Now, while I grew up in the great state of Alabama, my adult years have been spent in quite a few Southern states, and one of the things I’ve found consistent across borders is the kindness and hospitality of Southerners — it makes you instantly feel at home, wherever you are! Caroline and Chandler chose to embrace these two Southern hallmarks at their wedding, creating a “close-knit and welcoming” environment for all of their guests. And don’t miss their rewrite of traditional vows – I loved that they pledged to fight for love instead of against each other!
Thank you to Erin Wilson Photography for this beautiful day!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I had recently decided to move to the town where my best friend and her husband were living, and started meeting their new friends. Chandler and I were both invited to celebrate my friend’s husband’s birthday. As most typical gatherings play out, all the girls were in the kitchen talking and all the men were in the living room watching a football game. During our time talking in the kitchen, one girl asked me a bunch of questions about my background and finally said, “There is a guy wearing a red jacket in the other room who is perfect, precious, and sweet. He loves his momma, and loves Jesus, and he will LOVE his wife.” HOW BOLD! I was not really interested in dating during my transition of moving and starting fresh, but I did peek into the next room and quickly said “no” when I saw the Duck Dynasty-esque beard he was sporting. The next encounter was after I visited their church’s service before Christmas; they had a reception afterward to help people connect and spend time together. It was then that I got to see his beaming smile through all the beard, so I left telling my best friend that he was in fact very cute. We still didn’t officially meet. The next time I came to town was the weekend before New Year’s, and our mutual friends were not going to let me leave town without officially meeting him. We did the awkward group lunch after church where everyone knows they are attending for the purpose of getting two people to officially meet. After a lot of convincing, I agreed to join the group for New Year’s Eve. That night, Chandler was very intentional–he was always near me and began asking me one-on-one questions that sprung off of what the group was discussing. I came back in to help my friend collect plates and cups while people still enjoyed the fire, and we found Chandler doing dishes in the kitchen and taking out the trash. It was then that I saw his servant heart. He boldly called a week later to ask me to coffee.
I wanted the flowers to be very lush and vary in color. Our original wedding colors were blush pink, gold, and dark wood grain. We decided to add variety in order for it to look very whimsical and not so structured. I love the round eucalyptus leaf greenery with pops of flowers, such as peonies, roses, some different daisies, hypericum berries and carnations.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! We wanted the photographer to have a lot of time for wedding party pictures without delaying the reception. We also wanted to be able to make sure the vows were not the first time we would talk to each other that day. It really made things run so smoothly! We had eight groomsmen and eight bridesmaids, and since we started the pictures with a first look, we got to take all sorts of creative pictures together with our favorite people.
We decided to rewrite traditional vows with our own special promises to each other. Our premarital counseling was great for real world advice and also helped us think of ways to set our marriage up for success and great communication. One of my favorite vows to him was, “I promise to respect you without condition.” This statement was also said to me this way: “I promise to love you without condition.” In our premarital counseling, we talked about how receiving and giving love to each other is interpreted differently by guys and girls. The second a man feels doubted or disrespected, they do not respond in love; for a woman, the second she feels unloved, she does not respond in respect. So for us, we always want to be on the same team, fighting for love and not against each other.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our ceremony. The pastor did an amazing job of telling our story and highlighting what God has done in our relationship. The weather was beautiful, the flowers were stunning, and the variety of wedding party attire came together so well. The reception was fun and full of loved ones reuniting, while some met for the first time, but the promises that were made and the love that was presented to everyone during our ceremony meant more to me than anything!
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We wanted something outdoors and close to the vendors we had chosen. We have family who does amazing things with events and didn’t want distance to hinder their work! We luckily found Wagon Wheel Acres quickly and booked them as soon as we could get up there to look around. Their location is beautifully set on top of Lee Mountain overlooking the River Valley area. The rocks on the bluff were just stunning and the potential of their barn-like facility was a great canvas for my vision. They provided many small detail decor items here and there, as well as some antique tables that were just the right touch for our sweetheart and guest book tables.
My wedding cake was five layers with alternating vanilla (our favorite), chocolate, and strawberry cakes, all with white buttercream icing. I described to them a rough, iced cake with gold accents throughout. I decided on flowers instead of a topper of any kind to continue the whimsical theme.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Southern, to me, is close-knit and welcoming. In the South, there is a polite sense of belonging with those who uphold traditional kindness. I think that’s what was present at our wedding. Whether people knew both of us well or just one of us, there was a sense of relaxed comfort to all who attended.
Tell us all about the proposal! We had talked marriage many times after a few months of dating, and had even come up with some good dates to consider around the months his sister would be in the country! About five months after we started dating, he began looking at rings and quickly decided to go with a local company who would allow him to design his own. One evening, he told me he had band practice and instead traveled to my hometown to meet with my family. He took them all out to dinner and, when they returned to my house, Chandler had a talk with my dad that ended with both of them in tears. Their love for me is so sweet. My dad gave his blessing, and Chandler officially purchased the ring not long after. He went to visit my hometown several times to time the sunset and get the lighting right for all that he wanted. Chandler built a beautiful dark wood bench and about eight frames to put our pictures in from throughout dating. He got candles and fabric to set all along this overlook by the lake. My family planned a “family dinner” night that Chandler would “have to be late for because of work.” My family and I got all ready for a nice dinner at our local country club…or so I thought. On the way out of our neighborhood (which is right by the lake), my dad mentioned something he needed to look at on the door of the lake conference center. My whole family got out of the car to “look at the sunset while he looked at the door.” Little did I know, waiting around the corner was Chandler and his crew of people documenting! I was shocked.. and then speechless when I realized there were two people filming and a photographer! He had set everything out and even somehow coordinated his shirt with my dress. He got down on one knee and I said, “Of course I will!” We then immediately took our engagement pictures. My family had then left me to get to the after-party Chandler had planned with myy family, his family, and our closest friends! It was so sweet!
When did y’all get married? April 2, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 200
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our marriage was what we started planning long before wedding details came together. We knew we wanted to do premarital counseling to prepare our hearts and minds for challenges and the realities of married life. Both of us have divorced parents, so we wanted to set up patterns in our marriage that would help us continue to fight more for our marriage instead of against each other. The couple we met with had us read the books “Love and Respect” and “Sheet Music.” These were so very helpful and led to many discussions about how our pasts had molded us to believe things about marriage that we either had to begin changing or agree to be truths. We prayed A LOT and also asked for advice from many close friends.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We were blessed to have family that does event decorating, cakes, catering, etc. It was a huge help to be able to rely on my family to make this special day come together. I definitely went the “cheap” route with as many things as possible to make sure money was spent on my favorites: flowers and photography! I did all my own calligraphy for the invitations, programs, chalkboard, signage. I am a graphic designer, so I designed my invitations and save the dates as well!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I definitely would advise those planning their own wedding to prioritize the details that are most important to you (for me, it was flowers and photography). Budget for those first! Also, look for a venue that goes with your theme–the garden party look I wanted wasn’t going to work in a church building or a conference room. Then, choose things like attire for all of your wedding party, yourself and your groom carefully, since that is what will be seen, photographed, and focused on most. It’s sometimes hard to get dresses/suits ordered in a timely manner, so find these vendors first to prevent scrambling at the last minute for all the right sizes.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We took a small honeymoon, but are planning our first married vacation for the end of the summer! We only dated a little over a year before getting married, so we are excited about traveling together and we are always seeking adventures! We decided on no pets for now, just so any day could be an adventure without the worry of burdening others with upkeep while we are away! After getting married, we moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas where Chandler got a new job, so everything is new to us. Once I graduate from cosmetology school, I will be getting a job in Hot Springs, which is luckily known as Spa City!
Photographer: Erin Wilson | Videographer: Kyle and Capillya Uptergrove | Planner: Fe Barton | Florist, Cake Baker, Caterer, and Rentals: Dover Supermarket Inc. | Venue: Wagon Wheel Acres | Guest Book: Shutterfly | Paper Goods: Caroline Tedder and Posey Printing Inc. | Bridal Salon and Veil: Low’s Bridal | Bride’s Gown: “Style D1702” in Champagne by Essense of Australia | Bride’s Earrings: Francesca’s | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Miriam Alvarez | Groom’s Attire: J. Ferrar