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If the sight of a glowing sperry tent in the middle of a manicured lawn doesn’t already knock your socks off, then maybe the bright and flowing linens will do the trick. Or maybe the rows of farm tables topped with blue Ball Jars full of wildflowers? Whatever detail of Alex + Paul’s wedding makes your heart skip a beat, there’s no denying there are plenty to choose from. Courtney Spencer of Merriment Events worked with the couple to create a springy and oh-so-Southern reception. In addition to being delighted with fun pinwheels and a gorgeous tablescape, guests took full advantage of the dessert bar, full of pies, cookies, coffee, and biscotti. Big thanks to Don Mears Photography for sharing this with us!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Since many of our guests came from out of town, we threw a welcome party the night before our wedding, in lieu of a rehearsal dinner. Many of our guests had never visited Richmond, so it was exciting for us to use our wedding weekend to show them the city. The welcome party was at the 2300 Club, in historical Church Hill, which was a great introduction into the history of Richmond. The reception was held at Maymont Park, a sprawling estate in the heart of Richmond. In late May, it was the perfect time of year for the local flora to be a part of the scenery of our wedding. And we can’t forget the Southern pies we served for dessert!
Describe your wedding flowers: We collected over 300 blue Ball Jars from Ebay and hand washed and wrapped each. Kristi of Flower Girls was great to work with and listened to our requests. We wanted a relaxed home feel with the colors of spring. We let her use her artistic talent to create a beautiful landscape.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: In addition to the pies, we had a dessert table offering six assorted cookies, coffee, espresso and biscotti.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our event planner, Courtney Spencer of Merriment Events, helped us figure out what details meant the most to us and our guests, and then took care of the rest.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Our band, The Edge.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Seeing each other for the first time.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff! Hire people that you trust and give them the freedom to do their jobs.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We’ll be taking on the Big Apple for a couple years for job opportunities and look forward to moving back to the South after.

Photographer: Don Mears Photography // Planner: Courtney Spencer // Ceremony venue: St. Bridgets Catholic Church // Reception venue: Maymont // Florist: Flower Girls // Wedding Cake Baker: Sweetest Thing Bakery // Caterer: A Pimento // Rentals: Tent from Skyline // Linens: La Tavola, napkin rentals from Classic Party Rentals of Virginia, other rentals from Beehive Events and Festive Fare // Bride’s Dress: Matthew Christopher // Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade // Paper: Reception calligraphy by Ginny Rogan // Makeup: Stephanie Parker

*Merriment Events is a Southern Weddings sponsor.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    Wow, the details of this wedding is just gorgeous! I’m love the table decorations – the flowers are perfect!

  2. avatar Joyce Racanelli reply

    Don Mears and Courtney, from Merriment were amazing to work with. The caterer, Gay and her staff were terrific! We all felt so confident in their work, it helped us enjoy the day to the fullest.
    The Mother of the Bride

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    […] colors from this wedding? Check these out: Alex + Paul’s outdoor garden-like wedding here and here Tara + Steve’s pink and orange wedding here and here xo Nicole January 19, 2012 | view […]

  5. avatar Valerie Feathers reply

    Where did you find the teal mason jars?

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Hi, friends! I am so happy to introduce our October Southern Bride of the Month! Megan is getting married in less than two weeks (!!), but was kind enough to pause last-minute preparations long enough to answer a few questions. I hope you enjoy her interview — I know I sure did!

Hi! What’s your name?
Megan Ferguson

What’s your fiancé’s name?
Nico Evers Swindell

What do y’all do for a living?
I like to say I am a stay-at-home actress. My dad does not think that’s funny. But for real, we both are actors and live in Los Angeles.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
Three years ago we were both living in New York City and had several mutual friends. I had heard that Nico was cute, from New Zealand and an actor and thought to myself, that sounds terrrrrible. I had never dated another actor – there can only be so much crazy in one relationship. But luckily, Nico came to my Christmas Party and we ended up having a smooch! We’ve been together ever since.

Now tell us alllll about the proposal.
We flew from Los Angeles to New Zealand to visit Nico’s home last December. I had chatted about and thought about a proposal probably every day for the previous few months EXCEPT for the day it happened! We had gotten off of a 12-hour flight, made it to his home, and I was a wee bit cranky and jet lagged when Nico just asked. Very simply and sincerely. I said yes, and then he ran around the corner to get the ring, which was hidden in a piece of china on the kitchen counter! Because NZ is so far away, we couldn’t call friends or family for at least six hours, so we had it all to ourselves for a whole evening.

When’s the big day?
October 29, 2011

Where might you two be tying the knot?
At my parent’s home in Thomasville, Georgia

The driveway leading to Megan’s house! Love the Spanish moss :)

How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
I have always wanted to be married outside and at my home. I think it’s so wonderful to have a wedding ceremony at home, since a wedding is about the bride and groom becoming family!

The back porch of Megan’s house, where the ceremony will take place

Who or what has been most inspiring in the wedding planning process?
My friends’ weddings! This has been one of those wonderful years where several of my dear friends have gotten married. Each wedding has been so personal to the couple and full of amazing details! One friend served bourbon smash in mint julep cups, and another had antlers throughout her floral arrangements. Creativity is contagious.

Who or what has been most helpful in the wedding planning process?
My wedding co-captain, Nan Myers! Nan is a friend, first and foremost, who runs this fabulous store in Thomasville called Firefly. I have always admired her style, and so I thought she would be the perfect woman to help plan our wedding! Neither of us has ever planned a wedding before, but Nan has the perfect combination of retail savvy and creative spark and I am half bridezilla. She has taken care of a lot of the nitty gritty with rentals and vendors, which has allowed me to stay relatively calm. Also, Google Docs, y’all! Seriously. Put all of your lists, budgets, and RSVPs onto Google Docs. That way, a select group of people can edit the same document and everyone can stay up to date!

Modern tented wedding reception inspiration from Fete

Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
I watched plenty of “Say Yes to the Dress” marathons (original, Atlanta, and Big Bliss) before it was my time to dress shop, and always scoffed when the bride’s entourage didn’t love the dress that she loved. Then, I put on this amazing, romantic J. Mendel gown, cut on the bias with unfinished hem, and fell in love. I walked out of the dressing room fully expecting to say YES to the dress, and I got a room full of “nah-uh’s” instead. Not even Randy from Kleinfeld could have sold that dress! Cut to several months later, and not being in love with any other dress, I tried on a BLUE, FLORAL ready-to-wear Monique Lhuillier gown and my Mom, Dad, and maidens of honor all cried at once! I can’t show y’all a picture, because what if Nico suddenly takes an interest in wedding blogs and sees the dress before the big day?! Okay, sneak peak of the fabric below!

Who is your favorite vendor you’ve booked so far?
I love all of our vendors! Mae Mae Paperie made heavenly save the dates & Rifle Paper Co made the most magical wedding invites on the planet! I can’t wait for the Flashdance team (Smilebooth, Sharkpig and the Human Jukebox) Betsy Dunlap’s calligraphy makes me so happy. Hugh Acheson from Empire State South is cooking up a feast for us – this bride WILL have two pieces of fried chicken thank you very much! Christian Oth Photography will make me look pretty by hook or by crook.

Above: Megan + Nico’s gold foil and kraft paper save the dates by MaeMae Paperie (see more here!). I am in love!

What do you love most about Southern weddings?
Tradition! I am saying goodnight to the groom after the rehearsal dinner and won’t see him again until I walk down the aisle. We also buried a bottle of bourbon at the site of the ceremony one month before the wedding so that it won’t rain! Nico wants to dig up the bottle on the way back down the aisle, but I’m not sure that would go over very well with our officiant. I am having a “Bleedin’ Kiwi Groom’s Cake” – my take on the Steel Magnolias classic red velvet groom’s cake.

A gorgeous invitation suite from Rifle Paper Co (via Oh So Beautiful Paper). This isn’t Megan + Nico’s design, but it sure is lovely!

If you had to pick three top priorities for your budget, what would they be and why?
Photography, food, and music. A lot of people won’t remember what your flowers, plates or linens looked like, but they will remember if they liked the food and if they danced! Photos are for remembering everything else!

What has been the best part of wedding planning? The worst part?
The worst part happened today, when I called the hotels to check on our reservations and both hotels told me that they have sold our room block rooms to non-wedding guests by accident… we are still sorting this one out. Most guests have rooms, but we are having to house others with local friends. It will probably end up being more fun for those guests anyway!

Above: Champagne tower from Kate Moss’s wedding via Once Wed (photo by Mario Testino for Vogue) and Megan’s rose bouquet inspiration

Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
Ask former brides for advice and help! Many of my closest friends passed on all of their old rental lists, budgets, seating charts and catering invoices and they were a great reference. I also occasionally asked friends their favorite and least favorite moments of other weddings to get a sense of what a guest’s experience is like and how to make it seamless! But most of all, create a day that is special for you and your groom. Y’all are the guests of honor! Take a breath (or sob for ten minutes) when it feels overwhelming and come back to planning the next day. It’s a magical time – enjoy!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Megan! Readers, if you’d like to apply to be a Southern Bride of the Month, check out this post for all the details! If you’ve already emailed me, you’re still in the running for future months!

P.S. Looking for even more Southern Bride goodness?
Texan childhood sweethearts planning a church wedding and country club reception
Floridians planning a garden wedding full of amazing Southern eats
A sometimes-long-distance couple planning a destination wedding in Georgia

The Southern Bride of the Month header was designed by our Assistant Art Director Sierra, with illustration by Curious & Company!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Emily reply

    Thank you so much for being here, Megan! As you know, I LOVE your save the dates! :)

  2. avatar Jennifer Rea reply

    Love this feature. It’s so fun to read about the beginning to the end!

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  5. avatar » My Kind’s Your Kind May I Have The Ring reply

    […] of freaking out. Seriously. You can read more about her behind-the-scenes planning process here on Southern Weddings and more about the actual wedding at the original feature in Garden and Gun. Very very very special […]

  6. avatar Rochelle reply

    Please tell me where you got your bridesmaid dresses from

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    […] One, two, three, four, five, six. […]

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How much fun is Marilisa + Taylor’s wedding party?? They look like just as much fun as their outdoor reception at Fair Havens Plantation. Guests were greeted with escort cards hung cleverly on two ladders. The rustic vibe continued with burlap table linens, wildflowers in mason jars, and hay bales! I’m so smitten with M + T’s yummy pie bar — doesn’t it look delish? I’d hop through my computer if I could. Between first dances, pie cutting, and celebrating, the newlyweds managed to sneak in a game of corn hole with boards that they made and painted by hand and ended the night with a good ol’ sparkler exit. Thanks again to Matt Miller of Our Labor of Love for sharing!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite details were our corn hole game sets! Taylor made the two sets by hand and I painted them with our initials and wedding date, which matched our invitations. What made the game even better was that we actually had time to play during our reception!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The most Southern thing about our wedding was that it took place at a restored plantation home in Arnoldsville, Georgia. Other Southern details that we included were gingham shirts for the groomsmen, cowboy boots, big belt buckles, brisket, grits, sweet tea and mason jars as vases!
Describe your wedding cake: Instead of a cake we went with a pie bar! We had cherry, chocolate, pecan, blueberry and apple.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was making the guest list. Taylor and I both have large families and our parents have friends all over the country. It was stressful at times deciding who to invite without hurting anyone’s feelings, but everything worked out in the end and it truly felt like one big reunion for our friends and family from the South and Northeast!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? My dress! Initially, I thought spending lots of money on a dress I would only wear once seemed pointless, but once I had the gown on, there was no turning back.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our most memorable moment was my sister’s toast at the reception. I chose a friend to be my maid of honor, but I still wanted to honor my older sister Elizabeth and I asked her to give the toast. There was not a dry eye in the tent and people still tell us how special and unforgettable it was.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we wrote our own vows and read them to each other while two of our friends performed “Holy, Holy, Holy.” My favorite vow from Taylor was when he said, “I vow to be your solid, steady man. When you’re feeling all over the place I’m going to be grounded like an old hickory tree.”
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are fully enjoying married life in Athens! We are both trying to build our careers and Taylor will be applying for nursing school in January. We are looking forward to traveling together and building strong friendships with other young married couples in our church!

Photographer: Matt Miller of Our Labor of Love // Venue: Fair Havens Plantation // Florist: The Garden Gate Florist // Wedding Cake Baker: Brett’s // Caterer: Brett’s // Paper Products: Three by The Quill Penn // Bride’s Dress: Amy Kuschel via Kelly’s Closet // Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil: Sara Gabriel via Kelly’s Closet // Bride’s Shoes: Frye // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bridesmaids’ own // Accessories: Earrings from Aurum

Oh, and before you go…

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Pear Tree Greetings reply

    This wedding looks so fun and country-chic! Love that she’s wearing boots! -Steph

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