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In reading through the details Kelly and Richard sent our way, one word that stood out to me over and over was “hope:” their hopes for beautiful weather (they even jumped their venue’s fence after hours to bury a bottle of bourbon!) and their hopes for a beautiful garden ceremony space (they booked Yew Dell after only seeing it in the dead of winter), but mostly, their hopes for a beautiful wedding day that was about more than just them, and a truly beautiful marriage. For most of us, the wedding planning process involves compromises along the way, but one thing I think we should never compromise on is the hope for a beautiful future, together. Kelly and Richard are such a sweet example of that!

Big hugs to Nina + Wes for these photos!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met on a blind date! I was living with four of my best friends, and one night, my friend’s fiancé told me they had the perfect guy for me. A little reluctant and very apprehensive, I went with it, so he texted Richard. Apparently, in his text, he said to Richard “Whenever you’re ready, I’ve found your wife.” Who knew he was right! After Richard and I both agreed to this blind date, it took two months for the date to actually happen. I tried to cancel at least half a dozen times–luckily, my roommate wouldn’t let me. Eventually, the four of us went bowling and to dinner one Saturday night, and the rest is history!

I was so nervous to go dress shopping–I had heard horror stories about how stressful it was. My experience was the absolute opposite! I loved trying on wedding dresses–you feel like a princess for a day. I didn’t know what I wanted in a dress, so we searched high and low and tried on dozens. My options were all over the place. After looking all over Louisville (my hometown) and in numerous stores in Cincinnati, my mom and I finally decided to go to Twirl in Lexington, where I live now. I tried on two dresses before trying on the most beautiful Tara Keely gown. I knew it was my dress! It was sweet and delicate, but so lovely. We had our seamstress add sleeves with extra lace we ordered.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did do a first look. I knew I was going to be too nervous to go the whole day without seeing him until the ceremony! We decided that it was our wedding day and we wanted to enjoy one another. We wanted time before the ceremony to pray for the day and our marriage, and calm the nerves before saying our vows. We wanted to soak up the joy of the day as much as we could together. It was the best decision we could have made!

We had the bridal party walk down the aisle to “Jesus We Love You” by Bethel Music. Once they were down the aisle, my dad and I walked down to an excerpt from “Come to Me” from Bethel’s Without Words album. We chose these songs because we wanted the focus of our day to be about the beauty of the Lord bringing us together and inviting us into this covenant with him.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The day Richard proposed, we got on our knees along with our families and prayed for our marriage and our future. We knew that though weddings are beautiful and exciting celebrations, we didn’t want the one day to be our main focus. With every decision, we asked the question “Is this going to bring glory and attention to the covenant we are making with the Lord?” At the end of the day, it is the marriage we were celebrating, not the wedding. Throughout our engagement, we met up with with an amazing couple full of wisdom for marriage counseling. We also read Timothy Kellers book, “The Meaning of Marriage.”

My heart has always been bent toward the beauty of nature, especially the loveliness of flowers. As soon as Richard proposed, we knew we wanted an outdoor wedding, and my heart was set on a celebration among the trees or in a garden. As it turns out, I was blessed with both! Richard proposed in November, so we were venue hunting in the dead of winter. We found Yew Dell in December, and did a walk-through with frost on the ground and barren trees. Though we had pictures from the website to reference, it took a pretty strong imagination to picture the garden in full bloom. We booked Yew Dell on faith, hoping and praying it would be as beautiful as we imagined. When we visited the gardens about a month before the wedding, I cried. It was a wonderland! I knew our venue was going to be the enchanted garden nestled in the woodland that I had dreamed of since I was a little girl.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our florist outdid herself. Our head table was a work of art. We decided to use five beautiful farm tables to make one giant head table for our 20 bridesmaids and groomsmen, plus their guests. Our florist had a lush garland running the length of the table, all 30 feet of it! Our menus, beautifully designed by a friend, were resting on top of the golden chargers, tucked inside a napkin with sprigs of greenery resting on top. It made such a statement when you walked into the reception tent.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Several months before our wedding, Richard and I decided to get dance lessons for our first dance. We didn’t want anything special–just enough so we could do more than the middle school shuffle on the dance floor. To be honest, I wasn’t even excited to do the first dance! As it turns out, our dance instructor taught us the basic rumba and then threw in a variety of spins and twirls. Though I was hesitant at the beginning, our first dance was one of our favorite moments of the day. There is no better way to feel like a princess than to have your prince spin you around the dance floor in a lovely gown!

Tell us all about the proposal! Apparently, I am a difficult girl to surprise. Richard knew the element of surprise was important to me, so he made me believe it wasn’t going to happen until March at the earliest. The day after Thanksgiving, my parents told everyone they wanted to get a family picture for that year’s Christmas card. Later that afternoon, as the girls were getting ready (taking longer than usual, as girls do), Richard and the guys decided to run out for some Black Friday shopping. While the guys were gone, my mom suggested I take my sister and sister-in-law to one of my favorite gardens in Louisville (a location we had thought about as a wedding venue someday). The three of us arrived, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a stuffed bear to my left. I assumed a family had a Thanksgiving event there the day before and some child had left their stuffed toy, but as we got closer, I saw a note propped up against the bear with my name on it. I looked up and saw that Richard had strung twinkle lights among the trees in the loveliest part of the garden, and he stood waiting for me at the end of the path. It was simply magical.
When did y’all get married? July 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 260
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own. Richard is a pastor, so speaking in front of people is his forte–I, on the other hand, am not a public speaker. I knew I was going to be nervous enough repeating the vows after our minister. I didn’t think I would be able to say my own vows on top of it!
Describe your wedding flowers. Our florist made the most beautiful bouquets for us! She made lush full bouquets of ranunculus and garden roses and used a single garden rose for Richard’s boutonniere. My mom had gardenias on her wedding day, and every time she smells them, she said it brings her right back. I knew I wanted a distinctly fragrant flower, so even 30 years down the road, the scent would bring me back to our fairy tale day.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? A few weeks into our engagement, we learned about the burying the bourbon tradition! So, on June 18, Richard and I, along with my family, hopped in the car to discreetly bury the goods on Yew Dell’s property. Unfortunately, that day was dreary and rainy, and Yew Dell was closing their gates as we arrived. I was satisfied with burying the bourbon right outside the gate on the perimeter of their property, but Richard wanted it to be closer to our venue site! We drove around to the rear of the property, hopped the fence, and buried the bourbon adjacent to both the reception location and the ceremony location. We had full sunshine on our wedding day!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Know that the day is a celebration of the lifelong commitment you are making to one another. It brought Richard and I such peace to rest in the knowledge that the day was about more than just ourselves. It was about our promise to one another and our promise to the Lord. Your attitude and focus and make or break the day for you. So it was 95 degrees outside and humid? We had the privilege of starting our marriage joyfully overcoming the circumstances of our surroundings. So the ceremony music didn’t start out correctly? The sweet imperfection of the ceremony let our friends and family rest at ease. So there was a fly in the communion cup? Richard and I got a little extra protein! Your attitude and focus sets the mood for the rest of your guests. Just remember, regardless, at the end of the day you will be married. Isn’t that more important than who gets chicken or beef?
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? That is a great question! We don’t know. Richard and I feel settled in Lexington for now, but we both have a heart for missions and for serving. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up in another country within the next several years. Or perhaps we will stay in Lexington, Kentucky and expand our family here! We are both dreamers, so in our heads, we have about a hundred dreams for where our future could go, but who knows where the Lord will take us next! In the meantime, we are basking in the joy of living life with the other at our side. We are making sweet memories sharing our home together and fellowshipping with friends.

Photographer: Nina and Wes Photography / Videographer: Summit Stone Creations / Planner: Devanny Kuhn of Essential Details / Venue: Yew Dell Gardens / Florist: Country Squire Florist / Cake Baker: Merts Cakes / Caterer: Masterson’s Catering / Rentals: Essential Details / DJ: Complete Weddings + Events / Invitations: Julie Diamond Calligraphy and Invitations / Program and Menu: Melody Thoburn / Bride’s Gown: Tara Keely / Bridal Salon: Twirl Boutique/a> / Hair Stylist: Hayley Gleason/ Makeup Artist: Ashley Meadows Makeup Artistry / Menswear: J. Crew

Twirl Boutique is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Nina reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful wedding! We loved this day!

  2. avatar Liz Cox reply

    Goodness gracious I love this precious bride! Helping her find her dress was such a joy and to her in it on her wedding day is so sweet. Thanks for the sharing their gorgeous wedding & their beautiful love.

  3. avatar Kat Forsyth reply

    What a stunning location! Those lines of trees…wow.

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Small towns and the South go together like biscuits and honey–they each seem to bring out the best in one another, don’t you think? Since Abigail and Adam’s love story began in their neighboring North Carolina mountain towns, there was no place like home for their rustic fall wedding. With limited venue options in her small hometown, Abigail and her family set out to help restore an abandoned produce packing warehouse. Not only did it become the perfect industrial space for her and Adam to celebrate with all their loved ones, it also now serves as an event space for the whole community. What an incredible legacy to leave!

Thank you so much to Michelle Lyerly for sharing this special day with us!

My mother, mother-in-law, and sisters came to Charlotte to help me find a dress. When I walked out in the dress I eventually bought, no one said a thing until we heard my best friend, who we called over Facetime, quietly say, “Oh, Abby!” We collectively started crying at that point and got right to work on the alterations.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? It was important to us both that the moment when I started walking toward him to become his wife happened in front of all of our friends and family, who had and would continue to support us as a couple.

Adam and I grew up in neighboring small towns in the mountains of North Carolina. Our love story started there and so much of who we are and what we love came from growing up together in that part of the state. We knew we wanted to be surrounded by the love of our hometowns on our wedding day. We also knew that many of our friends from college and work wanted to experience our small town firsthand!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Choosing a venue that wasn’t actually a venue yet! Murphy, North Carolina is a small place, so the choices for an event are limited. We ended up taking a risk and choosing an abandoned produce packaging warehouse in the center of town, built around 1911, as the venue. The exposed white brick courtyard sold me on the place! Our families worked with the owner of the building to clean, renovate, and re-purpose the building for the reception within six months. It was a challenge to bring the building up to code and make it suitable for not just a party, but a wedding reception, within such a short time frame! It ended up being stunning. The building now serves as an event venue, and it’s wonderful to see the community using the facility!

We kept the flowers to a minimum. The church and reception venue were styled using collected antique silver pieces, handmade antler flower crowns, hundreds of candles, a custom lighted marquee, collected oushak rugs, and white and green pumpkins from a local farm. Baby’s breath, white and pink roses, and greenery covered the tables and bars. Original iron window frames from the building were covered in fresh magnolia branches and suspended from the ceiling.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The whole town got involved! People stopped by on a regular basis to check in on the status of the reception venue’s restoration. Our families pitched in and built the tables (out of wooden beams recovered from the venue) and bars (collected wooden shipping pallets). When word got out that my sister was collecting antique silver pieces for the wedding, people started showing up at our house with pieces they found at yard sales or from their own personal collections. My uncle hand-stitched over 500 feet of white flag pennants for the courtyard, and my sister made amazing antler flower crowns. We even had people stop by the reception and join in on the fun. It was truly a hometown wedding!

The wedding cake was a three-tiered lemon pound cake with buttercream icing. We also had a dessert bar of cakes lovingly made by family friends. There wasn’t a single slice left at the end of the day!

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? A local bluegrass band from the John C. Campbell Folk School. They played on the outdoor stage during the reception’s cocktail hour, greeting everyone with soulful Appalachian music. The outdoor stage was decorated with antique oushak rugs, an antique iron candelabra, and cascading pumpkins from a nearby farm. It was magical and felt just like home.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We were so young! We first met with a group of friends outside the two-screen cinema in Adam’s hometown of Andrews, North Carolina. As is the case with most 13-year-olds, we weren’t so much dating as just seeing each other at group events or ball games. Adam went to my eighth grade dance with me, and from that point on, we’ve grown up together. So many times, young love is seen as irrational or unwise, and while it is certainly unpredictable, it’s amazing when it works out. I’m so thankful to know that Adam understands every part of me: my past, my present, and my future.
Tell us all about the proposal! I was in the middle of studying for spring exams when Adam showed up with an Easter basket. Easter is my favorite holiday, so I thought he was just making a sweet gesture. Each egg in the basket held gift certificates for my favorite things, but one light blue egg held the best gift: my engagement ring! Adam and I had dated for so long, I wasn’t sure if he would be able to surprise me when the time came, but this took my breath away. It was simple, creative, and thoughtful. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
When did y’all get married? October 25, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our families are very close, so the passage from Ruth 1 was meaningful and true.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I have so many! To name a few, a very good friend of mine gave me a watercolor she painted of our dog, Franklin, and his new last name as an engagement present. We had the image printed on the cake napkins, which was a wonderful way for Franklin to be a part of the celebration. We still use the leftover napkins for our bar cart at home! We also loved our dance floor. An old circular plant holder was used to suspend a disco ball, wrapped with a garland of greenery, over the black and white dance floor, and the stage was back lit by a custom designed marquee that said A+A. It set the tone for the party! Finally, a 1971 Minnie Winnebago, renovated by my father, served mini corndogs (my favorite), Coca-Cola bottles, and homemade potato chips as the night concluded.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We met with my former youth pastor and the minister for the wedding, Danny Byers, for premarital counseling. No matter how well you know a person, it’s so important to make sure your goals, values, and thoughts on faith work well together.
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? We used a lot of florals and greenery that we could collect ourselves: magnolia leaves, dried hydrangeas, and baby’s breath. We also worked with many local vendors, which cut down on shipping and transportation costs. My sisters really went above and beyond to make every detail special, so we were able to work without an event planner and just hired a day-of coordinator.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Your wedding needs to be true to who you are as a couple. The small details that represent you and your life together will make all the difference. I would also add, don’t take yourself or your wedding too seriously. The details I loved the most were the ones that made me laugh, like the deer with the bow tie that hung in the restroom, or the ones that created a buzz–when the trucker hats hit the dance floor, people let loose!

Photographer: Michelle Lyerly / Videographer: Brian Johnson / Planner: Brittney Forrister / Ceremony Venue: Murphy First Baptist / Reception Venue: The Hackney Warehouse / Florist: Occasions Florist / Cake Baker: Tara Dockery / Caterer: Herb’s Pit Bar-B-Que / Rentals: Elegance / Band: The Root Doctors / Matchbooks and Drink Stirrers: For Your Party / Koozies: Custom Ink / Invitation Suite: Reaves Engraving / Bride’s Gown: Tara Keely / Bridal Salon and Hair Accessories: Hayden Olivia / Hair and Makeup: Salon El Khouri / Bride’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan / Suits: Michael Kors / Bow Ties: Brackish Bow Ties / Groom’s Shoes: Cole Haan / Dance Floor Props: Oriental Trading / Dance Floor Lights: Flashing Blinky Lights / Tambourines and Hats: Custom Ink / Watercolor Artist: Sara Bozarth / Special Details: Kendall Simmons

lisa Written with love by Lisa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Meg Gravley reply

    Really huge fan of a dessert bar made by family and friends – so personal and functional. The triangular banners sewn by her grandpa…icing on the cake!

  2. avatar Dana reply

    the dress, the bunting flags, the dog napkins–what is not to love about this wedding?!

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It has been just over three months since my wedding, and what I think I’ll always remember most about that day is how gosh darn happy I felt. Looking through these images of Jenica and Dylan’s celebration, it’s so clear that they could say the same! They look so full of joy, from Jenica’s time getting ready with her girls, right down to their fabulous reception. I especially loved reading about their most memorable moments, because they’re probably ones that they didn’t anticipate being favorites. The unexpected moments are what make every wedding totally unique, and the ones Jenica and Dylan experienced are sweet as can be!

Thanks so much to Robert J Hill for sharing this special day with us!

I had gone to about four appointments at different bridal salons in Georgia, Florida, and Virginia, always with multiple friends and family. I finally found what I was looking for on a solo outing. Dylan was working that Saturday and I was new to the area and didn’t have many friends, so I went exploring on my own. When I saw the adorable bridal shop in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, I thought, “Why not, I’m engaged and still in need of a dress.” Without an appointment, I found a classic satin, a-line dress with lace details, a big bow, no sweetheart neckline, and in ivory–just what I wanted! With my mother-in-law-to-be in tow and my mom FaceTimed in, I returned a few weeks later to buy the dress.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! As progressive as we may be, we really value tradition, so this was not an easy decision. But we knew that as soon as we were married, we would be ready to celebrate with our friends and family. We did not want to miss any part of our day, including the cocktail hour. I also wanted taking our wedding pictures to be a great experience–calm and not rushed. It was very relaxing and romantic to have had that quiet time alone to share our excitement and focus on what the day was really about, without the dozens of eyes that were on us at any other point of the day.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? As required by the church, we attended marriage prep courses that covered every subject you can imagine and led to constructive conversations that are always fun to have. We liked the class, and we dedicated time the night after each course to go over what we had talked about in the privacy of our home.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Focus on a few major things–the details that are must. Budget for them first and make sure there is someone, like a planner, there to execute them. Then, let the rest go! Put yourself in a position to just show up at your wedding and be grateful for what your family, friends, and vendors have done for you. Enjoy your day and cherish your groom, let go of your dreams, and live in the moment. In true Southern spirit, be a host with a gracious heart.

All of our dinner food was Southern: fried catfish, oysters, shrimp, a po-boy station, a grits bar, collards, and cornbread. We also had lots of Southern desserts! Our wedding logo featured our monogram, which we put on as many things as we could: the invitations, cups, napkins, fans, the advice sheet, etc. We had sweet tea with the sign “The South, where love and family are the sugar in our tea” next to it. We decorated with magnolias leaves in all of the arrangements and garlands. And of course, the venue itself was Southern–an old lumber mill on a bayou complete with Spanish moss, rocking chairs on the front porch, and mosquitoes!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Dylan: I wanted a second to myself to try and let the day sink in, so at one point, I walked out beyond the glow of the tent and stood alone under the willow tree. As I started to light the cigar my new mother-in-law had given me, everyone suddenly fell quiet. I looked up and saw the band leader reach out and help Jenica onto the stage. I knew, we all knew, that this was it, what everyone was waiting for and what I was hoping for: my wife was about to sing! Her “too good to be true” voice rang out into the night, “At last, my love has come along…” My friends finally noticed me in the back and pulled me to the dance floor. My lonely days were over, and in that moment, my life was a song. From Jenica: Honestly, probably leaving our wedding! A family friend let us use his red convertible Mustang as our getaway car. As we drove off, the driver turned up one of our favorite songs. Sitting on the back of the car while driving down the pitch black, windy road felt magnificent after sweating all day. The venue is very secluded and the sky was completely clear; we could see thousands of stars, something we don’t see in the city where we live now. We gazed up at the stars while singing at the top of our lungs, grinning ear-to-ear. We reflected on how perfectly our wedding day had gone and how happy we were to finally be married. It was so magical, and I’ll never forget it!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in graduate school at Florida State University at a mutual friend’s birthday party. I actually had a first date planned for later that night, but was having such a good time with Dylan that I called it off. Best decision ever!
Tell us all about the proposal! He proposed on Christmas day 2013. He led me to believe that he was going to pop the question on a trip to St. Thomas that we had planned for after the holidays, but instead, he surprised me while I was in my gym clothes at Fort Washington Park as we overlooked a beautiful sunset on the Potomac River. This is a very special place for me, as I always go running there and love to explore the area with my family when I visit my grandparents. He knows that I am very close to my family, and he wanted them to be able to share in our special occasion.
When did y’all get married? May 16, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our first dance was to Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.” This was a very easy selection for me. It is one of my grandfather’s favorites, so it has always reminded me of my grandparents and the love they shared for 60 years. This song speaks to the central truth about a strong marriage, that not if, but when, hardship comes, as long as we stand by each other, we have nothing to fear. Dylan and I danced to this song many times in our kitchen while cooking dinner together prior to our wedding day, so it also evokes some of our favorite memories. We surprised Dylan’s mother by having them dance to R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” a song that Mrs. Conley has told Dylan his whole life reminded her of him. She was beside herself on the dance floor when it came on, and all the guests joined in by waving their arms and candles.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Every detail of our wedding day was pretty perfect, but our favorite component of our wedding was that we celebrated for multiple days. Instead of having only the one day to say a few words to each guest, we rented a huge house in Watercolor, Florida for our families and bridal party. We also arranged other rentals within walking distance for extended family and friends. We celebrated from Wednesday through Monday with pool parties, personal chefs, catering, and games. The neighborhood is truly stunning, and is a place that Dylan and I love very much. Turing our wedding into a huge vacation made our year and half of planning all worth it!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? I moved to Rhode Island after graduate school and we recently bought a house! We are looking forward to settling into our new life in Rhode Island. We love to travel, so we look forward to many great trips before we start a family.

Photographer: Robert J Hill / Videographer: Garrett Dollar / Planner: Kaley Wells / Ceremony Venue: St. Rita Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Eden Gardens State Park / Florist: Events by Nouvea / Dessert Baker: Fatty Patty’s / Caterer: Dee’s Catering / Band: True Soul / Bride’s Gown: Tara Keely / Bridal Salon: The Bridal Garden / Hair Stylist: Misty Lemire / Makeup Artist: Christina Engman / Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Ann” in Melon by Little Borrowed Dresses / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Earcandy reply

    It was probably a magnificent sight for the bride to see her groom standing against the night sky underneath a willow tree. The fact that groom took the time to let it sink it probably made it all the more memorable – not that anyone could ever forget their wedding day.

  2. avatar Abbey reply

    I would love to know where you got the bridesmaid’s monogrammed pajamas? I’m looking for something similar.

    Thanks!

  3. avatar Dana reply

    they are so happy!!! love it!

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