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Y’all know we absolutely love when couples incorporate meaningful details into their celebrations. We also love when those details are deeply rooted in Southern culture! Jen and Alan’s beautiful day wasn’t lacking of either, from the big oak tress adorned with heaps of Spanish moss, to one of Jen’s favorites, the magnolia garland. Jen and Alan even served boiled peanuts at their cocktail hour as a nod to a road trip when Jen had introduced Alan to the yumminess of this roadside treat! What could easily be passed over as just another fun detail to check off the list became something truly special. That’s what wedding details should be all about–taking the small things that hold meaning to you as a couple, and sharing them with the ones you love. Who knew something as simple as peanuts could become so memorable?

We’re so thankful to Blue Ribbon Vendor Michelle March for sharing this pretty day!

P.S. Fun fact: Michelle also shot my darling EK’s newborn session!

Our ceremony and reception were at the same venue, Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota, Florida. In spite of our 100+ guest list, we wanted an intimate outdoor wedding and a reception under a canopy of trees and lights. Although this venue typically rents out the gorgeous historic mansion located on the property, I happened to walk by a secluded, shaded area under a large oak tree adorned with heaps of Spanish moss. It was love at first sight. Unfortunately, the park’s event coordinator informed us that the spot I had fallen in love with was not part of the area available for events. We waited patiently and found out a few weeks later that for an extra fee, we would be able to incorporate this beautiful space into our ceremony. She mentioned that it might need some cleaning up because it was completely wild, overgrown, and natural but those were the exact qualities that initially drew me to the area!

Describe your wedding flowers. I had my heart set on a cascading bouquet with greenery spilling out of it. Choosing our flowers was probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of wedding planning for me. Mary was so generous with her time, sitting down and really listening to what I envisioned for our wedding. Our bridal bouquets consisted of tulips, ranunculus, roses, carnations, seeded eucalyptus, ivy, and sword fern. Our wedding flowers also included a whole lot of greenery and garlands. I’m a huge sucker for magnolia, which was at the top of my “want” list, but we simply couldn’t afford it. On our wedding day, Mary surprised us with a magnolia garland, which were hung throughout the ceremony and reception. I was absolutely stunned! It was the sweetest gesture and I can never thank her enough.

Alan’s most memorable moment about our wedding day was when he saw me walking towards him with my dad. He says he couldn’t take his eyes off me or stop smiling. Since he didn’t want to do a first look, Alan says this was one of the most special moments of the day to him! The recessional was also one of my most memorable moments from our wedding day. Turning around to see all of the smiling (and some crying) faces of our guests just made me feel so special and grateful to be entering our marriage with the support of an amazing community of family and friends, near and far.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Throughout the engagement (and let’s be honest, we could probably go back a few months before the proposal), I found myself inspired by soft, flowing fabric and light hints of texture. I knew that the vision I had for my dress did not fit the mold of your traditional/classic wedding dress, so the thought of walking into multiple bridal salons seemed incredibly intimidating at the time. Luckily for me, I found my wedding dress buried in the clearance of all clearance sections at Macy’s. Can you believe it?! Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a simple, nude, floor-length gown poking out amidst the rows of disheveled hangers, and decided to try it on. It couldn’t hurt, right? I honestly didn’t love my dress right away, at least not in its original form. Instead, I had a pretty clear vision of what the dress could look like for our wedding day, so I went with it. I worked with an amazingly talented seamstress who specializes in bridal wear. We met several times and discussed various fit and design modifications. She managed to transform my clearance Macy’s dress into a one-of-a-kind, straight-out-of-my imagination wedding dress!

We included quite a few Southern details in our celebration, especially in the food we served. We loved the idea of barbecue and family-style dining, so we had several banquet tables pushed together to create long rows of tables for our guests. A few summers ago, Alan and I went on our first road trip together to Savannah, Georgia and Beaufort, South Carolina. On our way up there, we stopped at a boiled peanut stand, because he had never actually tried them before! We love making each other try new things, especially if it’s something we really love, and boiled peanuts are my favorite. Alan was pretty hesitant at first, but when I woke up from my nap, I noticed he had eaten the entire bag! Naturally, boiled peanuts (both regular and Cajun) made an appearance on our cocktail hour menu, served in small gold scalloped cups. I’m pretty sure I stole at least one cup before the introductions! We also served local honey from Pure Florida Apiary to go with the biscuits and jam for our cocktail hour. Our wedding favors were mini pies in various flavors, which we boxed individually the day before.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? While most people rent items like tablecloths and napkins for their reception, we decided to purchase instead, because we were able to buy them at a lower cost than it was to rent them. Our napkins were actually tea towels from Ikea, so we now have a lifetime supply of tea towels for our kitchen, our kids’ kitchens, and our grandkids’ kitchens! The table we used to display the wine and bread for communion, as well as our welcome table, are both mine from home. We tried our best to be creative and resourceful with the ways we cut costs at our wedding!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Lots of prayer, reading, and conversation about everything we could possibly anticipate. I don’t think anyone ever feels 100 percent prepared for marriage, and we realized that there are going to be circumstances that we won’t be able to plan for or anticipate. Our understanding of marriage is that we must always seek each other for support and accountability, and whether it is a time of growing or harvesting, lean on the Lord throughout all seasons of our life together.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Alan and I met about five years ago when we both lived in Boston. We were introduced by one of my closest friends at her housewarming party. I was moving back home to Florida in just a couple months to start graduate school, so timing wasn’t quite on our side. We went on a few dates and kept in touch when I left, but neither of us wanted to admit our feelings for each other, especially since we now lived over a thousand miles away. Being brave with your feelings can be so scary! We didn’t see each other again until the following year when I spent a long weekend back in Boston. I remember feeling so nervous the night of a party because I knew Alan was going to be there. I changed outfits about a million times, and when I finally saw him, I couldn’t stop smiling. This night will always be close to my heart. We climbed through a window, sat on the roof, and just talked and laughed until we cried. I can remember that sweet and comforting awareness that I had finally met my person. I felt content in his presence and so full of gratitude to be right where I was.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just gotten off work from the hospital. Clearly, I had no idea a proposal was in store for me because when he arrived at my doorstep that evening, I welcomed him in all of my hospital-clad glory: scrubs and sneakers with my hair in a tangled mess. Little did I know, he had just spent the afternoon hanging out with my dad, asking for his blessing, and preparing for the night! Instead of letting me get my way (which would have meant a night in with take-out and a movie), he politely asked me to get ready and reasoned that this might be our only chance for a date night anytime soon, since at the time, we worked completely opposite schedules. Before I had a chance to turn towards my room, Alan grabbed both of my hands with the biggest smile on his face and… just stood there. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. What a weirdo.” After several seconds of seemingly innocent, but sort of creepy, smiling and hand holding, my thoughts slowly caught on to what was going on and progressed to “No way. This must be a joke!” No one loves a good practical joke as much Alan does, so I couldn’t tell if this was one of them until he got down on one knee with the most beautiful ring I have ever seen in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I blurted out “yes” before he had a chance to finish proposing! We spent the evening celebrating with my parents at the same restaurant that catered our barbecue dinner for our wedding. It was perfect. I still can’t believe he chose me.
When did y’all get married? February 20, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 150
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Since some of our wedding details were nontraditional, we decided to stick to the traditional vows. It really calmed our nerves knowing that most people can’t mess up saying “I do!”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? For our ceremony, a close friend, who was also my bible study leader in college, read a few lines from Ann Voskamp’s “The Bravest and Most Beautiful Love Affair.” When I first came across this passage a few years ago, I was completely captivated by her depiction of marriage as a covenant between two people and the Lord: “This is an epic, everyday love story, one written with years and skin and the rings. My grandmother lived with true courage, the kind that made a vow and had the bravery to let it age. How she said that the bravest love is wildly faithful and it falls hard again every morning. How it puts the toilet seat down and the cap on the toothpaste and winks for those already-won eyes. It knows what we may seek may be found in what we already have. And there can always be this–the allure of vows. It’s grace and fresh gratitude that can make us strong enough to marvel in the seeming monotony of anything. And the happily married have eyes that look long enough to make the familiar new. There’s this beautiful drama’s in a long faithfulness and aged love might be heroic. God knows the passion of a covenant.” Our officiant, whom I’ve known for a long time as well, also read from Ephesians 4. It’s such an all-encompassing reminder of how we should treat each other, especially as husband and wife.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was two-tiered with a cookie butter-flavored base, a nutella-flavored top, and ivory buttercream ruffles all over. Since Alan typically prefers pie over cake, we also ordered several types of pies: blueberry goat cheese, caramel apple crumble, deep dish chocolate cookie, and bourbon pecan fudge ganache. We ordered our cake and pies from the Short Giraffe, a boutique bakery in Sarasota. We were very excited to share one of our local favorites with our family and friends, especially those who traveled to Florida.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Well, right now, we are responding to this from our honeymoon in Paris! I received Michelle’s email sharing this amazing news the night before our flight, so I was just too excited and couldn’t wait to respond! We decided to take our honeymoon a couple of months after the wedding to give us some time to rest and save up. Of course, starting our own little family is also on the radar. Our prayer is that in His timing, we experience the joys of adoption in the not-so-distant future. This would be a dream (prayer) come true!

Photographer: Michelle March Photography / Planner: Kelsey Peduzzi / Venue: Phillippi Estate Park / Florist: Flowers and Designs by Mary / Cake Baker: The Short Giraffe / Caterer: Sonny’s BBQ / Rentals: Rent All City / Lighting: Marcus Peduzzi / DJ: Fairy Tale Productions / Special Details: Shannon Kirsten / Paper Products: Charley Whiskey Lettering and Design / Bride’s Gown: Anne Klein / Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott / Bride’s Hair Accessory: Beads Brooches Bridal / Hair Stylist: Ali Severson / Makeup Artist: Makeup Artistry by Corinne / Bride’s Shoes: French Connection / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Camilyn Beth / Menswear: J.Crew and Target

Michelle March is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    What a sweet and thoughtful wedding, and bride! I loved all her sentiments and words on marriage. You can truly see her heart and it’s as sweet as honey!

  2. avatar Mary reply

    Love that sweet proposal story that they used Ikea tea towels as napkins. Beautiful celebration! I’ll be praying for their adoption journey!

  3. avatar Tied the knot: Jen + Alan at Phillippi Estate Park – Michelle March – Wedding Photography and Films – US and Destination – Michelle March – Wedding Photography and Films – US and Destination reply

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Meghan + Chris, by Cyn Kain

“Unlike water or wine or even Coca-Cola, sweet tea means something. It is a tell, a tradition. Sweet tea isn’t a drink, really. It’s culture in a glass.”

From “Sweet Tea: A Love Story” by Allison Glock, Garden & Gun July/August 2008

See more of what we love about the South here!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    Sweet tea is a delicious tradition. The color is great, especially with the straw and mason jar!

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We love seeing gorgeous Real Weddings (obvi!), but there is something so magical about actually attending one! I was honored to be a bridesmaid in a dear friend’s wedding over the weekend (and y’all, it was amazing–complete with corn hole on the beach!). While it was completely wonderful to attend, I can’t help but have a greater appreciation for Laura and Grayson’s beautiful day after being reminded firsthand of all that goes into a wedding! After knowing each other for over ten years, Laura and Grayson’s courtship began more recently and fell into place to create Laura’s favorite part of their sweet ceremony. I must say, I swooned over this line as well: “God has been slowly weaving His two masterpieces together, and today, you become one.”

Big hugs to Kelly at Mint Photography for sharing their big day with us!

Describe your wedding flowers. They had a romantic feel with pastel colors and deep green and purple succulents. We also decided to bring in driftwood and moss to add a rustic touch. My bouquet was vintage-inspired with creamy dahlias, pale pink spray roses, creamy and purple astilbe, light purple veronica, cream scabiosa, and pale peach garden roses. My favorite part was the metal “C”–I ordered it from Land of Nod and Posh Floral did an amazing job filling it with florals.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew that I wanted something timeless and unique. I started looking up a ton of designers and kept going back to Hayley Paige. Her designs are to die for and it was love at first sight! I didn’t even try my dress on until it came in for my first fitting!

With breathtaking views of Lake Travis and an estate that will make you drool, Villa del Lago was the venue of our dreams! We weren’t inviting a ton of people to our wedding and I knew that I wanted one long table for dinner so that it could feel “family style.” I knew as soon as we pulled up that I could picture the entire day happening at this location, and it took absolutely no convincing Grayson–he knew it too!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Grayson’s fraternity brother and college roommate officiated our ceremony. Although we didn’t write our own vows, we had a huge part in choosing each portion of our ceremony. My favorite line from our ceremony was, “Grayson and Laura, you have known each other for well over a decade, but in the past three years, God has been orchestrating and preparing you for this moment. Even though perhaps no one would have guessed you two would end up together all those years ago, God has been slowly weaving his two masterpieces together, and today, you become one.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? One of my favorite parts of our ceremony was the Celtic hand fasting. We had of our very best friends read “These Hands.”

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The lounge area from Loot Vintage Rentals was my favorite part of the wedding. Their warehouse is amazing and I was like a little kid in a candy store in it! I knew the colors our floral would be when we visited, so I was able to pick things that I knew would coordinate. I loved how everyone was lounging around the dance floor and relaxing on some of the cutest furniture!

Having an outdoor venue presented its challenges. I had a countdown to when I could see the 10-day forecast, and I was checking it morning, noon, and night. Getting a tent was the best decision we made. We decided to have it regardless of weather, and making that decision early helped, because I was able to choose some amazing lighting to dress it up.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I am a sucker for the naked cake trend and we decided to do something smaller and then have an ice cream sandwich food truck come later in the evening. The truck pulled up during our first dance and I remember how excited I was seeing it for the first time. It was so cute!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Grayson and I went to high school together. We reconnected years later when Grayson was working for the Dallas Stars and my dad was buying tickets from him. We ran into each other at a hockey game, and of course, I then became a huge hockey fan!
Tell us all about the proposal! Grayson planned the entire thing around my birthday. He took me on a horse-drawn carriage ride in Highland Park to see the Christmas lights. The carriage pulled up to a gazebo, where we got out to take some pictures. I knew right then that something was about to happen. I literally said “I am so excited right now, it feels like the first day of school!” We walked up to the gazebo and he got down on one knee and gave me the most gorgeous ring!
When did y’all get married? April 12, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 100
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided not to do a first look. We cut so many traditional things out of our wedding, like the cake cutting and bouquet toss, so we decided this was the one tradition we would keep, and I am so glad we did! There was something so calming about walking down the aisle with both of my parents and seeing Grayson standing there.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The bridal party walked down the aisle to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me” and I walked down to Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” During the ceremony, Grayson’s cousin and her fiancé sang “Amazing Grace” in honor of those who couldn’t be with us on that day. When we were leaving the band played The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? It is easy when you first start planning to go crazy with every vendor you meet with. As we got closer to the wedding, I had discussions with each vendor to see where we could make necessary cuts. We tried to cut things that people wouldn’t notice and that we wouldn’t miss. For example, passed appetizers during cocktail hour wasn’t a necessity for us.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were blessed with so many amazing vendors but I’ll begin with Angie at Posh Floral. She made each bouquet and centerpiece for our wedding because she wanted us to love everything! Then there’s Kelly at Mint Photography. I will forever cherish the photos she took that day.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be organized! I had spreadsheets coming out of my ears! I kept everything in a binder with sheet protectors for each different vendor and contract. When we went to meetings, I was ready with photos that I loved and specific questions to ask. Looking back, one thing I wish I would have done differently is set up an email address to be used just for communication with vendors.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? I am looking forward to spending some quality time with my new hubby! Planning a wedding can be like a second job, so now it’s time to soak up all of this free time! We want to travel as much as we can before we start planning for a family.

Photographer: Mint Photography / Day-of Coordination: Megan Metzger of Pearl Events / Venue: Villa Del Lago / Florist: Posh Floral Designs / Cake Baker: Sugar Mamas Bakeshop / Caterer: The Peached Tortilla / Tent and Rentals: Premiere Party Central / Lighting: Intelligent Lighting Design / Band: Goga Music / Bride’s Gown: “Anya” by Hayley Paige / Invitations: Minted / Hair Stylist: Kim Wolbrink / Makeup Artist: Christine Harrington of Nisa Nicole / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: 6697 and 6680 by After Six, 2879, 2863, and 2845 by Dessy, all in Frost / Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Ties: Burberry / Vintage Furniture: Loot Vintage Rentals / Ice Cream Truck: Cool Haus / Cotton Candy: Cloud9 / Map: The Seaside Press / Welcome Kit Candy Wrappers and Water Labels: Tableau Party / Airstream Photo Booth: Austin Imagery

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

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

    Your desserts were fabulous, y’all – ice cream truck + naked cake? Yum!!

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