For these high school sweethearts, growing up in the same small town in East Tennessee was full of 4H, FFA, sheep showing, and countless memories of growing up together and falling in love! After Matthew left for the Navy, he wrote love letters to Jessica promising he’d come home and marry her one day–y’all, can we stop and swoon for a second? Delivering on his promise, Matthew married Jessica on a day rich with the history of their love story and the South at the Museum of Appalachia. With the help of beautiful blooms arranged by their family friend Whimsical Gatherings, Jessica and Matthew threw a wedding day that was the perfectly Southern, vintage-feeling, and naturally beautiful. And exactly what they had hoped for!
Big SW hugs to Dixie Pixel for sending along the sweet day!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in high school. He was a Southern born-and-bred farm boy. His family raised sheep and lives on a beautiful farm on the Clinch River in East Tennessee. He and I were involved with agriculture together in high school, so I spent a lot of time with his family learning the basics of 4H, FFA, and, of course, sheep showing. We have countless memories growing up together and falling in love. During college, he left for the Navy. I still have his old love letters from the military, in which he always promised he’d come back home and marry me one day.
I am totally inspired by all things vintage, so I knew I wanted a simple, lace dress. I found the perfect dress at White Lace and Promises in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was from the Stella York collection, and featured a sweetheart neckline and trumpet silhouette.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our wedding crest and invitations designed by Lydia Sellers of The Darling Type. They laid the groundwork for our overall theme, vision, and color palette, which helped inspire the design for the entire event.
Matthew is very traditional, which I absolutely adore. He wanted to save that first look moment for our wedding ceremony when I walked down the aisle. It was captured by Dixel Pixel, and the photos turned out to be some of most spectacular ones of the entire day.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were both raised in the same small town of Clinton in East Tennessee, so we knew we wanted to get married in a place that captured the essence and history of the area. The Museum of Appalachia was perfectly fitting and beautifully displayed the heritage of the South, while also capturing the incredible landscape of our hometown area.
Our flowers came from Whimsical Gatherings of Alcoa, Tennessee. The owner, Leah McCall, is a long-time family friend, and her lead designer, Colby West, is brilliantly gifted. Matthew and I shared our inspirations with their team, and they made our dreams come to life. The wedding flowers were lush, colorful arrangements of garden roses, peonies, clematis, cosmos, hydrangea, and ranunculus, mixed with foraged lavender, pears, willow, and honeysuckle. My favorite details were the blue jay feathers, antlers, and bird nests throughout the centerpiece arrangements. It was perfectly Southern, vintage, and natural. The overall design plan was inspired by our wedding crest, designed by Lydia Sellers of The Darling Type.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Matt and I share a love of entertaining others. We were raised in homes with big arms, open doors, and full tables. Coming from the same small hometown, we sincerely wanted to invite everyone we knew to share in this celebration with us. The biggest challenge was finding the balance between inviting everyone we knew (which we both wanted to do), while, at the same time, maintaining an intimate enough setting with those who share life with us.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was Easter weekend in April 2015 and we were sharing a Bible study and coffee in our sun room. It’s one of our favorite things to do on Saturday mornings. At the end, Matthew prayed over our relationship. It was the most sincere prayer, asking God to give us guidance and wisdom in the days and years to come. I felt a comfort and peace like I’ve never felt before. It was an unforgettable moment. A few minutes later, I got up to take our coffee back to the kitchen, when he asked me to come to the front porch. As I opened the door, I noticed a chalkboard where he had written, “Will you marry me?” I turned around to the front steps and he was down on one knee. It was the best surprise of my life.
When did y’all get married? August 22, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes. From me to Matthew: “I vow to submit myself unto Jesus and unto you as we are one, because a strand of three chords is not easily broken. I choose to encourage you joyfully, forgive you freely, and love you unconditionally, possibly only by the power of God’s grace in me.” Matthew to me: “I will faithfully and courageously pursue you with a Christ-centered heart as our Shepherd with faith and love.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My brother represented my dad by reading a letter from him, since it wasn’t possible for him to be present on this day. Matthew’s niece also read scripture from Isaiah 61:10-11.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Oh, of course! My something “new” was my wedding dress and shoes my mother bought me. Something borrowed was my matron of honor’s jewelry. Something old was a ring which my mom had specially designed at Markman’s Jewelers. It includes two princess cut sapphires, my birthstone, on either side of the center stone, which is my grandmother’s wedding diamond. Something blue was the fun part! I wrote a cute poem to each of my closest girlfriends which read, “So, now is the time to share and celebrate. My wedding day is near, I simply can’t wait! I have something old and my something new. I even borrowed something, but not something blue. I just have one thing to ask, to be a part of our special day with one small task. Please, please be my beautiful ‘something blue!’ Just wear the dress that inspires you.”
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Premarital counseling was really awesome for us. It was a neutral ground for us to share about our strengths as well as our differences. It was great for us to have an older couple walk with us through the real aspects of marriage and to give us advice on how to love each other through our differences.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We wanted to celebrate at our reception, so we opted to cut out the timeline of events, such as the cake cutting and bouquet toss, to focus on fun! We saved big bucks by not having wedding cakes, and opted for a dessert bar designed by Echo Bistro instead.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Dream about the day. Create a vision together. Set a planned budget. Stay organized (your vendors will appreciate that!). At the end of the day, stay focused on the purpose of the marriage, not the day of the wedding. Plan for fun and fellowship at your ceremony and forget the details. You’re getting married!!!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We look forward to having children, growing a farm, raising sheep and building a home on his family’s land. Most importantly, we want to serve our church and give back to the organizations that impacted our childhood, such as FFA and local 4H groups.
Photographer: Dixie Pixel | Videographer: Kati Baird | Venue and Planning: Museum of Appalachia | Florist: Whimsical Gatherings | Caterer and Baker: Echo Bistro | Rentals: All Occasions | Lighting: Tennessee Lighting | Band: Pink Cadillac | Paper Products and Makeup Artist: The Darling Type | Bride’s Gown: Stella York | Bridal Salon: White Lace and Promises | Bride’s Jewelry: Stella and Dot | Hair Stylist: Amy Anderson | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank