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Based on details alone, it’s clear that Olivia and Scott threw a Southern soirée, but amidst the bow ties, pearls, and bourbon lemonade lies much more. Olivia imagined a day that felt like an effortlessly elegant Southern dinner party, so with the help of their planner, Blue Ribbon Vendor Leigh Pearce, they planned a wedding day that focused on serving their guests well as gracious hosts and honoring the traditions of their families. While lots of newlyweds struggle to fill their new homes with thoughtful pieces, I love the way Leigh encouraged Olivia and Scott to look for decor that could be easily reused after their wedding in their home. I bet those same pieces will go on to become heirlooms for future generations to cherish!

Big hugs to Anna Paschal Photography for sharing this dreamy day with us!

My experience finding a dress was one of epic fairy tale proportion. Along with my mom and sister, I traveled to Hayden Olivia in uptown Charlotte. The consultant encouraged me to pick at least one or two gowns that I had not pictured myself in–something outside my comfort zone. I began making my selection and was lured in by the youthful, uber feminine designs of Hayley Paige. I especially loved the cascading striped silk organza of the Guindon gown, and knew it had to be my wild card pick. After a few gowns, the consultant decided it was time I tried on my “just for fun” pick. The feeling I felt as I wore the gown was transformative–I felt more myself than I had ever been. Needless to say, Guindon became a pivotal inspiration piece for the entire wedding!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, Scott and I did decide to do a first look. At first, we were a little unsure if a first look would be right for us, but after talking with Leigh Pearce, Anna Paschal, and our rabbi, we decided it would be perfect fit. We wanted to spend as much time as possible with our friends, family, and loved ones after the ceremony. The first look also gave Scott and I an opportunity to create and share a special moment alone together prior to the ceremony.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I had always dreamed of an outdoor wedding. As we began looking for wedding venues, Scott and I wanted to find a place that felt refined, yet organic. We immediately fell in love with the expansive and stately oak trees found at one of the ceremony sites at Summerfield Farm.

I looked through various issues of Southern Weddings and selected a few of my favorite phrases to create my vows. My favorite lines were: “I, Olivia, take you, Scott, as you are this day, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become. I promise to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and accept your support. I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they are my own. I will love you and have faith in your love for me through all that life may bring. May my heart be your shelter and my arms be your home. With these words, and all the words of my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours.”

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Do bow ties, pearls, and bourbon lemonade count? The whole design of our wedding was Southern. Southern design, to me, is understated elegance and effortless tradition. It is as if you went out into the backyard, gathered some flowers from your garden, went into the dining room and brought out the pressed linens and the Sunday china, grabbed the heirloom silver, whipped up a deliciously fresh meal, and lit a few candles, all while say to your guests, “Really, it was nothing. Glad you could make it”. The focus on our guests and our efforts to be gracious hosts were the most Southern parts of our wedding.

We chose a selection of small round layer cakes to accompany our main three-tiered round layer cake. The cakes ranged in flavors from strawberry buttercream, to raspberry lady cake, to chocolate mocha cake. The cakes’ decorations were very simple–we used white frosting with a beaded border around the bottom, adorned with real blooms.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Scott and I met in college in August 2008. We both remember the very first moment we laid eyes on each other, standing in the hallway of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house. Scott was a sophomore and I was a freshman. We instantly connected over whatever music was playing at the time and continued to connect over various topics in the weeks to come. However, it took Scott almost three years and a sort of happenstance meeting to officially ask me out on our first date. Our first date will forever be one of best memories, besides our wedding, of course. On both occasions, we danced and sang the entire night away.
Tell us all about the proposal! I can honestly say the proposal was a COMPLETE surprise and that it happened months before I thought it might! I grew up on a farm and have ridden and owned horses since the tender age of five. In third grade, as I started to grow not only in size, but in skill, as an equestrian, my parents gifted me with an American Quarter Horse named Sundance. I loved him from the moment I met him! In late fall 2013, as Sundance began to age and reach “old man” status (30 years old), I mentioned to Scott and my family how very much I would love to have my picture taken with Sundance as a sort of memento. On December 1 of that year, while Scott and I were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, they surprised me with a professional photography session with Sundance. As Sundance and I neared the end of our photo shoot, the photographer suggested I turn the horse around and position Scott into one of the last frames. I turned Sundance around and came to spot Scott kneeling on the ground. I immediately asked him what he was doing, reminding him it was not safe to be on the ground around horses. Well…he pulled out a little box and a gorgeous diamond ring! He nervously uttered lots of sweet and meaningful words and I said “Yes!” The whole proposal was caught on camera.
When did y’all get married? May 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Scott and I planned for our marriage by meeting with our rabbi once a month during a large portion of our engagement. We have really come to cherish those monthly meetings, and they are one of the reasons we were able to create such a deeply meaningful ceremony.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Having a custom invitation suite and calligraphed envelopes was really important to me. The invitation is the first tangible piece of the big day guests will encounter. I always look at invitations as a suggestion of all the beauty yet to come. In order to stay within my budget for invitations and paper, I decided to forgo paper items like individual menus and programs. I also decided learn the art of modern calligraphy so I could address the invitations, create the place cards, and hand-paint the table numbers and signage myself. I walked away from my wedding day with the man of my dreams and a new skill to boot!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Leigh Pearce, my planner, and Anna Paschal, my photographer, obviously! Those ladies were such a blessing and I felt so fortunate to have found them. I am really glad that I listened to every piece of their advice, especially, when Leigh advised me to look for decor items that I could also use in my home after the wedding. Many of the pieces we used during our wedding have now become heirloom-quality decor in our home.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Beyond working to build a life together, I would have to say travel and adventure. On our honeymoon, Scott and I decided that each year for our anniversary, we would plan a special trip for the two of us. We are very excited to celebrate our first anniversary in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands–we have made arrangements to stay in an eco-tent resort for the first leg of our trip. For the first time ever, we will be traveling with just a backpack filled with the bare necessities, and we simply can’t wait to see what exciting revelations come when traveling ultralight!

Photographer: Anna Pachal Photography | Planner: Leigh Pearce Weddings | Venue: Summerfield Farm | Florist: The Farmers Wife | Cake Baker: Maxie B’s | Caterer: Fresh. Local. Good. Food Group | Rentals: Party Makers Event Rentals | Lighting and DJ: K2 Productions | Paper Products: Four Things Paper | Bride’s Gown: “Guindon” by Hayley Paige | Bride’s Earrings: Haute Bride | Bride’s Custom Sash: Davie & Chiyo | Bride’s English Net Veil: Tessa Kim | Hair and Makeup: Carla White | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “D468” by Alfred Sung | Groom’s Attire: Brooks Brothers and Canali | Bow Ties: The Tie Bar | Groomsmen Attire: Brooks Brothers and Michael Kors

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Love her description of the reception as a Southern dinner party. Now it makes me want to throw a dinner party of my own!

  2. avatar Brooke Paris reply

    This story is SO similar to my own; it is my own Hayley Paige dress is serving as inspiration for the general look and intimate details of the reception we are planning- my groom just doesn’t know that everything comes together so well quite yet ;)!

    I have been searching for swiss dot details EVERYWHERE- do you know where those fabrics are from?

  3. avatar Leigh Pearce reply

    Thanks for the feature SW!! I just loved working with Olivia and Scott. A pair of true sweethearts!

    Brooke, email me at [email protected] and I will see if I can hunt down that fabric source for you. Olivia’s mom sourced and created the chuppah draping. It was one of my favorite details!! xoxo

  4. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Lovely detail! Great shots

  5. avatar Doting on Dots, Part Two: People & Parties – The Dandelion PatchThe Dandelion Patch reply

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I knew I was going to love Jessica and Nick’s wedding as soon as I started reading their interview–their day was completely packed with some of our very favorite things! A meaningful location full of family history? Check. Details inspired by their love story and pulled together/created by family and friends? Check. Plenty of Southern traditions and cuisine? Check! Nick even built their beautiful sweetheart table, which now lives in their new house for them to enjoy their meals at every single day. Wedding details that can literally become part of your newlywed life are so special–not only are they a great way to remind you of your wedding in the years that follow, they can also help you focus on all the good that is to come when you’re in the midst of planning. Be sure to read J+N’s interview–I wouldn’t want y’all to miss a single sweet thing!

Thank you so much to Annamarie Akins for sharing this special day with us!

One of my bridesmaids lives in Charleston, and while visiting her, we had set up an appointment to look at bridesmaid dresses. I ended up trying on wedding gowns at the same time, and completely fell in love with one! The dress fit my style so well, and embodied everything I wanted my wedding to be: classic, modern, casual, and a little bit nautical! It was such a special moment with my bridesmaid, and there was no pressure or stress–that really helped me to know I was making the right decision. The salon was kind enough to ship the dress I loved back to Virginia so I could try it on with my family; once it was dad-approved, the decision was made! I was able to meet with the designer on our next visit to Charleston, and together, we customized a few details of the dress. I was thrilled to be able to purchase a gown from a Southern designer who was just launching her wedding gown line.

Describe your wedding flowers. I am so fortunate to have a mother-in-law who happens to be a fantastic floral arranger! Nick’s mom is an active member in the local garden club, and she organized for her garden club friends to come over to the house on Friday morning to make all the arrangements for the reception. Women I had never met were bringing flowers from their own gardens to help make our day beautiful–it doesn’t get more special than that! A local florist and family friend of the groom, who had provided flowers for my now-sister-in-law’s wedding, also provided gorgeous bouquets for the bridal party. I knew I wanted a relaxed, garden-style arrangement with natural colors of predominately white and green. The florist was also able to incorporate magnolia from my parents’ house in order to make my Alabama (my home state)-meets-Virginia (groom’s home state) vision come true in a magnolia and cotton wreath for the church doors.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had a string duet play at the church for the ceremony, and they put together “The Book of Love” specifically for Nick–it’s one of his favorite songs! I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D,” the song that my mother had walked down the aisle to. We chose to sing “Be Though My Vision” as a congregation during the ceremony. A traditional hymn, this song is special to my family because we had just sang it at my sister’s wedding a year prior. Perhaps it will be a new family tradition!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional vows. There was something special about speaking the same words that our parents and grandparents vowed to one another so many years ago.

The most memorable moment was arriving to the reception by boat and seeing all our family and friends, drinks in hand, cheering and waiting for us to celebrate with them! Nick and I were so happy, and we couldn’t wait to get up to the yard and spend time with everyone. It was such a great feeling to have people from all walks of life standing in our favorite place, experiencing why we love this part of Virginia.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Nick and I spend most of our free weekends during the warmer months down on Gwynn’s Island, a remote area on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Both sets of grandparents have a history there, my parents own a summer house on the island, and Nick’s parents live a short drive away. The house has a way of drawing us all together, no matter where we are in life, to watch the sunset and share meals together on Saturday nights. We knew immediately that we wanted to share this region with our family and friends. Nick’s family is a member of a stunning historic brick church where Nick was baptized, and it was so special to have our ceremony there! The river house and the church were natural choices to meld traditions from both our families.

My favorite detail of the wedding was the sweetheart table. Nick started hand-crafting our wooden table with his dad a few months before the wedding, and it was stunning! He searched for weeks for the perfect plans and images to create the table that we now use in our dining room of our new house. It’s so special to have a handmade piece of the wedding in our everyday lives!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. This was a no-brainer for us! I have been known to eat pie for breakfast on multiple occasions, so we had an assortment of apple, pecan, and chocolate pies from our favorite Richmond bakery, Ukrops. We also had a small cake made of funfetti, the groom’s favorite! I hand-painted some oyster shells I found on the beach near the house and arranged them on top of the cake the morning of the wedding with my bridesmaids.

Our first dance was to an acoustic version of “Mean to Me” by Brett Eldredge. My dad had chosen our father-daughter dance song many, many years ago, long before I met Nick. It was so special to finally dance to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland with him after picturing this day as a little girl!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Nick and I met at Virginia Tech during our senior year; despite having many mutual friends, our paths hadn’t crossed before. We found out we lived a block apart from each other behind the football stadium, so Nick would walk his dog during the day hoping to catch me on my way to class. My big sister in my sorority had been dating one of Nick’s fraternity brothers for a while, and encouraged me to take Nick up on his offer to go to a pumpkin patch with the group on a Saturday morning. I had no idea it was a couple’s event and we would be paired up, but we had a blast, and Nick invited me over for a home-cooked meal later that week. I promptly called my dad, who works for the FBI, to get some advice (and a background check), and he gave me the thumbs up over the phone. Nick cooked a fantastic meal and we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on the couch–probably one of the best dates we’ve ever had!
Tell us about your proposal! The nearby town of Urbanna hosts an annual oyster festival, and our tradition is to attend with family and friends and then host a chili dinner, courtesy of my dad’s secret recipe. Nick and I had taken time off to celebrate our four-year anniversary by heading down on Friday to relax before the festival. We grabbed some beer and oysters at our favorite “rivah” oyster shack, Merrior, and headed back to the house for the sunset. It had started to drizzle, but Nick still wanted to take a walk out towards the water. It was then that I saw his handwriting in the sand, “Will you marry me?” Nick’s dad was hiding in the bushes to snap a few photographs, and later that evening, Nick had arranged for many of our friends from Washington D.C. to surprise me by arriving at the house to attend the festival with us the next day! It was so special to have our family and friends together for a river weekend to kick off a wonderful engagement.
When did y’all get married? June 20, 2015
How many people attended your wedding? 155
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? There were so many Southern touches to the wedding; it’s hard to them narrow down! Nick and I love to cook and eat, especially Southern food. We sat down together and made a list of all the foods we love to eat, and then handed the unorganized list to our caterer. They turned it into an amazing, Southern Virginia-inspired menu, including Virginia ham biscuits, pimento cheese, shrimp and gouda grits, scallop succotash, honey chicken, pulled pork, fried okra, and a biscuit and cornbread bar. Our signature drinks were named after our home states, a Virginia Beau and a ‘Bama Belle. During cocktail hour, we had a champagne and oyster bar from Merrior, the oyster shack Nick and I ate at the day we got engaged. True to Southern tradition, we gifted our bridal party with monogrammed gifts galore–mason jars, seersucker shorts for the gals, and fishing shirts for the gentlemen (their monograms were disguised as nautical flags!). My mother-in-law hosted my bridesmaids and house party for lunch the day before the wedding, and I surprised everyone with a delicious pound cake with cake pulls! My mother-in-law read everyone’s fortune out loud as they pulled their charms. Thank goodness we buried a bottle of bourbon (that Nick had engraved with our wedding date!)–the rain held out until the end of the reception, and as soon as the last sip of moonshine was gone, the skies opened up! The most Southern thing about our wedding though? Having all our family and friends help us work on the house and yard to prepare to host the wedding. The months and weeks before the wedding were spent with our hands in the dirt planting flowers, and my bridesmaids accompanying me to the beach to search for the perfect-shaped oysters for the place cards. The true beauty of the venue came from all the hands that tended to it; it almost brought me to tears!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge we had to overcome was the remoteness of my parents’ house and limited vendors nearby. With a background in design, I knew exactly how I wanted everything to look, but when you’re in the country, sometimes you take what you can get!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Strive for a joyful and gracious attitude throughout your engagement, and into your marriage! There are always things that might not go according to plan.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are starting our lives in Richmond, Virginia! We moved from Washington, D.C. to be closer to our families and embrace the smaller, slower city life. I will continue to work for my D.C.-based architecture firm (while writing a blog and pursuing graphic design and residential design on the side!), while Nick has started a new job in the medical information technology field. We are thrilled to live together in the downtown Fan neighborhood of Richmond and can’t wait to explore this Southern city!

Photography: Annamarie Akins / Second Shooter: Nikki Santerre / Ceremony Venue: Ware Episcopal Church / Reception Venue: Private residence / Florist: The Wild Bunch / Bride’s Gown: Kate McDonald Bridal / Cake Baker: Cakes by Graham / Catering: The White Dog Bistro / Band: JB and the Get Down Browns / Hair and Makeup: Bombshell / Rentals: Paisley and Jade, Grand Rental Station, and Distinctive Events / Coordination and Styling: Ruie and Grace / Bridesmaid Dresses: BHLDN, J. Crew, LulaKate, Nordstrom, and Revolve / Bride’s Shoes: J. Crew and Jack Rogers / Menswear: Jos A. Bank and Bull + Moose / Raw Oyster Bar: Rappahannock River Oyster Company / String Duet: Strings and Things

Lula Kate, Kate McDonald Bridal, and Paisley & Jade are all delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Annamarie reply

    Thank you so much for sharing one of my all time favorite wedding days!

  2. avatar Nick & Jess reply

    […] images can be seen as featured on Southern Weddings last […]

  3. avatar Daniel reply

    Stunning photos, love the boat picture!

  4. avatar Shore Thing | Creative Cake Toppers | Maine Wedding Venues, Photographers, Planners reply

    […] Painted oyster shells add an elegant touch to this simple white cake.  [Cakes by Graham  / Annamarie Akins via Southern Weddings] […]

  5. avatar Megan reply

    Just wondering if you could provide the name of the designer of the dress? I love the striped silk! I love the cut! Its so pretty.

  6. avatar Mike reply

    Beautiful pictures! Very interesting shell decor on the cake and the whole nautical theme is amazing!

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This has been the year of wedding dresses for me–I shopped for and chose my own wedding dress, Emily and I had a fabulous time admiring show after show at Bridal Market, and we featured so many seriously stylish brides here on Southern Weddings. To kick off our annual look back at the year, here are ten of the most memorable bridal styles of 2014. With this much goodness in mind, I can hardly wait to see what brides are wearing next year!

Nolan in “Eloquence” by Claire Pettibone, by Ashleigh Jayne

Melody in “Gobi” by Watters, by Courtney Dox

Rosa in “The Boulevard” by Lela Rose, by Gracie Blue

Emily in “Gigi” by Ian Stuart, by Haley Sheffield

Lauren in “3251” by Lazaro with custom Chic Parisien bolero, by Whitebox Photo

Katie in “9100” by Allure, by Weddings by Christopher & Nancy

Meredith in Monique Lhuillier, by Lauren Kinsey

Toree in “Elegant Dream” by Olia Zavozina with her mother’s lace bolero, by Mary Rosenbaum

Emily in “Julianna” by Christos, by Graham Terhune

Samantha in “VW351157″ by White by Vera Wang, by Perry Vaile

Stay tuned for our most memorable bouquets, menswear, bridesmaid styles, moments, details and decor, sweets, and love stories of 2014, coming up next week!

Courtney Dox, Gracie Blue, Graham Terhune, Perry Vaile, and Whitebox Photo are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    There were so many beautiful styles this year! Meredith’s Monique Lhuillier is my favorite.

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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