Y’all know we absolutely love when couples incorporate meaningful details into their celebrations. We also love when those details are deeply rooted in Southern culture! Jen and Alan’s beautiful day wasn’t lacking of either, from the big oak tress adorned with heaps of Spanish moss, to one of Jen’s favorites, the magnolia garland. Jen and Alan even served boiled peanuts at their cocktail hour as a nod to a road trip when Jen had introduced Alan to the yumminess of this roadside treat! What could easily be passed over as just another fun detail to check off the list became something truly special. That’s what wedding details should be all about–taking the small things that hold meaning to you as a couple, and sharing them with the ones you love. Who knew something as simple as peanuts could become so memorable?
We’re so thankful to Blue Ribbon Vendor Michelle March for sharing this pretty day!
P.S. Fun fact: Michelle also shot my darling EK’s newborn session!
Our ceremony and reception were at the same venue, Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota, Florida. In spite of our 100+ guest list, we wanted an intimate outdoor wedding and a reception under a canopy of trees and lights. Although this venue typically rents out the gorgeous historic mansion located on the property, I happened to walk by a secluded, shaded area under a large oak tree adorned with heaps of Spanish moss. It was love at first sight. Unfortunately, the park’s event coordinator informed us that the spot I had fallen in love with was not part of the area available for events. We waited patiently and found out a few weeks later that for an extra fee, we would be able to incorporate this beautiful space into our ceremony. She mentioned that it might need some cleaning up because it was completely wild, overgrown, and natural but those were the exact qualities that initially drew me to the area!
Describe your wedding flowers. I had my heart set on a cascading bouquet with greenery spilling out of it. Choosing our flowers was probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of wedding planning for me. Mary was so generous with her time, sitting down and really listening to what I envisioned for our wedding. Our bridal bouquets consisted of tulips, ranunculus, roses, carnations, seeded eucalyptus, ivy, and sword fern. Our wedding flowers also included a whole lot of greenery and garlands. I’m a huge sucker for magnolia, which was at the top of my “want” list, but we simply couldn’t afford it. On our wedding day, Mary surprised us with a magnolia garland, which were hung throughout the ceremony and reception. I was absolutely stunned! It was the sweetest gesture and I can never thank her enough.
Alan’s most memorable moment about our wedding day was when he saw me walking towards him with my dad. He says he couldn’t take his eyes off me or stop smiling. Since he didn’t want to do a first look, Alan says this was one of the most special moments of the day to him! The recessional was also one of my most memorable moments from our wedding day. Turning around to see all of the smiling (and some crying) faces of our guests just made me feel so special and grateful to be entering our marriage with the support of an amazing community of family and friends, near and far.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Throughout the engagement (and let’s be honest, we could probably go back a few months before the proposal), I found myself inspired by soft, flowing fabric and light hints of texture. I knew that the vision I had for my dress did not fit the mold of your traditional/classic wedding dress, so the thought of walking into multiple bridal salons seemed incredibly intimidating at the time. Luckily for me, I found my wedding dress buried in the clearance of all clearance sections at Macy’s. Can you believe it?! Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a simple, nude, floor-length gown poking out amidst the rows of disheveled hangers, and decided to try it on. It couldn’t hurt, right? I honestly didn’t love my dress right away, at least not in its original form. Instead, I had a pretty clear vision of what the dress could look like for our wedding day, so I went with it. I worked with an amazingly talented seamstress who specializes in bridal wear. We met several times and discussed various fit and design modifications. She managed to transform my clearance Macy’s dress into a one-of-a-kind, straight-out-of-my imagination wedding dress!
We included quite a few Southern details in our celebration, especially in the food we served. We loved the idea of barbecue and family-style dining, so we had several banquet tables pushed together to create long rows of tables for our guests. A few summers ago, Alan and I went on our first road trip together to Savannah, Georgia and Beaufort, South Carolina. On our way up there, we stopped at a boiled peanut stand, because he had never actually tried them before! We love making each other try new things, especially if it’s something we really love, and boiled peanuts are my favorite. Alan was pretty hesitant at first, but when I woke up from my nap, I noticed he had eaten the entire bag! Naturally, boiled peanuts (both regular and Cajun) made an appearance on our cocktail hour menu, served in small gold scalloped cups. I’m pretty sure I stole at least one cup before the introductions! We also served local honey from Pure Florida Apiary to go with the biscuits and jam for our cocktail hour. Our wedding favors were mini pies in various flavors, which we boxed individually the day before.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? While most people rent items like tablecloths and napkins for their reception, we decided to purchase instead, because we were able to buy them at a lower cost than it was to rent them. Our napkins were actually tea towels from Ikea, so we now have a lifetime supply of tea towels for our kitchen, our kids’ kitchens, and our grandkids’ kitchens! The table we used to display the wine and bread for communion, as well as our welcome table, are both mine from home. We tried our best to be creative and resourceful with the ways we cut costs at our wedding!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Lots of prayer, reading, and conversation about everything we could possibly anticipate. I don’t think anyone ever feels 100 percent prepared for marriage, and we realized that there are going to be circumstances that we won’t be able to plan for or anticipate. Our understanding of marriage is that we must always seek each other for support and accountability, and whether it is a time of growing or harvesting, lean on the Lord throughout all seasons of our life together.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Alan and I met about five years ago when we both lived in Boston. We were introduced by one of my closest friends at her housewarming party. I was moving back home to Florida in just a couple months to start graduate school, so timing wasn’t quite on our side. We went on a few dates and kept in touch when I left, but neither of us wanted to admit our feelings for each other, especially since we now lived over a thousand miles away. Being brave with your feelings can be so scary! We didn’t see each other again until the following year when I spent a long weekend back in Boston. I remember feeling so nervous the night of a party because I knew Alan was going to be there. I changed outfits about a million times, and when I finally saw him, I couldn’t stop smiling. This night will always be close to my heart. We climbed through a window, sat on the roof, and just talked and laughed until we cried. I can remember that sweet and comforting awareness that I had finally met my person. I felt content in his presence and so full of gratitude to be right where I was.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just gotten off work from the hospital. Clearly, I had no idea a proposal was in store for me because when he arrived at my doorstep that evening, I welcomed him in all of my hospital-clad glory: scrubs and sneakers with my hair in a tangled mess. Little did I know, he had just spent the afternoon hanging out with my dad, asking for his blessing, and preparing for the night! Instead of letting me get my way (which would have meant a night in with take-out and a movie), he politely asked me to get ready and reasoned that this might be our only chance for a date night anytime soon, since at the time, we worked completely opposite schedules. Before I had a chance to turn towards my room, Alan grabbed both of my hands with the biggest smile on his face and… just stood there. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. What a weirdo.” After several seconds of seemingly innocent, but sort of creepy, smiling and hand holding, my thoughts slowly caught on to what was going on and progressed to “No way. This must be a joke!” No one loves a good practical joke as much Alan does, so I couldn’t tell if this was one of them until he got down on one knee with the most beautiful ring I have ever seen in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I blurted out “yes” before he had a chance to finish proposing! We spent the evening celebrating with my parents at the same restaurant that catered our barbecue dinner for our wedding. It was perfect. I still can’t believe he chose me.
When did y’all get married? February 20, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 150
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Since some of our wedding details were nontraditional, we decided to stick to the traditional vows. It really calmed our nerves knowing that most people can’t mess up saying “I do!”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? For our ceremony, a close friend, who was also my bible study leader in college, read a few lines from Ann Voskamp’s “The Bravest and Most Beautiful Love Affair.” When I first came across this passage a few years ago, I was completely captivated by her depiction of marriage as a covenant between two people and the Lord: “This is an epic, everyday love story, one written with years and skin and the rings. My grandmother lived with true courage, the kind that made a vow and had the bravery to let it age. How she said that the bravest love is wildly faithful and it falls hard again every morning. How it puts the toilet seat down and the cap on the toothpaste and winks for those already-won eyes. It knows what we may seek may be found in what we already have. And there can always be this–the allure of vows. It’s grace and fresh gratitude that can make us strong enough to marvel in the seeming monotony of anything. And the happily married have eyes that look long enough to make the familiar new. There’s this beautiful drama’s in a long faithfulness and aged love might be heroic. God knows the passion of a covenant.” Our officiant, whom I’ve known for a long time as well, also read from Ephesians 4. It’s such an all-encompassing reminder of how we should treat each other, especially as husband and wife.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was two-tiered with a cookie butter-flavored base, a nutella-flavored top, and ivory buttercream ruffles all over. Since Alan typically prefers pie over cake, we also ordered several types of pies: blueberry goat cheese, caramel apple crumble, deep dish chocolate cookie, and bourbon pecan fudge ganache. We ordered our cake and pies from the Short Giraffe, a boutique bakery in Sarasota. We were very excited to share one of our local favorites with our family and friends, especially those who traveled to Florida.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Well, right now, we are responding to this from our honeymoon in Paris! I received Michelle’s email sharing this amazing news the night before our flight, so I was just too excited and couldn’t wait to respond! We decided to take our honeymoon a couple of months after the wedding to give us some time to rest and save up. Of course, starting our own little family is also on the radar. Our prayer is that in His timing, we experience the joys of adoption in the not-so-distant future. This would be a dream (prayer) come true!
Photographer: Michelle March Photography / Planner: Kelsey Peduzzi / Venue: Phillippi Estate Park / Florist: Flowers and Designs by Mary / Cake Baker: The Short Giraffe / Caterer: Sonny’s BBQ / Rentals: Rent All City / Lighting: Marcus Peduzzi / DJ: Fairy Tale Productions / Special Details: Shannon Kirsten / Paper Products: Charley Whiskey Lettering and Design / Bride’s Gown: Anne Klein / Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott / Bride’s Hair Accessory: Beads Brooches Bridal / Hair Stylist: Ali Severson / Makeup Artist: Makeup Artistry by Corinne / Bride’s Shoes: French Connection / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Camilyn Beth / Menswear: J.Crew and Target
Michelle March is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!
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