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I’m convinced that deciding where to get married is either one of the easiest or one of the hardest wedding planning decisions. I relate so much to Erin and Sean’s decision to marry in Raleigh, where they would be starting their newlywed life, because Dave and I did the exact same thing! For their classic Southern celebration, Erin and Sean brought a little bit of their hometowns to Raleigh by filling their downtown venues with nautical touches that nodded to their childhoods spent on the coast. My favorite detail of Erin and Sean’s big day? While they were introducing loved ones to their new hometown, they were also giving family and friends mementos for their own homes: “We have our oyster shell place cards displayed on our coffee table, and we’ve visited with friends who kept their place cards and have them displayed in their homes, too!”

Thank you so much to Julie Livingston for sharing this lovely day with us!

My mom, grandmother, and mother-in-law were all with me when I found my dress. I had two appointments in Raleigh and ultimately found my dress at the last place we went, Maggi Bridal. I had no clue what I wanted, so I tried on quite a few dresses, but it ended up being so easy for me to pick the dress. My dress was just so elegant, timeless, and Southern, which is what I wanted our entire wedding day to exude! My favorite part of the whole day was seeing the reactions every time I came out of the dressing room. Of course, they loved every dress I tried on!

Describe your wedding flowers. We started out with the idea of using driftwood and oyster shells as part of our arrangements and decor, as both Sean and I grew up near the coast. Our florist was so on board with our ideas, and had so many ideas of her own. It was so much fun to collaborate with her and watch her bring our vision to life in ways we couldn’t have imagined! Our flowers had a coastal theme and were all shades of creams, ivories, and whites with lots of greenery. Anna, our florist, was also able to source snowball viburnum, which was used in our bouquets and floral arrangements. This was especially important to me, as my late grandmother had a snowball bush that she was so proud of, so including the snowball viburnum was such a special way to honor her. There was even a huge vase filled with it near the entrance to the Merrimon-Wynne House–it was one of my favorite pieces!

Everything from our venue, to the food we served, to some of the traditions we kept was Southern! We buried a bottle of bourbon, which Sean and his groomsmen dug up the morning of our wedding while getting ready. To keep Sean and I from seeing each other, my brother brought me a glass of the bourbon! In addition to the tradition, the food we served was very Southern: mini chicken and waffles, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, and shrimp and grits!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Sean and I decided we wanted to get married in Raleigh. We loved Raleigh and it was where we would be starting our lives together as husband and wife, so we wanted to choose a venue that would show all of our guests just how great Raleigh and North Carolina are. We started going to Edenton Street United Methodist Church in downtown Raleigh during the summer we were engaged and we loved it. We instantly felt like we were part of a family at EUMC, so there was no question that we wanted to get married there. Our reception was at the Merrimon-Wynne House in downtown Raleigh. My mother and I went to visit the venue and as soon we we walked through the front door, we knew this was where we wanted the reception to be. The Merrimon-Wynne House was everything I could have dreamed of for our wedding–Southern, classic, gorgeous light…and the icing on the cake was that it was only a few blocks from our church and had plenty of room for all of our guests. We were able to get ready there too, and it was so fun to hang out at the house all day with some of my favorite women!

We used driftwood that my mother collected from the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia on the dinner tables, with larger pieces on the porch and the mantle. Anna did an amazing job in incorporating the driftwood into our floral arrangements. There was also a large piece of driftwood draped with greenery, flowers, oyster shells, and candles that hung over our sweetheart table–it was stunning, and now hangs over our couch in our home! We saved oyster shells from an engagement party that my aunt and uncle hosted for us, and from other oyster roasts we had as a family, and used those as place cards for our guests and throughout the decor. One and Only Stationers, who created our programs and other details, wrote each guest’s name on an oyster shell in navy ink. We have our oyster shell place cards displayed on our coffee table, and we’ve visited with friends who kept their place cards and have them displayed in their homes, too! I just loved how all of these pieces were gathered by my family and turned into special pieces that Sean and I have kept and incorporated into our home.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Time management! I work for a public accounting firm and my schedule at work is not light! Some days, I felt like I would never be able to plan a wedding because I just didn’t have time. Luckily, I was able to lean on my mom for a lot of help. I know she sacrificed a lot of time to help me plan the wedding of my dreams–but I don’t think either of us would have had it any other way!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff, because on the day of your wedding, you will forget all about the small stuff! Something will definitely happen or go wrong (like the electricity going out at church, in our case!), but at the end of the day, you will still be married and it will still be the best day ever!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Sean: Erin and I met at a JV football game in high school through mutual friends. I was playing for the varsity team at the time, but decided to stick around after practice to see some of the underclassmen play. I remember being introduced to Erin and immediately having this feeling that I knew she was the one. We started dating shortly after that memorable Thursday night some nine years ago. After enduring a few years in a somewhat-long distance relationship, with Erin at NC State and myself at East Carolina, I made the decision to move to Raleigh, where we call home today.
Tell us all about the proposal! I had just finished my Masters in Accounting at NC State University and was spending all summer studying for the CPA exam. I had just finished taking one of the exams and was meeting Sean for lunch at Player’s Retreat, near NC State’s campus. It was a gorgeous day, so after eating lunch, Sean suggested we go for a walk. We walked down Hillsborough Street towards NC State’s campus and ended up in the Court of Carolinas. As we walked out into the Court of Carolinas, I saw this little puppy next to the sidewalk sitting in a basket. I turned to Sean, a bit worried, and asked, “Is that a dog? Who would leave a puppy out here by itself in the middle of July?” Sean then proceeded to walk over to the puppy, picked him up, and said, “Erin, I’d like you to meet Murphy,” and put him in my arms. I was speechless! While I stood there wide-eyed over my new puppy, Sean turned around, grabbed the ring box out of the basket, got down on one knee, and proposed! We were both shaking and tearing up, we were so excited! It was one of the happiest days of my life–I got a fiancé and a puppy!
When did y’all get married? August 1, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows. Instead, we opted for the traditional vows, which still hold so much meaning to us and the commitment we made to each other.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My uncle Billy J read 1 Corinthians 13 and my Uncle Bill read Philippians 4:4-9. I love 1 Corinthians 13 because it not only tells how important love is in all aspects of our lives, but it also reminds us how to love one another. Philippians 4:4-9 is just a joyful passage and it was so wonderful to be reminded that the Lord was near, surrounding Sean and I, our families, and our friends with His love and grace. It was so special to have my uncles read these passages during our ceremony because I am so close to each of them, and Sean and I really look up to them!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I ended up with a multitude of borrowed, blue, old, and new items on my wedding day! I had a gold pin that my grandmother, her sister, my aunt, and my mother all wore when they were married. I also carried a handkerchief embroidered in blue given to me by a cousin on my mother’s side, who explained that all the women in our family had carried it, and I was to pass it on to the next cousin to get married. My mom and dad gave me a beautiful silver and diamond bracelet.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We attended a few marriage counseling sessions at Edenton St. United Methodist and with our pastor. Through these sessions, I realized more and more how ready and happy I was to be marrying this man.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are living and working in Raleigh with our dog, Murphy. So far, we have just enjoyed coming home to each other, running errands together, cooking dinner together, and enjoying all that Raleigh has to offer. Being big college football fans, we frequent the NC State and ECU football games, cheer for the Panthers, and can be found hanging out with each other or our dear friends and family every weekend. We are looking forward to sharing new experiences together–we’d love to travel around the US and abroad and have a few long weekend trips planned in the coming months!

Photographer: Julie Livingston Photography | Videographer: Jared Cook Films | Coordinator: Gather Together Events | Ceremony Venue: Edenton Street United Methodist Church | Reception Venue: The Merrimon-Wynne House | Florist: Simply Elegant Floral Designs | Dessert Baker: The Cupcake Shoppe | Caterer: Catering Works | Rentals: Party Reflections | Band: The Magic Pipers | Paper Products: One and Only Stationers | Bride’s Gown: Maggi Bridal | Hair Stylist: Parlor Blow Dry Bar | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Mary” Top and “Tulip” Skirt in Umber by LulaKate | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Menswear: VIP Formal Wear | Koozies: Pink House Press | Transportation: Ecostyle and Classy Transportation

Gather Together Events is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    Thank you so much for sharing Erin + Sean’s wedding! We’re glad you loved the driftwood chandelier as much as we loved making it. :)

  2. avatar Brenda Parker reply

    This was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever seen. I was not at the wedding but have seen all the photos. It is obvious a lot of attention was paid to every detail to achieve an elegant southern wedding with a very personal touch. I enjoyed reading the back story of all the details of their story.

  3. avatar Dana reply

    a puppy and a proposal! not bad!!!

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It’s always such a joy to see our Southern Bride Bloggers tie the knot, and I have to confess, I was stalking Callie‘s Instagram a little bit on Melissa and Will’s wedding day in the hopes of getting a peek at this sweet celebration! Not surprisingly, Melissa was as lovely and gracious as Southern brides come, and after reading the interview she and Will filled out together, it’s so evident that they were completely present on their wedding day. That’s our biggest hope for all of you brides–that you plan well, choose your vendors carefully, and then sit back and soak in every second of getting married! We love that that’s exactly what Melissa and Will did, and they now have so many special memories to carry with them into newlywed life and the many years to follow.

Thanks so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Callie of Nancy Ray Photography, for sharing Melissa and Will’s beautiful day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had always dreamed about the kind of dress I would get married in. I knew I wanted lace, and something that was lightweight and very feminine. As soon as I got engaged, I started talking to a few gals who had recently gotten married and made a list of stores they recommended, one of which was Lana Addison Bridal in Cary, North Carolina. I decided to start with Lana Addison because it was a smaller boutique and would help me ease into “the search,” but it actually ended up being the first and only place my mom, mother-in-law, and I ventured to! After looking at my inspiration, we headed to a dressing room and were given two dresses to start with. After trying both on, I knew neither was for me and mentioned the idea of trying on a dress with a “Great Gatsby” feel. Our consultant said she knew just the dress! I was brought a beautiful lace number that had cap sleeves, an alluring V-neckline, and a vintage-inspired silver and gold brooch that I just adored. I put it on and didn’t want to take it off. That’s when I knew it was the one.

Will has been one of the strongest Christian influences in my life and prays with and for me every single day, ever since the very beginning of our relationship. For whatever reason, I’ve never felt as comfortable praying out loud like he does. This is something I’ve struggled with for years and knew I wanted to change, so on our wedding day, I did just that! Instead of Will and I doing a first look, we decided to pray together behind a tree, and I opened us up in prayer. I was nervous, and didn’t know if I would be able to get any words out, but as we held hands, the excitement started to heighten and I was able to enjoy those brief moments that we got to spend together with God as our focus. I was proud of myself and knew this was the perfect way for us to spend our last few moments together before becoming husband and wife.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did a mix of both. For the ceremony, we went with more traditional vows, but added our own words to make them more “us.” My favorite phrase from our vows was “through tears and laughter, sickness and health, hardship and plenty, I will love you faithfully, constantly, and prayerfully”.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Scripture is important to Will and I and we wanted to find something that did a good job showcasing God’s intent for what a strong Christian marriage should look like. After narrowing down our choices, we selected Mark 10:6-9 and Colossians 3:12-17 to be read by one of our bridesmaids and groomsmen during our ceremony. For our homily, we asked our officiant to focus on Ephesians 5:21-33.

We held our ceremony at Dinwiddie Chapel on the Peace College campus, where I attended college when it was an all-girls school. One of our school’s requirements was to attend chapel every week, so I grew very fond of its charm, and have so many memories that were created there. It didn’t hurt that it was also bright and airy inside, which was something I definitely wanted. For our reception venue, we knew that we wanted to find a space that had a rustic feel, exposed brick, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open floor plan that we could customize. The Cotton Room had all of the above and more. It was just what we had dreamed of!

Being born and raised in the South, I knew I wanted to have a wedding with lots of Southern details–insert mason jars, Cheerwine bottles, and plenty of wooden accents. It was important to us that all of our family and friends felt comfortable throughout the day, so we decided against having “sides” at our ceremony and asked all of our guests to sit wherever they wanted, allowing them to mingle and meet one another as soon as the festivities began. The friendly and inviting tone of the day gave it a great Southern feel. We also put a lot of thought into the menu options offered at the reception. To our surprise, the most talked-about items at our wedding were the the pimento cheese sliders with fried green tomatoes, the BBQ pork puppies, and the goat cheese smashed potatoes.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved every vendor we had the pleasure of working with, but there are a few that specifically went above and beyond in meeting our expectations. The first was Nancy Ray Photography. Photos capture moments you want to cherish forever and Callie and her team did just that. The second is, without a doubt, my wedding coordinator, Emily King of Whiskey and White Events, combined with the whole staff at The Cotton Room. Without Emily’s help, our wedding day wouldn’t have run as smoothly as it did. The staff at The Cotton Room also blew us away with the display and setup of everything used at the reception. It was magical. They even surprised us with “a pizza pie to say goodbye” that we enjoyed after the reception!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Will: At the end of January 2010, I was introduced to Melissa by some mutual friends. I knew pretty quickly after talking to her that she was something special, but after spending some time getting to know each other that night, we went our separate ways. A few days later, Melissa reached out to me over Facebook, invited me to a party her friends were hosting, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a July weekend, and we headed to the mall so Will could pick up some clothes for work. While we were at the mall, Will randomly said “Let’s go to Anthropologie so you can find a dress to wear tonight for the double date we’re going on. My treat!” After stopping at Anthro, we were headed home when Will got a “phone call” and told me he had to go into the office before our double date. About 20 minutes after Will left, one of my closest friends, Emily, arrived at my house and explained that Will had asked her to keep me company because he felt bad that he had to go into work on our date day. A few hours later, Will texted me ask if Emily could drop me off at the place where we were going to meet the other couple. We were almost at our destination when Emily pulled into a parking lot right beside Marshall Park, and in the far distance, I saw my parents and my uncle. This is the moment that I knew something was going on! My parents led me over a bridge and slowly backed away to leave me standing by myself in front of a large fountain. That’s when I spotted Will walking down a hill, looking as handsome as ever. When he finally approached me, I gave him a big hug and got a few awkward laughs out (I was nervous!), and from that point on, all I remember is Will grabbing my hands and asking me if I knew how much he loved me. All I could think about was how amazing he was for thinking through everything in great detail, and the fact he included my family meant so much to me. I said YES once he popped the question and the rest of the night was spent celebrating with our families!
When did y’all get married? June 13, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We actually decided against doing a first look for a few reasons, mainly because I wanted to do one with my dad instead. I’m an only child and “daddy’s little girl” so I knew it would be special and mean a lot to him to be able to spend a few moments together before the ceremony. Will also felt strongly about seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle, and we wanted to experience the anticipation and excitement of seeing each other for the first time at the altar.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Will and I invested a great deal of time and energy into staying focused on the fact that a wedding lasts just ONE day. A marriage is what lasts a lifetime. Before we were engaged, we went to premarital counseling at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, where we learned the best ways to communicate with one another and were able to put that into practice. After we got engaged, we did counseling with Tyler Jones of Vintage Church and were able to discover each other’s top love language, had regular conversations about the things we valued, and had open discussions about the concerns, fears, and things that we were excited about when it came to being married and growing spiritually with someone.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mom and mother-in-law are DIY-ers through and through, and went out of their way to help Will and I cut costs on our wedding. These busy bees helped make all the signs used at the ceremony and reception, helped paint mason jars and all the items that were used as centerpieces for reception tables, and helped print and prepare our wedding programs. We were also able to save money by providing our own vases for the flowers, and we reused the altar flowers and aisle markers from our ceremony on the bridal party and cocktail tables.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Will and I are renting a townhouse in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Charlotte. We’ve made friends with our neighbors and have enjoyed many nights walking to get ice cream and exploring the Queen City as much as possible. Recently, we’ve been brainstorming ideas of what we want to see and do during our trip to New York this November (I’ve never been!), and have started talking about celebrating our first anniversary overseas in Hong Kong. Will’s mom just moved there and we can’t wait to explore another part of the world together in 2016.

Photographer: Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography / Videographer: Good Earth Films / Planner: Emily King of Whiskey & White Events / Ceremony Venue: Dinwiddie Chapel / Reception Venue: The Cotton Room / Florist: MEWS Designs / Dessert Baker: The Cupcake Shoppe / Caterer: Triangle Catering / Band: The Troupers / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Gown: “Rita” by Amy Kuschel / Bridal Salon: Lana Addison Bridal / Bride’s Earrings: “Rennie” by Nina from Nordstrom / Hair and Makeup: Makeup by Ashley Mooney / Bride’s Shoes: “Forbes” by Nina from Nordstrom / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style JH5307” by Jim Hjelm Occasions / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: New York Bride and Groom / Menswear: Jos A. Bank / Ties: The Tie Bar / Cake Topper: Emily Steffen Shop / Chair Signs: The Apothecary Bee / Party Favors: Rook Design Co. / Transportation: White Horse Transportation

Nancy Ray and Good Earth Films are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
8 Comments
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    So lovely! I’ve been following Melissa’s blog for a while and was so excited to finally see the pictures. I’ve heard the proposal story before but absolutely teared up again while reading it.

  2. avatar Melissa reply

    You ladies have wrecked my heart and made my morning….my week if i’m being honest! Thank you for featuring Will and I’s special day. I can’t help but smile looking back at these photos….just amazing.

  3. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    This entire wedding is simply stunning! I love all of the personal, meaningful, and Southern details, and you can tell just how much thought and attention to detail went into it. The florals are amazing, and I’m always a huge fan of the Cotton Room!!

  4. avatar Mary-Katherine reply

    The most beautiful wedding of a dear friend with an even more beautiful heart! I loved all the special details that they made sure to include, it all came together perfectly!

  5. avatar Melissa and Will Durham, NC Film Wedding | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] thanks to Southern Weddings for featuring this lovely wedding! Click here to see the full […]

  6. avatar Emily King reply

    Melissa and Will, thank you for such kind words. It was a true pleasure to work with you both. Wishing you every happiness in your life ahead.

  7. avatar Henry Gray reply

    Nice wedding party the bide look so pretty Love the colour scheme and the beautiful photographs. Gorgeous photos.

  8. avatar Celebrating Southern Weddings | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] and Jamie’s Real Wedding featured in the Pages of Southern Weddings Magazine and on the blog Melissa and Will’s Wedding on the SW Blog Southern Newlywed: Planning a […]

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