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Jill and Donald have one of the most darling meet-cutes I’ve ever heard. Their love story started in middle school when Donald boldly dared Jill to kiss him–and she did! Many years later, these junior high sweethearts said “I do” in a pretty white chapel, and then celebrated in a reception that was chock-full of Southern traditions, from a second line to a cake pull to a bleedin’ armadillo groom’s cake. We’re smitten with every detail that our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Sapphire Events, pulled together!

Thank you so much to 509 Photo for sharing this lovely wedding with us!

We met at the end of summer at a school event when Donald was going into 7th grade and I was going into 8th. Everyone called him Scooter, so I had recalled hearing about him in conversations. We crossed paths on the stairwell, surrounded by friends, when he stopped and said, “Hey, I’m Scooter.” I remember confidently stating, “I know who you are,” even though I didn’t really. He talked to me and the rest of the 8th grade cheerleaders for awhile, and when I started to walk away, he yelled, “I dare you to kiss me!” I whipped back around and sassily said, “You dared the wrong girl!” I leaned in, thinking he would be so shocked or scared or embarrassed, he would run off, but he didn’t! Our lips locked, and it began a long-standing crush, many years of dating, three dogs, a house, and a move to NYC. We were married in front of some of the same friends that saw our very first kiss!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew I wanted to capture both the sweet and sassy sides of me, and no one dress was going to do that! I tried on fitted dresses, ball gowns, and A-lines, and loved them all. After talking to my dear friend, Katerina, she said she would make me something! She sent me a sketch of the most beautiful drawing, and I immediately fell in love with the illustration, the concept, and the entire look. She made me a removable overlay of lace appliqués, so I still got my sassy mermaid look for post-ceremony!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and “Union” by Robert Fulghulm
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach (processional), “Canon in D” by Pachelbel (bridal processional), and “Hornpipe” from Water Music by Handel (recessional).

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The second line!! We laughed and danced and kissed and really took in the moment. Best 0.6 miles I’ve ever walked.

Louisiana has a special place in my heart. I lived there as a baby, it’s where my mother was raised, and my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins all live there. My great-grandmother lived in Metarie and I spent lots of time with her and family there on holidays and during summers growing up. When Donald and I were deciding where we wanted to get married, we both agreed that New Orleans was perfect, since we wanted our wedding to be the best celebration ever. The church was simply beautiful and rich in history, and was not too far from where we wanted to have the reception. The reception venue was magical, and it overlooked two very special features: the Jax Brewery sign, which is our lab’s name, and the Mississippi River. Scooter’s daddy passed away when Scooter was 12, and he was from Mississippi. When we first visited the venue and saw the view of the river, I got chills thinking about how perfect of a tribute it was to a special person who is no longer with us.

We loved our wedding cake! It had a black and white fondant design, topped with sugar magnolias. The cake had alternating tiers of chocolate and White Russian cake with delicious buttercream filling. The groom’s cake was red velvet with gray icing in the shape of an armadillo. It was even delicious the next morning when we hacked into it for one last bite!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had magnolias on the pews down the aisle and on the wedding cake. When I had asked Donald if he wanted a groom’s cake, he said no at first, but then quickly changed his mind, adding, “Get me a bleeding armadillo groom’s cake…for shock and awe!” So I did! Some of our New York guests unfamiliar with Steel Magnolias actually thought it was a New York City rat!! My four sweet flower girls carried arrangements filled with cotton, a nod to my grandmother, whose daddy owned and operated a cotton farm that is still in our family. We wanted the reception to feel like Mardi Gras! There were boas, beads, and booze flowing throughout the night. We even had a caricature artist to add a Jackson Square art feel.

Tell us all about the proposal! For weeks, I had been tanning, primping, and getting “pageant-ready” for this proposal. I knew it was coming, and the anticipation was killing me!! I even slept in makeup on occasion and NEVER went out without a full head of Big Texas hair. After several dinners out, weekly tans, and precise attention to grooming details, in true Scooter form, he asked me at our apartment, during our favorite time of day (morning coffee time), when I had no makeup on AND wet hair! Unknowingly, he was recording as I danced around and squealed…not at all how I imagined my reaction to the proposal. The video footage is remarkable, hilarious, sweet, and so me!
When did y’all get married? June 1, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The wedding favors. We stuffed clear bags with Spanish moss, mini Tabascos, chocolate alligators made my by wonderful mother, and a recipe of my grandaddy’s mini pralines; it was personal touches of New Orleans charm and love from my Louisiana family that made the favors so special to me.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes, I was covered in sentimentality! My mother let me wear her sapphire and diamond ring on my right hand for the night. My paternal grandmother sent a blue brooch that I pinned on the inside of my wedding skirt, which was an extra special gift since the trip was too far for her to take. My dear friend Katerina let me borrow diamond drop earrings. My maternal grandmother loaned me a lace handkerchief that was my great-great-grandmother’s.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Long-distance planning. We flew to New Orleans for a weekend and chose our wedding cake, food for the reception, band, wedding planner, and florist within 48 hours. We just had to trust it would all turn out like we imagined, and it was perfect!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our 509 photo team was incredible. They captured the images of me and my husband and our friends and family perfectly. Every time I go back to the pictures or our wedding album, I feel as if I am reliving the day!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Research! I spent many hours watching wedding video clips for ideas, and I was big into reading blogs and reviews.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Continuing on with our adventure, traveling, and at some point, having some babies.

Photographer: Caleb Chancey of 509 Photo / Videographer: 509 Photo / Planner: Valerie Gernhauser of Sapphire Events / Ceremony Venue: St. Marks United Methodist Church /Reception Venue: Galvez Restaurant / Florist: Eric Fredricks of Bee’s Wedding and Event Designs / Cake Baker: Flour Power / Rentals: Perrier Party Rentals / Band: Chicken on the Bone Band / Bride’s Gown: Romona Keveza with custom overlay by Katerina Kaplanis at Pronovias / Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas / Bride’s Shoes and Veil: Pronovias NYC / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Kiss and Make Up / Maid of Honor Dress: Monique Lhuillier / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jim Hjelm / Groom’s Attire: Sebastien Grey Clothiers NYC / Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Brass Band: Storyville Stompers / Programs, Reception Menus, Table Numbers, and Place Cards: Michelle Sasser / Rolls Royce Rental and Shuttles: Capital City Trolleys

Sapphire Events is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Emily reply

    Jill’s gown is perfection – and I love how happy these two look throughout their wedding day!

  2. avatar Amanda {Planning It All} reply

    Her gown is stunning – I really like the lace overlay!

  3. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] only thing more romantic than Katie and Mark‘s wedding (above) was their sweet love story. Jill and Donald‘s wedding was chic and elegant, with the perfect amount of New Orleans flair. We […]

  4. avatar Victoria reply

    What a fun and beautiful wedding!

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Every corner of the South has a unique personality, and we like celebrating them all! On Fat Tuesday, New Orleans and its fabulously rich Mardi Gras history is an easy pick. From the colors to the symbols, every aspect of Mardi Gras has tradition and meaning, making it ripe with inspiration for a bold and vibrant wedding! If you need a brief run-down on Fat Tuesday fun, check out this post we published last year, then scroll down for the rest of the celebration!

The team, lead by Ashley from The Graceful Host, chose two dresses by Modern Trousseau from Hayden Olivia Bridal. Both were full volume and totally glam, just like Mardi Gras! They also included a cathedral-length veil, a classic choice for New Orleans brides, many who marry in grand cathedrals.

Separk Mansion, a newly renovated home, was the perfect backdrop. With Mardi Gras as their inspiration, the team chose to infuse the energy and fun of carnival season into the floral design while still keeping the overall look formal, like a Mardi Gras ball.

Classic New Orleans delicacies like mini muffulettas were served.

Love this ruffled cake linen, inspired by the bride’s gown! Sweets were in no short supply, from the tiered cake to beignet truffles. Of course, the team had to include the cake pull tradition, a New Orleans staple!

Love these fun photos Old South Studios captured of the second line!

From Ashley:

Being that I was born and raised in New Orleans, I jumped at the opportunity to design a real wedding inspiration with true New Orleans style! It was so important to me that no detail be left out. And, our bride and groom are actually a real married couple! They were so sweet, and had a blast “doing it all over again”! I wanted this wedding to be approachable and have elements that brides could take away and use within their own wedding. The entire day was so much fun, and it was so rewarding sharing my culture with Charlotte!

Photography: Julie Staley, Old South Studios | Event Design and Coordination: Ashley Culicchia Cash, The Graceful Host | Venue: Separk Mansion | Makeup Artist: Erin Ashley Makeup | Hair Stylist: Adrian Howe Esthetics & Beauty | Floral Design: Chelish Moore Flowers | Menu and Bar: Donald Shives, Best Impressions | Cake Baker: Got What It Cakes | Paper Goods: Elisabeth Rose | Rentals: Party Reflections | Wedding Gowns: “Tate” and “Teacup” from Modern Trousseau’s Fall 2014 collection, available at Hayden Olivia Bridal | Belts: Whitney Alyssa from Hayden Olivia Bridal | Jewelry: Haute Bride from Hayden Olivia Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Second Line Umbrellas: Gems Printing | Welcome Box: Paper Source

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Those mini muffalettas are too cute!

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Laura and Mason’s wedding is a near-perfect example of what we mean when we say we love weddings with meaningful, personal details. From the songs they chose to the things they wore to the food they ate and the tables they ate at, every layer of their celebration had a story behind it or a significance attached to it. While I’m sure every guest didn’t catch every nuance of every detail, I’m equally sure that the overall effect — of a joyful, very intentional beginning to married life — was evident to all. Happily, we get the inside scoop from the bride herself, with beautiful photos by Paige Reaux to illustrate! Please enjoy, friends!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Mason and I agree that our best days are days we spend together, so we decided to do a first look. We wanted to be able to spend some quality time together before the ceremony and reception laughing, exchanging gifts, and having photographs taken. I was so thankful that we did the first look, because with the rain hiccup we experienced later in the day, I don’t think we would have gotten nearly as many great photos.

The gals of TULIP outdid themselves with this one! The loose, garden-style bouquets were jewel-toned for fall, with garden roses, raspberry clematis, ranunculus, dahlias, smoke bush and maple foliage, and seeded eucalyptus.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We, like many Southern couples, decided to keep with tradition and say the vows that generations before us have said. Instead of being worried about reciting a speech in front of hundreds, we were able to be completely present, joyful, and genuine as we repeated those promises to each other.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Shakespeare’s sonnet 116 was read at the start of our ceremony. Mason and I spent a semester studying in London, so we knew we had to incorporate some Shakespeare! We also had a scripture passage, Philippians 4:4-9, printed in our programs. The same verse is engraved in Mason’s wedding band.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Mason and I chose each song for the string quartet to play during the prelude–a custom mix of traditional hymns and contemporary songs. Our ceremony had a couple of musical shout outs to our parents’ weddings. We included “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters, which was sung at the Mason’s parent’s wedding, in the prelude, and “Surely the Presence,” which was sung at my parents’ wedding, during the ceremony. We also had a duet of “How Deep the Father’s Love” sung as we took communion together immediately following our vows.

To transform the sanctuary, my dad had “October Glory” maple trees brought in, and Lesley from TULIP accented them with two beautiful altar arrangements.

We had a near-catastrophe with a 15-minute rainstorm during the hors d’oeuvres hour of the reception, during which Mason and I both got drenched (luckily, we had a backup tent for our guests to take cover)! But when the rain stopped and the celebrating started, I looked around and thought “Thank you, Lord!” because my dream was able to come true!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Well, first of all, my husband’s name is Mason Dixon, and we were both born and reared below the line of his namesake. Having our ceremony at the small town church I grew up going to and the reception at my childhood home gave our wedding the special warmth of Southern hospitality. I gave all of the special women in mine and my groom’s extended families a monogrammed vintage handkerchief. We had magnolia garlands galore and state fair taffy as favors for the guests. Our menu was totally Southern and very Mississippi oriented—we had mini chicken and waffles, pimento and cheese fritters, fried catfish, blackened gulf shrimp, fried okra, and gourmet mac n’ cheese, just to name a few!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The chalkboard menu boards at the reception were one of my favorite details. I spent many hours writing them, so I became a little attached. Other favorites were definitely the custom velvet table runners made by my aunt and the white pumpkins painted in gold with our monogram. Oh, and I can’t forget the lovely farm tables that my dad had built especially for the event, using 120-year-old wood from our family farm!

My cake was a five-tiered French almond vanilla cake with strawberry filling and buttercream icing. A cascade of roses and a gold sequined tablecloth made the cake display as pretty as it was yummy. For Mason’s groom’s cake, he had a trio of chocolate cakes in different flavors. The center cake was cinnamon chocolate (his favorite!) accented with gold coins, in reference to Mason’s banking career and coin collection. One of the accent cakes was German chocolate and the other was raspberry chocolate.

I lost my mother to breast cancer about two and half years ago, so planning a wedding without her was definitely a challenge. She was such a talented organizer and planner! I tried to incorporate her memory into as many wedding decisions as possible. For example, I found the best picture of my mom and dad covered in birdseed as they left their own wedding reception, which made it easy for me to decide that we should have birdseed tossed during our exit as well. I was so thankful to have my incredible father, sisters, and fiancé, who all put in so many hours helping me plan!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Exchanging notes from American history class during the second semester of our freshman year at Mississippi College brought us together. As I was handing over a copy of notes for the final exam, Mason asked me to go get coffee with him. By the next semester, we were officially dating. And the rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! Early one November Saturday morning, I was riding in the car with Mason to what I thought was a banking banquet, where he was supposed to receive an award. We took a detour, and when I asked Mason if we were lost, his response was a simple kiss on my forehead and an admission that he was not really receiving an award that day. I was a little suspicious, but still in denial that this might be the day we get engaged. The next thing I knew, we were standing near Lake Caroline watching an incredibly large rainbow-striped hot air balloon being inflated. We got into the hot air balloon, and as I was looking over the edge of the basket, high above the treetops, I felt Mason tap me on my shoulder. I turned around and he was down on one knee with a huge smile on his face and a diamond ring in his hand. To make it even better, Mason had written and recorded a special love song for me that he played when we were safely back on land. He had even organized a celebration with our families for that evening. I felt so blessed and loved. What an exhilarating day!
When did y’all get married? October 5, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 350
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. While flipping through the pages of my first set of wedding magazines, I came across a picture of a dress that I fell in love with. I kept this image of lovely silk with hints of alenҫon lace in my mind as I went shopping with my two sisters, and just as we were about to give up hope and leave the second store empty handed, my older sister spotted my dream dress on the mannequin!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! The pearl and diamond earrings I wore were borrowed from my grandmother, and since they were circa 1910, they also served as my something old. Blue was covered doubly—I wore a sapphire and diamond bracelet that had belonged to my mother, and my older sister sewed a bespoke teal blue velvet and alenҫon lace garter to coordinate with all the details of the day. For something new, I had shoes given to me by my younger sister and a special fragrance that will forever be associated with wedding excitement.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I have great things to say about all of my vendors! Lesley from TULIP created amazing bouquets, Heather from Pretty Presentations spent two full days at my house setting up and figuring out the rain plan, and Paige of Paige Reaux Photography is definitely one of the best photographers in Mississippi. Another detail that the day would NOT have been complete without was my adorable flower girls. The list could go on and on!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I can’t pick just one! I specifically remember my dad calming me down during the nervous/excited moments just before he walked me down the aisle. The sheer joy I felt when Mason and I said our vows is something I will never forget! It even felt somewhat ethereal when the sunlight beamed through the stained glass windows and lit our faces.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Invest in the planning process as much as possible! It WILL feel overwhelming, but it is totally worth it when you see your vision come to fruition and you get to marry someone you love. It really makes for a pretty spectacular day!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are enjoying settling in our home and being able to spend lots of time together. We’ve been having fun using all the great wedding gifts we got and learning how to cook! We are excited to travel together, and right now we’re looking forward to a ski trip this spring.

Photographer: Paige Reaux Photography / Videographer: Brian Flint / Ceremony Venue: Bay Springs Baptist Church / Reception Venue: Bride’s family home / Florist: TULIP Design Studio / Cake Baker: Elyse Thompson / Caterer: Pretty Presentations / Rentals: Taylor Rental / Lighting: Davaine Lighting / DJ: Solid Gold / Bride’s Gown: Judd Waddell / Bridal Salon: Low’s Bridal / Paper Products: Sweet Caroline Designs and Fresh Ink / Bride’s Shoes: Joan and David / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaid / Men’s Attire: Joseph Abboud / Flower Girl Dresses: Pegeen / Linens: La Tavola and DIY / Farm Tables: Custom by the bride’s father / Favors: Malone’s Taffy / Calligraphy: Dominique Jordan / String Quartet: Rhythms Music Services

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar kim reply

    Beautiful florals-Leslie does such lovely work always!

  2. avatar Laura reply

    Everything about this wedding is beautiful. Also, I can’t get over the groom’s name, can’t get much more Southern than that :)

  3. avatar Paige Reaux Geter reply

    What a beautiful job you’ve done, Emily, with featuring all of these vendors and Laura and Mason. They are two very special people and I loved reading extra details from their story that I wasn’t aware of :) Thanks for everything!

  4. avatar Amanda {Planning It All} reply

    Are those frames on trees? I love it!

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  9. avatar Marg Hyland reply

    We are so honored to be included in this beautiful wedding. The flower girl dresses were the perfect compliment to the overall scheme!
    Marg Hyland. Founder/Head Designer

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

Reply to: