We have something so fun to share with y’all today! Megan and Brandon’s wedding has such a unique story, and is a beautiful display of a community coming together in celebration. Megan and photographer Catrina Earls can explain this day better than I could, so I’ll let them take it away!
After getting engaged, we had gone back and forth on wedding plans. Our families were very spread out, so we weren’t quite sure how we would get everyone in one place and, to be honest, it was all very overwhelming. In a very quick decision, we decided that we’d just get married there that day and then plan something later. We were married in Raleigh at the Courthouse while Ace sat and watched. We found complete strangers to be our witnesses and, after we were done, we headed to the state fair! A few months ago, Catrina contacted me about doing a styled wedding shoot with her. We went to high school together, but hadn’t seen each other since, although we kept in touch through social media. Brandon and I both thought it would be fun, plus it would give us wedding pictures that we never had. We agreed and had set the bar low in terms of our expectation–we knew that, at the end of the day, this was Catrina’s shoot, so everything would go according to her vision. I was surprised when she would message me questions about what I would’ve wanted for my own dream wedding, and she sold it well as “Well, the models look the most comfortable when they’re happy.” I went along with it, explaining that I had always imagined a very ethereal, woodsy, elegant look. All we had to do was show up on March 29!
I drove to Charlotte to try on dresses with Catrina. We needed something that needed no alterations whatsoever, that I could literally just wear off the rack for the photo shoot. Our fingers were crossed that it would go with the vision. The dress fit like it was made for me, and looking at the pictures, I cannot imagine a better dress for that venue and entire vision. It was the one word I had repeatedly used to describe my dream wedding: ethereal. It was one of those meant-to-be moments.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? From Catrina: Since Megan had no idea about this day being an actual wedding day, I wanted her to have all the fun experiences that a bride has on her actual wedding day. To give them a little something fun to enjoy, I informed Megan we would do a first look to start off their photos! It was the sweetest moment. Brandon was standing under an oak tree by the hanging moss when Megan came around the corner of the house. Their three-year-old son Ace saw his mom and couldn’t hold back the awe. You could see the excitement in her eyes, even though she thought that it was just a styled shoot. When Brandon turned around and saw Megan his mouth dropped. He was just in complete awe of her, she was radiant! It was such a sweet moment.
After some portraits during the first part of the day, we took an afternoon break to eat lunch and thaw out (it was an unusually cold day), and then we were getting ready to do the “ceremony” pictures. I stepped outside to see my parents on the front porch (I’m getting teary eyed just typing this!)–they had come from New Jersey to be there for my special day. We walked down to the pews and I saw that, not only were Brandon’s parents also there from Maryland, but we were going to have our vows renewed. Catrina, Candace, and the rest of the vendors had, indeed, pulled off a very, very surprise wedding. We had our vows renewed, had our first dance, and then walked back to the table to have a sit-down lunch!
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? From Catrina: Megan had always envisioned her dream wedding in a location that offered tons of large oak trees. We reached out to Sarah, the owner of Wingate Plantation, and when they agreed, we were over the moon. When Megan got there, her first words were, “I know I said oak trees and wow, you gave me trees!”
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? You know, I was one of those people who thought weddings were just a formality. A “great-to-have” type of thing, but that’s it. Our wedding has really changed us. We finally got to celebrate ourselves as a couple, the journey we have taken together, and the path that lies before us. We have enjoyed each other and our marriage more than ever since our “wedding 2.0.” We were blessed enough to have been sent on a honeymoon to Mexico two weeks after the ceremony, and since then, we have settled back into life, our sweet family of three. It is amazing the peace that comes from realizing you have found the person to spend your life with.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My favorite detail of the wedding was ALL of the details. There were so many personal touches throughout the entire day, thanks to Catrina and Candace. Monogrammed napkins, a hand-painted cake…even down to picnic boxes with quotes on them, some of which Catrina had pulled from my own Instagram posts! Every single detail was there and it was all so, so beautiful.
Rhiannon from Sweet Rhi created a delicious two-tiered cake, and a local artist, Blakely Made, hand-painted one of her beautiful Charleston landscapes on it. It was also adorned with florals provided by Stephanie from Sweet Grass. Rhiannon also provided delicious mini pies, two which were detailed with “Mr” and “Mrs.” Candace from Mingle provided vanilla ice cream in little mason jars.
We were finishing up for the rest of the afternoon and I couldn’t figure out why we were all waiting around outside when Catrina casually mentioned we were doing “a cool exit or something.” Just when I thought the day was over and all the surprises were through, we ended up leaving on a helicopter. (As an avid fan of The Bachelor, you can only imagine my excitement). As we were flying over the venue and everyone was waving goodbye, I just thought, “I cannot believe this is my life right now. I can’t believe the kindness of friends and strangers.”
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met five years ago on Match.com. We were both living in Baltimore and had joined as a way to meet people outside of our circles of friends. We went on our first date shortly after I joined and realized, of course, that we had mutual friends! Our first date was very casual and low-pressure. We sat and had drinks at Hudson Street Stackhouse and just talked each other’s’ ears off. We both knew right away that this was something very special. We still refer to it as the BDE–best date ever! Our love story is not a traditional one, but it is so very much ours. We met that February and I gave birth to our beautiful son the next year. We have had ups and downs, but ultimately, couldn’t picture our lives without each other. I am a big believer that not all love is effortless. In fact, I am a bigger believer in “messy love”–love that is flawed, sometimes broken, and requires work, but is irrevocable. You work at it because you know this love was meant for the two of you.
Tell us all about the proposal! Brandon proposed to me in late August 2013. We had dinner in downtown Annapolis, and the entire time, Brandon was fussing about the weather. It was a beautiful summer night, albeit a bit cloudy. Never in my life had I heard him utter a word about the weather, so I had no idea what he was so worked up about. As it turns out, he had planned on proposing as the sun set by the water, but it was totally covered by clouds! Plan B: we walked around the city, took the ferry across the water, and just really enjoyed the time with each other. Keep in mind, we had a 2-year-old at home, so any time we got to go on a date alone was special in itself! At the end of the night, he proposed.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Well, technically, everything was borrowed! I wore blue earrings for part of the shoot from the stylist, Brooke. My parents gave me a beautiful new embroidered handkerchief to wrap around my flowers. Most importantly, my “old” was a heart ring made up of the stones from my grandmother’s wedding ring, that I wore on my right hand. It made me feel like a part of her was there that day.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? Brandon and I continue to be completely overwhelmed with gratitude for the amount of time, effort, and talent that went into this day. We have wracked our brains trying to figure out how to repay all of these people–or even how to thank them, but truthfully, there are no words to fully express our feelings regarding our wedding 2.0. Catrina told me afterwards, “I just feel like every girl deserves their special day.” I think she, ultimately, made a lot more people believe in the power of love.
Photographer: Catrina Earls Photography / Videographer: Whitewash Films / Planner: Candace Hightower of Mingle Events and Vintage Rentals / Venue: Wingate Plantation / Florist: Sweet Grass Events by Stephanie Gibbs / Cake Baker: Sweet Rhi / Caterer: Catering by Corey / Rentals: Event Haus / Band: Chris Crosby Band / Paper Products: Kristen Henderson Calligraphy / Bride’s Gown: “Jacinda Gown” by Watters / Bride’s Hair Accessories: “Downton” Headpiece by Carol Hannah / Bride’s Jewelry: Adriana Orsini / Hair and Makeup: Paper Dolls Hair + Makeup / Bride’s Shoes: “Kelsey Metallic Sandal” by Jimmy Choo / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Stylist: Brooke Williams / Artist: Blakely Made / Minister: Kate Perry / Catering Props: Leboxboutique / Hangers and Thank You Banner: Black Label Decor / Welcome Sign: Buffy Weddings / “To Have And To Hold” Print: Paper and Honey Shop / Helicopter: Lowcountry Helicopters