), we got to get away from the hustle and bustle of venue prep for a few quiet moments.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we went with the classic vows. Matt’s co-best man and one of our dear friends, Alex, performed our ceremony, and he did a fantastic job. For the message, Alex focused on the story of Hosea, which is one of our favorite images of the Lord’s love for us. We knew we wanted that to be the main focus of the ceremony.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Most of the readings came from the biblical book of Hosea, but we also included Isaiah 43:4–7, Romans 3:10-18, Romans 5:6-11, and a few others in the ceremony.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Clark Brewer did a fantastic job photographing the day. Two of our favorite parts of the day were our first look and the private dinner we enjoyed down by the river. Clark documented both of those occasions so well, and they truly captured how beautiful the entire day was!

Picking the venue wasn’t as hard as picking the city. Matt and I went through many destination options before settling on my hometown of Birmingham. Once we knew we wanted to have it in Alabama, I was immediately drawn to Swann Lake Stables. It had the look and feel of being somewhere in the East Tennessee mountains (one of the destinations we considered), and we knew that in late October, it would be beautiful. It was laid-back, comfortable and naturally gorgeous, which was what we were going for in terms of style.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food was deliciously Southern. Shindigs did a fantastic job serving up delicious dishes including everything from miniature quail and waffles, to shrimp and grits, to cornmeal-crusted okra. Everything about our venue also made the wedding quintessentially Southern. We enjoyed that there were plenty of places for the guests to dance, eat, or catch up with friends and family, whether that was on the dance floor, in the barn, in rocking chairs by the outdoor fireplace, or while playing cornhole in the grass.

When we first started the wedding planning process, I knew I wanted to have a “naked” cake. I don’t care much for heavy icing, and I like the rustic look of naked cakes. Kim did an awesome job turning that inspiration into a reality, and since it was simple and clean, Laura was able to add some flowers to make it a focal point of the reception.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Matt and I met in Austin in 2011. I had just graduated from college and moved to Austin, barely knowing anyone. A few weeks after I moved there, I ran into a guy I had gone to college with, who invited me to his bible study–that’s where I first met Matt. We were casual friends for a year or two, but as we got to know each other better through Friendsgivings, birthday parties, church activities, weekend trips, and TV nights, we developed (major) secret crushes. It took a night of karaoke and dancing out with friends in early 2014 for us to finally realize the major crushing was mutual. Timing was not on our side (Matt was moving to Dallas for a job at the end of the summer), but we decided to take a chance on our friendship and start dating anyway. It worked out in our favor!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was the Saturday before Easter 2015. Matt was living in Dallas and I was living in Austin. He was coming down for the weekend, and our plan was to go to the Texas Capitol building on Saturday morning for a tour and then meet up with his parents afterward for lunch. This wasn’t an unusual weekend plan because I was planning on moving to Dallas sometime in the coming months, and visiting the Capitol was on our Austin bucket list. His parents being in town wasn’t unusual either because they had come to spend Easter with his grandparents, who lived close by. Matt was able to hook us up with a private tour with Rod, the Sergeant-at-Arms for the House, through a mutual friend. Rod showed us around the Capitol, and as we were wrapping up, he asked if we wanted to make the trek up to the dome, where other tourists didn’t have access. Matt and I weighed whether we should do it or not since we were running late for our lunch, but Rod convinced us to make the climb, since this was a one-time chance sort of thing. When we got to the tip top of the dome, we were able to exit outside onto a small wraparound patio. When Rod said he had to “take a call” and stepped back in, I knew something was up. A few seconds later, Matt grabbed my hand, said my name, and I knew this was it! He got down on one knee and proposed right there. Rod was in on the whole thing, so after his “call,” he came back out and took a few pictures for us. Afterward, we did in fact meet up with Matt’s parents for lunch, but both of our families were there to celebrate with us, as well!
When did y’all get married? October 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 165
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The week after we got engaged, I was visiting one of my bridesmaids in New York City, so we decided to do a brief shopping trip. It was unsuccessful, but I was able to get my feet wet and start to feel more like a bride. A few weeks later, I planned a dress shopping trip with three of my close girlfriends in Austin. I tried on probably 10-15 dresses and honestly loved most of them. We eventually narrowed it down to two favorites and took pictures to share with my mom and sister, since they lived too far to see them in person. My mom, my sister, and my dad all picked the same dress as their favorite, so I went with that one! It was exactly the dress I had had in mind: simple, classic, and not too glam for an outdoor wedding.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail was the wedding party table. It was forty feet of farm table that sat our closest friends. It was a joyful picture to see everyone from every phase of our lives in one place!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We went through premarital counseling with a couple at our church. It was important to us to learn from people who had gone through this season and could guide us through conversation and conflict in preparation for marriage.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We didn’t have to hire an officiant or ceremony musicians since we had our friends play those parts!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Enjoying dinner by the river immediately after the ceremony was a sweet and memorable moment. Having a few minutes alone to relax, eat good food, and revel in our new marriage was a special time for us.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Knock all of the big stuff out first! We jumped into wedding planning the week after we got engaged, and that allowed us to book most of our vendors in the first month of our engagement. The last two to three months before the wedding, we were able to take our time preparing for our marriage, not just finishing up last minute wedding details.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Matt and I reside in Dallas, where he’s an attorney and I’m working for a healthcare startup. The big challenge we’re tackling as a couple right now is keeping our new fiddle leaf fig tree alive.

Photographer: Clark Brewer | Planner: Invision Events | Venue: Swann Lake Stables | Florist: Laura McCarty | Cake Baker: Kimberly Wiggins | Caterer: Shindigs | Rentals and Lighting: Event Rentals Unlimited | Band: The Neons | Special Details: Prophouse | Paper Products: Katie Roden | Bride’s Gown: “Cassidy” by Amy Kuschel | Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott | Hair Stylist: Joanna Ballentine | Makeup Artist: Molly Stilley | Bride’s Shoes: Tory Burch | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nouvelle Amsale | Groom’s Attire: Sid Mashburn | Ice Cream Sandwich Cart: Big Spoon Creamery

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    Oh, friends, nothing gets my heart skipping a beat quite like a fabulous wedding gown! Mary Catherine is a designer herself, so it was pretty much a guarantee that she was going to choose something amazing for her big day. With the help of Joan Pillow (who actually helped me find my wedding dress, too!) and a bunch of her favorite ladies, Mary Catherine fell head over heels for the Le Spose di Giò beauty that ended up being a perfect fit for her and Chaz’s elegant Swan House wedding. It certainly set the tone for what was to come: an intimate ceremony followed by an elegant, but super fun, reception!

    We’re so glad Paperlily Photography was on hand to capture this special day!

    Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! My girlfriends and I have a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Garter” that we pass around to each bride. After the wedding, each girl stitches a bow to the garter in the color of her bridesmaids’ dresses. It is so unique and special, and served as my something borrowed. My something blue was totally last minute when I realized I needed something blue, so I just painted one pinky toe blue! My wedding ring is a family heirloom (something old), and my earrings were new.

    I have been a dress designer for years but I really didn’t want to make my own wedding dress–too much pressure. I had a big date planned in January with my mother, two best friends, future sister-in-law, and future mother in-law to all come to Atlanta to go shopping for my dress and the bridesmaid dresses. Then, during my mother’s visit for Christmas, we ended up next door to one bridal salon, Joan Pillow, and decided to go in just for kicks. I tried on the first dress I saw (allover lace) and my mom and I just knew it was the one. Or so we thought! Fast forward to January with the whole crew, and we headed to Joan Pillow first. I tried on the same dress that I had a month before, and everyone said it was pretty. Feeling a little guilty I had already chosen my dress without everyone, I decided to try on some more. The fourth dress was something I thought I would never choose in a million years, since it was silk and not lace. When I came out in it, everyone gasped, and I knew, for real this time, that this was the one! I later discovered that I had previously pinned that dress on Pinterest. Fate!

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We fell in love with the Swan House–it is so stunningly beautiful. We had never been to a wedding there before and wanted ours to be unique. Chaz is a big skier and loves Colorado, so we toyed with the idea of having our wedding there, but ultimately decided on our current town!

    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I was really surprised about how calm I was despite the horrible weather conditions. The ceremony was planned to be outside in front of the magnificent Swan House stairs. The back-up option was a smaller, less desirable room indoors. Chaz and I touched base in the morning and decided we would tell our wedding planner at 2 P.M. if we wanted to have the wedding indoors or outdoors. Around 2, Chaz called me and said, “Well, it’s about that time.” I looked outside and saw the rain pouring, but somehow, felt a sense of calm come over me. I no longer cared about the weather. I was marrying the most incredible man and felt like the luckiest girl alive. Everyone I love was in town to celebrate our marriage. We were about to have a fantastic night ahead of us. Life was good. In the end, the indoor room turned out to be intimate and beautiful. The dimly lit chandeliers and gorgeous floral arrangements made the ambiance just perfect.

    Describe your wedding flowers. My wedding bouquet was a blend of white garden roses, white hydrangea, and lush foliage. We had a mix of low and tall floral arrangements at the reception that displayed white hydrangea, green hydrangea, white garden roses, white spray roses, white ranunculus, white phalaenopsis orchids, ferns, and boxwood.

    I wanted a very classic wedding cake with small details. Our cake was five round tiers, and each layer had a different filling (french vanilla with cream cheese filling, carrot cake with cream cheese filling, chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, ganache and sweet buttercream icing). For the groom’s cake, we chose a golf theme honoring the fact that Chaz is a very talented golfer!

    What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I was obsessed with the band, The American Flyers! They came highly recommended through an agency and they absolutely did not disappoint. They are truly talented musicians. Everyone was dancing and singing like crazy all night!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I met Chaz’s best friend while I was out in Atlanta one night and he later introduced us. Chaz was commuting between London and NYC every week for work, so we got to know each other mainly through the phone and g-chat! After a couple of weeks, we went on our first date and the rest is history.
    Tell us all about the proposal! We had a trip to Grand Cayman planned for Chaz’s 30th birthday. The night before we left, I came home from work to find candles and rose petals going up the stairs in the dark. It was so beautiful and romantic. I walked to the top to find Chaz on one knee!
    When did y’all get married? September 26, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
    Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No. Chaz wanted seeing me for the first time during the ceremony to be special, and I wanted to honor his wishes.
    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For the ceremony, we had a string quartet. “Moon River” and “The Prayer” were two of the prelude songs, which I chose because I’ve always adored them. The wedding party walked down the aisle to the always beautiful “Canon in D” and I walked to the classic “Trumpet Voluntary.” We had our band learn “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran for our first dance–it is such a touching song with a lovely message. They did a fabulous job!
    What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food had some Southern flair! A few highlights included the bacon-wrapped green beans, tiny tenderloin biscuits, creamed potatoes, cornmeal sage roasted chicken, sugared pecan apple salad, peach baked brie, and butternut squash risotto.
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Everyone told me to sit back and take in the day, because it flies by. So true! I took this advice to heart and made sure to soak in as much as possible.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are enjoying life in Atlanta with our golden doodle, Chloe! We recently bought a house and are looking forward to decorating and renovating our master bath. We have a lot of excitement going on in our careers, but also enjoy spending as much time as possible with our family and friends.

    Photographer: Paperlily Photography / Planner: Courtney Surber Paz / Venue: The Swan House / Florist: Andy Beach / Wedding Cake: Frosted Pumpkin / Caterer: Affairs to Remember / Rentals: Peachtree Tents and Events / Band: The American Flyers / Paper Products: Brighten my Day / Bride’s Gown: “Classica CL-10” by Le Spose di Gio / Bridal Salon: Joan Pillow / Hair Stylist: Josie Labara / Bride’s Shoes: Alexander Wang / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Wtoo / Groom’s Attire: Sid Mashburn

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
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      Leah may have needed a little persuasion to agree to her first date with Brian, but she sure didn’t need any to say “yes” to his sweet surprise proposal, or when it came to picking out the place where they would tie the knot! As the fourth generation in her family be raised in Atlanta, Leah knew the Atlanta History Center would be the perfect venue, and I can only imagine how stunning her dramatic entrance down the steps of the Swan House was for their guests. From the sound of it, they had quite a fun group–according to Leah, the band had to tell guests to sit down to eat dinner because they were dancing too much!

      Big thanks to Scobey Photography for sharing this beautiful day with us!

      How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Brian and I met through mutual friends. We were both coming out of relationships, and Brian asked his friend, Charlie, who is married to my best friend, Michelle, if they had any single girlfriends. Michelle said no, because she knew I was just coming out of a relationship and didn’t think I would be ready to date again so quickly. It’s a good thing that Charlie responded, “What about Leah?” Michelle and Charlie spent the better part of a month trying to sell me on all the reasons I should consider going out on a date with Brian. Those reasons included: he is Jewish (so am I), he is an attorney (I don’t typically like the attorney type), and we had grown up living less than ten minutes apart (and yet somehow, we had never met), but the reason that actually got me interested was that he had just built a pool at his new house. It was summer time in Atlanta, and who doesn’t need a good pool to stay cool by during those hot Southern summers?! We went out on our first date with Charlie and Michelle a few weeks later, and the rest is history!

      Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did do a first look, and I am so glad that we did. Brian and I had such a huge wedding that it was important to us to see each other first, and take all of our photos before the ceremony. That way, we could join the cocktail hour and try to speak to as many of our guest as we could. We had friends and family in attendance that flew in from all over the country, and we wanted them to know how important they are to us! We also wanted to really be in the moment and enjoy our reception to the fullest. Seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day was just the most amazing feeling, and it was something we wanted to share in private.

      There was no question in my mind about where I wanted to have our ceremony and reception. I was born and raised in Atlanta, and I am the fourth generation in my family to be raised in Atlanta, so the Atlanta History Center was the perfect venue. When you grow up in the South, you are surrounded by beautiful backdrops and weather, so I knew that the Swan House would be the perfect setting for our big Southern summer wedding.

      My most memorable moment of the wedding was when the doors of the Swan House opened, and my father and I started walking down all the stairs to the ceremony. It felt like time stood still, and the only thing that I was focused on was walking down the stairs to my husband. He was looking up at me with the biggest smile on his face, and it was the most amazing moment of the entire day. Our guests later told me that it was one of the most dramatic and beautiful entrances they had ever seen.

      Describe your wedding flowers. I love anything classic, so I knew that I wanted to include some wedding staples, like roses, hydrangea, ranunculus, lilies, and peonies. Unfortunately, peonies were out of season in mid-August. My florist used a flower I had never heard of before that was so beautiful: blushing bride protea! I mean, who wouldn’t want a flower at their wedding with “bride” in the name! For colors, we went with light pinks, whites, and sage green. It was a beautiful combination that didn’t distract from my dress, but was colorful enough to stand out.

      What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We decided to do a tradional Southern menu! We served fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and biscuits as our main course. For dessert, we served traditional Southern dishes like banana pudding, mini pecan pies, blackberry and peach cobblers, and sweet potato moon pies.

      Brian and I danced our first song to Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me.” I heard the song on the radio one day, and the lyrics were so perfect, so I asked Brian what he thought of it. He agreed that it would be the perfect song to do our first dance to–we loved the old time-y melody!

      Having Yacht Rock perform at our wedding was the best decision that we made. So many of our guests told us that it was the most fun wedding that they have ever been to. You know it’s going to be a great night when the band has to tell your guests to sit down to eat dinner! Our guests filled up the dance floor for the entire night, and the energy and excitement was palpable!

      Tell us all about the proposal! Brian and I got engaged in August 2013. We were going on vacation to Mexico for Labor Day weekend. We had gone to Mexico that weekend the year before, shortly after we started dating, and Brian had told me that he loved me for the first time while we were having dinner in our private casita beachside. When Brian suggested we go back to Mexico in 2013, I though that maybe something was coming–I even told my sister that I thought he might propose. So, in typical Brian fashion, he decided to throw me for a major loop! We were getting ready to head to the airport for Mexico, and I was running around the house like a mad woman trying to get all of my last minute packing done. I threw everything in a suitcase, and Brian rushed me out of the house. It was a sweltering August day in Atlanta, and Brian went to open my car door. Well, it was so hot, I kept asking Brian if he could just start the car first, and he kept telling me “Just get in the car, Leah, and then I will start it.” I didn’t understand why he didn’t just get in and start the car to cool it off, but as it turns out, he was helping me into the car so that he could then get down on one knee IN OUR DRIVEWAY to propose before we even left for Mexico! He knew I was on to him, and he wanted our engagement to be a real surprise. It was actually perfect, because we got to make a few phone calls to our family and closest friends before we got on the plane. Then, we got to spend the next five days in paradise celebrating our engagement!
      When did y’all get married? August 16, 2014
      How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 350
      Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I looked everywhere for my wedding dress! I went shopping in New York with my sister-in-law, but ended up choosing my gown at Joan Pillow Bridal in Atlanta. I knew I wanted a dress that would be perfect for an outdoor summer ceremony, but also glamorous enough for a big ballroom reception. I ended up choosing an all-lace gown, and added a belt by Monique Lhuillier to give the dress a little extra bling.
      What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t take the wedding planning too seriously. This is supposed to be a wonderful time for you and your fiancé, so try to enjoy it as much as possible. Once your wedding day is there, all the planning becomes completely worth it, and the most important thing of all is that your wedding is a day that is just about you and your partner, and the love that you have for each other.
      If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? More than $100,000
      What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Brian and I just bought a new home, so we are settling into married life and planning a renovation of our home, as it was built in 1928. The renovation will include a total gut of the kitchen and family room, so wish us luck, as the project is about to begin!

      Photographer: Scobey Photography / Videographer: Cinema Weddings / Planner: Laura Maddox with Magnolia Events / Ceremony Venue: The Swan House / Reception Venue: The Atlanta History Center Grand Overlook Ballroom / Florist: Flowers by Yona / Catering and Cake: A Legendary Event / Rentals: We Rent / Band: Yacht Rock Revue / Paper Products: Eberle Invitations / Bride’s Gown: Anna Maier Couture / Bride’s Belt: Monique Lhuillier / Bridal Salon: Joan Pillow Bridal Salon / Hair Stylist: Nadia Javan / Makeup Artist: Wendy Role for Trish McEvoy / Bride’s Shoes: “Lacie: by Badgely Mishka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew / Groom’s Attire: Sid Mashburn

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

        I agree too much wedding planning can be very stressful.

      2. avatar Classic Wedding Invitations reply

        Gorgeous photography!

      3. avatar Classic Wedding Invitations reply

        Gorgeous details! The planning definitely paid off!

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