When I married my darling husband over seven years ago (!), we opted not to do a first look. We’re a very traditional couple, and we’ve never regretted that decision. Well, never might not be the best word, y’all. Between Hudson’s joyful tears after seeing Carley for the first time and her ear-to-ear smile, I might be reluctant to use that word again! Their first look under a 200+ year old magnolia tree is not the only thing that has my heart smitten. Carley and Hudson’s love and gratitude for their family, friends, and the South is evident from their large bridal party, ceremony location, and fabulous exit, complete with a Mardi Gras bead toss! It’s safe to say, I’ve got a serious crush on today’s wedding!
Gracious, we’re glad Sarah Becker shared this sweet day with us!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went to my second appointment of the day at I Do Bridal Couture with my mom, sister, aunt, and cousin. I tried on my second dress and knew looking in the mirror that there was something special about it, but it wasn’t quite right. Before I knew it, I had the skirt of another dress over my head and around my waist, lace pinned as makeshift sleeves, and a sash tied in a bow. I looked in the mirror and to my family and we all started crying. It was beautiful! And then we all shared a laugh at the sight of my “perfect” wedding dress full of pins and extra fabric. I am so thankful to the Liancarlo team for creating the custom gown of my dreams.
We both agree that our favorite moment of the day was the first look. I walked out of the doors of Dunleith toward a stunning, 200+ year old magnolia tree, where Hudson was anxiously waiting. As we faced each other, we were able to react in full vulnerability with happy tears, loving embraces, and giant smiles. On the most important day of our lives, we were thankful to have some time to ourselves to soak it all in.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We are grateful for all of our vendors and loved the intentional details we incorporated throughout our wedding. However, when your cousins come in from Montana with carloads of exquisite flowers to create bouquets, boutonnieres, garlands, and arrangements of your dreams, you just have to throw your arms around them and say thank you! Katalin has a true gift and we were honored to be recipients of the beauty she creates. I am also thankful for our photographer, Sarah. Several years ago, I saw her work featured on Southern Weddings and instantly adored her story and spirit. She shared in our joy, made us feel at ease, and was an essential part of the day.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional vows. It was surreal speaking those words I came to know as a little girl when attending weddings.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4: 11-19, read by my aunt and one of Hudson’s former coaches. “We love because he first loved us” was a verse that guided Hudson and I through our engagement. We wanted to take the time to practice gratitude for the ultimate, unfailing love of Christ. When we put our focus on His love, we are able to love each other with greater grace.
Both of our families have attended the First Presbyterian Church for generations. My great-grandmother worked at the church for more than 20 years and my parents were married there. Hudson and I agreed that the presence of God and many loved ones before our time would be surrounding us at our ceremony. For our reception, we wanted to share the beauty of Natchez with our guests, so we chose Dunleith Historic Inn, a stunning expression of the South. It was also the surprise dinner location when Hudson asked me to be his girlfriend and after he proposed, so it seemed fitting that we would celebrate our wedding there too.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We wanted our wedding weekend to celebrate our deep roots in Natchez, Mississippi and to reflect the love we shared. We hosted events at historical Natchez homes and gave the bridesmaids a special champagne toast and tour of Longwood, an antebellum home stopped short of completion because of the Civil War. I gifted my bridesmaids monogrammed mint julep cups to serve one of my favorite cocktails during hair and makeup. Traditions included a cake pull and a larger-than-life bridal party. To honor Mardi Gras weekend, we left our reception through a second line and guests throwing beads. However, the greatest depiction of the South was the easygoing joy and love that surrounded our wedding day.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I was a studious sophomore and Hudson was a senior football captain at our high school in Baton Rouge. He saw pictures of me on a trip to Natchez with friends for the annual historic pageant and ball. Natchez is a small town, so he messaged and asked me if I had family there. We came to find out that his grandmother was the court reporter for the judge, my great-grandfather. Our families had known each other for years! It took us a few years to get things right, but after my freshman year of college, we decided our future would be together. The next few years would consist of a lot of Skype calls to ease the difficulty of long distance, and lots of road trips to Mississippi and Texas while Hudson pursued his dream of coaching football and I finished college in Louisiana. We wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Tell us all about the proposal! Football season puts a hold on most dates or any weekend trips, so we always try to see family and spend a special weekend together after the bowl game. We traveled to Natchez to see his grandmother, but Hudson said he had something special planned for us as well. That morning, Hudson went hunting with his cousin. Little did I know, they also went to buy dozens of roses, taking off the petals one by one in preparation for that evening. When he returned, we decided to take our chances with the nearby storm clouds and went for a run downtown. As we were starting up a giant hill, it started to rain, and then pour! We trudged up the hill and laughed so hard as we stood at the top, soaking wet and out of breath. After spending the rest of the day around town and getting caught in a few more storms, we headed home to get ready. Hudson was insistent that we try to see the sunset before dinner, even though the rain continued. We walked along the bluff, looking at the Mississippi River, until he suggested we go under the gazebo. Hudson grew quiet as he led me up the steps and took me to the center, where we were surrounded in rose petals. He spoke heartfelt words as he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I said yes, of course! We shared a romantic dinner at the restaurant behind Dunleith, just the two of us, basking in our love and excitement. The next day, when we arrived to church, I saw my family standing on the steps. Sweet Hudson planned the extra surprise, followed by brunch with both of our families who had come into town to celebrate.
When did y’all get married? February 6, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 250
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I chose a four-tiered white cake with alternating caramel layers, decorated with cascading flowers. It was classic and delicious! Hudson’s grooms cake was red velvet (his favorite) and was decorated with the logos of the football programs where he had played and then coached. Fun fact: I began gifting Hudson vintage pennant flags when he started coaching. We used them around his cake, including a handmade pennant with our last name that I surprised him with on our wedding day.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We hosted my bridesmaids and many of our family at Dunleith for the wedding weekend. Overall, that was the greatest detail because we were able to enjoy the history of the home and explore the beautiful grounds (the greenhouse was my favorite!). At the reception, guests were greeted with champagne as they walked up to giant columns and a wraparound porch. When you walked into the home, it was like taking a step back in time. We couldn’t go wrong with letting the details of an antebellum home serve as decor!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed was a handkerchief embroidered with the names of each married friend. I am so happy to pass it on to my next dear friend on her wedding day! My something old was an antique brooch I pinned to my bouquet that had belonged to my great-great-great-grandmother. My first something blue was gifted by my mom, a prayer shawl knitted by the healing ministry of my church. Our family received one when my dad was in the hospital after a life-threatening accident. In our belief that we should pray through joy and pain, love and sorrow, my bridesmaids laid their hands on it and prayed with me before I walked down the aisle. The second was a diamond and sapphire ring I wore that belonged to Hudson’s great-grandmother. My something new was my dress and shoes.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our pastor graciously worked around our long distance relationship and the football season to plan premarital counseling sessions that focused on values and communication. We read The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller (a must read for anyone!). We also decided that preparing for marriage would not stop at the wedding. We continue to read books that sharpen our relationship and we plan to take marriage classes at our Fort Worth church.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We currently live in Fort Worth, Texas and love sharing life in the same city, along with our new puppy, Biscuit. We are both driven to pursue our dreams, so it’s wonderful to share ideas and offer support to each other daily. We aren’t quite sure what the future holds but we are excited for our journey together. This year, we look forward to hosting dinners for guests, deepening relationships with new friends, and the 2016 football season. Go Frogs!
Photographer: Sarah Becker Lillard | Videographer: Charity Robinson | Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church | Reception Venue: Dunleith Historic Inn | Florist: Katalin Green | Cake Baker: Edna’s Cake Creations | Band: Phat Hat | Paper Products: MADdesign | Bride’s Gown and Veil: Liancarlo | Hair and Makeup: INDē Salon | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Dessy Collection | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse | Ceremony Programs: Wiregrass Weddings | Bridesmaids Robes: SilkandMore | Welcome Basket Gift Tags and Other Personalized Details: GraciousBridal