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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!

From Megan:

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 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

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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  1. avatar How To Get Your Wedding Photos Published | Engaged Asheville reply

    […] Films’ breathtaking video of Brandon and Megan’s surprise (yes, the bride had no idea!) Charleston wedding vow renewal!  Tissues highly […]

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Oh y’all are in for a real treat today! I’m such a fan of surprise weddings, and Abby + Sam hit the nail on the head with their engagement party turned big day! With the help of some fabulous vendors, like Abby’s good friend Meghan from M. Elizabeth Events, these two decided to switch their plans from a destination wedding in the Bahamas to a hometown wedding. The crazy part? They managed to change everything over in just three weeks! Holy cow! I also love how they chose to keep the coral motif as an ode to their original plans for a Bahamian big day!

Special thanks to Alisha Crossley for capturing such a fun surprise!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Luckily for me, my friend Meghan Cease (M. Elizabeth and Events) is a wedding planner. She set up appointments for me at Ivory and White in Mountain Brook, AL. I fell in love with the delicate details of my dress. It was perfect!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did. After talking with Alisha, I felt like it was the best for us. I knew we would both be calmer after seeing each other. Portraits were really important to me, as well as being fully present at my reception. Seeing each other before made both of those possible.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Oh gosh! I don’t think we would have been able to do anything besides repeat the ones given to us! Even with the first look, we were nervous going through our “I do’s.” I love exactly how we did it.

Describe your wedding flowers. Lush. Vibrant. Romantic. We originally planned to get married at my family’s home in the Bahamas. Since the engagement party turned into a surprise wedding, we wanted to carry over the tropical details as much as possible.

We had personalized cocktails for Sam and I. He chose the “Old Fashioned”–a true Southern gent’s drink! I went with Alabama Sunshine–something fun and Southern at the same time! We had a local food truck serving dishes. I think that trend is really picking up in the South, and I love it! Our venue was a historical location in the heart of Alabama: the historical Shoal Creek Golf Community.

As y’all know, I’m a big fan of Southern oyster houses, so I bet this food truck was such a blast!!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I wanted something simple and sweet. We went with a plain white cake adorned by large fuchsia peonies. It was delicious!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Sam and I met through a mutual friend. I was dating someone casually at the time, but Sam stole my heart! We hung out together as friends at first, but things progressed quickly!
Tell us all about the proposal! I scheduled a couple’s session with our friend and photographer, Alisha Crossley. Sam and I wanted canvases in our home, but I wasn’t patient enough to wait until we were engaged. I knew we were getting closer to Sam popping the question, but I thought things were still a few months out. Unbeknownst to me, Sam had contacted Alisha on his own after I scheduled the session. I was completely ignorant to his plans since I actually set everything up! Toward the end of the session, Sam told me he wanted to spend his life with me. I laughed and said, “Well, you have to ask me first.” He slid down to one knee and pulled out my ring–the same diamond that has been in his family for years! I squealed as Alisha captured it all! We then walked to a nearby cafe, where he presented me with flowers and a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon. We called friends and family while lounging on the patio, drinking our champagne. We spent the evening celebrating with friends at one of our favorite restaurants, Satterfields.
When did y’all get married? May 31, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 100
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I really loved my dress … I felt amazing in it!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Borrowed were my earrings, blue was a diamond bracelet with sapphires, old was a broach, new was a diamond bracelet Sam gave me as a wedding gift.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I was blessed in having some of my best friends surround me with their talents on my wedding day. Meghan as well as my friend Madi (hairstylist) worked to make everything perfect for me.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Well, since we decided to turn a destination wedding planned for October into a local wedding in May THREE weeks before the day, we had several challenges! Thankfully, we had a large engagement party planned with all of my favorite vendors, most of whom were scheduled to travel with us to the Bahamas. I had Meghan there to help coordinate everything, and the wedding was actually at her family’s home in the historical Shoal Creek community. She handled reorganizing everyone and getting people scheduled as needed. We kept the new plans a surprise so that our guests STILL thought they were attending an engagement party!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I was so excited to surprise everyone with the ceremony! I loved walking down the aisle freshly changed into my wedding gown and seeing everyone’s faces!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I think it’s important not to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and to make the details personal. Having friends in the wedding industry, I knew what was “popular” and what everyone else was doing, but I wanted our day to truly be ours. I think we really made that happen!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Sam and I recently found out the we are expecting! We are excited about starting our own family and instilling the same Southern traditions that have given us both so much happiness growing up!

Photographer: Alisha Crossley Photography | Videographer: Holloway Productions |  Planner: M. Elizabeth Weddings and Events | Ceremony and Reception Venue: Private Home in Shoal Creek | Florist: KG Designs | Wedding Cake Baker: Cakes by Barb | Caterer: Shindigs | Rentals: Events Rentals Unlimited | Lighting: Designs Production LLC | Acoustic Artist: Adam Justin Gannon Events | Bride’s Gown: “Emma” by Monique Lhuillier at Ivory & White | Paper Products: Amberly Shelton Paperie | Bride’s Jewelry: Levy’s Fine Jewelry | Hair Stylist: Madilyn Hays | Makeup Artist: Raww Beauty | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Assortment of styles in shades of coral | Groom’s Attire: Calvin Klein | Groomsmen Attire: Assortment of white shirts and khakis

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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  1. avatar Charissa reply

    So pretty, and this was planned in three weeks, wow.

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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