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During a beach-side bike ride on one of my and Brandon’s first vacations together, we explored the construction site that is now Alys Beach. We were even able to walk through the half-built homes as they were being constructed, and now, every time I see a wedding there, it brings back such sweet memories of our dating life. With their favorite wedding detail being their venue, and Emily and Reed’s plans to vacation there each year for their anniversary, I’m positive those future trips will be filled with joyous memories of their beautiful wedding on the Central Park Green! Playing off the modern white architecture, Emily and Reed worked with Lauren Chitwood Events to bring in rustic driftwood and succulents combined with lush peonies and protea. That gorgeous custom driftwood arch had guests talking for months!

Thank you kindly to Amy Campbell for sharing Emily and Reed’s wedding with us!

I found my dress in Nashville at B. Hughes. I had previously looked in Birmingham, where my sister lives, and liked a few dresses, but knew I couldn’t make any decisions until I visited this shop. I tried on a strapless Reem Acra dress and knew it was the one for me. I felt so pretty in it and didn’t want to take it off. I still love it a year later!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows, but did speak to our officiant about the flow and words we wanted him to use during the ceremony. The vows were very simple, but those words are so meaningful. While saying my vows to Reed, I started crying. I’m not a big crier, so I started laughing at myself for crying. It was a sweet moment we’ll both remember forever.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My best friend, Maggie, read Colossians 3:12-14. This was a verse Reed and I kept reading during our premarital exercises. I love the words in this verse and thought it would be special for her to read it.

I grew up going to the beach near Sandestin and Seaside, Florida. Every wedding I’d seen along Highway 30A was so beautiful, and we loved the idea of getting married at the beach. We looked at multiple venues in Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach, and the Central Park Green at Alys Beach was the exact look I wanted. The small green is surrounded by trees and a breathtaking modern pool and restaurant. It turned out to be a perfect venue and I couldn’t have been happier!

Describe your wedding flowers. Lauren and I discussed many different looks, but we ultimately decided to mix the rustic look of driftwood and succulents with peonies and protea. She sent me examples of what she thought I would like, and after seeing a photo that included a gorgeous driftwood arch, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Lauren and her florist created one for our wedding and it was the most beautiful arch I’ve ever seen. It was so memorable–people talked about it months after the wedding.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We saved money by trimming down the guest list. Initially, we wanted around 300 guests, but after talking with our planner, Lauren, we decided to invite 170. It was hard to exclude some people but in the end it felt intimate and was a great size for the venue.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both went to college at Ole Miss. I always knew who he was and had a crush on him, so a mutual friend introduced us after I told him I thought Reed was cute. For a few months after meeting, we would see each other around Oxford and always seemed to get into long conversations. He finally asked me out on a date, and we dated for five years before getting married.
Tell us all about the proposal! Reed and I went to my parents’ house in Mississippi for Thanksgiving. We all decided to cook outside because the weather was so nice. Reed had planned everything with my family beforehand, and to give him time to propose, they all snuck back into the house. Due to lack of sleep from working the night before, I didn’t even notice their attempts to leave us alone. While we were outside talking, my sisters and my mom attached the ring to our dog, Daisy, and then let her back outside. Daisy immediately ran up to us, sat down, and I noticed the ring tied around her neck with a bow. Reed got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. We spent the night celebrating with my family and calling friends to tell them the news.
When did y’all get married? June 13, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 170
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail of our wedding was the venue. After getting married there, we now want to go back to Alys Beach every year! It’s the most beautiful place I’ve been in the United States.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? My husband and I are both from Mississippi and he is a passionate Ole Miss football fan. One of my favorite memories of the night was when Reed took the mic onstage, spouted Ole Miss football statistics, and led our mostly Mississippi reception in the Hotty Toddy cheer.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our wedding officiant, Gary Wingo, introduced us to a premarital workbook, “Before You Say I Do.” This helped us prepare for marriage and discuss things we otherwise may not have discussed. As a result, we grew closer and learned how to handle certain situations should they arise.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Originally, Reed and I were going to marry on May 16, 2015. After we set the date, we had trouble finding vendors who were available that day. After a few minor meltdowns, we decided to change our wedding date to June 13. I’m so happy we did, because everything worked out perfectly.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The most memorable moment for me was seeing Reed for the first time. Having my dad walk me down the aisle to my husband was such a great feeling. When I finally saw Reed and he had a big smile on his face, it was the exact moment I’d pictured for my entire life. The ceremony was definitely my favorite part of the whole wedding day.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are enjoying life in Nashville as a family of three (we have a French bulldog named Willis). I have so much fun with Reed, even when we’re doing simple, daily activities. I hope we continue having fun together, and maybe one day add to our little family.

Photographer: Amy Campbell | Planner and Florist: Lauren Chitwood | Venue: Central Park Green in Alys Beach | Wedding Cake: KaraBoo Bakery | Caterer: Townsend Catering | Band: The Heather Hayes Experience | Paper Products: Dement Printing and Fresh Ink | Bride’s Gown: Reem Acra | Hair and Makeup Stylist: Ana Crane | Bride’s Shoes: “Fearne” by Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Macey reply

    Everything looks like a dream! Beautiful.

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Y’all, as I was reading through Abigail and Ben’s interview, I kept nodding my head and thinking “Yes! That’s it right there!” Everything about their wedding day was filled with intention and joy, from their venue choice (inspired by Abigail’s upbringing on a plantation surrounded by oak trees) to their advice for couples currently planning a wedding. They not only prepared for their wedding day, but prepared their hearts well for their marriage–Abigail said, “We wanted to be intentional with every detail, giving it great meaning to who we are together, but also who we are in Jesus.” From the looks of it, I’m sure guests would agree that they did an brilliant job!

Gracious, we’re thankful Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography was on hand to capture their sweet day!

Believe it or not, my dress was the first dress I ever tried on. I wasn’t certain what style I wanted, but I knew I wanted my dress to be timeless and elegant. I met my mom and grandmother in Raleigh to begin our search. At our first appointment, at Lana Addison Bridal in Cary, I showed the consultant a few different pictures of what I thought I may like. She brought me four different dresses. I tried the first dress on and could not stop smiling and twirling around. I looked at my mom and grandmother and said, “I think this is it.” They encouraged me to try the others on just to be sure. I tried them all, but didn’t feel like they were me. I tried on the first dress again and still loved it, but I began to second guess myself and ended up going to our second appointment. I tried on three other beautiful dresses there and got a bit overwhelmed. We decided to call it a day, and as soon as we walked out of the store, I looked at my mom and said, “We have to go back to Lana Addison, it has my dress.” I fell in love with it all over again–from the high neck line, to the combination of the soft lace and tulle, to the beaded waistline, it was perfect. I made the decision that I was only going to let my mom and grandmother see my dress. It made finding my dress and sharing that experience with two of the most special women in my life even sweeter, and I didn’t want to be swayed by the opinions of others. I wanted the first time my family, closest friends, and guests would see my dress to be when I was walking down the aisle to my groom.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Ben and I decided not to do a first look. We both wanted the first time we saw each other to be when I was walking down the aisle to marry him. We did, however, find a time before the ceremony to grab hands and pray with one another.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had one of our closest friends read 1 John 4:18-19. We chose this verse because it centered the entire day around Christ and we believe that without Christ loving us first, we would not be able to love one another. Another verse that is very important to us, Philippians 1:9-10, was on our dinner cards. We asked that our guest pray this verse over us and with us as we entered into marriage together.

We both liked the traditional vows, but also wanted to make them more personal and meaningful to us. We promised the same things to each other: “In the presence of God and according to his will I, Ben, take you, Abigail, to be my wife. I promise to love you, I promise to serve you, I promise to cherish you, as a testament to Jesus and his death on the cross, I give you my love.” We also wanted to affirm together the vows of having a Christian home. We were given this idea by our pastor and we loved it. “Depending upon God for strength and wisdom, do you both solemnly pledge yourselves to the establishment of a Christian home? Will you together, constantly seek God’s will and honor Christ in your marriage?”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I knew I wanted to be married in my hometown, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and I knew I wanted it outside. I grew up on a plantation that is surrounded by the most beautiful oak trees and I always envisioned them in my wedding someday. When I told Darlene (a dear friend and my wedding planner) what I had envisioned for my day, she said she knew just the place, and told me about the Rose Hill Mansion. I looked it up and fell in love immediately. It had the oak trees with the beautiful hanging moss, enough space to create what we wanted from scratch, and we could have the reception there. I knew it was where I wanted to marry Ben and I booked it without even having seen it myself in person.

Our venue has a rich Southern history. It is an old cotton plantation and the mansion on the property has many antique artifacts to peruse inside. You can actually tour the mansion with the onsite staff and learn a lot about the history of the property and the people that lived there. It is an incredibly unique spot.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Flowers and decorations for sure! Jana Qualey and Bridget Short, who are dear friends to me, have their own side business called Little Vase Events, and let me tell you, they are the best of the best! We repurposed bridesmaids flowers and went out and collected all the oyster shells that we used on the tables. Our gold and white stripped napkins were made by Bridget and Jana themselves!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Keep things in perspective. Your wedding is one day, your marriage is for the rest of your life. When you get overwhelmed, step away and do something fun. Don’t lose your joy in what is such a sweet time of your life, or your sight on what is most important. I started journaling during our engagement, writing down my thoughts and feelings, memories, and all the reasons I love Ben and wanted to marry him. I gave it to him the week of our wedding and I love looking back at it and reliving those days and seeing him read those pages for the first time.

Don’t miss Abigail and Ben’s wedding film by Heart Stone Films below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ben would joke and say it was somewhat of an arranged marriage. Our brothers and Ben’s younger sister, who is also my best friend, had been trying to get the two of us together for years. Although I knew Ben’s whole family, it wasn’t until our sophomore year of college that we met for the first time at a mutual friend’s wedding. We crossed paths again a year later at Ben’s older brother Will’s wedding. This was the night Ben asked me to dance. I tease him now because he never called me after that night! Last year, I got a call from my friend to come visit with her in Greenville for a long weekend. I was living on Hilton Head Island at the time and I jumped at the chance to go and see her. I was unaware that only a few weeks before, Ben had moved to Greenville. I spent the whole weekend with them, and finally, Ben asked me out. When I had to head back home, Ben asked if he could still pursue me. I said yes, and we continued to talk and get to know each other. Soon after, I got a job in Greenville and made the move. Ben and I continued to grow closer to each other and the Lord, and now the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! My family has a house in the outer banks of North Carolina that has been in our family since before I was born, and it is one of my favorite places. My family typically goes there over the 4th of July, so this time was no different, except Ben would be there. Every morning I woke up while we were there, I had a letter slipped under my door. I didn’t think much of this, only because of how thoughtful Ben always is. On July 4th, Ben asked if I would take a walk out to the dock with him. We sat down at the end and talked for awhile. When we got up, Ben grabbed both my hands with the biggest smile. I knew what was happening and said to him, “Is this really it?!” After saying many sweet words, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. And I said YES! As soon as he was up and we were hugging, my brother ran down the dock with his phone (he was FaceTiming with Ben’s brother and his wife) to celebrate with us. My sister-in-law was snapping pictures and the rest of my family, who had been watching from the house, came out to hug us. Ben planned breakfast for dinner that night, my favorite. We made our way back to Greenville the next day and Ben told me there was one more surprise. When we got back home, we went to his brother’s house, where all our closest friends and family were waiting to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? November 14, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Ben and I decided soon into our engagement that we wanted to prepare more for our marriage than our wedding. The most important thing for us while planning our wedding was to create a beautiful and meaningful event that glorified the Lord and reflected who we are. We wanted to be intentional with every detail, giving it great meaning to who we are together, but also who we are in Jesus.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? My day would not have been the same without Callie Davis with Nancy Ray Photography. I can not sing their praises enough. Having Callie and Olivia there to capture our day honestly added even more joy to an incredibly joyful day. They took the time through the whole process to pour into me and make sure that everything was perfect and ready to go for my wedding day. I gained two sweet friendships.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Well, we’re getting a puppy in two months and can’t wait to have a furry friend in our family. We look forward to lots of adventures, learning new things about each other, and just getting to do life with each other. Ultimately, having children and raising them together excites us the most about our future. We aren’t ready yet, but our biggest dreams usually involve a house full of children.

Photographer: Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography | Videographer: Heart Stone Films | Planner: Darlene Cranston | Venue: Rose Hill Mansion | Florist: Little Vase Events | Cake Baker: Ronnie’s Bakery & Cakes by Lou | Caterer: Downtown Catering Company | Rentals and Lighting: Amazing Event Rentals | DJ: Will Krause | Paper Products: Swoozies | Bride’s Gown: Theia | Bride’s Accessories: The Poinsett Bride | Hair Stylist: Amber White at Kaleidoscope Salon | Makeup Artist: Bride’s Side Beauty | Bride’s Shoes: Sam Edelman | Menswear: Jos A. Bank

Nancy Ray Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar kelly reply

    Oh I just love the Nancy Ray team’s work! Such a beautiful wedding with the hanging moss, that gown, and the meaning behind it all.

  2. avatar Rose Hill Plantation Wedding – Southern Weddings Magazine – reply

    […] and Ben’s Rose Hill Plantation Wedding is featured on Southern Weddings Magazine! Yay!!! Alex was the lead filmmaker and editor for this gorgeous wedding and we are so excited for […]

  3. avatar 2016 Online Features Part 1 | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] and Ben’s Rose Hill Mansion Wedding Featured on Southern Weddings Photographer: Callie […]

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