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Bride Sonia’s joyful Kentucky wedding at the Winchester Opera House.

I am delighted to introduce y’all to today’s bride, Sonia! Though not a Southern gal by birth, her Winchester Opera House wedding to “Kentucky Nate” embodies all the aspects I think a good Southern wedding should have; including, but not limited to, being steeped in tradition, honoring family, and sharing Southern culture and hospitality. One of the sweetest details of their wedding is Sonia’s “something old!” Sonia chose to honor her family by wearing her paternal grandmother’s wedding gown (with a little redesign help from Donna Beth Creations!).

Another thing I can’t help but love? Their joyful ceremony! Sonia said, “Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.” That’s exactly what we wish for each one of our couples! Keep reading to learn about Nate’s nickname and how wedding planning inspired where they’ll raise their future babies.

Thanks to On A Whim Photography for sharing this lovely Kentucky wedding with us!

I had the honor of wearing my Granny Doris’s (my dad’s mom’s) wedding gown. She purchased the gown in 1954 when she married my PaPa in Virginia. My Aunt Lori, her daughter, wore the gown in 1976 for her Colorado wedding. It created such an amazing bond between the three of us ladies, and my dad was so proud. He fetched the gown from the cedar chest my Granny stored it in in her basement the day I first asked about it! I knew immediately that it was the dress for me. I had been searching for a way to bring my family into our Kentucky wedding and it was the perfect way to do so. In the foyer of the Opera House we had displayed photos of my Granny and Aunt Lori in the gown on their wedding days. It was so sweet to hear and see folks’ reaction when they realized it was the same one!

Nate’s father, Barry Bainum, was our officiant, and that was such an amazing experience. He is a Certified Lay Pastor in the Presbyterian Church and put so much thought and sincerity into our ceremony. It was very traditional, and we loved that it encouraged participation from our guests. He asked them, “Do you give your blessing to Nathan and Sonia and promise to do everything in your power to uphold them in their marriage?” It was so important to us that they knew they were invited for that reason: to help us, guide us, and love us in our marriage together. They were a part of it with us by being our witnesses. It was beautiful and joyful and we will never forget when Nate forgot “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” when saying his vows! Barry was happy to help him along through it. Our nephews who were at the wedding were our ring bearers. We had them carry a gold horseshoe for good luck! Nate’s nieces, Genna and Gabby (who helped with the proposal), walked Nate down the aisle to his spot to wait for me. My dad walked me down the aisle, of course! We had to walk down a flight of stairs to make it there! I was so nervous to do so in my heels, but he did the perfect job guiding me down. Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.

As mentioned before, Nate was born and raised in Kentucky. He grew up in a cabin built by his father on the land his grandparents owned in Fleming County. His upbringing was so unique and the reason he is the man he is today! We determined that our wedding was the best opportunity to share this amazing place that we both love with my family and the people closest to us. I researched every venue in Kentucky before we found The Winchester Opera House. The location was perfect – easy for folks to travel to from local airports and centralized for our wedding week activities. But more than that, it fit our vision perfectly. Southern, regal, and much more “derby” than “country.” After meeting with the venue owner, Vanessa Ziembroski, we were so impressed by her knowledge and experience. Her business offered so many services, and that was such a comfort to us since we were planning the wedding out of state.

Did you decide to do a first look? Yes, we did! At first, our reasoning was for logistics. We wanted to enjoy every moment of our reception with guests and thought it would be nice to get the pictures done during the day with good lighting. As our wedding planning progressed we were so grateful we had made that decision! We both looked forward to that moment of pause.

The ’61 Mercedes Benz in the photos (named Josephine) originally belonged to my Papa, who bought Josephine while he was in the Airforce. My Papa and Granny drove their four children all over Europe and the US in that car! In the 80s, my Papa gave the car to my dad who loved it just the same. He restored Josephine to her original blue color, white wall tires, and red interior. She looked like new! He drove her in a trailer to Kentucky all the way from Colorado just to have her as my “something blue.” I have so many great memories of that car, and this one tops them all.

Our vision for the decor was simple and elegant. We wanted greenery to be most prevalent in our flower arrangements to represent Kentucky’s beautiful green scenery. We chose to have garlands and wreaths of greenery throughout the decor to represent the culture of the horse races in the area. Nate’s custom tux jacket had “Kentucky Nate” embroidered in it. That is what his buddies call him. His vest had our wedding date embroidered in it.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We chose to have white garden chairs rather than gold chiavari and to have standard silverware rather than gold. We also chose not to have a videographer, and I learned to do the calligraphy on all of our personalized items: invitations, escort cards, table numbers, signs, etc. And Nate and I made all of the tassels on the 75+ champagne confetti poppers for the ceremony. Mostly me, but he helped ;)

We had a simple wedding cake, just two layers of white cake with white buttercream. In addition to this, we served carrot cake. While we wanted the tradition of cutting the cake, this wasn’t the most important thing to us. We wanted most of all for our guests to have a great seated dinner and an open bar. At the bar we served three signature drinks: The Winchester – Ale81 (Kentucky’s own soft drink) and bourbon, Le Petit Chou – named after our pug and Sonia’s preferred cocktail, vodka, sprite, and soda water with lemon, and The Augustus McCrae -named after our German Shorthair Pointer (who is named after the Lonesome Dove character, Gus) and Nate’s preferred cocktail, double Eagle Rare bourbon on the rocks.

As our guests arrived to the ceremony and when we walked back up the aisle, my brother-in-law played acoustic guitar. He played the tune from the movie Crazy Heart, “The Weary Kind.” Nate and I are big Ryan Bingham fans! The lyrics aren’t extremely romantic, but instrumentally it is so beautiful. We liked the imperfections in its story and thought it was fitting for us. Walking down the aisle, Jarrod played the instrumental version of our first dance. The song is “Diamonds and Gasoline” by the Turnpike Troubadours. I knew Nate would immediately recognize the tune and know I was on my way! Again, the lyrics weren’t typical for a wedding, but it was a song that we loved when we were discovering our love for each other. My dad picked out the song for our father-daughter dance, “I love you Because,” which is a duet between Lisa Marie Presley and her father, Elvis. My dad and I LOVE Elvis and he does the best impersonation. He sang to me in his Elvis voice while we danced. So many emotions! Nate chose to surprise his mom with the song for their mother-son dance, “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead. This song is loved by her whole family. It was played at both her parents’ funerals. It was such a sweet moment for all of the “Montana Hippies,” the DeWeese side of the family. My mom and I had a special dance together to “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard. She sings this song to me a little too often ;)

Tell us your love story in one sentence. You fall in love with the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time.
Tell us all about the proposal! Nate was born and raised in Kentucky, and I was born and raised in Colorado. In August 2015, Nate’s parents, sisters and nieces, Genna (10) and Gabby (6), visited us from Kentucky for a weekend of Colorado fun and celebration. My family hosted a barbecue for the families to meet on my 23rd birthday. The little girls made made me a special gift: a fairytale storybook, written by Genna and illustrated by Gabby. The story featured me as a princess and told of all those who traveled to see me on my birthday and how much they loved me. It then read, “One person loved her the most. His name was Nate. He had a very important question to ask her…” The story ended with Nate on one knee and me in shaky tears as he popped the big question!
When did y’all get married? October 8, 2016.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 84. It was the perfect number for us to feel connected to our guests and still have a full dance floor!
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? In lieu of a guestbook, we created bourbon cocktail-themed postcards. We asked our guests to write us a note, kind thought, or marriage advice during our wedding reception. Throughout the first year of our marriage, Nate’s mom has been sending us the postcards randomly. It has been the most amazing reminder of our love and the support they promised us! The postcards always seem to arrive at the perfect time and are so meaningful to us. We read them together every time we receive one.
What was Southern about your wedding? My dress! The lace sleeves, off-the-shoulder neckline, and the train! It was so Southern and so perfect. Also, having the wedding in Kentucky exuded the hospitality and celebration of the South. We so enjoyed sharing Kentucky’s charm with our guests. Nate’s parents and sisters hosted a welcome dinner on their farm the Wednesday before the wedding where we ate a traditional Kentucky meal with hot brown casserole, BBQ, and bourbon. On Thursday, our guests had lunch in the little town of Midway, KY before touring the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Distillery. On Friday, we attended the opening day of the Fall Horse Race Meet at Keeneland followed by our rehearsal dinner at the Jefferson Davis Inn. It was exactly what we had hoped for in sharing Nate’s home.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? The life planning that developed with our wedding planning was our favorite thing about it all. Dreaming of our wedding week spent in Kentucky and discussing the things we loved about it most brought it into a different perspective for us. Ultimately, it lead to our realization that Nate’s “Old Kentucky Home” was where we want to be and to raise our future family. We plan to move to his family farm this fall to plant our roots!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? Planning from afar! It was difficult to book vendors and trust their judgment and reliability from a different state. We were so blessed to find the Winchester Opera House – they offered so many services that it really reduced our workload.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? We both agree that our first look was the most memorable moment. Nate remembers the note and gift I had delivered to him just before. It referenced his grandparents and our goal to love the way they loved each other. And for me, I never felt more treasured by him. We cherished that moment of pause to embrace the impact of the day.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Have a day-of coordinator! We were so grateful for ours! It allowed us to truly enjoy the day. I didn’t worry about what the groomsmen were up to, and Nate knew they were right on schedule. The staff of the Winchester Opera House made the perfect environment for our wedding day, and that is so important!

Photographer: Brooke Bailey of On A Whim Photography | Planner: Vanessa Ziembroski and Natalie Johnson of The Winchester Opera House | Ceremony and Reception Venue, Caterer, Rentals, and Lighting: The Winchester Opera House | Florist: Neal Linville of The Winchester Opera House | Wedding Cake Baker: Stacey Maslin, The Cake Lady | DJ: DJ Kevin Croucher, Wed Laugh Love | Paper Products: Minted | Bride’s Gown: Vintage Redesign by Donna Beth Creations | Bride’s Veil: Donna Beth Creations | Jewelry: Kendra Scott Earrings | Hair Stylist: Erika Evans, Something Blu Lexington | Makeup Artist: Tamika Holifield, Something Blu Lexington | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade New York | Groom’s Attire: Custom Joseph Abboud | Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Champagne poppers: Oriental Trading Company | Garter: made by bride and sister | Handkerchief: embroidered by bride | Bride’s Rings: Tacori | Groom’s Ring: Sather’s Jewelers, Fort Collins, CO

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Kara B reply

    LOVE that dress! The shoes are pretty awesome too!

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Oh my stars, we are so excited to share more of our beautiful V6 Texas shoot! After V5’s beloved Yellow Rose shoot, we were thrilled to bring this stellar team of Texas vendors together again to celebrate another classic Texan folk song–this time, the beloved “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” Stefanie Miles planned and styled the most beautiful setup in the middle of a North Texas wheat field, and every detail was captured to perfection by Ryan Ray. Unsurprisingly, the results were truly breathtaking!

Bows + Arrows created the most exquisite bouquets, using all different white blooms and the prettiest ribbon from FrouFrou Chic. We love how the flowers pop against our night sky-inspired color palette!

One of our top must-haves for this shoot was a cowboy groom. Blair certainly fit the bill in his handsome hat, and I’m sure y’all will agree, that lasso is the perfect finishing touch.

Oh, this dress! I can hardly wait to print the picture below for my bulletin board. There were audible cheers from the office when Marissa told us we had secured this sparkly Monique Lhuillier for our shoot!

One of our absolute favorite comments from SW readers so far has been that our V6 cover couple looks so in love. Well, friends, that’s because they are! We’re truly delighted to have a real married couple on our cover: our sweet friend (and BRV member!) Christina of Christina Leigh Events and her husband. Their love truly shines off the page and we think they represent our mission so beautifully.

We’re overjoyed with how the details of this shoot came together. From a gauzy backdrop with handpainted calligraphy to flower girl tutus made of 250+ yards of tulle, everything looks so stunning against the open landscape that is so typical of Texas.

Could this tablescape get any prettier? LOOT Vintage Rentals brought some of their incredible inventory all the way from Austin to be part of the shoot. We’re also smitten with the star garland!

We’ve featured some lovely pies in SW history, but these just may be some of the prettiest. Layered Bake Shop hit it out of the park with luscious blueberry and pecan pies, complete with dreamy star details. The sparkly “Just Married” shooting star cutout is a show stopper!

We are so smitten with the V6 cover and couldn’t be happier with how this shoot turned out! Be sure to check out our print edition for lots more! We’d love to know, what’s your favorite detail of this shoot?

Stefanie Miles is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
42 Comments
  1. avatar Nicole reply

    I am absolutely head over heels in love with this gown. It is incredible.

  2. avatar Ryan Ray reply

    So thankful for y’all! Absolutely LOVED being a part of this shoot! :)

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Oh my goodness, I love it all!!!! The color scheme, the beautiful signs, THAT DRESS, the cowboy hat. Such goodness in every picture.

  4. avatar Christina L. Frederick reply

    Happy tears. A lot of happy, happy tears. I am in love with this man so much and I can’t thank you ALL for letting us be such a special part of #SWV6! Ryan and Stefanie and truly talented at what they do and we were so blessed to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves, and so full of love! Deep, true, southern love! Congratulations on a fabulous issue. Every page is perfect! We can’t wait to celebrate with you this week!
    Big, big hugs! Christina

  5. avatar Kat reply

    One of my favorite shoots in SW history!!! Love it, y’all!!!

  6. avatar Mary reply

    LOVE IT ALL! I’m partial to Texas, but I love the Deep in the Heart of Texas painting! And that dress…drool. Can I be a bride again?

  7. avatar Stefanie Miles reply

    So very thankful, love you ladies and the story your magazine tells about love and marriage! Truly, such a joy to be a part, and alongside so many others I admire in this industry!

  8. avatar alicia rico reply

    what an honor to be a part of this shoot…..
    and an even bigger honor to be a part of the cover….
    and the greatest honor of all is to work with kind, amazing, talented friends like stef and ryan!
    LOVE Y’ALL!!!!!

  9. avatar Cheap Wedding Dresses reply

    The dress is so pretty.

  10. avatar Southern Weddings Magazine Feature » Layered Bake Shop reply

    […] and blessed to be included with such amazing vendors for an editorial in the newest issue! Click here to see the online feature and pick your copy up on newstands […]

  11. avatar Shannon Star reply

    So stunning! Everything about this feature is so captivating and dreamy. And that dress!! Stephanie and Ryan you are truly magical. Thank you so much for including me in something so amazing!

  12. avatar Dana reply

    i think this dress just made me cry

  13. avatar michelle reply

    this is my favorite wedding shoot EVER. it is completely perfect. even my boyfriend likes it! the brides dress is incredible. and i am dying over that stripe dress. any chance you can share a link? it needs to be in my closet asap.

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    […] up for our editorial posts was our stunning cover shoot, Deep in the Heart of Texas! We love every detail of this gorgeous shoot, inspired by the classic Texan folk […]

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    love love love the sweet hanging canvases! and the couch the precious babies are playing on. absolutely beautiful!

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    I love the custom calligraphy banners in this post! Do you know where they’re from or what company they used to create them? Thanks!

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  23. avatar Daria reply

    My daughter is getting married deep in the Heart of the Hill Country. Where can I purchase the banner “The Stars at Night”

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Hi Daria! The banner was custom made for this shoot by Sending Heartstrings. http://sendingheartstrings.com/

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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!

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