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If you follow us on Instagram, you might have seen that we spent a good part of last week at our first-ever Southern Weddings Team Retreat. One of the many things we talked about was what each of us loves about the South. Well, I’m so happy Whitney and Nick’s wedding is the first one I get to write after returning back to the office, because it’s filled with so many of the things I personally love about the South: amazing location filled with heritage and Southern charm, a surprise groom’s cake representing collegiate roots, and complete dedication to honoring family. I could not love the way Whitney and Nick honored their family in their decor more–each one of the lanterns surrounding their ceremony represented a family member who had passed. Heavens, y’all pass me some extra tissues! We often talk about filling not only our wedding days, but our lives, with meaningful details, and that is such a sweet example.

Big hugs to our sweet friend and Blue Ribbon Vendor, Mrs. Nancy Ray!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? We wanted to make our guests feel welcome! Our welcome bags included lists of information and important addresses, plus a bag of Holy City Popcorn in the Lowcountry Boil flavor, pralines, benne wafers, waters, and Cheerwine!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went dress shopping three times. The first two times were with my mom, sister, and mother-in-law, and both times were a complete letdown. I did not like any of the dresses that I thought I wanted. I had always thought that I wanted an all-lace dress that was sleeveless, and I absolutely did not want a ball gown or a strapless dress. My sister talked me into trying on dresses that I had never thought of considering, including several ball gowns that I ended up really liking. Several weeks later, my mom and mother-in-law came to Charleston with me for a planning trip, and we decided to pop into Modern Trousseau of Charleston. The girls there were amazing! I ended up getting the Lisbon dress that day!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes, we did decide to do a first look! It was somewhat of a no-brainer for us. Since we were having the ceremony and reception at the same place, we wanted to have the majority of our pictures taken before everyone arrived to the venue. We knew that we would want to start mingling with all of our family and friends soon after the ceremony was over, and we didn’t want to feel rushed to get the pictures that we really wanted. It was also a good excuse to see each other before the ceremony!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We have several favorites, the first being the lanterns that we hung in the tree at our ceremony site. We had eight lanterns, and each represented a family member who had passed and was unable to be present. I loved the picture charm that held a picture of my daddy that I attached to my bouquet. We also hung boxwood wreaths on the front doors of Lowndes Grove, in honor of Nick’s late grandfather, who owned a boxwood farm.

The flowers were perfect! I told Elise that I loved large fluffy flowers and I wanted them be blush pink and white. She ran with my description and created some of the most gorgeous arrangements that I have ever seen! Leading up to the wedding, our budget was getting tight, so I had to cut the focal arrangement for the bar. The day of the wedding, Elise surprised me with the most beautiful and huge arrangement for the bar! I started crying instantly and gave her the biggest hug! I cannot sing her praises enough; she is a true gem!

We offered a “Southern hydration station” prior to the ceremony. We knew that having an outdoor wedding in June was risky and that it could be toasty the day of the wedding. We wanted our guest to be comfortable, so we served water and pink lemonade. The location was about as Southern as you can get–Lowndes Grove is a beautiful white plantation house that sits on the Ashley River. We served shrimp and grits with fried green tomatoes, along with some other great food, and we had amazing bar snacks. There were bowls of fried okra, cheese straws, and boiled peanuts sitting around the lounge areas for people to snack on throughout the night.

The wedding cake was a three-tiered round cake covered in vanilla buttercream. One layer was a lemon cake with key lime filling, and the other two layers were almond cake with vanilla buttercream and raspberries. So yummy! I surprised Nick with a groom’s cake designed to look like Carter-Finley Stadium, with all of the State students holding up signs that spell Wolfpack. Around the sides of the cake, there were various pictures of us throughout the years at different games. The cake was red velvet and devil’s food cake. Laney from Delicious Desserts was amazing to work with and had such great ideas. I had never seen someone so excited when we had our brainstorming meeting!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Whitney: It is crazy how vividly I remember the wedding day, and there are so many good memories! I think the most memorable to me was when I jumped the gun and said “I do” before it was time! I was so nervous and so excited, I just had to get it out! From Nick: I also loved when Whitney jumped the gun and said “I do” before it was time. I also enjoyed when everyone danced to “Shout,” and at one point, everyone was on the dance floor!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in September 2007 while at a NC State football game. We had several mutual friends who had met up while tailgating. Nick was standing off to the side being quiet, and our friends didn’t think to introduce the two of us. I took matters into my own hands, introduced myself, and offered him a Cheerwine! We are both from the small town of Cleveland, North Carolina and we went to the same high school, but since Nick is a little older, we had never met before.
Tell us all about the proposal! March 2013 had been a rough month for me, as I had lost my daddy suddenly to a heart attack the same day I started my career as a physician assistant. Nick and I had been looking forward to getting out of town the weekend of March 30, 2013 for one of our friend’s weddings in Charleston. For several weeks prior, we had been attending a Bible study that also doubled as a training course for a 5K. We had planned to squeeze in a run on Saturday morning and then meet up with several friends for breakfast. Nick planned out a route that would take us to Battery Park and to the pineapple fountain. He had been fighting a cold for most of the week, so I kept asking if he was sure he wanted to go, but he was very adamant. I even tried to get him to change the route so he wouldn’t have to run as far, but he just said, “Whitney, we are running to Battery Park.” Once we got to the park, we sat down on a bench. Then, he started saying sweet things and got down on one knee! I, of course, said yes and giggled a lot! Nick could not have timed the engagement any better; I needed the excitement to help take my mind off of losing my daddy.
When did y’all get married? June 7, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 140
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My Aunt Kathy read 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. It has always been one of my favorites! I actually had “love never fails” engraved in Nick’s ring as a surprise.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! My something borrowed was my sister’s veil. My something blue and new were one and the same–I had a blue monogram patch with my new initials sewn into my dress. My something old were the pearls that I wore around my neck during the ceremony. My daddy had given them to my momma for one of their anniversaries, and my sister also wore them on her wedding day.
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? I have two vendors who I could not have gone without! I don’t even see these ladies as vendors; I see them more as friends! The first is Sara Hosch, our wedding planner. She had this way of knowing exactly what I wanted or what I would like before we even talked about it! The other vendor is the talented Nancy Ray! I have followed Nancy’s blog for a long time, and when I met her for the first time, I was starstruck! She is one of the nicest people I have ever met, but she gets the job done like nobody’s business! I also loved that she instantly called me “Whit” during our engagement session!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I know everyone says this, but enjoy every moment! Wedding planning can have its moments of stress, but just know that it will all be worth it in the end! When else in your life will all the people you love be in one place? So seriously, enjoy EVERY moment!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are settling into our everyday routines and enjoying each other’s company. We are most looking forward to all the fun adventures and trips that we will take as a couple. Also, I am sure we will have a few kids along the way.

Photographer: Nancy Ray / Planner: Sara Hosch / Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation / Florist: Elise Nuckols of Charleston Stems / Caterer and Wedding Cake: Fish / Groom’s Cake: Laney Cowan of Delicious Desserts / Rentals: Snyder Events / Lighting: AV Connections / Band: Java Band / Paper Products: Scotti Cline / Bride’s Gown: “Lisbon” by Modern Trousseau / Bride’s Earrings: Swell Caroline / Hair and Makeup Artist: Sabra Mizzell of Willow Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Sam Edelman / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style 154” by Bill Levkoff / Men’s Suits: Jos. A. Bank / Men’s Bow Ties: Brooks Brothers

Nancy Ray is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and Scotti Cline is a delightful SW sponsor!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Whitney & Nick Wedding | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] for their wedding came from one of our favorite wedding blogs here in the NRP studio, and today the Southern Weddings Blog made one Southern bride (and her photographer!) very happy for featuring her wedding. Thank you for […]

  2. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    Always love the classic look of blue and white!

  3. avatar Claire Cowman reply

    Oh, wow! I love the whispiness of that cake’s icing! Beautiful photography and feel to the whole wedding, love the use of light in all of these photos!

  4. avatar Matthew Rycraft reply

    Looks like a great day. Really like the grooms evening outfit!

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As a December bride myself, I always feel a bit attached to fellow December couples, and I especially feel that way today. Maybe it’s nostalgia or possibly the elegant decor of holiday garlands and crisp white florals, but either way, Klaire and Carson’s wedding day roped me in from that first sweet photo of Klaire wiping a tear away, and kept me smitten all the way to their carriage exit. Be sure to read about their fun Atlanta Braves tribute before they hopped into said carriage!

Big thanks to Mark Williams Studio for sharing!

P.S. Fun fact! Does that gorgeous church look familiar? It’s the same church that was featured in the lovely Generations Past shoot from V6!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Of course! I borrowed my veil from my cousin/matron of honor, one of my garters was blue satin ribbon and ivory lace, I wrapped my Gram’s pearl rosary beads around the stems of my bouquet, and my dress and my pearl earrings (my wedding gift from Carson!) were new!

My wedding dress story is definitely not a typical one! I originally planned to wear my cousin/matron of honor’s wedding dress. When she found it, I was just as much in love with it as she was, so when she asked me if I would like to wear it, it was an obvious decision. I absolutely loved the dress and there was so much emotion and sentiment behind wearing it (not to mention, the price was right, right?!). Then one day, my mom called me to meet her at a local bridal store to help my aunt find a dress for the wedding. When I walked in, I saw a beautiful dress on one of the mannequins, but considering it was less than two months until my wedding AND I already had a dress, I ignored my instinct to go look at it. About 15 minutes later, I found myself walking over to it. I was apparently in awe because my mom walked up behind me and told me to go try it on. I was very hesitant, but with encouragement from my mom and aunts, I decided to try it. When I walked out of the dressing room, they all immediately started to cry. I walked over to the mirror to look at myself and started to cry too. For the first time, I felt like a “real bride” with my own dress. We called my soon-to-be mother-in-law and sister-in-law to come up for the final decision. When they walked in, they both cried too and said it looked like the dress was made for me. So, the decision was made and I ordered the dress. We were scared it would not arrive in time, but it came three weeks early. It was truly meant to be!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We knew that we would be living in Savannah after we got married, and we loved the idea of getting married during the most romantic time of year (Christmas) in such a romantic town. We wanted our venues to highlight the Southern charm and grace of Savannah. We had heard about the Whitefield Chapel of Bethesda, and after seeing it for the first time, we immediately knew it was the place that we wanted to exchange our vows. It was so intimate and quaint. The reception venue, Garibaldi’s, was the first place Carson and I had gone to dinner when he moved to Savannah. It is also the place where we had our first “marriage talk!” I even asked our waiter at dinner that night if they had weddings there. When we got engaged, my best friend researched venues for me, and when she mentioned Garibaldi’s, I knew it was the one!

Our wedding was very traditional and Southern in almost every way. We got ready and took pictures in the Old South streets and squares, where trolleys and horses were on every corner. Carson and the ring bearers were true Southern gentlemen in their bow ties and suspenders. I wore my uncle’s mother’s vintage fur jacket from the 1950’s–she was quite the Southern lady. We got married in a chapel surrounded by winding oak trees and beautiful Spanish moss. My mom said the blessing for everyone before the food was served and celebration began. Our reception was celebrated in the heart of downtown Savannah. Magnolia wreathes with berries accented with tiny lights were on every window to bring out the Southern elegance of the winter season.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we loved the traditional vows.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our first reading was 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, the second reading was 1 John 4: 16-19, and the gospel reading was Matthew 19:4-6
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our ceremony music was very traditional and classic. We had two close family friends play the piano during the ceremony. My high school chorus teacher sang “Ave Maria” as Carson’s mom walked down the aisle. I came down the aisle with both of my parents to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” For the reception, our goal was to have a big party full of dancing! When the bridal party was introduced, they danced in to “I’ve Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. When Carson and I were introduced, we came into “Sparks Fly” by Taylor Swift (my all-time favorite). Our first dance was to “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I loved how we tried to make each and every detail personal to us, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be our exit details. Carson and I are huge Atlanta Braves fans, so we had foam tomahawks made with our names and wedding date on them. They were handed to each of our guests as they walked out to form a tomahawk “chop line.” Everyone was “chopping” away and singing the Braves’ infamous war chant as we exited and got into our horse-drawn carriage. As we rode away in the carriage, we held up a wooden sign that said, “…and they lived happily ever after.” It was the perfect ending to a wonderful night.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was perfect. It was a three-tiered ivory cake with raised pearl dots. The second tier had our scripted monogram on it. Ranunculus and baby’s breath were arranged on the top and along the sides of the cake. It was very simple, classic, and elegant–definitely the look we were going for. Carson’s groom’s cake was one of my favorite parts of the wedding. Carson got to pick the flavor (chocolate), but he did not know what it was going to look like. Since Carson is in medical school and wants to be a surgeon, I designed an “Operation” cake. Each “operation piece” was specifically tied to him some way. For example, the heart piece said “Belongs to Klaire, 12.28.13” and the brain piece said, “Georgia on my mind, go Dawgs!” I got to show it to him at the reception and it was one of the most fun moments for us!

Don’t miss their wedding film trailer by Andrew Clark Films!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both grew up in Columbus, Georgia. Our families are friends, we went to the same high school for a year, and we had the same social circle. It was not until Carson returned home after graduating from UGA that our relationship started. We went on several dates, but nothing too serious. A few months down the road, while Carson was studying intensely for his MCAT, I made him a care package to take to his test. I realized that maybe I cared about him a lot more than I wanted to admit…and turns out, those feelings were mutual. From that day on, we started dating, and it did not take long before we knew that we had both found our perfect match!
Tell us all about the proposal! Carson planned a “birthday trip” for me to Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia. It was also his medical school spring break, so I really did not suspect anything. On the day of the proposal, Carson planned a tour around the winery and a fun wine tasting. As we were walking to the hotel to head to our dinner reservation, we stopped by the lounge. I sat down and Carson remained standing as he ordered two glasses of champagne. He then told me that we were not going to be sitting there, and the hotel staff escorted us to one of the balconies on the side of the hotel. On the door to the balcony, it said “Reserved for a Private Party.” I was immediately very hesitant and told Carson that we could not go in. He then told me that the “private party” was for us. He opened the door, and at the end of the balcony, I saw a table set for two. Tears immediately started to flow. There were rose petals leading the way, and two glasses and a bottle of wine from the winery labeled “Klaire & Carson, April 27,2013” on the table. We went to sit down, and the next thing I knew, Carson was telling me how much he loved me, and then got done on one knee and said, “Klaire Jennings Kirkland, Will you marry me?” I, of course, cried and said YES! As I looked over, Carson’s parents walked out of the back room. They had been taking pictures of the proposal, and they also had a videographer there filming the whole thing! The final surprise came when we made it to our dinner reservation, and all of our family and best friends were there to celebrate. Carson seriously thought of everything to make our engagement so perfect.
When did y’all get married? December 28, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 135
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? No, we did not. We decided to wait to see each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle to Carson. Carson and I dated for about two years before we got married, and one year of that was long distance. He had started medical school in Savannah, and I was still working at my job in Columbus, and we decided is was important to wait to live together until after we were married. During the time of living apart, envisioning Carson’s face as I walked down the aisle was what got me through the weeks of not being able to see each other, so it only seemed right to wait to see him until I walked down the aisle. It was so worth it–everything I could have ever dreamed of and more!
Describe your wedding flowers. My wedding flowers were very soft and simple. I wanted all creams, whites, ivories and blushes. My bouquet had zinnias, peonies, Juliet garden roses, ranunculus, and with a hint of winter gray dusty miller and brunia berries. The stems were exposed, wrapped in ivory satin ribbon and my grandmother’s pearl rosary beads. My bridesmaids carried hydrangeas, Juliet garden roses and babies breath, accented with dusty miller and brunia berries, wrapped in lace ribbon and pearl beads. The groom and groomsmen wore simple freesia flowers tied with gray brunia berries and dusty miller. The reception flowers were similar, but we used eclectic glass vases and small flower jars for variety throughout each table.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Staying within budget! As we all know, weddings can get expensive really quickly!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My wedding planner and designer, Two Peaches Design, did all of my flowers and floral design. We were able to pay for our flowers at wholesale prices, which saved a lot of money!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our photographers, Julianne and Marielle of Mark Williams Studio. They were so focused on every detail, which was so important to me, and they were so fun and easy to work with. I truly feel that having good photographers is one of the most important parts of a wedding. They were beyond wonderful!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Hands down, the most memorable part of my wedding day was when the chapel doors opened and I saw Carson standing at the end of the aisle, knowing that we were about to become husband and wife. We both radiated with happiness and true joy. It was the best feeling and moment of all time for me!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Wedding planning can be very stressful. When you start to feel that stress, remember the meaning of your wedding day and what it is all about… you and your soon-to-be husband! This time goes by fast and it only happens once, so cherish it. Have fun planning with your mom, family, and best friends. Be thankful for all the love and support that is surrounding you and your fiancé during this time. No matter what, at the end of your big day, you get to be married to the love of your life…it doesn’t get any better than that!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We will be in Savannah for the next few years until Carson finishes medical school. We look forward to continuing to grow together as a husband and wife, and we are very excited to see what God has in store for us…we definitely see little baby Stricklands in the future (when that time is right)! Until then, we are having fun just being together, watching lots of Braves games, and cheering for the Georgia Bulldogs come fall. Go Dawgs!

Photographer: Mark Williams Studio / Videographer: Andrew Clark Films / Planning and Florals: Two Peaches Design / Ceremony Venue: Whitefield Chapel of Bethesda / Reception Venue and Catering: Garibaldi’s / Cake Baker: Tier Luxury Cakes / Band or DJ: All About You Entertainment / Bride’s Gown: Oleg Cassini / Paper Products: Everly Calligraphy / Bride’s Veil: J Andrews Bridal / Hair and Makeup: Andrea Nay / Bride’s Shoes: BCBGeneration / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bari Jay / Men’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank / Wooden Signs: Michele Campbell of M. & Co. / Foam Tomahawks and Koozies: Collins Marketing

marissa Written with love by Marissa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Janine reply

    I love this wedding! So elegant! Almost everything is given credit at the bottom — but I was wondering if there was any way to find out where the bride got her robe (and bridesmaid’s robes)? I’ve seen a lot that look similar in my search, but these are perfect!

    • avatar Klaire Strickland reply

      Hey Janine! Thanks for your sweet comments! I got my robe and the bridesmaids’ robes off of “The Knot’s” website/store. They were perfect and the monogram was the perfect touch. Hope this helps!

    • avatar Janine reply

      Thank you so much!

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Their reception space looks so cozy + joyful!

  3. avatar Inna Olimpiyuk reply

    Loved this story, cried in many spots, very touching!

  4. avatar Christine reply

    We are considering Savannah for our wedding spot too. Thanks for sharing. So many great ideas and very beautiful.

  5. avatar Michelle reply

    love all the winter-themed decor! they really kept it appropriate to the South in winter rather than going over the top with it.

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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